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Table of Contents Preface Part One: Autumn of Proyectismo 1. Continuity and Crises, 1789-1797 2. War and the Colonies: Aranda and Godoy 3. The Late Proyectistas Part Two: Fissioning of New Spain 4. Reorganizing New Spain¿s External Trade: The Effects of Comercio Libre, 1788-1796 5. A Hegemony Threatened: Mexico City and Veracruz after 1789 6. Mining and its Fissures 7. Export Agriculture: Growth and Conflict 8. Comercio Neutro/Comercio Directo, 1797-1803 9. ¿Informal¿ Comercio Neutro, 1804-1808 Part Three: Financing Empire 10. Consolidación and the Financing of Empire: I. Spain, 1797-1808 11. Consolidación: II. New Spain¿s Silver Transfers, 1804-1808 12. Strange Saga: The Transfer of New Spain¿s Silver, 1804-1808 Part Four: Toward the Second War of Succession 13. ¿Treasures in the New World:¿ The French Diaspora of New Spain¿s Silver 14. ¿La Tempestad que nos Amenazaba¿ 15. A National Drama. Act I: Conspiracy at the Escorial Preface A micro-study is best introduced with a macro-vision, however sketchy, before the reader gets lost in details. The last quarter of the eighteenth century in the Spanish Atlantic¿those maritime highways tying Cadiz in Spain to Spain¿s colonies in and around the Caribbean as well as the South Atlantic¿were years of marked demographic and economic expansion, and political sensibility. The Spanish Atlantic was changing rapidly; the interests of the long established silver-mining colonies of Peru and New Spain now competed with those of the developing economies of Cuba, Venezuela and the Rio de la Plata. In the aggregate, the colonial exportables and consumers attracted England and French merchants competing for legal entry into Spain¿s ¿regulated¿ system of colonial trade that formally prohibited foreign direct participation. Spain¿s maritime highways now came under pressure especially in the decade after 1796. Growth could not be tension-free. To widen the participation of native peoples in a commercializing colonial economy, Madrid introduced the intendancy as basic administrative element; this, however, disturbed networks tying merchants, colonial district officers and Amerindian peoples. At the same time Madrid¿s policy of broadening trade between colonial ad metropolitan ports had a comparably upsetting effect exacerbated by wide-scale smuggling. Madrid¿s transatlantic trading system was caught between pressure to change, or maintain the status quo; further, after 1796 that system had to contend with the power and reach of England¿s blockading navy in Anglo-Spanish conflicts. This systemic crisis had an overarching political dimension: revolution. First came the anti-colonial insurgency in North America, then the revolutionary French republic and, third, England¿s paramount role in financing counter-revolutionary continental monarchies. The Spanish Atlantic at the beginning of the eighteenth century had been the scene of the War of Succession. Over the ¿long¿eighteenth century the collateral effects of growth opened fissions in the elites of metropole and colonies, inspiring anxiety, then insecurity, and ultimately fear that the structures of the Spanish Atlantic might collapse in this phase of globalization at the end of the century. War, again, concluded the century Edge of Crisis opens with developments in the Spanish metropole, turns to those overseas in New Spain, and closes with the consequencies of fissioning in the political classes of Spain and New Spain in late 1807 and early 1808. It attempts a conspectus of an old empire overly dependent on its American colonies and seeks to conjoin wealthiest colony and metropole, New Spain and Spain, to offer the reader a broad context of the Spanish Atlantic, and identify and understand how institutions, structures, interests and ideology resisted pressure for change (or even adaption) at the end of what has been felicitously termed the ¿first¿ Spanish empire. Empires, our data indicates, do not collapse; they crack, crumble at the edges and erode as they fade away. We focus on the Spanish empire in the western Atlantic in the unsettling decades, 1789 to 1808, of fluctuating international relationships of national power, trade and wealth in the Atlantic. On the one hand, an integrated coalition of the political elite at Madrid and the colonies realized that the foundation of their mature empire rested to an impressive degree on the silver pesos, and consumers of New Spain with preferences for European wares, and on maintenance of ¿managed¿ oligopolistic colonial trade, a policy supported by French interests. On the other was England¿s commercial and industrializing economy in a phase of rapid expansion and competition on a transatlantic and global scale, in wartime probing the Spanish Caribbean for consumers overseas when buyers on the European continent were cut off, and for pesos to underwrite England¿s war effort at home and on the continent. This is a complex story parsing the factors leading to the crisis in metropole and colony in the spring of 1808. No historical reconstruction can flawlessly capture a world in rapid transition. This said, the parsing has a meta-narrative that starts with Spain¿s response to the French revolution and closes in early 1808 with the occupation of Spain by French armed forces and a French design for changing its regime. This is, to quote Bernard Bailyn, an ¿immersion in the detailed cicrcumstances of a distant era¿to understand that world¿as it was experienced by those who lived in it.¿ In part the meta-narrative is the resilience of structures of property, wealth and influence evolving over three centuries under the Hapsburgs and superficially modified under Bourbon monarchs in the eighteenth century. To be precise, at home a landholding ecclesiastical establishment, a landed aristocracy, a small commercial bourgeoisie, a loyal and well-structured civil service¿all supported by commercial, landed and ecclesiastical elites as well as the civil service in the colonies, especially in the major viceroyalties, Peru and New Spain, now three centuries old. We open with Prime minister Floridablanca¿s decision in 1789 to isolate Spain and, his regime hoped, its empire from the contagion of French radicalism. Over the ensuing two decades the empire¿s ¿gothic¿ structures would gradually devour the well intentioned, open-eyed progressive nationalists hoping to preserve both monarachy and Atlantic empire. By early 1808 two ideological and political factions crystallized, one supportive of Charles IV¿s heir, Fernando (prince of Asturias), and nostalgic for the old regime (fernandinos), the other prepared to craft a liberal authoritarian regime along the Napoleonic model (afrancesados). In fact, there were three parties/factions fissioned by conflictive views of the future of Spain and its empire in America: afrancesados would opt for a Spanish-crafted adaptation of the French model, fernandinos would resurrect the past; while those behind Prime minister Godoy enjoying the confidence of Charles IV and María Luisa, ultimately would try to remove the royal family temporarily to New Spain, repeating the Portuguese royal family¿s flight to Brazil at the end of 1807 to escape French occupation. At bottom, this is a narrative about how an external factor, the catalyst of international warfare, once again forced change in Spain and its American empire. ¿It¿s the ending that gives shape and meaning to the otherwise random events that precede it.¿
Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication:
Spain -- Commerce -- New Spain.
New Spain -- Commerce -- Spain.
Spain -- History -- Charles IV, 1788-1808.
Spain -- Commercial policy -- History.