The advent of independence forced leaders of Latin American governments to articulate programs of economic development at a time when liberalism held a powerful ideological influence throughout the Western world. As they undertook this responsibility, government officials tended to blend quasiliberal policies dating from the Bourbon regime of the late colonial period with decidedly liberal programs influenced by non-Iberian Europe, at least until the era of liberal reform. These so-called “neo-Bourbon” policies characterize Mexico’s Banco de Avío and Colombia’s system of industrial privileges, to cite only the more obvious examples.1

The Caja de Ahorros of Bogotá figures among these neo-Bourbon initiatives. It is an institution in which both the developmental and social ideologies of the neo-Bourbonists are evident. The savings bank was established in 1846 to meet the capital’s credit needs, to facilitate the growth of both large and small industries, and to stimulate savings among Bogotano society, especially its lower strata. The sponsors of the project hoped that it might also change attitudes toward thrift and “industry” in ways that would signal the birth of a more “progressive” citizenry.2 In these objectives, the caja’s ambitious mission reflects the optimistic vision of national development assumed by many leaders in early national Latin American governments.3

The caja failed in 1865 after nearly 20 years in operation, “an astonishing longevity for any institution in mid-nineteenth-century New Granada.”4 Its official annual reports, some of which were published as independent documents and others in local newspapers, reveal numerous trends, including information on depositors who took advantage of the institution’s services.5 Insofar as the caja was intended to stimulate industry (both narrowly and broadly conceived), the attitudes of artisans, the city’s leading producers, toward the caja, as well as their credit needs and their savings patterns, are particularly noteworthy. These data offer important glimpses into the socioeconomic structure of mid-nineteenth-century Bogotá. The history of the caja thereby highlights the obstacles faced by neo-Bourbon development efforts, ventures that ultimately gave way to private initiatives with markedly different social objectives.

Origin of the Savings Bank

Savings banks evolved from European “friendly societies” in the second half of the eighteenth century. Guided by philanthropic members of the upper classes, the first banks in Great Britain and, to a lesser degree, central Europe were rigidly moralistic. They often required adherence to strict codes of conduct and forced depositor savings in an effort to instill patterns of thrift among society’s lower classes. This extreme moralism was replaced by a less formal attitude by the 1810s, when the Edinburgh Savings Bank (established in 1813) emerged as a model for savings banks in the English-speaking world. By 1816 a savings bank had been established in Philadelphia; soon other U.S. cities and parts of the British Empire boasted the same. Wealthier members of society took the lead in establishing all these savings banks, acting as their administrators and managers, usually without charge. All such banks were ostensibly intended for less affluent social groups, with the specific objectives of curbing “unnecessary” personal expenses, such as liquor purchases, and spurring savings as a barrier against misfortune. Most banks opened shortly after payday each week so that workers might make deposits before they could “waste” their money on unproductive consumption. Savings banks differed from their commercial counterparts in that they allowed no shareholders, and thus were able to divert the capital they accumulated either directly or indirectly to depositors.6 Their social mission departed from that of commercial banks as well, being intended to change behavior and attitudes as well as to stimulate commercial activity through capital distribution.

Central European savings banks differed from their British counterparts in the degree to which their founders sought to stimulate economic development. These institutions pursued general social goals, but they also supported industrial ventures. Bohemian savings banks established after the Napoleonic wars, for example, operated for two decades with the “classic” social objectives of fostering thrift among the popular classes. In time, however, their directors began to channel more of the generated capital into investments in industrial and mercantile activities. They even instituted regulations limiting loans to larger sums, which in turn limited potential borrowers to those who were wealthy home or estate owners. The savings banks lacked sufficient capital both to engender “proper” attitudes toward savings and to stimulate industry. Catherine Albrecht notes the tendency of Bohemian savings banks to resolve this dilemma in favor of the wealthier sectors of society.7

Savings banks offered great potential for resolving some of the banking and credit problems that hindered Latin America’s economic development. They could also serve to instill “progressive” thinking among the populace, which some leaders thought might help the region keep pace with other nations of the Atlantic community. The slow elimination of the church as a lending agency left a shortage of credit that demanded the creation of other loan sources.8 Commercial banks, moreover, developed only in fits and starts before the region’s economy expanded, which in most Latin American countries did not occur until after midcentury. In the heady years before the 1825 financial crisis, foreign commercial concerns, especially from Britain, floated numerous loans to Latin American governments; but in the years that followed, few lending institutions operated.9

Ambitious individuals satisfied both private and public credit needs in ways that were, more often than not, self-serving. The abandonment of colonial restrictions on usurious interest rates meant that rates on loans made by individuals often rose dramatically.10 Both private individuals and public agencies took advantage of redefined church-state relations to fashion lending policies favorable to their own needs, policies influenced by market forces, not the church’s attitudes on usury. In Venezuela, as in other areas, groups supporting the expansion of the export economy removed all restrictions on interest rates in the hope of stimulating the revival of that country’s export sector.11 Short-term loans from private individuals to Latin American governments also increased during this period.

This practice of agiotaje enabled governments to meet short-term fiscal needs, but the exorbitant interest rates charged by agiotistas generally served to enrich individuals at the expense of the public and to drive up rates on most credit arrangements.12

Colombia shared many of the problems related to banking, credit, and development that plagued other Latin American nations, albeit in particular forms. Programs were instituted in the 1820s and 1830s whereby investors could obtain privileges for the exclusive operation of an industry in a given region for a period of time with lower taxes and other favors. Such privileges supported the founding of various industrial operations in Bogotá and elsewhere, industries that government officials hoped would direct the country on the path of development followed by nations such as Great Britain.13

Colombia’s shortage of credit worsened after the exhaustion of loans from Great Britain in the 1820s.14 Although the government managed its fiscal resources comparatively well, it sometimes found itself hard pressed to pay its debts, especially during periods of civil disorder such as the Guerra de los Supremos (1839-42). At those times it turned to agiotistas for financial support. While agiotistas generally brokered loans to the government, they represented the widespread manipulation of credit by individuals in the absence of other credit options, a manipulation that was roundly condemned by those in need of loans as well as those who supervised the country’s economic policy.15

Bogotá’s first commercial bank was not established until 1864, and it failed after only four years. The city’s first successful bank, the Banco de Bogotá, was founded in 1870 and still provides service today, near the end of the twentieth century.16 Until these first banks were founded, loans remained largely in the hands of commercial groups and individuals. Judas Tadeo Landinez, a capitalist from Boyacá, for example, established a mercantile and financial association in 1839 in Bogotá that both loaned to and accepted deposits from local residents.17 Interest-rate ceilings established by colonial policy at a maximum of 5 percent per annum had persisted into the Gran Colombian national period, despite liberal efforts to “free” them in the 1820s and despite actual rates of up to 36 percent. The removal of these restrictions in 1835 enabled interest rates to float at a level determined by the lender and the borrower.18 As a result, the law and actual practice came into accordance on terms that no doubt favored lenders such as Landínez.

Landínez’ personal wealth helped sustain the government during the worst stages of the Guerra de los Supremos. Landínez loaned the government 120,000 pesos in April 1841 to pay government salaries and another 500,000 pesos three months later. Landínez used the profits from his loans to invest heavily in real estate in the Sabana de Bogotá, a move that others emulated. Many of these speculators engaged Landínez’ new lending company, which had evolved from his earlier agency, to manage their operations. The bubble of speculation burst in December 1841, bringing Landínez and other local capitalists to the brink of bankruptcy. As a result of the crisis, credit was in extremely short supply for some time.19

Many of the nascent industries born in the previous decade under the system of governmental privileges suffered irreversible losses from the double blows of the war and the credit crisis. Indeed, Jorge Child Vélez and Mario Arango Jaramillo claim that the Landínez credit crisis, coming as it did on the heels of the Guerra de los Supremos, shattered the neo-Bourbon model of political economy and helped motivate members of the administration of Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera (1845-49) to reexamine the country’s economic policy, a process that engendered the liberal reform era.20 The truth of this claim remains to be fully explored, although Mosquera’s administration clearly departed sharply from earlier economic policies.

This was not, of course, a painless transition. The appointment of the patrician Lino de Pombo as minister of finance in December 1845, replacing the recalcitrant General Juan Clímaco Ordóñez, indicated that Mosquera’s administration planned to undertake more innovative economic policies.21 During his year in power, Pombo initiated the transfer of the tobacco monopoly to private hands, repealed a tax on gold exports, and adopted a monetary system more in line with international standards.22 His successor, Florentino González, harbored few restraints on his own economic liberalism. González rapidly expanded the scope of the economic changes, beginning with a 30 percent tariff reduction that began the liberal reform process in earnest.

As national leaders helped implement neo-Bourbon projects, they continued to associate closely the moral and technical education of Colombians with the hope of “progress.”23 Progress signified the economic and social norms of Western Europe, which these leaders hoped to recreate in Latin America through institutions such as the caja de ahorros. Frank Salford describes these objectives as the “ideal of the practical,” wherein “social order and economic progress” might be achieved together. He notes that such an achievement required more than “moralistic preaching.” “The masses would live virtuously only if their energies were engaged by productive activity; this meant that the state and the elite must channel them into profitable employment through technical training.”24 Colombia’s future progress, however, would traverse a route through contested terrain. The ideal of the practical clearly embraced an ideology that alienated large segments of the Colombian populace, forcing many people into activities with which they were unfamiliar, subject to decisions to which they did not contribute and forces they could not control.25 While urban artisans were not as alienated as other Colombians by the ideology of liberalism, their favorable reaction to the caja suggests a distinct set of attitudes toward questions of development and progress.

Lino de Pombo’s projects epitomized the neo-Bourbon belief that eliteled reform ventures could foment social “improvement.” Pombo proposed the establishment of a savings bank for the province of Bogotá in 1845, after observing the success of a similar institution in Caracas. The well-traveled Colombian Manuel Ancízar had helped to shape the Caracas institution, inspired partly by a likely acquaintance with European institutions.26 (It seems that the short-lived savings bank of Cartagena, established in 1844, had similar influences.) On Pombo’s recommendation, Bogotá’s provincial legislature authorized the establishment of the caja in September 1845. Shortly thereafter Pombo was selected as director, a position he held until 1860, thereby giving the caja a critical measure of administrative expertise and stability. Equally instrumental in the caja’s long-term success was the performance of its treasurer, Manuel Vicente Peña, who also served until the 1860s.27 Soon other savings banks were established in Medellin, Popayán, Neiva, and smaller towns.28

The Caja in Operation

The caja’s social mission paralleled those of the British savings banks. Its administrators were all volunteers, usually from the upper echelon of local society.29 While the provincial government authorized 50 pesos to help defray initial costs, all subsequent revenues were generated by investments and loans.30

Pombo viewed the caja as a vehicle for economic development and a weapon against the vicious pattern of usury. One editor expressed the hope that the caja would act as a general lending agency in order to “kill usury and protect, as a result, small industries.” The general shortage of credit enabled usurers to charge from 2 to 5 percent monthly interest on loans of less than three hundred pesos, meaning annual rates of up to 60 percent—rates that devastated small producers.31 The caja, by contrast, loaned money at a maximum of 1 percent a month. Although the effect took some time to materialize fully, one newspaper reported that this “first mortal blow” against usury eventually brought private rates down to comparable levels.32 While reliable insights into long-term interest rate levels in the capital or other parts of the country are unavailable, contemporary sources suggest that interest rates generally fell after 1846, the year the caja was established, often as low as 9 percent per annum.33

As for the narrower definition of industry, the caja’s precise role is unclear. In elite discourse the notion of industry corresponded to the prevalent ideas of “proper” values and economic habits. Influential figures like Pombo intended the caja to “moralize” the lower classes by helping to stimulate patterns of thrift. It was hoped that appropriate savings habits would break the worker’s alleged attitude of “not thinking today of tomorrow” and perhaps produce an industrious person. In another sense, industry meant the mundane activity that took place in a workshop or factory.

Any individual who could provide two guarantors, a strong credit record, or personal property as collateral qualified as a good credit risk and could borrow from the caja. The early caja could make loans up to two thousand pesos, a figure that in time rose to four thousand, with a normal repayment period of six months at a monthly interest rate of 1 to 1.25 percent, depending on the size of the loan.34 Throughout its history, the caja maintained rigid lending standards, despite occasional reform proposals. In particular, the 1 percent monthly interest rate generated substantial criticism. While it returned healthy sums to the caja, it normally exceeded deposit interest by 3 to 5 percent and was alleged to be too high to encourage borrowing. Moreover, strict lending terms denied many less affluent persons the chance to borrow, seemingly in contradiction to the caja’s alleged intent. Caja administrators suggested creating a monte de piedad (a lending agency akin to a pawn shop, during the colonial era usually managed by the church) for small borrowers in 1851, a proposal that never came to fruition.35

Artisans and other small producers undoubtedly suffered extreme hardship in the credit shortage of early republican Colombia and could reasonably anticipate more favorable loan policies from the caja.36 Craft workers were generally expected to supply all materials and expenses for a product a consumer had ordered. When the product was completed or the service performed, ideally, payments were made. But artisans frequently complained that they were forced to resort to moneylenders because they did not have sufficient capital to cover their expenses, and that consumers seldom viewed the interest incurred on the loans as a legitimate part of the product’s cost.37 Moreover, the possibility of imprisonment for debts faced all who could not meet loan payments. At least one petition from craft workers to the national congress asked that debt imprisonment be reserved only for cases of fraudulent loans, not for the simple inability to repay a loan made in good faith.38 The availability of loans at lower interest rates would clearly lessen some of these credit problems.

The national government signaled its support for the caja project by granting certain concessions to savings banks and their patrons. All bank treasurers whose accounts reached a given level were relieved of various civic responsibilities, including military service and personal taxes. Deposit books were classified as public documents, and all costs involved in notarizing caja activity were waived. Depositors were favored with the assurance that the government would verify their credit record with private lending agencies in case of credit disputes.39 Periodic reforms affected the caja’s operations, especially the size, power, and selection of its board of directors, which swelled from an original 5 to 36 by 1851. Only male depositors of legal age could participate in the selection of one-third of the caja’s administrators, even though both sexes could use the institution.40 In 1852 the national congress approved a major reform of the decrees regulating savings banks. The measure restated the special privileges of caja operations, declaring their funds inviolate and their operations tax-free.41

The caja opened in Bogotá in January 1846. It operated every Sunday, with administrators taking turns managing the weekly sessions. All persons, regardless of social group, could make deposits. Two reales was the initial minimum deposit, although in time any legal coin would be accepted. In addition to individuals, private enterprises, public organizations, and mutual aid societies could deposit as well. Interest on deposits would be earned by accounts of more than 25 reales, a threshold lowered to 10 reales in 1848 so that small depositors could earn interest more easily. In that year, interest payments were restricted to accounts of less than 8,000 reales, except for educational establishments, beneficiary societies, and charitable organizations.42

The caja’s first semester of operation, January through June 1846, returned depositors 4.9 percent interest. The rate rose to 6.9 percent in 1848 and hovered between 9 and 10 percent thereafter until 1861.43 In the caja’s first six months of operation, 129 people deposited 47,127 reales; not overwhelming numbers, but certainly enough to demonstrate the institution’s viability. In the same period, the caja made loans of 30,400 reales and invested 16,416 reales more in government bonds.44 Soon more and more individuals and institutions used the caja. In the fiscal year from July 1, 1847, to June 30, 1848, 509 depositors accounted for a total of 352,117.8 reales, while the caja loaned 329,708.5 reales (see table 1, p. 626). Ten years later, in the fiscal year beginning in July 1858, 1,784 depositors accounted for 217,460.2 pesos fuertes, the equivalent of 2,174,601.2 reales—a sixfold increase in deposits.45 During the 1858-59 fiscal year, the caja loaned more than 2,016,000 reales.

Loans produced the largest portion of the caja’s profits. A smaller percentage came from investments in the national government’s internal debt, which returned 6 percent. Over the ten-year period 1848-1858, the average deposit almost doubled, increasing from 692 to 1,219 reales. This suggests strong public confidence in the caja, as well as the increased amount of money in the capital’s economy. The caja seemed to have realized at least a portion of its founders’ aspirations; its saving and lending services were utilized by a significant number of Bogotanos on an ever-larger scale.

After nearly 14 years of successful operations—having survived nine months of inactivity during the political turmoil of the 1854 coup by General José María Melo, several changes in the nation’s political leadership, and the creation in 1858 of the state of Cundinamarca—the caja suffered a series of crippling blows.46 Early in 1860, the illness of longtime treasurer Manuel Vicente Peña precipitated a vote of confidence in Pombo’s directorship. Pombo resigned in anger after an apparently bitter dispute, leaving the post to Ramón Borda. The next year, when Bogotá became a federal district, the caja was transferred to municipal authority. Changes in accounting procedures and the abandonment of once-regular publication of the caja’s financial statements followed; and some observers declared that these events weakened public faith in the institution.47 Moreover, the Mosquera government, in September 1861, during a period of civil war, imposed a 5 percent annual limit on the amount of interest that could be paid across the nation. As the caja had paid a 9 percent dividend in 1859, this undoubtedly reduced the attractiveness of the institution as a place of deposit. Although rates were allowed to rise again in 1863, the damage was significant.48

More important, perhaps, the caja’s long-term policy of investing in treasury bonds backfired during the civil war, which began in 1859. (The slow increase in the amount loaned to the treasury is evident in tables 2 and 3.) Treasury bonds lost at least 30 percent of their value over the course of the war. Agiotistas discounted treasury bonds at far below official rates, despite a government-declared maximum discount of 2 percent below stated value.49 Moreover, the government itself refused to pay full value to the caja for its treasury notes at the conclusion of the conflict, in 1862. This substantially reduced the caja’s capital. The remaining funds seem to have disappeared under the directorship of Justo Briceño, who took over in 1863. By 1865 the caja was formally bankrupt.50

Constant change in the nation’s political leadership, which flavors most of Colombian history, had a mixed impact on the caja, at least partly because the caja was sponsored at the provincial or state level until 1861. It is significant that the institution’s decline began when it became more closely associated with the central government after 1861. Until that time, neither Conservative nor Liberal party officials seemed to rank the caja very high on their reform agendas and thus were content to let it operate relatively unhindered. Conservatives, totally in keeping with their party’s ideology, tended to stress the caja’s potential social benefits. Articles in leading Conservative newspapers emphasized social control and the moral improvement that “proper” attitudes toward thrift might offer.51 Liberal commentators emphasized the caja’s value for combating usury along with its banking functions.52 Significantly, both parties supported the institution, differing only on what might be its primary value. Surprisingly, the caja’s funds were not sequestered during civil conflicts, as were most other ready sources of capital. Nevertheless, civil unrest and open political conflict caused heavy withdrawals, which weakened the caja’s operations. During the Conservative revolt of 1851, for example, withdrawals outpaced deposits for almost a year and a half.53 Similar drops in deposits accompanied the Melo coup of 1854 and the civil war of 1859-62 (see table 1).54

In 1865, José María Vergara y Vergara lamented the death of the “precious seed” planted by Pombo 20 years earlier to help the “industrial class” of Colombia.55 This noted social commentator intimated that Briceño had favored wealthy landowners in distributing the caja’s funds.56 This was true to a certain degree, but as tables 2 and 3 reveal, agriculturalists had always been granted between one-fifth and one-third of the caja’s loans. It is more likely that the devaluation of treasury bills crippled the caja. After its liquidation, one artisan wryly noted that the “magnates” who had dominated the caja received their funds, while craft workers and the poor bore the burden of mismanagement and policies that favored the wealthy, an all-too-typical outcome of government actions.57

Savings and Credit

The caja’s objective of stimulating savings among the lower classes produced, at least, abundant statistical data. Almost every month, a list of depositors was published in Bogotá’s newspapers. It included the category of the depositor, the number of deposits made by people or institutions of that category, and the total deposits.58 Annual reports summarize the same information. Approximately 90 percent of these figures have been analyzed to yield the statistical information that supports this study.59

It is not at all clear whether the amount of money deposited in the caja represented true long-term savings or short-term deposits. In any case, deposits did reflect the relative capacity of an occupational group to set aside capital, even if only for a short time. The volume of savings is closely related to the ability to save.60 Some groups clearly had more money to set aside after meeting their basic needs. Certainly, merchants in Bogotá were wealthier than masons; their deposit patterns indicate this. Table 4 therefore can be read as a rough comparison of various occupations’ economic relationships. Savings patterns also reflect a propensity to save; merchants and large agriculturalists had a logical need to do so. Artisans, too, welcomed the savings operations of the caja because of the shortage of credit. Savings patterns thus also reflect the perceived value of savings. The capacity to save is economic, while the propensity to save reveals attitudes about the worth of savings.

The caja’s additional objective of extending reasonably priced credit as a spur to development was not equally well met. Artisans and members of the lower classes used the caja, but businesses, other private institutions, and individuals most likely to be associated with the city’s elite dominated its deposits and loans. In the fiscal period from July 1847 to June 1848, when some 509 individuals or groups deposited 352,117 reales, the largest single set of deposits, 65,583.3 pesos, was made by public establishments, such as churches or public agencies. The second-largest, 60,542.3 reales, was made in the name of minors; and the third-largest, 46,883.8 reales, was made by or for single women. Probably none of these groups, which represented one-third of the total deposits, came from the lower classes. Moreover, occupation-specific deposits, as shown in table 4, clearly represented the city’s potentially wealthier professions, such as lawyers, merchants, church-related workers, and agriculturalists. These groups deposited amounts far in excess of their representation in the city’s population.61

Loans were even more concentrated. Between 65 and 75 percent of the caja s funds were regularly utilized by lawyers, agriculturalists, merchants, and employees (salaried, white-collar workers), who together accounted for an estimated 3.1 percent of the population. Of these, agriculturalists inevitably received the largest percentage. Seldom did workers in the mechanical arts borrow more than 3 percent of the monies allotted to lenders, even though they made up at least 12 percent of the city’s work force (see tables 2, 3, and 4). Restrictive lending policies undoubtedly contributed to these patterns of loan distribution.

Salford has suggested that certain changes are visible over time in the social composition of those who used the caja. Specifically, he claims that “merchants and other elites” tended to use the caja more in its early years, and that by the late 1850s more of its users came from the “middle artisan class.”62 While some shift can be seen in the social composition of borrowers and depositors in tables 2 and 3, it is not as dramatic as Safford suggests. These tables reflect a fairly steady pattern of use over the caja’s life by a limited segment of Bogotano society.

Although deposits and loans were the elite’s preserve—in amounts reflecting an economic potency as a class that far exceeded its actual numbers—people on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum also made ready use of the caja (see table 5). More people made small deposits than large. Between July 1847 and December 1848, 1,399 deposits were made. The largest portion (36.5 percent) came from people setting aside 2 to 24 reales, and the smallest (12.7 percent) in the range over 500 reales. Two-thirds of the deposits totaled less than 100 reales. A similar division is visible for the fiscal year beginning in July 1858. More than half (55.5 percent) of the 4,436 deposits came to less than 50 reales, while only 11.1 percent exceeded 500 reales. Workers in the mechanical arts, which included printers, tailors, masons, and blacksmiths and comprised the lower-middle strata of the city’s population, tended to deposit amounts proportional to their actual numbers. It was the lower-class women, the servants and seamstresses, whose deposits fell the farthest below their portion of the capital’s population (see tables 4 and 6).63

Members of the elite seem to have profited most from the caja’s operations, while middle-level social groups seem to have done reasonably well. The interests of individuals in the lower strata were less well served. The Bogotá caja offers repeated evidence that its primary beneficiaries were society’s elite, a not unexpected outcome.

Artisans, nevertheless, came to view the caja as an important source of credit. This was especially evident when the city’s credit patterns were disrupted. The carpenter José Leocadio Camacho claimed in the 1860s that a principal cause of the Melo coup was the social reaction of the “people” to an elite alliance to withdraw credit from the “proletariats.”64 Caja withdrawals support the general point of his charges. For example, 70 percent of the money deposited in the caja was withdrawn in the two months before the widely anticipated coup of April 17, 1854. All funds for caja loans thereby suddenly dried up, and the city again became an easy target for unscrupulous agiotistas. Monthly interest rates skyrocketed as high as 5 percent, placing real pressure on the city’s craft workers, who, while not the caja’s primary borrowers, nevertheless relied on its services.65 In the weeks that preceded the April movement, slogans and posters clamored against speculators. When Melo delivered his coup d’état, one of the predominant slogans the rebels shouted was “¡Abajo los agiotistas!66

Results for Artisans

When the Caja de Ahorros finally collapsed in 1865, artisans and other workers were hard pressed to satisfy their savings and credit needs. One craftsman remarked in 1865 that the institution had provided a majority of the funds used by the capital’s artisans and that its bankruptcy had ruined many families.67 The short-lived London, Mexico, and South America Bank (1864-68), which did not orient itself to the smaller consumer, hardly alleviated this situation. Nor did the Banco de Bogotá (established in 1870) or the Banco de Colombia (1875). Finally, the Banco Popular, created in 1877, acted as both depository and lending institution for the general public. In contrast to the caja, it was a private concern, although its 50-peso shares were intended for purchase by the less affluent. Numerous artisans figured among its initial shareholders and took advantage of its favorable lending policies.68

In the years before and after the establishment of the Banco Popular, various workers’ organizations attempted to look after their own financial and credit interests.69 The Sociedad Unión de Artesanos (1866-68) included mutual aid as part of its program, although it favored political action to raise tariffs over the establishment of lending facilities.70 It did call for the creation of a savings bank using the funds of society members in early 1868, a plan that failed to materialize.71 Bogotá’s first mutual aid society, La Sociedad de Socorros Mutuos, was established in 1872. It set aside a portion of its funds for lending, but it never amassed sufficient capital to be widely beneficial.72 Other mutual aid societies presented similar plans, but with little success.73 Early in the twentieth century, workers’ organizations—ranging from those associated with the Catholic church to the first Socialist congress—included the establishment of savings banks in their political platforms, but with little more success than their nineteenth-century counterparts.74

The Bogotano artisans’ willing acceptance of savings banks is striking. It generates a vexing question: How did Latin American artisans accommodate themselves to the “culture of capitalism” that reformers such as Lino de Pombo sought to develop through this and similar institutions? Were the artisans merely workers who had to be “taught” the “proper” attitudes about savings and money, or members of the petite bourgeoisie who shared many of the reformers’ guiding principles? The answers to these questions greatly influence any assessment of the artisans’ relationship with the caja.75

The artisan sector of late colonial and early national Latin America was divided into various strata not strictly determined by guild standards. In only a few cities did Latin American guilds wield the control over their members typically associated with European guilds. As a consequence, people classified socially as artisans might range from those who labored as journeymen in a master’s shop, with little hope of escaping that status, to the master himself, who might command the labor of 5 to 20 journeymen.76 Of these individuals, the master craftsmen—or those artisans in trades that profited most directly from local economic prosperity—clearly would make the most use of the caja’s services.77

José Leocadio Camacho, in an address to the Sociedad de Socorros Mutuos in 1888, suggested that master craftsmen’s attitudes toward “progress” and toward development policies were embedded in institutions like the caja. Recalling his first glimpse of a model locomotive, Camacho noted that without the hand of a “simple artisan” this “hero of progress” could run amok; without the combined efforts of craft workers and laborers, it could be blocked by a river. The locomotive as the “engine of progress,” according to Camacho, carried the “lineage of the march of humanity,” bringing with it the fate and fortunes of “rustic workers.” The development of a rail industry in Colombia, he noted, would not raise the country to the “vanguard” of progress, but would “open the field of work,” initiate enterprise, and stimulate improvement. The immediate value of these material improvements, for Camacho, was that they would “put capital into projects that would occupy hundreds of arms.”78 Camacho earlier had belonged to the Sociedad Unión, which defined a nation as “a collective social organism in which symbiotic elements acted together for the good of the whole.”79

Master craftsmen like Camacho seemed to favor progressive institutions such as the caja because they were good for the nation, but only when they stimulated material and moral improvements for all of the nation’s constituent social groups. Artisans believed that their fortunes paralleled those of much of Colombian society, so initiatives that benefited them were appropriate generally. Camacho’s attitudes and those put forth by other artisans seem closer to the mentality of a petit bourgeois than to that of a worker. These master craftsmen might actually have been the primary beneficiaries of the caja in the artisan sector, since the caja did not serve all members of that sector equally well. As the economy of the Colombian capital changed over the course of the nineteenth century, certain trades, especially those related to construction or those that did not directly compete with foreign manufacturing, might well have been the ones to receive the most benefits from the caja.80

The caja did not serve the broadest share of Bogotá’s craft community adequately because its policies simply did not allow it to offer the kind of services that sector needed to sustain or expand its trades. Most artisans who expressed their attitude on this issue favored a program of government sponsorship of small industries and, more important, protective tariffs. Such preferences paralleled government policy of the neo-Bourbon period but departed sharply from the laissez-faire policies favored by liberal reformers. The liberal reform era that began with the Mosquera presidency relied on individual initiatives, an indirect role for the state in economic development programs, and the achievement of Colombia’s “natural” position in the world economic system. This meant the end of neo-Bourbon development policies such as the caja. Liberals abandoned the system of industrial privileges, removed monopolies on production of commodities such as tobacco, privatized land holdings, lowered tariff rates, and undertook many other reforms. Not until the 1880s, during the presidencies of Rafael Núñez, did the state’s active intervention in developmental activities revert to behavior favored by many of the city’s craft workers.81

Lost Objectives

An 1855 account of the caja noted its status as the “first and only institute destined to foment all forms of industry, [by] procuring the utility and good application of savings.…”82 It seems unlikely that industry—either broadly or narrowly defined—was a general beneficiary of the institution. Its utility to craft workers, while important to some, certainly fell short of the stated aspirations of its founders. There is little evidence that “progressive ideas” became deeply ingrained in Bogotano society, although some ideologically predisposed sectors undoubtedly echoed the ideal of the practical, albeit favoring the continuation of interventionist state strategies. The caja failed to stimulate the capital’s manufacturers, which, founded in the 1830s, did not revive after the Landínez credit crisis. Nor is there any evidence that the economic prosperity enjoyed by much of the capital in the 1850s was related to caja activity; the expansion of tobacco in the Magdalena River Valley sustained that growth. Perhaps the increasing tobacco production in Ambalema and other areas drew on caja funds, but the possible relationship is only speculative.

The Caja de Ahorros of Bogotá failed to achieve fully its stated objectives. It apparently did not greatly stimulate development in and around the capital city and certainly did not stimulate the growth of small industries. Agricultural development, while impressive, did not depart from colonial patterns, nor did it last. Although many people came to rely on the caja as an important savings institution, little evidence exists to suggest that patterns of thrift were more deeply ingrained in the lower classes after its bankruptcy than before its establishment. Many people used its services, but these people were probably predisposed toward saving. Nevertheless, the caja’s survival through much of the tumultuous reform era bespeaks its importance to the local economy. The caja filled a banking vacancy in a way that perhaps only a government-sponsored agency could. Its failure left Bogotanos with no ready source of credit or institutional savings. When commercial banks began to operate in the 1870s, they paid no attention to development policy, leaving that task to the Regeneration government of Rafael Núñez.

A Fort Hays State University summer stipend supported the data analysis for this essay, a version of which was read at the 15th International Conference of the Latin American Studies Association, Miami, Florida, December 1990. The author wishes to thank Glen Ames, David Bushnell, Richard J. Salvucci, Michael Scardaville, Mark D. Szuchman, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on the paper.


The term neo-Bourbon is taken from Frank Safford, The Ideal of the Practical: Colombia’s Struggle to Form a Technical Elite (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1976). See also Robert A. Potash, Mexican Government and Industrial Development in the Early Republic: The Banco de Avío (Amherst: Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1983); and Luis Ospina Vásquez, Industria y protección en Colombia, 1810 a 1930 (Medellín: E.S.F, 1955).


Safford, Ideal of the Practical, 49-79, esp. 55-72.


Charles A. Hale, Mexican Liberalism in the Age of Mora, 1821–1853 (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1968), 74, 253–54.


Safford, Ideal of the Practical, 70.


See Caja de Ahorros de la provincia de Bogotá. Primer informe anual, dirijido por la Junta de Inversión i Superintendencia al Gobernador de la provincia,” in El Día, Aug. 30, 1846; 3d annual report, 1848, El Día, Oct. 7, 1848; Caja de Ahorros de la Provincia de Bogotá. Cuarto informe anual de la junta de inversión y superintendencia al Sr. Gobernador de la provincia (Bogotá: Imprenta de El Día, 1849), also in El Día, Oct. 6 and 13, 1849; 5th annual report, 1851, El Constitucional de Cundinamarca, Oct. 18, 1851; 6th annual report, 1852, El Pasatiempo, Oct. 27, 1852; 9th annual report, 1855, El Tiempo, Oct. 2, 1855; nth annual report, 1857, El Tiempo, Sept. 15, 1857; 12th annual report, 1858, El Comercio, Sept. 21, 1858; 13th annual report, 1859, El Comercio, Nov. 29, 1859. Unless otherwise noted, all newspapers cited are from Bogotá.


Franklin J. Sherman, Modern Story of Mutual Savings Banks (New York: J. J. Little and Ives, 1934), 5–52; Peter Lester Payne and Lance Edwin Davis, The Savings Bank of Baltimore, 1818–1866: A Historical and Analytical Study (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1956), 15–21; H. O. Horne, A History of Savings Banks (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1947); James M. Willcox, A History of the Philadelphia Savings Funds Society, 1816–1916 (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1916); Thomas Henderson, The Savings Bank of Glasgow: One Hundred Years of Thrift (Glasgow: The Univ. Press, 1936), 2–6; E. A. Beever, Launceston Bank of Savings, 1835–1970: A History of Australia’s Oldest Savings Bank (Melbourne: Melbourne Univ. Press, 1972), 4–11.


Catherine Albrecht, “Savings Banks in Bohemia, 1852–1914: The Politics of Credit” (Ph.D. diss., Indiana Univ., 1986), 1, 2, 18, 154–56.


Arnold J. Bauer, “The Church in the Economy of Spanish America: Censos and Depósitos in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries,” HAHR 63:4 (Nov. 1983), 707-33, esp. 718-23; Michael P. Costeloe, Church Wealth in Mexico: A Study of the ‘Juzgado de Capellanias’in the Archbishopric of Mexico, 1800-1856 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1967); Ernesto Labato López, El crédito en México: esbozo histórico hasta 1925 (Mexico City; Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1945); Tulio Halperín-Donghi, The Aftermath of Revolution in Latin America, trans. Josephine de Bunsen (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), 94-99.


J. Fred Rippy, “Latin America and the British Investment Boom of the 1820s,” Journal of Modern History 19 (Mar. 1947), 122-29; David Joslin, A Century of Banking in Latin America; to Commemorate the Centenary in 1962 of the Bank of London and South America Ltd. (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963), 1-8, 26-27; Richard Graham, Britain and the Onset of Modernization in Brazil, 1850-1914 (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1972), 25-26; David Rock, Argentina, 1516-1982: From Spanish Colonization to the Falklands War (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1985), 100–3. The Argentine Banco Nacional, established in 1826, attempted to provide credit for its patrons below private rates, but failed by the early 1830s with a poor record in that regard. See Miron Burgin, The Economic Aspects of Argentine Federalism, 1820-1852 (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1946), 60-64, 180-82.


David Bushnell, Reform and Reaction in the Platine Provinces, 1810-1852 (Gainesville: Univ. Presses of Florida, 1983), 23, 72. It is quite likely that Jeremy Bentham’s ideas on usury influenced the release of interest rates. Bentham, “Defence of Usury,” in Jeremy Bentham’s Economic Writings, ed. W. Stark, 3 vols. (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1952), 1:123-207. For a contemporary critique of the “liberation” of interest rates, see Fermín Toro, Reflexiones sobre la ley de 10 de abril de 1834, cited in Lewis Frederick Snow, Jr., “The Páez Years: Venezuelan Economic Legislation, 1830-1846” (Ph.D, diss., Univ. of North Carolina, 1970), 214-15.


Snow, The Páez Years, 206–7; John V. Lombardi, Venezuela: The Search for Order, the Dream of Progress (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1982), 173; Jan Bazant, Alienation of Church Wealth in Mexico: Social and Economic Aspects of the Liberal Revolution, 1856-1875 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1971), 6-7; Susan Berglund, “Mercantile Credit and Financing in Venezuela, 1830-1870,” Journal of Latin American Studies 17:2 (Nov. 1985), 373-81.


Barbara Tenenbaum, The Politics of Penury: Debts and Taxes in Mexico, 1821-1856 (Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1986), xiv, 32-34, passim; Labato López, El crédito en México, 103-5, 117-29, 147; Malcolm Deas, “The Fiscal Problems of Nineteenth-Century Colombia, Journal of Latin American Studies 14:2 (Nov. 1982), 318-20.


The same developmentalist mentality can be seen in the formation of the Mexican Banco de Avío or in the less-successful Peruvian systems of privileges. Labato López, El crédito en México, 135-41; Potash, Banco de Avío; Paul Gootenberg, “The Social Origins of Protectionism and Free Trade in Nineteenth-Century Lima,” Journal of Latin American Studies 14:2 (Nov. 1982), 343-47.


Malcolm Deas and Anthony McFarlane each provide a solid overview of the Colombian economy in this period. Deas, “Fiscal Problems”; McFarlane, “The Transition from Colonialism in Colombia, 1819-1875,” in Latin America, Economic Imperialism, and the State: The Political Economy of the External Connection from Independence to the Present, ed. Christopher Abel and Colin M. Lewis (London: Athlone Press, 1985), 101-24.


Deas, “Fiscal Problems,” 319-20.


Carlos Eslava Flechas, El Banco de Bogotá: 114 años en la historia de Colombia (Bogotá: Banco de Bogotá, 1984); Frank Safford, “Foreign and National Enterprise in Nineteenth-Century Colombia,” Business History Review 39:4 (1965), 521.


Jorge Child Vélez and Mario Arango Jaramillo, Bancarrotas y crisis: Colombia, 1842-1084; América Latina, 2981-1984 (Bogotá: Editorial Presencia, 1984), 20.


David Bushnell, The Santander Regime in Gran Colombia (Newark, Del.: Univ. of Delaware Press, 1954), 132-33; Guillermo Torres García, Historia de la moneda en Colombia (Medellín: FAES, 1980), 106–7.


Child Vélez and Arango Jaramillo, Bancarrotas y crisis, 20-25; Frank Safford, “Commerce and Enterprise in Central Colombia, 1821-1870” (Ph.D, diss., Columbia Univ., 1965), 68-80; idem., Ideal of the Practical, 71-77; Ospina Vásquez, Industria y protección, 145; José Manuel Restrepo, Diario político y militar: memorias sobre los sucesos importantes de la época para servir a la historia de la Revolución de Colombia y de la Nueva Granada, desde 1819 para adelante, 4 vols. (Bogotá: Imprenta Nacional, 1954), 2:283-84, 303-4, 314, 328, 370; McFarlane, “Transition from Colonialism,” 110.


Child Vélez and Arango Jaramillo, Bancarrotas y crisis, 25.


Safford, Ideal of the Practical, 13, 15-17.


J. León Helguera, “The First Mosquera Administration in New Granada” (Ph. D. diss., Univ. of North Carolina, 1958), 247-48.


Safford, Ideal of the Practical, 49-83. See also E. Bradford Burns, The Poverty of Progress: Latin America in the Nineteenth Century (Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 1980).


Salford, Ideal of the Practical, 13.


Charles W. Bergquist, “On Paradigms and the Pursuit of the Practical,” Latin American Research Review 13:2 (1978), 247-51; María Cristina Rojas de Ferro, “The ‘Will to Civilization’: Violence and Representation in Nineteenth-Century Colombia” (Paper delivered at the 17th International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, 1992).


Gustavo Arboleda, Historia contemporánea de Colombia, 3 vols. (Bogotá: Casa Editorial de Arboleda y Valencia, 1919), 2:285.


El Día, Oct. 26, 1845; El Tiempo, Oct. 16, 1855; El 20 de Julio, May 27, 1865.


Typical, perhaps, was the caja founded in the town of Buenaventura for the territory of Raposo in 1849. Its guidelines and organizational structure can be seen in República de Colombia, Codificación nacional de todas las leyes de Colombia desde el año de 1821, hecha conforme a la ley 13 de 1912, 34 vols. (Bogotá: Imprenta Nacional, 1924—), 13:351–53.


The first board of directors included Pombo; Peña; José Vicente Martínez; the archbishop of Bogotá, Manuel José Mosquera; José Ignacio Paris; and Francisco de Paula Torres.


El Día, Oct. 26, 1845; Safford, Ideal of the Practical, 70-71; José Manuel Restrepo, Historia de la Nueva Granada, vol. 2, 1845 a 1854 (Bogotá: Editorial El Catolicismo, 1963), 26.


El Tiempo, Oct. 16, 1855 (including quotation); El 20 de Julio, May 27, 1865; El Obrero, Nov. 8, 1865; Restrepo, Diario político y militar, 2:329.


El Tiempo, Oct. 16, 1855, Sept. 3, 1861; La Opinión, Apr. 21, 1863.


El 20 de Julio, May 27, 1865.


This ceiling on loans contrasts with the policy of Bohemian banks, which demanded instead that a minimum sum be loaned. Albrecht, “Savings Banks in Bohemia,” 54-56.


El Día, Jan. 4 and Aug. 30, 1846, Oct. 13, 1849; El Constitucional de Cundinamarca, Oct. 15, 1851; El Porvenir, Oct. 9, 1855; Gaceta de Cundinamarca, Nov. 6, 1858.


For a detailed examination of credit options in early nineteenth-century Puerto Rico, see Adam Százdi, “Credit—Without Banking—in Early Nineteenth-Century Puerto Rico,” The Americas 19:1 (July 1962), 149-71.


El Pobre, Sept. 28, 1851; El Obrero, Nov. 8, 1865; La Opinión, Apr. 21, 1863. See also the serial article “El artesano de Bogotá,” in El Núcleo, 1858.


El Neo-Granadino, Mar. 2, 1854.


Codificación nacional, 11:320-21, 12:73; Arboleda, Historia contemporánea, 285.


El Constitucional de Cundinamarca, Oct. 15, 1851; Gaceta de Cundinamarca, Nov. 6, 1858.


Archivo Histórico Nacional, Bogotá, República, Congreso, tomo 2, folio 98.


El Día, Jan. 4, 1846, Oct. 7, 1848; El Neo-Granadino, Dec. 23, 1848.


El Día, Jan. 4, 1846, Oct. 7, 1848, Oct. 13, 1849; El Tiempo, Sept. 3, 1861.


El Constitucional de Cundinamarca, Aug. 1, 1846.


A peso fuerte equaled ten reales. Unless otherwise noted, all figures have been converted to the real. The real equaled 2½ grams of silver and the peso fuerte 20 grams until the Law of June 17, 1847, which converted the nation’s coinage to the decimal system after 1853 as part of the reform of the Colombian financial system. Anibal Galindo, Historia económica i estadística de la hacienda nacional, desde la colonia hasta nuestros días (Bogotá: Editorial Pontón, 1874), 70-72; El Día, Apr. 17, 1847, Oct. 6, 1849.


El Porvenir referred to the caja’s survival as a “miraculous accident.” Oct. 9, 1855. The editors of this Conservative newspaper had ardently opposed the Melo regime and were not about to find anything praiseworthy in its operations. The caja underwent only cosmetic reform as the province became a state. Gaceta de Cundinamarca, Nov. 6, 1858.


El Tiempo, Sept. 3, 1861; La Opinión, Apr. 21, 1863; El 20 de Julio, May 27, 1865; El Obrero, Aug. 31, 1865.




Richard Preston Hyland, “The Secularization of Credit in the Cauca Valley, Colombia” (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of California, Berkeley, 1979), 208-10.


La Opinión, Apr. 21, 1863; El 20 de Julio, May 27, 1865; El Obrero, Aug. 31, 1865; Torres García, Historia de la moneda en Colombia, 66-70; Deas, “Fiscal Problems,” 320-21.


El Día, Oct. 25, 1845.


El Neo-Granadino, Mar. 31, 1849.


El Constitucional de Cundinamarca, Oct. 15, 1851; El Pasatiempo, Oct. 27, 1852.


Hyland, “Secularization of Credit,” 173.


El 20 de Julio, May 27, 1865.




El Obrero, Aug. 31, 1865.


Categories of depositors were defined by the caja. They included most occupations, widows, public establishments, and other corporate depositors.


Each depositor category was grouped by fiscal periods to produce summary rankings of average deposits. Not all categories appear in every annual report. When a category was present in seven of the ten fiscal periods for which official annual reports are available, and when at least two depositors used the caja in each fiscal period, the average deposits for those fiscal periods were totaled to produce an overall record of deposits by category for the caja s years of operation. These summary data are contained in table 4. Monthly and other reports, usually published in local newspapers, include multiple deposits by the same individuals and are therefore misleading. These sources provide other useful information, however.


Maurice Dobb, Political Economy and Capitalism: Some Essays in Economic Tradition (New York: International Publishers, 1945), 149.


Population figures are derived from analysis of the 1851 census of Las Nieves barrio, one of the city’s four. While Las Nieves was known as the “artisan barrio,” these statistics compare favorably to others from later in the century and from other Latin American cities. These are, moreover, the only manuscript census records available for this period.


Safford, “Foreign and National Enterprise,” 520.


Women seem to have been major users of the caja. This level of economic activity, which is also visible among people who loaned money to the government, suggests that the economic power of women in nineteenth-century Bogotá would bear further examination. See Deas, “Fiscal Problems,” 321.


La República, Oct. 2, 1867.


Germán Colmenares, Partidos políticos y clases sociales en Colombia (Bogotá: Ediciones Los Comuneros, 1984), 205; El Tiempo, Oct. 16, 1855.


Alirio Gómez Picón, El golpe militar del 17 de abril de 1854 (Bogotá: Editorial Kelly, 1972). 188-89; Venancio Ortiz, Historia de la revolución del 17 de abril de 1854 (Bogotá: Biblioteca Banco Popular, 1972), 75.


El Obrero, Aug. 31, 1865.


Diario de Cundinamarca, June 21, 1877. For an examination of banks founded in other regions at this time, see Manuel Restrepo Yusti, “Comerciantes y banqueros: el origen de la industria antioqueña,” Boletín Cultural y Bibliográfico 25:17 (1988), 31-53; María Mercedes Botero R., “Los bancos locales en el siglo XIX: el caso del Banco de Oriente de Antioquia,” ibid., 76-93; and Eduardo Posada and Adolfo Meisel, “Bancos de la costa,” ibid., 95-112.


For an examination of various workers’ banking and savings projects in Mexico in the same period, see Arturo Obregón, “El banco obrero. Un proyecto histórico del artesanado inscrito en el proceso de modernización del país,” Historia Obrero 4:16 (May 1979), 2-40.


La Alianza, Oct. 1, Nov. 10, 20, 1866.


Ibid., Feb. 1, 1868.


Melitón Angulo Heredia, Informe del secretario de la Sociedad de Socorros Mutuos (Bogotá: Imprenta de Gaitán, 1873).


La América, May 28, 1873.


Guillermo and Jorge González Quintana, S.J., El Círculo de Obreros: la obra y su espíritu, 1911-1940 (Bogotá: Editorial de la Litografía Colombiana, 1940); La Gaceta Republicana, Dec. 26, 1918, Jan. 21, May 6, 1919.


In many ways, these questions parallel those presented by E. P. Thompson in “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism,” Past and Present 38 (Dec. 1967), 56–97. Thompson’s concern with time patterns associated with industrial capitalism, which he sees as fundamentally different from those associated with artisanal or seasonal productive modes, does not squarely address the numerous ways in which some craft workers were able to accommodate themselves to new productive relations while others could not. This is one of the most problematic questions related to how artisans adapted to the advances of industrial production. One of the more mature analyses of this process is Sean Wilentz, Chants Democratic: New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788–1850 (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1984), esp. 107-42. At the same time, this broaches the question of how to distinguish between an artisan, a skilled worker, and a labor aristocrat. For an introduction to the topic, see Michael Hanagan, “Artisan and Skilled Worker,” International Labor and Working Class History 12 (Nov. 1977), 28-31; and E. J. Hobsbawm, “Artisan or Labour Aristocrat,” Economic History Review, 2d ser., 37:3 (Aug. 1984), 355-72.


Lyman Johnson provides the best insights into the nature and status of colonial artisans in “Artisans”, in Cities and Society in Colonial Latin America, ed. Louisa Schell Hoberman and Susan Migden Socolow (Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1986), 227-50, esp. 244-47 For a discussion of the definition of artisans of nineteenth-century Bogotá, see David Sowell, The Early Colombian Labor Movement: Artisans and Politics in Bogotá, 1832-1919 (Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 1992), 8-14.


Johnson, “Artisans,” 234-36.


Conferencias leidas en la Sociedad de Socorros Mutuos (Bogotá: Imprenta de “La Luz,” 1888), 29, 30, 34-39.


Sowell, Early Colombian Labor Movement, 94.


Ibid., 1–24.


Archivo del Congreso, Bogotá, Cámara, Projectos de leyes negados, 1850, X, fols. 28-31, 43-44r; Informes de comisiones, 1851, VI, fols. 464-73r and Senado, Informes de comisiones, 1854, fols. 296-300. Also Obregón, “Banco obrero”; and David Bushnell, “Two Stages in Colombian Tariff Policy: The Radical Era and Return to Protectionism (1861-1885),” Inter-American Economic Affairs 9:4 (Spring 1956), 3-23. On the political activity of artisans in the period, see David Sowell, “La teoría i la realidad: The Democratic Society of Artisans of Bogotá, 1847-1854,” HAHR 67:4 (Nov. 1987), 611-30.


El Porvenir, Oct. 9, 1855.