Miranda, Francisco de

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Miranda, Francisco de

Francisco de Miranda (fränsē´skō ŧħā mērän´dä), 1750–1816, Venezuelan revolutionist and adventurer. A hero of the struggle for independence from Spain, he is sometimes called the Precursor to distinguish him from Simón Bolívar, who completed the task of liberation. Before he championed the independence of the Spanish colonies, Miranda involved himself in a number of adventures. As an officer in the Spanish army he served under Bernardo de Gálvez in the Spanish attack on Pensacola (1781), when Spain was an ally of the rebels in the American Revolution. He later visited Philadelphia and Boston and met George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and other notables. He traveled widely in Europe, particularly in Russia, where he became a favorite of Catherine the Great. In France he fought in the French Revolutionary Wars; running afoul of the Jacobins he fled to England, where he was helped by William Pitt. Imbued with revolutionary ideas, Miranda sought foreign aid and led (1806) an unsuccessful expedition to the Venezuelan coast. After the start of the revolution in 1810, he returned to Venezuela and soon took a commanding position in the patriot forces. He was dictator for a short time, but after increasing misfortunes, including the loss of Puerto Cabello by Bolívar and a destructive earthquake in Caracas, he surrendered (1812) to the Spanish. Bolívar and other patriots, angered by his capitulation, seized him and turned him over to the Spanish who failed to honor the terms of surrender, deported him to Cádiz, and kept him in a dungeon for the rest of his life.

See History of Don Francisco de Miranda's Attempt to Effect a Revolution in South America by J. Biggs (1808); biography by W. S. Robertson (1929, repr. 1969).

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