The transfer of royal silver and gold from the American viceroyalties to the Spanish metropolis has long been judged by historians to constitute one of the key measures of the costs of empire for the Spanish American territories. It may be argued, however, that such a focus underestimates the total costs of empire and does not allow for a full understanding of the importance of the intra-American transfers of funds from royal treasuries (reales cajas) with financial surpluses to those with perennial deficits. It is the principal purpose of this essay to demonstrate that the maintenance of the Spanish civil and military administration in the Caribbean depended, during the eighteenth century, on large and rising transfers of silver from the royal treasuries of New Spain. These transfers bespeak the highly complex nature of the financial integration of the empire and reflect the fiscal interdependence of its different parts.

Over the last decade, major progress has been made in the historical reconstruction of the finances of the Spanish Empire in the eighteenth century. The labors of a diverse cohort of scholars from Spain, the United States, Canada, and Latin America have illuminated the vast and complex nature of the fiscal structure of the Spanish monarchy both in the metropolis and in its overseas possessions, particularly in the Americas.1 Such research has laid the groundwork for a deeper understanding of the common dynamics of financial administration over the extremely extensive and multiethnic mosaic of territories under Spanish rule. It has also provided the quantitative data for the detailed study of income and expenditure in most parts of the American empire.

The statistical series of the real hacienda of New Spain (and especially that of the real caja of Veracruz) published by Herbert Klein and John Jay TePaske make possible a year-by-year reconstruction and analysis of the financial transfers from the viceroyalty to the metropolis and to different parts of the American empire.2 We have complemented this data with additional archival information on the situados from New Spain, among the most important of which were financial remittances initiated at the end of the sixteenth century for the support of military and administrative bastions in the Caribbean.3

The study of these situados reveals the existence of a dense network of intra-imperial financial transfers. It also demonstrates that the remittances sent by the royal treasury of New Spain during the eighteenth century to the Caribbean military posts tended to surpass the value of the royal silver transferred annually to the metropolis. The Viceroyalty of New Spain thus not only provided important sums of precious metals for the Spanish metropolitan state but also financed the bulk of the empire’s defenses in the greater Caribbean.

This essay offers an estimate of the total overseas remittances by the royal treasury of New Spain, followed by a comparison of remittances to the Iberian peninsula between 1720 and 1800 with those sent on account for the situados ultramarinos.4 Then it presents an analysis of the specific problems associated with the financial transfers by the royal treasury at Veracruz to the greater Caribbean for the sustenance of the civil and military administrations in Cuba, Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico, Florida, Louisiana, and several secondary military outposts.5 Finally, it demonstrates the importance of the financial transfers in times of international war, and particularly the huge contribution of the royal treasury of New Spain to cover the costs of the military operations conducted by the Spanish crown against Great Britain in the greater Caribbean, including Louisiana and Florida, during the years 1779 to 1783, at the time of the American war of independence.

Fiscal Surplus and Overseas Remittances from New Spain in the Eighteenth Century

New Spain traditionally distinguished itself as a viceroyalty that enjoyed regular annual surpluses in what we could call the consolidated accounts of the royal treasury.6 Such a situation contrasted to that of other territories in the Spanish Empire, such as Cuba, Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, or the Philippines, which—over centuries—were unable to produce sufficient internal fiscal resources to meet the total civil and military costs of their own administration. To cover their considerable and regular deficits, those territories were obliged to rely on remittances of silver from other parts of the empire, most particularly from New Spain.7

During the eight decades from 1720 to 1800, the remittances by the royal treasury of New Spain both to Castile and to the greater Caribbean showed a sustained increase (in current values). Before 1740 these surplus funds—which were concentrated at Veracruz, whence they were sent abroad—did not usually exceed a combined total of two million pesos per annum. Subsequently, however, they rose systematically, especially as a result of the outbreak of wars, which impelled a surge of financial demands for the defense of the Spanish Empire.

Figures 1, 2, and 3 indicate certain peaks in the royal remittances from New Spain that correspond clearly to the war periods: the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), the war against Great Britain (1779-1783), and the war against the French Convention (1793-1795). It was, logically enough, during these periods that the military, and therefore also the financial, demands of the metropolis and the empire as a whole intensified, although they became especially marked in the last two decades of the eighteenth century. By that time, the remittances abroad by the royal treasury from Veracruz were equivalent to approximately 40 percent of the viceroyalty’s total annual silver production—a clear indication of the state’s enormous weight on the economy.

The decennial totals of silver exported are impressive from any point of view. In the decade 1770–79, the royal treasury exported 4.8 million pesos; in 1780–89 the figure rose to 7.8 million; and in 1790-99 it reached the extraordinary level of 9.0 million. Never in the history of New Spain (or, for that matter, Spanish America) had so great a volume of monetary resources been extracted to assist in the defense and survival of the empire as a whole.

Insofar as the overseas remittances of precious metals and coin on account of the royal treasury represented a “unilateral” contribution of New Spain to the empire, it can be argued that the analysis of these series provides one particularly good indicator of the costs of the colonial relationship for Bourbon Mexico—a factor that has been suggested previously by John Coatsworth, among other historians.8 During each successive decade a huge volume of royal silver left the viceroyalty with a remarkably low degree of recompense.9 Furthermore, the export of such a large volume of coin implied a major drain not only on New Spain’s monetary system but also on its working capital.10

It is indeed remarkable that throughout most of the eighteenth century the rising volume of overseas remittances did not provoke substantial deficits for the royal treasury of New Spain. Evidently, the growth of fiscal income raised in the viceroyalty was sufficient to meet both the increase in internal expenses and the overseas financial demands. Thus, although the rise in overseas remittances by the royal treasury proved fairly constant throughout the eighteenth century (see figure 3), it was matched by a parallel increase in ordinary tax income until the 1780s, and later by a combination of taxes and a large volume of loans and forced contributions. These became necessary supplements to fulfill the extraordinary financial requirements of the crown as it became involved in ever more costly international wars.11

In an innovative and suggestive study on the fiscal boom experienced by New Spain in the eighteenth century, Herbert Klein has constructed a series of indexes that measure the growth of the income of the various regional cajas reales of the viceroyalty.12 We have compared those with indexes of the expansion of the remittances to the Caribbean situados and Castile (see table 1). Such a comparison indicates that the growth rates of the overseas transfers followed quite closely those of fiscal income. This pattern is particularly evident in the data on income of the caja de México (which concentrated the bulk of total revenues of the viceroyalty) and the data on total overseas remittances.13

While the figures on global income of the main cajas certainly help discern the general trends of the fiscal revenues, they do not sufficiently explain the economic resources that permitted the large remittances to the Caribbean and to Spain. For this purpose we have carried out a simple exercise: comparing remittances with silver mint production in New Spain (see  appendix, table A).14 The analysis of both series clearly indicates the increasing proportion of overseas remittances as a percentage of total silver minted: in the period 1720–1750, the average was slightly under 20 percent; in the two decades 1750–1770, approximately 27 percent; in the 1770s, 30 percent; and in the last two decades of the century, the extraordinary figure of 40 percent of total silver minted was exported by the royal treasury of New Spain alone (see table 2).15

In sum, the close correlation between silver production and overseas remittances by the royal treasury of New Spain suggests that future research must delve even deeper into the crucial silver-mining sector, so as to evaluate in detail the dynamics of an economic sector that—despite signs of crisis—continued to be a veritable fountain of monetary riches. These riches, however, apparently did not contribute to the viceregal economy as much as would be expected, because of the royal treasury’s increasing extraction of silver from circulation for export.

Remittances to Spain: The Surges of the 1750s, 1770s, and 1790s

The comparison of the viceroyalty’s remittances to Spain with those sent to the various colonial administrations in the Caribbean yields several observations. First, while remittances to the Caribbean situados tended to grow more steadily and rapidly through most of the century than remittances to Spain, shipments of royal silver to the metropolis were especially voluminous in the decades of the 1750s, 1770s, and 1790s. In the early decades of the century (1720s to 1750s), Mexican royal silver’s contribution to the metropolitan fiscal regime was probably important but relatively limited in scope; during this 30-year period, transfers to Castile did not ordinarily surpass one million pesos per year. In the 1750s, by contrast, average remittances rose to nearly two million pesos a year, a trend that roughly coincides with data published by Jacques A. Barbier in an important article on the income received by the Depositaría de Indias in Cádiz during the last decade of the reign of Ferdinand VI.16

After the Seven Years’ War, royal remittances from New Spain to Spain declined markedly, a short-term trend that may be attributed essentially to the huge expansion of expenditures to reinforce the defensive infrastructure in the greater Caribbean. But by the 1770s, shipments of royal silver to Cádiz returned to the levels of the 1750s (almost two million pesos per year). This new tendency contradicts the general argument advanced by Barbier, who suggests that the regime of Carlos III was less efficient than that of Ferdinand VI in extracting revenue from the American empire.17

Another significant observation derived from the specific analysis of the royal remittances is that in the 1780s and 1790s the bulk of American revenues received by the metropolitan treasury came from New Spain. According to various authors, in the last 15 years of the eighteenth century approximately 20 percent of total income registered by the Tesorería General in Madrid can be attributed to American silver shipments.18 However, if the analysis is limited to the remittances from New Spain in the years 1784–1793 (the last, long phase of fiscal prosperity for the empire), it can be estimated that Mexican silver alone accounted for 18 percent of the total revenues of the Tesorería General.19 These figures tend to reinforce the observations of Klein and Barbier on the importance of American remittances for the metropolitan fiscal system in the last years of the eighteenth century, but they magnify the role of New Spain within the structure of imperial finance.20

From 1793 on, the relative importance of American silver apparently fell in relation to total metropolitan income. But the story has an interesting twist. While ordinary income became less important, extraordinary revenues (that is, debt income) skyrocketed. Both the external and internal debt of the Spanish crown became the principal base of support to cover rapidly growing military expenditures and deficits. And once again, silver from New Spain was the linchpin of much of the new financial policy. All contracts for foreign loans taken by the Spanish government in Amsterdam, for example, specified payment in Mexican silver. Thus, as soon as news spread of ships arriving at Cádiz from Veracruz, Dutch bankers would demand shipment of the precious metal to Holland for debt service.21

Mexican silver was equally significant for Spain’s internal debt. As most authors who have dealt with this topic have indicated, the fundamental instrument of this debt was the issue of vales reales (begun in 1781), and the receipt of American silver was the determining factor in the vales’ fluctuating market value. News of the arrival of important shipments of silver at Cádiz repeatedly spurred a recovery of the vales, which became the favorite instrument of extraordinary finance in the latter years of the reign of Carlos III and that of Carlos IV.22

Remittances to the Caribbean: Sustained Growth

While historians generally recognize the importance of New Spain to metropolitan finance in the final decades of the eighteenth century, they have paid less attention to the crucial significance of the viceroyalty’s financial contribution to the maintenance of the American empire itself, particularly in the greater Caribbean. Our analysis of these remittances (situados) in figures 1 and 2 shows that from 1720 to 1790, such shipments of royal silver grew more rapidly and systematically than those to the Iberian peninsula. The data also, however, reveal certain observable swings in the remittances of both categories, alternating in strength and time span.

During a period of almost two decades, 1720 to 1739, the contribution of royal silver from New Spain to the situados in the Caribbean remained fairly stable at somewhat under one million pesos a year, similar to the level of remittances to Spain proper (see table 2). But after the outbreak of the conflict with Great Britain known as the War of Jenkins’ Ear, military expenditures tended to expand; this can be observed in the increase in situado payments, whose annual average surpassed 1.5 million pesos in the 1740s while transfers to the metropolis remained stable.

The situado remittances remained at the same levels during the 1750s, but that was when shipments to Spain tended to increase more rapidly. Once again, after the intensification of hostilities with Great Britain (which climaxed in the occupation of Havana in 1762), military requirements in the Caribbean intensified and spurred a new and much stronger trend of silver shipments from Veracruz to the region’s key Spanish military garrisons. Average annual remittances from Veracruz rose from approximately 2.5 million pesos in the 1760s to 3.5 million in the 1770s and an extraordinary 8 million in the early 1780s. Subsequently, Caribbean shipments declined somewhat (to approximately 4 million pesos a year), while remittances to the metropolis rose enormously, particularly from 1788 to 1796.

The phase of most rapid increase in the situado payments (1760–1782) clearly corresponds to the period when the Bourbon regime made its most formidable effort to strengthen its defenses throughout the greater Caribbean—not only in terms of fortifications and naval squadrons but also with local infantry. In addition, Mexican silver helped pay for a great number of powerful battleships built in the Havana shipyards—and supported the royal tobacco monopolies in Cuba and Louisiana. While it is still too early to evaluate the particular importance of the situado payments to the overall defense of the Caribbean or to the income of the region’s territories—Cuba, Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, Trinidad, Louisiana, and Florida—the large volume of silver sent suggests that New Spain became, in effect, the area’s financial bulwark of imperial defense. But to grasp the nature and complexity of the transactions between the royal treasury of New Spain and the Caribbean colonial administrations, it would seem useful to continue our exploration by commenting on the specific destination of the silver sent for the situados.23

Origins and Strategic Objectives of the Situados in the Greater Caribbean

The remittance of royal silver from New Spain to support military defenses in the Caribbean was an old mechanism of imperial finance, although its significance increased enormously in the eighteenth century. During the reign of Philip II, precisely when the basic legislation governing commerce and navigation in the empire was ratified, the practice of situado finance became institutionalized and came to constitute a regular part of the real hacienda throughout the Americas. It is not surprising that the bulk of the situados were financial transfers to key ports on the major naval routes or, alternatively, to the most important frontier posts of the empire.

The principal providers of situados were the royal treasuries of New Spain and of Peru, although they were not the only ones. A lesser but still significant role in this regard was exercised by the treasuries of Tierra Firme and Caracas. In 1584 the crown ordered New Spain to send financial support to Cuba, Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico, and Florida, and from this time on the port of Havana was the key redistributing point for the situados in the greater Caribbean.24

The tendency for the greater part of the situados to go to the Caribbean possessions of the crown is not strange, for it was there that—because of ocean currents and winds—virtually all European-American trade converged, making the Spanish-controlled Caribbean ports the critical nodes of the famous flotas on their annual transatlantic journeys. Because foreign shipping (particularly British, French, Dutch, and Danish) also used the same sea routes, the Spanish authorities found it necessary to create a defense system based on the protection of the most vulnerable and strategic ports and channels of passage, and it was there that the major fortifications and garrisons were established.25

The costs that such a defense system entailed could not be covered by the Caribbean provinces, and as a result, the crown made recourse to remittances from the more prosperous American possessions—a tendency that was progressively accentuated as military expenses rose during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Thus it became established practice that the Viceroyalty of New Spain would send large annual sums of royal funds to help pay for garrisons and fortifications throughout the greater Caribbean as well as in the Gulf of Mexico. Furthermore, New Spain was charged with the financial support of the Armada de Barlovento, whose task was to protect the main Caribbean sea lanes used by Spanish shipping.26

The main predators along these routes were pirates and privateers of different European nationalities, and their numbers increased throughout the seventeenth century. The eighteenth century, by contrast, witnessed an increase in regular naval squadrons, particularly those of Great Britain and France, which eliminated most of the pirates but at the same time represented a new and more serious threat to the Spanish colonies. The occupation of Havana in 1762 by British forces threw Spanish imperial administrators into a state of shock; it also forced the adoption of a much more systematic policy to strengthen fortifications and military garrisons throughout the Americas and especially in the Caribbean. As military expenditures in the region rose steeply, the demand for financial subsidies intensified and, logically enough, situado payments from New Spain increased substantially, as noted in the trends visible in figures 1 and 2.

Specific Expenses Covered by the Situados

The growing military expenditures included the salaries of troops and officers (infantry and artillery) stationed in the different garrisons and the costs of maintaining the fortifications in the principal ports. The strategic importance of the situados in sustaining the naval lifeline of the empire in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico can be judged by their contribution to the extremely costly reinforcement of the great fortifications of Havana, San Juan, and Veracruz, particularly during the second half of the eighteenth century.27 It is worth emphasizing that the 70 battleships and frigates built in Havana between 1723 and the end of the century were among the key contributions to the resurgence of the Spanish armada by midcentury—although in total force the armada remained somewhat less powerful than those of France and Great Britain.28 Most of these ships were financed with the royal remittances from New Spain, but the armada also received some private contributions. In the 1780s, two of the largest battleships, the Regla and the Mexicano (each with 114 cannon) were built in Havana shipyards with million-peso contributions from New Spain s wealthiest silver miners.

During the reign of Carlos III, a considerable portion of the situados were also used to reinforce fixed garrisons, composed mostly of infantry, in the principal Caribbean ports. New regulations were ratified at the same time that the size and number of local units (both regular troops and militia) increased, provoking a parallel rise in expenditures for salaries, provisions, and equipment. In addition, throughout the century various military expeditions were sent from Spain to the Caribbean to strengthen local forces, and this required the dispatch of extraordinary situados from New Spain on various occasions.29

Although the situados were employed principally to cover costs of the defensive apparatus of the empire, this was not their only function. From an early date the funds remitted were also used to support religious missions involved in subduing and indoctrinating Indian tribes, both in northern New Spain and in different parts of the greater Caribbean.30 The situados not infrequently were utilized to provide salaries of civil functionaries and clergy.31 Occasionally they also helped finance certain specific colonization projects, such as in Santo Domingo, where a considerable number of families from the Canary Islands were transferred with support from the royal treasury; and in Trinidad, when the Spanish government decided to promote agricultural development there.32

The importance of those situados not directly related to imperial defense increased during the eighteenth century especially as a result of the Bourbon policy of promoting the expansion of the royal tobacco monopoly. With the increasing control established by the crown over the production and sale of tobacco throughout the empire, orders were dispatched to New Spain for the allocation of a fixed annual sum of the situados to be sent to the royal treasury in Cuba to assist in the large volume of annual payments due to local tobacco farmers. In 1723 the sum allocated for Havana was two hundred thousand pesos; but by 1744 the figure had risen to five hundred thousand pesos per year, at a time when the amount destined for the military garrison of that city was but four hundred thousand pesos.33 Both the tobacco and the military remittances were ratified in 1768 and continued to be sent annually from New Spain until the beginning of the nineteenth century. (Additional military remittances made the total situados much higher, as will be discussed below.)

The significance of the tobacco situado is emphasized in the classic study by Ramón de la Sagra, who points out the strategic importance of the Mexican silver transfers in greasing the wheels of the royal tobacco monopoly, probably the largest state enterprise in the eighteenth-century world.34 According to De la Sagra, approximately 200 million pesos’ worth of tobacco leaf was shipped from Cuba to the metropolitan tobacco factories between 1750 and 1800. This enormous quantity certainly suggests the crucial importance of the situados of New Spain not only for tobacco production in Cuba but also for the fiscal prosperity of the metropolitan treasury.35

Geographic Distribution of the Situados

The increase in volume of the situados during the eighteenth century was of such considerable significance that the distinguished Cuban historian Julio Le Rive rend Brusone has called this period the “golden age of the situados.”36 Nevertheless, an analysis of the growth in the overall volume of silver shipments from New Spain to the Caribbean does not provide an adequate idea of the geographical distribution of the funds and their varying impact once they reached their different destinations. As previously indicated, the bulk of the situados were normally sent in ships of the armada from Veracruz to Havana and from there distributed to other points in the greater Caribbean, although some royal silver transfers were sent via other routes.

The sum of situados assigned to each different territory or port was, generally speaking, a function of its strategic importance, and was calculated on the basis of military needs on both land and sea.37 Although the remittance of fixed annual sums to each destination was ratified by particular royal orders, the actual sums sent varied considerably from year to year, depending on a variety of factors (see table 3). Among the strictly military factors involved was total troop strength. Besides normal fluctuations in the garrisons because of death or desertion, important changes occurred in the number of soldiers and officers with the outbreak or conclusion of military conflicts in the region. Likewise, the numbers in naval squadrons could change dramatically as a result of battles or storms; the loss of a large number of ships inevitably led to extraordinary expenditures.

Fiscal factors also help explain the variation in remittances. Liquidity problems in the royal treasury of New Spain and adjustments in the accounting methods could result in substantial decreases in the sums sent, while accumulation of surplus income could increase the situados.38

The way the situados were sent could make a difference in the sums registered. Frequently, the total amount of the specific situado was sent not in one shipment but in smaller quantities in various ships, so as to reduce the risk of loss from storms or pirates. Yet despite the variations this traditionally would imply, during the eighteenth century the transfers became more regular, as the royal functionaries complied quite strictly with the transmittal of the annual sums designated.

Although it is difficult to find detailed and complete information on the exact amounts of the situados sent to each point in the Caribbean in each year of the eighteenth century, it is possible to make estimates by using a variety of sources that allow observation of the major variations, decade by decade, from the 1750s on. The data from these sources, which do not include remittances to Havana, are presented in table 3. The sums sent to Havana, however, were by far the most important—and they are also the most difficult to estimate. Because the royal treasury in Havana was only the first depository of most of the situados sent to the greater Caribbean from Veracruz, the available information on the total remittances to Cuba is much greater than information on the final distribution. This makes it difficult to determine how much was actually disbursed on the island or, alternatively, how much went to other points.

Throughout the eighteenth century, the Havana situado comprised three principal categories: tierra, marina, and tabaco. The first two were essentially defense expenditures. The first royal order we have found that refers to the ordinary annual situado to Havana is that of August 2, 1744, establishing that five hundred thousand pesos should be sent from New Spain to cover the annual expenses of Cuba’s royal treasury officers in the acquisition of the tobacco harvest.39 During the 1750s, additional archival sources indicate, the situado for infantry in Havana was four hundred thousand pesos a year and for naval affairs five hundred thousand pesos.40

After the British invasion and occupation of Havana in 1762, during which local shipyards and forts were seriously damaged, royal officers stationed in Cuba called for increased financial assistance. Thus, in 1765, orders were made on the treasuries of New Spain to send three hundred thousand pesos for the fortifications in Havana and one hundred thousand pesos for those in Santiago de Cuba. Three years later, the situado to Havana was increased substantially, reaching 1.9 million pesos, of which seven hundred thousand was intended for naval purposes, four hundred thousand for troops, three hundred thousand for fortifications, and five hundred thousand for the tobacco harvest.41 Nevertheless, the annual sums remitted frequently varied, especially in cases of extraordinary expenditures.42

In the mid-1780s, the funds sent from New Spain for Cuban defense expenditures remained at the same levels as in previous decades, while those involving fortifications decreased substantially. But the analysis of the total ordinary Havana situado for this period is complicated because the estimates offered by the various available sources differ considerably. The classic eighteenth-century administrative experts, Fonseca and Urrutia, calculated the average annual value of this situado at 1,285,000 pesos between 1785 and 1789 (without including the tobacco subsidy); whereas their equally expert colleague, Joaquín Maniau y Torquemada, proposed a figure of 2,674,213 pesos as the average between 1788 and 1792. On the other hand, the accounting book of the royal treasury of Veracruz for the year 1791 gives a total of 1,050,000 pesos, but omits the category of naval expenses.43 Finally, a comparison of the annual series offered by Alexander von Humboldt (1812), de la Sagra (1831), and, more recently, Klein and TePaske (1989) reveals somewhat diverse (although relatively close) estimates of the total.44 More considerable differences are found in comparing the extraordinary sums registered at times of war in the Caribbean, particularly the 1760s, early 1780s, and 1790s. Evidently, more extensive research is required to provide a detailed breakdown of the geographical and functional distribution of the total situados as depicted in figures 1 and 2.

To provide an idea of the complexities involved in analyzing the remittances in times of military conflicts, it would seem useful to comment briefly on the remittances from New Spain during the war of 1779–1783, when the situados reached their highest peak.

The War Against Great Britain, 1779–1783

Both the French and the Spanish monarchies took advantage of the war of independence of Great Britain’s 13 North American colonies to launch their own offensive simultaneously in Europe and the Caribbean. The central objectives of Spain’s military campaigns in the latter region were the reconquest of Florida; the reinforcement of Spanish positions in Louisiana, mainly along the southern Mississippi River; and the capture of British positions in the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Honduras.45 The costs of the war required enormously increased expenditures by all the Spanish military forces in the Caribbean, but particularly those in Havana, where the bulk of the troops and ships were concentrated. As a result, the crown made large demands on the treasuries of New Spain to provide huge sums that far surpassed the standard levels of the situados. So great were these expenditures that by the early 1780s they exceeded the capacity of New Spain’s tax structure to provide funds, and thus obliged the viceroy to call for a series of forced and voluntary loans from all sectors of the Mexican population.46

Space does not permit a detailed account here of all the remittances sent by order of Viceroy Martín de Mayorga from New Spain to Havana, but the volume of financial support and other types of assistance sent from Veracruz—including provisions and manpower—was extraordinary.47 As Melvin Glascock suggests, during the war years of 1779 to 1783 New Spain “was virtually the sole support of Spanish arms in the Americas … and made for the mother country and her allies a contribution unmatched in the history of colonial Spanish America.”48

The estimates by Glascock and by James A. Lewis of such huge shipments of silver from Veracruz to Havana during the war are similar, although they use different sources. Lewis indicates that some 34 million silver pesos were sent as situados to the Caribbean during the military conflict, while Glascock asserts that these remittances reached 37 million pesos in the same five years.49 Remarkably, these figures agree almost exactly with those in the treasury summaries of Veracruz published by Klein and TePaske: the total amount registered as leaving Veracruz for Havana between 1779 and 1783 is 37.8 million pesos.

The contribution that these remittances represented for the overall war effort of the Spanish crown can be judged only indirectly, but their critical importance is clear. At 20 reales vellón to each silver peso, it can be estimated that New Spain sustained the crown’s military effort in the Caribbean with a financial subsidy of more than 750 million reales vellón, an extraordinary sum for the period, considering that it was equivalent to almost twice the total ordinary annual defense expenditures of the metropolitan treasury at Madrid.50

A difficult problem is finding out exactly how these monies were spent, since only one portion remained in Cuba while the rest was distributed throughout the greater Caribbean. It is known that most of the funds went to support three major defense expenditures: the expeditionary army, commanded by Bernardo Gálvez, which was headquartered in Havana but which operated in Florida and Louisiana; the armada, under Admiral José Solano, which carried out various naval operations against the British throughout the greater Caribbean; and the military garrisons in Cuba itself, headed by Captain General Juan Manuel Cacigal and including Spanish, Cuban, and Mexican troops. While quite a number of historical studies have analyzed aspects of the military campaigns undertaken by these forces, few refer to the precise disbursement of funds.51

The financial documentation generated by the war is abundant, but relatively dispersed and sometimes contradictory. The information found, for example, in the Correspondencia de Virreyes in the Mexican archives includes the confidential reports of Viceroy Mayorga of New Spain to the crown’s minister of the Indies, José de Gálvez, on the silver remittances sent to Havana on Spanish warships. Significantly, however, the viceroy complained that the functionaries rarely acknowledged receipt of the shipments, and that therefore he had insufficient information on disbursements in Cuba; he even went so far as to suggest to Gálvez that he believed important sums were used for illicit purposes. The intendant of Havana, José Iguano de Gaviria, had written to Gálvez arguing that insufficient funds had been sent from Veracruz to cover large military expenditures in Cuba. But in October 1781, Viceroy Mayorga informed Gálvez that he had sent large sums to Havana that year, and that therefore the intendanťs complaints were unjustified. The funds included 12 million silver pesos, 1.5 million pesos in provisions (flour and biscuits, ham, bacon, salted meat, powder, and other commodities), and a force of 1,913 Mexicans who were to be employed by the Spanish naval squadrons operating out of Cuba.52

That New Spain was expected not only to send funds and supplies but also to evaluate the scale of the financial effort required to sustain the war in the Caribbean is confirmed by the viceroy’s correspondence with a variety of functionaries. In October 1782, the chief treasury officer (fiscal de la real hacienda) of New Spain informed Mayorga that he had constructed a provisional estimate of war expenditures in the previous year and was using it to calculate future disbursements. On the basis of the correspondence between Admiral Solano, General Bernardo Gálvez, and Intendant Pedro Antonio de Cosío of New Spain, it is possible to calculate that the armada operating out of Havana had absorbed 5.6 million pesos, whereas the expeditionary army and the Cuban garrisons required an additional 7 million pesos.53 Moreover, Cosío noted that all these funds had been sent punctually to Havana on various warships, adding that this surpassed all previous expectations of the financial resources that could be obtained in New Spain for this costly war.

Despite the assurances from Mexico, Minister José de Gálvez remained profoundly concerned that the military expenses might not be covered when the war reached its climax. He therefore dispatched a high- ranking commissioner, Francisco de Saavedra (later minister of finance under Charles IV), to supervise and expedite the remittances from Veracruz to Havana and to coordinate the provision of additional funds and supplies to the allied French fleet in the Caribbean. Perhaps to vindicate his reputation, in a letter to Gálvez in September 1782, Viceroy Mayorga made a point of recalling that when Saavedra had arrived with royal orders to remit ten million pesos for the war, everyone had thought this impossible; nevertheless, the order had been fulfilled, as one warship after another left Veracruz carrying silver for Havana. The first to depart was the battleship San Francisco de Assis, which carried Saavedra himself plus one million pesos. A few days later another ship followed, bearing two million pesos. Subsequently, the San Agustín took more than four million pesos to Cuba, and the San Francisco de Assis, on a second journey, boarded another two million pesos. Mayorga argued that this effort constituted “an increase never before seen in shipments of silver on account of the royal treasury” and added that this had been possible in part because of his success in raising a combination of forced and voluntary loans from all sectors of the population of the viceroyalty.54

Although the transfer of silver was New Spain’s most valuable contribution to the war waged against Great Britain in the Caribbean, the viceroyalty also sent food provisions for the troops and other war supplies. The latter included large amounts of gunpowder from the royal powder factory in Mexico City, which supplied not only Havana but also troops at New Orleans, Campeche, El Carmen, Tabasco, and El Guarico. Copper sheets for ship repairs and cargoes of lead also were sent from Veracruz. Among the food provisions (for which yearly lists exist), flour, dried vegetables, and ham were the most important. The amount of flour (almost all from the region of Atlixco-Puebla) was considerable, totaling 39,834 tercios to Havana between 1779 and 1783.55

The provisions and supplies sent out from Veracruz also supported the several thousand troops operating out of Mobile and Pensacola, who successfully carried out the reconquest of Florida. In addition, a considerable portion of the soldiers and sailors who participated in the diverse battles were Mexican: as of 1780, a total of almost two thousand seamen had been sent from Veracruz to reinforce the naval squadrons at Havana; in 1782, three thousand men of the crown regiment from Mexico City and one thousand troops of the Puebla regiment were incorporated into the infantry in Cuba, Louisiana, and Florida. Furthermore, between one and two thousand Mexican convicts were sent out to fulfill their sentences of forced labor in Cuban shipyards and fortresses.56

Finally, apart from covering strictly military expenditures, the remittances of Mexican silver to Cuba also were used to cover an important part of the Spanish government’s international debt. A total of three million pesos was paid at Havana between 1781 and 1783 to the agents of the Franco-Spanish syndicate of bankers headed by Francisco de Cabarrús. This official was instrumental in the establishment of the Banco de San Carlos (1782), the bank charged with handling the new Spanish internal debt (vales reales) and with the service of the external debt, held mostly in Amsterdam. The Mexican silver constituted repayment for loans advanced to the Madrid administration to guarantee the successful issue of the vales reales and to launch this first great Spanish bank.

In summary, it is clear that during the war years of 1779 to 1783, the great economic contributions of New Spain were of strategic importance to imperial policy for not only military but also financial reasons. In this respect, our data tend to suggest a need to broaden the argument offered by Pedro Tedde with respect to the success of the administration of Carlos III in meeting rising expenditures in the 1780s without risking bankruptcy, as was the case in those years in neighboring France. Tedde suggests that this financial success obtained from the crown s ability to cover steeply rising public expenditures by intelligent handling of its debt policy.57

Our analysis indicates, however, that this argument tends to leave New Spain largely out of the picture—and without the viceroyalty it is impossible to understand the course of imperial finance during the military confrontation with Great Britain. In reality, the bulk of the American war expenses were covered not with Spanish funds but by Mexican silver. Furthermore, both during the war and, even more so, after the conclusion of hostilities, the remittances of silver to the metropolis proved to be essential pillars of the relatively successful debt policies of the administration of Carlos III.


Our historical review of the situados sent from New Spain during the eighteenth century provokes a series of general observations. First, our study indicates that while the situados to the greater Caribbean were a traditional element of imperial Spanish-American finance, it was in the eighteenth century that they acquired a central importance. By the end of that period it was clear that New Spain was playing a much larger role than the metropolis itself in supporting the American empire.

This initial conclusion suggests the need for future studies on the role of intra-American financial transactions as one of the fundamental factors in the comprehension of imperial economics. In other words, it is plainly insufficient to deal with remittances from America to Spain without simultaneously analyzing the volume and trajectories of capital flows from one American colony to another. Thus to comprehend the multilayered, multi-tiered structure of imperial finance requires a study of the complex web of fiscal transfers that bound the different royal treasuries together in America as well as in Spain.

A second observation has to do with evaluating the dramatic increase in absolute values of the situados during the eighteenth century. The spectacle of New Spain’s phenomenal effort in covering both the expenditures in the greater Caribbean and the rising demand for funds by the metropolis signifies the colonial government’s ability to extract a growing volume of ordinary tax income as well as extraordinary revenues from the population of the viceroyalty. Indeed, by the end of the century, it is possible to argue, the treasury of Mexico City rivaled the General Treasury of Madrid in tax revenues, making New Spain the unquestioned financial jewel of Spain’s American empire. If this is truly the case, however, it provides all the more reason for further research into the much-debated question of the nature of the Bourbon fiscal reforms in the viceroyalty and, in particular, their long-term impact on the local economy and society.

Finally, our study suggests that the financial and commercial relations between New Spain and different parts of the Spanish greater Caribbean should be the subject of deeper analysis—breaking with the traditional historiography that tends to look at the Mexican experience in an overly ingrown way, and instead placing that experience in the context of a financial, commercial, political, and military dynamic that had much broader geographic frontiers. Certainly, during the eighteenth century, New Spain became the financial bulwark of the greater part of the military and administrative structure of the Spanish Empire in the Caribbean.

We have emphasized the key role of Havana as receptor of the royal funds sent from Veracruz and as redistributor of Mexican silver through-out the region. In this regard, three “subzones” of the Caribbean need more analysis: the subzone known as Barlovento, which included Cuba, Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, and the lesser Antilles; the Venezuelan coast and part of the coast of Nueva Granada, which received occasional silver transfers; and Louisiana and Florida, both of which acquired extraordinary importance in the 1780s relative to imperial financial transactions originating in New Spain. In sum, to reconstruct the multiple trajectories of royal silver shipments from Veracruz is to learn that a new and much wider outlook is needed to understand the structure and dynamics of the Spanish Empire in the Americas in its final century.



See Herbert Klein and John Jay TePaske, Ingresos y egresos de la real hacienda de Nueva España, 2 vols. (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1987–1989). See also Klein and Jacques A. Barbier, “Revolutionary Wars and Public Finances: The Madrid Treasury, 1784–1807,” Journal of Economic History 41:2 (1981), 315-39. Additional works by TePaske: “The Financial Disintegration of the Royal Government of Mexico During the Epoch of Independence, 1791–1821,” in The Independence of Mexico and the Creation of the New Nation, ed. Jaime E. Rodríguez O. (Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 1989), 63-84; TePaske, José Hernández Palomo, and Mari Luz Hernández Palomo, La real hacienda de Nueva España: la real caja de México, 1576-1816 (Mexico City: Colección Científica INAH, 1976). See also Barbier, “Peninsular Finance and Colonial Trade: The Dilemma of Charles IV’s Spain,” journal of Latin American Studies 12:1 (1980), 21–37; Barbier and Klein, “Las prioridades de un virrey ilustrado: el gasto público bajo el reinado de Carlos III,” Revista de Historia Económica 3:3 (1986), 473-96; Alvaro Jara and John Jay TePaske, The Royal Treasuries of the Spanish Empire in America (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1982); José P. Merino Navarro, “La hacienda de Carlos IV,” Hacienda Pública Española 69 (1981), 131–81; Javier Cuenca, “Ingresos netos del estado español, 1788-1820,” Hacienda Pública Española 49 (1981), 183-208; Miguel Artola, La hacienda del antiguo régimen (Madrid: Alianza, 1982); Eduardo Arcila Farías, Libros de la real hacienda en la última década del siglo XVI (Caracas: Banco Central de Venezuela, 1983); idem, El primer libro de la hacienda pública colonial de Venezuela, 1529-1538 (Caracas: Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, Univ. Central de Venezuela, 1979).


To determine the levels of remittances on account of the royal treasury from New Spain to Spain and to the American situados, we used the series from the real caja of Veracruz, which we consider the most complete sources of information. We used the data of the cartas cuenta in the Archivo General de Indias for Veracruz, published in Klein and TePaske, Ingresos y egresos. But first we compared these data with those registered in various volumes of the Libro manual de cargo y data de la Real Caja de Veracruz (hereafter Libro manual), which we located in the Caja Matriz, Archivo General de la Nación, Mexico City (hereafter AGN). Those data almost perfectly match the preceding source.


Although the term situado means salary or rent paid or remitted, in the Spanish Empire it was used specifically to refer to the remittance or transfer of royal funds from one caja of the royal treasury to another to cover expenses of strategic importance. For the early eighteenth-century definition, see Diccionario de la lengua castellana in its first edition of 1739, known as “Autoridades.” A later definition: “Llevaban este nombre [situados] las cantidades que anualmente se remitían desde las cajas reales de América a otras provincias, para suplir con su importe la falta de los productos de sus rentas y atender al pago de las obligaciones del erario en ellas.” José Canga Argüelles, Diccionario de hacienda (Madrid: Imprenta de Marcelino Calero, 1833 [reprint, Madrid: Instituto de Estudios Fiscales, 1968]), 2:509.


The few discrepancies between our data and those summarized in John Jay TePaske’s pioneering essay on situados are explained mainly by the difference that under situados, TePaske has not included “Armada de Barlovento” and “1 percent de Armada de Barlovento.” Moreover, we have not included the data on supposed remittances (remisibles) to Castile for the years 1786 and 1799 that TePaske does, because we have not found sufficient evidence to confirm that these were the exact sums sent in either year. See TePaske, “La política española en el Caribe durante los siglos XVII y XVIII,” in La influencia de España en el Caribe, la Florida, y la Luisiana (1500-1800), ed. Antonio Acosta and Juan Marchena Fernández (Madrid: Instituto de Cooperación Iberoamericana, 1983), 61-87.


Among the few, important studies that deal with the problems related to the financing of the situados are John Jay TePaske, “New World Silver, Castile, and the Philippines, 1590–1800,” in Precious Metals in the Later Medieval and Early Modern Worlds, ed. J. F. Richards (Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 1983), 425-45; Juan Marchena Fernández, “La financiación militar en Indias: introducción a su estudio,” Anuario de Estudios Americanos 36 (1979), 93–110; and idem, “Financiación militar y situados,” in Temas de historia militar, Ponencias del 2. Congreso de Historia Militar (celebrado en Zaragoza, 1988) (Madrid: Servicio de Publicaciones del EME, Colección Adalid, 1988) 1:263-307.


The Klein and TePaske series in Ingresos y egresos does not provide consolidated accounts of all 23 reales cajas of the Viceroyalty of New Spain in the eighteenth century, but the accounts of the two most important cajas, Mexico City and Veracruz, permit analysis of the respective surpluses.


The data we analyze are only from remittances to Spain and to the situados in the greater Caribbean. We do not include estimates of remittances to the Philippine situados, which were also considerable. For comparative data, see Leslie Bauzon, “Deficit Government: Mexico and the Philippine Situado (1606–1804)” (Ph.D. diss., Duke Univ., 1970).


John Coatsworth, Los orígenes del atraso: nueve ensayos de historia económica de México en los siglos XVIII y XIX (Mexico City: Alianza Editorial Mexicana, 1990), 108–9.


It may be argued that a small compensation for the remittances can be observed in the merchandise sent by the real hacienda from Castile to New Spain; this included mercury and paper sent from Cádiz, paid for with a small percentage of the Mexican silver received. It may also be noted that a small portion of the silver sent to Cuba and other Caribbean situados benefited producers in New Spain, who received orders for hard biscuits, ham, and other merchandise.


Coatsworth provides some estimates of this drainage and of possible effects on the colonial economy. Los orígenes del atraso, 108-9. Richard L. Garner says loans to the crown between 1790 and 1810 diminished the sources of capital available to the private sector. Garner, “Price Trends in Eighteenth-Century Mexico,” HAHR 65:2 (May 1985), 325.


The first large deficits appeared in the year 1782-83, when the royal treasury in New Spain was obliged to make recourse to forced loans (donativos), interest-bearing loans, and fund transfers from a variety of ramos particulares y ajenos to the central treasury in Mexico City for remittance overseas. See Carlos Marichal, “Las guerras imperiales y los préstamos novohispanos, 1781-1804,” Historia Mexicana 39:4 [156] (apr.–jun. 1990), 881-907.


Herbert Klein, “La economía de la Nueva España, 1680-1809: un análisis a partir de las cajas reales,” Historia Mexicana 34:4 [36] (1985), 561-60.


As various researchers have suggested, interpreting the fiscal series in current values may lead to certain errors, which suggests the need for an adequate deflator to account for the inflation that gained strength in the economy of New Spain at the end of the eighteenth century. At present, however, the number of complete price series for the colonial economy is insufficient to construct a completely satisfactory general price index. In this sense, we agree with Pedro Pérez Herrero, who emphasizes the need to deflate the series but also cautions against using premature estimates (as Coatsworth would apparently justify) in order to avoid costly subsequent errors. See essays by Pedro Pérez Herrero: “El crecimiento económico novohispano durante el siglo XVIII: una revisión,” Revista de Historia Económica 7:1 (1989), 111-32; and “Los beneficiarios del reformismo borbónico: metrópoli versus élites novohispanas,” Historia Mexicana 41:2 [162] (1991), 207-64.


For the annual series of silver minted we have used the data provided by Alejandro de Humboldt [Alexander von Humboldt], Ensayo político sobre el reino de la Nueva España, edición y revisión de texto por Juan Ortega y Medina (Mexico City: Ediciones Porrúa, 1991), 386.


Another statistical exercise indicates that the annual growth rates of remittances tended to surpass those of silver production. From 1720 to 1800 the annual average increase of remittances in regard to silver production was 0.3 percent. This would suggest quite clearly that increases in overseas remittances exerted a constant, growing pressure on the mining sector. If Z denotes the ratio of the annual remittances divided by silver production, the statistical results of the regression are the following:(p)(/p)Z = 0. 173 + 0. 003t(p)(/p)(6.561) + (5.804)(p)(/p)R2 = 0.3595(p)(/p)DW = 2.13 where the numbers in parentheses correspond to the t-value statistics, and t takes the value of o for the year 1720, 1 for 1721, and so on.


The income series presented by Barbier require careful analysis, as the various sources are not specified in sufficient detail to determine how much revenue was derived from transfer of royal income from America. In some years, furthermore, there would appear to be significant discrepancies with the Veracruz data. See Jacques Barbier, “Towards a New Chronology for Bourbon Colonialism: The “Depositaría de Indias” of Cádiz, 1722-1789,” Ibero-Amerikanisches Archiv, n.f., jg. 6, h 4 (1980), 335–53.


For instance, Barbier affirms: “One certainly would not have supposed from the existing secondary literature that Ferdinand drew more Indias money than his half-brother [Carlos III]. …” Barbier, “Towards a New Chronology,” 342. Renate Pieper, however, on the basis of a major quantitative study, argues: “De esta evolución de los ingresos americanos en España no se puede deducir una mayor eficacia administrativa o presión en ultramar durante el reinado de Fernando VI. …” Pieper, “La aportación americana a la real hacienda española en la segunda mitad del siglo XVIII,” Estudios de Historia Social y Económica de América (Alcalá) 6 (1990), 72. See also idem, Die spanischen Kronfinanzen in der zweiten Halfte des 18. Jahrhunderts (1753-1788) (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1988).


Cuenca, “Ingresos netos”; José P. Merino Navarro, Las cuentas de la administración central española, 1730–1820 (Madrid: Instituto de Estudios Fiscales, 1988), and “La hacienda de Carlos IV”; Leandro Prados de la Escosura, De imperio a nación: crecimiento y atraso económico en España, 1780-1936 (Madrid: Alianza, 1988), chap. 2.


It should be underscored that the series of “Indias” income registered as going to the Madrid Treasury by Barbier and Klein, “Revolutionary Wars,” 323 and 338, does not check with the figures collected by Cuenca, “Ingresos netos,” and Merino, “La hacienda de Carlos IV.”


As they affirm: “When the related receipts from the Cádiz royal treasury are added in, American-related funds may have accounted for one-fifth of total Madrid treasury revenues in this period, making the Indies the largest ultimate source of Madrid income.” Barbier and Klein, “Revolutionary Wars,” 328.


On this question see the excellent study by Marten G. Buist, At Spes Non Fracta, Hope and Company, 1770-1815: Merchant Bankers and Diplomats at Work (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1975).


The most detailed analysis of these operations is found in Pedro Tedde’s monumental Historia del Banco de San Carlos (Madrid: Banco de España/Alianza, 1987) and in his essay “Política financiera y política comercial en el reinado de Carlos III,” Actas del Congreso internacional sobre Carlos HI y la Ilustración, vol. 2, Economía y sociedad (Madrid: Ministerio de Cultura, 1989), 139-217.


It should be recalled that the situados of New Spain also included funds that went to other points apart from the greater Caribbean, such as the northern presidios of New Spain itself and occasional transfers to Guatemala, Nueva Granada, and—via Acapulco the Philippines, which received some 250,000 pesos annually from the mid-eighteenth century on. On internal military expenses in the viceroyalty of New Spain, see Christon I. Archer, “Bourbon Finances and Military Policy in New Spain, 1759–1812, The Americas 37:3(1981), 315–50.


Julio Le Riverend Brusone, “Relaciones entre Nueva España y Cuba (1518–1520), Revista de Historia de América (Mexico City) 37-38 (1954), 90. The exact date of the establishment of situados in the Caribbean islands has not yet been determined. According to the references cited by Le Riverend, more or less regular remittances were made to Havana from the 1570s on. But the only exact date for a royal order in this respect—Sept. 18, 1584—is provided by Manuel Villanova, “Economía y civismo,” Revista Cubana (1892), 157-90 (reprinted, Havana: Ministerio de Educación, 1945), 43. Ramón de la Sagra refers to the same royal cédula but gives the date of November 18, 1584. De la Sagra, Historia económico-política y estadística de la isla de Cuba, o sea de sus progresos en la población, la agricultura, el comercio, y las rentas (Havana: Imprenta de las viudas de Arazoza y Soler, 1831), 276.


Paul E. Hoffman, The Spanish Crown and the Defense of the Caribbean, 1535–1585: Precedent, Patrimonialism, and Royal Parsimony (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1980); Pedro Vives, “Tres siglos de fortificación e infraestructura portuaria en la América española,” in Puertos y fortificaciones en América y Filipinas (Madrid: Comisión de Estudios Históricos de Obras Públicas y Urbanismo, 1985), 49-50; Ricardo Cerezo Martínez, “Las rutas marítimas españolas en el siglo XVI,” in España y el ultramar hispánico hasta la Ilustración (Madrid: Instituto de Historia y Cultura Naval, 1989), 72.


Bibiano Torres Ramírez, La Armada de Barlovento (Seville: Escuela de Estudios Americanos, 1981), chap. 8, pp. 221ff; Manuel Alvarado Morales, “El cabildo de la ciudad de México ante la fundación de la Armada de Barlovento, 1635–1643” (Ph.D. diss., El Colegio de México, 1979), 11-17.


A description of the fortifications constructed during the colonial period can be found in José Antonio Calderón Quijano, Historia de las fortificaciones en Nueva España (Seville: Escuela de Estudios Hispanoamericanos, 1955), which focuses on the fortifications in New Spain.


For a general overview of the resurgence of the Spanish armada in this period, see John D. Harbron, Trafalgar and the Spanish Navy (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1988), 59–60, 91–92, which includes a complete list of all warships built in Havana in the eighteenth century. See also the seminal article by Jacques A. Barbier, “Indies Revenues and Naval Spending: The Cost of Colonialism for the Spanish Bourbons, 1763-1805,” Jahrbuch für Geschichte von Staat, Wirtschaft, und Gesellschaft Lateinamerikas 21 (1984), 171-84.


For the increase in military expenditures and the expansion of military forces in Spanish America in the eighteenth century, see Marchena Fernández, “Financiación militar y situados. On Cuba, see Allan J. Kuethe and C. Douglas Inglis, “Absolutism and Enlightened Reform: Charles III, the Establishment of the Alcabala, and Commercial Reorganization in Cuba,” Past and Present 109 (1985), 118-43.


Engel Sluiter, The Florida Situado: Quantifying the First Eighty Years, 1571–1651 (Gainesville: Univ. of Florida Libraries, 1985), 5-6. As late as the eighteenth century the situados were used to cover these expenses, as can be seen in the reales cédulas of Nov. 20, 1741, Oct. 13, 1756, and Apr. 6, 1763, AGN, Reales Cédulas Originales, v. 61, e. 91, f. 334; V. 76, e. 123, f. 290; and v. 86, e. 66.


See, for example, AGN, Reales Cédulas Originales, v. 62, e. 60, f. 185; v. 76, e. 144, f. 331; and v. 63, e. 60, f. 159; Historia, v. 570, f. 57; and Archivo Histórico de Hacienda, leg. 1210, e. 1.


See AGN, Reales Cédulas Originales, v. 64, e. 33, f. 103, and Historia, v. 570, f. 25; and Eduardo Arcila Farías, Comercio entre México y Venezuela en los siglos XVI y XVII (Mexico City: Instituto Mexicano de Comercio Exterior, 1975), 218.


The 1723 figure comes from De la Sagra, Historia económico-política, 272.


Beginning in 1770, the production sphere of the Spanish royal tobacco monopoly included factories both in Spain (Seville employed more than five thousand workers) and in Mexico City (more than four thousand workers), as well as in other parts of the empire. The official tobacco sales outlets employed additional thousands. And several thousand tobacco farmers in Cuba and Mexico, plus a lesser number in Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo, depended for their living on the royal monopoly.


De la Sagra, Historia económico-política, 264-65.


Le Riverend was one of the first Latin American historians to underscore the significance of the situados. See “Relaciones entre Nueva España y Cuba,” 92 and 143-44. His estimates of remittances to Cuba from New Spain appear to be based on De la Sagra, Historia económico -política.


Each American province was obliged to send documents that justified the level of defense expenditures; this explains why the AGN contains numerous reports on the regiments in each garrison and the number of deaths and deserters. See, e.g., reports on garrisons in Puerto Rico, AGN, Archivo Histórico de Hacienda, leg. 1210.


In 1697 the crown ordered that when the Caribbean treasuries receiving the situados accumulated fiscal surpluses, these sums should be deducted from the remittances sent from New Spain. AGN, Historia, v. 570, f. 9. This occurred with surpluses generated in the fiscal branch of the Cruzada in Cumaná, the Santa Bula in Florida, and the Media Anata in Santo Domingo. AGN, Historia, v. 570, f. 14, 45, 109.


Arcila Farías confirms the figure of five hundred thousand silver pesos (Comercio entre México y Venezuela, 203), but Marchena Fernández registers only four hundred thousand pesos (“Financiación militar y situados,” 271–73).


Libro manual, 1758; Marchena Fernández, “Financiación militar y situados,” 271–73. It should be noted that the category of marina is one of the most difficult to specify; some of the funds went for the salaries of sailors and officers and others for provisions and ship repair or construction. E.g., a report of Oct. 19, 1758, indicates that of 1,016,094 pesos sent to Havana for “marina,” 407,123 pesos were designated for expenses of the naval squadron, 100,924 pesos for ship construction, and 508,047 pesos for especially urgent naval disbursements. AGN, Historia, v. 570, f. 204.


AGN, Reales Cédulas Originales, v. 92, e. 48, f. 88.


E.g., in 1774, a sum of 1,990,122 pesos was sent from Veracruz to Havana, of which 216,714 pesos were registered as extraordinarios. In 1778, relevant documents indicate that the figures designated for remittance to Havana were 986,866 for tierra; 1,015,204 for marina; and 600,000 for tabaco, although the actual amounts sent were only 290,400, 680,607, and 200,000 pesos, respectively. María del Carmen Velázquez, “El siglo XVIII,” in Historia documental de México, Miguel León-Portilla et al. (Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, UNAM, 1964), 1:321-419.


Fabián Fonseca and Carlos de Urrutia, Historia general de la real hacienda (Mexico City: Imprenta de Vicente G. Torres, 1845-1853), vols. 13-27; Joaquín Maniau y Torquemada, Compendio de la historia de la real hacienda de Nueva España, escrito en el año de 1794 (Mexico City: Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística, 1914), 43-46; Libro manual, 1791.


Humboldt, Ensayo político sobre la isla de Cuba, edición e introducción de Fernando Ortiz (Havana: Archivo Nacional de Cuba, 1960), 273-74; De la Sagra, Historia económico-política, 282; Klein and TePaske, Ingresos y egresos.


The first three objectives were achieved, but the raids on Honduras were a failure, and the naval campaign off Jamaica proved a major defeat because of the British Navy’s sea victories under the command of Admiral Rodney. On the Bahama campaign, see James A. Lewis’ recent monograph, The Final Campaign of the American Revolution: Rise and Fall of the Spanish Bahamas (Columbia: Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1991).


A previous study of these loans can be found in Marichal, “Las guerras imperiales.”


Information on shipments to Spanish military garrisons throughout the greater Caribbean is found in a variety of sources in the Archivo General de la Nación, as well as in two excellent and infrequently cited doctoral theses that provide an abundance of data on New Spain’s crucial role in the war. See Melvin Bruce Glascock, “New Spain and the War for America, 1779–1783” (Ph.D. diss., Louisiana State Univ., 1969); and James A. Lewis, “New Spain During the American Revolution, 1779-1783: A Viceroyalty at War” (Ph.D. diss., Duke Univ., 1975). Both texts are under consideration for publication in Spanish translation by the Instituto Mora, Mexico City.


Glascock, “New Spain and the War,” 285.


The source Glascock used is a very detailed document titled “Decretos, planos, certificaciones sobre el costo de la guerra,” Archivo Histórico Nacional, Madrid, Consejo de Indias, leg. 20721, cuad. V, f. 77-109, cited in Glascock, “New Spain and the War,” 265–74. Lewis’ estimates come from documents in the AGN, Mexico City. See “New Spain During the American Revolution,” 157.


For comparative data on metropolitan finance, see Tedde, “Política financiera,” 143.


A detailed study of the financial transactions would considerably help to elucidate the methods used to finance imperial wars. Apart from the financial documents noted in this essay, an important source is the documentary section titled Marina in the AGN.


AGN, Correspondencia de Virreyes, v. 129, e. 1317, f. 281-83.


AGN, Marina, v. 12, f. 144–49.


AGN, Correspondencia de Virreyes, ν. 129, e. 1317, f. 281–83.


Glascock provides detailed lists of provisions sent year by year. “New Spain and the War,” 265–73.


For details on the soldiers of the Mexican crown regiment, see Christon I. Archer, El ejército en el México borhónico, 1760–1810 (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1983). Glascock provides annual information on the transfer of seamen from Veracruz. “New Spain and the War,” 265–73.


Tedde, “Política financiera.”