Historical research on haciendas in nineteenth-century Guerrero, Mexico,including related work on a series of peasant wars in the region in the 1840s,has rested in large part on an uncritical application of assumptions about haciendas that derive from research done elsewhere in Mexico. This article draws on demographic and ecological information in examining the economic and political pressures that had developed in central Guerrero in the years leading up to the 1840s. I show that in the years leading up to the 1840s a settlement distribution had developed in the region that created enormous difficulties in supplying the urban market of Chilapa with basic resources,especially maize. The hostilities of the 1840s grew out of the efforts of elites to resolve these problems by establishing, among other things,commercial agricultural estates.

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