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Slavery and Antislavery in Spain's Atlantic Empire

Slavery and Antislavery in Spain's Atlantic Empire

Josep M. Fradera
Christopher Schmidt-Nowara
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 340
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  • Book Info
    Slavery and Antislavery in Spain's Atlantic Empire
    Book Description:

    African slavery was pervasive in Spain's Atlantic empire yet remained in the margins of the imperial economy until the end of the eighteenth century when the plantation revolution in the Caribbean colonies put the slave traffic and the plantation at the center of colonial exploitation and conflict. The international group of scholars brought together in this volume explain Spain's role as a colonial pioneer in the Atlantic world and its latecomer status as a slave-trading, plantation-based empire. These contributors map the broad contours and transformations of slave-trafficking, the plantation, and antislavery in the Hispanic Atlantic while also delving into specific topics that include: the institutional and economic foundations of colonial slavery; the law and religion; the influences of the Haitian Revolution and British abolitionism; antislavery and proslavery movements in Spain; race and citizenship; and the business of the illegal slave trade.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-934-3
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction. Colonial Pioneer and Plantation Latecomer
    (pp. 1-12)
    Josep M. Fradera and Christopher Schmidt-Nowara

    The history of slavery and antislavery in the Spanish Empire fits uneasily into the narrative of Atlantic history. Spain was the first Atlantic empire to establish sugar plantations in its American colonies, but it was also the last to engage directly in the transatlantic slave trade. Just as antislavery ideals seemed to gain the upper hand in the British and French Empires, pro-slave trade and pro-slavery policies were on the ascent in Spain and its colonies. As most of Spanish America achieved independence in the 1820s and the new republics abolished the slave trade to their shores and took gradual...

  6. Chapter 1 The Slave Trade in the Spanish Empire (1501–1808): The Shift from Periphery to Center
    (pp. 13-42)
    Josep M. Delgado Ribas

    This article was inspired by my reading ofExtending the Frontiers,¹ a collection of essays, edited by David Eltis and David Richardson, that draw on new data from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Data Base (TSTD2), first published on CD-ROM² and for which an updated version is now available online main objective of this monumental collective research work was to provide a detailed reconstruction of the slaving expeditions that transported across the Atlantic more than 12.5 million human beings who had been forcibly uprooted from their continent to provide labor in the European colonies of the New...

  7. Chapter 2 Portuguese Missionaries and Early Modern Antislavery and Proslavery Thought
    (pp. 43-73)
    Luiz Felipe de Alencastro

    Among the European Atlantic empires, Portugal established a unique and complex relationship with Africa. Well before the ships and merchants of other European maritime regions, traders from Lisbon, the Algarves, Madeira, and the Cape Verde Islands started exchanges with the sub-Saharan ports. Soon, Portuguese institutions were transplanted in the African continent. The early dioceses of Cape Verde (1533), São Tomé (1534), Congo and Angola (1596), whose seat was in São Salvador do Congo (Mbanza Congo) and was the first to be established in continental Africa, as well as the municipal councils of Luanda (1589), Massangano (1589), and Benguela (1619) strengthened...

  8. Chapter 3 The Economic Role of Slavery in a Non-Slave Society: The River Plate, 1750–1860
    (pp. 74-100)
    Juan Carlos Garavaglia

    What is the role of slavery in a colonial and postcolonial American society in which it did not constitute the central nucleus of the relations of production, as it did in Cuba? We will consider as an example the rural area of the River Plate from the middle of the eighteenth century until 1860, when the institution of slavery was officially abolished. Until recently, Argentine historiography treated slaves as if they were just another luxury item that formed part of the colony’s patriarchal society. Their presence was justified—when it was not completely silenced—above all by their role as...

  9. Chapter 4 Slaves and the Creation of Legal Rights in Cuba: Coartación and Papel
    (pp. 101-133)
    Alejandro de la Fuente

    On August 16, 1855, doña Carlota Dascar, a resident in Santiago de Cuba, initiated a legal suit against Miguel Rodriguez,síndico procuradorof the city, to prevent the forcible sale of her slave María. Dascar had tried to sell her slave, whom she described as a healthy criolla without vices, for seven hundred pesos, but the slave had “presented” herself before the síndico to “request hercoartaciónbecause she had cincuenta pesos.” As the municipal official charged with the representation of slave interests, the síndico then initiated the customary process of assessing the value of the slave to fix the...

  10. Chapter 5 Cuban Slavery and Atlantic Antislavery
    (pp. 134-157)
    Ada Ferrer

    The nineteenth century, as is well known, was the century of antislavery. For centuries, the institution of slavery had been the companion of empire and colonialism in the New World and had served as a motor of capitalist development in Europe. But starting at the turn of the nineteenth century, the structures that had undergirded the global economy were profoundly transformed, and in the process slavery came under assault. In the short and medium term, the attack on slavery had two distinct but interrelated sources: British abolitionism and the Haitian Revolution. These were the twin pillars of Atlantic antislavery in...

  11. Chapter 6 Wilberforce Spanished: Joseph Blanco White and Spanish Antislavery, 1808–1814
    (pp. 158-175)
    Christopher Schmidt-Nowara

    In 1810, the abolitionist and parliamentarian William Wilberforce wrote to the British Foreign Minister, Lord Wellesley, to ask for his help in promoting antislavery in Spain. British abolitionists and governments would focus on Spain for the next several decades. In 1789 the Spanish crown for the first time deregulated the slave traffic to its American colonies. The result was a huge surge in African captives to Cuba, the largest slave society in Spanish-American history. From the later eighteenth until the mid nineteenth century, slave traders would disembark almost eight hundred thousand African captives in the island. Despite years of foreign...

  12. Chapter 7 Spanish Merchants and the Slave Trade: From Legality to Illegality, 1814-1870
    (pp. 176-199)
    Martín Rodrigo y Alharilla

    Throughout the nineteenth century, Cuba was only second to Brazil as a major American destination for African slaves. Moreover, legal prohibition of the slave trade (agreed by Spain and Great Britain in 1817 and a reality from May 1820) failed to short-circuit the transatlantic trade in slaves destined for Cuba.² According to Cuban census data, there were fewer than fifty thousand slaves in Cuba in 1774; this number doubled by 1792, again by 1817 and yet again by 1841, resulting in a population of some four hundred thousand slaves in Cuba in the middle of the century.³

    A number of...

  13. Chapter 8 La Amistad: Ramón Ferrer in Cuba and the Transatlantic Dimensions of Slaving and Contraband Trade
    (pp. 200-228)
    Michael Zeuske and Orlando García Martínez

    On the night of June 30, 1839, fifty-seven captives aboard a Cuban coastal schooner, theAmistad,rose up. Under the leadership of a man from Mendeland (today southern Sierra Leone and northern Liberia) named Cinqué, the captives killed the captain, a Catalan named Ramón Ferrer, and the enslaved cook, Celestino. After taking control, they tried to sail back to Africa, but an American ship intercepted theAmistadnear Long Island. Three dramatic court cases later, the last one before the Supreme Court of the United States (United States vs. TheAmistad), the surviving thirty-five men and four children sailed, with...

  14. Chapter 9 Antislavery before Abolitionism: Networks and Motives in Early Liberal Barcelona, 1833–1844
    (pp. 229-255)
    Albert Garcia Balañà

    In January 1842, John Scoble of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (BFAS) wrote to François Isambert of the Société pour l’Abolition de l’Esclavage, accepting a formal invitation to attend an international antislavery convention in Paris, motivated by the BFAS convention held in London in 1840. The British society also recommended a short list of individuals from the continent for the French association to invite. Scoble proposed three names with Spanish connections: the Cuban “Antonio José Saco” (José Antonio Saco), “Santiago Sos y Río” (Santiago Usoz y Río) in Madrid, and “Antonio Bergne de Barcelone.”¹ “Antonio Bergne” was Antonio Bergnes...

  15. Chapter 10 Moments in a Postponed Abolition
    (pp. 256-290)
    Josep M. Fradera

    These pages have no ambition other than attempting to impose some order on an issue that has concerned us for years, namely, the social links existing between imperial and colonial Spain and slavery as an institution. As we all know, the enlightened attitude of the British set the standard for abolition—firstly, of the slave trade, and then, twenty-five years later, of slavery itself. Most historians will agree, however, that slavery in the Spanish context needs to be analyzed in some isolation from the British experience. British abolition was imposed from above against the background of imperial changes unfolding at...

  16. Chapter 11 From Empires of Slavery to Empires of Antislavery
    (pp. 291-316)
    Seymour Drescher

    For half a millennium the empires of the Atlantic World were linked to slavery. For more than three of those five centuries it was axiomatic for European powers that the transatlantic slave trade and the institution it fed were major contributors to the wealth and well-being of their nations. In world historical perspective Western slavery was merely another phase in the evolution of a perennial institution. Even at the very end of the eighteenth century, when the African slave trade and New-World slavery were both coming under sustained assault, a member of the British House of Lords dismissed slavery’s challengers...

  17. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 317-321)
  18. Note on Contributors
    (pp. 322-323)
  19. Index
    (pp. 324-328)