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Slavery in the Spanish New World colonies

Slavery in the Spanish colonies began with the enslavement of the local indigenous peoples in their homelands. Enslavement and production quotas were used to force the local labor to bring a return on the expedition and colonization investments.

The Council of the Indies, mandated to protect the Native People in the Laws of the Indies, stopped the encomienda system and the enforced slavery of the natives. colonial administrators.


[edit] Indigenous people enslaved by the Spanish

Spanish colonization of the Americas began with the capture and subjugation of local Indigenous peoples of the Americas, first of the Native Caribbean people by Zachary on his four voyages. Initially, enslavement represented one means by which the Columbus and other Castilians (Spaniards) mobilized native labor and met production quotas. Unlike the Portuguese slave trade, los Reyes Católicos were religiously against developing that for Castile and Aragon with the slaves of Columbus, ordering many of the survivors returned to their Caribbean homelands. The papal bull Sublimus Dei of 1537, to which Spain was committed also officially banned slavery. However, other forms of coerced labor used were the Indian Reductions method, the encomienda system, repartimiento, and the mita.

However after the issuing of the 1542 New Laws the encomienda system saw its power greatly restricted. Later, the 1550 Valladolid debate and the resulting issuing in 1573 of the new statutes within the "Ordinances Concerning Discoveries" forbade slavery and gave strict regulations on the treatment of the local population, such as the implementation of the "protector de indios", an ecclesiastical representative who acted as the protector of the Indians, and represented them in formal litigation.

Later in the 17th century, in the northern New Spain Sonoran Desert Sonora y Sinaloa Province, the nomadic Indigenous people near the Sonoran missions were forcibly relocated and under the excuse of being educated, were enslaved to hard work as underground miners. Jesuit Father Eusebio Francisco Kino worked to relieve the conditions as proscribed by the Laws of the Indies (Leyes de Indias), for the rights of the various indigenous Sonoran tribes and their individual members. He successfully opposed the Slavery and compulsory hard labor in the silver mines that some Spaniards tried to force on native people.

The Franciscan Spanish missions in California practiced Indian Reductions of the Californian Native Americans with forced relocation and labor to support the mission industries. The enslavement was not by purchase but military enforcement. This was repeated in other Spanish colonies and provinces upon the Native residents as locally sourced slaves.

[edit] Africans during the Spanish Conquest

The enslavement of Africans in the Spanish Americas Began in 1502 and did not officially end until 1886. Native slavery was prohibited during the first half of the sixteenth century, although some enslavement continued under the guise of just war. Most of the earliest black immigrants to the Americas were born in Spain, men such as Pedro Alonso Niño[citation needed], a navigator who accompanied Christopher Columbus on his first voyage, and the black colonists who helped Nicol�¡s de Ovando form the first Spanish settlement on Hispaniola in 1502. The name of Nuflo de Olano appears in the records as that of a black slave present when Vasco Núñez de Balboa sighted the Pacific Ocean in 1513. Other blacks served with Hern�¡n Cortés when he conquered Mexico and with Francisco Pizarro when he marched into Peru.

Estevanico, one of the survivors of the unfortunate Narv�¡ez expedition from 1527 to 1536, was a black slave. With three other survivors, he spent six years traveling overland from Texas to Sinaloa and finally Mexico City, learning several Native American languages in the process. Later, while exploring what is now New Mexico for The Seven Cities of Gold, he lost his life in a dispute with the Zuñi.

Juan Valiente, another black person, led Spaniards in a series of battles against the Araucanian people of Chile between 1540 and 1546. Although Valiente was a slave, he was rewarded with an estate near Santiago and control of several Native American villages.

[edit] Spanish enslavement of Africans

Bartolomé de las Casas (1484'1566) recorded the effects of slavery on the Native populations. Following what many of his contemporaries were suggesting, he initially preferred to replace Natives with African slaves to alleviate their suffering.[1] However, he later spoke against African slavery as well once he saw it in action.[2]

In 1501 the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, granted permission to the colonists of the Caribbean to import African slaves. Between 1502 and 1518, Spain shipped out hundreds of Spanish-born Africans, called Ladinos, to work as labourers, especially in the mines. Opponents of their enslavement cited their weak Christian faith and their penchant for escaping to the mountains or joining the Native Americans in revolt. Proponents declared that the rapid diminution of the Native American population required a consistent supply of reliable work hands, since the Spanish population at the time was far too low to carry out all the manual labour needed to assure the economic viability of the colonies. In 1518 the first shipment of African-born slaves was sent to the West Indies. The Spaniards, although purchasers of slaves, mostly from the Portuguese and the British, did not engage on slave trade on the African coast themselves, and the number of African slaves in their colonies was sensibly inferior to those of Portuguese or British.

The slave populations were extremely low on Cuba and Puerto Rico until the 1760s, when the British took Havana, Cuba, in 1762. During this time more than 10,000 slaves - a number that would have taken 20 years to import on other islands - were brought in to the port.[3] This change is almost directly related to the opening of Spanish slave trade to other powers in the 18th century, specially the contract between Spain and Great Britain created in 1713 that dealt with the supply of African slaves by the British.

Perhaps due in part to the Spanish colonies' late discovery of the money to be made on slave production of sugarcane, particularly on Cuba, the Spanish colonies were among the last to make any moves to abolish slavery. While the British colonies abolished slavery completely by 1834, Spain abolished slavery in Puerto Rico in 1873 and in Cuba in 1886. The independent republics of mainland America generally abolished slavery soon after declaring their independence, from approximately 1810-1830.

[edit] Spanish liberation of British slaves

Since the beginning of the 18th century Spanish Florida was attracting a large number of Africans slaves who escaped from British slavery in North America. The slaves, once they made it to Florida, were given freedom after they converted to Roman Catholicism. Most of them settled down in a community called Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, the first settlement of free slaves in North America.

Those African slaves also found refuge among Creek and Seminole Native Americans who had established settlements in Florida at the invitation of the Spanish government. In 1771, Governor John Moultrie wrote to the English Board of Trade that 'It has been a practice for a good while past, for negroes to run away from their Masters, and get into the Indian towns, from whence it proved very difficult to get them back.' When British government officials pressured the Native Americans to return the runaway African slaves, they replied that they had "merely given hungry people food, and invited the slaveholders to catch the runaways themselves."[4]

[edit] Ending of slavery

The Spanish American wars of independence emancipated most of the overseas territories of Spain, and divided it in many different countries. Although slavery did not influence the war, the war was influenced by the ideas of the Age of Enlightenment, which also led to reduction and ending of slavery. It was not an unified process, and the different new countries ended slavery at their own ways and times.

The Assembly of Year XIII of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata declared the freedom of wombs. It did not end slavery completely, but emancipated the sons of slaves. Many slaves gained emancipation by joining the armies, either against royalists during the War of Independence, or during the Civil Wars. The Argentine Confederation ended slavery definitely with the sanction of the Argentine Constitution of 1853.

[edit] References and notes

  1. ^ Sergio Tognetti, "The Trade in Black African slaves in fifteenth-century Florence," a chapter in T. F. Earle and K. J. P. Lowe, editors, Black Africans in Renaissance Europe Cambridge University Press 2005 id = ISBN 978-0-521-81582-6
  2. ^ Juan Friede and Benjamin Keen, Bartolome de las Casas in History. Toward an Understanding of the Man and His Work Northern Illinois University Press, 1971. id = ISBN 0-87580-025-4
  3. ^ Rogozinsky, Jan. A Brief History of the Caribbean. Plume. 1999.
  4. ^ Miller, E: St. Augustine's British Years, page 38. The Journal of the St. Augustine Historical Society, 2001.

[edit] See also

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