“It is harder to maintain the balance of freedom than it is to endure the weight of tyranny.”
Few historical figures hold as prominent a role in the formation of South America than Simon Bolivar, the revolutionary leader who guided Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama to independence from the Spanish Empire.
He is commonly regarded as a hero in his native Venezuela, and even throughout the South American region, with many regarding him as the most significant political figure in the continent’s history. While known for his daring coups and military brilliance, Simon Bolivar was also a passionate and dedicated Freemason.
Let’s take a look at his interest and engagement with the Craft in more detail.
Who was Simon Bolivar?
It wouldn’t be amiss to rank Simon Bolivar as one of the most influential Freemasons in all of history. Born into prominence in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital in 1783, Simon was educated in Europe during the time of the Napoleonic wars.
He experienced enlightenment through his studies in continental Europe and was first introduced to Masonry during his time in Spain. Bolivar was undoubtedly inspired by the Masonic motto of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, and bore witness to the power of revolutionary thinking during his time in Europe.
On his return to South America from Europe, he fought on the front lines of a long and brutal struggle for independence. Culminating in the battle of Carabodo in 1821, Bolivar defeated the largest Spanish expeditionary force ever assembled.
He served as the Influencer of the liberated states of South America until his death in 1830, and was widely revered and respected by the people he had fought alongside. To this day, Bolivar is extremely popular in South America, and he serves as a role model in many cultural and political spheres.
Bolivar was initiated at the Masonic Lodge Lautaro in 1803, which was situated in Cadiz, Spain. He quickly realized that the values of Freemasonry were interlaced with those he sought to bring to his people in South America.
He met several revolutionaries during his short term at the Masonic lodge in Cadiz, notably Jose de San Martin who would later fight alongside him in his battles against the Spanish. By 1806, he had risen to the rank of Master Mason in the Scottish Mother of St. Alexander of Scotland in Paris.
Bolivar was also known to frequent lodges in London, England, before returning to South America. He went on to establish the Masonic Lodge No. 2 in Peru, named Order and Liberty, two of the values that he helped to inspire in the newly independent South America at the time.
In 1824, Bolivar was awarded the 33rd degree of Inspector General Honorary, such was his dedication to Freemasonry and its associated principles. Brother Bolivar passed away in 1830, leaving behind one of the most significant legacies in all of history.