WHILE Bolívar was walking about Italy and great dreams were forming in his mind out of the ideas implanted by his master, another man was already in action, inspired by the same dreams. In history he is known as the Precursor of the Liberator. In many ways he was better fitted to play the leading part than Bolívar himself; but things worked out differently.
Francisco de Miranda was Spanish by blood, a Venezuelan by birth, a soldier and world-traveler by profession, apostle of human liberty by religion. From a worldwide view he was at that time his country's most illustrious citizen, although his name was scarcely known within it. He had been away many years and his beginnings in the colony were obscure. He was a general in the Grand Army of France and his name was inscribed on the Arc de l'Etoile. Napoleon had called him a visionary lunatic but with a spark of intelligence seldom found in the type.
Miranda's first military experience was gained in the army of Spain. He served in Morocco and then in Florida and Louisiana under General Galvez and in Cuba under Cagigal. When the American Revolution broke out he made his first efforts in the interest of human liberty and enlisted in a Spanish contingent under Rochambeau. In the struggle of the North American colonies against England he had no opportunities to attain any great distinction; but he met Lafayette and Kosciuszko and established for himself among that clique of international champions