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Des Indes occidentales à l’Amérique Latine. Volume 2

Thomas Calvo
Alain Musset

Le travail et l’argent

«Extender a todo el Reino el comercio de América»: Pedro Rodriguez campomanes as proyectista (1762)

Stanley J. Stein

Texte intégral

«Las guerras actuales, más se emprenden con el poseer del Tráfico de lus Colonias, que por extender el dominio.»

Campomanes, Reflexiones, 11-12

«La Europa domina estos metales por la fuerza, el Asia les retiene por el Comercio, el Africa solo pone el trabajo y la America se vale de la posesión de las minas como de un fruto inagotable de su terreno.»

Campomanes, Reflexiones, 435-436

1Campomanes’ Reflexiones sobre el comercio español a América, completed in 1762 and left unpublished, is part of what one may term «crisis literature». It was drafted sometime between 1759, when Charles III came to Madrid, and 1762 probably in response to the second crisis of Bourbon Spain begun in the Seven Years War and dramatized by the unexpected fall of Quebec - a crisis both institutional and imperial. After the coup that ousted one of early Bourbon Spain’s major reform ministers, Cenon de Somodevila (marqués de la Ensenada), initiative for changing institutional holdovers of the Hapsburg legacy dried up. Instead there settled a profound sense of drift in both metropolitan and, more dangerous, colonial affairs. The resolution of colonial issues, posponed for decades, could no longer be delaycd indefinitely. The accession of Charles who brought to Madrid an activist leading minister, the marqués de Esquilache, represented to aspiring, critically minded civil servants the possibility of new directions to end ministerial drift - a kind of aggiornamento. For their part, Charles and Esquilache welcomed the collaboration of well intentioned bureaucrats like Campomanes, Gándara and Gálvez. In this sense, analysis of Campomanes’ Reflexiones reveals the approach to colonial and other issues of a civil servant who, along with Floridablanca, helped shape the contours of national policy in Spain’s Catholic enlightenment.

2To understand the emphases and direction of an evolving Spanish paradigm of growth at the accession of Charles III in 1759, we need, first, to review the context of repeated conflict between England and France for hegemony in the western Atlantic. This rivalry had sharpened in the last half of the seventeenth century when both England and France undermined Dutch hegemony, then fought each other in the War of the Spanish Succession, then in the War of the Austrian Succession and finally continued in the Seven Years War beginning in 1756. In this context the primary consideration, as Spanish contemporaries recognized, was unsettling evidence in wartime, 1739-1748, and renewed after 1756, of English naval and commercial power and capacity to mount offensive operations in both the Caribbean and Canada. Hard-earned lessons of the asiento in English hands (1713-1739) and English amphibious attacks at Cartagena and Portovelo, 1741-1742, followed by the astonishing and upsetting English victory in French Canada in 1759, undermined the priorities of Bourbon economic policy planners. Prior emphasis upon the longer term objective of developing the metropolitan economy now began to shift to rapid trade expansion between metropole and colonies. Mean- while, to forestall prospective English naval operations against the Caribbean linchpin, Havana, Madrid replaced its captain-general in Cuba in 1760 with instructions to strenghten the port’s defensive works.

  • 1 Geronimo Uztariz, Theórica, y práctica de comercio y de marina [1724]. Franco, Gabriel ed., Madrid (...)
  • 2 Restablecimiento de las fábricas, tráfico, y comercio maritime) de España, Madrid, 1740. Ulloa was (...)

3Military measures at Havana represented an immediate response to the English threat. Was there serions reconsideration of priorities in the growth paradigm contemplated by influential state bureaucrats who were to shape Charles III’s economic policy for metropole and colonies? Uztariz’s Theórica, y práctica, we should recall, covered only metropolitan issues - finance, Europe-oriented trade and manufacturing development. He proposed to concern himself later with Spain’s colonial world1. Only Bernardo Ulloa’s Restablecimiento de las fábricas did cover both domestic and colonial sectors2. His perspective of Spain’s transatlantic trade, however, introduced no innovative elements, posed no question of Cadiz’s pre-eminent status as sole peninsular port trading with designated colonial ports and accepted uncritically the convoy system - in brief, it left unquestioned managed trade. Whether Bernardo Ulloa’s stance was dictated by his social prominence at Sevilla, or simply by reluctance to lock horns publicly with the influential web of interests centered on the Cadiz system of colonial monopoly, remains moot. In proyectista manuscripts, let us recall, it was possible to criticize Cadiz’role. For Uztariz or Ulloa, to do so in print was politically unwise.

  • 3 I wish to express my appreciation to Barbara Hadley Stein who generously put at my disposition her (...)
  • 4 Originally, «Discurso y reflexiones politicas sobre el estado presente de los reinos del Peru...», (...)
  • 5 For doubts about Campillo’s authorship, see: Luis Navarro Garcia. «Campillo y el Nuevo sistema: un (...)
  • 6 It long remained in manuscript until located in the Archivo de Campomanes’.

4This background clarifies options and priorities when Charles III moved from Naples to Madrid. It makes sense of the operational style of a high-profile bureaucrat. Pedro Rodriguez Campomanes, over the thirty-year span of Charles’ reign3 From salient positions on the Consejo de Castilla and through professional and social networks, he proved a cautious catalyst of change within the old regime of Bourbon Spain. More to the point, the backdrop is essential in analyzing his views of colonial issues in the critical early years of Charles’ reign. There is little doubt of his role in overseeing the publication years later of one, or perhaps two, influential manuscripts that had been quietly circulating in Madrid’s ministries along with Antonio de Ulloa’s Discurso4, Bernardo Ward’s Proyecto económico completed in 1762 but published posthumously by Campomanes in 1779, the second part of which (on the American colonies) appeared in print in 1789 as Nuevo sistema de gobierno económico para America under the presumed authorship of José del Campillo y Cosío5. Analyzing Campomanes’ recently found and reconstitued Reflexiones sobre el comercio español a Indias6 places in high relief how a politically sensitive, career-oriented state servant (bureaucrat and intellectual) proposed to handle certain legacies of the Hapsburg legacy of Bourbon Spain.

  • 7 Cited in Ricardo Krebs Wilckens. El pensamiento histórico, político v económico del conde de Campo (...)

5In a career spanning the last half of the eighteenth century Campomanes became a prominent member of the generation of political-bureaucratic elite forming first under Fernando VI and Ensenada, later coalescing around Charles III, that governed Spain and its empire for more than three decades. He was emblematic of the high public functionary of modest social origins (the Cantabrian rural gentry) distinguished by legal skill joined to persistent deference to tradition and to those prizing its values, to aristocracy and church. As he once encapsulated his approach, «es preciso valerse de las sociedades de la nobleza y de los curas, si se ha de hacer algo7». An Asturian admirer of English economic works available in French editions, he also cultivated a certain cosmo- politanism and unfailing flexibility. He learned to bend his positions on major issues to the prevailing winds of Spain’s directing class. Domineering to underlings, he could be accommodating to superiors, servicial as Spaniards would say.

  • 8 Like other outstanding figures of eighteenth-century Spain - Macanaz. Roda. Floridablanca - Campom (...)
  • 9 In a brief autobiography (1757) he listed his legal work as «... muchas Alegaciones juridicas en p (...)
  • 10 Craywinckel, who knew Campomanes well, came from a Flemish f’amily settled at Barcelona and assimi (...)

6To legal expertise that assured a long association with the aristocracy (particularly the families of the condes de Benavente and duques de Alba), Campomanes brought a historical avocation and carefully cultivated regalist perspective that mercantilist-minded bureaucrats prized8. At age 24 (1747) he published a markedly regalist history of the Templars (Disertaciones históricas del orden y caballería de los Templares) tactfully dedicated to then Prime Minister Carvajal y Lancaster. To draw the attention of those on the bureaucratie heights was a tactical ritual for advancing one’s career. His regalist study and probably the intervention of his mentor (and his wife’s uncle). Ortiz de Amaya, already a member of the Academia de la Historia, led to membership in that body (1748). Legal activity, avocation for history and extensive networking furthered his career9. In 1755-1756 he became asesor in the Juzgado de Correos y Postas, in 1758 one of 40 press censors, then asesor on the staff of Prime Minister Ricardo Wall (whom he advised on colonial issues), and in 1760 the newly installed Hacienda secretary, marqués de Esquilache, put him on the Consejo de Hacienda. At 36 Campomanes was already a respected civil servant in Madrid’s political class, responsible, trustworthy, regalist. deferential when necessary, in contact with aristocracy and church, with elements of Spain’s small merchant bourgeoisie in Cantabria and Madrid, and with other civil servants convinced of the inevitability of changes in colonial trade policy like Francisco Craywinckel, Pedro Goosens and Simon de Aragorri y Olavide - all three later instrumental in formulating in 1765 the initial stage of comercio libre with the American colonies10.

  • 11 Reflexiones, 12.
  • 12 Reflexiones, 233-252 and passim.

7Campomanes also cultivated another historical interest logically correlated with the colonial trade wars of his time. «Las guerras actuales», he was convinced. «más se emprenden con el poseer el Tráfico de las Colonias, que por extender el dominio11». As aspiring civil servant at Madrid during the forties and fifties, he could not overlook reports of English smuggling inroads in the Caribbean in war and peace, or the volume of French shipping authorized and unauthorized between Spain and ils Caribbean and Pacific coast ports. Civil servants eager to participate in policy planning could not miss glaring shortcomings in the colonial lifeline - in the merchant marine, royal navy, and especially in the supply of exports and re-exports from metropole to colonies. Why, he wondered like many before him, had England. France and Holland developed in their colonies sources of economic growth and real wealth while Spain had failed dismally12? At the close of the 1750s these were becoming the critical issues confronting Charles III’s incoming government.

  • 13 Rosa Llombart, «Estudio preliminar», Reflexiones, xv-xvi and note 18.
  • 14 Vicente Morachimo, Manifiesto de los agravios... que padecen los Indios del... Peru Madrid, ca. 17 (...)
  • 15 Henry Kamen, «Melchor de Macanaz and the Foundations of Power in Spain», English Historical Review (...)
  • 16 «Discursos varios sobre... rentas provinciales, y del comercio de la America y colonias [del] Mar d (...)
  • 17 Rosa Llombart, «Estudio preliminar», Reflexiones. xvi.

8Career-oriented and intellectually ambitious, probably inspired by the reception of his Templars publication, Campomanes in 1752 sketched out a Historia compléta of Spain’s navy, nautical law and trade which led him to research on legislation covering the consulados of Valencia and Barcelona (significantly, not those of Burgos, Sevilla or Cadiz). Meanwhile he published a study of commercial history, Antigiiedad marítima de la república de Cartago. In 1755 when the Consejo de Indias decided to subsidize an officiai history of the Spanish empire in response to the negative attitude about Spain in foreign publications, it turned to Madrid’s Academia de la Historia to coordinate the enterprise: the Academia designated the historically inclined Campomanes13. Now as colonial chronicler, he had unlimited access to the colonial office’s files and library, presumably to Morachimo’s detailed denunciation of the super-exploitation of native peoples in Peru by corregidores amply substantiated by Antonio de Ulloa’s unpublished Discurso14 and perhaps the recently confiscated writings of Melchor Macanaz on the American colonies15. There was another theme in Campomanes historiographical avocation, the economic development of his native province, that materialized in a manuscript speculating on how a contemplated fiscal innovation of wide implication, Ensenada’s projected única contribution, might impact on Asturias (1753)16. In 1759 tax policy and colonial trade interests fused in his very incomplete manuscript of four «discourses»; one, Discurso sobre el Comercio y Colonias del Mar del sur, de la Seguridad y Modo de promover el Comercio de España a America, seems the kernel of the manuscript finished in 1762 with the title, Reflexiones sobre el Comercio español a Indias17.

  • 18 For instance, this strategy motivated José de Gâlvez’s Discurso y reflexiones de un vasallo sobre (...)
  • 19 Reflexiones. 428.
  • 20 «Advertencia», Apéndice a la educación popular. 4 vol.. Madrid. 1775-1777,1.

9One final note on the background of the Reflexiones. Like the study of the Templars, this was part of the strategy of a career-driven public servant displaying skills useful to an incoming reign whose house-cleaning tendencies were initially visible18. Analyses and policy recommendations concerning Spain’s colonial trade (in his words, the principal objeto of the Reflexiones) might fit policy-makers needs19. In the same vein, in 1761 Campomanes also drafted an officiai justification of Spain’s imminent invasion of Portugal (it was not published, however); he did publish in 1762 a handy field guide to major routes from Castilla and Galicia through Portugal to the capital at Lisbon. Campomanes’ research interests and publications were usually the product of well calibrated timing to which he brought a finely honed awareness of the persuasive power of selected historical example and simplicity of presentation. The analyses of fellow political economists were marked, he opined, neither by research depth nor analytical clarity. In his own words, he was always guided by the principle that «Las ideas confusas han producido en España resistencia a todo proyecto nuevo porque faltando a muchos las nociones suficientes para analizar las partes de su contestation, prefieren la critica vaga contra lo que se propone20».

  • 21 Reflexiones. 350.

10Campomanes’ Reflexiones contained an explicit internai logic. A sound national economy, he postulated, had to be rooted in an agricultural base and foreign trade, in Spain’s special case, in trade between metropole and colonies. To activate the domestic economy required effective demand that only the American colonies could provide; here there was, however, that bottleneck maintained by managed trade - Cadiz’s port monopoly and tied-in convoy system throttling trade flows to a minimum. In Campomanes’ colonialist optic, it was his major criticism of the existing colonial trade system - another matter that the state sanctioned the exclusion of all peninsular ports other than Cadiz. And while he acknowledged the utility of Uztáriz’s already classic Theórica and its apparent synthesis in the first part of Bernardo Ulloa’s Restablecimiento de las fábricas y comercio español (1749), he underscored that both publications had serious shortcomings. Uztáriz had failed to cover colonial trade while Ulloa had uncritically accepted «el methodo de flota y el Comercio exclusivo de Andalutia», shorteomings exacerbated by the fact that since 1740 he perceived the colonial trade of Europe and Spain had been transformed. As he put it. «En el ano de 1740 se conocía poco en España la fuerza de las Colonias francesas e Inglesas de América. La presente guerra entre estas Naciones prueba bien el estado de sus Colonias...21».

  • 22 Between 1760-1764, if not earlier, Campomanes and Craywinckel discussed current issues including c (...)
  • 23 Reflexiones, 5, 13.

11To substantiate an argument for reducing Cadiz’s role, Campomanes proposed to compare and then draw lessons from the colonial experience of other European powers, their emigration policies and slave trade, and from the insight of analytical observers like Josiah Child and Montesquieu - among the very few foreigners who, he was convinced, understood the nature of Spain’s colonial system. These he supplemented with his reaction to a stimulating anonymous publication of 1761 on Spain’s colonial trade. Campomanes reminded potential leaders that his «discourses» were the product of much reflection and personal dialogue with those experienced in Spain’s European and colonial exchanges - presumably with people like Craywinckel22, Goosens and Aragorri. Entirely in character, he also warned readers that his concepts might be viewed as hardly in tune with «el modo comun de pensar en España» – an oblique reference to the wide, informai and in certain quarters highly persuasive influence of Cadiz23.

  • 24 Presumably this was Vincent de Gournay’s translation. Traité sur le commerce et sur les avantages (...)

12In somewhat disjointed fashion the Reflexiones compared Spain’s American colonial experience with that of Denmark. Portugal, France and - at great length - England. The English section opened with an analysis of Child’s A New Discourse of Trade consulted by Campomanes in a French translation (1754) of the revised 1692 edition24. Child, he was convinced, revealed the basis of the remarkable development of the English colonies in North America by underscoring and contrasting England’s readiness to avoid Spain’s mistakes. Colony by colony, Campomanes moved southward from Hudson’s Bay to Georgia, then into the Caribbean where he expatiated on Jamaica’s smuggling and dyewood cutting operations but completely overlooked that island’s plantation economy. Evidently the ongoing war between France and England beginning in 1756 was one of the developments after 1740 that inspired Campomanes’ generation to fear English commercial and territorial expansion in North America, the possible realization of English aspirations for «universal empire» - England’s hegemonic power over all west European economies. He therefore closed his review of England’s experience in colonialism by forecasting its movement into Florida and the Gulf, then westward across the lower Mississippi via Louisiana toward northern New Spain and California.

  • 25 Reflexiones, 366-369.
  • 26 Reflexiones, 366.

13In Campomanes’ optic, two factors, power and trade, alone bound the North American colonies to the English metropole. This loyalty, he decided, would persist as long as London provided a protective umbrella, naval power. Also underpinning the endurance of colony-metropole ties were mutual benefits derived from expanding transatlantic trade: in this process the English colonies absorbed a wide spectrum of English goods exported with minimal duties, and in return shipped agricultural staples paying high import duties at metropolitan ports. By contrast, Campomanes concurred with Montesquieu in discerning a totally different Spanish colonial trade policy. Spain’s poor performance as a colonial power was due to an obsolete policy of high duties, Cadiz’s single-port monopoly of colonial exchanges and its correspondingly high ocean freight charges. Consequently, Spain’s colonial consumers found the supply and price of imports from Cadiz uncompetitive with what English, French and Dutch smugglers offered and hence, citing Montesquieu, Campomanes reported that two-thirds of silver outflows from the Spanish Caribbean passed to Europe through non-Spanish intermediaries. As a nationalist. however, Campomanes had to dispute what Montesquieu found in this relationship, a peculiar role-reversal in which Spain the metropole was in reality subordinate to its colonies25. We can see why Campomanes praised De l’esprit des lois for its discerning remarks about Spain’s colonial trade. Montesquieu’s analysis of the causes of uncontrolable smuggling in the Caribbean matched his own: there was Cadiz’s monopoly (estanco), as a structure of fiscal rather than protective tariffs, and, as a consequence, uncompetitive monopoly pricing at point-of-sale in the colonies. Probably most useful for Campomanes’ argument. Montesquieu remarked on the «thesouros inmensos» flooding Spain from its mining colonies but carefully avoided analysing the pervasive effects of long-term dependence upon colonial silver mining26.

  • 27 Campomanes and Miguel Casiri included an Arab codex in the Escorial’s manuscript collection (Abu Z (...)

14To judge by his Reflexiones, Campomanes understanding of a Bourbon growth model was limited. narrowly focused upon the wonder-working power of trade and its capacity to restrain an unprecedented upsurg of smuggling in the Caribbean in the decades after 1740. His emphasis differed from the earlier works of Uztáriz and Bernardo Ulloa, for fundamental to their mercantilism were other sectors of the metropole’s economy, agriculture and manufacture, and the strategy for their improved performance. But aside from references to agrarian activities in a general sense, the Reflexiones sidestepped in-depth analysis of the problems and possibilities of manufacture and agriculture in Spain, notably the phenomena of land concentration, pressure upon small-holders (proprietors and tenants), and the plight of rural day-labor. This is all the more perplexing since Campomanes had previously published (1751) a co- translation of an Arabie study of agriculture in Spain27 and would later prepare a long legal brief on ecclesiastical mortmain (his Tratado de la regalía de la amortización) in 1765 and in 1771 a contribution to a memorial ajustado on agrarian conditions in Extremadura.

  • 28 Reflexiones, 307.
  • 29 Reflexiones, 332. Campomanes’ surprise is perplexing since from its inception (1711) the South Sea (...)
  • 30 Reflexiones. 10.

15On the other hand, he could not neglect the relationship linking agricultural development, staple exports in trade between other European colonies in the western hemisphere and their metropoles, and the swelling supply of European immigrants and African slave labor. The African slave trade he was convinced, had facilitated much of the colonial export growth and as a resuit European state policy had made it «uno de los objetos de mayor atencion28». This led him to a detailed chronicle of slave trade contracts assigned by Madrid to Europe’s businessmen, especially the asiento allocated to English interests as part of the Utrecht seulement. This he analyzed clause by clause. What astonished him was the ingenuity with which English asentistas had transformed the last, seemingly innocuous clause on the «permission» vessel into invaluable commercial intelligence and the major source of their asiento’s profitability, goods smuggled from Jamaican ports into Spain’s Caribbean possessions, undermining «nuestro Comercio de Indias29». He could now introduce a policy recommendation: that restraints on Spaniards’ participation in the African slave trade be lifted along with duties on imported slaves in order to encourage the neglected agricultural development of Cuba and the Spanish half of Santo Domingo, and to increase silver production in the mainland colonies of New Spain and Peru. Black Africans were, he confidently asserted, «los más utiles habitantes de la América» while the slave trade with full Spanish participation permitted would eut down the «Contrabando radical de los Estrangeros». Incidentally, he had other reasons for encouraging the slave trade: Blacks were both physically hardier and higher spirited («tienen más esfuerzo y ánimo mas brioso») than Indios of while mulattoes felt close to white society in the colonies and could be relied upon for internai security and defense against invasion30.

  • 31 Reflexiones, 410.
  • 32 Reflexiones, 353.

16The Reflexiones also lack coverage of Spanish industry or its function in a paradigm of economic growth. References to manufactures are casual; Campomanes concurred with Montesquieu’s judgment that Cadiz’s derechos excesivos alone curbed sales of Spanish goods in the colonies; to encourage manufactures in Spain required only low export duties which would somehow lead to the availability of competitively-priced Spanish goods in the colonies. Industrial policy, he seemed to imply, could be reduced to formulation of discriminating protective tariffs and, where necessary, the provision of drawbacks or export subsidies31. It cornes as no surprise that the Reflexiones rejected explicitly direct state intervention in the manufacturing sector. In Campomanes, proto- liberal» economic model, there was no place for extensive Colbert-like dirigisme: for example, he sidestepped the issue of state ownership or state subsidization of manufacture recommended by Uztáriz. His industrial policy was therefore at best rudimentary: manufactures would materialize once «todas las provincias de la Nation navegen [sic] en derechura a América y cada una envie sus frutos o manufacturas por el puerto que le cae mas cerca» - an appeal to laisser faire avant la lettre. What was key to industrial development was an unfettered profit motive emerging in the competition of the marketplace: «Luego que vea el despacho y facilidad de ganar, ya está la industria entablada32

  • 33 Charles W. Cole, Colbert and a Century of French Mercantilism. 2 vol.. New York. 1939.1. 404-410.
  • 34 Reflexiones, 251.
  • 35 Reflesiones, 251.

17Finally, there was a third sector of the Spanish imperial economy not embodied in the original French paradigm of Colbertisme that Spanish projectors evaluated: production. distribution and hopefully retention of colonial silver for the benefit of the metropolitan economy. Not that the French Bourbon growth model disregarded silver transfers across the Atlantic; rather, lacking control over the production source, French policy emphasized legal and illegal trade to tap into Spain’s colonial silver flows33. It is well known that Colbert urged French textile exporters to direct their products into the Cadiz market in exchange for silver. Yet none of the 23 chapters (386 pages) of Campomanes’ Reflexiones was devoted entirely to the primary export activity in the Spanish colonial economy, silver mining. And where he did touch the theme, his view is contradictory. He accepted as valid Josiah Child’s criticism that Spain’s dependence upon silver carried grave disadvantages, one in particular – the «causa de no cuidar la agricultura de nuestras colonias34». In Campomanes’ restrospect, dependence upon colonial silver operations was, however, both explicable and justifiable. In the early stages of the occupation of America, precious metals were desperately needed to finance Spain’s unprecedented intervention in western Europe and, moreover, the mining centers were deep in the interior of Central Mexico and Upper Peru, insulated from foreign aggres- sion. At the moment he was convinced they were efficiently operated and, most important, «la ganancia es tan grande que no necesita de estímulo35». The mirage of silver in the west was, it would appear, indestructible.

  • 36 Reflexiones. 435-436.

18This was the perspective of a cost-conscious colonialist civil servant at the center of the empire at Madrid. As he explained his position, Spain’s neglect of the potential wealth of French and English Caribbean islands in his day a was more than offset by the fact that colonial silver constituted the «manantial de la mayor riqueza», furnished incentive to Europe’s and Asia’s artisans and absorbed African slave labor («aquella miserable portion de habitantes»): at bottom he could only marvel how American silver flowing through Spanish conduits continued to integrate the «quatro partes del mundo». «La Europa domina estos metales por el Comercio», ran his conspectus, «el Asia les retiene por el Comercio, el Africa sólo pone el trabajo» while America finds in silver mining a «fruto inagotable de su terreno». In its annual «renewal», its «harvesting» at export, its consumption abroad, silver represented to Campomanes’ peasant-like mentality an agricultural analog, a fruto36.

  • 37 Those ministerial files would have contained. e.g., Macanaz’s recently sequestered manuscript volu (...)
  • 38 Reflexiones. 445.
  • 39 Reflexiones, 443.

19These revealing observations on colonial mining, one need note, came not from Campomanes’ primary text but from one of five supplementary chapters added to the Reflexiones – as he confessed – «por la luz que pueden dar al resto de la obra». Evidently his comments on silver were sparked by the Comentario a las ordenanzas de minas of New Spain just published at Madrid (1761) by a criollo of New Spain. Francisco Xavier Gamboa, then one of two agents representing the merchants of Mexico City’s consulado. Campomanes’ burrowing in the colonial files of Madrid’s ministries37 supplemented by English publications on Jamaica’s silver exports to England had already alerted him to the economic importance of New Spain. «una de las partes más esenciales y preciosas» of the Spanish empire of his time38. It was not just that colony’s centrality to the Spanish imperial economy that caught his as was gamboa’s obvious gambit, a proposai to remedy capital shortages in New Spain’s mining economy by having Madrid charter a privileged company, a general mining enterprise to finance capital improvements and supply inputs to mineowners in return for sole right to handle their output. Inevitably, he foresaw, merchants in Mexico City’s consulado would control the supply of silver along with Spain’s trade with New Spain, laying down «la ley a nuestros comerciantes de Europa» – the agents or factors of the Cadiz merchant community. For the state to sanction this proposai for a private monopoly ran counter to Campomanes’ often expressed, deep-seated antipathy to chartered companies and dirigisme, to his operating principle that «Quando un ramo de industria produce con la libertad, es máxima fundamental de un Gobierno no hacer novedad...». An imperialist Campomanes sensed in Gamboa’s proposal a threat to the metropole’s hegemony over the American colonies, indeed a potential role-reversal. Such a contcmplated company operating in New Spain would inevitably crystalize into the most «formidable» interest- group in the empire, even dominate «la metropolí misma39».

  • 40 Campomanes, Discurso sobre la industria popular (Madird. 1774). John Reeder ed., Madrid, 1975. 411
  • 41 Reflexiones, 366.
  • 42 Reflexiones, 350.

20To Campomanes and other political economists whether seventeenth-century arbitristas or eighteenth-century proyectistas, there never was the option of shutting down the profitable colonial silver mines. Colonial silver inflows to the metropole since the age of Philip II had long been the backbone of Spain’s European projection, and from 1650 onward its survival as a lesser European power. Spanish foreign policy under the Hapsburgs had poured colonial resources into broad-scale intervention in Europe instead of cycling them into Spain’s economic development - to use Campomanes, later formulation, «en fomentar sus fábricas y población40». The problem remained, how to retain American silver within the metropole. And responding to an observation in Montesquieu’s recently published De l’esprit des lois he offered his solution: augment the flow of exports and re-exports from the metropole by eliminating «los excesivos derechos sobre el Comercio de Indias y el estanco de este tráfico que introduxeron las providencias del mismo Fhelipe II41». In the eighteenth century, he concluded, Cadiz was in fact functioning as «una formai Compañia exclusiva de todos los demás Españoles de las restantes provincias», it was an «exclusiva odiosa42».

  • 43 Reflexiones, 366.

21Trade expansion within imperial circuits conjoined with Spain’s continued domination of silver-rich New Spain induced his grandiose vision of what a model transatlantic system might have been, one in which colonial silver surging into Spain would have been the primum mobile of economic development. Had Spain been capable of retaining American treasure, he postulated. both agriculture and manufactures would have flourished, and «Los grandes jornales avrían atraído todos los artifices hábiles de Europa a España y entabladas las fábricas con ventaja a todas las demás Naciones, que carecerían de los artífices por que estos se vendrían a España, de los crudos o primeras materias de las fábricas por que todavía España es dueña de la mayor parte de ellas y teniendo la facultad de despacharlas en nuestras dilatadísimas Colonias el Comercio quedaría en nuestras manos como hoy lo está en los Ingleses...43». Here Campomanes overlooked the contradiction in his argument: How could one reconcile glorification of Spain’s intervention in western Europe under Charles V and Philip II while lamenting the failure to cycle colonial silver into the metropole’s economic development?

  • 44 Reflexiones, 442.
  • 45 Reflexiones, 385.

22More than a self-sufficient Spanish imperial trade system encysted in a European economy rounded out his vision. In reducing dependence upon imports of European manufactures for re-export to the colonies, following his proposed system Madrid would be able to monitor outflows of its colonial silver and therby dominate European competitors who «tomanan la plata al precio que nosotros se la quisiésemos dar44». This was a monopoly-driven growth paradigm with a vengeance and he was convinced it was achievable solely by adopting the most innovative element of his otherwise un-innovative plan – «extender a todo el Reyno el Comercio de América». This method was «muy sencillo... reservado para el feliz Reynado de Carlos III45».

  • 46 Reflexiones, 409 note 78. Aragorri y Olavide hailed from Guipuzcoa near the border with France; we (...)

23Or perhaps it was not so simple? Perhaps ever career-conscious Campomanes was unwilling to confront those powerful influences he knew well as «poseídos del mejor zelo y voluntad... [que] miren como cosa sumamente dificultosa el mudar de unas máximas recibidas sobre el Comercio de Indias a otras nuevas y opuestas diametralmente» and therefore he never published his Reflexiones? Such caution was common among others seeking to push their careers at Madrid who shared Campomanes’ views on trade policy as well as his caution in publieizing them. How else account for the fact that another Madrid resident, young, cosmopolitan, well connected and business- oriented Simon de Aragorri chose anonymity as author of Reflexiones sobre el estado actual del Comercio de España (Madrid, 1761)46? At the time Arragorri was managing Madrid’s pósito and a proponent of abandoning state grain controls. Aragorri’s Reflexiones quiekly captured Campomanes’ attention (he claimed he had the work in hand for only two days) because its core ideas – ending state intervention in grain pricing, discriminating protectionism by tariff-tuning as a developmental tool, overall reduction of state financial intervention, expansion of the African slave trade to foment plantation agriculture in Spain’s Caribbean colonies, and opening all peninsular ports to the colonial trade – all matched basic components of Campomanes’ own Reflexiones. Were, then, Campomanes and Aragorri and, for that matter, Aragorri’s later junta associâtes Craywinckel and Goosens, emblematic of an oncoming generation of Madrid’s political and economic dites then groping toward a late mercantilist Spanish paradigm stripped down to the essentials acceptable to Charles III’s policy-makers and supporters?

  • 47 Campillo y Cosío, Joseph del, Nuevo sistema de gobierno económico. Arcila Farías, Eduardo, ed.. Mé (...)

24Campomanes selected from a range of concepts only those apropriate for publication, eschewing what some proyectistas called a «cura radical por medio de una total reforma47». There is, indeed, little «radical» in Campomanes’ Reflexiones. It would be pointless to link Campomanes’ concepts to specific sources in proyectistas from Uztáriz. Bernardo and Antonio Ulloa, to Bernardo Ward’s Proyecto económico (drafted by 1762) which obviously borrowed from Bernardo Ulloa and from the Nuevo sistema de gobierno económico para la América attributed to Campillo. In fact there is strong evidence that Campomanes played a covert role in the preparation of Ward’s publication and the republication of its second part («Sobre la América») as the Nuevo sistema de gobierno económico para la América. On the other hand it is possible to draw up a composite menu of the elements of the Spanish proyectistas’ contributions to a mercantilist growth paradigm about 1760.

25Beyond doubt the projectors’ objective as mercantilists was trade expansion as the measure of economic progress. Broadly speaking their strategy concerned two geographical areas, metropolitan and colonial, that policy-makers found linked in the economic praxis of England and France. These nations seemed to have achieved balanced growth, tying demand for manufactures and production for export in the colonial sector to the metropole’s demand for raw materials, foodstuffs and colonial markets — what was shortly to be termed the «colonial pact». In addition, the metropolitan sector required other factors: a national merchant marine and crews, absence of state shipping fees (toneladas) and bulk-rate export duties (palmeo) on cargo to the colonies, well calibrated protective tariffs and termination of Cadiz’s monopoly of colonial trade and the convoy system, a major instrument of that monopoly. But handling Cadiz’s interests required a nuanced approach. Some political economists would drop the whole convoy system, others recommended gradual abandonment whereby convoys to silver-rich New Spain alone would function during a transition period; still others would have Cadiz remain the sole peninsular port handling re-exports to the American colonies. Behind these tactics was a strategic goal: to limit widespread smuggling in the Caribbean by expanding the supply of Spanish shipping and goods to satisfy growing markets in Spain’s colonies in America. Their goal for the colonial sector was a rise in export-oriented production. The principal export by value, silver. would be increased by improved technology, by increments to the mine labor force through a stepped-up African slave trade, and by the capital of a privileged mining company whose shareholders would be wealthy merchant princes in the colonies controlling a pool of funds larger than any at Cadiz.

26Very few projectors in what some called their «new system» emphasized what was strikingly new, a drastic re-evaluation of a neglected colonial resource, native American peoples. Behind this interest in Indios were several phenomena: the apparent recovery of colonial population, monetization and commodification of the economies of the silver-producing colonial cores and their surrounding supply areas, and Madrid’s unset- ling details about the extent of overt, widely tolerated collusion overseas between merchants and colonial district officers (the corregidores) to exploit Indios. Here was a fresh emphasis upon lowering the walls of the ethnic enclaves, upon incorporating native peoples into a capitalistic economy of consumption by providing them access to land and encouraging the use of European textiles and clothing styles – en bloc, a kind of «westernization» turning Indios into peasants. Some Spanish political economists were, it seemed, seeking to apply lessons derived from a close reading of the «model» English and French economies which had transformed their colonies in North America and the Caribbean into large-scale trading partners. In the process the Spaniards planned to make their colonies at last large-scale dependent contributors to their metropole’s economic development through manufacture, diversification and overseas trade.

27In this context. Campomanes’ version of a Spanish Bourbon paradigm outlined in the Reflexiones seems over-simplified and, worse, lacks a vision of how to integrate metropole and colonies more effectively. To be sure, his Reflexiones cite a variety of published sources, mostly English and French, acceptable to Spanish censors had he submitted his manuscript for publication. On the other hand Campomanes chose not to draw upon materials he must have examined when drafting the Reflexiones by 1762 – for example, Macanaz’s confiscated papers, the «apuntamientos» of the Nuevo sistema de gobierno económico para América, the manuscript of Antonio Ulloa’s Notifias secretas. Bernardo Ward’s drafts of the Proyecto econômico whose publication, delayed until 1779. Campomanes would preface with biographical and other materials.

  • 48 Krebs Wilckens, Campomanes, 207, 273.
  • 49 Rosa Llombart offers different explanations. Campomanes withheld publication because he foresaw th (...)

28Cautious conservatism was Campomanes’ hallmark. He sidestepped confrontation with the Spanish nobility which he held to be the «clase diligente y ejemplar» fully capable of rendering itself «digna de su situación privilegiada» and exemplifying «los ideales que deben servir de norma a la sociedad entera48». One may hypothesize that he withheld his Reflexiones from publication lest his criticism of Cadiz’s and associated interests might jeopardize his appointment in 1762 to the Consejo de Castilla49. The pressure that produced the watered-down Reglamento del Comercio Libre a las Islas de Barlovento in 1765 came, one suspects, from other sources – figures in the commercial bourgeoisie with cosmopolitan roots like Craywinckel, Goosens and Aragorri, and from veteran colonial bureaucrats like Tomas Ortiz de Landázuri with sixteen years service in New Spain, or long prominent Madrid officiais like Nicolas Mollinedo y La Cuadra. In major respects, Campomanes’ paradigm of growth at the accession of Charles III is uncomfortably akin to Hapsburg mentalities that Spain’s eighteenth-century proyectistas from Uztáriz to Gándara had hoped to abandon.


1 Geronimo Uztariz, Theórica, y práctica de comercio y de marina [1724]. Franco, Gabriel ed., Madrid. 1968.

2 Restablecimiento de las fábricas, tráfico, y comercio maritime) de España, Madrid, 1740. Ulloa was at one time alcalde mayor of Sevilla, and Sevilla’s representative (procurador mayor) at Madrid.

3 I wish to express my appreciation to Barbara Hadley Stein who generously put at my disposition her extensive materials on Campomanes’career, writings and concepts.

4 Originally, «Discurso y reflexiones politicas sobre el estado presente de los reinos del Peru...», reptiblished recently as Las «Noticias secretas de America» de Jorge Juan v Antonio de Ulloa. Luis J. Ramos Gomez ed., 2 vol.. Madrid. 1985.

5 For doubts about Campillo’s authorship, see: Luis Navarro Garcia. «Campillo y el Nuevo sistema: una atribución dudosa», Tentas americanistas. 2 (1983). 22-28 and the comprehensive summary in the «Estudio preliminar» in Campomanes, Pedro Rodríguez. Reflexiones sobre el comercio a Indias. Llombart Rosa, V., ed.. Madrid, 1988. n. 83.

6 It long remained in manuscript until located in the Archivo de Campomanes’.

7 Cited in Ricardo Krebs Wilckens. El pensamiento histórico, político v económico del conde de Campomanes. Santiago, Chile, 1960, 115.

8 Like other outstanding figures of eighteenth-century Spain - Macanaz. Roda. Floridablanca - Campomanes was not a graduate of the colegios mayores, that is, not a colegial but a manteísta. For biographical details, see: Felipe Alvarez Requejo. El conde de Campomanes (Oviedo. 1954). 19-27, Llombart Rosa’s erudite «Estudio preliminar» in his edition of Campomanes’ Reflexiones. xiv-xix; Ricardo Krebs Wilckens. El pensamiento histórico, político y económico del Conde de Campomanes.

9 In a brief autobiography (1757) he listed his legal work as «... muchas Alegaciones juridicas en puntos Canonicos, competencias, pleytos de Mayorazgos, Aniversarios, Fideicomisos de la Corona de Aragon, materias de Regalías, y Diezmos secularizados», Campomanes, Pedro Rodríguez de. Discurso sobre la industria popular... [1775] John Reedered.. Madrid. 1975. 15.

10 Craywinckel, who knew Campomanes well, came from a Flemish f’amily settled at Barcelona and assimilated into the Catalan nobility. In 1760 he was a member of the Junta de Comercio v Moneda, the next year found him urging Hacienda minister Esquilache to lift controls on the domestic grain trade and in 1763 he recommended opening peninsular ports to colonial trades («Discurso sobre si conviene o no abrir indistintamente y sin limitaciones todos los puertos de Espana con sus Indias»), A brother. Manuel, served on the court-martial of the commanding officer who had surrendered Havana to English forces in 1762. Pierre Vilar. La Catalogne dans l’Espagne moderne. 3 vol., Paris. 1962, II. 393; Beliardi in Biblioteca Nacional. Paris. Mss. Fonds français 10768. f. 119v; Rosa Llombart, Vicente, «Estudio preliminar», in Campomanes, Reflexiones sobre el comercio español a Indias. Llombart Rosa, V., ed.. xl n. 125. Biographical data on Goosens is scarce. The family, like that of Craywinckel, was of Flemish origin and settled at Bilbao. Members of the Goosens family maintained contact with Parisian bankers (in 1750 there was the firm of Beaujon. Goosens et Cie.), insurance group; in 1769 Goosens was on the Consejo de Hacienda. Matilla Tascón. Antonio and Miguel Capella. Los Cinco Gremios Mayores de Madrid (Madrid. 1957). 238. On Aragorri, see below, footnote 47.

11 Reflexiones, 12.

12 Reflexiones, 233-252 and passim.

13 Rosa Llombart, «Estudio preliminar», Reflexiones, xv-xvi and note 18.

14 Vicente Morachimo, Manifiesto de los agravios... que padecen los Indios del... Peru Madrid, ca. 1732; Luis Ramos Gómez ed.. Epoca génesis y texto de «Las Noticias secretas de América». 2 vol.. Madrid. 1985, II.

15 Henry Kamen, «Melchor de Macanaz and the Foundations of Power in Spain», English Historical Review, 80 (oct., 1965), 710-71 1: Joaquin Maldonado Macanaz ed.. Regalías de los señores reyes de Aragón, Madrid. 1886, lxxi-lxxx, lists Macanaz’s volumes of manuscripts on the American colonies.

16 «Discursos varios sobre... rentas provinciales, y del comercio de la America y colonias [del] Mar del Sur.»

17 Rosa Llombart, «Estudio preliminar», Reflexiones. xvi.

18 For instance, this strategy motivated José de Gâlvez’s Discurso y reflexiones de un vasallo sobre la decadencia de nuestras Indias españolas. Biblioteca de Palacio. Madrid. Mss. Ayala, 2816, ff. 109-132 and Miguel Antonio de la Gândara’s Apuntes sobre el bien y el mal de España (1759] drafted at Naples. An auto acordado of 13 April 1766 urged those who «tuviesen propuestas utiles al público, hacerlas presentes adonde toquen». José Muñoz Pérez, «Los proyeetos sobre España e Indias en el siglo xviii: el proyeetismo como género». Revista de estudios políticos, n° 81. 1955. 185.

19 Reflexiones. 428.

20 «Advertencia», Apéndice a la educación popular. 4 vol.. Madrid. 1775-1777,1.

21 Reflexiones. 350.

22 Between 1760-1764, if not earlier, Campomanes and Craywinckel discussed current issues including colonial trade policy. In October 1763 Craywinckel formulated his ideas in a manuscript sent for Campomanes’ inspection, Discurso sobre si conviene o no abrir indistintamente, y sin limitaciones todos los Puertos de España al comercio de sus Indias, Llombart, Vicente, Campomanes, economista y político de Carlos III. Madrid. 1992, 131-132.

23 Reflexiones, 5, 13.

24 Presumably this was Vincent de Gournay’s translation. Traité sur le commerce et sur les avantages qui résultent de la réduction de l’intérêt de l’argent..., Amsterdam, 1754. Gournay, incidentally, had once resided at Cadiz. Llombart. Campomanes. 119 and note 7.

25 Reflexiones, 366-369.

26 Reflexiones, 366.

27 Campomanes and Miguel Casiri included an Arab codex in the Escorial’s manuscript collection (Abu Zacaria’s Tratado de agricultura in their Tratado del cultivo de las tierras..., Madrid, 175). Llombart, Campomanes, 106.

28 Reflexiones, 307.

29 Reflexiones, 332. Campomanes’ surprise is perplexing since from its inception (1711) the South Sea Company proposed to exploit the trade potential of Spanish colonial markets; few stockholders expected high earnings from delivering African slaves. Sperling, John G.. The South Sea Company. An Historical Essay and Bibliographical Finding List (Cambridge, MA., 1962), 14-16, 19.

30 Reflexiones. 10.

31 Reflexiones, 410.

32 Reflexiones, 353.

33 Charles W. Cole, Colbert and a Century of French Mercantilism. 2 vol.. New York. 1939.1. 404-410.

34 Reflexiones, 251.

35 Reflesiones, 251.

36 Reflexiones. 435-436.

37 Those ministerial files would have contained. e.g., Macanaz’s recently sequestered manuscript volumes, Campillo’s manuscripts («Lo que hay de más y de menos», «España despierta»).

38 Reflexiones. 445.

39 Reflexiones, 443.

40 Campomanes, Discurso sobre la industria popular (Madird. 1774). John Reeder ed., Madrid, 1975. 411.

41 Reflexiones, 366.

42 Reflexiones, 350.

43 Reflexiones, 366.

44 Reflexiones, 442.

45 Reflexiones, 385.

46 Reflexiones, 409 note 78. Aragorri y Olavide hailed from Guipuzcoa near the border with France; well educated, well traveled and probably family financed, early he migrated to Madrid where Esquilache appointed him director of Madrid’s public granary (pósito). This office was probably the origin of his early wealth, for Francisco Carrasco claimed it provided him a fortune of 800,000 pesos. He backed removal of state restrictions on domestic grains, a position which may have led to his appointment (along with Craywinckel) to the junta that drafted the Reglamento del Comercio Libre a las Islas de Barlovento (1765). From Craywinckel Campomanes learned that Aragorri had authored the anonymous Reflexiones sobre el estado actual del comercio de España. Later, Aragorri became one of Madrid’s most prominent merchant bankers who corresponded with Paris (Le Couteulx et Cie.) and Amsterdam (Hope & Company) and served as the Madrid agent of France’s Compagnie des Indes. As marqués de Yranda he provided Alexander von Humboldt an unlimited letter of credit for his voyage to Spain’s colonies in America. Llombart Rosa, ed, Campomanes, Reflexiones, 409 note 78; Carrasco, Francisco, «Memorias». Archivo Historico Nacional Consejos 3211 2a pte, f. 134; Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid. Mss. 19711 (23); British Museum. Egerton 571, ff.54.

47 Campillo y Cosío, Joseph del, Nuevo sistema de gobierno económico. Arcila Farías, Eduardo, ed.. Mérida. Venezuela, 1971, 70 which is also in Ward, Bcrnardo, Proyecto económico. 256.

48 Krebs Wilckens, Campomanes, 207, 273.

49 Rosa Llombart offers different explanations. Campomanes withheld publication because he foresaw the «difícil programa» and did not wish to «proporcionar con su radicalisme) [!] un arma arrojadiza o un descubrimiento temprano de las verdaderas intenciones a los enemigos de la reforma». Rosa Llombart ed., Campomanes, 129, 134.

© Centro de estudios mexicanos y centroamericanos, 2006

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