Part 2: ¡Revolución! War with Spain and forging of a new nation (1800-1850)
By the early 1810s, the colony had become a good source of income for the Spanish crown. With the introduction of profitable cash crops, the Lisenian economy supplemented the galleon trade well, and made the great natural harbor of Solís one of the most important in Asia. The development of the port was a great boon to the local economy, making the city around it expand rapidly, and the need to service the many visiting ships led the governor general to encourage the building of repair facilities.
The busy port city of Solís, birthplace of the Lisenian navy and future national capital.
As Napoleon swept through Europe and the Peninsular War weakened Spanish control over many parts of the crown's realm, a half-hearted rebellion by local patrones in 1813 sparked into violence in San Cristóbal after the death of rioters. The unrest leading to the revolt had been fomenting for over a decade, as relations between the Spanish-appointed peninsular officials and the local-born elite continued to deteriorate over the ever increasing tax burden to support Spanish wars, and resentment over the prohibition with trade outside of Spain. When the revolt threatened to spiral out of control, the governor general in Manila ordered soldiers to crack down on the rebels. Despite the violence, the population of the islands continued to grow at a steady pace, with increasing numbers of mestizos and immigrants.
The lingering discontent with the irresponsible administration of the colony by the crown, and the prohibition on trading with nations other than Spain only became worse after the events of 1817, following the outbreak of revolutions in Latin America and Mexico. Governor General Juan Jose López de León, an ambitious and popular official, and island born, musters support for independence and taking advantage of Spain's weakened position, and declares it in 1823. A few days after the declaration, the first Lisenian navy is created, with three seized Spanish ships manned by volunteers. The crown orders whatever forces could be spared in the Philippines, under the command of Gov. Gen. Juan Antonio Martínez to re-establish royal authority in the face of rebellion. News and orders take their time to reach Manila, by which time the rebels in Nueva Galicia have mustered a sizable militia, composed of both locals and allied tribes, and armed with looted weapons from the arsenals.
Martínez sets out with a strong force of regulars and a flotilla, but his force is battered by typhoon winds near the treacherous waters of Punta Indio, and Martinez dies of exposure. The surviving ships make landfall on the main islands on 19 August 1824. De León's forces engaged the beleaguered royalists at the Battle of Bahía Roja. Despite being outnumbered and having lost most of their artillery at sea, royalist forces put up ferocious resistance, fighting until exhausting their ammunition, and with no hope for relief, Martínez's brother-in-law and second in command surrendered to De León. A second Spanish attempt is only slightly more successful, and wrests back control of three southern towns but falters when it becomes clear that no reinforcements would follow. By this time, the once extremely lucrative galleon trade was long gone, and Spain's coffers were hurting badly.
The valiant last stand of the Spanish regulars, Battle of Bahía Roja.
By 1825, news of successful revolts in Latin America reach Nueva Galicia, and De León's forces are emboldened. The Battle of Ayacucho in Peru delivers the final lethal blow against Spanish rule in Latin America, and the important loss of the colonial hierarchy in Mexico and the distances involved between the islands and the center of Spanish power meant that retaking the islands would be impossible. The Spanish crown retreated its forces into the Philippines to defend its bastion at Manila, and plans for a new effort against the now independent Lisenian Confederation were put to rest indefinitely by the First Carlist War in 1833, when the ceasefire would be signed into a permanent peace in Manila.
De León's successful junta presides over the new Confederación Oriental de Lisenia. Eager to restore the wealthy trade of years past, the new government dispatches the navy's biggest ship, the ex-Spanish frigate Audaz
to establish relations with foreign countries. From 1825 on, the frigate will make many trips to Latin America, the United States and Japan seeking friends and trade partners.
De León dies in September 1830, and a power struggle to fill his void occurs. Initially, another junta, led by De León's son-in-law Domingo López, in 1831 takes power. The Confederation will be short lived however, when the opposition parties, with popular support from the large mestizo population, force the junta to agreement towards a national convention. The provisional government is forced to draft a constitution, but progress is slow and the crisis lasts for the better part of the year, until interrupted by the Yellow fever epidemic of 1833, which devastates the countryside, putting a huge strain on the economy and killing scores. A new constitution is approved and passed on April 19th of the following tear. New government is decreed, establishing a national bicameral congress, a presidential office, and the country's is christened as a republic. Elections are held, Domingo López surprisingly taking the vote for the country's first presidency. April 19th becomes the Día de la República, the national holiday.
Under Lopez's presidency, the young republic struggles to move out of the damage left by the epidemic and economic troubles. Contacts with Europe help to spurn trade and recover the country's exports. Agricultural modernization is made the greatest priority, and handsome sums are paid to foreign experts to improve agriculture int he country. French help in the 1850s develops the ports, which begin to see the first trickles of European and Latin American immigration.
The acrimonious process of forced assimilation of the remaining indigenous groups continues, which by the 1842 had degenerated into open conflict. This Conquest of the Jungle, as it became known, saw the government struggling to expand its control into the northern reaches of the archipelago. Lending a hand to the army, the navy sees its first taste of real combat, using its elderly sloops and frigate to bombard native forces and transport soldiers. With the aim of providing the navy with trained officers, the naval war college was established in Solís in 1838. Needing to replace the rotting ex-Spanish ships, Congress authorized the purchase of three new French-built steam warships. The Constitución
class corvettes, built in Toulon, became the first vessels of the new federal navy.
Once I get the hang of making sails and rigging look acceptable, I'll try to improve the early ships.