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The estimates of population in this table are founded on my own researches *.
The same Table demonstrates that if Asia took no share in the commerce of America, the manufacturing nations of Europe would actually have an annual sale of goods in the Spanish colonies, to the value of 310,000,000 livres tournosi, or 59,200,000 piastres f. This enormous importation is only balanced by 160,000,000 livrest, or thirty millions and a half of piastres, the value of the produce of the colonial agriculture. The excess of the importation, which amounts to 150,675,000 livres, or 28,700,000 piastres, is paid in gold and silver, extracted from the mines of America. Now we know from what has been already related, that the value of the precious metals which annually flow from America into Europe, amounts to 88 millions and a half of piastres, or 202,125,000 livres; and if we deduct from this sum the 28,700,000 piastres destined to pay the excess of the importations over the exportations, there remain 9,800,000 piastres, or 51,450,000 livres, which are nearly equivalent to the rent of the American proprietors resident in the Peninsula, joined to the quantity of gold and silver which annually enters into the treasury of the king of Spain as net revenue of the colonies. From the whole of these premises we may draw the following conclusion, of which the knowledge is very important for political economy; that in the beginning of the 19th century, the value of the imports of Spa
* I am surprised to see that an estimable, and in other respects very accurate author, M. Depons, has advanced, that in 1802, the capitania general of Caracas, contained 218,400 blacks. (Woyage a la Terre Ferme, t. i. p. 178 and 241.) He assumes this number, because in the beginning of his work he supposes the slaves to constitute three tenths of the whole population, which he estimates at 728,000 souls. How could M. Depons, who resided several years in that fine country, admit one negro for every three inhabitants? Even the Island of Cuba, in 1803, had not the half of the number of slaves which this author supposes in the capitania general of Caracas. I mean to prove in another place, that in the province of Venezuela, the number of black slaves and mulattoes does not exceed one fourteenth of the whole population. It will be of importance to enter minutely into the discussion of this fact, because it is interesting to the prosperity and political tranquillity of the colonies.
+ 12,432,000l. sterling. Trans.
it In comparing the exports of Spanish and foreign goods, valued according to the custom-house books of Spain, with the imports of these same goods valued in the ports of
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America, we must not forget that the latter exceed the former, 1st. Because the goods arrived in America have paid the export duties in Spain, 2dly. Because their price is increased by the freight, the difference of the currency, and the duties on entry. These considerations have been neglected by several authors, and by uniting numbers not comparable with one another, they have obtained contradictory results.
nish America is almost equal to the produce of the mines, when we retrench the value of colonial agricultural exports, the piastres' which enter into the royal treasury at Madrid, and the inconsiderable sums which the colonists resident in Europe draw from America.
When we examine on this principle the accounts of importation of gold, and silver into Spain, and compare them with the produce of the mints of America, we may easily perceive how much the greatest number of authors who have treated of the Spanish commerce, have exaggerated the amount of the English contraband trade, and the profits of the Jamaica merchants. We read in works of great circulation, that the English before 1765, gained by the contraband trade more than twenty millions of piastres per annum; when we add this sum to the quantity of gold and silver registered at Cadiz, as arriving from the colonies, either on account of the king, or in payment of Spanish goods, we find a mass of silver which very much exceeds the real produce of the mines. Notwithstanding the contraband which is carried on on the coast of Caracas, since the English have got possession of the Islands of Trinidad and Curaçao, it appears that the fraudulent importation of goods in all Spanish America has not amounted during the last years of peace to more than a fourth part of the whole importation.
It remains for us to speak at the end of this chapter of the epidemical disease which prevails on the eastern coast of New Spain, and which during a great part of the year is an obstacle not only to European commerce, but also to the interior communications between the shore and the table land of Anahuac. The port of Vera Cruz is considered as the principal seat of the yellow fever (vomito prieto, or negro). Thousands of Europeans landing in Mexico at the period of the great heats fall victims to this cruel epidemic. Some vessels prefer landing at Vera Cruz in the beginning of winter when the tempests de los nortes begin to rage, to the exposing themselves in summer to lose the greater part of their crew from the effects of the vomito, and to undergo a long quarantine on their return to Europe. These circumstances have frequently a very sensible influence on the supply of Mexico and the price of commodities. This destructive scourge produces still more serious effects on the interior commerce. The mines are in want of iron, steel, and mercury, whenever the communication is interrupted between Xalapa and Vera Cruz. We have already seen that the commerce between province and province is carried on by caravans of mules; and the muleteers, as well as the merchants who inhabit the cold and temperate regions of the interior of New Spain, are afraid of descending towards the coast, so long as the vomito prevails
at Vera Cruz. w In proportion as the commerce of this port, has increased, and Mexico has felt the want of a more active communication with Europe, the disadvantages arising from the insalubrity of the air on the coast, have been also more gravely felt. The epidemic which prevailed in 1801 and 1802, gave rise to a political question which was not agitated with the same vivacity in 1762, or in former periods, when the yellow fever committed still more dreadful ravages. Memoirs were presented to the government for the discussion of the problem, whether it would be better to raze the town of Vera Cruz, and compel the inhabitants to settle at Xalapa, or some other point of the Cordillera, or to try some new means of rendering the port more healthy. This last resolution would merit a preference, the fortifications having cost more than fifty millions of piastres, and the port, however bad, being the only one which on the eastern coast can afford any shelter to vessels of war. Two parties have arisen in the country, of which the one desires the destruction, and the other the aggrandizement of Vera Cruz. Although the government appeared for some time to incline to the first of these parties, it is probable that this great process, in which the property of sixteen thousand individuals, and the
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