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mand of an admiral and vice-admiral, made the trip each year. The feet for New Spain (Mexico) sailed in the spring, and that for the mainland in the early fall. The first touched at some of the islands and then went to Vera Cruz; the latter touched first at Cartagena and passed on thence to Porto Bello, where the fair was held about the middle of March. This fair was the great event of the year, and lasted forty days from the time of the arrival of the fleet. From this point goods were distributed by way of Panama to Peru, Chile, and even across the continent to Buenos Aires. The gold bullion was sent in turn to this point by the viceroy of Peru. It came in fifteen days from Potosi to Arica, thence by sea in eight days to Callao, and in twenty days from Callao to Panama. The viceroy of Peru was to take care to have the plate at Panama by the middle of March. At Porto Bello it was taken aboard the galleons. About the middle of June the galleons met the fleet from New Spain at Havana, and from that point the two fleets with their convoys proceeded in greater safety to Spain. Thus for two centuries all intercourse between Spain and her colonies at one end of the line was limited at first to Seville, and then to Cadiz; and at the other to Vera Cruz and Porto Bello.11 At a later period this arrangement was modified to some extent, and Buenos Aires was made a port of entry. The reason for not permitting trade with Buenos Aires during the earlier period was the fear that the British and Dutch would smuggle through that port.
While the relations of the colonies with Spain were kept under the strictest control, intercourse with foreign nations, although absolutely prohibited under the severest penalties, could not be entirely prevented. In speaking of Spain's restrictive policy, a British naval officer, who was on the South American station during the revolution, says:
11 Linage, " Norte de la Contratacion," pp. 191•193.
Unfortunately, however, for that system, the South Americans, notwithstanding the network of chains by which they were enveloped, had still some sparks of humanity left, and, in spite of all their degradation, longed earnestly for the enjoyments suitable to their nature; and finding that the Spaniards neither could nor would furnish them with an adequate supply, they invited the assistance of other nations. To this call the other nations were not slow to listen; and, in process of time, there was established one of the most extraordinary systems of organized smuggling which the world ever saw. This was known under the name of the contraband or forced trade, and was carried on in armed vessels, well manned, and prepared to fight their way to the coast, and to resist, as they often did with effect, the guarda costas, or coast blockades of Spain. This singular system of warlike commerce was conducted by the Dutch, Portuguese, French, English, and latterly by the North Americans. In this way goods to an immense value were distributed over South America; and although the prices were necessarily high, and the supply precarious, that taste for the comforts and luxuries of European invention was first encouraged, which afterwards operated so powerfully in giving a steady and intelligible motive to the efforts of the Patriots in their struggle with the mother-country. Along with the goods which the contraband trade forced into the colonies, no small portion of knowledge found entrance, in spite of the increased exertions of the Inquisition and church influence, aided by the redoubled vigilance of government, who enforced every penalty with the utmost rigor. Many foreigners, too, by means of bribes and other arts, succeeded in getting into the country, so that the progress of intelligence was gradually encouraged, to the utter despair of the Spaniards, who knew no other method of governing the colonies but that of mere brute force, unsupported by the least shadow of opinion, or of good will."
The trade carried on by foreign interlopers grew to such alarming proportions that before the middle of the eighteenth century Spain found it necessary to relax the restrictions upon the private trade of her own subjects. This led, about 1748, to the discontinuance of the annual fleets or galleon trade,
The political administration of the country was absolutely in the hands of Spaniards, who as a rule were not allowed to marry, acquire property, or form any permanent ties in America. In the summary of charges against Spain appearing in the Argentine Manifesto of 1817, one of the specifications is, that of one hundred and sixty viceroys who had governed in America, four natives of the country alone were numbered; and of six hundred and two captains-general, all but fourteen had been Spaniards.
The monopoly of Spanish trade in South America was partially surrendered by the treaty of Utrecht, signed in 1713, at the close of the War of the Spanish Succession. By this treaty England agreed to recognize Philip V as king of Spain and the Indies, and in turn was granted the assiento, or contract for supplying the Spanish colonies with African slaves.18 The importation of negroes into the Spanish possessions had been carried on under contract from the very first. The assiento, which had been previously granted to Spanish subjects, was, in 1696, granted to the Portuguese Company of Guinea, and in 1702 to the Royal 12 Hall's “ Journal,” Vol. I, pp. 253.254.
18" The Assiento; or Contract for Allowing to the Subjects of Great Britain the Liberty of Importing Negroes into the Spanish America." Printed by John Baskett, London, 1713.
Guinea Company of France; but in 1713 England secured this lucrative monopoly and became the great slave-trading power of the world.
The assiento of 1713, which was very carefully drawn up in 42 articles, granted to an English company the sole right of supplying slaves to the Spanish West Indies and to South America for the period of thirty years from May 1, 1713. By it the Queen of England undertook to see that the company chartered by her should introduce into the Spanish West Indies, including South America, 144,000 negroes of both sexes and all ages within thirty years, at the rate of 4,800 a year. The company was to pay a duty of 3343 pieces of eight (dollars) for each negro imported. In addition to the 4,800 a year, other negroes might be imported at a duty of 1643 dollars each, thus encouraging larger importations. The negroes could be brought in either Spanish or English vessels, manned with English or Spanish sailors, provided only no cause of offense be given to the Catholic religion. The majority of the negroes were to be taken to Cuba and Porto Rico, and to the ports on the Main; but of the 4,800, the company had the right to take 1,200 to Buenos Aires, 800 to be sold there and 400 to be carried to the provinces up the Plata and to the kingdom of Chile. They were also allowed to carry negroes across the isthmus from Porto Bello to Panama, and there re-ship them to Peru. Either Englishmen or Spaniards could be employed in the business, provided that there were not more than four or six Englishmen in any port, and that these should be amenable to the laws in all respects as Spanish subjects. By no means the least remarkable provision of this treaty was that their British and Catholic majesties were each to receive one-fourth of the profits of this traffic.
Ships engaged in this trade were to be searched on arrival at port, and all merchandise found on board was to be confiscated and heavy penalties inflicted. On condition, however, that the company should not attempt any unlawful trade, his Catholic Majesty granted them the privilege, during thirty years, of sending annually a ship of 500 tons to the fair at Porto Bello. The Spanish king was to be concerned onefourth in the profits." It seems that the company stretched this privilege to the utmost. The ship always stopped at Jamaica, took on all the goods she could, and carried along with her five or six smaller vessels laden with goods. When she got near Porto Bello, all her provisions were put in the tenders and the goods these bore taken aboard. She then entered the harbor laden down to the water's edge. Thus this single ship was made to carry more than five or six of the largest galleons. 26
Thirty years before the Spanish colonies began their war of independence, the British government had entertained the idea of revolutionizing and separating them from Spain. This idea seems to have arisen in 1779, during the administration of Lord North, when Spain joined France in the alliance with the American colonies against Great Britain." It was suggested at
14 “ The Assiento; or Contract for Allowing to the Subjects of Great Britain the Liberty of Importing Negroes into the Spanish America.' London, 1713; 16 Ulloa,
* Voyage to South America." English translation, London, 1806, Vol. I, p. 105.
10"" Letters and Despatches of Castlereagh,”_Vol. VII, p. 266 ff. This volume is rich in information in regard to England's Spanish-American policy.