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Illicit Ideologies: Moral Economies of Venezuelan Smuggling and Autonomy in the Rebellion of Juan Francisco de León, 1749–1751

  • Jesse Cromwell (a1)
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On the afternoon of April 20, 1749, a force of between 400 and 600 armed men amassed on Caracas's central plaza. Entering the city under blue and white flags emblazoned with red crosses, to the sound of beating drums, the deployment comprised a cross section of Venezuela's socio-racial groups, social estates, and occupations. The men followed Juan Francisco de León, a cacao planter and small-town sheriff (teniente), and had shouldered their weapons as a popular protest “in the name of the city [of Caracas], the nobility, and the masses.” Disregarding the potentially ominous specter of so many armed insurgents, Caraqueños instead welcomed León's troops with open arms. As one observer remarked, all in the city from shopkeepers “to the nuns give thanks to León, wishing him success and commending him to God.”

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1. Discussing class and race in the colonial period is admittedly complicated. To describe socioeconomic status, I employ the term “social estate” (estamento), as it implies the social networks, occupational identities, and free/unfree status inherent in social class in the eighteenth century. I use “socio-racial” and “socio-racial group” to denote what we would call “race” in the twenty-first century; the latter concept was much more fluid and multivariate in eighteenth-century Spanish America. For the basis of these distinctions, see Twinam, Ann, Purchasing Whiteness: Pardos, Mulattos, and the Quest for Social Mobility in the Spanish Indies (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015), 4248 ; and Rappaport, Joanne, The Disappearing Mestizo: Configuring Difference in the Colonial New Kingdom of Granada (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014), 37 , 208–209; This information on the entry of the León insurgents into Caracas comes from the Certificación de Faustino Areste y Reina, vecino y escribano publico de Caracas. Caracas. May 23, 1749, Archivo General de Indias in Seville, Spain [hereafter AGI], Audiencia de Caracas, legajo 937.

2. Extracto de los Testimonios,y papeles que ha remitido el Govr., y de los que sobre ellos dice en quatro Cartas, Caracas, 1749, AGI, Caracas, 419.

3. Ibid.

4. Diligencia del Escribano Gregorio del Portillo, Caracas, April 23, 1749. Archivo General de la Nación–Venezuela in Caracas, Venezuela [hereafter AGNV], Insurrección del Capitán Juan Francisco de León, Tomo 1, fols. 33–39, in Documentos relativos a la insurrección de Juan Francisco de León, Augusto Mijares, ed. (Caracas: Instituto Panamericano de Geografía e Historia, 1949), 55.

5. Auto de Gregorio del Portillo, escribano público, Caracas, August 1, 1749; Auto del Teniente General Domingo de Aguirre y Castillo, Caracas, August 2, 1749, in Juan Francisco de León: diario de una insurgencia, 1749 (Caracas: Tipografía Vargas, S.A., 1971), 115–116.

6. These numbers come from Federico Brito Figueroa's compilation of estimates between 1771 and 1784. He estimates that the population of Caracas between 1771 and 1784 was between 18,669 and 24,187 people. Not including Caracas, he puts the coastal population of the province at 65,593. For reference, the population of Caracas's primary port, La Guaira, in these estimates was 3,463 people. Population figures in the first half of the eighteenth century are much harder to come by. The province of Venezuela would have been smaller in population in 1749-51, but probably not significantly so. Figueroa, Federico Brito, La estructura social y demográfica de Venezuela colonial (Caracas: Tipografía Venevas, 1961), 3839 , 47, 50.

7. Other insurgencies of note in the province were the Coro Rebellion (1795) and the Gual y España Conspiracy (1795–97). Although both movements were ideologically charged, neither uprising had numbers, duration, or appeal across social and economic divisions to match the León Rebellion. McKinley, Michael P., Pre-Revolutionary Caracas: Politics, Economy, and Society, 1777–1811 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 125138 ; Tarver, H. Michael and Frederick, Julia C., The History of Venezuela (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005), 46 ; Morón, Guillermo, A History of Venezuela, Street, John, trans. (New York: Roy Publishers, 1963), 86 ; Rupert, Linda M., Creolization and Contraband: Curaҫao in the Early Modern Atlantic World (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2012), 205206 .

8. Anthony McFarlane's three articles on the comparative history of the Quito, Comunero, and Túpac Amaru rebellions refer to the León Rebellión only once. McFarlane, Anthony, “Rebellions in Late Colonial Spanish America: A Comparative Perspective,” Bulletin of Latin American Research 14:3 (September 1995): 313338 ; McFarlane, “Civil Disorders and Popular Protests in Late Colonial New Granada,” Hispanic American Historical Review 64:1 (February 1984): 17–54; McFarlane, “The Rebellion of the Barrios: Urban Insurrection in Bourbon Quito,” Hispanic American Historical Review 69:2 (May 1989): 283–330; The rebellion is entirely absent from five major monographs on late colonial unrest. Serulnikov, Sergei, Subverting Colonial Authority: Challenges to Spanish Rule in Eighteenth-Century Southern Andes (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003); Thomson, Sinclair, We Alone Will Rule: Native Andean Politics in the Age of Insurgency (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002); Stavig, Ward, The World of Túpac Amaru: Conflict, Community, and Identity in Colonial Peru (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999); Phelan, John Leddy, The People and the King: The Comunero Revolution in Colombia, 1781 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1978); Torre Reyes, Carlos de la, La revolución de Quito de Agosto 1809 (Quito: Banco Central de Ecuador, 1990); Only Joseph Pérez seems to acknowledge the León Rebellion in any substantial way, and he devotes only 13 pages out of a 156-page book to it. Pérez, Los movimientos precursores de la emancipación en Hispanoamérica (Madrid: Editorial Alhambra, 1977), 31–44.

9. Ronald Hussey and Robert Ferry each spend a chapter of their respective books on the Caracas Company and the elites of Caracas, discussing the rebellion. Both focus on the rebellion as an economic consequence of Caracas Company rule. Hussey, Roland Dennis, The Caracas Company, 1728–1784: A Study in the History of Spanish Monopolistic Trade (New York: Arno Press, 1977 [1934]); Ferry, Robert J., The Colonial Elite of Early Caracas: Formation & Crisis, 1567–1767 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989).

10. The most recent of these works was published more than 25 years ago. Padrón, Francisco Morales, Rebelión contra la Compañía de Caracas (Seville: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos, 1955); Núñez, Enrique Bernardo, Juan Francisco de León o el levantamiento contra la Compañía Guipuzcoana (Caracas: Biblioteca de Autores y Temas Mirandinos, 1979 [1950]); Castillo Lara, Lucas Guillermo, La aventura fundacional de los Isleños: Panaquire y Juan Francisco de León (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia, 1983).

11. For the idea of the rebellion as a proto-nationalist movement, see Sucre, Luis Alberto, Gobernadores y capitanes generales de Venezuela, 2nd ed. (Caracas: Litografía Tecnocolor, 1964, [1928]); Ramos Márquez, Mercedes Álvarez de, Aspectos de nuestros orígenes patrios (Caracas: La Asociación Cultural Interamericana, 1944); Augusto Mijares, prologue to Documentos relativos; and J. A. de Armas Chitty, prologue to Juan Francisco de León: Diario, in Núñez, Juan Francisco de León. Arguments for the uprising as an ethnic conflict between Basques and Canary Islanders can be found in Aresti, Vicente Amenzaga, Hombres de la Compañía Guipuzcoana (Caracas: Banco Central de Venezuela, 1963); Basterra, Ramón de, Los navios de la ilustración: una empresa del siglo XVIII (Madrid: Ediciones Cultura Hispánica, 1970); and Castillo Lara, La aventura fundacional. Works prioritizing the economic dimensions of the rebellion include Lasa, José Estornés, La Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Navegación de Caracas (Buenos Aires: Editorial Vasca Ekin, 1948); Borges, Analola, “Los Canarios en las revueltas venezolanas del siglo XVIII (1700–1752),” Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia 46:181 (1963): 128140 ; and Lombardi, John V., Venezuela: The Search for Order, The Dream of Progress (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982). Francisco Morales Padrón emphasizes the rebellion as strictly a struggle against the Caracas Company. Morales Padrón, Rebelión contra la Compañía de Caracas.

12. Thompson, E. P., “The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century,” Past and Present 50 (February 1971): 7879 , 86, 98, 112.

13. For a work that extends Thompson's moral economy beyond its ideological confines, in this case toward the spiritual world, see Gosner, Kevin, Soldiers of the Virgin: The Moral Economy of a Colonial Maya Rebellion (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1992).

14. Among larger works on imperial politics and society, Clarence Haring, J. H. Parry, John Elliott, and Henry Kamen all emphasize the impact of smuggling on imperial balance sheets, diplomatic affairs, colonial economies, and reform measures, but do not discuss the practice as a social issue. While Jeremy Adelman's work underscores the importance of illicit trade in colonial politics, his analytical scope rarely strays from the elite merchants of the consulados. Anthony Pagden's monumental study of the ideologies of Spanish, French, and British imperialism devotes a scant two pages to smuggling, mainly as a means to frame eighteenth-century reforms in trade policy. Scholarship focused on illegal trade often uses the same interpretive lenses. See Haring, C. H., The Spanish Empire in America (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1963 [1947]); Parry, J. H., The Spanish Seaborne Empire (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990 [1966]); Kamen, Henry, Empire: How Spain Became a World Power, 1492–1763 (New York: Penguin, 2002); Elliott, J. H., Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America, 1492–1830 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006); Adelman, Jeremy, Sovereignty and Revolution in the Iberian Atlantic (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006); and Pagden, Anthony, Lords of All the World: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain, and France, c. 1500–c. 1850 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995).

15. The historiography of smuggling, as opposed to that of larger imperial politics and commerce, has investigated how illicit trade shaped colonial society in several ways. Ramón Aizpurua, Lance Grahn, and Celestino Araúz Monfante all concentrate on the political economy of smuggling. The works of Wim Klooster, Zacarias Moutoukais, Alan Karras, Christian Koot, Casey Schmitt, and Jeremy Cohen examine how common colonial subjects perceived smuggling and how the practice shaped their ideologies and politics. See Aizpurua, Ramón, Curazao y la costa de Caracas: introducción al estudio del contrabando de la Provincia de Venezuela en tiempos de la Compañía Guipuzcoana, 1730–1780 (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia, 1993); Grahn, Lance, The Political Economy of Smuggling: Regional Informal Economies in Early Bourbon New Granada (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997); Araúz Monfante, Celestino Andrés, El contrabando holandés en el Caribe durante la primera mitad del siglo XVIII, Vol. 1 (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia, 1984); Klooster, Wim, “Inter-Imperial Smuggling in the Americas, 1600–1800” in Soundings in Atlantic History: Latent Structures and Intellectual Currents, 1500–1830, Bailyn, Bernard and Denault, Patricia L., eds. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009); Moutoukias, Zacarias, Contrabando y control colonial: Buenos Aires, el Atlántico y el espacio peruano en el siglo XVII (Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1988); Karras, Alan L., Smuggling: Contraband, and Corruption in World History (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2010); Koot, Christian, Empire at the Periphery: British Colonists, Anglo-Dutch Trade, and the Development of the British Atlantic, 1621–1713 (New York: New York University Press, 2011); Schmitt, Casey S., “Virtue in Corruption: Privateers, Smugglers, and the Shape of Empire in the Eighteenth-Century Caribbean,” Early American Studies 13:1 (Winter 2015): 80110 ; and Jeremy Cohen, David, “Cultural and Commercial Intermediaries in an Extra-legal System of Exchange: The Prácticos of the Venezuelan Littoral in the Eighteenth Century,” Itinerario 27:2 (July 2003): 105124 .

16. Serulnikov, Subverting Colonial Authority, 4.

17. For works addressing the theme of autonomous, and potentially counter-colonial, identity formation through illicit commerce, see Bassi, Ernesto, An Aqueous Territory: Sailor Geographies and New Granada's Transimperial Greater Caribbean World (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016); Prado, Fabrício, Edge of Empire: Atlantic Networks and Revolution in Bourbon Río de la Plata (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015); Dawdy, Shannon Lee, Building the Devil's Empire: French Colonial New Orleans (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009); and Rupert, Creolization and Contraband.

18. By “central coast,” I refer to Venezuela's Caribbean littoral and its surrounding inland communities, from Coro in the west to Barcelona in the east.

19. In the latter half of the seventeenth century, merchants sent fewer than five ships from Spain directly to Venezuela. Fewer than six vessels embarked for Venezuela from Spain between 1700 and 1728 and no ship made the return course directly between 1700 and 1721. Dauxion-Lavaysse, Jean Franҫois, A Statistical, Commercial, and Political Description of Venezuela, Trinidad, Margarita, and Tobago: Containing Various Anecdotes and Observations, Illustrative of the Past and Present State of these Interesting Countries, from the French of M. Lavaysse, with an Introduction and Explanatory Notes by the Editor (London: Printed for G. and W. B. Whittaker, 1820), found at The John Carter Brown Library, Providence, Rhode Island [hereafter JCB], 17–18; Bello, Andrés, Resumen de la historia de Venezuela (Caracas: La Casa de Bello, 1978 [1810]), 44; Guipuzcoana de Caracas, Real Compañía, Manifiesto, que con incontestables hechos prueba los grandes beneficios, que ha producido el establecimiento de la Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas; y califica quan importante es su conservacion al Estado, a la Real Hacienda, al buen publico, y a los verdaderos interesses de la misma Provincia de Caracas (Madrid: 1749), JCB, 2 vols.; Hussey, The Caracas Company, 53–58; Haring, The Spanish Empire, 318.

20. Getting accurate estimates of the amount of contraband trade in Venezuela is problematic. Wim Klooster says that the Dutch owned at least a 30-percent share in Venezuelan cacao in the from the 1730s to the 1750s, even before unregistered cacao was counted. In the first half of the eighteenth century, Venezuelan hides made up 72 percent of the over one million pounds annually of that commodity that Curaçao shipped to the Netherlands. Ramón Aizpurua believes that the value of total trade (licit plus illicit) per year in Venezuela was around 1,000,000 pesos per year, or double previous estimates of the value of licit trade alone. Celestino Araúz Monfante contends that by 1720 only one-third of Venezuelan cacao made its way legally to Spain. José de Ábalos, the first intendant of Caracas, estimated that between 1766 and 1775, 500,000 pesos worth of cacao was sold by Venezuelans to Mexico. However, during that time, 450,000 pesos from those sales ended up in foreign hands. Using Spanish imperial statistics, Stanley and Barbara Stein have demonstrated that the province of New Granada, which encompassed Venezuela, smuggled at a much higher rate than did New Spain or Peru. Between 1747 and 1761, smuggling represented 3 million of the viceroyalty of New Granada's 5.5 million pesos of annual exports. Suffice it to say that the volume of contraband trade in the colony of Venezuela was large. Klooster, Wim, Illicit Riches: Dutch Trade in the Caribbean, 1648–1795 (Leiden: KITLV Press, 1998), 185 , 196; Klooster, “Curaçao and the Transit Trade,” in Riches from Atlantic Commerce: Dutch Transatlantic Trade and Shipping, 1585–1817, Johannes Postma and Victor Enthoven, eds. (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2003), 216; Aizpurua, Curazao y la costa de Caracas, 124; Araúz Monfante, El contrabando holandes, Vol. 1, 217; Farias, Eduardo Arcila, Economía colonial de Venezuela (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1946), 260261 ; Stein, Stanley J. and Stein, Barbara H., Apogee of Empire: Spain and New Spain in the Age of Charles III, 1759–1789 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), 72 .

21. Olavarriaga, Pedro José de, Instrucción general y particular del estado presente de la provincia de Venezuela en los años de 1720 y 1721 (Caracas: Edición Fundación Cadafe, 1981 [1722]), 123 .

22. Proposals for privileged Spanish trading companies pre-dated the formation of the Caracas Company. One Spanish merchant floated an early petition for a monopoly company of the Indies in 1705. Petición de don Manuel de Bustamante, Madrid, August 15, 1705, AGI, Indiferente General, 2046A; For the economic theory behind trading companies, see Klein, P. W., “The Origins of Trading Companies,” in Companies and Trade: Essays on Overseas Trading Companies during the Ancien Régime, Blussé, Leónard and Gaastra, Femme, eds. (Leiden, Netherlands: Leiden University Press, 1981), 1728 ; Pineda, Gerardo Vivas, La aventura naval de la Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas (Caracas: Fundación Polar, 1998), 267 ; Lynch, John, Bourbon Spain, 1700–1808 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989), 145148 ; and Morón, A History of Venezuela, 74. For the founding precepts and organizational structure of the major eighteenth-century Spanish trading companies, see Linage, Raquel Rico, Las reales compañías de comercio con America: los organos de gobierno (Seville: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos, 1983), 527 .

23. Ojanguren, Montserrat Gárate, La Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas (San Sebastián, Spain: Grupo Doctor Camino de Historia Donostiarra, 1990), 11 , 20; Rodríguez García, Margarita Eva, Compañías privilegiadas de comercio con América y cambio político (1706–1765) (Madrid: Banco de España, 2005), 21 , 29–31.

24. For the initial royal order establishing the Caracas Company and its privileges, see Caracas, Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de, Real Cédula de la Fundacion de la Real Compañia Guipuzcoana de Caracas, y Reglas Economicas de buen govierno con que la estableció la M. N. y M. L. Provincia de Guipuzcoa, en Junta General del año de 1728. Con adicion de las Posteriores Declaraciones de S. M. sobre varios puntos, hasta el año de 1753. donde se comprehenden tambien algunas Gracias, y el Fuero privilegiado para las Causas de los Dependientes de la Compañia (Madrid: Oficina de Don Antonio Sanz, 1765), JCB. For additional concessions given to the company, see Vivas Pineda, La aventura naval, 39.

25. Depons, Franҫois Joseph, A Voyage to the Eastern Part of Terra Firma or the Spanish Main in South-America During the Years 1801, 1802, 1803, and 1804. Containing A description of the Territory under the jurisdiction of the Captain-General of Caraccas, composed of the Provinces of Venezuela, Maracaibo, Varinas, Spanish Guiana, Cumana, and the Island of Margaretta; and embracing every thing relative to the Discovery, Conquest, Topography, Legislation, Commerce, Finance, Inhabitants and Productions of the Provinces, together with a view of the manners and customs of the Spaniards, and the savage as well as civilized Indians, Vol. 2 (New York: I. Riley & Co., 1806), 271277 ; Padrón, Morales, Rebelión contra la Compañía de Caracas, 89; Otto Pikaza, Don Gabriel José de Zuloaga en la gobernación de Venezuela (1737–1747) (Seville: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos, 1963), 9091 ; Amenzaga Aresti, Hombres de la Compañía Guipuzcoana, 31.

26. Depons, A Voyage to the Eastern Part of Terra Firma, 273; Vivas Pineda, La aventura naval, 43; Morales Padrón, Rebelión contra la Compañía de Caracas, 19; In the 15 years between 1749 and 1764), annual company cacao exports to Spain would reach the 50,000-fanega mark only twice, in 1763 and 1764. Caracas, Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de, Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas: noticias historiales practicas de los sucessos, y adelantamientos de esta compañía, desde su fundación año de 1728, hasta el de 1764, por todos los Ramos que comprehende su Negociacion (Madrid: 1765), JCB, 158–159.

27. Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas: noticias historiales, 114; Depons, A Voyage to the Eastern Part of Terra Firma, Vol. 2, 276; Pikaza, Don Gabriel José de Zuloaga en la gobernación de Venezuela (1737–1747), 64.

28. For general primers on the socio-racial hierarchy of colonial Venezuela, see Salcedo-Bastardo, J. L., Historia fundamental de Venezuela (Caracas: Fundación Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho, 1977), 143151 ; Morón, A History of Venezuela, 58–63; and Lombardi, Venezuela: The Search for Order, 40–49.

29. The term pardo, strictly speaking, referred to those of European and African ancestry, but in practice came to characterize a wide variety of mixed-race people; it could be more nearly synonymous with the term “casta” in the Spanish American colonial context. Bowser, Frederick P., “Colonial Spanish America,” in Neither Slave nor Free: The Freedman of African Descent in the Slave Societies of the New World, Cohen, David W. and Greene, Jack P., eds. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1972), 37 ; Salcedo-Bastardo, Historia fundamental de Venezuela, 145; Lombardi, Venezuela: The Search for Order, 48; Tarver and Frederick, The History of Venezuela, 44.

30. Pollak-Eltz, Angelina, La esclavitud en Venezuela: un estudio histórico-cultural (Caracas: Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, 2000), 8 .

31. Historians have best analyzed the socio-racial breakdown of Venezuela for the end of the eighteenth century. For these demographics, see Brito Figueroa, La estructura social, 38–39, 58.

32. On the history of Canary Islanders in Venezuela, see Lynch, John, “Spanish America's Poor Whites: Canarian Immigrants in Venezuela, 1700–1830,” in Lynch, , Latin America between Colony and Nation: Selected Essays (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 5873 ; Rodríguez Mesa, María del Pilar, “Los blancos pobres: una aproximación a la comprensión de la sociedad venezolana y al reconocimiento de la importancia de los Canaries en la formación de groups sociales en Venezuela,” Boletín Academia Nacional de la Historia de Venezuela 80:317 (1997), 133188 ; and Parsons, James J., “The Migration of Canary Islanders to the Americas: An Unbroken Current since Columbus,” The Americas 39:4 (April 1983): 464466 . On Basque migration to Venezuela, see Aresti, Vicente Amézaga, El elemento vasco en el siglo XVIII venezolano (Caracas: Comisión Nacional del Cuatricentenario de la Fundación de Caracas, 1966), 11 ; and Iribarren, Arantzazu Amézaga, “La Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas. Crónica sentimental con una vision historiográfica. Los años áuricos y las rebeliones (1728–1751,” Sancho el Sabio 23 (2005): 198 .

33. Twinam, Purchasing Whiteness, 205–214; Salcedo-Bastardo, Historia fundamental de Venezuela, 144–148; Lombardi, Venezuela: The Search for Order, 147–149.

34. According to reports by the governor of Venezuela, more than 97 “noble people” turned out for the first cabildo abierto after León first entered the city in April of 1749, thereby demonstrating elite anger with the company's political ambitions. Extract from a letter from the governor of Caracas, undated, AGI, Caracas, 418; Padrón, Francisco Morales, “La Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas y la sociedad venezolana.” in Los Vascos y América: el comercio vasco en el siglo XVIII–La Real Compania Guipuzcoana de Caracas, Mansilla, Ronald Escobedo, Rivera Medina, Ana María, and Imaz, Álvaro Chapa, eds. (Bilbao: Fundación Banco de Viscaya, 1989), 217 ; Morales Padrón, Rebelión contra la Compañía de Caracas, 33–34, 43.

35. Junta, Caracas, April 22, 1749, AGI, Caracas, 937; Don Julián de Arriaga y Rivera, governor of Venezuela to don Juan Manuel de Goyzueta and don Mathiais Urroz, factors of the Compañía Guipuzcoana, Caracas, March 29, 1750, AGI, Caracas, 418; Ferry, The Colonial Elite, 138; Núñez, Juan Francisco de León, 66.

36. Declaración de don Juan Camejo, vecino de Caracas, Caracas, December 14, 1747, and declaración de Francisco Domingo Bejaramo, Caracas, December 15, 1747, AGI, Caracas, 891; Governor Luis Francisco de Castellanos to the king, La Guaira, October 15, 1749, AGI, Caracas, 418; Ojanguren, Montserrat Garate, La Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas (San Sebastián, Spain: Grupo Doctor Camino de Historia Donostiarra, 1990), 301 ; Morales Padrón, Rebelión contra la Compañía de Caracas, 22–23; Morón, A History of Venezuela, 33.

37. The king to the directors of the Real Compania Guipuzcoana de Caracas, Madrid, September 30, 1744, AGI, Caracas, 928.

38. Petición del Sr. Rector de la Real y Pontificia Universidad, Caracas, June 12, 1749, AGI, Caracas, 419.

39. Interrogatorio, undated, AGI, Caracas, 418.

40. Garate Ojanguren, La Real Compañía Guipuzcoana, 46; Vivas Pineda, La aventura naval, 43; Morón, A History of Venezuela, 70.

41. Eugenio Piñero points to the increase in cacao prices in Amsterdam during this period as proof of decreased smuggling. Piñero, “The Cacao Economy of the Eighteenth-Century Province of Caracas and the Spanish Cacao Market,” Hispanic American Historical Review 68:1 (February 1988): 91. See also Hussey, The Caracas Company, 76; Aizpurua, Curazao y la costa de Caracas, 154–159; and Klooster, Illicit Riches,146–152.

42. Expediente sobre aberiguar el fraude de 13 cajones que se tubo noticia traia de Caracas el navio de la Compania Santa Ana que arrivo a Cadiz, Caracas, 1738, AGI, Caracas, 926; Vivas Pineda, La aventura naval 18, 64–66.

43. Interrogatorio, undated, AGI, Caracas, 418; Letters 1–10, 1746 and 1747, AGI, Caracas, 418.

44. Helg, Aline, Liberty and Equality in Caribbean Colombia, 1770–1835 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 72; Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic World, 316–317.

45. In this interpretation, I agree mostly with Ronald Hussey's argument, which emphasizes the anti-contraband operations of the Caracas Company as their original sin in the minds of colonists. However, I find Hussey's argument moralistic and overly determinist in its belief “that monopoly and all-inclusive governmental regulation were evil principles upon which to found an economic system” and its overriding assumption that colonists single-mindedly wanted free trade. See Hussey, The Caracas Company, viii, 99. Mercedes Álvarez de Ramos Márquez supports Hussey's contention. Álvarez de Ramos Márquez, Aspectos de nuestros orígenes, 106–109. However, this interpretation almost entirely lacks supporting documentation.

46. El Yngeniero Don Juan Gayangos, Puerto Cabello, May 19, 1749, AGI, Caracas, 418; Directores de la Compañía de Caracas to Marqués de la Ensenada, San Sebastián, October 12, 1750, AGI, Caracas 929.

47. Italicization is in the original text. Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas, Manifiesto, que con incontestables hechos prueba los grandes beneficios, que ha producido el establecimiento de la Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas, y califica quan importante es su conservacion al Estado, a la Real Hacienda, al buen publico, y a los verdaderos interesses de la misma Provincia de Caracas, Madrid, 1749, JCB, 13f.

48. Trujillo, León, Motín y sublevación en San Felipe (Caracas: J. Villegas, 1955), 3032 , 91, 122; Cardot, Carlos Felice, La Rebelión de Andresote (Valles del Yaracuy, 1730–1733), (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia, 1952), 15 , 49.

49. “Barbados, March 3,” Boston News-Letter, April 20, 1732, 2. I wish to thank Charles Foy for providing me with this citation.

50. Don Carlos Knowles Cavallero, Comandante en Principal de una Escuadra de Fragatas de S. M. Bretanica de presente en la Costa de Caracas, a Los Vecinos y Moradores de la Provincia de Benevuela, undated, AGI, Caracas, 927.

51. Journal of the Expedition to La Guira and Porto Cavallos in the West-Indies under the Command of Commodore Knowles. In a Letter from an Officer on board the Burford to his Friend at London (London: Printed for J. Robinson, at the Golden Lyon in Ludgate-Street, 1744, JCB, 6–7.

52. Captain Ian Burr to Juan Francisco de León, on board the ship El Aspa, Puerto de Unare, October 2, 1749, in Juan Francisco de León: Diario, 189. The authenticity of this letter was challenged by Interim Governor Julian de Arriaga, who believed it was a forgery. See Fray Don Julián de Arriaga y Rivera to Marqués de la Ensenada, Caracas, April 5, 1750, AGI, Caracas, 418.

53. Lynch, “Spanish America's Poor Whites,” 58–61; Parsons, “The Migration of Canary Islanders,” 464–466; Castillo Lara, La aventura fundacional de los Isleños, 11; Morales Padrón, “La Real Compañía Guipuzcoana,” 215.

54. Fray Don Julián de Arriaga y Rivera a los factores en que les significó su juicio sobre el estado de la Provincia y Compania, Caracas, March 29, 1750, AGI, Caracas, 929.

55. Ferry, The Colonial Elite, 106–139.

56. Ciudad de Santiago de León de Caracas to the king, Caracas, November 19, 1741, AGI, Caracas, 925.

57. Las religiosas dominicas to the king, Representan los graves perjuicios que se le siguen, por la restricción de buques a que se ha reducido el embarque de cacao en aquella Provincia, Caracas, November 27, 1731, AGI, Caracas, 925.

58. Memorial de Padre Pedro Díaz Cienfuegos, 1745, AGNV, Diversos, Tomo 27, fols. 2–16, in Castillo Lara, La aventura fundacional de los Isleños, 174.

59. Tenientes were rural sheriffs who were the most important officials in Venezuelan communities before the arrival of the Caracas Company. They were both police officers and justices of the peace. Ferry, The Colonial Elite, 141.

60. Juan Francisco de León to Governor Castellanos, Chacao, April 3, 1749, AGI, Caracas, 937; Confesión de Juan Francisco de León, Caracas, February 9, 1752, AGNV, Insurrección del Capitán Juan Francisco de León, fols. 277–284, in Documentos relativos, 195; Ferry, The Colonial Elite, 144.

61. Auto de Domingo de Aguirre, April 20, 1749 in Juan Francisco de León: Diario, 8; Acta del Ayuntamiento de Caracas, April 20, 1749 in Documentos relativos, 25, 173.

62. Confesión de Matias de Ovalle, Caracas, January 5, 1752, AGNV, Insurrección del Capitán Juan Francisco de León, Tomo 2, fols. 228–239, in Documentos relativos, 174.

63. Juan Francisco de León to Governor and Captain General Don Phelipe Ricardos, December 16, 1751, AGI, Caracas, 421; Ferry, The Colonial Elite, 148.

64. Juan Francisco de León to Governor Castellanos, Chacao, April 19, 1749, AGI, Caracas, 937; Extract of a letter from the governor of Caracas, undated, AGI, Caracas, 418; Juan Francisco de León to Domingo Aguirre, Caracas, November 5, 1749, AGI, Caracas, 418; Interrogatorio, undated, AGI, Caracas, 418; El Cabildo, Justicia, y Regimiento de la Ciudad de Caracas, to the king, Caracas, January 14, 1750, AGI, Caracas, 419.

65. Petición del abogado José Pablo de Arenas, a nombre del Capt. León y demás vecinos y naturales de la provincia, undated, in Documentos relativos, 29–30.

66. Ferry, The Colonial Elite, 148; Morales Padrón, Rebelión contra la Compañía de Caracas, 71.

67. León's relationship with slavery was a complicated one. He was a slave owner, but also incorporated slaves and free people of color into his rebellion. Although he did not remark on it, León most likely separated slave-led uprisings from revolts that contained slaves among their numbers. Thus, in the case above, the rebel chief invoked slave revolt as a rhetorical specter meant to demonstrate the instability produced by the governor's irresponsible flight from the city. Juan Francisco de León to Governor and Captain General Castellanos, Caracas, undated, AGNV, Insurrección del Capitán Juan Francisco de León, Tomo 1, fol. 4, in Documentos relativos, 39.

68. Auto de Gregorio del Portillo, Escribano Público, Caracas, August 1, 1749; Auto del Teniente General Domingo de Aguirre y Castillo, Caracas, August 2, 1749, in Juan Francisco de León: Diario, 115–116; Ferry, The Colonial Elite, 152.

69. Uzcátegui, Alejandro Cardozo, Los mantuanos en la corte española: una relación cisatlantica (1783–1825), (Bilbao: Servicio Editorial de la Universidad del País Vasco, 2013), 150 .

70. Domingo de Aguirre y Castillo to Don Julián de Arriaga, December 5, 1749, AGI, Caracas, 418; Fray Don Julián de Arriaga to Marqués de la Ensenada, Caracas, January 14, 1750, AGI, Caracas, 419; Núñez, Juan Francisco de León, 85; Hussey, The Caracas Company, 133.

71. Cardozo Uzcátegui, Los mantuanos, 225.

72. Testimonio de Bernardo Curbelo, vecino de Victoria, July 1, 1751, AGI, Caracas, 420.

73. For rumors of the rebel numbers, see Juan Rossel to Governor Phelipe Ricardos, June 27, 1751, AGNV, Insurrección del Capitán Juan Francisco de León, Tomo 1, fol.132; and Antonio Baez to Governor Don Phelipe Ricardos, Maracay, June 29, 1751, AGNV, Insurrección del Capitán Juan Francisco de León, Tomo 1, fol. 136, in Documentos relativos, 80–81; For reports on the end of elite support for the rebellion, see Fray Don Julián de Arriaga y Olivera to Marqués de la Ensenada, December 7, 1751, AGI, Caracas, 421; and Auto de Domingo de Aguirre, Caracas, October 9, 1749, in Juan Francisco de León: Diario, 147–150.

74. Juan Francisco de León to Governor Don Phelipe Ricardos, December 16, 1751, AGI, Caracas, 421.

75. Noticia de las Personas que se deben embarcar en los navios, el Pablo Galera y la Concordia, Caracas, November 14, 1751, AGI, Caracas, 421; Governor Don Phelipe Ricardos to Joseph Banfi, Caracas, March 2, 1752, AGI, Caracas, 421; Núñez, Juan Francisco de León, 95–101.

76. Don Phelipe Ricardos to Marqués de la Ensenada, Caracas, September 11, 1751, AGI, Caracas, 421; Auto de Don Phelipe Ricardos, Caracas, February 5, 1752, AGI, Caracas, 421; Stavig, The World of Tupac Amaru, 248. The practice of salting the earth of a rebel or traitor's dwelling can be traced back to biblical times. Ridley, R. T., “To Be Taken with a Pinch of Salt: The Destruction of Carthage,” Classical Philology 81:2 (1986): 140146 .

77. Bravo, Rosario Salazar, El comercio diario en la Caracas del siglo XVIII: una aproximación a la historia urbana (Caracas: Fundación para la Cultura Urbana, 2008), 198199 ; Ferry, The Colonial Elite, 5–6, 247.

78. Sucre, Gobernadores y capitanes generales, 277–279.

79. D. Martin de Meinege a la Provincia de Guipuzcoana, Azcoytia, April 10, 1757, AGI, Caracas, 930; Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas, en su junta particular, Madrid, May 14, 1759, AGI, Caracas, 930.

80. Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas, Real Cédula, 140–145; Rico Linage, Las reales compañías, 27; Estornés Lasa, La Real Compañía Guipuzcoana, 22; Hussey, The Caracas Company, 152; Aizpurua, Curazao y la costa de Caracas, 180; Morales Padrón, Rebelión contra la Compañía de Caracas, 138–139. On anxieties about shipping cacao to Mexico, see Arcila Farias, Economía colonial, 190–205; and Ferry, The Colonial Elite, 165, 179–190.

81. Cardozo Uzcátegui, Los mantuanos, 170.

82. Informe de Agustín Moreno Enríquez, remitido al Ministerio de Indias, José de Gálvez, Amsterdam, February 11, 1778. Document reproduced in Aizpurua, Curazao y la costa de Caracas, 391.

83. Luis González F. estimates that 20,000 fanegas of cacao left Venezuela illegally in 1761. Luis Enrique González F., La Guayra, conquista y colonia (Caracas: Editorial Grafarte, 1982), 118; Cisneros, Joseph Luis de, Descripción exacta de la provincia de Venezuela (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia, 1981 [1764]), 131164 ; Arcila Farias, Economía colonial, 259; Vivas Pineda, La aventura naval, 212.

84. For information on Gálvez and Campomanes's opposition to the Caracas Company, see Zubiri Marín, María Teresa, “Etapa final y caída de la Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas (1777–1785),” Pedralbes: Revista D'Historia Moderna 11 (1991): 158161 ; Vivas Pineda, La aventura naval, 36; and Hussey, The Caracas Company, 277; For Ábalos's objections, see Manuel Lucena Giraldo, introduction to Premoniciones de la independencia de Iberoamérica: las reflexiones de José de Ábalos y el Conde de Aranda sobre la situación de la América española a finales del siglo XVIII, Manuel Lucena Giraldo, ed. (Madrid: Fundación Mapfre Tavera, 2003), 26; and Zubiri Marín, María Teresa, “José de Ábalos, primer intendente de Venezuela (1777–1783),” Boletin Americanista 30:38 (1988): 297 .

85. Taylor, William, Drinking, Homicide, and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1979), 9 .

86. The quote is from El Cabildo, Justicia, y Regimiento de la Ciudad de Caracas al Rey. Caracas. January 14, 1750. AGI, Caracas, 419. On the return of register ships, see also Extrato de las quejas que ha havido de Caracas de el establecimiento de la Comp. Guipuzcoana, Madrid, September 2, 1749, AGI, Caracas, 419.

87. Representación de León, undated, AGNV, Insurrección del Capitán Juan Francisco de León, Tomo 1, fols. 119–126, in Documentos relativos, 72–74.

88. Extracto de las quejas que ha havido de Caracas de el establecimiento de la Comp. Guipuzcoana, Madrid, September 2, 1749, AGI, Caracas, 419.

89. Arriaga to Sr. Don Joseph Banfi, Caracas, February 25, 1750, AGI, Caracas, 418.

90. Thomson, We Alone Will Rule, 12; Phelan, The People and the King, xviii; McFarlane, “Rebellions,” 319, 323, 330; Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic World, 349–350.

91. Copies of letters from Juan Francisco de León to Sr. Gefe de Esquadra, Sr. Fray Julián de Arriaga, November 29, 1749, AGI, Caracas, 418.

92. Junta, Caracas, April 22, 1749, AGI, Caracas, 937; Francisco Caxigal de la Vega, Governor of Cuba, to Marqués de la Ensenada, Havana, July 23, 1749, AGI, Caracas, 423.

93. Stavig, The World of Túpac Amaru, xxvi; Serulnikov, Subverting Colonial Authority, 138.

94. Thompson, “The Moral Economy,” 78.

95. Acta de la Asamblea que celebraron los Notables de Caracas en la Sala del Ayuntamiento, April 22, 1749, AGNV, Insurrección del Capitán Juan Francisco de León, Tomo 1, fols. 19–29, in Documentos relativos, 32–33.

96. Interrogatorio de Juan Francisco de León, undated, AGI, Caracas, 418.

97. Don Julián de Arriaga y Rivera to don Juan Manuel de Goyzueta and don Mathiais Urroz, factors of the Compañía Guipuzcoana, Caracas, March 29, 1750, AGI, Caracas, 418.

98. Doctor Don Manuel de Sossa y Betancurt to Governor Castellanos, Caracas, July 25, 1749, in Juan Francisco de León: Diario, 96–97.

99. Adrian Randall and Andrew Charlesworth argue that “Edward Thompson's methodology of placing accounts of protest in a context of ‘thick description’ needs to be taken forward towards attempting a ‘total history’ of riotous, and non-riotous, communities, a history which will take account of the changing social, economic and political context from which protest emanated and of the rich variety of forms which protest took.” Randall, Adrian and Charlesworth, Andrew, “The Moral Economy: Riot, Markets and Social Conflict,” in Moral Economy and Popular Protest: Crowds, Conflict and Authority, Randall, and Charlesworth, , eds. (New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc., 2000), 1213 .

100. Rupert, Creolization and Contraband, 136–164; Cohen, “Cultural and Commercial Intermediaries,” 111–120.

101. Governor Don Phelipe Ricardos to the Marqués de la Ensenada, Caracas, September 11, 1751, AGI, Caracas, 421; Declaración de don Liendo Manuel de Agreda, Caracas, September 3, 1751, AGI, Caracas, 420.

102. Testimonio de Phelipe Niman, residente de Capaya, August 24, 1751, AGNV, Insurrección de Juan Francisco de León, Tomo 1, fols. 368–369, in Documentos relativos, 107.

103. Morales Padrón, Rebelión contra la Compañía de Caracas, 114.

104. D. Phelipe Ricardos to the Marqués de la Ensenada, Caracas, September 11, 1751, AGI, Caracas, 421; Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas, Manifiesto, JCB, 2f.

105. Interrogatorio, undated, AGI, Caracas, 418; Juan Francisco de León to the Governor and Captain General Don Phelipe Ricardos, December 16, 1751, AGI, Caracas, 421.

106. Certificación de Manuel de Salas, Tesorero, y Lorenzo Rosel de Lugo, Contador de la Real Hacienda, Caracas, April 22, 1749, AGI, Caracas, 937. This rallying cry treaded on the well-worn turf of “Long live the king and death to bad government” slogans of the past.

107. In Spanish America, Sidbury and Cañizares-Esguerra note a “precocious pan-Spanish ethnicity” that “surfaced much earlier in Spanish America than in Spain.” Basque-Isleño tension in the context of the León Rebellion indicates an awareness of Spanishness rooted in proper subjecthood, but also the desire to exclude other Europeans from that subjecthood. Sidbury, James and Cañizares-Esguerra, Jorge, “Mapping Ethnogenesis in the Early Modern Atlantic,” William and Mary Quarterly 68:2 (April 2011): 199203 , quote on 203.

108. William Taylor has demonstrated how resisting outsiders provided tightly knit rural villages with a common sense of identity from which rebellion sprung. I extend Taylor's argument to encompass not just individual villages, but entire coastal regions of the Province of Venezuela. Joseph Pérez's work compares the León rebels to the Comuneros of Paraguay and finds that both chose to represent themselves as place-bound corporate entities opposing those who would constrict their economic opportunities. See Taylor, Drinking, Homicide and Rebellion, 153; and Pérez, Los movimientos precursores, 41–44.

109. Nicolás León to Sr. Cápitan Don Santiago, Caucagua, August 17, 1751, AGNV, Insurrección del Capitán Juan Francisco de León, Tomo 1, fol.188, in Documentos relativos, 88; Núñez, Juan Francisco de León, 62.

110. Commenting on Nicolás León's statement, John Lynch asserts that, “Patria, of course, did not mean nation, but it may have indicated a sense of regional identity, an awareness of Venezuelan interests and a belief that local communities had a right of protest against abuse of power by the Spanish authorities and their colonial officials.” Lynch, “Spanish America's Poor Whites,” 64.

111. Extract from a letter to Nicolás León, San Lorenzo, November 15, 1773, AGI, Caracas, 421; To Don Francisco Núñez Ybañez, July 16, 1774, AGI, Caracas, 421.

112. José de Ábalos to José de Gálvez, September 27, 1780, in Morón, A History of Venezuela, 85.

113. “Decreto,” Gaceta de Caracas, September 20, 1811, Vol. 3 (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia, 1983); “Demonstración patriotica,” Gaceta de Caracas, October 15, 1811, in ibid.

I wish to thank Ann Twinam, Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, Fabricio Prado, Ryan Kashanipour, Brett Rushforth, Nadine Zimmerli, and participants in the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture's Colloquium at William and Mary for their invaluable aid in shaping this article. The helpful suggestions of two anonymous reviewers commissioned by The Americas also greatly improved this piece in the revision process. Finally, research for the article was made possible by generous support from the John Carter Brown Library, the Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain's Ministry of Culture and United States universities, and the Department of History, the College of Liberal Arts, and the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

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