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Importation and Exportation of the Spanish

Colonies of the New Continent.

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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 piastrest. This enormous importation is only balanced by 160,000,000 livres f, or thirty millions and a

* 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, (Voyage à 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 import. ance to enter minutely into the discussion of this fact, because it is interesting to the prosperity and political tran. quillity of the colonies.

t 612,432,000 sterling. Trans.

$ 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 VOL. IV.


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 38 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 rents 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

America, we must not forget that the latter exceed the former, Ist. 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.

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