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How Did Rupert Hand Get Out Of Jail? Colombia and the Atlantic Empires, 1830–1833



This article explores the reality of foreign influence in the newly independent republics of South America in the 1830s. It takes as its case study the republic of New Granada (known as Colombia since 1863), and focuses on international relations in the years 1830–3. In particular, the article delves into the murky waters of one judicial process, the trial of Rupert Hand between 1831 and 1833, in order to examine the day-to-day personal workings of relations between New Granada and the imperial powers rather than the high-level diplomatic inter-state negotiations that are generally studied by researchers. This approach reveals a history of chaos and unintended consequences, where events were dictated by often bewildering mixtures of elite leadership, subaltern agency and the interventions of foreigners.