Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Latin American History. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 24 February 2024

Antislavery and Abolition in the Spanish American Mainlandfree

Antislavery and Abolition in the Spanish American Mainlandfree

  • Marcela EcheverriMarcela EcheverriHistory, Yale University

Summary

One of the major changes that was produced by the wars of independence and the consequent foundation of new republics across the Spanish American mainland during the first five decades of the 19th century was the abolition of slavery. The history of the abolition of slavery in this region illustrates how economic, political, and social factors were entwined in the Spanish American revolutions as processes that were at once embedded in the broader imperial and transimperial dynamics of the 19th century, yet also singular in the origins and consequences that the end of slavery had in that region due to its connection to republican formation and the integration of African-descended people in legal and political terms.

Subjects

  • 1492–1824
  • 1824–c. 1880
  • Afro-Latin History
  • International History
  • Slavery and Abolition

Introduction

During the first two decades of the 19th century, the Spanish territories on the American continent went through profound, irreversible changes generally described in historical narratives under the unifying label “wars of independence.” Although those wars were by all measures crucial in the history of Atlantic decolonization, until recently, the radical transformations that independence unleashed at the economic, political, and social levels had been ignored. That is, from a materialist interpretative framework prevalent throughout the 20th century, historians did not consider the independence wars to be “real” revolutions. In light of such assessment, the complexity of the actual diverse processes that took place between the late-18th and the mid-19th centuries in the Spanish American mainland were left unexamined. Recent research that has placed the Spanish American independence processes within the Age of Revolution paradigm has revealed their crucial revolutionary elements from Mexico to Río de la Plata (present-day Argentina and Uruguay), such as the widespread social mobilization that they entailed and the profound implications of those revolutions for the wider Atlantic, mainly their particular experiments with republicanism and liberalism.1

The study of the abolition of slavery in the Spanish American mainland—which took place between the decades of 1810 and 1860—gives new relevance to ongoing debates about the history of social revolutions and raises new crucial questions about the political and economic transformations during the Age of Revolution. The earlier experiences with abolition in the United States North and Haiti, as well as the British campaign to end the slave trade, were for state makers in Spanish America—most of whom were Creoles or Americans of Spanish descent—important examples that suggested possible avenues to designing institutions that would uphold the principle of antislavery while preventing the radical racial wars and loss of labor power that they feared. At the same time, because slaves participated in the armies for and against independence, people of African descent became a radical social force at the base of the political anticolonial project. This was a fundamental reason why antislavery and republicanism were intertwined in the Spanish American mainland with multiple deep consequences over state formation in the 19th century.

Through the lens of the abolition of slavery in this wide region of the Americas, this article examines one of the major changes that were produced by the wars of independence and the consequent foundation of new republics across the Spanish American mainland during the first five decades of the 19th century. The history of abolition in this region illustrates how economic, political, and social factors were entwined in the Spanish American revolutions. These revolutions were processes at once embedded in the broader imperial and transimperial dynamics of the 19th century, yet also singular in the origins and consequences that the end of slavery had in that region due to its connection to republican formation and the integration of African-descended people in legal and political terms.

The social and political battles over the abolition of slavery that took place in mainland Spanish America at the beginning of the 19th century had economic and ideological foundations. In that process, local confrontations among national elites and between these and the laboring classes were paralleled by transnational and transimperial ideological, financial, and diplomatic changes. Locked within founding constitutional arrangements, abolition almost everywhere across the Spanish American mainland was nonetheless designed to be a gradual process. Moreover, slavery’s destruction was anything but a linear process. And though national histories shaped specific outcomes, abolition needs to be examined regionally because national events were everywhere framed in a common broader context and produced through transnational connections among the Spanish American republics and between these and the United States, Haiti, Britain, France, and Spain/Cuba.

The legal experiments for abolition in republican Spanish America not only contrasted with the US Republic’s constitutional tolerance of slavery. The antislavery republics also had important differences with the path of the Spanish Caribbean possessions and the Brazilian Empire. At the same time that slavery expanded in those three areas—largely through an illegal slave trade—the Spanish American republics took measures to abolish the trade and slavery, seen as fundamental to the rejection of colonial legacies and the adoption of universalist values reflected in the institution of citizenship at the base of the new independent states. After independence, the end of slavery in Spanish America was a powerful political discourse that gave legitimacy to the new republics in the international arena. Equally, the abolition of slavery was an issue tied to republican diplomacy and, as such, had the potential to generate alliances or violent fissures with other imperial or republican nations.

However, abolition did not follow a linear route because, first and foremost, it paralleled the process of state formation and it represented a major transformation to social relations and the laws of property. Everywhere—in Mexico, Río de la Plata, Colombia, Venezuela, and Peru— abolition was a slow and erratic process that produced major political conflicts within these republics. The intense contests for ending slavery in the decades between 1810 and 1860 were integral to defining the character that labor and citizenship would have in the region. (This was articulated to the changing status of indigenous people as well.) Moreover, gradualism in the design of laws of Free Womb gave way to the creation of new categories of labor such as patronato, in which free-born children—called manumisos or libertos—were in an intermediate category between freedom and slavery until a certain age (in some cases 18, in other cases 25).2 In addition to age, gender created another gray area within abolition because in some of these countries the complete abolition of slavery was tied to military service during civil war, which left enslaved women under similar categories of patronato for years (up to the final abolition of these patronatos). This means that during the 19th century the new republics adapted slavery to the demands of state formation; abolition as well as citizenship were themselves adapted to elite interests in maintaining labor under control. Furthermore, the process of slavery’s abolition gave way to new connections with the broader Atlantic and Pacific worlds and spurred new diasporas of migrant laborers who became integrated into new republican models of economic development.

Yet abolition shaped citizenship rights and it did so not simply as a result of the enlightened visions and gestures of the elites. The participation of free and enslaved people of African descent in the military process of independence and later civil wars, and their struggle to see abolition happen, was one of the most potent and radical processes of social mobilization in 19th-century Latin America.

Slavery as an Economic and Political Institution in Spanish America

The history of antislavery in the Spanish American mainland needs to be understood in relation to the particular form that slavery had in the region. Slavery was an institution at the base of the Iberian process of colonization across the Americas. It was an economic and political part of the construction of the Spanish Empire from the 15th century onward. Yet, although foundational, it was not a singular or homogeneous institution. The incorporation of natives to the colonial economy began with their enslavement in the Caribbean and other areas where early contact took place. At the same time, in the mainland from Mexico to the Andes, since the 16th century the Spanish monarchy redefined the economic structures of native societies. Though eventually the Crown prohibited the enslavement of “Indians,” they were an essential labor force and part of the colonial extractive dynamics.3

In a parallel though different way, the enslaved Africans who arrived between the 16th and early 19th centuries also became crucial agents in the Spanish American mainland’s economic structure and shaped the colonial social landscape. And the availability of Indian labor was one factor that explained the degree to which certain economies depended or not on African slave labor. The economy based on slavery that developed through the growth of the transatlantic slave trade from Africa, initially led by the Portuguese, gave way to the articulation of the labor of enslaved Africans to the colonial economy across the continent and the progressive growth of a population of free people of African descent. The temporal depth of slavery in this region—in other words, the fact that Africans arrived at the Spanish continental possessions in a steady flow from the 16th until the 19th centuries when the slave trade was halted—explains why the diasporic populations in Spanish America were very diverse in origin.4

One of the earliest ports of disembarkation and trade of enslaved Africans in the Spanish American mainland was Veracruz, in Mexico. In South America it was Cartagena de Indias, on the Caribbean coast of the New Kingdom of Granada (today Colombia) where slaves were brought into the continent. Cartagena functioned as a hub and was linked to the economies of all of South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean through this commerce in slaves.5 The slaves that arrived in Cartagena went to Panama, Quito, Peru, and Chile. They generally traveled to Panama via the Caribbean and then on land across the Isthmus of Panama to continue their journey in the Pacific to their destiny in the south of the continent. After the Crown authorized the free trade in slaves, Buenos Aires became another important port of legal and illegal entry of enslaved Africans, some of whom were taken from there to other northwestern regions of Río de la Plata, Chile, and Peru.6

The history of slavery in the Spanish American mainland, therefore, is chronologically deep and derives from slavery’s foundational role in empire-building. As such, then, slavery was not exclusively an economic institution and enslaved Africans were not only laborers. The enslaved people who had been uprooted from Africa represented the margins of the body politic, symbolizing, in legal terms, the links of sovereignty and vassalage and the frontier between freedom and slavery across the Spanish Empire. In this way, the basis for sovereignty and the principles of social organization in the Spanish American mainland were from the beginning linked with the laws that upheld slavery as an institution.7

The logic whereby the state protected the freedom of some and made the enslavement of others legal was, in turn, the source of the legal identities of the vassals of the Spanish monarchy in its Atlantic empire. In other words, the categories that defined labor forms were also the source for political identities. This means that in looking at African slavery in the Spanish American mainland in the broader context that it developed, it is fundamental to see the enslaved in a defining relation with the indigenous people who were “free.” Indians inhabited a singular category as vassals but with different rights than the Spaniards or the Creoles. Most importantly, as natives, Indians had a right to own collective land. Taken together, the existence of populations of indigenous people and of slaves in Spanish America reflected the essential form in which land, property, and labor were produced legally and embodied in social categories.8

One of the crucial singularities of the laws of slavery in the Spanish Empire, which impacted the mainland, was that enslaved Africans had access to freedom through the legal avenues of manumission or self-purchase. Historians have demonstrated that this was a mechanism that the enslaved exploited, progressively forming a new class of freed and free-born Black people that became a characteristic trait of the region’s social formation. Moreover, because the enslaved and free people of African descent in Spanish America coexisted with indigenous people, that relationship influenced the political vision and political activism of the Afro-descendants. The influence was expressed mainly in Afro-descendants’ perception that the Crown granted justice to populations considered as “minors” and free as much as enslaved Black people used the law as a political tool. Because of the deep differences that derived from ethnicity—initially an attribute of Indians but eventually also of people of African descent—the collectivities formed by Afro-descendants sought to claim their own place in the physical territorial space and in the legal structure, particularly seeking the right to land.9

The slaves’ lived experience and their opportunities for mobility varied depending on their geographic location and their occupations, which across the Spanish American mainland were extremely diverse. Importantly, for the most part, in continental Spanish America plantations did not predominate. In places like Mexico City, Lima, Buenos Aires, Valle del Cauca, and Caracas slaves worked in haciendas and as domestic servants. In other regions like Popayán and Esmeraldas, slaves worked mining for gold. And in Guayaquil, Cartagena, and Coro the enslaved were central to the economies of those important ports.

Even if from the perspective of the plantation economies of the 19th-century Caribbean the numbers and proportion of the enslaved populations was smaller, slavery and slaves were fundamental to the Spanish mainland economies. In fact, the whole Spanish Americas, including the Spanish Caribbean, was second only to Brazil in the volume of slave arrivals during the entire history of the traffic.10 Particular developments due to the centrality of the enslaved in urban activities, for example, gave way to forms of wage labor inextricably linked to enslaved labor.11 The enslaved in the cities worked for a wage that they provided to their masters. These economic strategies not only benefited the masters who profited from the labor of their slaves. This was one of the spaces in which the rise of a parallel economy, and the degree of freedom that it gave the enslaved, allowed them to focus on and in many cases fulfil the goal of self-purchase. Similarly, in rural areas as well as in the mining regions customary arrangements allowed slaves to have their own plots to cultivate one day a week or to mine for themselves. These economic dynamics shaped the history of freedom in the Spanish mainland by contributing to the expansion of populations of free people of African origin and descent and of forms of free labor.

At the same time, all the geographies of slavery in the Spanish mainland developed on the basis of alliances between local elites and the colonial state. Some of these elites emerged from agricultural production, or from mining, and others from commercial projects. In many cases it is clear that elites combined these different ventures making their flexibility greater and their interests more varied. It is an important question when and why parts of these different sectors turned more receptive to the project of abolishing slavery. Though historians have not reached a consensus to explain it, the context of the 18th and 19th centuries’ reforms and imperial crisis are especially relevant to understanding the antislavery measures that became so central to the Spanish American mainland republican states.

Transformations of Spanish Atlantic Slavery in the 18th and 19th Centuries

The political essence of slavery, slavery’s connection to other labor regimes across Spanish America, and the changes in the slave economies of the Atlantic were radically exposed in the 18th century and early 19th, during the crisis of the Atlantic empires.12

As the plantation economies of the British and French Caribbean colonies thrived during the 18th century, Spain attempted to follow suit and reformed its economy by opening it to free trade in slaves. Though the focus of that reform was the Caribbean, some mainland colonial officials and Creole entrepreneurs sought to expand the African enslaved labor force and economic activities related to slavery. For example, in Venezuela slave imports destined to work in cacao plantations increased from about six hundred per year during the first half of the century to one thousand a year between 1774 and 1807. The cacao plantations were located in Cumaná, Valencia, Caracas, and Maracaibo as well as other Andean areas of Venezuela. In Peru, sugar plantations gave way to a powerful slave-owning class on the northern coast and the population of slaves increased around 25 percent between 1795 and 1826. Similarly, for slave and mine owners in New Granada’s southwestern province of Popayán, even up to the 19th century during the republican period, slaves were the core population upon which their fortunes were founded.13

Proportionally, the weight of the slave economies should be measured in relation to their regional economic importance. As can be seen in table 1, in places like Peru, Paraguay, Quito (Ecuador), or Mexico, indigenous people were most of the population and so was their economic impact. Even if in lower numbers than in the plantations across the Caribbean or in Brazil, by 1800 slaves formed a significant, major part of the workforce in the Spanish American mainland. In urban areas such as Buenos Aires or Lima, aside from domestic service, the economy of “hiring out” continued to create a widespread dependence on the enslaved. In Buenos Aires slaves became central to manufacture. And in the rural areas like Mendoza they were involved in agriculture (in wine production, harvesting fruits, and to a lesser extent wheat for Potosí and the fast-growing populations of Buenos Aires and Montevideo) and in the cattle economy. As the process of abolition in Río de la Plata in fact demonstrates, in the 19th century slavery had relevance and even gained new force—thus the ubiquitous difficulty of dismantling it.14

Table 1. Population c. 1800

Country

Free Blacks

Slaves

Subtotal

Whites

Mestizos

Indians

Total

Brazil

587,000

30%

718,000

37%

1,305,500

67%

576,000

30%

61,000

3%

1,942,000

100%

Mexico

625,000

10%

10,000

1%

635,000

10%

1,107,000

18%

704,000

12%

3,676,000

60%

6,122,000

100%

Venezuela

440,000

49%

112,000

12%

552,000

61%

185,000

21%

161,000

18%

898,000

100%

Cuba

114,000

19%

212,000

35%

326,000

54%

274,000

46%

600,000

100%

Colombia

245,000

31%

61,000

8%

306,000

39%

203,000

26%

122,000

16%

156,000

20%

787,000

100%

Puerto Rico

65,000

40%

25,000

15%

90,000

56%

72,000

44%

162,000

100%

Peru

41,000

3%

40,000

3%

81,000

6%

136,000

11%

244,000

20%

771,000

63%

1,232,000

100%

Argentina

69,000

37%

70,000

37%

6,000

3%

42,000

23%

187,000

100%

Santo Domingo

38,000

37%

30,000

29%

68,000

66%

35,000

34%

103,000

100%

Panama

37,000

60%

4,000

6%

41,000

66%

9,000

15%

12,000

19%

62,000

100%

Ecuador

28,000

7%

5,000

1%

33,000

8%

108,000

25%

288,000

67%

429,000

100%

Chile

31,000

8%

281,000

73%

34,000

9%

37,000

10%

383,000

100%

Paraguay

7,000

7%

4,000

4%

11,000

11%

56,000

58%

30,000

31%

97,000

100%

Costa Rica

9,000

16%

5,000

9%

30,000

55%

11,000

20%

55,000

100%

Uruguay

7,000

23%

23,000

77%

30,000

100%

Source: Andrews, Afro-Latin America, 41.

Transformations to sovereignty with decolonization processes in the French Caribbean and along the hemisphere in the British and Iberian Americas went hand in hand with redefinitions of slavery, property, and political belonging. Though the experiences were markedly different in the varied contexts—mainly North America, the Caribbean, and mainland Spanish America and Brazil—and within each of these, the revolutionary era gave way to radical changes in slavery that resulted either in its redefinition or destruction. Specifically, the attack by some transnational classes on slavery that intensified in certain places was actually paired with the growth of slavery in different areas and the resilience of other transnational classes who defended slavery and adapted it to the changing discourses and institutions. This is important because one of the leading agents of proslavery activism in the Atlantic world was the Spanish Empire, building upon its major investment on slavery and the plantation economies of the Caribbean ongoing since the late 18th century. While the Haitian Revolution was a watershed in the history of Atlantic antislavery, inspiring ever greater fears and doubts among the slaveholding classes about the dangers of African and Afro-descendant populations—and of the viability of slavery in the Americas—Creole and colonial elites in the Spanish colony of Cuba bet on its profitability.15 In contrast, after the loss of their North American possessions, British agents who debated the negative prospects of slavery in their empire embarked instead on the project to put a halt on the slave trade, mainly seeking to curb the dangers of growing African populations in the Caribbean.

The last two decades of the 18th century and first decade of the 19th century were crucial for the consolidation of antislavery movements in the Atlantic world. In the United States, Britain, and France, critiques of slavery were founded in humanitarian, economic, and imperial political visions. In Massachusetts, antislavery debates gave shape to constitutional arrangements to gradually abolish slavery.16 During the most radical phases of negotiation between France and Saint Domingue, in 1801 France decreed the emancipation of all slaves in its Caribbean territories. And though the French colonial emancipation was revoked in 1802, in 1804 the Haitian republic freed all slaves on the island. British measures to abolish the slave trade beginning in 1807 also marked a turning point in the Atlantic struggle against slavery.17

Like was seen in the broader Atlantic revolutionary context, in Spanish America anticolonialism became tied to antislavery through the strategic need to gain supporters and enlarge armies during rebellions and revolutionary wars. One early expression of this crucial phenomenon was the Andean Revolution in Peru between 1780 and 1782. As leader of the movement in Cusco in 1780, Tupac Amaru published a decree in which he called upon slaves to join his army, offering to free them. He was very clear about the goal of hurting his enemies, showing that slavery was extremely significant economically and a symbol of power and status in the Andean colonial societies.18

Meanwhile, 18th-century political tensions in the Spanish imperial framework around labor included the debates about the conditions of Indian labor, particularly the mita, that had taken place from the 18th century and then also in Cádiz. The debates contemplated making the indigenous populations more central to the Spanish economy as workers and consumers. In Cádiz, moreover, Indians were included as citizens in the new imperial nation. The significant presence of Indians across the Spanish American mainland, therefore, was a crucial consideration when envisioning postemancipation societies. Liberal measures from Cádiz (and this would continue to shape national politics across the Spanish Americas up to the radical liberal reforms of the 1850s) considered that Indians as much as people of African descent were fundamental objects of legislative reform aiming to create liberal economies in relation to labor, land, and property.19

In the 18th century Spanish reformers also debated the benefits of African slavery for the monarchy.20 While the final decision was to open the trade and invest heavily on slavery to promote the Caribbean plantations, there were voices that highlighted the specificity of the population across the Spanish mainland to argue for considering indigenous people as the best and largest group upon which to base the Spanish colonial economy. These imperial debates about expanding slavery in Spain, however, did not always reflect the perception of slave owners in the Americas. For slave owners in places like Caracas or Popayán, the importance of the enslaved was unquestionable. It was partly so because of the type of economic projects that slave labor enabled but, also, because slaves represented a significant part of these colonial elites’ property and were the basis for their social standing.

At the same time, a sort of “judicial abolitionism” emerged. It came from judicial practice and theological debates in Spanish America considering slavery as an institution of Positive Law rather than Natural Law (rejection of ideas of natural slaves a-la Aristotle as a result of the debate about indigenous slavery), and the actions of slaves and (mostly White) men of letters to liberate enslaved men and women.21

Dimensions of Antislavery in Mainland Spanish America up to 1820

The Spanish American abolitions were complex, multisided processes that involved a multiplicity of social forces and factors linked to the political economy of independence. At least two dimensions of the long- and short-term history of slavery and antislavery in Spanish America constitute relevant precedents. A long-term one is the activism of free and enslaved Afro-descendant individuals and communities. As discussed earlier, everywhere, from Río de la Plata to Chile and Mexico, through institutional and insurrectional means enslaved and free Afro-descendants eroded the power of slaveholders. The visible expansion of these populations illustrated the instability of slavery as an economic and social system of racial domination. A related precedent that laid the ground for the abolition of slavery was the growth of communities of free people of mixed descent, who increased the labor force by becoming wage laborers. The second dimension of slavery’s crisis was materialized in the emerging independent states’ promulgation of laws and decrees to reform or abolish slavery in Spanish America, a process that needs to be framed and understood simultaneously in the Atlantic revolutionary context and in the local emergence of republican experiments across the mainland.

Politics of People of African Descent

The growth of an alternative labor force, resulting from the agency of Afro-descendants in establishing significant populations of free people, had implications for the end of slavery. This demographic change should be seen in relation to the process of racial mixture that began in the Spanish American mainland since the 16th century. Around 1600, for example, on the coastal settlements between Venezuela and Panama Africans and people of African descent were as much as 75 percent of the entire population, more than anywhere else in the Spanish Americas at the time. By the 19th century, free people of color (including mestizos and mulatos) were majorities in places such as Venezuela or Panama, also representing important parts of the population in Mexico, New Granada, Ecuador, and Río de la Plata. Though socially and politically marginalized by Spanish laws, their economic impact was clear. Everywhere they owned rural and semirural properties and were involved in all sectors of the economy, sometimes playing a big role in the contraband economies that proliferated along the coasts and in ports.22

Mixed populations, including people of indigenous and African descent called mestizos, mulatos, or zambos, developed economies that, although initially were illegal, became central to the colonial and later republican economies. This is the case in Panama, where free Black populations were central to commercial life between the 16th and 19th centuries. In the llanos or plains between New Granada and Venezuela cattle-raising was an economic strategy for mixed populations, including some descendants of runaway slaves who formed communities and became economically powerful.23

The activism of free Afro-descendants undoubtedly destabilized the institution of slavery. Aside from creating a consciousness among the enslaved that they could overcome their status, it enhanced the awareness of vulnerability among slave owners. Meanwhile, slave rebellions had, in most cases, connections to knowledge of political events at a larger imperial scale and could be articulated to local struggles to gain legal freedom for communities of slaves. For example, in 1781 during the “Comunero” Rebellion in New Granada, slaves in Antioquia joined the insurgency with a proposal based on their situation and their specific vision of freedom: They were willing to pay tribute (the head tax that Indians paid to the Crown) if they were recognized as free vassals. And this suggests that for the enslaved freedom implied a political status in which rights were granted in exchange for fiscal duties. In the Caribbean also, for example, in Venezuela following the Haitian Revolution, populations of enslaved and free Afro-descendants were central to plots and rebellions that deeply destabilized the Spanish slavery regime.24 From Mexico to Montevideo, these free Black and mixed ancestry men were already involved in armed struggles through militia service (not regular army), which preceded and shaped the process of antislavery and militarization that began during independence.25

Atlantic Processes

The Atlantic context and processes are crucially relevant for understanding antislavery in the Spanish American republics. The 18th century and early 19th saw the rise of critiques of slavery in the Spanish Atlantic among both elites and the populations of African descent. As part of the Age of Revolutions in the Iberian Atlantic, revolution and antislavery were interconnected during the monarchical crisis in Spain and in the context of the independence wars in the Spanish American Main. Moreover, the Spanish American abolition processes ignited during the independence wars were also deeply connected to developments in the American, French, and Haitian Revolutions and British antislavery diplomacy.

After Napoleon’s invasion of the Peninsula during the Cortes of Cádiz when Spanish and Spanish American liberals drafted a constitution for the empire, the subject of slavery had a central place. Even if Spanish slavery continued to grow stronger after Spain instituted the liberal Cádiz constitution, those discussions are relevant as precedents to the way in which the revolutionaries in Spanish America assumed the project of abolishing slavery. Furthermore, when grounding the discussions and decisions about the future of slavery in the Spanish American mainland social contexts, as the population numbers in table 2 also make evident, the prevalence of free people of African descent—in places like Venezuela, Panama, and New Granada (all of which made up the first Republic of Colombia created in 1821)—had a truly significant weight in the politics of Spanish Americans both in the Cádiz Cortes and in the incipient independence movements that began to take shape during the 1810s all across the continent.26

Table 2. Abolition of African Slave Trade and Slavery (1810–1888)

Slavery

Country

Slave trade

Free Womb Law

Final abolition

Dominican Republic

1822

1822

Chile

1811

1811

1823

Central America

1824

1824

Mexico

1824

183727

Uruguay

1825 (1838)

1825

1842

Ecuador

1821

1821

1851

Colombia

1821

1821

1852

Argentina

1813 (1838)

1813

1853

Peru

1821

1821

1854

Venezuela

1821

1821

1854

Bolivia

1840

1831

1861

Paraguay

1842

1842

1869

Puerto Rico

1820, 1835 (1842)

1870

1873

Cuba

1820, 1835 (1866)

1870

1886

Brazil

1830, 1850 (1852)

1871

1888

Source: Andrews, Afro-Latin America, 57.

The legal experiments with abolition linked to the independence wars beginning in 1810 in Chile, Antioquia, Caracas, and Buenos Aires represent the starting point of the process of dismantling slavery in the Spanish American mainland. In Mexico, as an interesting case, Father Hidalgo’s 1810 movement promoted antislavery. Later, during the rule of Cádiz, when indigenous people claimed their right to citizenship, they used the language of antislavery to expose abuses to their communities. Thus, not only elite anticolonialism or liberalism were linked to the understanding that slavery should be abolished. The interpretation that indigenous people in Mexico had of the legal and political changes of the early 19th century implied that they understood the symbolic power of antislavery for struggles for rights and justice.28

In another example, in 1810 the first rebels of Buenos Aires denounced slavery and racial differentiation as irrational. These legal experiments were catalyzed in the context of military mobilization. At this point, Black activism expanded and intersected with the elite visions and their measures for republican-building. In Antioquia and Venezuela, especially, free-Black populations had clear political impact by getting involved in the military dynamics unfolding during the wars for independence. As a matter of expediency, the practical needs of waging a bloody war led the contending sides—insurgents and royalists—to draw from, and make alliances with, all sectors of society to expand their armies. Royalists and insurgents recruited free Blacks and also offered freedom to slaves who joined their armies. And though those individual rewards did not lead to total abolition or general emancipation anywhere in Spanish America, politically they were very significant events that empowered enslaved people. Decrees by Simón Bolívar in Colombia and José de San Martín in Peru that offered to free slaves who mobilized were watersheds in the history of both republics. Even if those individual offers of freedom in exchange for military service did not translate into official decisions to abolish slavery, the entrance of slaves into the armies in favor of independence was a factor that destabilized social hierarchies.

In this way, the Spanish American republics were framed by, and helped frame, Atlantic processes.29 Most significantly, like in Haiti, abolition in the Spanish American mainland was borne out of the revolutionary wars and Spanish American republicanism was inseparable from an abolitionist project. But it was a different type of antislavery republicanism given that, while in Haiti full emancipation was the result of the revolution, almost everywhere across the Spanish American mainland territory abolition was conceived as a gradual project. More similar to what had been the precursor experiments with gradual abolition in the US northern states of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and New Jersey, the laws in the republics of Chile, Mexico, Colombia, and Peru were meant to dismantle the institution in a way that would balance the interests of the slaveholding class with the humanitarian goals of the states, also inspired by the belief that people of African descent needed to be progressively integrated into their societies as free laborers and citizens. When understood from the perspective of 18th- and 19th-century debates about equality, abolition also had an inspirational value for Spanish American Creole elites whose goals were to establish “modern” societies to guarantee development, progress, and economic growth.

Antislavery and Republicanism

As a consequence of the crisis of sovereignty in the Spanish monarchy during the Napoleonic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, after 1808 cities all across mainland Spanish America formed juntas that radicalized and developed the first experiments creating independent republics. It is evident that antislavery was a major political tool for the emergent republics in their strategic efforts to break away from Spain. In most cases, between 1810 and 1814 the juntas prohibited the slave trade and declared laws of Free Womb, conducive to the abolition of slavery. Examples are the cases of Buenos Aires, Chile, Caracas, Antioquia, and Cartagena. Though Cartagena and Caracas both were on the Caribbean coast of South America, and therefore were closely connected, one interesting contrast between them is that Caracas’ economy was tied to slavery while Cartagena, by the 19th century, was less reliant on slave labor. Yet in both cities there was a majority of free people of African descent, and it is likely that this was a factor that determined the early appearance of abolition projects in each city. If Caracas and Antioquia are compared, greater similarities are found because they both had a structural relationship to slavery, yet this fact makes it more interesting that they chose to make antislavery a priority of their new republics. In Antioquia, in 1814 Juan del Corral adopted a project for the abolition of slavery drafted by Félix José de Restrepo. In his discourse, del Corral made explicit mention of the Chilean precedent. This suggests that information traveled across the mainland and was fundamental for building a transnational social network in favor of abolition. In an important way, Chile stands as an exception in the Spanish South America because, aside from its early abolitionist legislation, it was the first republic to abolish slavery entirely in 1823. Perhaps this was because African slavery became less relevant as Creoles turned more decisively to rely on the unfree labor of indigenous people. Chile and Cartagena were similar in the sense that a decline in African slavery preceded abolition, while, for example, Antioquia was very different to both of these cases because gold mining there still relied largely on enslaved populations. In any case, from the perspective of the enslaved, everywhere these similar legislations became political tools. For example, the measures taken by the Chilean government in 1811 soon impacted slaves in Cuyo (Río de la Plata), where a group of enslaved men voluntarily offered to mobilize militarily for the independence cause in exchange for their freedom.30

Almost everywhere in the Spanish Main the new republics abolished slavery in a gradual fashion. Though the history of the abolition of the slave trade was not the same as (and should not be equated to) the history of the abolition of slavery, in the Spanish American republics the abolition of the slave trade became a central element of the gradual abolition policy, in combination with the law of Free Womb and the establishment of manumission juntas that would slowly emancipate limited numbers of slaves on account of the state’s finances. Abolishing slavery gradually, instead of by emancipating all slaves at once, was justified as necessary to embark on establishing institutions that could assume the costs and processes of manumission, as well as preventing social disorders and allowing the control of the labor force. The second and third measures of gradual abolition, the abolition of the slave trade and the Free Womb law, in conjunction with the manumission of slaves, were to guarantee that, in the course of two or three decades, slavery would be progressively extinguished.

The terms according to which the free children born from enslaved mothers (called libertos or manumisos) would be cared for, their obligations to their mother’s master, and their rights were central points of analysis and deliberation in the national Congresses, especially after the initial laws were written into the republican constitutions.31 Among legislators prevailed different approaches to the process whereby slaves would be freed and the conditions that would regulate their social and economic integration. The libertos or manumisos who received freedom as part of these abolitionist measures were required to live in the house of the owner of the mother until they married or reached the age of majority. These conditions varied according to place and so did their enforcement. Moreover, though nominally free, libertos could be bought and sold. And in some places like Argentina and Colombia, legislation established the goal of providing them with land grants so they could become productive citizens. Other conditions concerned the candidates for manumission. For example, in Chile in 1823 the legal abolition of African slavery limited emancipation to slaves who could prove that they had an honest occupation. In Colombia the law instructed that older slaves would be selected to be freed.32

In all regions of the Spanish Main each of the points generated controversy and resistance. Over time, responding to the slaveholding classes’ activism, changes in legislation incorporated slave owners’ interests. Generally, though liberalism justified the abolition of slavery morally and economically, there was one major contradiction that pragmatically complicated the liberation of slaves in the Spanish American republics: the liberal enshrining of property rights.33

Abolition was a tool of state formation at various levels: the legitimation of the republican discourse (among the enslaved and internationally), the creation and institutionalization of mechanisms to build and shape government across the territory at the local level, and a means to establish control over regional elites. The tripartite process that made up the project of gradual abolition shared a regional logic: abolition was grounded on the emergent Spanish American states’ diplomatic (external) and national (internal) challenges. That is, during the wars of independence, slavery came under attack as a result of the intersection of international interests and diplomatic factors, the expedient negotiation with enslaved people who entered the contending armies, and the ideological weight of economic liberalism as a source of state-making in the Atlantic world.34

Abolition and State Formation

In the context of the foundation of the Spanish American mainland republics, from Venezuela to Argentina, the question of slavery’s abolition cut across constitutional design. For this reason, the decade of the 1820s was a moment when the foundations of the process of abolition were laid in the gradualist laws, intimately linked to the liberal vision of the state and rights. As liberal ideas were shaping the ideologies and institutional foundations of the Spanish American mainland republics, so were the social dynamics that made the road to abolition a contested issue. If liberalism was from the beginning of the independence experiments inseparable from the republican state form, the principles of freedom and equality that inspired Creoles had a variety of meanings across the Spanish American mainland societies. From the start, independence, revolution, and republicanism had an emancipatory potential and the objects of such an emancipation process were no other than indigenous people and the enslaved. As subjects, however, the people of African and indigenous descent had their own conception of freedom that shaped the historical process linking abolition and independence.

Additionally, in all the Latin American republics during the early 19th century, the abolition of slavery hinged upon, and was a mechanism of, state formation. For that reason, the project was vulnerable to the same challenges that creating republican states represented, including the establishment of bureaucracies to put it in practice. For example, within the first Republic of Colombia, throughout the decade of 1820, the system of collection for funds to manumit slaves was the object of many critiques from state officials (some of them slave owners) who sought to sabotage manumission. This problem, in any case, authentically reflected the lack of clarity on the different roles that were being created and a lack of accountability that weakened abolition for years.35

The abolition of slavery, seen in relation to liberalism, was part of the economic project of independence. In particular, economic expansion in production and trade was a project that stood upon liberal principles. The new political economy linked concepts of freedom and equality to the emerging categories of citizenship with the consequence that the fiscal, landholding, property, and labor arrangements all were reinvented as a corollary of abolition. At the same time, one element of liberalism that supported the slaveholding elites’ interests since the creation of the liberal republics was the essential right to property, along with the idea of nonintervention of the state in economic activities. In fact, property ownership was a defining factor for the practice and institutions of suffrage.36

This tension is best understood when seen in the broader Atlantic context in which other cases mirrored the situation in the Spanish mainland republics. The heated debates about the abolition of the salve trade and of slavery in Spain, Britain, France, and the United States, the slow development of abolitionist measures in all and each of these imperial contexts, and the racist paradigms that underlaid measures to control labor and exclude people of African descent from citizenship characteristic of postemancipation societies reflect this widespread phenomenon. To see the process of abolition’s complexity in its entirety, it is even more important to consider the contradictions of the 19th century in light of the expansion of slavery in the United States, Brazil, and Cuba at the same time that abolitionism expanded in the British world, parts of the United States, and the Spanish American republics.37 At this time, Spanish American proslavery elites crushed by civil war and by the fracturing of the colonial protections to trade within colonies (which benefited elites from the trade between colonies and with the metropolis), saw Cuba, Brazil, and the United States as the beacons of economic progress, as societies with a strong and stable financial sector, with modern material infrastructure (e.g., trains), and with slavery.38

The 1830s in the Spanish American mainland were particularly illustrative of this history. Given that abolition was part of the process of state formation, it became one of the factors that sparked regional disputes, generating conflicts between the abolitionist elites and those who sought to defend slaveholding interests in the republican contexts. The latter upheld the argument that the state should protect their right to property, claiming, in some cases, that those rights had been legitimately inherited from the Spanish state where the institution of slavery had originated. In Argentina, for example, while the state codified the principle of attacking slave traders, particularly those arriving in Brazil, between 1825 and 1828 the captives that were captured by privateers at sea ended up in state systems of tutela that translated into a life of unfree labor.39

During the 1840s when the elites who had interests linked to slavery held the power to control state institutions, they had the chance to change the legislation. Through activism in congress, in places like New Granada and Peru, for example, the slave trade prohibition was reversed in the interest of slave owners, their capital, and economic ventures. The goal of the slave owners in New Granada who sold their slaves to Peruvian hacendados was to regain the capital that they would lose under the manumission laws, while, in Peru, the hacendados who purchased the slaves were seeking to expand their labor force to work on the sugar plantations. That is, the economic goals of the elites in the Pacific region of South America were articulated with legal strategies within their republics and they had a transnational dimension. The same can be said of the moment when, right before the final abolition of slavery in the Republic of New Granada, slave owners from the Pacific region of Popayán sold their slaves to the Panama Railroad Company owned and run by entrepreneurs from the United States.40

In the 1850s liberal governments brought radical changes that went along with the processes happening in other parts of the Atlantic world, especially Europe. The social and political reforms were understood to be fundamentally linked to the end of the institution of slavery. Equally important, indigenous people, their land, and their labor were objects of republican legislation that sought to either erase or adapt their social character—until then based on the principle of difference—in favor of new visions of equality and new goals regarding economic productivity. At the center of such reformist thinking was the category of “Indian” that Creole liberalism sought to discard as a perilous legacy of Spanish colonialism. Legislation was put in service of a project of social engineering that saw the abolition of the fiscal and social position of “indio” as a prerequisite for making more efficient use of land and to redirect indigenous people as a labor force to the new economic projects of expanding regional economies. At the same time, the expansion of missions into frontier areas was a measure that sought to incorporate the indigenous people into a productive labor force that would benefit state-economic objectives. Within this scheme, where Indians lived in communities, liquidating resguardos or common lands was a priority. The measure would have the effect of dissolving the social ties that differentiated indigenous people from other citizens and disarticulate the political hierarchies that conceded Indian elites a measure of power and authority by situating them outside of the republican institutions.

Even though abolition was foundational to republicanism in the Spanish American mainland, other forms of forced labor emerged at the same time, as corollaries of state’s investment in the growth of internal and external markets. Peru is an important example, where beginning in 1849 the government promoted the importation of Chinese indentured workers. The same hacendados, who had been able to prolong slave labor and import slaves from New Granada in the same decade, were involved in the trade of the so-called coolies. These workers suffered terrible abuses, which revealed that even after African slavery was abolished, the expansion of institutions of labor control and criminalization of laboring populations were compatible with the principles of liberalism and republicanism that across Spanish American mainland were hegemonic in the 19th century. It is also a phenomenon that illustrates the deepening links of the Spanish American republics with the global economic processes that were founded on the proliferation of unfree labor practices, as well as the parallels with the economies of the so-called “second slavery” societies in the Americas.41

The transition to independence framed the construction of republican states everywhere in the Spanish American mainland, linking it to the abolition of slavery. Although the particular social and geographic characteristics of each region in the Spanish Main created differences in the political processes leading to abolition, almost everywhere the final abolitions consolidated in the middle of the 19th century as part of the rise of liberal governments. Those links were at the same time economic and political and can only understood in an Atlantic context and in relation to the forms of free and unfree labor that preceded and resulted from abolition in this wide region.

Discussion of the Literature

The abolition of slavery in the Spanish American mainland—and in the Spanish Empire more broadly—has not been explored in depth, and it is only recently that studies are incorporating it to narratives of abolition in the Atlantic world. Comparatively with the historiography about British abolition and the later 19th-century abolitions in Cuba and Brazil, abolition in the Spanish American mainland is an exploratory and fragmented body of work. This is in part because, in terms of the comparative study of slavery, the dominant narrative portrays slavery in the Spanish American mainland as marginal since it does not fit the model of the massive and extraordinarily productive plantation economies of the 19th century in Cuba, Brazil, and the United States. Even if quantitatively there are obvious differences between those cases and the economies of the Spanish Main, slavery did not have irrelevant dimensions there; in some places it was central to the regional economies and everywhere it was constitutive of the social and political worlds that shaped the republics founded there. Moreover, the contemporary demographic presence of Afro-descendants in Spanish America is a crucial element linked to the history of slavery and underlies the relevance of the study of its trajectory.42

Studies of abolition are fragmented along national lines because of the links between abolition and postindependence state formation explored in this article. A regional perspective on Latin America is the work of Hebe Clementi, who established two long-lasting arguments that historians are revising: (a) the influence of Great Britain and its “humanitarian creed” in the Spanish American abolitions, and (b) the articulation of abolition to the process of independence as a result of slavery’s weak presence in the region.43 Yet already in Clementi’s pioneering work it is evident that the diplomatic question was much more complex than the single cause of British pressure. In northern South America, for example, the importance of Haiti in connection to Simón Bolívar’s liberating campaign—Bolívar being a figure that had a crucial impact on the abolitionist process in Gran Colombia—is unquestionable. This has been the object of multiple recent works.44

The theme of Haiti’s connection to mainland Spanish American abolition is not only relevant in connection to elite strategies and decisions. Haiti was a symbol of freedom and inspired Black political action across the continent. Thus, methodologically, scholars have taken up the study of slave rebellions and the end of slavery and, conversely, of the conservative reactions that slave owners had to the Haitian Revolution as becoming more oppressive. Even then the theme of fear has also been linked to the rise of antislavery ideas and measures, especially with regard to the abolition of the slave trade both in the Spanish American republics and in Britain.45

In parallel with the historiography of the Haitian experience, the study of Spanish American independence has become object of multiple studies about the mobilization of free and enslaved people of African descent as soldiers during the war. These studies have demonstrated that slavery and abolition were essentially political themes and that the activism of people of African descent who joined the armies—royalist and insurgent—made the military dimension a crucial political strategy individually and collectively in this period.46 This is a rich area of work that ideally will be expanding into the study of Latin American independence itself. In other words, it would be welcome that the study of independence strengthens its dialogue with the study of slavery and abolition in the 19th century. The potential here lies in articulating the important work on citizenship and republicanism in the region with the question of race and labor. With all the sophisticated advancement that the field has accomplished in the last decades, its focus on the political and legal aspects has left aside the important economic dimension of abolition that still needs to be integrated to fully account for the history of labor in the Spanish American mainland.47

While the question of the antecedents to abolition is still a matter of inquiry, it is important to mention the lines of research that contribute to tying different social aspects and political processes together with great depth. Under the assumption of the “absence” of antislavery and abolitionism in the Spanish Empire, most of the works that study the process were centered on the 19th century and particularly the independence wars. Yet the influential works of Christopher Schmidt Nowara and Josep Fradera convincingly argue that when decentered from the 19th century, the history of antislavery in the Hispanic world reveals interesting elements that need to be considered. For example, if the histories of labor and of slavery in Spanish America begin with the articulation of native Americans into the project of colonial extraction, so does antislavery thought in the Spanish Atlantic. The debates that defined the legitimate treatment of native Americans from the perspective of the Spanish monarchy—most famously between Sepúlveda and de las Casas—were one side of the same coin with the legal justification for the enslavement of Africans. And though as de las Casas illustrates the Church’s role in slavery and antislavery was uneven or, in other words, contradictory, in theological debates a source on the critique of slavery in the Spanish world can also be found.48

Equally significant, the school of legal history that has studied (and is still studying) the enslaved populations’ interaction with the law and legal representatives has shown slaves’ ongoing strategies to break away from servitude or to question it, eroding slavery as an institution throughout Spanish America. The thought of jurists who studied and applied the law when defending slaves in court, especially in cases where they sought their freedom, are evidence of how the enslaved left their mark on local political dynamics and Spanish American judicial philosophy. And it is here that these studies intersect with the question of the depth of thought and activism across the region in which slavery was critiqued.49

As a complement to studies about slave insurrections, the theme of the law continues to be very productive. Scholars are linking the slaves’ tradition of using the courts in the colonial context with their continued understanding that they had rights in the republics in formation. At the same time, the study of the law, and the manumission laws and laws of citizenship more broadly, are important for explaining the ways in which slavery transformed into other forms of unfree labor, how new freed peoples’ freedom was curtailed, how ex-slave owners were able to violate the law with impunity, and how states created legislation that allowed them to benefit private interests that were embedded in exploitative strategies vis-à-vis the populations of African descent.50

At the same time that the field of studies about abolition in Latin America is seeing increased scholarly production in the different countries (especially Argentina, Uruguay, and Colombia), there is a growing interest in thinking about transnational processes. This has been clear in the proposal by Celso Castilho and Marcela Echeverri in the edited issue of Historia Mexicana as well as the work of Magdalena Candioti about South America. Yet there are other important strands of research in the international front emerging in works that analyze the diplomatic implications of slavery’s abolition and include the study of frontiers in connection to the migration of runaways.51 Simultaneously, the historiography on the “second slavery” that has productively explored the mechanisms whereby slavery expanded in the 19th century in spite of the rise of abolitionism and liberalism has not been in dialogue with the history of slavery and antislavery in the Spanish American republics. This is likely going to change and show why slavery’s slow decline in Spanish South America should be viewed in connection with its expansion in the United States, the Spanish Caribbean, and Brazil.52

Primary Sources

Essential archives for diplomatic records are Archivo General de Indias and The British National Archives. For research on the individual republican abolition processes, see administrative and judicial records, newspapers, and official and private correspondence. Published primary sources can be found in:

  • Biblioteca Nacional, Argentina, on newspapers as sources on abolition.
  • Triana y Antorveza, Humberto. Léxico documentado para la historia del negro en América, siglos XV–XIX. 9 vols. Bogotá: Instituto Caro y Cuervo, 2001.
  • Salmoral, Manuel Lucena. Códigos negros de la América Española. Madrid: Universidad de Alcalá, 1996.
  • Materiales para el estudio de la cuestión agraria en Venezuela (1800–1830). Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela, 1964.
  • Materiales para el estudio de la cuestion agraria en Venezuela (1829–1860). Vol. 1, Enajenación y arrendamiento de tierras baldías. Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela, 1971.
  • Materiales para el estudio de la cuestión agraria en Venezuela (1822–1860). Vol. 2, Mano de Obra: Opinión. Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela, 1979.
  • Posada, Eduardo, and Carlos Restrepo Canal. La esclavitud en Colombia, y leyes de manumisión. Bogotá: Imprenta Nacional, 1935.
  • See also the Slave Trade Database, including data for the intra-American trade.
  • The Colombian National Archive has a searchable database of digitized collections.
  • Universidad de la República, Uruguay, on newspapers as sources on abolition.

Further Reading

  • Aguirre, Carlos. Agentes de su propia libertad: Los esclavos de Lima y la desintegración de la esclavitud, 1821–1854. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 1993.
  • Alberto, Paulina. “Liberta by Trade: Negotiating the Terms of Unfree Labor in Gradual Abolition Buenos Aires (1820s–30s).” Journal of Social History 52, no. 3 (2019): 619–651.
  • Andrews, George Reid. Afro-Latin America, 1800–2000. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Barragán, Rossana. “Dynamics of Continuity and Change: Shifts in Labour Relations in the Potosí Mines (1680–1812).” International Review of Social History 61, no. S24 (2016): 93–114.
  • Barragan, Yesenia. Freedom’s Captives: Slavery and Gradual Emancipation on the Colombian Black Pacific. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021.
  • Baumgartner, Alice. South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War. New York: Basic Books, 2020.
  • Bierck, Harold A., Jr. “The Struggle for Abolition in Gran Colombia.” Hispanic Historical American Review 33, no. 3 (1953): 365–386.
  • Blanchard, Peter. Slavery and Abolition in Early Republican Peru. Wilmington, DE: S.R. Books, 1992.
  • Blanchard, Peter. Under the Flags of Freedom: Slave Soldiers and the Wars of Independence in Spanish South America. Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh University Press, 2008.
  • Borucki, Alex. “The ‘African Colonists’ of Montevideo: New Light on the Illegal Slave Trade to Rio de Janeiro and the Río de la Plata (1830–1842).” Slavery and Abolition 30, no. 3 (2009): 427–444.
  • Borucki, Alex, Karla Chagas, and Natalia Stalla. Esclavitud y trabajo: Un estudio sobre los afrodescendientes en la frontera uruguaya (1835–1855). Montevideo, Uruguay: Pulmón Ediciones, 2004.
  • Bryant, Sherwin, Rachel Sarah O’Toole, and Ben Vinson III, eds. Africans to Spanish America: Expanding the Diaspora. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012.
  • Candioti, Magdalena. “Regulando el fin de la esclavitud: Diálogos, innovaciones y disputas jurídicas en las nuevas repúblicas sudamericanas, 1810–1830.” Jahrbuch für Geschichte Lateinamerikas 52, no. 1 (2015): 149–171.
  • Candioti, Magdalena. “Free Womb Law, Legal Asynchronies, and Migrations: Suing for an Enslaved Woman’s Child in Nineteenth-Century Río De La Plata.” The Americas 77, no. 1 (2020): 73–99.
  • Candioti, Magdalena. Una historia de la emancipación negra: Esclativud y abolición en la Argentina. Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI, 2021.
  • Castilho, Celso. “La cabaña del Tío Tom (Uncle Tom’s Cabin), la esclavitud atlántica y la racialización de la esfera pública en la ciudad de México de mediados del siglo XIX.” Historia Mexicana 69, no. 2 (2019): 789–835.
  • Castilho, Celso, and Marcela Echeverri. “Ecos atlánticos de las aboliciones hispanoamericanas.” Historia Mexicana 69, no. 2 (2019): 613–626.
  • Clementi, Hebe. La abolición de la esclavitud en América Latina. Buenos Aires: Editorial La Pleyade, 1974.
  • Cruz, Feliú. La abolición de la esclavitud en Chile. Santiago: Editorial Universitaria, 1973.
  • Delgadillo, Jorge. “La esclavitud, la abolicion y los afrodescendientes: Memoria historica y construccion de identidades en la prensa mexicana, 1840–1860.” Historia Mexicana 69, no. 2 (2019): 743–788.
  • Echeverri, Marcela. Indian and Slave Royalists in the Age of Revolution: Reform, Revolution, and Royalism in the Northern Andes, 1780–1825. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2016.
  • Echeverri, Marcela. “Slavery in Mainland Spanish America in the Age of the Second Slavery.” In Atlantic Transformations: Empire, Politics, and Slavery during the Nineteenth Century. Edited by Dale Tomich, 19–44. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2020.
  • Ferrer, Ada. Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
  • Fischer, Sibylle. “Bolívar in Haiti: Republicanism in the Revolutionary Atlantic.” In Haiti and the Americas. Edited by Carla Calarge, Raphael Dalleo, Luis Duno-Gottberg, and Clevis Headley, 25–53. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2013.
  • Fradera, Josep, and Christopher Schmidt-Nowara, eds. Slavery and Antislavery in Spain’s Atlantic Empire. New York: Berghahn, 2013.
  • Gudmuson, Lowell, and Justin Wolfe, eds. Blacks and Blackness in Central America. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010.
  • Helg, Aline. Liberty and Equality in Caribbean Colombia, 1770–1835. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
  • Helg, Aline. Slave No More: Self-Liberation before Abolitionism in the Americas. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019.
  • Hünefeldt, Christine. Paying the Price of Freedom: Family and Labor among Lima’s Slaves, 1800–1854. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.
  • King, James F. “The Latin-American Republics and the Suppression of the Slave Trade.” Hispanic American Historical Review 24, no. 3 (1944): 387–411.
  • Lombardi, John. The Decline and Abolition of Negro Slavery in Venezuela, 1820–1854. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1971.
  • Mallo, Silvia, and Ignacio Telesca, eds. “Negros de la Patria”: Los afrodescendientes en las luchas por la independencia en el antiguo Virreinato del Río de la Plata. Buenos Aires: SB, 2010.
  • McGraw, Jason. “Spectacles of Freedom: Public Manumissions, Political Rhetoric, and Citizen Mobilisation in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Colombia.” Slavery & Abolition 32, no. 2 (2011): 269–288.
  • Premo, Bianca. The Enlightenment on Trial: Ordinary Litigants and Colonialism in the Spanish Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.
  • Rueda, Rocío. De esclavizados a comuneros: Construcción de la etnicidad negra en Esmeraldas, siglos XVIII–XIX. Quito, Ecuador: Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, 2019.
  • Schmidt-Nowara, Christopher. Slavery, Freedom, and Abolition in Latin America and the Atlantic World. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2011.
  • Soriano, Cristina. Tides of Revolution: Information, Insurgencies, and the Crisis of Colonial Rule in Venezuela. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2018.
  • Washbrook, Sarah. “Independence for Those without Freedom: Slavery and Manumission in Mérida, Venezuela, 1810–1854.” Slavery & Abolition 39, no. 4 (2018): 708–730.

Notes