In the eighteenth century the indigenous population of the southern Mexican province of Oaxaca still possessed the bulk of the land in the form of communal tenure. Indeed, most land disputes there tended to arise between Indian communities although clashes did occur between them and the owners of haciendas. The indigenous population provided the labor force for the production of basic foodstuffs such as maize, beans and wheat, and of the main export crop, scarlet dye. The present study examines first of all, the two central and related aspects of Oaxaca’s economy during the late colonial period: the problems of land tenure and the relation between the dye export trade and the subsistence economy. It then describes the worsening crisis in the region after the 1780s, the causes to which it was attributed, and the economic conditions there on the eve of Mexican independence in 1821.

The predominance of indigenous landownership distinguished Oaxaca from the cereal-producing core of Mexico, especially the Bajío. Since its haciendas continued in a state of crisis throughout the eighteenth century, their proprietors—among them the Dominican Province of Oaxaca—put constant pressure on indigenous communal lands and their labor force. The hacendados in collusion with the local polítical authorities, the alcaldes mayores, frequently and blatantly violated the Laws of the Indies and Royal Decrees designed to protect the Indians of Spanish America. Those of Oaxaca, however, did not passively resign themselves. They actively engaged in litigation on their own behalf before the Audiencia of Mexico and the Intendancy of Oaxaca. In some cases, when legal authorities procrastinated or failed entirely to redress an injustice, they resorted to limited demonstrations of force to settle particular grievances.


The greatest concentration of Hispanic settlement lay within the Valley of Oaxaca, that is, in the capital city of Antequera de Oaxaca itself, in the corregimiento of Oaxaca, and in the four partidos of Zimatlán, Teotitlán del Valle, the Cuatro Villas del Marquesado, and Huitzo. These were the most fertile regions, containing the largest number of haciendas.1 The Valley of Oaxaca included four smaller valleys: the Valle Grande de Ocotlán, the Valle Chico de Zaachila, the Valle de Etla, and the Valle de Tlacolula. These were primarily maize and bean lands, for the Valley climate did not yield the bland, white wheat flour of Tehuacán and the other Puebla valleys. Only the Mixteca and, in particular, the partidos of Teposcolula and Nochistlán, produced the white flour. In contrast, only the poor in the city of Oaxaca and neighboring valleys would consume the yellow flour produced in the Valley of Oaxaca.2

In this most fertile and populous of the regions of Oaxaca, landownership was characterized by small Creole and Spanish estates in the midst of sizeable Indian holdings, rather than by the dominance of a few large estates. Certainly a few large estates existed in the Valley, and instances of landless Indians arose there and elsewhere in the province, but the indigenous population of the Valley of Oaxaca cannot be considered serfs captured within the confines of the large estate. On the contrary, the shortage of hacienda laborers remained endemic throughout the eighteenth century and well into the nineteenth. Because of the capacity of their subsistence lands to provide for their requirements most Indian communities strongly resisted pressure to serve on the hacienda lands. Therefore, as certain land and labor cases referred to in this study clearly indicate, the hacendados sometimes sought to appropriate Indian labor by force.

Many of the land disputes between Indian communities continued over several decades. Two Huitzo communities, the villages of San Felipe Tejalapan and San Lorenzo Cacaotepec, contended before the law courts between 1699 and 1786.3 Between 1712 and 1806 the villages of Santa Ana Yaguiza (or Yahuiza) and Santa María de la Asunción Tlacolula in the Valley of Oaxaca litigated concerning possession of lands in a dispute involving a third party, the Convento de la Concepción in the city of Oaxaca, owner of the Hacienda de San Francisco Buenavista.4 Three villages in Etla, also in the Valley of Oaxaca, Santa María Tejotepec, Santiago Camotlán, and Santiago Nanacaltepec, disputed the possession of lands between 1744 and 1811.5

To illustrate the economic crisis of the Oaxaca haciendas we may examine the plight of an entailed estate, the mayorazgo de Güendulain. Long before Captain Miguel de Güendulain took possession of these lands upon the death of his father in 1734, they had been in a state of extreme deterioration. In 1741 the owner requested permission from the Audiencia of Mexico to place upon the Hacienda de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción in the Valley of Tlacolula and upon other estates a censo of 4,000 pesos at 5% interest per annum for a period of between four to six years.6 The purpose was to secure the recovery of an estate completely without yokes or tools, where the houses lay in total disrepair and where the lands could not at that time be cultivated due to the exhaustion of the soil.7 The owner offered to mortgage both the hacienda, which his representative stated was worth 25,000 pesos, and his houses in the city of Oaxaca, valued at more than 12,000 pesos, as guarantee of repayment of the loan to the ecclesiastical creditors. The Audiencia, however, had limited the financing of mayorazgos by censo strictly to urban properties, probably with the intention of preventing inalienable rural estates from falling under clerical financial control. On January 26, 1742, the Audiencia granted license to contract a debt of 4,000 pesos, but only on the houses in the city, and not on the hacienda. However, in the meantime, the Corregidor of Oaxaca had conducted an official evaluation of the urban properties and concluded that their total value, in view of their deterioration, was only 8,100 pesos and that only the sum of 2,500 pesos would be necessary for their repair.8

In a similar vein, the Dominican Province in Oaxaca in 1771 lamented the decay of its haciendas. The Convento de Santo Domingo in the city of Oaxaca possessed five such estates. During the six-year period from 1764 to 1769, three of the haciendas, Nuestra Señora del Rosario, Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, and San Luis—all in the Valley of Oaxaca—rendered the convent a total of 19,442 pesos 1 real. However, the cost of running the estates and maintaining the farming implements reached 25,372 pesos 7½ reales. The fourth estate, the Hacienda de Soriano, in Teotitlán del Valle, was totally stripped of necessities, and yielded nothing. The fifth estate was an hacienda de ganado mayor (cattle estate) in Tehuantepec, which annually sent only a yoke of bulls to the convent for sale in the city of Oaxaca. Deducting the transportation costs, these animals yielded the meagre profit of only 150 to 160 pesos. At the same time the convent had loaned the sum of 20,992 pesos for investment in the Hacienda de Naranjo in Teposcolula, but no interest payments had been received for the past six years. In short, the convent’s total receipts from its landed properties came to 137,302 pesos 5 reales, while the operating costs mounted to 146,016 pesos 5½ reales.9 Likewise, the Hacienda de Toquela, belonging to the Dominican vicarage of Ocotlán, was reported on July 10, 1770, to be totally without equipment, capital, or even cattle, and consequently, unable to yield any returns.10 Similar views were expressed by the Dominican Provincial of Oaxaca as late as 1814, indicating no improvement over a course of forty years or more.11

The state of the haciendas gave added point to the land disputes between the Indian communities and the hacendados. Between 1708 and 1802, for example, the indigenous communities of Santo Domingo Zanatepec, San Pedro Tapanatepec, and Santiago Niltepec conducted a protracted suit against the Dominicans of the Oaxaca Province of San Hipólito Mártir, owners of the Hacienda de Chicapa. The dispute involved the true ownership of the sitios de la Santa Veracruz and Nuestra Señora del Rosario. These, the Indians claimed, were traditionally their properties, and they referred to the two sitios de ganado mayor as their haciendas, illustrating once more the extent of Indian land-ownership. In May, 1708, the Audiencia of Mexico ordered that a special commissioner be sent to the town of Tehuantepec, before whom the Governor and alcaldes of the Indian village of Zanatepec should present themselves. In April, 1710, the agent for the village explained that since time immemorial the Indians had enjoyed unmolested possession of the sitios by virtue of Royal mercedes or grant of title. Both properties were administered under the vigilance of two Indian cofradías. Unfortunately, however, a serious fire had swept through the village in 1693, consuming the land titles. Nevertheless, one Felipe de Gamboa, a citizen of Oaxaca but resident in Tehuantepec, had visited Zanatepec on several occasions and testified that the lands had always belonged to the village. The fact that the Indians owned haciendas did not indicate that they were prosperous. On the contrary, the Lieutenant-General of the Alcaldía Mayor of Tehuantepec pointed out that throughout his thirty years there he could vouch for the dire poverty of all the villages of the region, due to the general lack of production and commerce.12

In November, 1762, the legal agent of the three Indian towns protested before the Lieutenant-General against the extortion and ill-treatment suffered by them at the hands of the Dominican vicario provincial there, who administered the Order’s hacienda. The Viceroy had entrusted the alcalde mayor of Huamelula with the task of ordering the hacienda’s workers to remove its cattle from the lands of the Indians, and not to interfere with the Indians’ fishing rights in the rivers. The agent explained that the Indian Hacienda de la Santa Veracruz lay in what he called a state of total deterioration, and that the Hacienda de Nuestra Señora del Rosario only possessed a small herd of cattle. The Dominicans, however, possessed over 40,000 head which had drifted on to the Indians’ lands.13

The Dominicans, through the agency of the parish priest of Tequisistlán, refused to make concessions. The Indians’ legal representative accused the friars of attempting to appropriate the lands of the pardos libres of Niltepec, in the midst of whose lands the Dominicans possessed the Hacienda de los Dolores. The workers from that estate created disturbances in the villages at all hours of the day and night. Zanatepec traditionally enjoyed ownership of an abundance of land, but these rights were now challenged by the Dominican-owned Hacienda de la Majada (de ganado mayor) which had entirely covered the Indians’ lands with its cattle. The loss of land by the Indians and the pardos libres placed the future existence of their villages in jeopardy.

The mulatto and pardo character of Niltepec considerably confused the Audiencia, which would have had little hesitation in ordering the protection of Indian communal land rights. Believing that, because the Negroid mestizos were not Indians, they must be intruders in the region, the Audiencia ordered on June 28, 1787, that the administrator in Tehuantepec maintain the Dominicans in full possession of their lands, namely, the Hacienda de los Dolores, to which the mulattoes, “con nombre de indios,” had laid claim. The Audiencia called for the removal of the mulattoes’ cattle enclosures. The Fiscal of the Audiencia, Ramón de Posada, on February 14, 1788, went so far as to state that the Dominicans had been in possession of the lands for forty years, and that the Indian and pardo communities had no case.14

Two further cases of indigenous loss of land in the Pacific coast region illustrate the keen competition between Indians and Creoles for control of the land. In 1760, the Indian village of San Pedro Juchatengo, in the jurisdiction of Jicayan, complained of its lack of subsistence land due to the loss of vital parts of its 600 varas de fundo legal. The Audiencia’s Real Provisión of April 16, 1760, ordered amparo (proper legal constitution) for the community. The alcalde mayor of Jicayan, Pedro de Iturribarría y Urquijo, reported to the Viceroy in 1764 that he had ordered compliance with the amparo, especially with reference to the lands adjacent to Juchatengo, among which were several belonging to the sugar-mill of Santa Ana in Zimatlan. However, the Real Provisión of 1760 was not respected, with the result that on June 18, 1805, the Subdelegate of Jicayan described to Viceroy Iturrigaray the miserable state of the village, and requested verification of the adjudication of 1760. In the meantime, the inhabitants lived in extreme poverty.15

In 1766 the alcalde mayor of Tehuantepec, Juan Baptista de Echarri, later to be one of the chief cochineal dye merchants of Oaxaca, became involved in the protracted and insoluble land dispute between the Huave Indian community of San Mateo del Mar and the Hacienda de Huazontlán. The Indians claimed that the hacienda cattle had invaded their maize fields, destroying the crops. The maize lands had then been incorporated into the hacienda, and put under cattle. Echarri went in person to the village in company with Colonel Manuel Vallejo, intending to award the lands of Huazontlán to him. The Indians were violently dispersed from the maize lands and confined to a sandy peninsula jutting into the lagoon of Tehuantepec and the Pacific Ocean. There they suffered frequent flooding and claimed they were compelled to subsist on a diet solely of fish. They allegedly were forced to drink sea-water as there was no fresh water. However, in 1766 the corregidor of Jalapa del Estado, the adjacent jurisdiction, declared that Echarri’s actions had been illegal and that the disputed lands really belonged to the Indians. Meanwhile, as the Audiencia was arguing the question, the Indians, in desperation, took matters into their own hands, and began to reoccupy the lands in order to plant a maize crop. The result was that their palm huts and church were burned down, and they were forcibly ejected by the alcalde mayor aided by a force of two-hundred men.16

A similar case of partiality occurred in the Valley of Oaxaca in the dispute between the village of Soledad Etla and the adjacent Hacienda de Guadalupe, beginning in 1791. The new alcalde mayor of the Cuatro Villas del Marquesado, Adrián de Cerain, who assumed office in 1794, took the part of the hacendado, to whom he awarded the contested lands. The Indians protested that such a decision would deprive them of their 600 varas de fundo legal. The alcalde mayor responded by sending a body of armed men into the Indian village to arrest the recalcitrant persons. Indian women stoned the armed men, but were dispersed. The Indian protestors were sent off in irons to work on the lands of the neighboring haciendas.17

Such measures contrast ironically with the request made in 1785 to the Superior Government in Mexico City by the Indians of Nejapa to sell half a sitio de ganado mayor to a local hacendado, Antonio de la Contoya, owner of the Hacienda de Santo Domingo Narro.18 Moreover, along the Pacific coast between Acapulco and Tehuantepec several Indian caciques or communities rented strips of their lands to groups of negroes and mulattoes, who, living in abject poverty, cultivated cotton for their local alcaldes mayores, for the lessees of the neighboring haciendas de ganado mayor, or for merchants in the Pacific region towns.19 Over in Teposcolula the owner of the bankrupt mayorazgo de Güendulain, D. Manuel Dionisio, senior alcalde ordinario of the city of Oaxaca, was protesting to the Audiencia of Mexico between 1797 and 1800 that the Indians of the village of Xocotipac were attempting to strip him of his lands. The mayorazgo, in its financial straits, had been compelled to rent its Rancho de Ovos to the Indians in order to receive the income from its tenants. The legal defendant of the Indians at the Audiencia, the Fiscal Protector de Indios, declared on November 28, 1799, that the protestations of Güendulain were unfounded, that the Indians on entailed estates enjoyed the same rights as anywhere else, and that in no way were they to suffer.20

Land disputes among indigenous communities—as well as between them and Creole estate owners—continued to be a constant feature of eighteenth century Oaxaca. Furthermore, the precarious condition of the haciendas, including those owned by the Dominican Order, was used as a justification for appeals to local government authorities to intervene on behalf of their owners in their disputes with the Indians. The Indians, in turn, countered by appeals to the Audiencia.


The principal economic activity of the province of Oaxaca was the production of the scarlet cochineal dye. By far the greater part of this valuable commodity in demand on the world’s markets was produced by the Indians. During the frequent periods of war between Spain and Great Britain throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries shipments of the dye from Veracruz to Cádiz would be endangered with serious consequences for the Indian producers and their merchant-aviadores, most of them located in Mexico City, who financed the trade.21 The parish priest of Ecatepec attributed the decline of the cochineal price in that Chontal region of the Alcaldía Mayor of Nejapa down to a level of 12 reales per pound to the outbreak of the war between Spain and Britain waged between 1739 and 1748. This drop in the price of cochineal brought about a great shortage of foodstuffs throughout the Bishopric of Oaxaca. The priest explained that in a time of crisis for the chief export commodity of the region the price of maize would rise. This phenomenon occurred when, due to his inability to make a livelihood through the sale of his cochineal, the Indian producer was forced to cut back his production and consumption of maize. Moreover, in normal circumstances many Indian families from the sierra would travel down to the valleys to purchase maize in return for their cochineal. In a time of crisis, this put added pressure on the valley food supply. Conversely, if a crisis in maize production occurred, cochineal production would have to be cut back in order to employ labor and capital in combatting the onslaught of famine.22

The parish priest of Lachixio, writing to the Audiencia in 1776, explained that when his father and the latter’s colleagues, who were engaged in the cochineal trade, returned from Spain in 1722, the price of the dye in Oaxaca ranged as high as 32 reales per pound, a level that was equal to the peak price of 1771. By 1740, however, the price had fallen to 12 reales. A slight rise was experienced in 1741 and 1742 when prices reached 14 and 16 reales respectively. After that the price held at 18 reales until the renewal of war. When the British took Havana in 1762, the price of cochineal fell to 12 reales. However, as had been seen after 1748, with the return of peace in 1763, the price again rose, and reached a peak of 32 reales per pound in 1771.23

This peak coincided with the highest levels of production recorded in the data compiled by the Oaxaca Cochineal Registry set up in 1758. Dye production experienced a series of periodic, but not too violent, fluctuations between the years 1758 and 1782. After the latter date a substantial decline in production set in, which was never reversed. The years 1758 and 1759 mark the end of one group of low levels, after which production rose to a new peak in 1760. A new cyclical pattern of production opened in 1761, reaching its lowest level in 1763, but rising, after the end of the war, to a new peak in 1765. The downward cycle began again in 1766, reaching its lowest level of production at 621,000 pounds in 1768. This was followed by a period of accelerated growth between 1769 and 1771. The new cycle was shorter, reaching its base in 1773, but with its peak in 1774 at 3,408,398 pesos in value. The year 1776, with the production level of 808,550 pounds, was the base of the 1775-77 cycle. After the high production levels of 1780 and 1782, at 1,385437½ and 1,035,675 pounds respectively, a permanent decay began in the cochineal trade. This time, after the restoration of peace in 1783, production levels did not rise, but continued to decline. Symptoms of decline had been reflected in the 1781 wartime figure of only 464,625 pounds produced, a nadir only exceeded by the famine year figure for 1787, a level of 451,125 pounds. Low levels, between 430,000 and 650,000 pounds, were maintained between 1783 and 1795, accompanied by price levels between 15 and 17 reales per pound on the average, or half the peak price level of 32 reales in 1771.24

The crisis in the dye trade can be traced to four basic causes. In the first place, the ecclesiastical authorities in Oaxaca attempted to exact a full 10% tithe upon Spanish cochineal producers as a result of Bishop Ortigoza’s Edicto Sangriento of April 7, 1780.25 Secondly, Viceroy Martín de Mayorga’s Bando of October 20, 1780, attempted to levy an alcabala or sales-tax on all merchandise whenever a transaction took place. The aviadores in the dye trade protested that this ruling meant that the Royal administrators in the regions of production exacted a sales-tax when the dye left the partido under the erroneous impression that a sale had been made.26 At the same time this Bando reestablished for the duration of the war against Great Britain the 2% alcabala de reventa that had been repealed in 1754.27

Thirdly, the two serious famines of 1779-1780 and 1785-87 put the availability of foodstuffs to the test. In 1779 shortage of rainfall produced a crop failure and death of livestock. This, in turn, was followed by the outbreak of smallpox. Although not as severe as the yellow fever epidemic of 1739 or the outbreak of 1766 it swept from Miahuatlán through the Valley of Oaxaca in the first months of 1780. Because of population losses in their communities, the inhabitants of Miahuatlán, Teposcolula, Tamazulapan, Tejupa, Yanhuitlán, and Ixtepeji requested and received relief from tribute payment. In these and other areas of cochineal production cultivation of the dye was neglected, and the inhabitants found themselves reduced to extremely distressed conditions.28 The subsequent famine of 1785-87 coincided with the fourth cause of the crisis in the dye trade, the establishment of the Intendant system in the Viceroyalty of New Spain in 1786. Article 12 of the Royal Ordinance of Intendants provided for the replacement of the alcaldías mayores by subdelegations subordinate to the new office of Intendant, an official who was to reside in the city of Oaxaca and act as intermediary administrator and judicial official between the Superior Government and the locality. The Ordinance strongly prohibited the repartimiento, by means of which the alcaldes mayores had sought to maintain for their aviadores a commercial monopoly in the Indian regions. The new subdelegates were forbidden to trade with the Indians. Their salaries were not to be derived from the profits of a largely illegal commerce, but from the provision of a 5% levy from the Indian tribute revenue. This legislation was designed to break the financial connection between the Spanish peninsular merchants and the local royal administrators. Furthermore, this innovation was attempted at the very time the Indian population was feeling the effects of the food crisis of 1785-87 and requesting once again relief from tribute payment.29 It is to this famine that we shall now turn our attention.

Severe and unseasonal frosts in August and September 1785 produced the maize crisis of 1785-87 with a resulting population loss among the Indians.30 On October 25, 1785, the Ayuntamiento of Oaxaca warned of the danger of food shortage in the city, for it depended on the surpluses from the four valley partidos of Zimatlán, Teotitlán del Valle, Cuatro Villas, and Huitzo. From them the Albóndiga or public granary of Oaxaca received between 45,000 and 46,000 fanegas of maize. However, the same areas also supplied the outlying partidos of Villa Alta, Ixtepeji, Miahuatlán, Teojomulco, Peñoles, and the Mixteca in general. The latter regions had not concentrated on maize cultivation, since their chief occupation was the production of the cochineal dye. Thus they neglected their basic subsistence needs.31

From Zimatlán, a major dye region of the Valley of Oaxaca, the alcalde mayor reported to the Viceroy in October 1785, that the maize price had risen from 16 reales per fanega to 48. With their low wage of 1½ reales a day, the Indians faced a shortage of food and, as a result, were refusing to work in the local mines. Moreover, this price rise followed what the administrator called the “disastrous effects” of the Viceregal Bando of March 23, 1785, declaring Indians enjoyed free status and the right to choose whether they remained on the hacienda where they worked or not. During the present crisis the hacienda workers had withdrawn their labor, with the result that sowing had to be cut by half.32

Similarly in Jicayan, the alcalde mayor reported in November that the usual harvest price of maize of between 10 and 12 reales had climbed to 72 in August. The severity of this rise for the mass of the population derived from the fact that in the four previous years there had never been sufficient maize. What maize had been grown generally would have been lost in the Pacific region’s May heat. With the present harvest, however, the high price level of August had dropped to its normal rate of 10-12 reales, and no further shortage was expected for the rest of the year.33

This drop, though anticipated by the alcalde mayor of Huajuapan when he wrote at the end of October, had not yet occurred there. Throughout 1785 the prices in his region had risen steadily, beginning at 6 reales per fanega, reaching 10 by May and June, 16 in July, and 24 by mid-September; by late October the price was 36 reales.34

In other partidos the story was much the same. At the end of November Miahuatlán’s administrator stated that the populace required a crop of 31,124 fanegas 19 almudes to feed it, but that only 26,988 were produced due to the sterility of the soil, the absence of irrigation, and the year-round lack of rain. Nevertheless, the price rise from 9 to 18 reales there between January and November had not been too severe.35 In Justlahuaca, however, sharp frosts had pushed the maize price up from 16 reales in January to 36 in August. Half the crop had been ruined. By November, though, the price fluctuated between 16 and 24 reales, above which the alcalde mayor did not expect it to pass.38 A similar downward fluctuation from the June level of between 24 and 30 reales to 12 reales in October occurred in Villa Alta. Maize was by no means abundant there, owing to the grave shortage of water all year. As there were no cereal producing haciendas in the vicinity, the inhabitants depended entirely on their own subsistence crop.37 In Teutila this crop was often insufficient to meet local needs. The Indians usually exchanged their cochineal for maizein the nearby villages. The administrator expected relief from the outside, despite calamities in food supply elsewhere in the province of Oaxaca.38

Likewise, Nochistlán, a major dye area, suffered a maize deficiency that compelled its inhabitants to journey the considerable distance down to the Valley of Ocotlán to buy maize. Since Nochistlán’s soil was dry and craggy, its chief use was in cochineal production. The Indians found that by the time they brought the maize from Ocotlán to Nochistlán transportation costs had increased the original price of 8 reales to 24.39 Tehuantepec also expected to face a shortage. The intense summer heat on the Pacific coast had ruined much of the 1785 crop, upon which the workers on the local cattle haciendas depended. They would now be forced to take what surpluses the Indian communities produced.40 Such a surplus was indeed produced in Huamelula, westwards along the coast, where in the five towns of that partido consumer demand for the total crop of 2,950 fanegas of maize came to only 2,875. In the six villages of Huatulco 3,390 fanegas out of 3,458 was consumed.41

In some areas improvements were seen in 1788, as the Intendant of Oaxaca reported. Though Huitzo and Zimatlán, in the Valley of Oaxaca, enjoyed abundant rains and fine crops, Miahuatlán and Ixtepeji, both outside the Valley, suffered earth tremors that, in the former at least, adversely affected the cochineal crop. Tehuantepec lost both its maize and cochineal because of flooding from excessive rains.42

During the 1790’s the price levels of cochineal continued downwards, as is shown in Figure 1 below. The price level reached only 13½ reales per pound in 1793, indicating that investors tended to view dye production as an effort rewarded with diminishing returns. In that year the Minister of the Royal Treasury in Oaxaca, Villarrasa Rivera, joined the chorus of critics of the Intendant system, and seconded the views of men like Juan Baptista de Echarri, who had interests in the old system of repartimientos, and called for the restoration of the former practices. Villarrasa connected the abolition of the alcaldías mayores after 1786 with the hacendados’ loss of administrative support. The new subdelegates lacked the commercial connections of their predecessors and failed to support the hacienda-owners’ efforts to guarantee themselves a labor force drawn from the Indian communities. For such reasons, Villarrasa declared, landowners’ incomes were diminishing.43


The war affected the economy of Oaxaca in other ways too.44 Both dye investors and hacienda-owners suffered from the Spanish Metropolitan Government’s appropriation of the funds of pious works and chantries (obras pías y capellanías) ordered by the Real Cédula of December 26, 1804.45 In order to cover the accumulating debts of the Imperial Government, investors who had borrowed from these sources were required by the decree to pay back their outstanding obligations. These funds would then pass into the local Treasury of the Consolidation in Oaxaca, as in all other Bishoprics in New Spain, and the product would be shipped to Spain.46

One of the most important hacendados of the Valley of Oaxaca, Simón Camacho, paid in 3,162 pesos between June, 1806, and April, 1808, as installments towards repayment of a larger debt incurred with a Oaxaca chantry.47 José María Murguía y Galardi, a future deputy to both the Insurgent Congress of Chilpancingo in 1813 and to the Spanish Cortes in 1821, handed over two token payments of 300 pesos in March, 1807, and March, 1808, for sums he had borrowed from the Obra Pía de Dotar Huérfanas, and invested in his three haciendas in the partido of Nejapa. In July, 1807, he paid in 600 pesos on behalf of his brother’s debt to the parish of Cuilapan, for the guarantee of which his Hacienda de San Nicolás had been mortgaged.48 In June, 1807, already hard-pressed, the Mayorazgo de Güendulain paid in 1,000 pesos on a debt of 13,000 pesos that had been incurred with the College of San Bartolomé under the guarantee (fianza) of two leading dye merchants, Alonso Magro and José Fernández.49 Mariano Castillejos, future companion of Murguía at Chilpancingo, repaid 2,000 pesos in March, 1808, a sum invested in his Hacienda de los Cinco Señores, and a further 2,000 pesos in July was paid in his name as part of a larger debt by the dye merchant, Ignacio Segura.50

Similarly, Sebastián González, dye merchant and Regidor Perpetuo of Oaxaca, paid in between June, 1806, and August, 1807, a total of 32,000 pesos, previously borrowed from several pious foundations. In December, 1806, two dye merchants, José and Simón Gutiérrez, repaid 12,827 pesos, borrowed from a chantry and from thirteen pious funds.51 Pedro de Estrella, merchant and Regidor Perpetuo, paid up 4,000 pesos between February and June, 1806, borrowed from the Obra Pía de Sermones del Carmen, and the Colegio de Niñas.52

It was not solely upon the merchants and landowners that the Spanish Metropolitan Government’s financial exactions fell, for the treasuries of the Indian communities were required to pay two-thirds of their surpluses into the Caja de Consolidación in the diocesan capital in heavily indigenous provinces such as Oaxaca or Yucatán. In Oaxaca the Intendant, Antonio de Mora y Peysal, ordered the transfer of the sum of 161,924 pesos 6 reales 10 granos from the indigenous Cajas de Comunidades into the local treasury of the Consolidation. These sums were paid in two installments on August 8, 1806, and November 25, 1808. The sums secured from the indigenous communities accounted for more than one-quarter of the total consolidated sum of 608,656 pesos.53

The Convent of Santo Domingo in the city of Oaxaca had borrowed heavily from the funds of pious works and chantries, with the result that the combination of the effects of the Real Cédula of 1804 with the devastation of the lands and livestock of its haciendas by the Insurgents under Morelos in 1812 further prevented the recovery of its properties. The Dominican Provincial wrote to the Superior Government on October 12, 1814, describing the damage to property and the dearth of capital for investment in repairs. The perennially dilapidated state of the convent’s haciendas had encouraged heavy borrowing from pious funds and from other convents. In view of their economic straits the Dominicans were incapable even of paying the regular 5% per annum interest on such loans, let alone of repaying the principal. Over the years a sum of up to 70,000 pesos had been borrowed in the hope that its proper investment would refurbish the deteriorated land-holdings. These haciendas had themselves been mortgaged as guarantees of repayment. However, by 1814 the debt on the principal and interest together amounted to 143,500 pesos, besides which an additional sum of 30,000 pesos had been borrowed from private persons and from other convents in order to feed the brothers, whose haciendas could not cover their own working costs. To prevent the imminent bankruptcy of the convent, three emergency juntas had concluded that two brothers should proceed to the city of Puebla to put up for sale the convent’s buildings and land.54

After the Royalist forces under Brigadier Melchor Álvarez had driven the Insurgents from Oaxaca in March 1814, Álvarez assumed office as Intendant. One of his first actions was to take stock of the situation of the pious works and chantries. He calculated that they had permanently lost a sum of 535, 845 Pesos to the Ramo deConsolidación in the diocese of Oaxaca. Had the Spanish Metropolitan Government been in a position to pay it, the interest of 35,723 Pesos might have reassured the creditors that their principal would be repayed. All of this had caused great hardship for the local hacendados. Álvarez estimated that the sum of 217,349 pesos had been the loss sustained by the Spanish and Creole-owned maize-producing haciendas of the Valley of Oaxaca out of funds borrowed from pious sources.55


The hacendados and merchants of Oaxaca blamed the local administration for their problems. An anonymous writer in March, 1809, explained to Viceroy Garibay that the late Intendant Mora’s favorable disposition towards the indigenous population had contributed to their refusal to work on hacienda lands. The attempts to restrict debt peonage resulted in the abandonment of debt obligations by agricultural laborers. The writer stated that the worst situation was that of Zaachila, in the Valley of Oaxaca, where Mora’s appointee was said to have persuaded Indians to withdraw their labor from the haciendas. Moreover, the Church also suffered from the Indians’ refusal to pay tithes over the past three years. Anxious for the restoration of the days before the Intendant system, the writer requested that the Viceroy withdraw authority from the present administrators in Oaxaca, accusing them of complicity with the discredited régime of Manuel Godoy in Spain.56

The Bishop of Oaxaca, Antonio Bergoza y Jordán, also attacked the late Intendant on the grounds of ‘indolence and inaction,” that is, his inattention to the “just complaints of the hacenderos,” who could not secure their labor force from the Indian communities. Mora had demonstrated, the attack continued, a marked preference for the interests of the lower classes. This attitude the Bishop attributed to vanity and the desire to surround the local administration with an aura of popular approval. As a result, production on the haciendas had diminished. Once more Zaachila was singled out for special criticism. The Bishop denounced the long tradition of Indian independence there as a tradition of “insurbordination and rebellion.” The reason for this sharp attack was the fact that the Indians of Zaachila possessed some of the best lands of the Valley of Oaxaca, with the result that they continually refused to leave them and go to work on the adjacent lands of the haciendas. Bishop Bergoza complained that such recalcitrance had ensured that one of the best haciendas of the Valley of Oaxaca, that of Simón Camacho, had remained uncultivated in 1806. Worse still for the hacendados, the Indians had threatened any of their number who had ventured to work on hacienda lands, and had at the same time encouraged other villages to resist the payment of tithes to the Church. In all these actions, the Bishop pointed out that the Intendant’s appointee had supported the Indians.57

In his report to the Audiencia of Mexico in 1810, Bergoza attributed the decline of both cochineal dye and maize production to the consequences of the establishment of the Intendant system. He regretted the lack of coercion that had traditionally been administered to the Indians by the former alcaldes mayores. Without it the Indians had succumbed to their ‘natural vices” such as indolence and drunkenness instead of application to work. What they needed, the Bishop concluded, was not philanthropic philosophies, but the stick. Bergoza appealed to the Audiencia for a decisive restoration of discipline and order among the indigenous population of Oaxaca, and, indeed, throughout the realm.58

As a result of the crisis on the haciendas, Bergoza pointed to the rise of the price of maize between 1801 and 1810 from 10, 12, or 16 reales per fanega to the unprecedented peak of 56 reales.59 According to the price figures given in the tithe commutation rates drawn up by the jueces hacedores or tithe administrators in the diocese of Oaxaca, both maize and beans exhibited a considerable price rise in the city of Oaxaca between 1808 and 1811, as shown in Figure 2 and  Appendix 2.60 The price of maize rose from 18 reales per fanega in 1809 to 42 reales in 1810, and a peak of 48 reales in 1811. This peak was considerably higher than that of the cycle of 1788-97 in the city, which had reached 36 reales in the second half of 1794, as shown in  Appendix 1. In the case of beans extreme fluctuations took place. The high level of 1805 at 48 reales had dropped to 36 reales per fanega by 1808, and down further to 24 in 1809. The 1810 level, however, spiralled to an unprecedented peak of 96 reales, which was far above the city peak in the 1788-97 cycle at 60 reales. In 1811, despite a drop in price of 50%, the level remained high at 48 reales.61 The immediate causes of these price movements seem to have been the period of drought and poor crops in the harvest of 1808, which was followed by a general drought in 1809 which caused a severe loss of crops. Unexpected frosts followed this drought, producing the food crisis of 1810, the year of the outbreak of the Hidalgo revolt in central New Spain.62

The advance of the Insurgents under Morelos into the Intendancy of Oaxaca in 1811 and 1812 rendered Bergoza’s call for order ineffectual. On November 25, 1812, the city of Oaxaca itself fell to them, and they remained there until March 29, 1814. As a result the price of cochineal in Veracruz climbed from 100 pesos per arroba in 1812 to 114 in 1813 and 320 in 1814.63 In face of the Insurgent advance through the Mixteca Alta, masters of mills and owners of haciendas abandoned their properties as the bulk of their workers joined the revolution, sacking the wheat, cattle, and sugar estates. Teposcolula, producer of the best wheat in Oaxaca, suffered heavily.64 In the Cathedral of Oaxaca no tithe commutation rate was given for the year, 1813, because of the rebel occupation of the city. The jueces hacedores reported that the prices of maize and beans fluctuated because of losses of crops and rebel seizures of crops in the field for the consumption of their army, resulting in a decline in tithe collections. For the cited reasons high price levels continued through 1814 and 1815, and in the latter year the price of beans again reached its 1794 peak level of 60 reales.65

The combined effects of the general breakdown of the mechanism of tithe collection in the Bishopric of Oaxaca, as pointed out by Bishop Bergoza before the revolution, and the effects of the revolutionary army’s presence there can be seen from the tithe receipts. During the five-year period 1786-90 the average annual tithe yield in the Bishopric had been 85,441 pesos, but in the five-year period 1815-19, this yield had sunk to 65,370 pesos. During the years 1813 and 1814, the yield was at its lowest ever, for in the former year only 45,747 pesos was collected, while in the latter only 44,831 pesos, of which 1,046 pesos had been appropriated by the rebels.66

The tithe receipts from the Collection Areas of Etla, Tlacolula, and Oaxaca during the post-revolutionary period, 1816-20, show a substantial decline, as can be seen from Figure 3 below.67

This decline can also be seen in the Royal revenues during the same period, for between 1815 and 1819 the Treasury General of the Province of Oaxaca received a total income of 3,096,762 pesos 6 reales, while facing an expenditure of 3,100,569 pesos 5 reales. In five years the Intendancy had accumulated a debt of 3,806 pesos 7 reales.68


The adverse condition of the haciendas, especially after the Insurgent occupation of Oaxaca, ensured that the pressure of the hacendados on the indigenous labor force would continue, especially since the defeat of Morelos seems to have strengthened the alliance between the authorities and the landowners. In 1816 citizens of the city of Oaxaca reported three weeks’ shortage of maize in the Alhóndiga, with a price rise to 21 reales. This deficiency they attributed to the labor shortage on the maize-producing haciendas. Therefore, to overawe the indigenous communities, the Intendant of Oaxaca issued a Bando on March 20, 1816, authorizing hacendados to register the names of workers who had gone into hiding or had transferred to other employers without prior settlement of debts. The Royal authorities were ordered to arrest such persons, handing them over to the appropriate haciendas. This policy of 1816 contrasted with the policy of the former Intendant of Oaxaca, Antonio Mora, for the Intendancy was now employing its authority to support the interests of the hacendados. The subdelegates were instructed to guarantee labor supplies and work animals for the owners of the haciendas in the corregimiento of Oaxaca. As the Indians were free men, however, and not slaves, the Intendant specified that they should receive the daily salary of between 2 and 2½ reales for their work, and that the labor squads from the indigenous communities should work only from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., with two hours of rest between 12 and 2 p.m. They should not be ill-treated.69

On June 11, 1816, the municipal council of Oaxaca complained that both the Church and the State still suffered from a decline of their revenues from the land, and that the hacendados of the Valley were still not receiving indigenous aid in their planting and harvesting. Under orders from the Intendant, the subdelegate of the Cuatro Villas examined the issue. The wheat of the Hacienda del Rosario in the Valley of Etta lay in the fields ungathered, and would face ruin if it rained. The owner of the Hacienda de Santa Catarina Mártir had left many lands idle, despite the Royal administration’s efforts to ensure him a labor force and work animals. Much of the crop had been lost in subsequent adverse weather conditions. He denounced what he called the boldness and defiance of the neighboring Indian communities.

Responding to the hacendados’ complaints, the subdelegate, on May 6, 1818, ordered the alcaldes of the villages of San Agustín and Santiago Etla to see that a labor force was sent to harvest the wheat crop for the mills of Lasso, warning that action would be taken against them if they refused to comply. The subdelegate went in person to the Indian villages, but reported afterwards to the Intendant that the governors and alcaldes of tire fourteen villages of Etla remained determined to resist the removal of their labor force from their own harvesting to that of the haciendas.

Therefore, the complaints continued unabated. The administrator of the Hacienda del Carmen blamed the Indians for depriving the land of its labor force, the city of its food supply, and the Church of its tithes. Basing his opinion on twenty-five years of experience in managing haciendas in the Valleys of Atlixco and Etla, he declared that the Indian was a useless vassal of the State unless he were put to work on the hacienda lands. He explained that after their departure from the haciendas as a result of the Viceregal Bandos of October 11, 1785 and August 7, 1786, they had sunk into drunken sloth, lived in idleness in the villages, or fled to the mountains as vagrants, earning their living from robbing the haciendas and villages. The other hacendados of the Valley of Oaxaca concurred with such views. The owner of the Hacienda de Coronación denounced “agitators” among the Indian communities.70

The agricultural laborers took advantage of their withdrawal of services to extract increased wages and better conditions from the hacendados. Back in 1791, when, taking advantage of the 1785 Bando, the local Indians had removed their labor from the Hacienda del Rosario and the Rancho Ortega, they had been receiving from Alonso Magro, the hacienda-owner and dye merchant, the daily wage of 1 real. They had departed to work on other lands, or removed themselves to their own communal holdings. Of 65 day laborers, only 6 or 7 stayed on Magro’s lands. The alcalde mayor of the Cuatro Villas del Marquesado had sworn to drag them back in chains if they refused to work on the hacienda. Before 1800 the lessee of the Hacienda de los Padres de Guadalupe in Zimatlán, present owner of the Hacienda de Santa Catarina Mártir in 1816, had paid his workers 1½ reales per day. When he moved to Etla in 1800 he had increased the wage to 2 reales. After 1816, the Etla ranch-owner, Rafael Ojeda, had increased his workers’ wages from 1½ or 2 reales per day to 2½. On the Rancho de Matey salaries for day laborers had risen from 1½ to 2 reales, and fees for the hire of yokes of oxen from the Indian communities had risen from 2½ or 3 reales to 3 or 4 reales daily. Agustín Mantecón, owner of the Hacienda de Guadalupe, and regidor of the municipal council of Oaxaca, complained of a similar rise in rental costs of Indian oxen. In face of this, the administrator of the Hacienda del Carmen pointed out that the maize price had risen to 24 reales, which, he said, was a higher price than in times of shortage. The Indians of the fourteen villages of Etla demanded daily wages of 2½ or 3 reales, and a fee of 5 reales for the rental of their oxen by the haciendas. The same administrator complained that the Indians were deriving positive benefits from not working on the hacienda lands, since they engaged in trade in the products of their own subsistence lands. Thus, to the detriment of the hacendados, they had themselves become merchants and middle-men. Such activity and enterprise on the part of the Indians, combined with their refusal to labor on hacienda lands, prevented the hacendados from paying their debts to their creditors, the most prominent of which were probably ecclesiastical.71

In response to these allegations made against the Indians by the hacendados, the Subdelegate of the Cuatro Villas called in troops on May 22, 1818, and led them to the villages, where he manhandled the Indian alcaldes, billeted soldiers in the communities, and ordered the Indians to work on the hacienda lands. In this way, Royal authority was employed to the advantage of private parties.72

* * *

The unabated deterioration of the land in Oaxaca in the latter part of the seventeenth and throughout the eighteenth century affected both the haciendas and the indigenous communities. In many cases in the Valley of Oaxaca, however, where the best land of the province lay, the substantially large indigenous holdings enabled the Indian population to supply itself with basic foodstuffs. The local hacendados continually attempted to put pressure on the Indians to act as the labor force on hacienda land. This the Indians firmly and often successfully resisted when they could, depending, as they did in the Valley, on their own communal maize crop.

Because of the soil exhaustion and the poor condition of the haciendas, which were often bound by debts to pious works and chantries or held censo agreements with convents, investors tended to prefer the highly prized scarlet cochineal dye over agriculture. The Indian communities of Oaxaca, moreover, were the principal producers of this export commodity. On behalf of their merchant-amadores in Mexico City the alcaldes mayores of Oaxaca sought to use the repartimiento as a means of binding indigenous communities to the production of the dye. In violation of the Laws of the Indies they consistently attempted to create commercial monopolies within the partidos. As a result—and this was especially the case outside the Valley of Oaxaca—many Indian communities neglected their subsistence maize crop, subsequently endangering health and even survival during the four main famines and epidemics of the eighteenth century in 1739, 1766, 1780, and 1785-87. Until the concerted efforts of the Intendant of Oaxaca, Antonio de Mora y Peysal, after 1787, the pressure of the repartidores never abated. Even after the prohibition of the repartimiento by article 12 of the Royal Ordinance of Intendants in 1786, it often continued through the new subdelegate system, despite Royal efforts to remove it.

After 1781 the decline of the scarlet dye trade of Oaxaca accompanied the long, slow decline of the haciendas. The introduction of the subdelegate system after 1786 only temporarily served to lessen the pressure of the hacendados on the Indian labor force. Though Mora y Peysal attempted to protect the Indian population, his successors and their subordinates, remembering the experience of the revolution of 1810-15, collaborated with the hacendados.





The Revillagigedo population census of 1793 estimated the Indian population figure at 363,080 out of a total of 411,336 for all racial groups in the province. The Creole and Spanish Peninsular figure reached only 26,527, clearly concentrated in the Valley of Oaxaca, AGN (Archivo General de la Nación, Mexico City), Historia, 523. Navarro y Noriega in 1810 placed the indigenous total at 526,466 out of a final total of 596,326. He calculated that 928 pueblos de indios lay within the Intendancy of Oaxaca, including only 83 haciendas and 269 ranches. These figures should be compared with those for the adjacent Intendancy of Puebla, also heavily indigenous, which, although it contained 764 Indian villages, also included the large total of 478 haciendas and 911 ranches, F. Navarro y Noriega, Memoria sobre la Problación del Reyno de Nueva España, (Publicaciones del Instituto Mexicano de Investigaciones Histórico-Jurídicas, México 1943).


José María Murguía y Galardi, Estadística del Estado de Oaxaca, (MSS 1826-28), Vol. 1, Apéndice a la segunda parte, f. 27 vta., in five unpublished tomes containing nine volumes in manuscript form, Biblioteca de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística, Mexico City. Hereafter the Biblioteca will be cited as BSMGE.


Los naturales del pueblo de San Felipe Tejalapan contra los del de San Lorenzo Cacaotepec sobre propiedad de tierras, AGN, Tierras, 1082, exp. 1.


Los naturales del pueblo de Santa Ana Yaguiza o Yahuiza contra los del de Santa María de la Asunción Tlacolula, y el Convento de la Concepción, poseedor de la Hacienda de San Francisco Buenavista sobre posesión de tierras, AGN, Tierras, 1268, exp. 1.


Los naturales del pueblo de Santa María Tejotepec contra los del de Santiago Camotlán y Santiago Nanacaltepec sobre posesión de tierras, AGN, Tierras, 1658, exp. 2. Other cases include the following: los naturales del pueblo de Santa Catarina Mártir Yutaquini contra los del de Santiago Yolomecatl sobre posesión de tierras, AGN, Tierras, 1433, exp. 1, (Teposcolula, 1711-67); los naturales del pueblo de Santiago Tlatepuxco contra los del de San Pedro Tlatepuxco sobre posesión de tierras, AGN, Tierras, 1441, exp. 24 (Tuxtepec, 1718-1806); los naturales del pueblo de San Miguel Tlalixtac contra los del de Santo Domingo Tomaltepec sobre posesión de la cañada de Zempoalatengo, AGN, Tierras, 1426, exp. 3, (Oaxaca, 1822-24).


Censos were the agreement by virtue of which a convent received a 5% annual interest payment from a private proprietor of an urban or rural property who had mortgaged his property to the convent in return for a loan of ready cash. The censo could be cancelled by the property owner’s repayment of the principal.


Miguel de Güendulain to Juan Joseph de Castro y Laso, alcalde ordinario de, primer voto y de la Santa Hermandad de Oaxaca, Jan. 28, 1741, AGN, Vínculos, 51, cuaderno no. 10, fol. 1-7. After witnesses testified that the estate was indeed in a state of disrepair, the Fiscal of the Audiencia of Mexico reviewed the request on Jan. 15, 1742, ibid., fol. 7-9.


Diligencias del Corregidor de Oaxaca, ibid., fol. 7-41.


Testimonio de las Diligencias hechas en virtud de Superior Despacho del Excmo. Sr. Marqués de Croix con la Provincia de San Hipólito Mártir de Oaxaca (vino con carta del virrey Marqués de Croix, Sept. 19, 1771), Padres Depositarios de este Convento de Nuestro Padre Santo Domingo de Oaxaca to Fray Juan García Caballero, Prior Provincial, Aug. 6, 1770, AGI (Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain), Mexico, 2586, fol. 17-18. The revenues of the Dominican Convent of San Pablo in the city of Oaxaca also suffered through the deterioration of rented properties and through irregular payment of censo obligations by the tenants, ibid., fol. 21-21 vta.


Vicaría de Ocotlán to Provincial, July 10, 1770, ibid., fol. 25-25 vta.


Provincial to Superior Gobierno, Oct. 12, 1814, AGN, Tierras, 2788, exp. 3, fol. 37.


Los naturales de los pueblos de Santo Domingo Zanatepec, San Pedro Tapanatepec y Santiago Niltepec contra los religiosos domínicos de la Provincia de San Hipólito Mártir, dueños de la hacienda de Chicapa, sobre propiedad de los sitios de la Santa Veracruz y Nuestra Señora del Rosario, AGN, Tierras, 1076, exp. 1. Officials of the Indian Cabildo (village council) presented these statements in the presence of the juez subdelegado or special commissioner from the Audiencia, April 28, 1710, cuaderno 1, fol. 1-7 vta.


Escrito del Apoderado de los Naturales, Villa de Guadalcázar de Tehuantepec, Nov. 6, 1762, given before Bartolomé Bejarano, teniente general of the alcaldía mayor of Tehuantepec, ibid., fol. 16 vta.-24 vta.


Diligencias practicadas en virtud de las dos Reales Provisiones en ellas insertas sobre tierras entre los RR Padres Domínicos de Oaxaca y los pueblos de Niltepec, Zanatepec y Tapanatepec, ibid., cuaderno 2, fol. 1-12 vta.


Los naturales del pueblo de San Pedro Juchatengo sobre posesión de su fundo legal, AGN, Tierras, 1364, exp. 1.


Autos formados a pedimento del Gobernador y naturales del pueblo de San Mateo del Mar Guazontlán, jurisdicción de Tehuantepec, AGN, Tierras, 1125, cuaderno 1. Autos seguidos por D. Andrés Fernández de Castañeda y los naturales del pueblo de Guilotepec con los de San Mateo del Mar sobre tierras, ibid., cuaderno 3.


Los naturales del pueblo de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad Etla contra Adrián de Cerain, alcalde mayor del Estado y Marquesado del Valle de Oaxaca sobre malos tratamientos, AGN, Tierras, 1271, exp. 2. See also AGN, Tierras, 1877, exp. 2, for the same case.


AGN, Tierras, 1126, exp. 3.


These rented strips were described as rancherías, Benito Pérez to Revilla-agigedo, April 18, 1793, AGN, Tributos, 34.


Superior Orden del virrey Azanza, Feb. 28, 1800, AGN, Indios, 70.


For further details see Brian R. Hamnett, Politics and Trade in Southern Mexico, (Cambridge Latin American Studies, 12, Cambridge University Press), to appear early in 1971.


Barbro Dahlgren de Jordán, Nocheztli. La Grana Cochinilla, (México 1963), pp. 25, 74.




Murguía y Galardi, Estadística de Oaxaca, vol, viii, Miahuatlón, fol. 18.


Diferentes cosecheros de Grana de la Intendencia de aquella Provincia por sí y a nombre de los demás de ella, AGI, Mexico, 2693, Expedientes Inventariados (1807), Oaxaca, July 22, 1806, no. 20.


Mayorga to Gálvez, no. 1683, May 29, 1782, AGI, Mexico, 1400, Duplicados del Virrey (1782).


Joaquín de Maniau, Historia de la Real Hacienda, (México 1914), pp. 18-19.


Expediente promovido por el teniente de justicia de Miahuatlán sobre que se les releve los tres tercios de Tributos del presente año de 1780, AGN, Tributos, 14. Los naturales de Santa Catarina Ixtepeji y otros pueblos sobre rebaja de tributos (1787), AGN, Tributos, 44, f. 40. Superior Orden, Dec. 7, 1780, and statement of Fiscal de Real Hacienda, Ramón de Posada, Feb. iq 1781 AGN Tributos 48.


Real Ordenanza de Intendentes (Madrid, 1786). A copy may be located in the Library of the Archivo General de Indias in Seville.


Consejo de Indias no. 30, Sept. 3, 1804, AGI, Mexico, 1141.


Ayuntamiento to Viceroy, Oct. 25, 1785, AGN, Intendentes, 33. The Alhóndiga of Oaxaca had been founded in 1753, see Autos hechos a pedimento de la N.C. de Antequera, Valle de Oaxaca, sobre ejidos y sitio para fabricar alhóndigas, AGN, Alhóndigas, 1. For full legislation on the Alhóndiga, see J. M. Zamora y Coronado, Biblioteca de Legislación Ultramarina en forma de Diccionario Alfabético, (6 tomes, Madrid, 1844-49), Tome 1, 223-228.


Alcalde Mayor to the Viceroy, Oct. 19, 1785, AGN, Intendentes, 33. For the Viceregal Bando of March 23, 1785, see AGN, Bandos, 13, ff. 344-347.


Alcalde Mayor to the Viceroy, Nov. 12, 1785, AGN, Intendentes, 33.


Alcalde Mayor to the Viceroy, Oct. 28, 1785, ibid.


Alcalde Mayor to the Viceroy, Nov. 20, 1785, ibid.


Alcalde Mayor to the Viceroy, Nov. 10, 1785, ibid.


Alcalde Mayor to the Viceroy, Oct. 22, 1785, ibid.


Alcalde Mayor to the Viceroy, Oct. 27, 1785, ibid.


Alcalde Mayor to the Viceroy, Jan. 18, 1786, ibid.


Alcalde Mayor to the Viceroy, Oct. 25, 1785, ibid.


Alcalde Mayor to the Viceroy, Jan. 20, 1786, ibid.


Flores to Porlier, June 25, 1788, AGI, Indiferente General, 1560.


Villarrasa to Gardoquí, April 22, 1793, AGI, Mexico, 1780, Expedientes Diarios (1796-97).


M. Lerdo de Tejada, Comercio Exterior de México, (Banco Nacional de Comercio Exterior, México 1967), número 14 (Estado o Balanza General del Comercio), gives dye exports for the war years, 1793-1808.


Real Cédula, Dec. 26, 1804, AGI, Indiferente General, 666.


For further details, see Brian R. Hamnett, “The Appropriation of Mexican Church Wealth by the Spanish Bourbon Government: The ‘Consolidación de Vales Reales’ 1805-1809,” Journal of Latin American Studies, 1: 2 (Nov., 1969), 85-113.


AGN, Consolidación, 5, fol. 167, 212.


Ibid., fol. 182 vta, 184-184 vta., 211.


Ibid., fol. 184 vta.


Ibid., fol. 211 vta., 215-215 vta.


Ibid., fol. 167, 169 vta., 183 vta.


Ibid., fol. 166-166 vta.


See Hamnett, “The Appropriation of Mexican Church Wealth . . .” 97-98.


Joseph Mariano Patiño to Calleja, Oct. 12, 1814, AGN, Tierras, 2788, exp. 3, fol. 37.


BM (British Museum, London), Add. MSS 17,557, Noticias de América, fol. 31-33.


Anonymous writer to Garibay, March 24, 1809, AGN, Intendentes, 12.


Bergoza y Iordán to Garibay, April 14, 1809, ibid.


AGN, Industria y Comercio, 20, exp. 6.




Jueces hacedores were the two canons of the Cathedral to whom had been delegated supervision over tithe collection. Under them a staff of secretaries and clerks functioned in the Contaduría de Diezmos. See Woodrow W. Borah, “Tithe Collection in the Bishopric of Oaxaca, 1601-1867,” HAHR, XXIX:4 (Nov. 1949), 498-517.


Miscelánea de documentos sobre cuentas generales de diezmos, Clavería de la Catedral de Oaxaca, 1778-1832, Archivo de la Catedral de Oaxaca, Roll 100, Oaxaca series, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico City, Microfilm collection.


Lucas Alamán, Historia de Méjico, (5 vols., México, 1883-85), I, 296.


Lerdo de Tejada, Comercio Exterior, número 14.


BM, Add. MSS, 17,557. ff. 31–33.


Miscelánea de documentos sobre cuentas generales de diezmos, ibid.


Gruesa de diezmos de Oaxaca, 1771-80, 1781-90, BM, Egerton MSS, 520, Papeles sobre las Colonias de España, fol. 202, no. 6. For the years 1815-19, see Borah, “Tithe Collection. . ..”


Murguía y Galardi, Estadística de Oaxaca, vol. ii, second part, fol. 2 vta., Documentos de los Productos decimales de la Contaduría de Diezmos en la Santa Iglesia Catedral.


Ibid., vol. i, fol. 23 vta.


AGN, Subdelegados, 14, exp. 12, fol. 1-51.




Los gañanes de la hacienda del Rosario contra Juan José Ferraud, arrendatario de la misma, sobre malos tratamientos y liquidación de salarios, AGN Tierras, 1216, exp. 1, fol. 81.


AGN, Subdelegados, 14, exp. 12, fol. 1-51.

Author notes


The author is Assistant Professor of History at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.