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KINGDOM OF NEW SPAIN.
I arrived at Mexico by the South Sea in March 1803, and resided a year in that vast kingdom. I had recently visited the province of Caraccas, the banks of the Oronooko, the Rio Negro, New Granada, Quito, and the coast of Peru; and I could not avoid being struck with the contrast between the civilization of New Spain, and the scanty cultivation of those parts of South America which had fallen under my notice. This contrast excited me to a particular study of the statisticks of Mexico, and to an investigation of the causes which have had the greatest influence on the progress of the population and national industry.
My situation offered me every means for attain. ing this end. No printed work could furnish me
with materials, but I had at command a great number of manuscript mernoirs, of which an active curiosity had spread copies through the most remote parts of the Spanish colonies. I compared the results of my own researches with those contained in the official papers which I had many years been collecting. A short, but interesting stay, which I made in 1804 at Philadelphia and Washington, enabled me also to draw comparisons between the actual state of the United States and that of Peru and Mexico.
Thus my geographical and statistical materials swelled to too great a bulk to admit of entering their results in the historical account of my travels. I flattered myself with the hope that a particular work, under the title of Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain, might be received with interest at a time when the new continent more than ever attracts the attention of Europeans. Several copies of the first sketch of this work, which I drew up in Spanish, exist in Mexico, and in the peninsula. Believing that it might be useful to those called to the administration of the colonies, who often, after a long residence, have no precise idea of the state of those beautiful and extensive regions, I communicated my manuscript to all who desired to study it. From these reiterated communications I received many important corrections. Even the Spanish government honoured
my researches with a particular attention; and they have furnished materials for several official papers on the interests of the commerce and manufacturing industry of the colonies.
The work which I now publish is divided into six grand sections. The first book consists of general considerations on the extent and physical aspect of New Spain. Without entering into any
detail of descriptive natural history (a detail reserved for other my work) I have examined the influence of the inequalities of the soil on the climate, agriculture, commerce, and defence of the coasts. The second book treats of the general population and division of the casts. The third presents a particular statistical view of the intendancies, their population, and area, calculated from the maps drawn up by me from my astronomical observations. I discuss in the fourth book the state of agriculture, and of the metallic mines; and in the fifth, the progress of manufactures and commerce. The sixth book contains researches into the revenues of the state, and the military defence of the country.
Notwithstanding the extreme care which I bestowed in verifying the results, I have no doubt of having committed many very serious errors, which will be pointed out in proportion as my work shall excite the inhabitants of New Spain to study the state of their country. I rely, however, on the
indulgence of those who know the difficulties of researches of this nature, and who have compared together the statistical tables which annually appear in the most civilized countries of Europe.
GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS ON THE EXTENT AND PHYSICAL ASPECT OF THE KINGDOM OF NEW SPAIN. INFLUENCE OF THE INEQUALITIES OF THE SOIL ON THE CLIMATE, AGRICULTURE, COMMERCE, AND MILITARY DEFENCE OF THE COUNTRY.
Extent of the Spanish possessions in America. Comparison of
these possessions with the English colonies, and with the Asiatic part of the Russian empire. Denominations of New Spain, and of Anahuac. Boundary of the empire of the Aztec kings.
BEFORE entering on a political view of the kingdom of New Spain, it may be of importance to bestow a rapid glance on the extent and population of the Spanish possessions in the two Americas. We must generalize our ideas, and consider each colony in its relations with the neighbouring colonies and with the mother country, if we would obtain accurate results, and a sign to the country described the place to which it is entitled from its territorial wealth.
The Spanish possessions of the new continent occupy the immense extent of territory comprised