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Sáenz, Manuela (1795–1856)

Cory Fischer-Hoffman


Manuela Sáenz, an important leader in the struggle for independence in the Five Republics of Central America, was born on December 27, 1795 in Quito. She was the illegitimate child of a wealthy Spanish noble, Simón Sáenz, and a Quiteña aristocrat, Joaquina Aizpuro. She spent most of her childhood hidden on her maternal grandmother's hacienda (in Catahuango) and at the Monastery of Santa Catalina. While at the hacienda, she lived alongside Jonathán and Nathan, two enslaved girls who were her only playmates; they were also active in independence movements and accompanied Sáenz through her adulthood and until her death. At the monastery she learned to read and write in Spanish and English. Sáenz grew up in the era of independence struggles; on August 2, 1810 there was a massacre in response to an assassination attempt on the viceroy. The repression that followed appalled her, and shortly thereafter she became involved with the independence conspirators. On a business trip with her father in Panama she met British businessman James Thorne, whom she married on July 27, 1817. Sáenz moved to Lima and used her position to spy on the royalists and pass information along to conspirators. She is also believed to have been the legendary person who, dressed as a man, walked the streets at night posting revolutionary proclamations. Sáenz befriended Rosita Campusano Corenjo, a lover and comrade ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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