John A. Hobson
John Atkinson Hobson (1858–1940) grew up during an economic depression in England that ultimately shifted his intellectual interests from literature to economics. One of his major contributions is the theory of under-consumption, which argues that low consumer demand and high supply of goods will lead to a sluggish economy. Hobson also held that imperialism could be stripped down to economic interests by the mother country: it was no more than a search for new capitalist markets. This selection explores Hobson’s observed relationships among economy, international struggle, imperialism, and nationalism.
From John A. Hobson, Imperialism and the Lower Races. New York: James Pott and Co., 1902, part II, chapter IV.
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Santa Anna (1794–1876) is recognized today by Americans, and especially by Texans, primarily for his successful siege of the Alamo in March 1836. However, he also epitomized the caudillo type in nineteenth-century Mexico, dominating his country’s political life and weathering a series of highs and lows throughout his long career. Although he served as president for 11 nonconsecutive terms (some of only a few months) over a period of 22 years, Santa Anna is more famous for his military achievements and losses—including some extraordinary adventures. For example, in an 1838 battle against the French at Veracruz, Santa Anna’s leg was shattered by a cannon volley. The leg was amputated and buried with full military honors. Exiled multiple times, to Cuba, Jamaica, Colombia, and even the United States, Santa Anna devoted his final years to compiling his memoirs, an excerpt of which is translated below. This passage details his turbulent political career—at least from his perspective—in the early 1840s.
Antonio López de Santa Anna, The Eagle: The Autobiography of Santa Anna, ed. and trans. Ann Fears Crawford (Austin, TX: Pemberton, 1967), 65–69.
Simón Bolívar (1783–1830) is known as “the Liberator” of South America from Spanish colonial rule. “The Jamaican Letter” (1815) is one of his earliest and most important political essays on the course of South American independence. It was written during his self-imposed exile in Jamaica (then a British colony) after a major military defeat in Venezuela. Historians are uncertain to whom the letter was addressed, but they speculate that the recipient was the English governor of the island. The letter affirms Bolívar’s unfailing dedication to the cause of independence and the ideals of liberty and freedom. But Bolívar also reveals his anti-liberal, authoritarian leanings. Believing that the masses lacked the experience and “virtue” for a democracy, Bolívar advocated an oligarchic government with power concentrated in the hands of a strong, paternal executive and a hereditary legislature.
Simón Bolívar, “Reply of a South American to a Gentleman of this Island [Jamaica],” in Selected Writings of Bolívar,Vol. 1 (1810–1822), ed. Harold Bierck; compiled by Vincente Lecuna; transl. Lewis Bertrand. New York: Colonial Press (1951): 103–22.