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Viscardo's Global Political Economy and the First Cry for Spanish American Independence, 1767–1798

  • FIDEL J. TAVAREZ
Abstract

Revisionist historians have convincingly argued that Spanish American independence was not the result of simmering grievances that galvanised a national or Creole identity against Spain. Instead, this scholarship insists that Spanish American national identities did not exist at the time and that independence was an unforeseen process that must be understood in the context of the Napoleonic invasion of Iberia. But, if independence was undesirable before 1808 and if national identities arose at a latter period, how do we explain the early independence projects of ‘precursors’ like Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán? By contextually reconstructing the logic behind Viscardo's projects, this article offers a new perspective on the intellectual conditions of possibility for Spanish American independence. It argues that though he certainly identified as a Creole from Peru, Viscardo actually deployed an Enlightenment global science of commerce, not Creole patriotism or nationalism, to legitimate Spanish American independence.

Algunos historiadores revisionistas han argumentado de manera convincente que la independencia de la América española no fue el resultado de una suma de agravios que galvanizaron una identidad nacional o criolla en contra de España. Dichos historiadores proponen que las identidades nacionales hispanoamericanas no existían en ese momento y que la independencia fue un proceso inesperado que debe entenderse en el contexto de la invasión napoleónica de la península ibérica. No obstante, si la independencia no era deseable antes de 1808 y si las identidades nacionales emergieron en un periodo posterior, ¿cómo nos explicamos los precoces proyectos independentistas de ‘precursores’ como Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán? Al reconstruir contextualmente la lógica subyacente de los proyectos de Viscardo, este artículo ofrece una nueva perspectiva sobre las condiciones intelectuales que posibilitaron la independencia de Hispanoamérica. El material señala que a pesar de identificarse como un criollo peruano, Viscardo en realidad utilizó una ciencia global de comercio derivada de la Ilustración, no un patriotismo criollo o un proyecto nacionalista, para legitimar la independencia hispanoamericana.

Historiadores revisionistas têm argumentado de maneira convincente que a independência da América Espanhola não foi resultado de umas queixas latentes que galvanizaram as identidades nacionais ou criollas contra a Espanha. Esta corrente teórica insiste que as identidades nacionais na América Espanhola não existiam neste período e que as independências foram processos não previstos que devem ser entendidos no contexto da invasão napoleônica à Península Ibérica. No entanto, se as independências não eram desejadas antes de 1808 e se identidades nacionais floresceram em um período posterior, como explicar os precoces projetos independentistas de precursores como Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán? Reconstruindo contextualmente a lógica por trás dos projetos de Viscardo, este artigo oferece uma nova perspectiva acerca das condições intelectuais que possibilitaram a independência da América Espanhola. Argumenta-se que apesar de identificar-se como criollo peruano, Viscardo na verdade recorreu a uma ciência Iluminista global do comércio, não a um patriotismo criollo ou nacionalista, para legitimar a independência das colônias espanholas.

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1 Several proposals for Spanish American independence had already been discussed among Spanish ministers in 1781 and 1783, the most famous of which was the Count of Aranda's Dictamen in 1783. See ‘Dictamen reservado que el Excelentísimo Señor Conde de Aranda dio al Rey Carlos III’, in Manuel Giraldo Lucena (ed.), Premoniciones de la independencia de Iberoamérica (Madrid: Doce Calles; MAPFRE, 2003).

2 Viscardo, ‘Lettre aux espagnols-américains’, in Merle E. Simmons (ed.), Los escritos de Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán: precursor de la independencia hispanoamericana (hereafter cited as Escritos) (Caracas: Universidad Católica Andrés Bello; Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, 1983), p. 377. All translations are mine unless otherwise indicated.

3 Viscardo, Lettre’, in Escritos, p. 377.

4 Jerónimo Alvarado Sánchez, Dialéctica democrática de Juan Pablo Vizcardo: notas sobre el pensamiento y la acción de un precursor peruano de la emancipación americana (Lima: Fanal, 1956); Gustavo Vergara Arias, Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán: primer precursor ideológico de la emancipación hispanoamericana (Lima: Imprenta de la Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, 1963); Rubén Vargas Ugarte, La carta a los españoles americanos de don Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán (Lima: Librería e Imprenta Gil, 1964); Carlos Deustua Pimentel, Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán (Lima: Editorial Brasa, 1994); Javier de Belaúnde Ruiz de Somocurcio, Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán: ideólogo y promotor de la independencia hispanoamericana (Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú, 2002).

5 Guerra, Modernidad e independencias: ensayos sobre las revoluciones hispánicas (México DF: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1993); Rodríguez, The Independence of Spanish America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998); Rodríguez, ‘We Are Now the True Spaniards’: Sovereignty, Revolution, Independence, and the Emergence of the Federal Republic of Mexico, 1808–1824 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012); Adelman, Sovereignty and Revolution in the Iberian Atlantic (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006); Portillo Valdés, Crisis atlántica: autonomía e independencia en la crisis de la monarquía hispana (Madrid: Fundación Carolina: Marcial Pons Historia, 2006).

6 Adelman, Sovereignty and Revolution in the Iberian Atlantic, p. 219.

7 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (New York: Verso, 2006 [1991]).

8 For a sustained critique of Anderson's account see Sara Castro Klarén and John Charles Chasteen (eds.), Beyond Imagined Communities: Reading and Writing the Nation in Nineteenth-Century Latin America (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003). In particular, see Tulio Halperín Donghi's chapter entitled ‘Argentine Counterpoint: Rise of the Nation, Rise of the State’.

9 Claudio Lomnitz's important corrective, for instance, documents several uses for the concept of ‘nación’ in Mexico, none of which entailed the cultural homogeneity and organic quality of modern nationalism. Nor did the use of this contested concept necessarily imply an anticolonial agenda. See Lomnitz, ‘Nationalism as a Practical System: Benedict Anderson's Theory of Nationalism from the Vantage Point of Spanish America’, in Miguel Ángel Centeno and Fernando López-Alves (eds.), The Other Mirror: Grand Theory through the Lens of Latin America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000), pp. 329–59. For an insightful reconstruction of the political languages and ideas of Spanish American Independence, see José Carlos Chiaramonte, Nación y estado en Iberoamérica: el lenguaje político en tiempos de las independencias (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 2004).

10 Rafael Rojas, Las repúblicas de aire: utopía y desencanto en la revolución de Hispanoamérica (México DF: Editorial Taurus, 2009), pp. 13–15, 30–4. For political romanticism see Elías José Palti, El momento romántico: nación, historia y lenguajes políticos en la Argentina de siglo XIX (Buenos Aires: Eudeba, 2009).

11 Brading argued that ‘the most striking feature of the Carta [Lettre] was the degree to which Viscardo drew on the traditional themes of creole patriotism to substantiate his plea for independence’. Brading, The First America: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal State, 1492–1867 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), p. 538.

12 Brading, for instance, wrote that ‘the sheer intensity of the wars of conquest and independence, the fascination exerted by the spectacle of native civilisation, the virulence of the polemic against the tyranny of the conquerors and caudillos, the remarkable fervour of the first missionaries and the colonial Church – all these elements found expression in the chronicles and memorials which slowly articulated the creole quest for an American identity’. Brading, The First America, p. 5.

13 For an old but classic biography of Gálvez see Herbert Ingram Priestly, José de Gálvez: Visitor-General of New Spain (1765–1771) (Berkeley, CA: University of California Publications in History, 1916).

14 See Part I of Brading, Miners and Merchants in Bourbon Mexico, 1763–1810 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971).

15 For an older but nuanced account see Brading, Classical Republicanism and Creole Patriotism: Simón Bolívar (1783–1830) and the Spanish American Revolution (Cambridge: Centre for Latin American Studies, Cambridge University Press, 1983).

16 To my knowledge, only one scholar has mentioned, though not studied, Viscardo's cosmopolitanism. See Karen Stolley, ‘Writing Back to Empire: Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán's “Letter to the Spanish Americans”’, in David S. Shields (ed.), Liberty! Egalité! Independencia! Print Culture, Enlightenment, and Revolution in the Americas, 1776–1838 (Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 2007), pp. 337–52.

17 See Brading's introduction in Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán, Carta dirigida a los españoles americanos, David Brading (ed.) (México DF: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2004). Also see Nicolas De Ribas, ‘Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán (1748–1798). Esquisse d'un projet des Lumières pour la libération du Pérou’, unpubl. PhD diss., Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris, 2009; De Ribas, ‘De la patrie locale à la patrie planétaire: révélations sur la construction européenne du projet de libération du Pérou du précurseur Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán (1748–1798)’, in Thomas Gomez and Alvar de la Llosa (eds.), L'indépendance de l'Amérique andine et l'Europe (1767–1840), emergence et devenir de l'espace bolivarien: précurseurs, acteurs et concepteurs. Spécificités, modèles et influences (Nanterre: Publications GRECUN, 2011), pp. 11–25.

18 The authoritative work on the intellectual history of commercial international competition is Istvan Hont, Jealousy of Trade: International Competition and the Nation-State in Historical Perspective (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005). Also see the innovative work of Sophus A. Reinert, Translating Empire: Emulation and the Origins of Political Economy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011).

19 For a helpful discussion of the difference between the languages of commercial reciprocity and commercial reason of state see the introduction of Reinert and Pernille Røge, The Political Economy of Empire in the Early Modern World (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

20 American Jesuits expressed hope when they accepted ‘vivir secularizados donde dispone el rey nuestro señor, de cuia piedad esperamos a su tiempo regresar a nuestros payses’, See ‘Los Jesuitas americanos solicitan permanecer en el genovesado hasta recibir los rescriptos – 8 April 1769’, in César Pacheco Vélez (ed.), Colección documental de la independencia del Perú: Los ideólogos – Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán, Tome I, vol. 1 (hereafter cited as CDIP-VIS) (Lima: Imprenta de la Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, 1975), p. 30.

21 See ‘Jose Anselmo y Juan Pablo Viscardo solicitan del Conde de Fuentes el cobro de los frutos anuos de su herencia paterna – 5 Dec. 1773, doc. 24’, in CDIP-VIS, p. 47.

22 For an extended discussion see Miguel Batllori, El abate Viscardo: historia y mito de la intervención de los jesuitas en la independencia hispanoamericana (Madrid: Editorial MAPFRE, 1995 [1953]).

23 ‘J. P. Viscardo propone a John Udny, que el gobierno Británico ayude a Túpac Amaru desde el Rio de la Plata, y se ofrece a tomar parte en la expedición – 30 Sept. 1781, Massa-Carrara’, in Luis Alberto Sánchez, Percy Cayo Córdova, César Pacheco Vélez, Merle E. Simmons and Ana Maria Juilland (eds.), Obra completa de Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán (hereafter cited as Obra) (Lima: Biblioteca Clásicos del Peru: Banco de Crédito del Perú, 1988), p. 15.

24 ‘J. P. Viscardo propone a John Udny’, in Obra, p. 16.

25 Ibid ., p. 12.

26 Ibid ., p. 14.

27 Ibid ., p. 13.

28 Ibid .

29 Ibid ., p. 14.

30 Ibid ., p. 16.

31 ‘Informe enviado por la dirección general de temporalidades al Consejo de Indias – March 1789, doc. 71’, CDIP – VIS, p. 120.

32 Hume, ‘Of the Jealousy of Trade’, in Essays: Moral Political and Literary (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 1985 [1753–1758]).

33 Viscardo, ‘Projet’, in Escritos, p. 165.

34 Christopher Leslie Brown, Moral Capital: Foundations of British Abolitionism (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2006).

35 Viscardo, ‘Projet’, in Escritos, p. 165.

36 Ibid .

37 Viscardo, ‘Suite’, in Escritos, p. 183.

38 Ibid ., p. 166.

39 Ibid ., p. 170.

40 The imagination had negative connotations in the eighteenth century because it was anathema to order. By letting the imagination run wild, people would falsely embody a world or social status other than their own. But, despite the dangers that the imagination posed, Viscardo deemed it necessary because Americans were so consumed with Spain's tyranny that they did not have the power to imagine independence on their own. On the dangers of the imagination see Jan Goldstein, The Perils of Imagination at the end of the Old Regime’, in The Post-Revolutionary Self: Politics and Psyche in France, 1750–1850 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005).

41 Viscardo, ‘Suite’, in Escritos, p. 169.

42 Ibid .

43 Viscardo, ‘Essai’, in Escritos, p. 200.

44 Ibid ., p. 201.

45 Ibid .

46 Ibid .

47 Ibid .

48 Ibid ., p. 202.

49 Ibid ., p. 203.

50 Ibid .

51 Viscardo, ‘Lettre’, in Escritos, p. 377.

52 Ibid ., p. 378.

53 Ibid .

54 Ibid .

55 Ibid .

56 Ibid ., p. 365.

57 Ibid .

58 Ibid ., p. 366.

59 Ibid ., p. 378.

60 Ibid ., p. 363.

61 Ibid .

62 Ibid .

63 Ibid .

64 Anthony Pagden, Spanish Imperialism and the Political Imagination: Studies in European and Spanish-American Social and Political Theory 1513–1830 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990).

65 For a fascinating study on how John Locke developed his concept of property as the improvement of nature in the context of imperial rivalry between Britain and Spain see Botella-Ordinas, Eva, ‘Debating Empires, Inventing Empires: British Territorial Claims Against the Spaniards in America, 1670–1714’, Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, 10: 1 (2010), pp. 142–68.

66 To be sure, Viscardo also deployed the idea that the crown had to recognise the contributions of the conquerors. But, he also wanted to make an argument about the connection between the practice of taming nature and the origins of property. Viscardo, ‘Lettre’, in Escritos, p. 363.

67 Ibid ., p. 372.

68 Ibid ., p. 364. He, for instance, stated that ‘Il est même évident que le peuple qu'on dépouilleroit de la liberté personelle, et de celle de disposer de sa proprieté … se trouveroit dans un degré d'esclavage tel, qui dans l'accés même de la victoire n'a jamais été imposé à des ennemis’.

69 Viscardo, ‘Esquisse’, in Escritos, p. 206.

70 Ibid .

71 Ibid ., p. 216.

72 Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, How to Write the History of the New World: Histories, Epistemologies, and Identities in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001).

73 It is interesting that though Cañizares-Esguerra discusses many exiled Jesuits, he fails to consider Viscardo.

74 Viscardo, ‘Esquisse’, in Escritos, p. 206.

75 Ibid .

76 Clavijero, Storia antica del Messico: cavata da' migliori storici spagnuoli, e da' manoscritti, e dalle pitture antiche degl'Indiani: divisa in dieci libri, e corredata di carte geografiche, e di varie figure: e dissertazioni sulla terra, sugli animali, e sugli abitatori del Messico (Cesena: Gregorio Biasini all’ Insegna di Pallade. 1780).

77 Viscardo, ‘Esquisse’, in Escritos, pp. 213–15.

78 Gerbi, The Dispute of the New World: The History of a Polemic, 1750–1900, trans. Jeremy Moyle (Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh University Press, 1973 [1955]).

79 De Pauw, Recherches philosophiques sur les américains, ou, mémoires intéressantes pour servir à l'histoire de l'espèce humaine (London, 1771).

80 Robertson, The History of America, third edition, 3 vols. (London, 1780 [1777]), vol. 3, bk. 8, p. 318.

81 Viscardo, ‘Esquisse’, in Escritos, p. 217.

82 Ibid ., p. 219.

83 Gilii, Saggio di storia americana: o sia, storia naturale, civile, e sacra, de regni, e delle provincie spagnuole di terra-ferma nell'America meridionale, 4 vols. (Rome: Luigi Perego Erede Salvioini, 1780–1784).

84 Viscardo, ‘Esquisse’, in Escritos, p. 225.

85 Ibid ., p. 227.

86 Ibid ., p. 228.

87 Ibid ., p. 231.

88 Viscardo, ‘La paix’, in Escritos, p. 347.

89 On the relationship between commerce, peace and war see David A. Bell, The First Total War: Napoleon's Europe and the Birth of Warfare as We Know It (Boston, MA and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007).

90 Viscardo, ‘La paix’, in Escritos, p. 290.

91 Ibid .

92 Ibid ., p. 295.

93 Ibid ., p. 292.

94 For an insightful discussion of the distinction between these two terms in France see Paul Burton Cheney, Revolutionary Commerce: Globalization and the French Monarchy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010), pp. 2–7.

95 François Véron de Forbonnais, ‘Commerce’, The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project, trans. Nelly S. Hoyt and Thomas Cassirer (Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library, 2003), available at http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0000.145, Originally published as ‘Commerce’, Encyclopédie ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (Paris, 1753), vol. 3, pp. 690–9.

96 Campillo y Cosío, Nuevo sistema de gobierno económico para la América: con los males y daños que le causa el que hoy tiene de los que participa copiosamente España, y remedios universales para que la primera tenga considerables ventajas y la segunda mayores intereses (Madrid: La Imprenta de Benito Cano, 1789 [ca. 1743]).

97 Montesquieu, Spirit of the Laws, trans. Anne M. Cohler, Basia C. Miller and Harold S. Stone (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 396.

98 Ibid .

99 Viscardo, ‘La paix’, in Escritos, p. 346.

100 Ibid ., p. 347.

101 Bentham also expressed these sentiments in an address to the French National Convention in 1793. See Bentham, Emancipate your Colonies! Addressed to the National Convention of France (1793) (London: C. and W. Reynell, Broad Street, 1830).

102 Utopian as Viscardo's project seems, it was not articulated in altruistic terms. Rather, it was couched in the language of self-interest. Viscardo, like Smith, had no qualms about amour propre as long it was channelled through good laws. The science of the legislator was primarily designed to exercise such function. Knud Haakonssen, The Science of a Legislator: The Natural Jurisprudence of David Hume and Adam Smith (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

103 As Constant belatedly put it, ‘we have finally reached an age of commerce, an age which necessarily must replace that of war’. See Constant, ‘The Spirit of Conquest’, in Biancamaria Fontana (ed.), Benjamin Constant: Political Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 53.

104 Viscardo, ‘La Paix’, in Escritos, p. 286.

105 Ibid .

106 Vattel, The Law of Nations, Or, Principles of the Law of Nature, Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns, with Three Early Essays on the Origin and Nature of Natural Law and on Luxury, ed. Béla Kapossy and Richard Whatmore (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 2008 [1758]).

107 Viscardo, ‘La paix’, in Escritos, p. 286.

108 Ibid ., p. 285.

109 Ibid .

110 For international law, see David Armitage, Foundations of Modern International Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

111 Miranda, Colombeia: Negociaciones, 1799–1801 (Caracas: Ediciones de la Presidencia de la República, 2006), tome 19, p. 652. This is a thematically arranged edition of the Archivo del General Miranda. These volumes contain all of Miranda's papers, which he preserved in 63 volumes even after his extensive travels across Europe and the Americas.

112 Ibid ., p. 655.

113 Simón Bolívar, ‘The Jamaica Letter: Response from a South American to a Gentleman from this Island (6 September 1815)’, in David Bushnell (ed.), El Libertador: Writings of Simón Bolívar, trans. Fred Fornoff (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 15.

114 Ibid ., p. 16.

115 No one knew that Viscardo's manuscripts existed until historian Merle Simmons found them in the New York Historical Society among the papers of American consul Rufus King, to whom Viscardo had given his papers before dying in London in 1798.

116 For a discussion of the Lettre's diffusion see Batllori, El abate Viscardo, pp. 109–35.

117 For this perspective, see chap. 5 of Pagden, Spanish Imperialism and the Political Imagination. Tulio Halpeírn Donghi similarly claimed that Viscardo formulated what we may call the Spanish American thèse nobiliare. Halperín Donghi, Tradición política española e ideología revolucionaria de mayo (Buenos Aires: Editorial Universitaria de Buenos Aires, 1961), p. 142.

118 Portillo Valdés, Crisis atlántica; Valdés, Portillo, ‘Repúblicas, comunidades perfectas, colonias. La crisis de la monarquía hispana como laboratorio conceptual’, Historia Contemporánea, 28: (21 February 2012), available at http://www.ehu.es/ojs/index.php/HC/article/view/5021.

119 For declarations of independence as global documents see David Armitage, The Declaration of Independence: A Global History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).

* I wish to give special thanks to Jeremy Adelman, Adam Beaver, Arcadio Díaz-Quiñones, Anthony Grafton and José M. Portillo Valdés, who provided me with invaluable advice at different stages in the development of this article. Their constructive criticism helped make my argument sharper and clearer, even when they disagreed with some of my formulations. I also wish to give special thanks to the Early Modern History Workshop at Princeton. It was there that Katlyn Carter, as a commentator of an early version of this article, gave me some of the most insightful feedback I have received. I must express deep gratitude also at the relevant historiographical pointers offered by Larissa Brewer-García. Lastly, I must thank my anonymous referees for reading the article with such great care and insight.

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