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e
million pesos were sent by the Duque del Infantado to be paid by the Mexican royal treasures and
¨
delivered in Veracruz to Admiral Cochrane: J. Canga Arguelles, Observaciones sobre historia de la guerra,
vol. 2, p. 307. Lucas Alam´ n, Historia de M´xico, vol. 1, p. 301, includes reference to the splendid
a e
reception for Cochrane on his arrival in Mexico in 1809 owing to his reputation as a distinguished
British admiral, who had supported the Spanish cause.
¨
9 J. Canga Arguelles, Observaciones sobre historia de la guerra, vol. 3, pp. 135“260 includes important
commentaries and documents about this issue, which should be compared with J. H. Sherwig,
Guineas and Gunpowder, pp. 199“250.
10 J. Fontana, “Financiaci´ n de la guerra de independencia,” p. 216.
o
11 Vicente Alcal´ Galiano, Informe del Tesorero General en ejercicio Don Vicente Alcal´ Galiano, sobre la
a a
representaci´n que la Junta Superior de Valencia hizo en 15 de septiembre de este a˜ o a la Suprema Gubernativa
o n
del Reino, reclamando la real orden de 20 de agosto anterior, en que se reencargaba el cumplimiento de las reales
instrucciones en la distribuci´n de los caudales del erario (M´ xico: reprinted at Casa de Arizpe, 1810), p. 6.
o e
The equivalent ¬gure is 14.7 million silver pesos at the rate of exchange (20 reales = 1 silver peso)
used by the minister of Finance, Canga Arguelles, in 1811.
Mexican Silver for the Cortes of C´ diz and the War against Napoleon 217
a

The total income of the governing council and the Army of Andalusia
in 1809 was registered at 388,505,075 reales and, of this sum, 75 percent
was made up of silver remittances from the colonies in the Americas.
The Supreme Junta was soon forced to abandon Seville, as the political,
military, and ¬nancial situation in southern Spain became increasingly pre-
carious as a result of the advance of the French troops in late 1809 and early
1810. The Napoleonic forces in¬‚icted successive defeats upon the Spanish
troops and, inevitably, forced retreats: the principal divisions of the armies
of Andalusia and Extremadura retired south, ¬ghting a rearguard action. In
late 1809, they ¬nally abandoned Seville and marched to the port of C´ diz.
a
This city, with its magni¬cent bay opening on the Atlantic and excellent
military defenses, provided the necessary resources for the patriot govern-
ment as well as army and navy to survive during the years 1810 and 1811
at a time when the Napoleonic occupation reached its zenith in much of
the rest of Europe.
Indispensable to the continued resistance against the French armies was
the alliance that had been signed with Great Britain in early 1809. Crucially
important was the protection offered by the British ¬‚eet that anchored in
the bay and port of C´ diz. The great concentration of cannon on numerous
a
ships of the line and frigates stationed in the inner and outer bay impeded
all attempts by the French forces to cross the extremely narrow peninsula
that stretched from the mainland to the port city. Also of fundamental
importance was the fact that the British warships facilitated the regular
movement of Spanish merchant ¬‚eets and warships across the Atlantic,
maintaining the vital connections with the colonies in the Americas. As
a result, C´ diz remained a bustling trade entrepˆ t during the war years:
a o
British merchants and shippers carried on a great activity there, sending
out cargos of manufactured goods “ mainly on Spanish vessels “ to the
colonies and receiving in exchange large quantities of silver and tropical
produce.
The alliance with Great Britain, therefore, made not only the military
but also the commercial and ¬scal circumstances in the port of C´ diz more
a
auspicious than might have been expected, given the concentration of thou-
sands of military and political refugees who arrived there in the ¬rst months
of 1810. After ¬‚eeing from Seville to C´ diz, the members of the Supreme
a
Junta agreed to dissolve as governing council since the military defeats
had undermined their legitimacy. Sovereignty was transferred to a Regency
Council, but this body was politically weak and did not control signi¬cant
¬scal resources.12 As a result, from January 1810, authority to collect taxes

12 The Regency Council was constituted by the Bishop of Orense Pedro de Quevedo the senior of¬cials
˜ ˜
Francisco de Saavedra, Francisco Xavier de Castanos, and Antonio Escano, and the cleric Miguel
Lardizabal y Uribe (representative for America).
218 Bankruptcy of Empire

was transferred to the C´ diz Council ( Junta de C´ diz) “ composed of lead-
a a
ing merchants “ which effectively administered most public monies for
the patriot forces until the end of the year.13 The Regency and the C´ diz a
Council proceeded to issue a call for elections to a general representative
government for Spain and America, which became known as the Cortes de
C´ diz (C´ diz Parliament).
a a
A considerable volume of funds were soon accumulated in the coffers of
the C´ diz Council as a result of collection of duties on the brisk transatlantic
a
trade but, above all, as a result of the arrival of large ¬scal remittances and
loans in silver coin sent by the Spanish American colonies. The C´ diz mer-
a
chants (who were in charge of the ¬scal receipts of the patriot government)
assumed their responsibilities with enthusiasm as illustrated in the procla-
mation to Spanish American (Proclama a la Am´rica espa˜ ola), published at
e n
the beginning of 1810 by the C´ diz Parliament. In it the authors af¬rmed:
a
“Here is the nerve of the war; here our union with the British nation has
been forged.”14
The C´ diz Council sent of¬cial notices to Spanish America, indicating
a
that the Regency had called on all residents of Spain and its possessions to
participate in a National Congress (the C´ diz Parliament to begin sessions
a
in 1810) and underlined that this political enterprise would be facilitated by
the fact that C´ diz had connections with virtually, “all places in America.”
a
The text also added that the patriots required as much ¬nancial assistance
as Spanish Americans could provide.15
But exactly what was the level of ¬nancial resources or disposable income
available to the patriot government in C´ diz during 1810? The Count of
a
Toreno, deputy-elect in the parliament and a man well informed on public
¬nance, made a summary of income:

The entries of the C´ diz Council ( Junta de C´ diz) during that time (January-
a a
October 1810) reached 351 million reales. Of these about 84 million came from
duties collected in the district; in donations and extraordinary charges of the city,


13 The contract between the Regency and the Junta Superior de C´ diz was established on March 31,
a
1810. See the interesting document, Real aprobaci´n y decreto de S.M. sobre el Reglamento que la Junta
o
Superior de C´ diz propuso, haci´ndose cargo provisionalmente en su distrito de todas las rentas de la Corona y
a e
su Direcci´n (C´ diz, reprinted in Mexico, 1810), 8-page pamphlet, copy in the Collection Lafragua,
o a
no. 182, Biblioteca Nacional (BN) (Mexico).
14 Junta Superior de C´ diz a la Am´rica Espa˜ ola (C´ diz: February 28, 1810), doc. 393, Collection Lafragua,
a e n a
BN (Mexico), p. 6.
15 Ibid., pp. 6“7: In the same document it was stated: “C´ diz calls on you (os), peoples of America and
a
is con¬dent its voices will be heard. . . . In which city, in which port, in what remote and hidden
place does not C´ diz have a correspondent, a parent or a friend? Oh, Americans! You have to defend
a
the same rights, the same king to liberate, the same injustices to correct. . . . ”
Mexican Silver for the Cortes of C´ diz and the War against Napoleon 219
a

17 million; in loans and other categories 54 million; and, lastly, more than 195
million from the Americas.16

The testimony of Toreno indicates that more than half of the funds
which ¬nanced the Spanish government came from colonial remittances:
56 percent of the total income collected by the C´ diz Council (January“
a
October 1810) came directly in the shape of remittances from the
Indies.17
The year 1811 was possibly the most dif¬cult of the entire war for the
Spanish patriots as their military forces suffered a string of defeats by the
French army. At the same time, the C´ diz government suffered a sharp
a
fall in the income both because of a drop in trade and as a result of the
steep reduction in tax remittances and loans from the colonies, caused by
the outbreak of the wars of independence in several regions of Spanish
America.18 Again, according to the reports of the Count of Toreno, total
government income in C´ diz in 1811 scarcely reached 200 million reales, of
a
which 71 million came from taxes sent from the Americas, mostly from New
Spain.19 The Mexican tax silver was transported by the British warships,
Bulwark and Implacable, which carried 62 million reales, having loaded the
tax monies at the port of Veracruz in early December 1810 and arriving at
C´ diz in February 1811.20
a
In summary, the total remittances sent by the state treasuries in Spanish
America to C´ diz between the end of 1808 and beginning of 1811 reached
a
almost 30 million silver pesos (around 600 million reales).21 These funds

16 Conde de Toreno, Historia del levantamiento, guerra y revoluci´ n de Espa˜ a (¬rst edition published in
o n
˜
1835), second edition. (Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Espanoles, 1953), p. 306. (The italics in the
quote are mine.)
These proportions coincide with those of the historian Timothy Anna who noted that in the last
17
two months of 1810, the treasury income at C´ diz amounted to 56.7 millions of reales, “of which
a
30.5 million, or 54 per cent, arrived from America.” Timothy Anna, Espa˜ a y la independencia de
n
Am´rica, (Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Econ´ mica, 1986), p. 111.
e o
J. Fontana and R. Garrabou, Guerra y Hacienda, p. 81, state: “1811 was the worst year of the war”
18
and af¬rm that ¬scal situation entered a very grave crisis at this time but offer few ¬gures regarding
the evolution of taxes at this time.
T. Anna, Espa˜ a y la independencia de Am´rica, pp. 116“117, comments upon Toreno™s estimates which
n e
19
are similar to those of Finance Minister Jos´ Canga Arguelles, Memoria presentada a las Cortes Generales
e
y Extraordinarias sobre las rentas y gastos de la Corona (C´ diz: Imprenta Real, 1811). J. Fontana and R.
a
Garrabou, Guerra y Hacienda, p. 80, write that in 1811 the C´ diz government received 83 millions of
a
reales from America, 73 millions of reales in taxes, and 10 millions in letters of credit against Lima™s
treasury (caja): they calculate the C´ diz government™s total income in that year was approximately
a
200 millions reales.
For a list of shipments arriving to C´ diz with tax silver from Spanish America, see Table 7.4.
a
20
The total of tax remittances that arrived from the Americas to C´ diz between January 1809 and
a
21
the beginning of 1811, as registered by Canga Arguelles (see Table 7.4), reached 29,378,027 silver
220 Bankruptcy of Empire

consisted of tax monies and loans: 80 percent of the total came from New
Spain, while the rest was made up of lesser contributions from Peru and
other colonies. The clear preponderance of Mexico in silver remittances
reinforces the argument previously advanced with regard to its role as a
colonial submetropolis, even in this critical era, crisscrossed by Atlantic wars
and revolutions.
In the pages that follow, we look at three aspects of the last great cam-
paign undertaken in colonial Mexico to provide the metropolis with ¬nan-
cial assistance. First, we explore how “ despite the political crisis in New
Spain between July and September 1808 “ the viceregal government was
able to launch a successful effort to collect donations from all social sec-
tors of the viceroyalty in order to contribute ¬nancially to the struggle
against Napoleon. Second, we analyze speci¬cally why the richest groups of
New Spain provided so great a number of loans and supplements for the
patriot government at C´ diz in the years 1809“1811. Lastly, we evaluate
a
how important the shipments of Mexican ¬scal remittances and loans silver
were in relation to the viceroyalty™s regular income. These transfers “ which
amounted to around twenty-¬ve million pesos “ were of two types, consist-
ing of approximately ten million pesos in donations and loans, and ¬fteen
million pesos in tax funds. For such a huge sum to be sent in less than three
years bespoke the persistence and power of the colonial administration,
despite the extreme weakness of the metropolis.

The Coup against the Viceroy of Mexico in 1808 and the First Loans
for the Spanish Patriots
The months of July to September 1808 marked a ¬rst moment of crisis
for the colonial regime in New Spain, although not its downfall. From the
beginning of July, different versions of events transpiring in the metropo-
lis began to circulate in Mexico. Bitter disputes broke out regarding the
supreme authority to which the viceroyalty was now subject, particularly
as news of the imprisonment of Charles IV and Fernando VII and the
installment of a French administration in Madrid awoke enormous con-
cern. Soon after, reports on the establishment of patriotic juntas in different
regions of Spain generated an unprecedented political effervescence in the
cities of the viceroyalty, although there were as yet few channels for pub-
lic expression in colonial society. In the summer of 1808, therefore, great
confusion reigned with regard to the legitimacy of the different Spanish
juntas since all declared themselves “sovereign.” Subsequently, however,

pesos (equivalent to 587,560,544 reales), while the income for Seville™s general treasury and C´ diz™
a
treasury, registered as arriving from Americas, was 591.4 million reales. This close correspondence
is indicative of the reliability of the data.
Mexican Silver for the Cortes of C´ diz and the War against Napoleon 221
a

the panorama became gradually clearer: from October 1808, the viceregal
authorities accepted the sovereign rule of the Supreme Junta at Seville; in
late 1809, they recognized the rule of the Regency and from 1810 that of
the C´ diz Parliament (Cortes de C´ diz).22
a a
In any case, during the critical months of July and August 1808, uncer-
tainty about events in the metropolis contributed to political and social
agitation. The debates and struggles between the distinct factions of the
governing elites in Mexico City culminated in a coup against Viceroy Itur-
rigaray on the night of September 15, 1808. The movement was ¬nanced
and promoted by a group of leading Mexico City merchants, headed by the
rich entrepreneur Gabriel de Yermo. Following the abrupt dismissal and

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