History ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-18-1978


This is a study of the first phase of Caroline reforms in Colombia and of the beginning of the region's long quest for a prosperous export economy. The dissertation seeks to explains the dual search for trade and profits in the context of world-wide commercial competition and Bourbon imperial reorganization. In the wake of defeat in the Seven Years' War, Spain introduced reforms designed to harness imperial resources with which to meet the growing threat of British commercial and military power. The innovations coincided with economic growth, notably in the export sectors of many parts of Spanish America. Intensified export activity tended to draw the empire more tightly into an increasingly integrated world commercial system.

Spearheaded by a succession on enlightened viceroys, the period saw the emergence of a local perspective on Colombian economic development and also the earliest attempts by the government of Charles III to obtain more revenues from the area. The period closed with the arrival in the late 1777 of Visitor-General Piñeres who, in anticipation of a new military confrontation with Britain, inaugurated the intensive phase of fiscal reorganization which led to the Comuneros revolt of 1781.

The first two chapters stress developmental matters. Chapter one describes the structure of overseas trade and the composition and volume of exports. An assessment is make of the significance of contraband in Spanish-Colombian commercial relations, and viceregal efforts to stimulate New Granada's commodity exports with a view to reducing its trade deficit with the metropolis. The chapter on inland trade deals with attempts to improve a very poor infrastructure which was seen as a major obstacle to economic progress. Special attention is given to the conveyance of provisions to mining province and wheat flour to the coast.

The remaining chapters emphasize profitability. By systematic use of treasury accounts, the structure of royal finance in the viceroyalty is given in chapter three. The sources of income and destinations of expenditure as well as the reason for the Crown's failure to obtain profits in the pre-1778 period are explored in detail. Chapter four concerns the state monopolies on aguardiente and tobacco, viewed by Spain as key mechanisms for revenue extraction. This section stresses the problems and multi-faceted controversies--fiscal, commercial, political, moral--in which the monopoly regime was immersed. Chapter five focuses on the troubled first eighteen months of the Flórez viceregency, that is, up to the arrival of Visitor-General Piñeres. That period formed the climax of the first phase of the Caroline reforms in New Granada. Through a detailed analysis of the fiscal-administrative crisis of 1777 and the viceroy's attempts to alleviate it, new light is shed on the urgency of Piñeres' mission and the great rebellion of 1781.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Peter John Bakewell

Second Committee Member

Edwin Lieuwen

Third Committee Member

Robert William Kern

Fourth Committee Member

Elinore Magee Barrett

Document Type



Page 123 is missing from the manuscript but it appear to be page misnumbering.