From a letter to the Marquis de Lafayette. The “noble profile” that Bolivar mentions in the opening of this letter was a likeness of the marquis, which the French general had sent to Bolívar as a customary gift exchanged between republican heroes. Against the Spanish empire in Latin America, Bolívar helped to lead the successful independence movements of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia (which was named for him), and his native Venezuela. He died of tuberculosis at the age of forty-seven.
Dear General Lafayette,
I have had the honor to see for the first time the noble profile of the man who did so much good for the New World. I owe this pleasure to Colonel Mercier, who has delivered to me your letter dated October 15 last year. I have learned from the public papers that you have been so kind as to honor me with a treasure from Mount Vernon. This has produced in me an unexplainable joy.
The portrait of Washington, some mementos, and one of the monuments of his glory, are to be given unto me by your hands, in the name of the brothers of the great citizen, the firstborn son of the New World.
I am unable to find the words to explain the emotions welling up in my heart at this moment. Your high regard is a great glory for me. Washington’s family honors me more than I would have dared hope or imagine, because Washington presented by Lafayette must be the crown of all human rewards.
Washington was the noble protector of social reforms, and you are the citizen hero, the athlete of liberty, who served America with one hand and Europe with the other. Oh! What mortal could possibly deserve the honors which you thrust upon me? I do not know what to say—the honor I feel is immense. I offer you all the respect and veneration which you deserve as the titan of freedom.
With great consideration I am your respectful admirer.
From The Bolivarian Revolution. Edited by Matthew Brown. London; New York: Verso, 2009. © 2009 by Verso. Used with permission of Verso.