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Rewarding Loyalty after the Wars of Independence in Spanish America: Displaced Bureaucrats in Cuba

  • Sarah C. Chambers
Part of the War, Culture and Society, 1750–1850 book series (WCS)

Abstract

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Spaniard Francisco de Paula Vilches was on the verge of a promising career in royal administration. After serving four years in Spain as legal counsel for the navy, he was appointed as a magistrate on the High Court (Audiencia) of Caracas. However, a posting to Venezuela in 1811, the year that an assembly in Caracas had declared the colony’s independence, was much riskier than it would have been a few years earlier. Although the separatists were expelled from Caracas by the time Vilches arrived in 1812, war continued to rage throughout this province of the Viceroyalty of New Granada, twice forcing members of the Audiencia to evacuate. ‘During those turbulent and calamitous times’, in the words of Treasury Official Juan Muñoz, ‘was when Mr Vilches energetically deployed all possible measures in favour of the public good’.1 Muñoz and a few other witnesses went so far as to conjecture that had more authorities acted like Vilches, advocating the rule of law rather than military repression, Spain might not have lost the colony to revolution. Having risen to the rank of Dean in the Caracas court, in 1818 Vilches was promoted to Regent, the highest position, of the Audiencia of Guatemala. Although his new posting was calm in comparison to Venezuela, in 1821 leading citizens in Guatemala also declared independence from Spain, and Vilches joined a growing number of displaced colonial administrators seeking refuge on the island of Cuba.

Keywords

Legal Counsel Colonial Official Partial Salary Full Salary Close Destination 
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Notes

  1. 3.
    The historiography for Cuba in the early nineteenth-century focuses more on the rising sugar economy than on issues of governance; in terms of the movement of people, most attention has been on the dramatic rise in Spanish troops on the island with the withdrawals from the former colonies on the mainland, the growing importation of African slaves, and the immigration of Spaniards from the peninsula. For a recent analysis of race and Cuban loyalty, see David Sartorius, Ever Faithful: Race, Loyalty, and the Ends of Empire in Spanish Cuba (Durham, NC, 2013).Google Scholar
  2. On the influx of soldiers, see Manuel R. Moreno Fraginals and José J. Moreno Masó, Guerra, migración y muerte (El ejército español en Cuba como vía migratoria) (Colombres, 1993). For the demography of slaves and immigrants from Spain,Google Scholar
  3. see María Dolores Pérez Murillo, Aspectos demográficos y sociales de la isla de Cuba en la primera mitad del siglo XIX (Cádiz, 1988). For an overview of the relationship between Spain and Cuba,Google Scholar
  4. see Christopher Schmidt-Nowara, ‘“La España Ultramarina”: Colonialism and Nation-Building in Nineteenth-Century Spain’, European History Quarterly 34/2 (2004): 191–214;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Josep M. Fradera, Colonias para después de un imperio (Barcelona, 2005);Google Scholar
  6. and Alfonso W. Quiroz, ‘Implicit Costs of Empire: Bureaucratic Corruption in Nineteenth-Century Cuba’, Journal of Latin American Studies 35/3 (2003): 473–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 5.
    For an overview, see Edmundo A. Heredia, Los vencidos: Un estudio sobre los realistas en la guerra de independencia hispanoamericana (Córdoba, Argentina, 1997), 65–89.Google Scholar
  8. Mark Burkholder’s work on audiencia judges includes some who were forced to flee during the independence wars: Mark Burkholder, From Impotence to Authority: The Spanish Crown and the American Audiencias, 1687–1808 (Columbia, 1977), especially 139–144,Google Scholar
  9. and also Mark Burkholder and D. S. Chandler, Biographical Dictionary of Audiencia Ministers in the Americas, 1687–1821 (Westport, CT, 1982).Google Scholar
  10. 7.
    Rebecca Earle, Spain and the Independence of Colombia, 1810–1825 (Exeter, 2000), 41–43 and 64–66. For the case of Archdeacon Miguel María de Yarza y Olazarán, who accompanied the vice-regal court as it moved from Bogotá to Cartagena to Santa Marta to Panama, back to Santa Marta, and finally to Jamaica, see AHN, Ultramar, leg. 1607, caja 1, exp. 8, doc. 6.Google Scholar
  11. 15.
    On Mexico, see Harold Dana Sims, The Expulsion of Mexico’s Spaniards, 1821–1836 (Pittsburgh, PA, 1990);Google Scholar
  12. and Jesús Ruiz de Gordejuela Urquijo, La expulsión de los españoles de México y su destino incierto, 1821–1836 (Sevilla, 2006).Google Scholar
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    On Puerto Rico, see Raquel Rosario Rivera, Los emigrantes llegados a Puerto Rico procedentes de Venezuela entre 1810–1848 (Hato Rey, 1992);Google Scholar
  14. Rosario Rivera, La Real Cédula de Gracias de 1815 y sus primeros efectos en Puerto Rico (San Juan, 1995);Google Scholar
  15. and Ivette Pérez Vega, ‘El efecto económico, social y político de la emigración de Venezuela en el Sur de Puerto Rico (Ponce), 1810–1830’, Revista de Indias 47/181 (1987): 869–885.Google Scholar

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© Sarah C. Chambers 2016

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  • Sarah C. Chambers

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