Sixty-four natives of Spanish America sat between 1810 and 1814 as deputies in the special constituent Cortes of Spain and the following two regular annual sessions. They represented the viceroyalties of New Spain, Peru, New Granada, Río de la Plata and the captaincies-general of Guatemala, Venezuela, Chile, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo. Preceding the text is a useful and enlightening account of the political situation of Spain between 1808 to 1810, including the creation and activities of the Junta Central and the Regency, especially in relation to their offering at that time equality and representation to the Spanish American colonies.

This work presents a global survey of the personality of each one of these Spanish American deputies—parentage, origin, education, profession, character, special interests, most significant legislative action in the sessions of the Cortes, and the achievements and political or other professional activities in later life. They are presented alphabetically by viceroyalty and captaincy-general. Then the author summarizes the general issues promoted by each delegation and the role played by the most active deputies of each relative to these issues.

Berruezo’s purpose is to illuminate the impact of Spanish liberal thought present both in Spain and Spanish America in the late 1700s and early 1800s, especially from 1808 to 1814, as expressed in the resulting Spanish liberal constitution of 1812 and in Spanish American emancipation, both of which have been attributed to the ideological influences not of Spain or Spanish America but fundamentally to those of France, England, and the United States. The author argues that because of the traditional image of Spanish culture as Catholic, authoritarian, and conservative, the liberal Spanish culture has been ignored and hidden.

Focusing on the 64 Spanish American deputies, admittedly the most educated and best prepared through prior experience of the entire membership of the Cortes, Berruezo presents a very strong argument in support of her thesis. It is well worth the consideration of those interested in Spanish and Spanish American thought during this period.