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Irish Slave Trade

Irish Slave Trade

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CC-77 j'.lS/ll PARIS 28 Februar-y 1977 ~

Professor Jos~ Luciano Fl~anco

'!he bes1nnings of the trade in Africa.'1 ~l.Plves. Spain, like Portugal, in the settlement of its American poeseest.one, ~owed a singular inclination for hybrid tropical colonies with a slave cClID"Jponent. Large numbers of Negro slaves had been introduced into Spain from the Hest coasts of Africa during the rour-teenth and fifteenth centuries. The di:Joclveries made by the Portuguese and, espeoially, the encouragement, given by the lnfant~ D. Enrique of Portugal to blaokbirding expeditions at the beginning of the fifteenth oentury, give rise to the slave trade whioh in later years took the Negroes oaptured in Africa to the territories recently discovered by Christopher Columbus.

The discovery of the New l'1orld gave a tX"emendousmpetus to slavery and the i slave trade. The African element was requi~~d to exploit the enormous wealth of the newly disoovered trol'J1cal terri torilet.J in the Caribbean for the benefit of the Spanish oolonizers. Before the end of the fifteenth century Negro slaves began to arrive at Hispaniola - as the Isla,loo of Quisqueya, now Santo Domingo, was then called - caning fran the abundant, r~,serves existing in Portugal and Andalusia. Blt as early as 1501 African Ellaves were imported into the New "'Torld. The Spanish conquest, and dominion verif quickly spread from Santo Domingo to the islands of Puerto Rico.. Jamaica and. Cuba. As the first slaves brought to the Caribbean islands came from Spain or Por-tuga.L, and they wer-e regarded as the chief culprits in the constant uprisings of the indigenous Indians or the slaves imported directly from A.frica, the lang of Spain decreed that Negroes who had spent mor-e than two years in Spain or Portugal should not be sent to his new colonies in the Caribbean, unless "they 'liTere brought directly fram his African territories. '!he Spanish colonizers also believed°,,"!_o'not without some grounds - that the \'10lof slavesWhom they called "aelofesu - like thef1ande and Mand1ngolargely converted to Islam, were mainly responsible for the running away of slaves and the· slave uprisings in Santo Daningo, Je.maica, Puerto Rico and Cuba. A royal decree proh1.bited the importing ,ofslaV(!HZ.l"'Om f these 'African cultural groups. It l-m,sfor .this .reason that ··the slave t1L'tlde developed along the coasts of Guinea. 'lbe·colonizers'of. theC&r1bbean.iz)JJ.ands repeatedly asl\:edthe ICing of Spain to have more Afrlciari slaves dispatohed'tO them.. and 'hegranted Gouvenot... Governor of Bresa, a licence to 1mporto4,OOO!Nel~rO~sla:ves .from the coasts of Guinea into the vTest Indies. '!he latter sold this licence to the Genoese.. who in turn sold apart of the1:r.:·r1ghts,to:Portuguese:.'ftrd otber traders.
. '.

.lf9re~~ecNmto':;the:lccnm,try~.:o·,'~e'. '1Oorease:.1n.the:slave' population ·conoariitant:.:wttb'"the'.developilent<"or,ithe",CUlt! vation c)t'sugar _,:.for·which 'hWldreds"Of •.woz.k8rB~Were-'::tieedecF;'on?tl1.e':iOgt-:t.oultural 'side "°andi'also. to 'a lesser exterit:;w1th:the:;:'explo!tI:lt1ori.~of :the,:.JI,opper rD1nes·in':·Ltheeastem ·part of' Cuba, administered by an agent of'the Oel'ill!l1llttrm v1elser .. · Slaves were provided by the Spanish monarchlUmself for tbiE purpose.

Between 1512 and';1'76,.sane 6O~OOOAfri()an.:slAwsentered·Cuba·lawfully •

,, '.


CC-77/T,JJ/Il - page 2 The slave trade from the s~zteeE~h to the eiGhteenth centuries. This charl'l.cteristic pardod in the hl.story of the African slave trade l'T1 the th Carib!Jesn colonies began on 12 FebI"ilazy1528, when the ICing of Spain granted Enrique Ehinger and "Teronimo Sayler, agents of the Germanbankers, the Helsers, who, l~ith the Fuggers, controlled Spanish finance, the first asient~ or lic~nce to introduce African slaves into his American possessions. To deal with matter3 relating to the asientos, a. special board, the Junta de Negros, was set up in Spain, in the Casa de la Ccntrataci6n in Se:V'ille;l"tconcerned itself with the trade ill African slaves and with ensuring full compliance with the terms of the ~£-to~.
In fact. the first "licencn to navigate in the rr.gion of our 'JTe:=;t Indies an4, to bring Negro slaves thereto" was granted to Pedro G6mez Reynel, for a period of nine years beginning on I Nay 1595. However. under the Royal Decree signed at Valladolid on 11 March 1601, this concession was withdrawn from him and awarded instead to the Portuguese Juan Rodriguez Cout1fio, merchant and Governor of Loango. The first stipulation was that Rodriguez CoutifIo should transport }8,250 slaves from Africa to the Caribbean, sailing with them from the city of Seville, Lisbon, the C&naryIslands, Cape Verde, San Tome"Angola., Mina.


HOllever"several years before the monopolyof the slave trade was formally granted, by asiento, to Gomez Reynel" and more particularly from 3 october 1562 to 15 December 1585" the King of Spain authorized various of his subjects to trade in slaves - for instance, Diego de Ayllon (1562) and Diego P6rez Negron (1563) - while on 20 November1571 it was agreed that Juan Hern!mdezde Espinosa should tate three hundred African slaves to Havana. Certain Spanish towns also profited from th~ slave trade: thus" for instance, the ~rin of Seville was permitted to transport Negro slaves to the Nel'l\vorld by the Royal Decree of San Lorenzo dated 5 August 1567" oountersigned by Antonio de Eraso.

On the death of Rodriguez Coutt3o, the asiento granted to the Portuguese handed on to Gonzalo Vaz Coutiflo, and subsequently it was held' in turn by Agustin Coello, Rodriguez d 'Elvas" Rodriguez Lamego"and finally s :up to 1640, by Melchor GOmez ngel and Cristobal ~ez A de Sosa.

a single fort remained, flying the' Portuguese .. 'flag.

al~d, liitel-; un..t'l"'WiUi.iSt:1r,g .thew ti"-uw a1mvst. the ""nole of-Guinea.

The exigencies of the asianto led the Portuguese to increase .the number of their depots and warehouses on the west coast of Africa. Wherever their barters and deals took plaoe, they needed to have astute middlemento enable them to improve and extend. their business transactions through regular exchange channels. Against att8.oksbY their Europeancanpetitors - Dutchmen, Frenchmen Englishmen, .. Danes and Germans- the. POI'tuguese.put up a vigorous and skilful defence. Angola was a ,Portuguese fief with its trad1ng,posts,organized slave trade, governors and agents. From 1526 onwards, beside their huts and Catholic chapels, small forts were built, the earliest of them in Sarna and the most strongly fortified in San Jorge de l.a r,Una, whioh became the centre of the slave trade. But the Portuguese could not prevent .their.rivals':from establ1shingthemselves opposite

1688, not

In the absence ofrJ.irect trade w1thAfrica,1t ltaS ,inevitable that .. to obtain saves for the mines and plantat10ns of her colonies in the Newt-Torld, Spain should, haveto,dependreither 'on rebels (the Portuguese).,:,or heretics (the .Engl1sh)" orboth·r.ebelsand.heret1cs, (theDutohh·i9r.en~1~~ (the Fvench)~ since no other. country was 8uff1cientlY,:'interested,in .the~lave ~,trade• Fran ,16~.0 to 1662,nomeasures':were .taken by:thQ,:SpOn1sh, GQvernment-to'h1nder the olandestine .importat1on .of ':8laves 'suppl1ed ,by, the':Engl1sh. < :the.PQrtuguese'Clr the·.Dutoh.

CC-77/WS/ll- page) The Dutch, whohad shaken off the Spanish yoke during the final decades of the sixteenth century, succeeded in the following century in wresting from t:~e Portuguese their most important enclaves in the slave trade, establishing th('~selves in Gor-ea , Joaquin and Tacorari in 1620, and in f11.Im rn 1637. By the ecd of the century" the Dutch were every\-lhereinstalled as slave traders t'1i th San Jorge de la Mina as their operational centre. Balthasar Coymans the West of Indies Company Amsterdam,who was secretly the real concessionaire of the of asiento granted to Juan Barroso del Pozo and Nicolas Porcio in 1682, managedto obtain the muchcoveted In0nopolyon 23 February 1685.

As the l\1exicanhistorian Gonza10Aguirre Beltrlm observes, after Coymans ' trilli~ph a tendency arose for asientos to cease to be contracts concluded between the Spanish Governmentand a private individual for the leasing of a public revenue and to become, as was soon to be the case, treaties between countries.

The history of English trade in \,lest Africa prior to the establishment of the Company Royal Adventurers in 1660 :J.S briefly as follows: up to 1630 or of 1640 it remained very restricted 1.'1 volume and had no connexfon with trade in the West Indies or the American continent. Between 1562 and 1569, the English slave trade was started by John Ha\-Ikins. In 1562, aboard his ship "Tesus, he carried off a consignment of slaves from the shores of Africa which he exchanged for gold .. sugar and hides >'lith the Spanish colonists in Santo Domingo. Hawkinshad shownwisdomend cunning in starting his interloper's trade in the Caribbean, but he had not reckoned with the Casa de Contrataci6n in Seville which would not allol'l the slightest infiltration in the Spanish trade monopoly and promptly seized. in Cadiz the two ships which Hawl\:ins as natve enough to send w to that port to sell sou~ of the hides exch&"1ged Negro slaves in 8~to Domingo. for The King of Spain, Philip n, refused to acoede to the Englishman's repeated requests and was sharply called to account by QueenElizabeth of England. After Hawldns' failure, English trade in Hest Africa dwindled. \vi'th the defeat of the Invincible Armadain 1588 and the decline of the House of Austria, ~ueen Elizabeth was that same year able to grant thirty-five Londonmerchants the privilege of slave trading on the African coast from Senegal to the River Gambla; these promptly set about turning the island of Tortuga in the Caribbean into the favourite haunt of slave traders, resoatadores ("receivers" of slaves) and pirates. \'l1th the occupation of Jamaica, the English - \-lhoduring the first half of the seventeenth century had g1ven up the slave trade - deoided to renal'1it with greater intensity. On 18 Deoember1661, the Company Royal Adventurers obtained of the exclusive right to engage in and organize the slave trade from Cape Blanc to the Cape of Good Hope. Queens, royal princesses, dukes and peers were included amongthe shareholders in this undertaking. The king himself seized the opportuni ty of acquiring an interest in so profitable a business. However, the war against the Dutoh reduced the profits and caused that band of high-born adventurers to l'lind up their business, the Company being replaced in 1672 by the Ro;ya1 African Company. In nine Years alone, from H580 to 1689, the latter companysent 259 ships to African shores and transported 46,)96 slaves to the American oolonies. At the end of the sixteenth centuryI' the French had not yet realj.ze.d.the full economioimportance for them of the trade practised b,y the Portuguese and the Dutch in Africal' and it was only under Cardinal R1chelieu that they began to enter the slave trad.e ona small scale. Riche1ieu gave his approval to the plans of the traders and merchant adventurers of Ie Havre who, in 1626, organized with d 'Esnambucthe Compagnie Saintde Christophe to exploit the petun (tobaoco) and timber of the island of St. Christopher


- page 4

in the Caribbean, and occupied the island of 'l'ortugaand part of thR.t. Santo of Dom Ingo , In Africa, Br1gue"ille and Beaulieu of Normandy set about trading in Ga.. 'r.b1a. . By letterz patent of 2J~ JutLe 1633, Hessrs. Rossee , Robin and Company, merchants of Dieppe und Rouen, obtained permission to trade in Senegal, Cape Verde and other places. Thomas Lambert, a seaman, built a few huts at the mouth 0f the Senegal River. In 1640, a small fort was established on an island which became known as Saint-Louis. Cape LOpez was conceded to a St. r:;alocompany called Compagnie de Gu1n~e • .. !hat the Spanish and Portuguese had long ago discovered, the French were to learn in their "turn: the need for acquiring African slaves to exploit and develop the riches of the Caribbean and America. The trade fluctuated in its initial stages. In 1658..the Compagnie du S~n~gal "'Tent banlrrupt, The African trade declined ..being barely sustained by a few private traders or interlopers. The slav~ trade came almost to a standstill and virtually ceased in Senegal t~hose inhabitants, being little sought after by slave traders, supplied barely more than a few hundred slaves a year. No regular slave trade existed between France, Africa and the Caribbean islands. From Cape Verde to the Congo, the l'Tholeof the coastline was in the clutch of agents of governments hostile to France or of commercial rivals - not only Portuguese, English and Dutch, but also Germans established at Cape Three Points. The S,'redesbuilt the fort of Christianburc; but were ousted by the others. The Frenoh slave trade was officially organized by Colbert in 1664. Convinced, , of the value of state control" he l'lishe'..i imitate the example of the to Dutch, regulate the slave trade and ~~oup together private capital and initiative in trading companies, putting them in charge of oVlersee.a trading posts l"ll1ic11 he bolstered up by monopolies and concessions.
in! tially

1'lith the growth of the slave trade, slaver-y had reached such a pitch by the be sinning of the eighteenth century in all strata of colonial society in Latin America that even the Peruvian Indians were able to buy, sell and possess African slaves. The actual number of men, women and children who were snntched from their homes in Africa and transported in slave ships across the AtlantiC ..either to the caribbean islands or to North and South America, will never be known. Writers vary in thej,r estimates, but there is no doubt that their number runs into millions. 'Ihe follmdng figures are taken from r,~orel calculations as reproduced by Professor '5 Helville J. Herskovits and cover the period 1666-1800:

1666-1776: 1680-1786: 1716-1756: 1752-1762: 1759-1762:

Slaves imported only by the English for the English ..French and Spanish colonies: 3 rod.llion( a quarter of a million died an the voyage). Slaves imported for the English colonies in America: 2 ..30,000 1 (Jamaica alone absorbed 610;000). Average annual number of slaves imported for the American 70,000, with a total of 3,500,000. Jamaica alone imported 71,115 slaves. Guadalupe alone imported 40,000 slaves. imported for the American colonies, or a total of 1,850,000; this yearly average was divided up as follows: by the English, 38..000; French, 20,000; Portuguese, 10,000; Dutch, 4,000; Danes, 2,000. colonies:

1776-1800: A yearly average of 74,000 slave~were

cC-Trft·/S/ll - pe.ge 5 The African slaves arriving in the NeN' ~!orld wer-e concent rat.ed Ln var+ous along ,the coast •· .. here there wer-e bar-racones or slave markets, in the: Vost Indies ..Guianas, North and South America ..Venezuela, Brazil ..etc., whence t'~ley wer-e redistributed.
t owns

The places of origin of this great mass of slaves are still a matter of conjecture ..but it is believed that ..in practice ..the supply came from all t!1e African regions, not only \'lest Africa but also East Africa and even Madagat:icar. l.Je have no reliable documenta.tion on the focal points for the capture of s]_pves. Dut there is every 1ndicat~on that the vast majority c~ne from specific ~reas of Hest Africa. In 1701.. aG the result of negotiations conducted by Du. Casse, Governor of Santo Domingo and organizer of the slave trade in the French West Indies ..His nest Christian Majesty I.ouis XIV of Fra.nce and His Catholic ~lajesty Philip V of 3pain Signed the so-called Treaty of Asicnto.. conferrL~g on the C~~pagnie de GUinee the monopoly for the importation of Negro slaves into the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean and other places in Latin America. '!be Compagnie de Guinee undertook to im;>ol"'t during the ten years which the treaty was in force an annual consignment of' 4,800 African slaves drawn from any part of West Africa except the trading posts of ~l1na and Cape Verde.. bringing them to Havana, Veracruz ..Cumana and Cartagena de Indias. It should be noted that .. during this French period ..the cargoes of slaves \<leretransported from Portobelo across the Isthmus or' Panama down to Peru. This privilege - the slave trading asiento - had for a long time been eagerly con~eted for by the various seafaring nations. The Portuguese had retained it from 1601 to 1640.. up to the time they reconquered the:';'r independar.·::J6. Subsequently the Spanish Government, in order to prevent it frem pasGing into the ha.nds of one of its major rivals ..had in 1622 reached an understanding with a Dutch company. But the Dutch in Curayao and the English in Jamaica succeeded in having a hand in the business of that company. From then onward the asiento de negros was the subject of various negotiations. Follo\'Tingthe "Tar of the Spanish Succession, a radical change tool: place in the correlation of economic and political forces~ and gave England, seconded by Portugal and Holland, an absolute control over the slave trade with the Caribbean Lal.ands , especially with Cuba. And, under the Peace Treaty signed in Eadrid on 27 11arch 1713 and ratified by one of the articles of the Treaty of Utrecht~ the monopoly of the slave trade passed into English hands for the next thirty years.
In 1715, Richard 0 'Farrill of Irish origin, from the island of f.1ontserrat, arrived in CUba as the representative of the South Sea Company of london and established slave depots 1n Havana and Santiago de Cuba, thereby giving great impetus to the Afr!c~~ slave trade; the majority of slaves were imported into I.1exico,but the traffic was almost at a standstill before the second half of the eighteenth century.

'!he Spanish ports had protested that they were being excluded from the colonial trade (a monopoly exercised by the Casa de Contrataci6n in Seville) while a foreign country had the right to flood the Caribbean and Latin American colonies with slaves. The outbreak of war between England and Spain in 1740 provided a convenient e~~cuse for. abolishing the privilege hitherto enjoyed by the English slave-dealers. To continue the legitimate business of importing slaves, conducted until then by

CC-77/,t:3/1:' _ page 6
end t,hf~English concessionaires, some Cuban and Spanish cap'!.talists f'ounded the Real Compafiia de COJ11.'?l"ci.o Hab:ma 'Irt.ich,n a.cl.dition .o supp.l.yfng de Ia i t Cuban sugar=-cane planters with nO"1 sLave s , held the monopoly to oper-ace all t.he foreign trade of the Greater Antilles. A ser-Les of _as1entos wer-e granted until September 1779 When the last monopoly the hit1to:'yof the slave trada was abolished. To remedy as far as possible the shortage of labour, tho slave-dealers of Cuba, Sant') Domingo and Puerto Rico were grarrted , by Royal Decree of 25 January 1780, the rlsht to cbt.ain slaves f'r-om the F-rench co'lont.es~ the Caribo-::w"1. However, as the demand for sLave labour went en inc",,~;:.sing, under Ruyal Decree of 28 February 1789, slave trading was made free in Cuba, Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico, end this was subsequently extended by TIoyal Decree of 24 November 1791, except :In the case of f1exico a.r..d Peru, to the slave-dealers of Santa F~. Buenos Aires and Caracas. In Cuba, these provisions by which t~le Spanish Government met the demands of the sugar-carte planters and slave-dee.Ler-s gave an extraordinary impetus to the slave trade. T'ne phenomenal inorease in the Cuban slave population at the end of the eighteenth century is closely linlced with the establisbment of a sugar-cane plantation economy. Hundreds of slc'ves were needed for the oultivation of sugar-cane and the production of sugar, and as exports increased so the productive labour became intensified, bringing about a higher dea~h rata among the slaves, speeding up wastage, and necessitating a faster replacement of the Africans thus destroyed.

o l?arrill

Rise and fall of slave trading and slavery in the nineteenth centurl. In Cuba, the colonial slave-holding regime set up by the Spanish colonizers at the beginning of tb,e sixteenth century br-ought;into being a social class composed of sugar-cane planters and dealers 1n human flesh, which from r{78 attained its maximum social and economic power~ forming a veritable sIeve mining and trading oll~!'chy up to Just beyond the first half of the nineteenth oent1..<ry. In the last years of the eighteenth century and the early years of the nineteenth. this oligarchY had consol~Aated its privileged position with the support of the Spanish Governors and Captains-General who exercised absolute power in the isli'.nd,and its numbers were to be oonsiderably mereased , During this period, not only ~~s so re~~lsive a business as slave trading considered a normal and current p~act1cc among the white Creoles and Spanish residents 1n the island belonging to the nobility and clergy. but the. middle classes engaged in it also with the greatest enthusiasm. and even considered it an honour. The Cuban slave-dealers were not above in their infamous business. They could also rely on the services of English, French and Unit~ States traders and smugglers. Some slave-dealers in Havana made fortunes by selling slaves to North America. Later on, with the approaohing coming into force of the Un! ted States constitutional clause prohibiting the slave trade from 1808 onwards, the direction of the slave traffic between Cuba and the United States was reversed. For instance, there sailed into the port of Havana between March 1.806 and February 1807, 30 ships flying the United States flag and with United States crews aboard. with conetgnmerrts mostly for tl~ildersof that country resident in Cuba. They reproduced. to a oertain extent the three-cornered trade which in the seventeenth and eighteenth cellturies had brought prosper1ty to Liverpool, Nantes and Bordeaux, shipping tr:ashy goods to Africa and exehnngtns them for Negroes I and these in tum forral'l materials from the'Caribbean or Latin Amerioa, whioh were then shipped to European oountries to be manufaotured.


In the first thirty years of the nineteenth oenturY6 the slave trade reached its peak in Cuba. From 1800 to 1820 alon8, aocordingto information supplied by Profe~30~ Juan'P~rez de la Riva. 175.058 slaves were brought over from the shores of Africa to Cuba; by the folloWing deoade this figure had. dropped :to 72,500.

CC-77t~!S/11 page ,. .. The progress of the Industrial Revolution, the new types of production and exchange, had a decisive influence on the opening of the campaign- necessarily invested with an aura of r-omance for the abolition of ,slavery and the slave trade In the Caribbean, the revolt in Haiti, under the leadership of Toussa1.nt Icuverture, brought slavery to an end not only there but :l~.soin Santo Domfngo . In 1807, the fitting out of slave ships was forbidden in the ~itish dOfllinions. and in 1800 this prohibition was extended to the importation of slaves.

Internationally, the African slave traffic in the Caribbean islands and in latin America was partly disrupted by the Treaty of Paris of 30 Nay 1814, which subsequently led in Vienna, to the famousDeclaration of 8 February 1815. In September 1817, a treaty was Signed by the representatives of the Londonand N~drid Governmentsabolishing the slave traffic; this was lim1ted in scope owing to the exigencies of the time but was later amplified by the treaty of 28 June 1835 under which Spanish subjects wore forbidden to engage in that unlawfu.l business. Brazil l"lBS also to sign similar agreements. However,in spite of the above-mentioned international treaties and agreements and of innumerable laws passed by the metropolitan countries concerned, the illegal traffic in slaves reached conSiderable proportions. Faced with the abolitionist campaigncarried out by progressive groups in England and France and the measures taken to suppress the trade, the slave-trading oligarchy in Cuba and the plantation owners in the Caribbean and slave-owning parts of America retorted by mounting a vicious campaigndescribing the French "revolutionaries" in the blackest and most sinister tenDs and accusing the English of perfidy and selfishness. With the consent and support of the colonial governments and the complicity of the reactionary forces in Europe and Americal they organized an illegal slave traffic, thus disregarding the various international treaties and agreements.

article entitled "The British Governmentand the Slave Trade" and published by the NewYork Daily Tribune on 23 July of the same year, madesome import~~t observations with regard to Cuba and the illegal traffic in slaves. He said that the Bishop of Oxford and Lord Brougham denouncedSpain as being the focal point of that nefarious traffic, and called upon the British Governmentto canpel that country by every means in its power to pursue t1 political course consonant with existing treaties. Already in 1814 a general treaty had been drawn up between Great Britain and Spain under waich tradL,g in slaves ~~s categorically condemned by the latter. In 1817 a special treaty had been concluded wherebySpain undertook to abolish in 1820, in respect of i taosubJects, the right to engage in the. slave trade, and by way of compensation for the losses these might sustain through the application of the treaty, was paid an indemnity of 400,000 pounds sterling. Spain had pocketed the moneybut the oblige.tions had not been fulfilled. In 1835 another treaty had been concluded under whioh Spain solemnly undertook to promulgate a penal law of suffioient severity to make it impossible for its subjects to oontiriue engaging 1n the traffio. But that law had not been adopted until over ten yearslllter; moreover, bY'a strange fatality, its most important clause - for which England had foUght hard - hB.d been left out, nameiy, the one

1858 whenthe Bishop of Oxford raised the questiou of the slave trade, in an

:Karl flarx, coumenting on a sesafon of the House of Lords in Londonon 17 June


whatever had been done except that the Captain-General of cuba, the l\tl.nister of the Interior, the royal camarilla and, if were to be believed, even the royal family, had imposeda special tax on slave traders and sold licenoes to deal in human flesh and .blood at so iDanYdoubloons head... a wrd l.falmesbury himself had stated.· that it would be·poss1ble to. cover the: seas between the Spanish andCUban.:·p~i3ts With·the number of dOcumentsuselessly exohangedbetween the· two Governments.·.:





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en... ... f'nn+inO' "
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C'''J-77/'rJS/ll" ,age 8

In Cuba~before the secor~ half of the nineteenth centuryp the development achieved by the colonial economysounded the death mel1 for the slave l:'~g1rne. From 1860 onwardsp the human commodi could no Longer- be provided cheaply by ty the slave traffic. Go~,ernmentalpressure on the latter was intensified in compliance I'llth British demands. To induce the Spanish colonial autihor-L tier.; to allow the clandestine entry of Africans~ recourse had to be had to the expensive procedure of bribery which raised the price of the camnoo.ity. On the sea. the relentless vigilance of the English ships gave no respite. One only out of every five consignments organized managedto reach Cuban shores. Tne traffic no longer provided a solution to the sugar-cane planters' difficulties. The AngloNorth American Treaty of 7 April 1862 for the suppression of the slave trade dealt the f1nal blow to the clandestine slave traffic. And the opening of Cuba's struggle for independence on 12 October 1868, with the massive participation of the Africans and their Creole descendants, heralded the end of slavery within ten years. As far as our research enables us to say~ the last African slaves from Angola transported through the Spanish colony of Ferriando Po. arrived in Cuba in 1873.
The impact of the slave trade on Cuban societl'. The slave owning oligarchy in CUba l"'hich~togethel" With the Spanish and Creole slave traders, smuggfer-s and merchants, formed the exploiting class in colonial society. was solely concerned , until well into the nineteenth century, With orates of sugar and sacks of coffee, with watching on the quays ide for the arrival of slave ships, and with gratifying its insatiable desire for wealth through the productive labour of hundreds of thousands of slaves in the plantations. But it gradually began to be concerned about the activities of free Negroes and mulattoes in various sectors of SOCial life capable of leading an armed.protest of the mass of slaves l'i1-!ich oould put all end to their pri v1leges. '!he urban craftsmen, conaf.s Hng of Africans and their descendants, were the only people engaged in ocoupations contributing towards the country v s economtc developnent • Carpenters , blaoksm1 , bricklayers, ths shoemakers, tailors, etc., as well as school-teachers (sane very notable ones in the eighteenth century, such 8.S Lorenzo Melbndez, Mariano Moya and Juana Pastor), musicians and poets, were either free or enslaved Negroes and mulattoes. In the nineteenth century, thouS8l".dsof free Negl"oesand mulattoes wel"'e engaged in such ocoupations in Cuba. Many others were small traders and proprietors. Sane devoted themselves to literature, teaohing or music, and beoamedistinguished, like the educator Antonio f\ted1na" \'Jhose school in Havana was the educational oentre for the production of coloured figures Whiohwere to oontribute towards the oultural development of. the Negroes: scme· became world-tamous poets like the slave Ju&n Francisco Manzanoand the free mulatto Gabriel de la Concepci6n Vald~s (Pl!oido), or eminent concert players like Claudio J. Brindis de Salas and JOs~ Hhite. Socially, these formed a social and political situatIon. tive advanceaenf of the scoial and mulatto slaves~ inveterate atom of htiman JustIce on their r6g1me. small mIddle class and were anxious to improve their '!bey had a clear right to believe in the oollecclass to wh1ch they balonged. Thous~"'lds 'Negro of rebels and non-oonfozm1sts~ aspired, With every side!" to put an end to the opp~ssiQn of the E;l~"e


lfa.nyAfro-CUbans, taking advantage of some'royalprov1s1ons, had bought honorific· posts wh1cilgave them a c,ertainPrestige~ -.And all oonspired diffidently in the seclusion .. f.the'ir homes,1nthe.f?hadow- of their· workshops, . or.1n some O Sunny ~ornerofthe.':cOuntrysideaga1Dsi th~:slave. tratie and the. savage system of exploItatIon.' Some bolder sp1ritsd1d so'more uninhIbitedly 8nd joined the small progressive minority of wb1teCreoles at their secret gathe~ whioh foreshadowed the advent of popular union 1n the fight for freedom. It is somewhat ironical to reflect that, in CUba, it was due to the inhuman slave traffio that the Negro race oameto take part in the formation of a new type of hUman society.

cC-77/1'!S/ll - page 9 The slave trade across the Atlantic and the slavery in the Caribbean and Latin A:nerica. \'!hichhelped in the formation of the respective multiracial societ:tas, not only provided an extraordinary contribution through the African's active participation in the development of agI'icultural production, mining and trade on a world scale, but were also importrult factors in the shaping of the region's cl).lturesand follaore, of which Cuba and Haiti offer examples among the islrulds of the restless Caribbean and Brazil on the South American continent.

In concluding this modest aCcowlt. we should point out that, for a research depth on the subjects with which we have been dealing, it would be necessary to make copies of the fifteenth to ei~~teenth century documents preserved in the District A.-:·chives f FunchaL (I:~deira) as well as of those appearing in the o Calendar of State Papers, Coloni~l Office, England. Accounts of the African diaapora 1n the Caribbean, in regard both to the legal ~~d to the clandestine trade in African slaves, the revolt of the latter and their contribution towards the formation of a new society, are to be found in docwnents preserved 1r. the Cuban National ArChives, for the most part unpu.blished. Such research (Jould be supplemented by recourse to the valuable wor-ks produced by the Centre for UniverSity Studies of Pointe-ll-Pitre (Guadeloupe). directed by r1r. Henri Ba.ngou and his assistant Hr. Yacou, as well as those of historians of the University of the West Indies in T"... 1n1dad, Tobago, Jamaica and Barbados. '

cC-77~m/ll - page 10


Jos~ luciano ~~co:

Esclavitud, comer£io 1 trafico nesreros (Catalogue of collections in the Cuban National Archives). Cuban Academy of Sciences. Natiop~l Archives Series No. {. Havana, 1972. Source Guide to the History of Africa south of the Sahara. (Produced by the IntemationalArch1';'3s Council under the auspices of Unesco). Unesco, 1971.

Guide to Sources of African History:

Jos~ A. Saco:

H1storia de la Esclavitud desde los tiempos mas remotos hasta nuest~os d1as (Second edition). Havana , 1937. Historia de la Esclavitud de la Raza Africana en el Nuevo ~~o y en especial en los Pa1ses Amhrico-H1spanos~ Havana, Histoire de la Traite des Noirs de l'antiqu1tb ~ nos Jours. Paris, 1971. ~B~es.ros Esclavos. Havana. 1916. London, 1957. Madrid,

Hubert Deschamps:
Fernando Orti Z:

K.G. Davies
Daniel P. Mannix and M. Cowley:
S. Abratnova:

'!he Royal African Company. 1970.

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L'h1stoire de 18 traite des esclaves sur Ie Haut L1ttoral de 18 Guin6e. (From the second half of the fifteenth to the beginning of the nineteenth centuries). MoscoW, 1966.

Ge~)!~gesScelle: Charles Verl1nden:


traite n~gri~re aux Indes de Castille.


Elen!!. F_S .. de S't'..lder:

durante el Sisl.o XVIII.

Tft rn...a+ .. A ..... 'IT_,...... ...............,,_ .... .. eM '" ,

",g ""'~~

v ......~u




Buenos Aires, 1958.


...a c.J.",,,a


n'_ .... _

Gonzalo Aguirre Bel trtm:


Ia Poblaoi6n Negra de r.~x1co. Mexico, D.F.

r~ls M. Diaz y Soler:

mstoria de 18 Esclav1 tud Negra en Puerto Rico. l49;;-l13go. Madrid. undated.

CC-77/WS/ll Prof. Gaston-Hartin: Pierre Verger: Eric llilliams: James Ferguson King:



H~s~oire de l'esclavage dans les cplonies franStaises. Par-Ls , 1948. Flux et reflux de la traite de noirs entre Le Golfe du Benin et Bahia. Mout.on , 1968." Capitalismo y Esclavitud. Havana, 1975.

Evolution of the Free Slave Trade Principle in Spanish Colonial Administration. (The Hispanic American Historical Review')Durham. February 1942. Les n~griers ou Ie trafic Pari3. 1948. Les derniers negriers. des esclaves. Paris, 1952.

Andre Ducasse: Louis Lacroix: Melville J. Herslmvits: Philip Curlin: Julio Le Riverend: C. rrlClrx and F. Engels: Raul Cepero Bonilla: Jos~ Iucf.ano FrMCO= Francisco Pachecc and Julio ~ R1verend:

Social History of the Negro. (Handbookof Social Psychology) Clark University, 1935. ~ Atlantic Slave Trade. ~Jisconsin, 1969.

Historia Econ6micade Cuba.. Havana, 1963. Acerca del Colonialismoo r1oscow,undated. Azucar y Abolici6n. Havana, 1960.

Facetas del esclavo africano en Am~rica Latina. (Introduction to African culture in latin America). Unesoo, 1970. Afroamerica. Havana, 1961.

Jose Luoiano Franco:

La presencia negra en el NuevoMundo. Havana, 1968.

----------------_. ------=---------_.


Comercio clandestino de esclavos ne s en el S~10 ~. Historical series No. 21. Academy Sciences). of Imvana, 1971.
Los Palenques de los Negros Cimarrones• Ha. vana, 1971.

Las f!!1nas de Santiaso del Prado ~ la Rebeiibn de los Cobreros. 1530-1~ Havana , 1975. Havana, Republic of CUba
20 December'


(signed) J os~ woiano Franco

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