Page images
[ocr errors]

• *

, Let us now compare the actual produce of the mines of New Spain with the loss in specie experienced by that country from the unfavour

able balance of its trade. Prepared by the

information which we have been acquiring relative to the exportation of Vera Cruz and Acapulco, we shall be enabled to resolve the important question, whether the precious metals are accumulated in a region which contains the most abundant silver mines in the known world. It was advanced in several memoirs presented to the court of Madrid, that in time of peace before the year 1796, the balance of trade of Vera Cruz was, deducting the contraband trade, as in the following table:

Importation. - - Piastres. Importation from Spain - , - 11,100,000 Importation from Spanish America 1,300,000 12,400,000 Exportation. - Piastrés. Produce of Mexican agriculture - 8,400,000 Precious metals - - - - 9,000,000 12,400,000

This balance exhibits a state of exportation apparently unfavourable for the kingdom of

[ocr errors]

New Spain. If in the preceding table is included the specie exported on account of merchants, there is no reason for not adding the quantity of piastres annually sent on account of the government either to Europe or to the Spanish colonies. The amount of the exportation to the latter is at an average eight or nine millions of piastres. We have already seen, that between 1779 and 1791, the exportation of gold and silver from Mexico by the port of Vera Cruz on account of the king and individuals, amounted to more than two hundred and twenty-four millions of piastres, which is at an average equal to the sum of eighteen millions and a half per annum.

We find in general that agreeable to the above tables from 1766 to 1791, the exportation of precious metals from the port of Vera Cruz Piores. amounted to - - - - 379,000,000 The quantity of precious metals extracted from the mines of Mex: 460,000,000 ico, during the same period amounted to - -

Difference - - - - 81,000,000 It appears then from these data, that during a period of twenty-five years, the annual accumulation of specie has not exceeded the sum

of a million of piastres; for though the con

sumption of objects of luxury before the year 1778 was considerably less than at present, it would be difficult to avoid estimating the value of the contraband trade at two millions and a half of piastres, of which a great part is paid in hard cash. The state of the commerce of New Spain has changed very much within these twelve or fifteen years. The quantity of foreign goods imported fraudulently into the east and west coasts of Mexico, has increased not in volume but in intrinsic value. A greater number of vessels are not employed in the smuggling trade with Jamaica, but the objects of importation have changed with the increase of luxury and national wealth. Mexico now requires finer cloths, a greater quantity of muslins, gauzes, silks, wines, and liquors than previous to 1791. Although the value of the contraband trade is estimated at four or five millions of piastres per annum, we must not conclude that an equal

sum of unregistered piastres flows into Asia

and the English West India Islands. Part of this fraudulent importation is exchanged for the produce of Mexican or Peruvian agriculture; and another part is paid for either in America, Cadiz, Malaga, or Barcelona. ... If on the one hand the increase of luxury has rendered Mexico within the last fifteen or twenty years more dependent on Europe and Asia than formerly, on the other hand the produce of the mines has considerably increased. According to the accounts of the consulado, the importation of Vera Cruz, calculating only from the registers of the customs, amounted before 1791 to eleven millions of piastres; and it now amounts, at an average, to more than fourteen millions annually. In the ten years preceding 1791, the mean produce of the mines of New Spain” amounted to 19,300,000 piastres per annum, while from 1791 to 1801 the produce amounted to 23 millions of piastres annually. In this last period the indigenous manufactures have been exceedingly prosperous; but at the same time, as the Indians and people of colour are better clothed, this progress of the Mexican manufactures has had no sensible effect on the importation of Europe—cloth, Indian cottons, and other goods of foreign manufacture. The produce of agriculture has increased in a greater proportion than the manufacturing industry. We have already seen the zeal with which the inhabitants of Mexico gave themselves up to othe cultivation of the sugar cane. The quantity of sugar exported at Vera Cruz now amounts

* See vol. iii, chap. xi. p. 294.

to six millions of kilogrammes; and in a few years the value of this commodity will equal that of the cochineal of the intendancy of Oaxaca. * . . . . . . . . of Bringing together into one point of view the data collected by me respecting the trade of Acapulco and Vera Cruz, we find that in the beginning of the nineteenth century, ol

[ocr errors]

The importation of foreign goods and produce into the kingdom of New Spain, including the contraband on the eastern and western coasts, amounts to twenty millions of piastres.’

The eagortation from New Spain of the produce of its agriculture and manufacturing industry amounts to six millions of piastres."

Now the mines produce twenty-three millions of piastres, of which from eight to nine are exported on account of the king, either for Spair or the other Spanish colonies: conseque: if we deduct from the fifteen millions of plast= remaining, fourteen millions to liquidate excess of the importation over the erowe find hardly a million of Piaso o national wealth or rather the spear - a--is them annually on the increas

[ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »