It is easy to criticize nineteenth-century statesmen in Latin America for corruption and the maintenance of inequalities dating from the colonial period. Reuben Zahler instead takes the discourse and practice of postindependence Venezuelan jurists, bureaucrats, and politicians seriously in this exploration of the subtle continuities and changes in political culture between 1780 and 1850. On the one hand, he traces the ways in which republican authorities continued the Bourbon monarchs' efforts to centralize and rationalize governance, in part by bringing the church and military increasingly under the control of civil officials. On the other hand, he also demonstrates how liberals introduced new forms of procedural accountability that, critically, made adherence to written laws rather than justice based upon custom and morality a consensus ideal, if not always an achieved reality. Zahler posits that meanings of honor capture these complex developments as they...

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