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Re-imagining democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780-1870
 9780197631607, 9780197631577, 9780197631591

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Francisco “Pancho” Fierro, Sigue la procesión cívica (1821) [civic procession celebrating Peruvian independence]. Courtesy of the Pinacoteca Municipal Ignacio Merino, Lima, Peru. Francisco “Pancho” Fierro Sigue la procesión cívica de 1821 Pinacoteca Municipal Ignacio Merino. Municipalidad Metropolitana de Lima

Re-imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780-1870 Eduardo Posada-Carbo (ed.) et al. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780197631577.001.0001 Published: 2023

Online ISBN: 9780197631607

Print ISBN: 9780197631577

FRONT MATTER

Copyright Page  https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780197631577.002.0004 Published: June 2023

Page iv

Subject: Latin American History Collection: Oxford Scholarship Online

Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and certain other countries. Published in the United States of America by Oxford University Press 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, United States of America. © Oxford University Press 2023 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, by license, or under terms agreed with the appropriate reproduction rights organization. Inquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above. You must not circulate this work in any other form and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Posada-Carbó, Eduardo, editor. | Innes, Joanna, editor. | Philp, Mark, editor. Title: Re-imagining democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–1870 / Eduardo Posada-Carbó, Joanna Innes, Mark Philp. Description: New York, NY : Oxford University Press, 2023. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identi ers: LCCN 2022062197 (print) | LCCN 2022062198 (ebook) | ISBN 9780197631577 (hardback) | ISBN 9780197631607 | ISBN 9780197631591 (epub) Subjects: LCSH: Democracy—Latin America—History—18th century. | Democracy—Latin America—History—19th century. | Democracy—Caribbean Area—History—18th century. | Democracy—Caribbean Area—History—19th century. | Latin America—Politics and government. | Caribbean Area—Politics and government. Classi cation: LCC JL966 .R3834 2023 (print) | LCC JL966 (ebook) | DDC 320.4729—dc23/eng/20230124 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2022062197 LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2022062198 DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197631577.001.0001 Printed by Integrated Books International, United States of America

Maps 1. Colonial North, Central, and South Iberian America, circa 1800

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2. The Colonial Caribbean, 1803

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3. Mexico, 1824–​1867

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4. Central America, “Gran Colombia,” and the Greater Caribbean, 1830

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5. Emergent Powers around the Former Viceroyalty of the River Plate: The Era of Independence (c1800–​1830s)

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6. South America, 1862

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Map 1. Colonial North, Central, and South Iberian America, circa 1800

Map 2. The Colonial Caribbean, 1803

Map 3. Mexico, 1824–1867

Map 4. Central America, “Gran Colombia,” and the Greater Caribbean, 1830

Map 5. Emergent Powers around the Former Viceroyalty of the River Plate: The Era of Independence (c1800-1830s)

Map 6. South America, 1862

Re-imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780-1870 Eduardo Posada-Carbo (ed.) et al. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780197631577.001.0001 Published: 2023

Online ISBN: 9780197631607

Print ISBN: 9780197631577

FRONT MATTER

Preface and Acknowledgments  Published: June 2023

Subject: Latin American History Collection: Oxford Scholarship Online

The present and future of democracy now arouse more anxiety and apprehension than they did in 2004 when we rst began work on the larger “Re-imagining Democracy” project, to which this book contributes. At that time, prevailing attitudes were still colored by the triumphalism of 1989. Perhaps this shift has been less disconcerting for us than for some, because it has always been a premise of our project that democracy is not one given thing, still less a cast-iron formula for success, but rather a cluster of related ideas, fears, aspirations and practices associated with the ever-challenging task of enabling people to live together without doing too much damage and to some mutual bene t. Looking at how people have struggled with these challenges in the past is not always encouraging, but it does provide perspective. Historiographically, we are guided by three main ambitions. First, to explore ways of conceptualizing the history of democracy—a challenge, when the concept is so mutable. Our solution to that (further explained in our rst introductory chapter) has been to take the word as a guide to what we should be writing about— to follow the word where it takes us, all the while paying attention to the kinds of work that the word was used to do, and to the environments in which it was employed. A second ambition is to illuminate more particularly the history of “democracy” and its applications through the late eighteenth and rst part of the nineteenth century—the period in which (as we think) the ancient Greek, subsequently medieval Latin word was “re-imagined” for modern use, in which the word and its cognates came to be employed relatively routinely and consistently, in signi cant parts of the world, to assess features of the contemporary political scene. Third, building on our early research ndings, we aim to show that this process of re-imagining democracy took place roughly simultaneously across Europe and both Americas. These were regions in which the word was known at the start of the period, at least to an educated few, then was employed in attempts to describe, understand, and shape contemporary events, and as a result passed into more general use. We do not think that “democracy” was comprehensively re-imagined in one part of this region and this p. xvi

understanding thence disseminated elsewhere. Rather, we think what unfolded were a series

of

intercommunicating, but to a signi cant extent independent, learning processes, eventuating in varied patterns of understanding and use. In this volume, we aim to explore how those learning processes were worked through in Latin America and the Caribbean. Eduardo Posada-Carbó was part of the support team for the previous Mediterranean book in the Reimagining Democracy series, and this volume has also been the product of teamwork, though di erent members of the team have played di erent roles. Eduardo has provided intellectual leadership, recruiting

specialists for a variety of workshops and conference panels, forging links with contributors, and then supplying expert input at all stages of the book’s production. Joanna Innes and Mark Philp have learned most of what they know about the region from attending these events (and doing associated reading). They have also played important roles in shaping the book, intellectually and presentationally. Joanna in particular has kept the project on track and ensured that the essays achieve coherence and sustain dialogue with each other. Joanna has also done most of the editorial work on the chapters, though always in consultation with Eduardo and Mark. Our funders have helped to make this book possible. Thanks to the Oxford John Fell Fund and the History Faculty’s Sanderson Fund, we were able to conduct our rst conference to discuss plans for the book, in Oxford, on March 23–24, 2017. Thanks to the Astor Fund, we held a seminar on our project with Jeremy Adelman (Astor Visiting Professor) in October that year. Thanks to a research grant from Brasenose College, we were able to host a book seminar with the contributors on January 24–25, 2020. The Latin American History seminar at the University of Oxford has provided a venue for many helpful presentations and discussions—and we are grateful for the funding provided by the Latin American Centre at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies on those occasions. Panels at the annual Latin American Studies Association studies conference also supplied opportunities to bring together contributors and other interested parties over several years, and we are grateful to the Association for providing the organizational framework for these meetings, and to all those who gave papers and joined in discussion. The Oxford Maison Française hosted one of our reading-group sessions, and we are grateful for its hospitality. Thanks to the Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies, in particular to its editor Gregorio Alonso, we were able to publish a “dossier” on the subject comprising some early contributions. We were fortunate to hold our last p. xvii

planned contributors’ meeting in January 2020, before the onset of

the pandemic, though some of our

work on the volume was disrupted by its e ects. In addition to the authors of the chapters, a good number of colleagues participated in the various meetings we organized in the development of this project, or advised us in other ways, and we are grateful for their valuable contributions. With apologies to anyone we have inadvertently omitted, we would like to thank Jeremy Adelman, Cristóbal Aljovín de Losada, Israel Arroyo, Arthur Asseraf, Ben A Bollig, José BrownriggGleeson, Francesco Buscemi, Gonzalo Butrón Prida, Alvaro Caso Bello, Celso Castilho, Gonzalo Capellán, Martin Castro, Martin Conway, Michaela Coletta, Joanna Crow, Laura Cucchi, Malcolm Deas, Rolando de la Guardia, Michael Drolet, David Doyle, Rosie Doyle, Rebecca Earle, Marcela Echeverri, Lisa Edwards, John Elliott, Andrés Estefane, Javier Fernández Sebastián, Ludovic Frobert, Luis Gabriel Galán Guerrero, Klaus Gallo, Karina Galperin, Carrie Gibson, Peter Hill, Graciela Iglesias-Rogers, Iván Jaksić, Andre Jockyman Roithmann, Halbert Jones, Maurizio Isabella, Vitor Izecksohn, Alan Knight, Raymond Lavertue, Fabrice Lehoucq, Annick Lempérière, Marcus Llenque, Tom Long, Jorge Luengo, Giuseppe Marcocci, Brian McBeth, Viviana Mellone, Pablo Mijangos, Alfonso Moreno, Isadora Mota, Je rey D. Needell, Juan Ignacio Neves, Hussein Omar, Ana María Otero, Gabriel Paquette, Carlos Pérez Ricart, Frank Sa ord, Jesús Sanjurjo, Frédéric Spillemaeker, James Sta ord, Cecilia Tarruell, Clément Thibaud, Victor Uribe-Urán, Rebeca Viguera Ruiz, Sarah Washbrook, and Laurence Whitehead. We are grateful to the Pinacoteca Municipal Ignacio Merino in Lima, Peru, for allowing us to reproduce Francisco “Pancho” Fierro’s watercolor, Sigue la procesión cívica (1821), which serves as the cover for our book—we want to acknowledge in particular the valuable assistance of Mary Takahashi Huamancaja, Katia Miluzca Alzamora Arce and Jessica Adriana Clemente Tejada. The editors would also like to join Paula Alonso and Marcela Ternavasio in thanking Erika R. Hosselkus, Curator, Latin American, Early Modern and Modern European, and Map Collections, Rare Books and Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame, for facilitating the selection and reproduction of some of the illustrations included in Chapter 8.

Benjamin Rymer provided invaluable help with the index. We are also grateful to members of OUP’s New p. xviii York editorial o

ce and the production team for shepherding our book through to publication.

Re-imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780-1870 Eduardo Posada-Carbo (ed.) et al. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780197631577.001.0001 Published: 2023

Online ISBN: 9780197631607

Print ISBN: 9780197631577

FRONT MATTER

Contributors  Published: June 2023

Subject: Latin American History Collection: Oxford Scholarship Online

José Antonio Aguilar Rivera is Professor of Political Science at the División de Estudios Políticos, CIDE (Mexico City). He has been a visiting fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame, and the Institute for Advanced Studies, Warwick University, and a visiting scholar at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, as well as a Fulbright Scholar. He is the author of, among other books: El sonido y la furia. La persuasión multicultural en México y Estados Unidos; En pos de la quimera: re exiones sobre el experimento constitucional atlántico; La geometría y el mito. Un ensayo sobre la libertad y el liberalismo en México, 1821–1970; and Ausentes del Universo. Re exiones sobre el pensamiento político hispanoamericano en la era de la construcción nacional, 1821–1850. He is the editor of Liberty in Mexico: Writings on Liberalism from the Early Republican Period to the Second Half of the Twentieth Century and Las bases sociales del crimen organizado y la violencia en México. He has also authored articles in the Journal of Latin American Studies, Historia Mexicana, Revista de Occidente, and Cardozo Law Review, among others. He publishes regularly in Nexos, a leading Mexican intellectual magazine. Paula Alonso is Associate Professor of History and International A airs at the George Washington University and (correspondence) member of the Argentine National Academy of History. A historian of Latin American politics and print culture, her publications include Between Revolution and the Ballot Box. The Origins of the Argentine Radical Party in the 1890s (translated into Spanish); Jardines secretos, legitimaciones públicas. El Partido Autonomista Nacional y la política argentina de nes de siglo XIX (2010); (ed.) Construcciones Impresas: Pan etos, diarios y revistas en la formación de los estados nacionales en América Latina, 1820-1920; and co-editor of El sistema federal argentino. Debates y coyunturas (1860-1910). Her articles have also appeared in the Journal of Latin American Studies and the Hispanic American Historical Review. She is currently writing a book-length history of Argentina, and is working on a research project on the history of democracy in Argentina and the Atlantic World, 1860–1930. Nancy P. Appelbaum is Professor of History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Binghamton University, State University of New York. Her research asks: How have Latin Americans de ned and experienced race, region, and migration? How have inequalities been inscribed on landscapes and in national imaginaries? How have race and gender played into the formation of Latin American nations and regions? Her book Mapping the Country of Regions: The Chorographic Commission of Colombia examines p. xx

how mid-nineteenth-century geographers

envisioned the racial and territorial composition of the

country that would become Colombia. An earlier monograph, Muddied Waters: Race, Region, and Local

History in Colombia, examines agrarian and regional history from the perspectives of a multiracial community in Colombia’s co ee region over the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She also co-edited Race and Nation in Modern Latin America. Her books and articles have received prizes and honorable mentions from the New England Council on Latin American Studies, the Latin American Studies Association, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and the Conference on Latin American History. She received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin. Joanna Innes has retired from her Oxford teaching post but holds the status of Senior Research Fellow at Somerville College Oxford, and Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford. She was the originator, with Mark Philp, of the Re-imagining Democracy project, and has co-edited with him related books on America, France, Britain, and Ireland (2013), and the Mediterranean (2018). Her other research and publications have mainly concerned British social policy and more broadly political culture in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Some of her work on the eighteenth century was collected in Inferior Politics: Social Problems and Social Policies in Eighteenth-Century Britain; she is at work on a new book on changes in the social policy agenda and policymaking processes in the very late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Emmanuel Lachaud is an Assistant Professor of History at the City College of New York, City University of New York. He received his PhD from Yale University in 2021, where his thesis focused on the origins of the second Haitian Empire and the politics of freedom in the mid-nineteenth-century Caribbean and Atlantic. His current manuscript builds on this initial research, bringing light to the relatively understudied imperial moment through a dialogue with the rich elds of emancipation studies, Latin American studies, and Atlantic studies. He explores the pan-island state-building processes of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as well as post-slavery sociopolitical culture among peasant and urban poor populations in the region. Anthony McFarlane is Emeritus Professor of History, University of Warwick. His research has focused on the history of Spanish America during the period c.1700–c.1850, especially the regions of Colombia and Ecuador. It includes studies of Colombia’s economic history in the late colonial and early republican periods, the history of rebellions, slave resistance, and crime in the late colonial period, and the movements for independence in the early nineteenth century. He has published extensively on these subjects, on the comparative history of late colonial Spanish America, on British American colonial history, and on the history of violence and warfare in Spanish America. His books include Colombia before Independence: Economy, Society and Politics under Bourbon Rule; The British in the Americas, 1480–1815; and War and Independence in Spanish America. p. xxi

Nicola Miller is Professor of Latin American History in the History Department at University College London and currently director of the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies. She recently held a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship to work on a history of nation-building knowledge in Spanish America during the century after independence. Her ndings were published as Republics of Knowledge. She has also worked on the intellectual and cultural histories of Latin American countries from a transnational perspective, for example in America Imagined: Explaining the United States in Nineteenth-Century Europe and Latin America (ed. with Axel Körner and Adam I. P. Smith), and “Reading Rousseau in Spanish America during the wars of independence (1808–1826),” in Engaging with Rousseau (ed. Avi Lifschitz). Juan Luis Ossa has worked at the Centro de Estudios Públicos (Santiago, Chile) as a full-time researcher since March 2020. He obtained his BA in History from the Ponti cia Universidad Católica de Chile, and his DPhil in Modern History from St Antony’s College at the University of Oxford. Between 2011 and 2018, he was the executive director of the Centro de Estudios de Historia Política at the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez (Santiago, Chile). His research has focused on the political history of nineteenth-century Chile and Latin America, with special emphasis on independence and the process of state-building. He has published in

numerous journals, such as the Journal of Latin American Studies, Anuario de Estudios Americanos, Revista de Indias, Oxford Bibliographies in Latin American Studies, Parliament, Estates and Representation, and Bulletin of Latin American Research. He authored Armies, politics and revolution. Chile, 1808-1826 and edited Volume 1 of the Historia Política de Chile, 1810-2010. In 2017 he received the award for the best researcher in the areas of the social sciences and humanities of the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez. Luis Daniel Perrone is Professor of History of International Relations at the Escuela de Estudios Políticos y Administrativos, Universidad Central de Venezuela, and obtained a PhD in Political Science from the same university. He is also researcher at the Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas “Hermann Gonzalez Otopeza S.J.,” Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. He is part of IBERCONCEPTOS, international research group on the history of political and social concepts in Iberoamérica. He has published Veredas de libertad e igualdad. Expresiones del pensamiento político y social de Juan Germán Roscio (1797-1818). His research focuses on the history of political thought, political concepts, and political history of nineteenth-century Venezuela and Latin America, with a particular emphasis on the intellectual history of popular governments. Dexnell Peters is currently Lecturer in Caribbean and Atlantic History at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica. He was formerly a Teaching Fellow in History at the University of Warwick, and before that the Bennett Boskey Fellow in Atlantic History at Exeter College, University of Oxford He completed his PhD in Atlantic History at Johns Hopkins University, and is now revising that for p. xxii

publication. His current research project—through the main themes of geography

and the

environment, inter-imperial transitions, migration, the plantation economy, politics and religion— makes a case for the rise of a Greater Southern Caribbean region (inclusive of Venezuela and the Guianas) in the late eighteenth century, showing evidence for a very polyglot, cross-imperial and interconnected world. He is broadly interested in the history of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Atlantic World, and cartography. Mark Petersen is Associate Professor of History and Director of Latin American Studies at the University of Dallas. He obtained his DPhil in History from Oxford University. His research focuses on the history of inter-American relations, pan-Americanism, and Chilean foreign policy. He is the author of The Southern Cone and the Origins of Pan America, 1888-1933 and several shorter works in edited volumes, Latin American Politics and Society, and Estudios (Mexico). He is currently working on a digital humanities project on twentieth-century hemispheric periodicals, as well as a book project on the international history of Latin America. Mark Philp is Professor of History and Politics at the University of Warwick and an Emeritus Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford. He has worked extensively in the eld of political corruption and realist political theory, as well as in the history of political thought and late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century European history. His books include Political Conduct; Reforming Political Ideas in Britain: Politics and Language in the shadow of the French Revolution, and Radical Conduct: Politics, Sociability and Equality in London 1789-1815, along with editions of J. S. Mill’s essays and his Autobiography. He was the originator, with Joanna Innes, of the Re-imagining Democracy project, and has co-edited with her related books on America, France, Britain, and Ireland (2013), and the Mediterranean (2018). Eduardo Posada-Carbó is Professor of the History and Politics of Latin America at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies and the History Faculty, University of Oxford, and William Golding Senior Research Fellow in Brasenose College. He edited Elections before democracy. The history of elections in Europe and Latin America. He has authored and co-authored chapters in books and journal articles on the history of elections and democracy, including the Hispanic American Historical Review, The Historical Journal, Past & Present, the Jahrbuch für Geschichte Lateinamerikas, and Estates, Parliaments and

Representation. With Andrew Robertson he is currently completing the edition of The Oxford Handbook of Revolutionary Elections in the Americas, 1800-1910. Carsten-Andreas Schulz is an Assistant Professor in International Relations at the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) and Tun Su

an Lecturer at Gonville and Caius College, University of

Cambridge. He has previously taught at the Ponti cia University Católica Chile and held visiting positions at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and Warwick University. Dr. Schulz is a co-investigator in a project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council on “Latin America and the peripheral p. xxiii

origins of nineteenth-century international

order” (2021–2025). His research on the international

relations of Latin American states has appeared in the European Journal of International Relations, International Studies Quarterly, and Latin American Politics and Society, among other outlets. He holds a DPhil from Nu

eld College, University of Oxford.

Andréa Slemian is Associate Professor at Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) History Department, where she has taught Colonial History since 2011. Her research interests are in Latin American judicial culture between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with an emphasis on courts and court proceedings in a comparative key. She has also written about the independence process and statebuilding in America, particularly in Brazil. She was Visiting Professor at Universitat Jaume I (Castellón de la Plana, Spain), at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo do Mexico (ITAM, Mexico), at Univeristé Toulouse JeanJaurès/FRAMESPA, Campus Mirail (France), at the University of Texas (Austin), and at Universidad del País Vasco (Spain). She is co-editor of Jurisdicciones, soberanías, administraciones. Con guración de los espacios políticos em la construcción de los Estados nacionales en Iberoamérica with Alejandro Agüero and Rafael Diego-Fernandez, and De las independencias iberoamericanas a los estados nacionales (1810-1850): 200 años de historia with Ivana Frasquet. She is currently editor-in-chief of the journal Revista Brasileira de História. Natalia Sobrevilla Perea is Professor of Latin American History at the University of Kent. She obtained her PhD at the University of London, has been a visiting fellow at the John Carter Brown Library, and held grants from the British Academy, the British Library, the Leverhulme Trust, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. She has published The Caudillo of the Andes Andrés de Santa Cruz. She is the coeditor of The Rise of Constitutional Government in the Iberian Atlantic World, The Impact of the Cádiz Constitution of 1812. Between 2015 and 2018 she led an international network of scholars researching the idea of nation and the wars of independence, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. She has published extensively on the creation of the state in Peru, focusing on elections, constitutions, and the importance of the armed forces. She is currently nalizing a book on the armed forces and the creation of the Peruvian state in the nineteenth century. Marcela Ternavasio is Professor of History at the Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Researcher of the CONICET, teaches in the graduate History program at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Argentina, and is a member of the National Academy of History. She is the author of Candidata a la Corona. La infanta Carlota Joaquina de Borbón en el laberinto de las revoluciones hispanoamericanas; Historia de la Argentina, 1806-1852; Gobernar la revolución. Poderes en disputa en el Río de la Plata, 1810-1816; La revolución del voto. Política y elecciones en Buenos Aires, 1810-1852, and editor of Historia de la provincia de Buenos Aires. De la organización provincial a la federalización de Buenos Aires 1821-1880 Vol. 3; El pensamiento de los federales; La correspondencia de Juan Manuel de Rosas; Bicentenario de la Independencia. Tucumán 1816-2016; and cop. xxiv

editor of El laboratorio constitucional Iberoamericano: 1807/

1808-1830; Historia de las elecciones en la

Argentina 1805-2011; and Halperin Donghi y sus mundos. Her current research focuses on the intersections between politics and diplomacy in the Iberian world during the revolutions of independence and restoration. Guy Thomson is emeritus professor in the Department of History at the University of Warwick, and

specializes in nineteenth-century Mexican and Spanish regional history. His doctoral research focused on economic and social change in Mexico’s second city, Puebla de los Angeles, over the late colonial and early republican periods. His research then shifted to the state of Puebla’s northern Sierra region, focusing on the rise of liberal leaders through their control of indigenous communities and mastery of the National Guard during the civil and patriotic wars from the 1850s and 1860s. During the mid-1990s, his research assumed a broader Atlantic focus to explore the reception of democratic and republican ideas in the borderlands of Granada, Córdoba, and Málaga during the mid-nineteenth century. He continues to work on nineteenth-century Spain, Mexico, and the Mediterranean world with a particular emphasis on popular and middle-class culture, religion, and politics. Eduardo Zimmermann received a law degree from the University of Buenos Aires and a DPhil in Modern History from the University of Oxford. He has been a Junior Research Fellow at the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London; a Visiting Fellow at the Kellogg Institute, University of Notre Dame; a Visiting Professor at the Department of History, Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne; and Edward Larocque Tinker Visiting Professor at Columbia University. He was awarded the Premio Ensayo Histórico La Nación 120 Aniversario, Buenos Aires, and is a fellow of the Argentine National Academy of History. He is currently Associate Professor at Universidad de San Andrés, Buenos Aires. His research focuses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Latin American history, particularly on state-building processes, legal and political history, and the history of political thought. Among his publications are the following books: Los liberales reformistas. La cuestión social en la Argentina, 1890-1916; (ed.), Judicial Institutions in Nineteenth-Century Latin America; (co-ed.), Los saberes del estado; Las prácticas del estado; and Las fuerzas de guerra en la construcción del estado. América Latina, siglo XIX.

1 The Project and the Setting Joanna Innes

The Project and the Book This book looks at the re-​imagining of democracy, in Latin America and the Caribbean, between the later eighteenth and later nineteenth centuries. By “re-​imagining” we mean the process of reconceptualizing the ancient word demokratia (Greek) or democratia (medieval Latin) so as to frame thinking about the modern world. That process unfolded across Europe and both Americas over broadly the same time period, though with different inflection points. In all of these places, the ancient word was known and had achieved some, if limited, currency in modern vernaculars before it was put to vigorous and urgent new use in our period, against a background of revolution, war, and more or less radical change in the institutions and practices of government. These processes shared some common features across this trans-​oceanic space, and there was much cross-​referencing as people in each place were exposed to information about experiences undergone and discourses and interpretations developed elsewhere. But experiences differed from place to place, and patterns in the use of the word also differed—​and differed all the more as the word was applied to characterize or interpret differing circumstances and accordingly acquired local baggage. This being so, tracing the history of the word in this important transitional phase of its re-​imagining has the potential to enrich and complicate our ideas about what “democracy” might mean. It also has the potential to provide a comparative perspective on the development of political cultures, and insight into interactions between these cultures, within at least the more European or Europeanized parts of this huge, heterogeneous cultural space. In two previous collective volumes, we assembled international teams of contributors to explore the “re-​imagining” process as it unfolded across the North Atlantic (in the United States, France, Britain and, Ireland) and the Joanna Innes, The Project and the Setting In: Re-​imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–​1870. Edited by: Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, Joanna Innes, and Mark Philp, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/​oso/​9780197631577.003.0001

4  Re-imagining Democracy Mediterranean (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, and the Ottoman world).1 In this volume we turn our attention to Latin America and the Caribbean, exploring what was common and what was idiosyncratic and particular in the re-​imagining of democracy within the region, as between one polity and another and as between the region and elsewhere. We also explore how ways of deploying and understanding the term were shaped by—​and sometimes employed to try to shape—​understandings in other parts of the world. It is important to our story that the Americas, including Caribbean islands, were, from the sixteenth century, occupied and made subject to sovereignty claims by European states, because it was Europeans who brought the word “democracy” to the region, even if they initially had little use for it. As elsewhere, it was at first a learned or at least bookish word. When it was more adventurously taken up, sometimes at the end of the eighteenth and more often in the early nineteenth century, it was quite often employed to challenge colonial regimes. It was taken up by locals trying to imagine new and more inclusive social systems, or new forms through which independent states could be governed (though these commentators were often initially skeptical, or at the very least tentative about whether “democracy” could really be the answer to that). Later, the word won wider acceptance as a way of characterizing new states, but it was also often deployed to challenge the achievements of those states or of colonial regimes where these regimes survived (mostly on the islands). When its equality dimension was stressed, it could be directed against enduring social or racial hierarchies and exclusions. As the word was used to do new kinds of work, it was pushed or passed on to new audiences, who in turn sometimes put it to further new use. Nonetheless, it does not seem, even at the end of our period, to have become a key word in the lexicon of the marginal. Rather, research to date suggests that it continued to be a word more often used about than by “the people.” Moreover, it remained an ambiguous term, one that could be used to disparage. People in the region could be said to be capable of sustaining only a barbarous and turbulent form of democracy (though it should be stressed that the viability of democracy as a political form, at least in the current state of society, also continued to be debated in Europe). This chapter has three main objects. First it aims to do what its opening paragraphs have already begun to do, that is, to introduce the larger project to which the book contributes. Second, it explains the plan of this book. 1 Re-​imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions; Re-​imagining Democracy in the Mediterranean.

The Project and the Setting  5 Third, it provides a quick sketch of the region and its history through this period—​for the benefit of specialists, inasmuch as they do not usually work on the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean, but even more for the benefit of those who are interested in the history of democracy but know little about the context in which it was re-​imagined here.

The Project Interest in writing the history of democracy has grown in recent years, but there is no agreed way of approaching the task.2 Until recently historians, wary of anachronism, rarely wrote histories of democracy except in relation to times and places where the word clearly had a central role in political self-​understanding: chiefly ancient Greece, the United States, Europe from the later nineteenth century, and some other parts of the world (for example India and Latin America) from the twentieth century. When R.R. Palmer wrote a two-​volume history of the “age of democratic revolutions” in 1959 (meaning by this the era of the American and French revolutions), he was criticized for anachronism. He responded by writing one of the first articles to try to chart uses of the word and its cognates, showing that although it was not among the most-​used political words in the era of the French Revolution, and it was not always employed in ways we might find familiar today, nonetheless it was used to assess and to try to influence what was happening.3 It is certainly possible to construct extended histories of practices and ideas that we now think of as defining democracy: thus histories of popular participation, of representative government, of universal suffrage, or of the principle that all men or all people are equal. But if the object is to write a history of “democracy” specifically, our view is that that must entail paying attention to the word and how the word was used—​and we accordingly make it central to our program of enquiry.4 This is because there is no one way of 2 Eugenio Biagini, ed., A Cultural History of Democracy, 6 vols. (London, 2021); Marku Peltonen, ed., The Cambridge History of Democracy, 3 vols. (Cambridge, in preparation). 3 R.R. Palmer, The Age of Democratic Revolutions: A Political History of Europe and America, 1760-​ 1800, 2 vols. (Princeton, 1959; new edn. Princeton, 2014); R.R. Palmer, “Notes on the Use of the Word ‘Democracy’ 1789-​1799,” Political Science Quarterly 68, no. 2 (1953): 203–​26. 4 Other studies emphasizing the word include Jens Andreas Christophersen, The Meaning of “Democracy” as Used in European Ideologies from the French to the Russian Revolution. An Historical Study in Political Language (Oslo, 1966); Francis Dupuis-​Déri, Démocratie: histoire politique d’un mot aux Etats-​Unis et en France (Montreal, 2013); Jussi Kurunmäki, Jeppe Nevers, and Henk te Velde, eds., Democracy in Modern Europe: A Conceptual History (New York, 2018).

6  Re-imagining Democracy imagining what “democracy” consists in even now, and it seems arbitrary to choose one among other contemporary definitions and use it to characterize things in the past (which might rule out cases in which elections were indirect, or where women did not have the vote, or where slavery was tolerated). If we want to avoid anachronism and teleology, then we need to pay attention to how people configured things at the time and place under study; we need to understand the challenges they saw themselves as facing and how they tried to meet them. Democracy was not as frequently invoked in our period as it would come to be in later centuries. Still, our research has provided ample evidence to support Palmer’s claim that it was among the words that people used to try to make sense of changing and confusing times, and the spin they gave it continues in some ways to shape its trajectory. Pursuing the early history of its application to modern settings has the potential to shed broader light on this stretch of the past, and thereby on an interesting section of the zig-​zag route which links past to present. Our choice to follow the word “democracy” does admittedly have some odd and some limiting effects. Since the word has been used to characterize different things in different times, an effect of focusing on it is that we do not consistently explore the same thing. Moreover, limits to who used the word and about what—​especially pronounced at the start, but also evident at the end of our period—​tend to narrow one’s field of vision. We try to offset inconsistency of focus and narrowing of vision by offering broad characterizations of the political and social context in which the word was employed. In any case, what ultimately interests us is not how the word’s meanings changed as a topic in its own right, but rather how and why these changes came about, and what people were trying to do when they used the word in new ways—​ so that the history of the word also becomes a history of aspirations and achievements, of political cultures in the making. Still, we have to concede that adopting this approach sheds more light on some people’s experiences and aspirations than on others’, even when we identify its wider dissemination as an important and interesting part of the story. It is probably helpful at this point to recap some of the findings of our previous volumes. Across all the regions we have studied so far, the word’s initial associations were predominantly negative. It could be used neutrally, to characterize a particular way of organizing state power and placing it in the hands of the many rather than in one or few—​though even in that context it had a bad reputation. Democracies were typically represented as unstable, as prone to lurch toward either anarchy or tyranny. Moreover, the word was

The Project and the Setting  7 often used in ways colored by ancient history to designate a form of political culture or set of behaviors associated with the gathering of crowds or mobs, speechifying by demagogues, and dramatic, erratic political mood swings—​ akin to phenomena that are now sometimes termed “populism.” Even in the United States, sometimes imagined to have been born democratic during the era of the revolution and the making of the federal constitution, uses of the word that have been documented were mainly negative. In the 1790s some US political actors used it more positively, but at that time it designated a contentious set of political values. Only from 1800 did it win wider acceptance there—​though it retained partisan resonances, and these grew stronger with the rise of the Democratic Party.5 Not only in America but also in Europe, from the 1830s the term was more commonly given a positive spin.6 This was partly because representative institutions increasingly won acceptance but also because, whereas once these institutions had been contrasted with tumultuous “democracy,” increasingly they were conceptualized as embodying it, as incarnating “representative democracy.” That renaming was two-​edged. On the one hand, a striking shift was involved in any form of “democracy” winning widespread recognition as a possible and perhaps even inevitable feature of the modern world; on the other hand, what was most strongly endorsed was an emphatically bounded version of democracy. In the spirit of boundary-​setting, people were told not to aim at anything like “pure democracy” or any form of direct action, but rather to channel their views through their representatives. Still, attempts to deny the word alternative meanings failed. Democracy as representation always remained (and remains) vulnerable to the charge that it is not representative enough, or not democratic enough. So the word remained ambiguous in its implications. It could be, as it still is, employed to legitimate and celebrate representative government—​but it has also always had the potential to fuel challenges to any regime. In turning our attention to Latin America and the Caribbean, we turn to a part of the world in which usage tracked broadly the same course, but with key differences. Differences sprang from the timing and character of struggles for independence, the character of the regimes established or sustained and adapted, and the social and cultural settings within which governments

5 Seth Cotlar, “Languages of Democracy in America from the Revolution to the Election of 1800,” in Re-​imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions, 13–​27. 6 Innes and Philp, “ ‘Democracy’ from Book to Life.”

8  Re-imagining Democracy operated. Central-​state organs in the region often had little purchase on outlying provinces; even in small Caribbean islands, in some districts power was ceded to runaway slaves and their descendants, “maroons.” Societies were characteristically ethnically mixed and culturally divided. Political experiences in the region during our period were diverse. The most obvious divide lay between states which became independent and those which remained colonies of European metropoles. All mainland states and the island of Hispaniola (Haiti/​Dominican Republic) fell into the first category; most islands and some slivers of the Caribbean coast fell into the second. The first set of places provided more obvious opportunities for the word “democracy” to find purchase—​though (as we shall see) this does not imply that the term was always embraced at the start, or consistently thereafter; nor did any single understanding of it consistently hold sway. In those places that remained colonies, the term fit less well with prevailing circumstances, yet nonetheless, as it became increasingly a talking point elsewhere in Europe and the Americas, it entered local discourse and found local applications, though possibly mostly by way of challenge to the status quo. Observers in the United States and in Europe (as Carsten Schulz and Mark Petersen explain in Chapter 10) recognized the new republics of this region as sites of democratic experiment, in fact the world’s largest contiguous cluster of such sites. Yet they also often saw them as revealing the difficulties of the form—​because their regimes enjoyed uneven success in facing down challenges (often in the form of armed insurgencies or secessions), and, when challenges were faced down, that was often by ramping up executive power. Critical accounts which highlighted turbulence and instability frequently also entailed racial or religious disparagement: Latin Americans and Caribbeans were said to be too ethnically mixed, or not “white” enough to make democracy work or, alternatively or additionally, too Catholic. Yet the pattern on the ground was variegated. Furthermore, we need to pause and consider what comparators we are applying if we judge the region’s experience to have been peculiarly disheartening. Republics elsewhere experienced similar troubles, including Switzerland (with its Sonderbund War, 1844) and the United States, with its often-​contested processes of internal regulation and expansion and, at the end of our period, its own Civil War. France opted for kings and emperors to bring stability through much of the nineteenth century but still experienced a succession of revolutions and coups. Perhaps such problems were endemic to contemporary states, and the spread of democratic values at most exacerbated them.

The Project and the Setting  9 Some recent historians have been more upbeat about Latin American experience at this time, stressing the region’s pioneering role in the democratic experiment (or liberal experiment, or republican experiment—​different commentators press different values and descriptions to the fore).7 We broadly endorse this perspective. Large parts of our region saw strikingly daring attempts to instantiate new forms of the ancient mode “democracy” in challenging modern environments. In this region, this venture usually entailed incorporating into formal politics populations that were both scattered and diverse—​meaning, among other things, diverse in their ethnic origins, which some European commentators saw as inherently risky.8 Many of the reasons why such experiments were undertaken were pragmatic. They arose from the exigencies of war and from the need to establish and give legitimacy to new institutions of government. But they were also clearly influenced by political ideas that, if not wholly new, had at the very least been invigorated and given new twists by recent developments in Europe and other parts of the Americas, under similar exigencies. In all these experiments there was also an element of idealism (in some interpretations of the time, and since, foolhardy idealism). Latin American and Caribbean experiments at this time certainly underlined the inherent difficulty of “democratic” enterprise. If government is believed to be bound to give force to the wishes of the people, then it is always in principle open to challenge. It can always be delegitimized by discontent, and discontent can be cultivated and exploited by the ambitious. Those problems are intrinsic to any approach to governance that aims to count all people as equal and give them a voice in how they are ruled. These problems manifest themselves in different ways in different times and places, but—​as even some of the most “advanced” states have rediscovered in recent decades—​they never go away. During the period under study here, some people came to think that “democracy,” for all its problems, was the only viable form of government in the modern world. We may think that is true. Yet, insofar as democracy gives voice to the “people,” that inevitably entails channeling tensions and contradictions, so will never guarantee an easy ride.

7 Hilda Sabato, Republics of the New World: The Revolutionary Political Experiment in Nineteenth-​ Century Latin America (Princeton, NJ, 2018); James E. Sanders, The Vanguard of the Atlantic World: Creating Modernity, Nation, and Democracy in Nineteenth-​Century Latin America (Durham, NC, 2014). 8 Jennifer Pitts, A Turn to Empire: The Rise of Imperial Liberalism in Britain and France (Princeton, NJ, 2005), for Tocqueville on political options for Algeria.

10  Re-imagining Democracy

Plan of the Book Though adopting the same overall approach, different books in our series have varied in plan. The plan of this book reflects our desire to make it accessible to, among others, readers who are interested in the history of democracy but have little knowledge of the regional context. Accordingly, following two introductory chapters (this, and another focusing more particularly on language), we offer a series of thematic chapters that explore topics we judge important because of the part they played in shaping uses of the word “democracy,” We hope that specialists will also find these surveys useful, and suggestive in relation to our main concern. The thematic chapters explore successively colonial inheritances, the processes by which new independent states were formed, patterns of ethnic diversity, and how ethnic relations were reframed over the period. Also explored are the local uses made of the (then quite innovative) device of the state (or provincial) “constitution,” and the nature of urban and other political cultures that developed in interaction with new governmental and political institutions. We had hoped to include a chapter on church and religion—​ on the ways in which religious institutions and practices shaped political life and, in some places, became major objects of contention—​but the pandemic intervened and frustrated our efforts. Two final thematic chapters explore the role assigned to education in fitting populations for the challenges of life in the new states, and external perceptions of Latin American and Caribbean democracy. The thematic chapters focus above all on the settings in which talk of democracy developed. But along the way, many of them also shed light on how “democracy” and associated terms were employed: what baggage they carried, what subjects they were used to talk about, and what work they were used to do. In Chapter 4, Dexnell Peters looks at Caribbean islands which remained colonies of France or Britain and explores briefly how “democracy” made its appearance in local political vocabularies, mainly from the mid-​nineteenth century, in what might be thought to have been unpromising settings. In Chapter 7, José Antonio Aguilar Rivera and Eduardo Zimmerman among other things look at ways in which “democracy” figured in constitutions and constitutional debates. Paula Alonso and Marcela Ternavasio, in Chapter 8, show how changes in political cultures in Argentina and Peru aligned with changes in talk about “democracy.” In Chapter 9, Nicola Miller shows that national education projects were sometimes conceptualized as serving

The Project and the Setting  11 “democratic” ends. Mark Petersen and Carsten Schulz explore US and European discourses about Latin American and Caribbean “democracy” in Chapter 10. Language moves to the fore in the final six chapters, which build upon but aim to move beyond previous work by providing sketches of the word’s use in a variety of local settings. Emmanuel Lachaud looks at the word’s history in Hispaniola: that is, in Saint Domingue/​Haiti and Santo Domingo/​ the Dominican Republic. Andrea Slemian looks at imperial Brazil, and Luis Daniel Perrone looks at Venezuela—​his chapter focuses especially on how democracy was and was not invoked in discussions of slavery and racial issues, in a state where many inhabitants were of African descent. Guy Thomson in Chapter 13 looks at how the language of democracy figured as a vehicle for social as well as political criticism in Mexico, and in Chapters 15 and 16 respectively, Eduardo Posada-​Carbó and Juan Luis Ossa explore its relatively early and widespread adoption in two of the region’s more stable and lively representation-​based political cultures.

Overview of the Region This introduction has already stressed the heterogeneity of the region that this book explores. We aim now to enlarge on that assertion, to encourage specialists to keep in view the region as a whole, and to begin to orient readers with little prior knowledge of these places and their histories.9 The region that we are concerned with stretched down the North American west coast, from San Francisco southward through Central and South America toward its southernmost part, Patagonia, and eastward to the Caribbean islands as they arced from Cuba down to Trinidad, through the Greater Antilles—​that is, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (Haiti and Santo Domingo) and Puerto Rico—​and then the Lesser Antilles, the smaller, mainly British and French Leeward and Windward Islands. At the start of our period, the vast bulk of this land was (at least according to European conceptions) subject to the crown of Spain. Mainland Spanish territories were organized into four viceroyalties: New Spain (which included Central America); New Granada (which included modern Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela); Peru (which included modern Chile), and 9 See Further Reading for general studies which inform this account.

12  Re-imagining Democracy the Rio de La Plata or River Plate (which included modern Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina). This last viceroyalty was a late foundation, dating only from 1776. Spain also held several of the larger Caribbean islands: Cuba, the Santo Domingo section of Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico. Excepting only a chunk of coast called Guiana (divided among the Dutch, the British, and the French), the remaining colonized chunk of the South American mainland was Portugal’s Brazil. Spain’s viceroyalties represented one jurisdictional geography, but one that sat over or overlapped with others—​captaincies within viceroyalties (like Chile within Peru) and audiencias, areas subject to the jurisdiction of a single court. The post-​colonial political geography that ultimately emerged roughly followed the lines of these smaller units. Portugal’s Brazil, for its part, from 1774 constituted a single viceroyalty, but it was divided into captaincies which, after the formation of a separate Brazilian kingdom, morphed into or were redistricted to form around twenty provinces. Anthony McFarlane in Chapter 3 explains how Iberian lands were governed—​at the top level, by people sent out from metropoles. These were highly unequal societies, with overlapping (but not identical) governing and landowning elites, some of whom had noble titles. He also emphasizes the importance of cities as central nodes in networks of government and as powerful entities in their own right, with some self-​governing capacity. It was in such cities that many of the more ethnically and culturally European members of these societies lived. Major cities in Spanish (though not Portuguese) America had their own universities, so were equipped to reproduce local professional elites. Among other powers with footholds in the Caribbean, we concern ourselves here only with the most powerful, the French and the British. France’s largest island was Saint Domingue (the western part of Hispaniola); Britain’s was Jamaica. Dexnell Peters in Chapter 4 aims to give a general picture of patterns of French and British rule. Insofar as he pays attention to particular places, these are those large islands and, among the Lesser Antilles, French Martinique and Guadeloupe, and British Barbados (a small island with a particularly successful plantation economy) together with Trinidad, a late British acquisition lying at the southern end of the Antillean arc just off the Venezuelan coast. Like Spain and Portugal, France and Britain sent governors from the metropole. Major landowners were often absentees, running their plantations through managers, but some family members moved back and forth between colony and metropole, and there were also long-​term

The Project and the Setting  13 European settlers, who sometimes played a part in the islands’ government (some but not all British islands had elected legislatures). All in all, this was an enormous region with hugely varied topography and climatic conditions, population mixes and economies, and, already in the colonial period, systems of rule. The population of Spanish (including Spanish island) territories at the start of our period was perhaps in the region of 10 million, on the same order as Spain. The population of Brazil, at around 4 million, was at least half as much again as that of Portugal. British and French metropolitan populations, by contrast, dwarfed those of their colonies. Britain (still more, Britain and Ireland) had a population several times that of all British colonies in North America and the Caribbean combined (even if we include those North American colonies which, in 1780, were in the process of asserting their independence). France, with its larger population—​over 25 million in 1780—​ had a still more decisive lead. Considering all the Caribbean islands together, the four largest had more than one million inhabitants among them (France’s Saint Domingue being the most populous); the smaller islands totaled something less.10 Europeans, and mainly European “creoles” (of European descent, but locally born), were generally a minority across this space, though least so in cities and some coastal regions. But mixes varied from place to place. Two of Spain’s viceroyalties, New Spain and Peru, had once been home to major indigenous civilizations, and more or less assimilated indigenous people continued to bulk large within their populations. Enslaved Africans were particularly numerous around tropical coasts suitable for plantation agriculture: thus in New Spain, New Granada, Brazil, and above all on the islands. But enslaved people, who formed vast majorities on the most successful plantation colonies—​Saint Domingue, Barbados—​were less numerous in others: thus in the early years in Cuba, Santo Domingo, Dominica (which the British acquired from the French in the Seven Years War), and Dutch Trinidad (subsequently acquired by the British). In some places—​Caribbean New Granada, Saint Domingue, Trinidad—​there were substantial free black or mixed Afro-​European (“mulatto”) populations; in others (Cuba, Jamaica, Barbados) initially less so. One effect of these varying mixes was that

10 I have relied on Leslie Bethell ed. Cambridge History of Latin America Vol. 2, Part I, “Population”, 1–​64, for Spanish and Portuguese America; Watts, The West Indies, chap. 7–​8, 10 for other parts of the Caribbean.

14  Re-imagining Democracy attitudes to the indigenous heritage varied. In Mexico, an emerging nationalism claimed Aztec roots; there was little of this in the River Plate or on the islands, where the indigenous, insofar as they survived, were marginalized. Another effect was that cultures of privilege and the contestation of privilege took different forms in different places. Peru faced a major rebellion under indigenous leadership, the so-​called Tupac Amaru rebellion, in 1780–​ 1782. In Saint Domingue, the free mulatto population was instrumental in destabilizing the political and social order in the early years of the French Revolution, but then faced a more radical challenge from insurgent slaves. Colonial economies were in important part export-​oriented, with plantation crops, especially sugar, and minerals being key exports—​the latter figuring especially prominently in the economies of New Spain, Peru, and Brazil. In mainland colonies there was also much small, sometime subsistence, farming; stock-​raising (favored on poor land); and some manufacture, especially of textiles, catering to domestic, more or less local markets. Regions that had once been home to complex and buoyant indigenous civilizations sometimes had lots of villages, providing a focus for local social, cultural, and some form of political life. To draw just one contrast, rural life in Chile’s extended central valley focused on haciendas and associated peasant-​worker communities. Caribbean island economies were export-​oriented to varying degrees. They often depended for strategic imports (such as timber) and manufactures (such as cloth) on imports mediated by their metropoles. They also featured small farming. Many islands, along with mainland regions with significant slave populations such as New Granada and Brazil, featured “maroon” communities of escaped slaves, often located in relatively inaccessible and perhaps forested regions, supporting themselves by farming, foraging, and hunting. In the course of our period, the region underwent two major institutional transformations affecting different parts of it in different ways. The first followed from the destabilization of the Iberian monarchies, initially as a result of Napoleon’s initiatives; the second from abolitions of slave trades and slave statuses. The second development energized competitive growth in remaining slave economies such that, though slavery declined overall, it also changed its geography. These twin transformations helped to promote, and were conditioned by, other political, economic, social, and cultural changes. Both Anthony McFarlane (Chapter 3) and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea (Chapter 5) explain that the Napoleonic push to dominate the Iberian peninsula from 1807 to 1808 precipitated massive turbulence in the

The Project and the Setting  15 region—​capsizing existing institutions in Spanish America and reconfiguring them in Brazil. As Sobrevilla Perea chronicles, this turbulence lasted for the best part of two decades—​longer, indeed, inasmuch as the new territorial and political order did not quickly settle into an enduring shape. This crisis of authority interacted with existing tensions and conflicts over where the locus of power should be, as between metropoles and colonies and within colonies.11 Nonetheless, the geopolitical shock surely precipitated more rapid and radical change than might otherwise have occurred.12 One might compare the effect of these developments to the similarly long-​term destabilizing effects upon Europe of the French Revolution and Napoleonic expansion. In Europe, that sequence of events inspired, first, new interest in democracy (enthusiastic or critical, as the case might be), then disillusionment and disparagement. Finally, in the longer term, it helped to effect changes in political structures and cultures within which “democracy” found new applications. Something along these lines transpired in Iberian America, too. The political crisis unfolded in stages. Initially authorities in Spanish America mostly tried to align themselves with peninsular Spaniards resisting French rule. These metropolitan opponents of the French project encouraged the establishment of provisional “juntas,” then a central junta for the whole monarchy, then a pan-​monarchical constitutional convention at Cádiz, 1812, where they enunciated their own version of popular sovereignty as a basis on which monarchy might be reconstructed. In Spanish America, some powerholders initially tried to defend a more traditional version of the political order. In parallel, however, alternative leaders emerged, perhaps not previously so well placed, who championed self-​rule for their localities. Meanwhile, Portugal’s Bragança dynasty called on the British to help them relocate in Brazil, then ruled for the next decade and more from the court in Rio de Janeiro. Across the Iberian-​American mainland, attempts to reinstate the old order following the defeat of Napoleon and “restoration” of old dynasties failed; revolutions in both metropoles in 1820 played their part in complicating

11 John Lynch, Latin American Revolutions, 1808-​1826. Old and New World Origins (Norman, OK, 1994) and Brian Hamnett, The End of Iberian Rule on the American Continent (Cambridge, UK, 2017) offer contrasting analyses, but both emphasize the long background to conflict. 12 François-​Xavier Guerra, Las revoluciones hispánicas: independencies americanas y liberalismo español (Madrid, 1995), a much-​debated account, offers a particularly emphatic version of this approach: he portrayed European political crisis as having forced modernity on what remained in many ways an ancientrégime society.

16  Re-imagining Democracy matters.13 By the mid-​1820s, former Spanish territories had all proclaimed independence (though these claims were only slowly recognized by Spain) and the Bragança dynasty had split, one part remaining in Rio. Almost all the newly independent states equipped themselves with constitutions and elected legislatures, though disputes over such matters as the division of power between executive and legislative bodies, where territorial boundaries should lie, and how much power should be devolved to localities rumbled on for decades, provoking armed conflicts (sometimes termed civil wars) and also inter-​state wars. Strong leaders, some ruling constitutionally, some otherwise, were much in evidence (especially at the start). Constitutions did not always operate for long before being overhauled or replaced. Armed uprisings provided vehicles for political challenges throughout our period: sometimes termed “revolutions,” they often represented, at least nominally, a bid to promote the will of some section of the people.14 That regimes should be representative and their makeup determined by elections was nonetheless commonly accepted in principle. Many elections were held, and their outcomes were sometimes (though not always) accepted. Franchises were characteristically broad, though indirect (involving the choosing of higher-​tier voters who made more decisive choices). Chile and Buenos Aires were unusual in opting for direct elections from the start, Chile in the context of a slightly constrained franchise, Buenos Aires in the context of a very expansive one. Elections were often conducted with carrots and sticks—​patronage, bribery, force—​and also fraud (though those were also features of contemporary European and US elections). Various associational forms—​militias, confraternities—​were used to organize voters. Political competition usually had an ideological dimension, most elaborately articulated in print, not least in the newspaper press, prefigured in a few colonial official newspapers but flourished freely only following the crisis of monarchies, and grew thereafter with some ebbs and flows.15 The professed stances of contending parties affected their conduct in power. As time passed, they increasingly equipped themselves with ideological names, often Liberal and Conservative, or some local variant. By the end of our period a handful of countries had adopted universal male suffrage, and a growing 13 For crisis in the Iberian peninsula, Hamnett, End of Iberian Rule and chapters by Fernández Sebastián and Capellán and by Ramos in Re-​imagining Democracy in the Mediterranean. 14 For the terminology of ‘revolution,’ Sabato, Republics, 112–​21 and Diccionario II, ed. Fernández Sebastián Vol. 9, Revolución. 15 For these sites of public engagement, Sabato. Republics, chap. 2–​4.

The Project and the Setting  17 number were practicing direct election; elections had become the normal means for presidencies to change hands in Chile, and handovers of power to the opposition as a result of the ballot box had taken place at least once in both Venezuela and New Granada. Elsewhere, including in Brazil, elections routinely exposed powerholders to challenge and contestation, even if they normally remained in place. Difficulties in dislodging powerholders through electoral challenges meant that it remained common for thwarted challengers to conclude that they must resort to other means. The first successful effort to abolish slavery across a whole territory was the work of slaves and ex-​slaves, with mulatto and some white allies. The slave rebellion of 1791, which radicalized the already destabilizing effects of the French Revolution in Saint Domingue, played out against a background of Franco-​British conflict.16 Given French reluctance to accept the transformation of the colony’s political and social structures, but their inability to reinstate their agents in power, what eventuated was the constitutional Empire of Haiti, which in the following decades went through processes of territorial splits and unifications (for a period with neighboring Santo Domingo); shifts between monarchical and republican state forms; and shifts in the balance of power between executive and legislative bodies—​in many ways paralleling instabilities over the same period in Spanish America and also (though generally in a more contained way) in independent Brazil. Elsewhere, though slave resistance played a part in undermining confidence in the institution of slavery—​ most obviously in Guadeloupe and Martinique during France’s 1848 revolution—​key decisions to end slave trading and slavery were made by established authorities: imperial authorities in the case of British and French islands (and more generally in relation to slave trading in international waters), and domestic authorities in the case of formerly Spanish republics. In the new republics, the trade was quickly abolished, and slavery itself sometimes too (as in Chile, Bolivia, and Mexico). Although in places where slavery had been more important, abolition strategies were more commonly gradual, initially taking the form of rulings that all newborns were free. By contrast, this form of human bondage survived and even flourished in Brazil and Cuba, and especially in Cuba

16 For a general study published at the start of the current surge of interest, Carolyn Fick, The Making of Haiti: The Saint Domingue Revolution from Below (Knoxville, 1990). For recent research Jeremy D. Popkin, “The Haitian Revolution Comes of Age: Ten Years of New Research,” Slavery & Abolition 42, no. 2 (2021): 382–​401.

18  Re-imagining Democracy where investors saw the chance to take over Saint Domingue’s place in the market. The importation of slaves to Cuba peaked in 1835–​1840.17 On the islands especially, policy toward slavery and its legacies had important political consequences, as relations between metropoles, local elites, and wider local populations were all affected. This led sometimes to unrest, and sometimes to systemic change, as in Jamaica (where, in the wake of the Morant Bay rebellion, the old assembly voted to surrender its power to a stronger executive). In Cuba, the slavery question was one factor in the “Ten Years War” for independence, which began in 1868, though this did not immediately change the status quo.18 When slavery was officially ended, this did not always change societies and economies as much as might be supposed. Haiti lost its former commanding export role (along with a sizeable chunk of its population), but its new leaders, desperate for foreign income, maintained a forced-​labor regime so as to be able to sustain plantation production. The British, when they moved to end slave labor, planned a transitional period of “apprenticeship,” though this did not last long. Asian “indentured laborers” were soon brought in to take over some of the work formerly done by slaves—​and not only in the islands but also in the cotton and sugar plantations of Peru (traditionally cultivated by a mix of slave and indigenous coerced labor).19 Economies also changed for other reasons.20 Mexican silver production underwent vicissitudes, and over the longer term lost its once critical role in the global economy. The British had coveted access to Latin American markets through the eighteenth century and had allied with Portugal partly to gain some entrée. Political convulsions opened new opportunities. Britain pushed to the fore in recognizing the independence of the new states, partly to secure its trading position. Britain retained a dominant role in trade thereafter, though its share declined as other players—​the United States, France, Germany—​entered the game, which they did chiefly from the middle of the nineteenth century as assessments of the trading environment became more positive. When more manufacturing imports arrived, they undermined 17 Robin Blackburn, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 1776-​1848 (London, 1988); Ada Ferrer, Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (New York, 2014). 18 Franklin Knight, ed., The General History of the Caribbean. Vol. 3, Slave Societies of the Caribbean; Vol. 4, The Long Nineteenth Century (London, 1997, 2003). 19 David Northrup, Indentured Labor in the Age of Imperialism, 1834–​1922 (Cambridge, UK, 1995). 20 Tulio Halperin Donghi, “Economy and Society in Post-​Independence Spanish America,” in Cambridge History of Latin America, ed. Leslie Bethell Vol. 3, 299–​345; John Tutino, ed., New Countries: Capitalism, Revolution, and Nations in the Americas, 1750-​1870 (Durham, NC, 2016) has as one of its primary aims integrating stories of economic, social, and political change.

The Project and the Setting  19 some domestic production. In a competitive global market, Latin America found itself, like many other parts of the world (including some within Europe), shunted into the position of manufacturing importer, primary goods exporter—​though, since the price of manufactured goods fell more over the period, this was not entirely disadvantageous. Brazil developed its role in coffee production (relying on slave labor for this); Peru exported the natural fertilizer, guano; Chile exported grain. Across less fertile lands, notably in the River Plate, the practice of stock-​raising was extended and increasingly geared to export markets in leather, salt beef, and tallow. Meat factories became one species of local industry (in Brazil they too were manned by slaves). Europeans who had initially hoped to unleash something more dramatically dynamic sometimes dealt with disappointment by blaming the character of the people. But, insofar as wealth pooled in cities, a cross-​section of town dwellers enjoyed chances to profit in the retail and service sectors and to savor, or at least observe and form views about, the sweets of modernizing urban life.21 By the end of period, the population of the region was on the order of three times its size at the start: over 40 million on the mainland and Spanish islands, more than a million on British and French islands (Jamaica alone accounting for almost half a million); Haiti and Santo Domingo, having grown more sluggishly, added another 1.5 million.22 Population growth was not strongly associated with cities, which were often slow to recover from years of turbulence. In general, population growth was most associated with the expansion of the agricultural frontier, and therefore especially with the once more thinly populated south. The islands’ demographic experience varied—​ Cuba grew notably—​but overall growth seems to have been lower than on the mainland. To put the regional population of around 43 million into perspective, by the final decade of our period, the population of the then–​ United States was something under 40 million; the densely populated United Kingdom was home to about 30 million; the rest of Europe, excluding Russia, held 210 million.

21 Woodrow Borah et al., eds., “Urbanization in the Americas: The Background in Comparative Perspective,” Urban History Review/​Revue d’histoire urbaine, special issue, outside series (1980). A recent overview (in any language) of the character of mid-​nineteenth-​century urban social and cultural life seems to be lacking, but see, for a case study shedding some light, Camilla Townsend, Tales of Two Cities. Race and Economic Culture in Early Republican North and South America (Austin, TX, 2000). 22 See note 10 above.

20  Re-imagining Democracy At our period’s end, the mainland was home to some dozen republics, whose borders had stabilized by mid-​century (US annexation of a huge part of Mexico’s territory in the 1840 Mexican-​American war was a relatively late and the largest single change). In the 1860s, the French-​led invasion of Mexico and installation of the Austrian archduke Maximilian as emperor, though supported by some conservative Mexicans, was fiercely and within a few years successfully resisted, and Mexico was reinstated as a republic. Mainland republics were at that point undergoing various kinds of change, in practice and in self-​conception, as a new generation of “liberal reforms” was enacted, popular mobilizations prompted some new thinking about how best to sustain bonds between government and people, and US and European adventurism encouraged the development of celebratory narratives about what made the region’s political and social institutions worth defending.23 Neighboring Brazil nonetheless remained an empire and a slave state—​as such presenting another foil (though it would cease to be either within a generation). Among the islands, Haiti and Santo Domingo both ended the period as independent republics (the Dominican Republic had re-​acquired that status only recently, after conflicts with both Haiti and Spain). Other islands remained tied to Spanish, French, and British metropoles. The name “Latin America”—​which we use in this book as familiar and convenient—​had come into occasional use by the 1860s, though, as Nancy Appelbaum explains in Chapter 6, it had (and has) no fixed meaning, being variously applied according to the work it is used to do. In our period, it was used to indicate any of a language region, a series of independent states, of republics, and states considered to share a common “Latin” culture (sometimes interpreted as including French culture).24 We use it to chiefly to refer to states which, at the start of our period, were ruled by Iberian monarchs. Our overlapping category of “Caribbean” includes Spanish, French, and British islands (Dexnell Peters also invokes a “greater Caribbean” including neighboring coasts and their hinterlands). Among independent states in the region, both mainland and island, the establishment of constitutional and representative regimes had set government and political culture on a radically new course. On the majority of 23 Vincent C. Peloso and Barbara A. Tenenbaum, eds., Liberals, Politics, and Power: State Formation in Nineteenth-​Century Latin America (Athens, GA, 1996); Guy P. C. Thomson, ed., The European Revolutions of 1848 and the Americas (London, 2002); Sanders, The Vanguard of the Atlantic World. 24 See also Michael Gobat, “The Invention of Latin America: A Transnational History of Anti-​ Imperialism, Democracy and Race,” American Historical Review 118, no. 5 (2013): 1345–​75.

The Project and the Setting  21 islands, political change had been less systemic—​but by this time all their metropoles had broadly based representative regimes. Although metropolitan institutional changes were not directly replicated, and had complex effects on the islands, nonetheless island-​dwellers operated within broader political cultures in which representation, political rights, and social rights had currency as ideals. Across the region, the new world that had taken shape was one in which talk of “democracy” was easier to naturalize than it had been in the former “new world.” But “democracy” also remained, as it always does, the name of an aspiration that reality failed to match—​accordingly a threat to some, a beacon of hope for others.

2 The Language of Democracy Eduardo Posada-​Carbó

“So what really is democracy?”, a newspaper in New Granada asked in 1850.1 “As the idea of democracy is today so generally propagated,” its author reasoned, there was a need to examine its nature because “the happiness or misfortune of any society rests on the understanding of this word.” It was a question that occupied contemporaries elsewhere in Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly those involved in public debate, often perplexed by the inroads of an expression that had been rare in previous decades. While the previous chapter provided an introduction to our larger project, the structure of the book, and a historical overview of the region, we now turn to the question of “democracy” and to the trajectories of the language in the region. In this second introductory chapter, we first offer a survey of the existing literature on “democracy”; this is followed by an overview of the findings of our book, focused on the broad patterns of the uses of democracy from the late eighteenth century to 1870. We finally identify some topics for future research and conclude with some reflections on “re-​imagining democracy” in the region in comparative perspective.

Historiographical Context The history of language in Latin America has received increasing attention from scholars of the region over the last three decades. From various perspectives, historians of ideas, concepts, and discourses—​ sometimes converging, sometimes in dispute—​have addressed the subject, though some periods, countries, and topics have been better covered than others.2 For 1 “Qué cosa es democracia,” Ariete (Cali), January 26, 1850. 2 Javier Fernández Sebastián, Historia conceptual en el Atlántico Ibérico. Lenguajes, tiempos, revoluciones (Madrid, 2021), 156–​57. Fernández Sebastián acknowledges various authors that have informed the historiography of the region, including Koselleck, Skinner, Pocock, Freeden, Richter, and Rosanvallon. Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, The Language of Democracy In: Re-​imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–​1870. Edited by: Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, Joanna Innes, and Mark Philp, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/​oso/​9780197631577.003.0002

The Language of Democracy  23 example, the period of independence, of particular relevance to our book, has received much attention.3 There also exist valuable monographs on the republican discourse of the Rosas regime (the dictatorial rule of Juan Manuel de Rosas in the River Plate, 1829–​1852)4 and on the political language of nineteenth-​century Mexico.5 Javier Fernández Sebastián has led the most wide and ambitious study of words for the Iberian Atlantic world, Iberconceptos: a major editorial undertaking which covers most of the countries that once formed part of the Spanish and Portuguese empires in mainland Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean.6 Contributions from over one hundred scholars explore key political concepts used during the age of revolutions. The first volume appeared in 2009, covering the words America/​Americans, citizen/​vecinos, constitution, federation/​ federalism, history, liberal/​ liberalism, public opinion, people, and republic/​republican. The second “volume” was published in 2014 in a different format: each concept was the subject of a separate book. Democracia, edited by Gerardo Caetano, appeared as volume two, alongside individual volumes on civilization, state, independence, liberty, order, party/​ faction, and sovereignty.7 Histories that focused on the word democracy were few before the Iberconceptos’ volume, though there were some notable antecedents.8 Additionally, some scholars looked at “democracy” as part of a wider revisionist exercise: they challenged the mode in which the intellectual history of Latin America was written by advocating a turn to political 3 Rubén Darío Salas, Lenguaje, estado y poder en el Río de la Plata, 1816-​1827 (Buenos Aires, 1998); José Carlos Chiaramonte, Nation and State in Latin America: Political Language During Independence (New Brunswick, NJ, 2012); Noemí Goldman, ed., Lenguaje y revolución. Conceptos políticos clave en el Río de la Plata, 1780-​1850 (Buenos Aires, 2008); Francisco A. Ortega and Yoben Chicangana-​ Bayona, eds., Conceptos fundamentales de la cultura política de la independencia (Bogotá, 2012); Francisco Ortega, “The Conceptual History of Independence and the Colonial Question in Spanish America,” Journal of the History of Ideas 79, no. 1 (2018): 89–​103. 4 Jorge Myers, Orden y virtud. El discurso republicano en el régimen rosista (Buenos Aires, 1995). 5 Elías José Palti, La invención de una legitimidad. Razón y retórica en el pensamiento mexicano del silgo XIX (Un estudio sobre las formas del discurso político) (Mexico City, 2005). 6 Only Bolivia, Ecuador, and Paraguay were excluded. 7 Caetano Democracia, 2. For the way this project was conceived and developed, see Fernández Sebastián, “Iberconceptos. Hacia una historia transnacional de los conceptos políticos en el mundo iberoamericano,” Isegoría, no. 37 (2007): 165–​76. 8 One such antecedent was the work of Rubén Darío Salas, “Aproximación al léxico político rioplatense (1816-​1826). Democracia, república y federación: alcances semánticos del discurso de sus detractores,” Jahrbuch fur Geschichte Lateinamerikas 31 (1994): 85–​115. See also among a collection of early publications from the project, Gonzalo Capellán and Gerardo Caetano, eds., “Dossier: El concepto Democracia en Iberoamérica antes y después de las Independencias,” Alcores. Revista de Historia Contemporánea 9 (2010): 19–​169. Some works have paid some attention to the language of democracy, but this was marginal to their main concerns; see, for example: James Sanders, The Vanguard of the Atlantic World. Creating Modernity, Nation, and Democracy in Nineteenth-​Century Latin America (Durham, NC, 2014).

24  Re-imagining Democracy language.9 Nonetheless, the Iberconceptos volume mapped the field in substantial ways, each chapter offering an overview of the trajectory of “democracy” in a given place, from the 1770s to 1870, a period identified as one of “profound” conceptual change.10 Throughout this period, as the Iberconceptos collection showed, “democracy” was given different meanings and connotations by different actors; the time and pace of its transformations also varied significantly from place to place. A shared feature, however, was that it was used in only limited ways during the colonial period. Shared too were major changes after independence; indeed, that marked a major watershed, since thereafter the term was gradually incorporated into the mainstream political vocabulary. However, its itinerary did not follow a single path. At one end of the spectrum, it seems to have been used relatively frequently and with some positive connotations in New Granada and Venezuela, particularly during the early years of independence, By contrast, the expression appears to have been rare in the monarchical, slave-​heavy states of Brazil and Cuba; and, when present, it was often the target of criticism: “the democratic spirit is highly dangerous where there is slavery,” the Cuban José de Arango y Núñez del Castillo noted in 1838.11 But the overall picture that emerged from Iberconceptos was one in which “democracy” appeared timidly during the early decades of independence (1810s–​1820s), taking center stage in public debate only after 1850; uses of the word in the decades in between were not much explored. Taken in conjunction with other historiographical developments in Europe and the United States, the Iberconceptos project sparked new interest in the history of “democracy” in Latin America, prompting scholars to deepen their knowledge about the trajectories of the word in particular countries or periods and to examine more deeply its transatlantic connections.12 Recent essays, for example, have examined how, in Chile, some endorsements of “democracy” during the early days of independence were followed by

9 Elías Palti, El tiempo de la política. El siglo XIX reconsiderado (Buenos Aires, 2007), 203–​44. For his critical examination of the intellectual history of the region, see Palti, “Beyond Revisionism: The Biccentenial of Independence, the Early Republican Experience, and Intellectual History in Latin America,” Journal of the History of Ideas 70, no. 4 (2009): 593–​614. See also Roberto Breña, “Tensions and Challenges of Intellectual History in Contemporary Latin America,” Contributions to the History of Concepts 16, no. 1 (2021): 89–​115. 10 A Sattelzeit, in Koselleck’s terminology; see Fernández Sebastián, “Iberconceptos,” 169. 11 Cited in Johanna von Grafenstein, “Caribe/​Antillas hispanas,” in Caetano, ed., Democracia, 75. 12 See in particular, the two edited volumes by Joanna Innes and Mark Philp, Re-​Imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions and Re-​Imagining Democracy in the Mediterranean, 1780-​1860.

The Language of Democracy  25 disenchantment after the failures of the first republican experiments;13 how, in Mexico, the work of the liberal Mariano Otero in the 1840s paved the way for the “redemption” of the word in the subsequent decade;14 how, in Ecuador and in Chile, liberal Catholicism helped to widen its appeal;15 and, throughout the region, how Tocqueville’s Democracy in America helped to popularize the term, even though his work was “selectively appropriated.”16 Tocqueville’s impact on Mexico especially was the subject of an article in a dossier published by the Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies, in which other essays explored various aspects of the trajectory of “democracy” in the region.17 Notwithstanding these advances, the number of studies on the topic continues to be limited and scattered in journals rather than collected in monographs. Our book aims to contribute to the field in several ways. It widens its geographical scope by considering the non-​Spanish Caribbean. It devotes more attention to the 1830s and 1840s: periods in which “democracy” began to be naturalized into political lexicons in the region, even if it was not yet fully mainstream. While sharing the interest in words that has characterized the developing historiography just surveyed, our book is also much concerned to contextualize language use: to explore the institutional, social, and cultural environments in which the term was taken up (the focus of the book’s thematic chapters) and, in that context, to try to clarify what the word was used to interpret or achieve—​how it was used to assess options and suggest responses to problems in a changing political scene. A broadly conceived understanding of the word’s trajectories requires attention to these things. Our interest in setting the word in a relatively richly realized context also affects the way in which our country-​specific “language” chapters have been

13 Gabriel Cid Rodríguez, “El temor al ‘Reinado del populacho.’ El concepto de democracia durante la independencia chilena,” Universum 32, no. 1 (2017): 195–​212. 14 José Antonio Aguilar Rivera, “La redención democrática: México, 1821-​1861,” Historia Mexicana 69, no. 1 (2019): 7–​56. 15 Galaxis Borja González, “‘Sois libres, sois iguales, sois hermanos.’ Sociedades democráticas en Quito de mediados del siglo XIX,” Jarhbuch für Geschichte Lateinamerikas 53 (2016): 185–​210; Gonzalo Capellán, “Le moment Lamennais. Modern Slavery and the Re-​description of People (and Democracy) in Spain and Chile,” Contributions to the History of Concepts 15, no. 2 (2020): 51–​79. 16 José Antonio Aguilar Rivera, “Democracy in the (other) America,” in The Cambridge Companion to Democracy in America, ed. Richard Boyd (Cambridge, UK, 2022), 204–​29. 17 Eduardo Posada-​Carbó et al. “The History of Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1800-​1870,” Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies 26, no. 2 (2020). See the essays by Javier Fernández Sebastián, José Antonio Aguilar Rivera, Gabe Paquette, Carrie Gibson, Jesús Sanjurjo, Eduardo Zimmermann, Marcelo Casals, Andrés Estefane, and Juan Luis Ossa. This “dossier” is an outcome of one of the preliminary meetings we held in the planning of this book.

26  Re-imagining Democracy written. They cover fewer countries than the Iberconceptos project did, but they do more to flesh out the context.

Talk about “Democracy” in the Region: an Overview In the remainder of this chapter we offer an overview of what emerges from our book about changes in talk about “democracy,” with special emphasis on common patterns over time, which may not be easy to trace through the diverse and often place-​specific discussions that later chapters offer. While we rely primarily on the findings of our contributors, this introduction sometimes adds further instances of use, so as to generalize the narrative; it also suggests new avenues for research.18 Our point of departure is the colonial era: neither the language chapters in this volume nor most of those of Iberconceptos say much about that period, but one of the premises of our larger project is that the ancient concept of democracy was already known to some—​if possibly only a learned few—​across the regions that we study, and was then re-​imagined for modern use. That certainly applies to the Iberian world. Caetano reports that “democracy” and “democrat” featured in the influential dictionary of the Real Academia Española in 1734 and subsequent editions: the former was defined as “popular government” and was listed as one of the three basic forms of government, together with monarchy and aristocracy. The Vocabulário Portuguéz e Latino, one of the first Portuguese dictionaries, published in 1712, also included “democracy” defined as a form of government “directly opposed to monarchy.”19 The word figured in several publications from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and was usually associated with assertions of the superiority of monarchical government.20 Law students would have encountered it in texts on law and government, perhaps including Aristotle, but also in modern texts such as those of Heineccius, which, according to Chiaramonte, were widely used in Spanish American universities.21 The New Granadian 18 We cite specific chapters only when it is not easy to infer which chapters support particular sections of this account. 19 Caetano, “Itinerarios conceptuales de la voz ‘democracia’ en Iberoamérica, 1770-​1870,” in Caetano, Democracia, 19–​20. 20 See, for example, Discurso Ivridico historico-​politico en defensa de la jurisdiccion real (Lima, 1685), 20; and Relación de la fundación de la Real Audiencia del Cuzco en 1788 (Madrid, 1795), 209. Both are available in the digital collection of the John Carter Brown Library. 21 Aristotle’s Politica was at least cited in Edicto, carta circular y pastoral breve que el ilustrísimo señor Don Fr Joseph Antonio de San Alberto dirige a todos sus diocesanos (Buenos Aires, 1793), 31. See

The Language of Democracy  27 Antonio Nariño, who translated into Spanish the French “Declaration of the Rights of Men,” cited Heineccius when equating “democracy” with “popular government”—​a nice illustration of academic study being given new application in a new environment.22 Lettered men (and possibly women) more broadly would have encountered discussions of the merits of democracy in contemporary works such as those of Montesquieu and Rousseau.23 The word is likely to have been encountered by educated people in the British and French Caribbean in similar contexts at this time, and possibly also in pamphlets and the newspaper press in societies where print media were less intensively policed. However, before the French Revolution the term was not much in use, and even less in favorable use, in the political lexicons of either Britain or France or in those of British or French America, and it probably had little if any presence in their island colonies.24 The French Revolution gave new reasons to discuss the merits or demerits of democracy (however conceived). One might have expected that if the word achieved an enhanced presence anywhere, it would have been in turbulent, revolutionizing Saint Domingue. However, as Emmanuel Lachaud tells us in Chapter 11, little evidence has yet been found to suggest that it had much place in discourse there. Given that rank-​and-​file talk was rarely recorded, silence is not conclusive. Luis Perrone’s report that French soldiers—​captured on Hispaniola and held captive in La Guaira, on the Venezuelan sea coast—​ inspired hopes in some locals for “democratic” revolution is tantalizing. Nonetheless, as Jeremy Popkin has recently underlined, we should not assume any easy mingling of sentiments between French forces and Haiti’s recurrently insurgent black majority.25 Public discussion of any kind remained rare in Iberian America at this time: the press was highly restricted and freedom of expression not operative. also Mercurio Peruano (Lima), November 17, 1791: 196–​207; Gazeta de Literatura (Mexico City), November 30, 1790: 53–​59—​all available in the JCB digital collection, 473. José Carlos Chiaramonte, “The ‘Ancient Constitution’ after Independence (1808-​52),” Hispanic American Historical Review 90, no. 3 (2010): 453. 22 Isidro Vanegas, “Democracia—​Colombia/​New Granada,” in Caetano, Democracia, 119. 23 For the significant diffusion of Rousseau before independence, see Jefferson Rea Spell, Rousseau in the Spanish World Before 1833. A Study in Franco-​Spanish Literary Relations (Austin, TX, 1938), 129–​39 and 217–​43; and on Montesquieu, Raynal, and Filangieri, pp. 130, 134, 220, 221, 227. 24 For the case of French, later British Canada, Francis Dupuis-​Déri, “Histoire du mot ‘démocratie’ au Canada et au Québec. Analyse politique des stratégies rhétoriques,” Canadian Journal of Political Science 42, no. 2 (2009): 321–​43. 25 Jeremy D. Popkin, “Sailors and Revolution: Naval Mutineers in Saint-​Domingue, 1790–​1793,” French History 26, no. 4 (2012): 460–​81.

28  Re-imagining Democracy One such rare discussion took place in another part of the viceroyalty of New Granada, in the pages of the Papel Periódico de Santafe de Bogotá, following the 1794 arrest of the aforementioned Antonio Nariño, who was prosecuted together with some students for plotting against the Spanish authorities. In a series of articles that focused on Montesquieu’s notion of mixed government, the paper stated that “The government of any republic, be it democratic, aristocratic, or mixed, is a repulsive government” and instead defended monarchy as a government “established by God . . . the most just, the wisest, the most perfect.”26 The impact of the revolution on talk about democracy deserves more attention. We do not know, for instance, how much it figured in counterrevolutionary discourse.27 Enlightenment ideas, US independence, and French revolutions must have been topics of many a private conversation. Though prohibited by colonial authorities, texts that helped diffuse positive talk about democracy did circulate. Some educated people had access to them at home; others when traveling in Europe and the United States—​as Francisco de Miranda and Simón Bolívar both did.28 Still, the underdevelopment of the public sphere must have helped to limit their circulation. The struggles for independence which unfolded, first in Spanish and then in Portuguese America between 1808 and the early 1820s, both presented new challenges and opened up new sites in which to canvass ideas, not least those provided by the newspaper press, which expanded from meagre official beginnings. “Democracy” gained a little more currency in debate at this time, alongside other terms including sovereignty of the people and representative government, as people pondered what their political options were and how to choose between them.29 In Spanish America the essential choice was often seen as that between monarchy and republic. The modern republic, as constituted in the United 26 Papel Periódico de Santafé de Bogotá, November 20, 1794. In later editions, the paper insisted that the “government of God” leads to “pure Monarchy” and that hereditary Monarchy is the greatest work of human wisdom; while it condemned the “popular republic” as the “resort of turbulent, mutineers and seditious men” . . . “no honest people . . . would prefer Democracy”; see December 5, 9, and 12 editions of the same paper. See also Vanegas, “Democracia,” 118–​20. 27 Guy Thomson cites one example. 28 Spell, Rousseau in the Spanish World, 129–​39 and 217–​43. In his diary of his visit to the United States (1783–​84), Miranda used “democracy” several times, mostly positively, including in a conversation with Samuel Adams when Miranda critically observed the contradictions of privileging “property” over virtue in the US Constitution, whereas virtue was the basis of democracy. See Miranda, Diario de viaje a Estados Unidos, 1783-​1784 (Santiago, 1998), 152; for other references to democracy in that volume see pp. 48, 66, 153, 168. 29 See François-​Xavier Guerra, Modernidades e independencias (Madrid, 1992).

The Language of Democracy  29 States, France, and elsewhere, had at its heart “representation,” primarily via the mechanism of election. Representative government was routinely contrasted with “democracy,” often glossed as “pure” or “absolute,”—​the ancient form, though conversely it was sometimes equated with a non-​ adjectivally qualified “democracy”; Perrone cites several examples of this. But “representative government” was the more common formulation. As Aguilar Rivera and Zimmerman report, almost all the early constitutions that defined a form of government favored “representative” or “popular representative” (for example, Cundinamarca, 1812; Gran Colombia, 1821; Peru, 1823; Mexico, 1824; Chile, 1828; Uruguay, 1830). The choice of term sometimes followed public deliberations, as in the constituent assemblies of Gran Colombia in 1821 and Uruguay in 1829. “Democracy” certainly had a presence in the larger repertoire of terms used to explain and interpret choices made. Political catechisms subsequently published to explain the features of the new republics, either to children at schools or to the wider public, not uncommonly characterized them as democracies but used the term with the very general meaning of popular government. By the end of the 1820s, some such texts used the phrase “representative democracy,” although the two words were not yet habitually yoked.30 “Democracy” was sometimes employed with reference not to political institutions but to society: to the social foundation or correlate of republican political institutions. Luis Perrone in Chapter 14 cites several instances from the early period of Venezuela’s independence struggles in which “democracy” was glossed as entailing equality (even if the character and extent of that equality was often not spelled out). Guy Thomson in Chapter 13 cites instances from Mexico in which the democratic many were contrasted, favorably or unfavorably, with the aristocratic few, and “aristocracy” (not always explicitly contrasted with democracy) was lambasted in discussions elsewhere, too.31 Demands for equality in the face of “aristocracy,” “tyranny,” or “despotism” were sometimes described as manifestations of democracy.32 And when early, loosely structured political parties—​political groupings 30 There were instances where the direct democracy of the ancient world was endorsed—​notably by the Venezuelan Juan Germán Roscio in his Triunfo de la libertad sobre el despotismo (1817), a text of continental resonance, republished in Mexico in 1824, 1828, and 1857. These were, however, exceptional. 31 Bernardo O’Higgins, the leader of Chilean independence, wrote in 1812 that “by nature, I detest aristocracy”; cited in Simón Collier, Ideas y política de la independencia chilena, 1808-​1833 (Santiago, 2012), 250. 32 “Continúan las observaciones didácticas,” Gazeta de Buenos Ayres, February 21, 1812.

30  Re-imagining Democracy contesting elections—​were termed or embraced on their own account the epithet “democratic,” what was signified was often that their programs catered to the interests of the masses, especially by promoting local self-​government, as opposed to the interests especially of political and administrative leaders at the center (though how far decentralization, when achieved, did benefit the people at large as opposed to local elites no doubt varied from case to case).33 Both in an institutional and in a social context, during independence struggles and in the early years of independence, democracy was thus increasingly (though by no means always) endorsed, sounding a theme that would often recur in the decades that followed. Yet democracy was also often said—​even by those willing to grant it intrinsic merit—​to be unsuited to Latin American circumstances: potentially good, but not good for us now. Bernardo Monteagudo provides a striking instance of someone who shifted toward this view. As a young revolutionary in Buenos Aires in the 1810s, he acclaimed “democracy”—​but a decade later, after he had accompanied the liberator San Martin to Peru and held high office there, he modified his views (as he himself acknowledged) and accepted the principle of “restricting democratic ideas.”34 Conditions that (as he saw it) made it difficult to govern Peru democratically included the mores of its people and their lack of education, inequality of wealth, and racial differences and antipathies. Others echoed that assessment more forcefully, condemning democracy as “the worst enemy America has.”35 Since in this hemisphere “democracy” was often understood as a synonym for, or at least as closely linked with, republican forms of government, it is not surprising to find our contributors reporting that it had less currency in monarchical Brazil or in Haiti in its imperial and monarchical phases. Insofar as it was put to any positive use, that was probably to describe forces that might yet bring about change, not as any kind of description of the status quo. In Brazil, by Andrea Slémian’s account, when “democracy” was invoked it was usually unfavorably contrasted with monarchy. Thus in the process of breaking ties with Lisbon in 1822, Dom Pedro, the Prince Regent, presented 33 As noted by Guy Thomson. See, for additional examples, El payo del Rosario (anonymous), Ya tenemos en Oaxaca parte de la Santa Liga (Mexico City, 1826); and El pensador (anonymous), Como no haya división, no habrá en Durango opresión (Mexico City, 1826). 34 “Memoria sobre los principios políticos que seguí en la administración del Perú y acontecimientos posteriores a mi separación ,” (1823), in Bernardo Monteagudo, Escritos políticos (Buenos Aires, 1916), 317–​57. 35 The Chilean Mariano Egaña in 1827, cited in Chapter 16 in this book.

The Language of Democracy  31 himself to the Brazilians as their Defensor Perpetuo, someone who might save them from the “ills of anarchy,” the “dismemberment of its provinces and the furies of Democracy.”36 Provincial rebellions in Pernambuco in 1817 and 1824 were portrayed as just such democratic disorders (though rebels may have given the word a more positive sense). In mainstream Brazilian political discourse, democracy was treated more positively at this juncture only when it was represented as playing some part in the mixed constitution that sustained the empire. In Haiti, Emmanuel Lachaud tells us, concern to maintain stability in difficult circumstances encouraged ruling groups to speak warily of “democracy” not only in the imperial/​monarchical north, but also in what emerged as the republican south. Differing Haitian regimes might all believe that they were acting in the best interests of their embattled nation—​but they saw those as sometimes requiring them to act against the wishes of an unruly people. During the 1830s, the independent, overwhelmingly “representative” regimes of the mainland began to bed down. Politics remained fractious and sometimes insurrectionary, but nonetheless a transition had been effected. The new political scene provided both new openings for political talk and new things to talk about. In both French and British islands, meanwhile, agitation against racially exclusively regimes increased, while the advent of more “liberal” administrations in both metropoles from 1830 encouraged hopes of change. This period saw the publication of several more extended reflections on new governments and societies: on the successes and failures of the new regimes and on the challenges presented by the forms of society which they sought to rule. In these analyses, experience with “democracy” (variously conceived) was often one of the themes discussed. Independence struggles were now sometimes constructed retrospectively as manifestations of democratic enthusiasm, though they had only rarely been so constructed at the time. An instance of the genre is the Mexican Lorenzo de Zavala’s Ensayo histórico (1831–​2), highlighted by Guy Thomson. But one might also cite writings by two Argentinians: Juan Bautista Alberdi’s Fragmento preliminar (1837) and Esteban Echeverría’s Dogma socialista (1838), and equally the Venezuelan Francisco Javier Yanes’ Manual político (1839).37 Some of the 36 (Leaflet) Manifesto de S.A.R o Principe Regente Constitutcionl e Defensor Perpetuo do Reino de Brasil. Aos Povos deste Reino (Rio de Janeiro, August 1, 1822), John Carter Brown Library digital collection. 37 Zavala, Ensayo histórico de las revoluciones en México desde 1808 hasta 1830 (Paris, 1831–​2); Alberdi, Fragmento preliminar al estudio del derecho (1837), in J.B. Alberdi, Obras completas, I

32  Re-imagining Democracy most insightful analyses were written from exile—​Zavala wrote in the United States, Echeverría in Montevideo. The first substantial history of Haiti, by Thomas Madiou (1848), trailed these other works in time but, like them, saw in “democracy” a useful concept to frame analysis. The emergence of this genre of reflective writing about democracy paralleled developments in Europe, and European writings of this kind also circulated in the region and helped to inform discussion. Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835, 1840; Spanish translation 1837, 1842) found a receptive audience—​ extracts were published in, among many other places, the Feuille du Commerce in Haiti. But other European authors of different persuasions—​ including Guizot and Lamennais—​were also read and considered.38 We know little about the audience for these books, though they were probably used as teaching texts in high schools and universities—​in this way reaching an important, if still restricted, audience. Meanwhile “democracy” was also gaining currency in everyday political debate across the whole region, mainland and islands, independent states and colonies. Mexican pronunciamientos—​written petitions or manifestos seeking popular support—​started to use the term, taking stances either for or against democracy.39 The language of democracy also figured in the Manifeste de Pruslin (1842), a call for revolution issued by a coalition of Haitian and Dominican liberals against what they saw as the excessively autocratic rule of President Boyer. The word was co-​opted for partisan political purposes, making appearances in among other places newspapers, which themselves were growing in number. Some newspapers branded themselves El Demócrata: thus, in New Granada (1830), Mexico (1833–​4 and 1850), Venezuela (1834), Chile (1843), and Peru (1846—​the Peruvian paper was called El Demócrata Americano). One form of political-​cultural outreach work took the form of establishing associations to disseminate democratic “principles” (and garner support for particular political factions)—​thus the Sociedad Democrático-​Republicana de artesanos y labradores progresistas, (Buenos Aires, 1886), 103–​42; Echeverría, Manual político del venezolano (1839) (Caracas, 1959); Thomas Madiou, Histoire d’Haïti, 8 vols. (Port-​au-​Prince, 1848). 38 Yanes (another author worthy of further study) acknowledged a significant number of sources—​not only Paine, Tracy, Hamilton, Madison, and others, but also some earlier thinkers in the region (the Venezuelan Roscio, the New Granadian Miguel de Pombo); he seems to have ignored Tocqueville. See his Manual político, chapter on “Del gobierno representativo,” 37–​74. 39 See Chapter 13. For additional examples of pronunciamientos using the term, see “Convenio entre Nicolás Bravo y Juan Alvarez, 13 April 1831,” and “Manifiesto del General Santa Anna, 16 August 1846,” available at https://​arts.st-​andr​ews.ac.uk/​pronu​ncia​mien​tos/​.

The Language of Democracy  33 established in Bogotá in 1838, and the Sociedad Democrática, founded in Chile by liberals in 1845 to rally artisans behind their cause.40 It must be stressed that the pace of diffusion was different in each country, with significant variations. There were places where democracy apparently rarely figured in the political lexicon—​for example in Argentina. Though the Argentinian political strongman Rosas claimed that he and his supporters were democrats, the word was mostly used by his opponents in exile (though usage in the Rosas era deserves more research).41 The secessionist Farroupilha movement in Rio Grande do Sul included “democracy” in some of its manifestos,42 but the word apparently remained marginal to Brazilian political debate. By contrast, it did figure in the political press in both French and British colonies in ways that showed awareness of discourses prevailing in both imperial metropoles and the United States. Whether, and if so in what ways, Latin American ideas also made a mark, and to what extent distinct traditions of talk developed in the particular circumstances of different islands, are topics that await enquiry. As contexts for and patterns in its use changed in the 1830s and early 1840s, we also find shifts in the word’s meanings. It continued to figure in discussions about forms of government. But it became more firmly identified with representation, often via the syntagm “representative democracy.” Moreover, it was more often characterized as an aspiration—​entailing the ideas on the one hand that it was a good thing, yet on the other hand that it remained to be achieved. Echeverría in Dogma (1838) urged taking “democracy” as both “our point of departure and destination”; he said that it was the mission of his generation “to constitute Argentine society upon the . . . bases of democratic equality and freedom.”43 More fully instantiating democracy was understood to entail improving social conditions and achieving more substantive equality. Improving projects could have a spiritual, or alternatively or additionally a socialist tinge (as understood at the time): people’s spiritual and social capacities and opportunities might be said to need attention, alongside 40 As detailed in Chapters 8, 15, and 16. 41 Enrique Lafuente to Félix Frías, April 18, 1839, cited in John Lynch, Caudillos in Spanish America, 1800-​1850 (Oxford, 1991), 251. The extent to which the Rosistas appealed to the language of democracy remains to be assessed. For Pedro de Angelis, the “official” journalist of the regime, the “vital condition of democratic regimes” was the gathering of the people to decide about public business: Myers, Orden y virtud, 165. 42 We owe this information to Andre Jockyman Roithmann, “Republicanism and the State between Brazil and the River Plate, Rio Grande do Sul, 1808–​1845” (Unpublished DPhil, Oxford, 2022), Chapters V and VI, especially 224, 256, 299, 300. 43 Echeverría, Dogma socialista, 166, 170–​71, reiterated in Ojeada retrospectiva (1846).

34  Re-imagining Democracy their political rights, for them to function effectively as human beings. Lamennaisian and socialist ideas (encountered in exile in France) informed the thinking of Francisco Bilbao. French and British socialist ideas are said to have informed the thinking of Haitian sympathizers with unrest among rural laborers in the 1840s. Improvement projects which foregrounded the need to educate the people probably had broader appeal. It had been argued earlier that republics needed educated citizens; now this need was reframed as a “democratic” imperative. Andrés Bello, the Venezuelan turned Chilean statesman and educator and not generally an enthusiast for democracy, underlined that education was essential to “democratic government”—​to spread its values and to prepare people to “participate more or less directly in [public] affairs.”44 Finally, when “democracy” was given prominence in partisan political contexts—​as in Chile, New Granada, and Peru—​it was colored like a chameleon by a wide array of partisan meanings, which it would take considerable further research to chart and disentangle. The 1848 revolutions in Europe produced a brief upsurge in enthusiasm for “democracy,” associated with competition to appropriate it for a wide variety of causes. In our region, the revolutions’ most dramatic impacts were on French slave colonies, as the French government then abolished slavery. To what extent associated agitations on the islands were also associated with talk about “democracy” is unclear.45 On the American mainland, when the revolutions had an impact that was above all at the level of ideas, the significance of that impact depended on whether their issues and discourses resonated with local concerns and debates.46 They did resonate in New Granada and Chile, but by contrast had little impact in Rosas’s Argentina or in Mexico—​Mexicans being preoccupied above all by their war with the United States, and consequent territorial losses. If, as in Europe and indeed the United States (where it acquired nationalist overtones), “democracy” gained yet more currency at this juncture that should, accordingly, primarily be explained in terms of its local momentum 44 There were statements by Bello linking democratic government to education at least in 1836, 1843, and 1848. See Selected Writings of Andrés Bello, ed. Iván Jaksić (Oxford, 1997), 110, 129, 140. 45 It is of interest that the metropolitan abolitionist Victor Schoelcher, an old Montagnard who in later life said that he had always positioned himself among the most advanced friends of democracy, seems himself to have talked about the imperatives of abolition in terms of liberty, equality, and universal suffrage much more than in terms of “democracy”—​though scholars subsequently have assessed his views as democratic, e.g., Philippe Alain Blerald, “La problématique démocratique dans le discours abolitionniste de Victor Schoelcher,” Revue Française de Science Politique 38, no. 2 (1988): 249–​71. 46 Guy Thomson, ed., The European Revolutions of 1848 in the Americas (London, 2002).

The Language of Democracy  35 and functions. As in Europe, there seems to have been some trend for it to be endorsed across the political spectrum (while being diversely interpreted). Emmanuel Lachaud tells us that in Haiti as united under the emperor Soulouque, the word had a presence in official discourse even though this was not the regime’s preferred way of evoking its bond with the people. In Brazil, where similarly (if for somewhat different reasons) the term was not officially favored, moderates still thought it possible to defend “the democracy of the middle class, the democracy of the clean-​tie, the democracy which repels with the same disgust the despotism of mobs and the tyranny of an individual.” An increasingly diverse range of partisan appropriations have also been noted in Chile and Peru. In Spanish America, nonetheless, the most emphatic endorsements of “democracy” seem to have come from a new generation of self-​proclaimed “liberals” who came to the fore in several states, including Mexico, New Granada, Argentina, and Chile. Liberal-​ dominated constitutional conventions in New Granada and Mexico (in 1853 and 1857 respectively) for the first time defined their arrangements as “democratic.” These new-​ generation liberals retained their signature constitutionalist and power-​ dispersing commitments, but strove to find new ways of giving these force. As Alberdi put it (in an Argentinian context), the challenge was “how to make our democracies in name, democracies in reality.”47 “Democracy” was in this context invoked to frame discussions about universal suffrage, bicameralism, direct elections, and trial by jury—​but also as the imperative that drove other kinds of “reform,” including the abolition of slavery and Indian tribute, and state secularization.48 In this period, political parties moved to formalize their structures, and popular political associations, sometimes termed “democratic societies,” proliferated.49 This development provided fresh reason to emphasize egalitarian aspects of democracy. In Neiva, a provincial town in New Granada, the director of the newly established Instituto Democrático wrote a Treatise on the Principle of Equality, in which he condemned “aristocracy” and “hereditary distinctions.” He also condemned slavery and distinctions based on race, as well as the privileges of the military and the clergy—​all religious 47 Juan Bautista Alberdi, Bases y punto de partida para la organización de la república Argentina (1852) (Buenos Aires, 1991), 72. 48 See Chapter 7. Also ‘Convocatoria para el Congreso Constituyente (1855) in Francisco Zarco, Historia del congreso constituyente [1856-​1857] (Mexico City, 1956). 49 See Chapters 8, 15 and 16.

36  Re-imagining Democracy denominations should be treated equally. The laws could not accept such inequalities without undermining “the foundations of democracy.”50 Importantly, however, artisans who participated in popular political ventures were often critical of the liberals’ free-​trade preferences, potentially opening up new kinds of tension between actors who were all, in their own ways, enthusiasts for democracy. Insofar as Latin American self-​definitions were colored by perceptions of the broader international context, developments over the middle decades of the century—​notably, the defeat of European revolutions and the new face presented by the United States in the pro-​slavery US–​Mexican war—​gave locals a chance to be upbeat about their own “democratic” credentials.51 In the 1850s “democracy” was positively evoked in proposals for a union of Spanish American countries against “threats” presented to it by both monarchical Europe and the “giant of North America” aided by “petty tyrants” in the region.52 Calls for a large federal state, an “América latino-​democrática” as the Chilean El Mercurio put it,53 intensified in the 1860s when the French, aided by Spain and Great Britain, invaded Mexico, and the Spanish reimposed their rule in the Dominican Republic and launched a naval campaign in the Pacific targeting ports in Peru and Chile. “The monarchical principle” a Peruvian newspaper asserted, had “declared war on [South] America, center of democracy.”54

Topics Deserving Further Research Some topics deserving more research have been noted in the course of this introductory chapter—​including the extent to which and ways in which the word was used in the colonial period. In concluding, we note some other such topics not identified so far. First, given the significance of the Catholic

50 Próspero Pereira Gamba, Tratado sobre el principio de la igualdad (Bogotá, 1850), 54. 51 A key theme of Sanders, Vanguard of the Modern World. 52 José María Samper, La federación colombiana (Bogotá, 1855), 1–​2. 53 El Mercurio (Valparaíso), March 27, 1863. 54 La bolsa de Arequipa (Arequipa), May 10, 1864. I owe this and the previous citation to Felipe Cifuentes, who generously shared with me a fairly substantial collection of his notes from South American newspapers, where the proposal of a Unión Americana was consistently backed up in the language of democracy. For an earlier nationalist use of democracy against external aggression, see the Manifesto of General Santa Anna to rally Mexicans against the United States in 1846: “Manifesto del General Santa Anna,” Veracruz, August 16, 1846, available at https://​arts.st-​andr​ews.ac.uk/​pronu​ ncia​mien​tos/​.

The Language of Democracy  37 Church in the region, its engagement with democracy merits more attention. Some sectors of the Church remained rhetorically hostile to democracy throughout the period,55 but there were early efforts to conciliate democracy and the Catholic religion: “the best foundation” for democracy, a Chilean newspaper asserted in 1825, is “religion itself.”56 The impact on ideas about democracy of liberal Catholicism, particularly as diffused by the writings of Montalambert and Lamennais, deserves examination.57 Second, more research is needed on the extent to which and how the language of “democracy” reached popular sectors. Third, we know nothing about how the language of democracy traveled through translations into non-​Hispanophone indigenous communities, and what indigenous-​language concepts may have been used to gloss and interpret it. Fourth, some places within Latin America remain relatively unstudied, including Bolivia, Paraguay, and Ecuador—​ all, as it happens, places with large indigenous populations and therefore potentially especially rewarding for anyone interested in probing indigenous interactions with the concept. Fifth, discussion in our book is somewhat biased toward republican settings; its use in later monarchical and colonial settings deserves more attention, both because it may have been appropriated to justify such regimes and because it may have been used to challenge them. Its uses in Cuba, Jamaica, and Guadeloupe and Martinique are all worthy of more study. Relatedly, much remains to be done to explore interactions in political practices, arguments, and ideas between Caribbean islands (however affiliated) and the mainland, to test the merits and limitations of this book’s construction of that space as a region. There is certainly more to be said: the New Granadian press during the 1810s, for example, shows Jamaican periodicals informing regional debates.58

55 See, for example, “Las naciones extranjeras juzgan a la Nueva Granada,” El Catolicismo (Bogotá), February 15, 1853. 56 “Religión,” El Pensador Político-​Religioso (Santiago), May 3, 1825, John Carter Brown Library, digital collection. 57 Though see Capellán, “Le moment Lamennais.” 58 Two studies which attempt this, though not focusing on “democracy,” are Luis Fernando Granados, En el espejo Haitiano: Los Indios del Bajío y el colapso del orden colonial en América Latina (Mexico City, 2016) and Cristina Soriano, Tides of Revolution: Information, Insurgencies, and the Crisis of Colonial Rule in Venezuela (Albuquerque, NM, 2018). In Buenos Aires, the Gazeta Ministerial reported that they had received from Jamaica “the Kingston Chronicles, Royal Gazetts and Jamaica Courants”; Gazeta Ministerial (Buenos Aires), April 3, 1812. For examples of transcripts from the Jamaican press in Spanish American newspapers, see Gaceta del Gobierno de México, July 2, 1814; Aurora de Chile, January 28, 1813; and La Miscelánea (Bogotá), September 25, 1825; available in John Carter Brown Library digital collection.

38  Re-imagining Democracy

The Region in Comparative Context The main argument of this book is that Latin America and the Caribbean were participants, alongside Europe and the United States, in the process of re-​imagining the ancient concept of democracy for use in the modern world. Our object in putting it together has not just been to enhance Latin American and Caribbean specialists’ understanding of their region, but also to speak to a wider audience interested in the comparative history of democracy—​and by doing that, also to help Latin Americanists and Caribbeanists set regional developments in such a wider context. The process of re-​imagining democracy which unfolded from the later eighteenth century across Europe and both Americas was in significant part collaborative. People in different places drew upon others’ experiences and interpretations; US and French experience and interpretations emerge from the contributions which follow as having played an especially important role in the settings studied here. In Chapter 10, Carsten Schulz and Mark Petersen show that Latin American and Caribbean experience—​mainly as interpreted from elsewhere—​was in turn appropriated with a view to informing US and European thinking. But patterns in the re-​imagining of democracy also varied from place to place. What emerges when the account provided here is set alongside those offered in other volumes in this series is that Latin American and Caribbean re-​imaginings had some distinctive features, in terms both of timing and content. We recap some key points from the preceding discussion with an eye especially to these broader comparisons. The French Revolution clearly had some impact on thinking about democracy in the region, both positively and negatively. Although it seems to be difficult to document much reference to “democracy,” even in Haiti at this time it is possible that there is more to be found. But it is also likely that such talk is under-​documented: that it was voiced in circumstances which, for a variety of reasons, generated little in the way of written record. The absence of much in the way of surviving documentation, frustrating for the researcher, at the same time makes it unlikely that developments in France and their wider impact marked a major watershed in how people talked and thought about “democracy” across most of the region. There was too little to preserve and sustain such talk as times changed—​even if in the longer term, through diverse routes and as a result of a process of reflection on what had passed, those events did have an important longer-​term impact on talk and thought.

The Language of Democracy  39 By contrast, the years that saw crises in the Iberian monarchies and in independence struggles in the region—​the 1810s and 1820s—​had both immediate and sustained effects, enabling “democracy” to enter public discourse on a new scale and in new ways. Moreover, the same years saw the emergence of republics in Hispaniola—​in both Haiti and Santo Domingo—​and the development of new modes of popular agitation in remaining French and British island possessions. By contrast, in Europe at this time, positive affirmations of democracy ran at a low ebb (though they were picking up in the United States). Crucial in the Latin American and Hispaniolan context, clearly, was the emergence of new political circumstances that made it urgent and natural for opinion leaders to talk about the merits and demerits of political options confronting them, drawing for that purpose on what they knew of ancient and modern constitutional thought as well as other countries’ recent and current experiences and practices. In the 1830s and 1840s, talk about democracy in the region took some new forms, in ways that broadly paralleled developments in Europe and the United States, though of course with local specificities. The spread of representative government as a political form, and the build-​up of experience of the form, encouraged across this space highly partisan exchanges about “democracy” but also more sustained and reflective accounts of the political phenomena that it generated in practice, in specific modern contexts. In the 1850s. by contrast, developments in the United States, Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean once more diverged, as US understandings of democracy became nationalistic (and often racially colored) while the democratic effervescence that had swept Europe in 1848 was beaten back and subsided. In at least some Latin American states, this period brought something different: the development of a more programmatic vision of “democracy” that was inclusive in intention (if not always in effect). If there were parallels in Europe, they were probably more marked in southern than in northern Europe.59 If developments in the region followed their own temporal rhythms and had their own, sometimes distinctive shapes and characters, we think that it nonetheless emerges clearly that Latin Americans and Caribbeans did participate, more or less critically, more or less enthusiastically, in a wider re-​ imagining process.



59 Re-​imagining Democracy in the Mediterranean, esp. chapters on Portugal and Greece.

4 Foundations and Fissures in British and French Caribbean Political Culture Dexnell Peters

In May 1791 the French National Assembly passed a decree granting full civil and political rights to free coloreds and free blacks who were born of free fathers and mothers and met age and property requirements.1 Despite recognizing the political rights of only a small minority of free black or colored men, it provoked a strong negative reaction among white French colonists, to the extent that by September the same year, the decree was revoked. The outbreak of the massive slave revolt in Saint Domingue in August 1791 altered views in metropolitan France. In an effort to regain control over the colony, full political rights were granted to all free black and colored men in March 1792. It was a landmark moment after a protracted struggle against discriminatory laws throughout the eighteenth century. In Jamaica, at some point in 1792, a free colored man drafted a petition on behalf of other free people of color on the island, requesting greater rights and privileges so as to be placed on an equal footing with other British subjects. This petition was unprecedented in that it marked the first time that free Jamaicans of color had taken collective political action.2 Jamaican legislators overwhelmingly denied it, reacting in a similar way to white colonists in the French Caribbean. They were especially concerned about the motives of the petitioners and potential consequences to the colony if their requests were granted. The key concern for both French and British legislators was the potential challenge to the institution of slavery. Members of the Jamaican 1 In this chapter the terms “free people of color” or “free colored” refer to people with part African heritage or mixed racial ancestry, typically African and European descent. The term “free black” is used to include all people solely of African descent. 2 David Geggus, “The Enigma of Jamaica in the 1790s: New Light on the Causes of Slave Rebellions,” The William and Mary Quarterly 44, no. 2 (1987): 274–​99 Dexnell Peters, Foundations and Fissures in British and French Caribbean Political Culture In: Re-​imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–​1870. Edited by: Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, Joanna Innes, and Mark Philp, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/​oso/​9780197631577.003.0004

Foundations, Ruptures, and Fissures  77 colonial assembly noted that “from what has happened in Hispaniola [Saint Domingue], we have every reason to believe that these free people of colour have it in their power to lead our slaves into rebellion by false representations.”3 As these examples illustrate, colonial rule was associated with maintaining the institution of slavery in the Greater Caribbean, and this meant excluding not only enslaved persons but also all those lineally connected to them from any involvement in the political process. Though a desire to defend the system of slavery was not the only rationale for broader systems of “race” or color-​based hierarchy and exclusion in the region, especially in British and French Caribbean colonies, it was a very important element. These broader systems often survived slavery itself, and so persisted as a focus for contestation. This chapter focuses on British and French colonies in the Greater Caribbean chiefly between the late eighteenth and the mid-​nineteenth centuries, concluding with a briefer look at the ways in which emancipation did and did not bring change. It first seeks to bring the larger region into focus through the lens of its most distinctive institution: slavery. It notes the scale and character of Iberian as well as British and French colonial slavery. It then argues that slavery profoundly shaped political institutions and culture in British and French imperial contexts. The main body of the chapter details pre-​revolutionary structures of government and associated political cultures. It explores four main ways in which men in British and French colonies participated in politics (insofar as women participated, that was within the third or more probably the fourth category): (1) direct participation within local representative or appointed bodies, (2) voting, (3) petitioning, and (4) associations or collective action. In relation to each, it explores which sections of colonial societies were excluded from access and the extent to which they were nonetheless able to engage with government. It also considers parts of the population that stood outside the imperial context, notably the maroons who lived in self-​governed communities, and their interactions with colonial governments. Centering around several key moments, each section also pays attention to change over time, beginning with American, French, and Haitian revolutions, which complicated relationships both between imperial governments and the colonies and within colonies. These revolutions combined with significant 3 Gad Heuman, Between Black and White: Race, Politics, and the Free Coloreds in Jamaica, 1792-​ 1865 (Westport, CT, 1981), 24.

78  Re-imagining Democracy anti-​slavery sentiment that rippled across the Atlantic world from the late eighteenth-​century to precipitate clashes between planters, prominent figures in colonial politics, metropolitan officials, and antislavery proponents. Both immediately and in the longer term, these revolutions played a part in inspiring movements in favor of liberty, civil rights, equality, and inclusion in the political realm on the part of free people of color and enslaved persons. The final section of the chapter shows how patterns of political engagement that began under slavery were continued and developed after its abolition. The concept of the “Greater Caribbean” offers a way to integrate the histories of Latin America and the Caribbean. The American anthropologist Charles Wagley first delineated a “Plantation America” rooted in slavery that ran from “midway up the coast of Brazil into the Guianas, along the Caribbean coast, throughout the Caribbean itself, and into the United States.”4 Its key characteristic was the prevalence of the plantation system and slavery, primarily involving non-​white labor producing commodities such as sugar, coffee, cacao, and cotton. As David Gaspar and David Geggus note, there was an “interconnectedness about this wider region in which networks of trade and mobility of the free and the enslaved populations made it possible for news to spread from one corner to another and to produce results that could clearly transcend national, linguistic and geographical boundaries.”5 Beyond the world of plantations, shipping routes also brought the region together. For example, the island of Jamaica’s shipping networks helped to connect Spanish America, the Caribbean, and the North Atlantic. Historian Bruce Solnick has identified how Jamaica’s trade with Spanish America allowed it to have easy access to detailed reports during Spanish American wars of independence that were fully reflected in the colony’s early nineteenth-​century newspapers.6 More recent work has gone on to highlight several other ways that an interconnected Greater Caribbean region existed. Matthew Mulcahy, for example, has argued that Barbados, Jamaica, the British Leeward Islands, South Carolina, and the Georgia Lowcountry should be considered a distinct region: the British Greater Caribbean.7 A number of environmental histories

4 Charles Wagley, “Plantation America: A Culture Sphere,” in Caribbean Studies: A Symposium, ed. Vera Rubin (2nd ed., Seattle, WA, 1960), 3. 5 David Barry Gaspar and David Geggus, “Introduction,” in A Turbulent Time: The French Revolution and the Greater Caribbean, ed. Gaspar and Geggus (Bloomington, IN, 2003), viii. 6 Bruce Solnick, “Spanish American Independence in the Jamaican Press, 1808-​25: A Survey,” The Journal of Caribbean History 17 (1982): 14–​25. 7 Matthew Mulcahy, Hubs of Empire: The Southeastern Lowcountry and British Caribbean (Baltimore, MD, 2014).

Foundations, Ruptures, and Fissures  79 have also worked with the concept of a Greater Caribbean including Stuart B. Schwartz, A Sea of Storms, and J. R. McNeill, Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620–​1914.8 Ernesto Bassi’s recent work, An Aqueous Territory, argues for a “trans-​imperial Greater Caribbean,” a region configured by the crisscrossing of sailors across political borders in the Caribbean Sea. Clearly, the term Greater Caribbean has gained currency.9 Histories of slavery have generally emphasized the distinctiveness of more local environments. Perhaps this is justified—​Robert Paquette and Mark Smith note that slavery “stamped each New World slaveholding society with a distinctive profile.”10 Nonetheless, the institution as a whole was trans-​imperial, intraregional, and integrative. It undoubtedly developed in connection rather than in isolation across the Greater Caribbean. The plantation complex which was responsible for the rapid expansion of slavery was carried from Atlantic islands such São Tomé, Madeira, and the Canary Islands to Brazil and the Spanish Caribbean, then to the British Caribbean through Dutch migrants, and later to British North America, the French Caribbean, and even later again, and much more substantially, to the Spanish Caribbean. There was tremendous diversity of experience in the forms, scale, and scope that slavery took, yet at one stage or another, slavery played a significant role in the development of all these territories. Large-​scale enslavement, initially of indigenous people, followed the arrival of Europeans. Indigenous people were enslaved across the Caribbean islands, the Spanish mainland, and Brazil.11 Until the late sixteenth century, such enslaved persons made up at least four-​fifths of the laboring population in Brazil.12 It was in Hispaniola in the early sixteenth century that some important shifts took place: the rise of sugar cultivation, the development of the plantation complex, and the use of enslaved Africans, though this initial experiment declined in the face of competition from Brazilian sugar and greater profits from other crops.13 However, at the end of the seventeenth 8 Stuart B. Schwartz, Sea of Storms: A History of Hurricanes in the Greater Caribbean from Columbus to Katrina (Princeton, NJ, 2015); John Robert McNeill, Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620-​1914 (New York, 2010); Matthew Mulcahy, Hurricanes and Society in the British Greater Caribbean, 1624-​1783 (Baltimore, MD, 2008). 9 The terms Circum or Wider Caribbean have alternatively been used. 10 Robert L. Paquette and Mark M. Smith, “Slavery in the Americas,” in The Oxford Handbook of Slavery in the Americas, ed. Robert L. Paquette and Mark M. Smith (Oxford, 2010), 4. 11 Allan Gallay, “Indian Slavery,” in The Oxford Handbook of Slavery in the Americas, (Oxford, 2010), 312–​35. 12 Herbert Klein and Ben Vinson, African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean (New York, 2007), 41. 13 Barry Higman, A Concise History of the Caribbean (Cambridge UK, 2010), 85–​86.

80  Re-imagining Democracy century mass enslavement of Africans dramatically increased and was sustained, above all in areas with smaller indigenous populations and where the plantation complex came to be established. These included Portuguese Brazil, the more southerly British and French North American colonies, and most of their Caribbean islands. In the late eighteenth century, Spanish and Dutch Caribbean islands and littoral territories also began to expand the plantation complex. The transition was a gradual one, as most plantation colonies initially made only limited use of African enslaved persons alongside other forms of labor. Yet even in areas that did not develop large export-​oriented industries, slavery could be instrumental. David Wheat’s recent study shows how the Spanish relied heavily on enslaved Africans in Greater Spanish Caribbean port cities; these slaves functioned as “de facto” colonists in places that played an important role in the broader imperial system.14 In 1534, for example, city council members in San Juan, Puerto Rico declared that “like one who has the wolf by its ears . . . we cannot live without black people; it is they who are the laborers, and no Spanish person will work here.”15 Large-​scale slavery was always associated with systems for controlling enslaved persons. Managing such populations and establishing their subordinated place within colonial society provided the essential business of local governing bodies in the Greater Caribbean. Because they differed so much from European contexts, colonial societies, especially slaveholding ones, required new systems of governance, and slave codes or laws. In 1681, King Felipe IV ordered the collection and publication of all colonial Spanish law, including slave laws. Similarly, the French gathered all local slave laws in 1685 and published these as the famous “Code Noir.” In the English context, no regional slave code or laws were established because of the ways in which executive, legislative, and colonial oversight were articulated and because of the extent to which power was devolved. However, as early as 1661 the colony of Barbados enacted its own slave code, which then served as a model for the creation of codes across the region.16 Slave codes or laws varied, but all were designed to secure the dominance of the slave-​owning class. Differences related mostly to the concessions provided to enslaved persons. These tended to be greater in the Spanish and French context, because of the influence 14 David Wheat, Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-​1640 (Chapel Hill, NC, 2016) 15 Ibid., 5. 16 Sally Hadden, “The Fragmented Laws of Slavery in the Colonial and Revolutionary Eras,” in The Cambridge History of Law in America, ed. Michael Grossberg and Christopher Tomlins (New York, 2008), 259–​60.

Foundations, Ruptures, and Fissures  81 of humanitarian efforts by the Catholic Church and precedent established by Roman law. The role played by local elites and especially slave-​owners in shaping these laws and codes demonstrates their strong commitment to upholding the institution of slavery.17 As legal frameworks for enslavement were developed, white populations had to determine their own position within imperial political structures. Historians have shown that metropolitan control over New World colonies was limited in several ways in the early modern period. Colonists who were also slave-​owners tended to protest against metropolitan interference, arguing that they could best secure the plantation regime and economic prosperity. Bargaining between metropolitan and colonial interests perhaps best describes the process across the empires. Slave-​owners were often able to acquire significant influence over the nature and shape of the government. In Brazil, for example, metropolitan government rarely interfered with matters between owners and enslaved persons. It was rather organs of local government—​the camaras, the domain of planters—​that managed affairs pertaining to free coloreds, free blacks, and enslaved persons.18 Their inclination was to establish stark distinctions between free and unfree, and to impose harsh restrictions on non-​whites. In Venezuela, where slavery was much less dominant, slave-​owner planters maintained significant sway. Yet that elite also included wealthy merchants, royal officials, senior clergy, lawyers, and important military personnel.19 Moreover, the largest group ruled consisted of free blacks and free coloreds. The boundaries between free and unfree tended to be less distinct where societies included large mixed populations and were less heavily dependent on enslaved labor. By the eighteenth century in Mexico, the presence of enslaved persons was minor, and slave-​owners or hacendados (plantation or estate owners) were not guaranteed important roles in government.20 The scale and character of slavery therefore significantly influenced the nature of colonial government and society. Having suggested that the Caribbean islands should be seen in the context of a Greater Caribbean region, the remainder of this chapter narrows focus to 17 Ibid., 254. 18 Stuart Schwartz, Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society: Bahia, 1550-​1835 (New York, 1985), 261–​62. 19 P. Michael McKinley, Pre-​revolutionary Caracas: Politics, Economy, and Society, 1777-​1811 (Cambridge, UK, 1985), 78. 20 D. A. Brading, “Government and Elite in Late Colonial Mexico,” The Hispanic American Historical Review 53, no. 3 (1973): 389–​414.

82  Re-imagining Democracy British and French Caribbean colonies (including mainland colonies in the Guianas), to the distinct European traditions which shaped their institutions and practices, and the ways in which local subjects attempted to engage and negotiate with officialdom, initially in the years of slavery (until the 1830s and 40s) and then beyond.

Local Governing Bodies: Assemblies and Councils Local governing bodies in Caribbean colonies largely mimicked existing structures in France and Britain, consequently contrasting in some ways with the Spanish and Portuguese-​ influenced institutions described by Anthony McFarlane. Governance in British American colonies to some extent replicated patterns established within the British Isles, where until 1801 Ireland was not directly represented within the Westminster Parliament, and the Isle of Man remained unrepresented beyond that, yet the Westminster Parliament and the Privy Council wielded some power over them. Unlike the colonies of other European powers, British American colonies had substantial autonomy.21 Although there were some attempts by the British to implement regional governance systems like those found in Iberian American colonies, by grouping some islands together, these did not last; ultimately, metropolitan institutions oversaw individual colonies directly. British metropolitan structures were replicated within colonies, each of which possessed a legislative body (with nominated or elected members) and a governor—​an official with quasi-​sovereign powers who presided over an appointed executive council. The colonial assemblies were the key to such autonomy as colonies possessed. Members of legislative assemblies boldly claimed their rights as Englishmen to self-​representation and frequently clashed with royal governors. As early as 1728, the Jamaican assembly successfully settled a long-​standing dispute with the Crown, establishing their right to initiate legislation on internal matters.22 British legislative assemblies effectively made laws for their colonies, though subject to review and occasional amendment by the Privy Council. This changed in the late eighteenth century, when some new colonies were subjected to more purely executive 21 D. K. Fieldhouse, The Colonial Empires: A Comparative Survey from the Eighteenth Century (London, 2015). 22 Christer Petley, White Fury: A Jamaican Slaveholder and the Age of Revolution (New York, 2018), 98

Foundations, Ruptures, and Fissures  83 forms of rule as what came to be called Crown Colonies. In Britain’s newly acquired colony of Trinidad, for example, a legislative assembly was denied, and sole executive power was vested in the governor, who was aided by a small advisory council of prominent residents appointed by him (even so, giving some sort of voice to the views of the local owner class). By the eighteenth century, French colonies had developed internal administrative structures similar but not identical to those found in French provinces. The two top offices were a governor and an intendant, a system crafted to ensure that there was a check and balance on each. The governor was the personal representative of the king and was responsible for the armed forces, enforcing commercial regulations, and reviewing capital sentences imposed by colonial courts. By contrast, the intendant managed finances, taxation, and controlled law courts and the police. This dual system of government combined elements from two phases of provincial government in France: in the metropole, governors were abolished or rendered symbolic by the mid-​ seventeenth century; by the eighteenth century, intendants ruled the provinces in France, though subject to the conseil du roi. Colonists in the French Caribbean lacked the sort of representative bodies that existed in the British colonies and some mainland French provinces, the so-​called pays d’etat. However, the Superior Council, primarily a court of appeal, also performed a quasi-​legislative role, like that played by the law courts called parlements in France. These councils registered edicts and other regulations sent from the metropole as well as ordinances coming from the governor or intendant, and could exercise a “right of protest” by failing to register laws or specific parts they disliked or thought unsuitable for a colonial context. The crown retained ultimate oversight because it retained the power to appoint new members of council. Beyond the Superior Council, colonists could also make their voices heard through non-​legislative representative bodies occasionally convened by the Crown to discuss taxation to aid with the increasing costs of naval defense. These bodies prepared colonists for the establishment of formal local assemblies in 1790.23 The French Revolution accelerated this transition, also offering colonists a direct voice in national governance. In 1789, when King Louis XVI summoned the long-​dormant Estates General, colonists from Saint Domingue were invited to elect deputies to represent them there. They were eventually provided with six seats in the new National Assembly.24 The following year, the National Assembly

23 Fieldhouse, Colonial Empires, 39.

24 Colonial representation in a metropolitan assembly was unprecedented.

84  Re-imagining Democracy formally granted colonies elected assemblies of their own, ensuring a “loose constitutional relationship” between the colonies and metropolitan institutions and freedom from rule by ministerial decree.25 This development was however short-​lived, as Napoleonic rule re-​implemented stronger metropolitan control, dissolving colonial assemblies.26 Membership of these local governing bodies, both French and British, was generally the perquisite of an elite group of propertied, slave-​owning white men. Eligibility for election to British colonial assemblies was limited by a “high property qualification” ensuring that mostly planters populated the institution.27 Elite planters did not always have sufficient numbers to fill all public offices. Sometimes other white elites, including doctors, attorneys-​at-​ law, barristers, and merchants managed to obtain assembly seats as well.28 Non–​planter-​class whites—​plantation managers or attorneys, or less wealthy slave owners or smallholders—​more commonly participated in the local governance system by serving in parish vestries.29 The landed elite still exerted significant influence over these vestries, since governor-​appointed magistrates, typically planters, also sat on them, and magistrates generally outnumbered elected vestrymen in meetings.30 In the case of French colonial Superior Councils, planters similarly held ultimate control. While members of these councils were appointed by the Crown, they were first nominated by other council members or metropolitan officials.31 New members were therefore drawn from the local elite. Merchants, lawyers, and military officials could serve on councils but typically only if they had strong ties to local landed society.32 Across the British and French Caribbean, elite planters and the wider white population thus managed to maintain control of the several levels of local governing body for most of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. 25 John Garrigus, Before Haiti: Race and Citizenship in French Saint-​Domingue (New York, 2010), 243. 26 Alvin Thompson, The Haunting Past: Politics, Economics and Race in Caribbean Life (New York, 1997), 45; E. Wright, “French Politics in the West Indies: A Study of the Assimilation Policy in the History of Martinique and Guadeloupe 1789-​1900” (PhD diss., Howard University, 1976), 69–​72. 27 Christer Petley, Slaveholders in Jamaica: Colonial Society and Culture During the Era of Abolition (New York, 2009), 42. 28 Kamau Brathwaite, Development of Creole Society in Jamaica, 1770-​1820 (Oxford, 1971), 41. 29 This body was part of the parish system, a common local government administrative division in British Caribbean colonies that was patterned after the same arrangement in England. They could differ considerably in size and demographics as they were spread across urban and rural locations. 30 Petley, Slaveholders in Jamaica, 54–​55. 31 Laurie Wood, Archipelago of Justice: Law in France’s Early Modern Empire (New Haven, CT, 2020), 50. 32 Ibid., 47–​48.

Foundations, Ruptures, and Fissures  85 As Anthony MacFarlane shows, in the Iberian American context, shaping local conditions was less easy. Though municipal corporations, comprising a small group of propertied men with good local reputations, could provide strong resistance to the Crown, their power was limited by a series of regional royal institutions including viceroys, high courts, and governors. Not until the 1830s, when emancipation arrived in the British colonies and was on the horizon for the French colonies, were free coloreds and blacks granted full political rights. Exceptionally, this happened much earlier in Saint Domingue/​Haiti, at the turn of the nineteenth century. While a few prominent free black or colored men were elected to colonial assemblies in British and French colonies, the majority of this group and later former enslaved persons remained drastically underrepresented prior to the ending of slavery. As will be discussed later, colonial elites then implemented several strategies to frustrate the trend toward black participation in these institutions.

Voting and Candidacy Voting provided another significant way for some men in the Caribbean to participate in shaping colonial policy. While it was one of the most direct ways of influencing local government, it also remained an exclusive privilege reserved to the wealthiest whites and, later, similarly wealthy non-​whites. British and French experiences contrasted in that elections were a long-​ standing tradition in the British colonies but a late-​eighteenth-​century innovation in French colonies. In the British Caribbean, the main public offices subject to election were positions in legislative assemblies which were set up from the early seventeenth century. Criteria for candidates were more restrictive than for voters. In Jamaica, for example, an assemblyman needed to have a freehold or property with a yearly value of £300 or a personal estate of £3000, while voters simply needed a freehold of £30.33 Eligibility for candidacy and voting was somewhat lower in some of the smaller British islands like St. Kitts, where assemblymen needed only forty acres of land or property valued at £40, and voting was restricted to adult men with ten acres of land or property valued at



33 Braithwaite, Development of Creole Society in Jamaica, 44.

86  Re-imagining Democracy £10.34 Voting allowed those outside the planter elite to participate in shaping local government. To secure election, planters relied on the support of men like the Jamaican plantation manager and later owner Thomas Thistlewood, who was neither well-​born nor wealthy. Thistlewood documented in his diary several occasions where candidates came by personally to solicit his vote.35 Candidates sometimes made use of the local press to reach out to voters.36 They had to convince voters that they were well-​suited to serve their common interests as local freeholding men. From time to time, rifts occurred between candidates locally born or long established in a colony and those with fewer local ties. If there were major tensions between metropolitan officials and the colonists, voters wanted assurance that candidates would take their side.37 Colored and black inhabitants were not usually among those having this sort of voice, and indeed laws were sometimes being passed to exclude any colored or black men who otherwise qualified. Thus in Jamaica 1733, the assembly voted to exclude non-​whites from voting; in Barbados, freeholders (the most inclusive voting category) were required to be white.38 When colonial assemblies were established in the French colonies, from 1790, elections were swiftly arranged. Initially, members of these assemblies were mostly wealthy whites.39 Not surprisingly, planters were the most successful in the earliest elections, but merchants and lawyers were also well represented. The French National Assembly initially accorded these assemblies significant autonomy, ensuring that existing racial hierarchies would be maintained. These local institutions, for example, endorsed franchise qualifications that excluded free coloreds and free blacks, taking advantage of the National Assembly’s silence on whether this group of people should be considered citizens. As a result of rising tensions among colonists in Saint Domingue and the 1791 slave revolt, the National Assembly 34 Matthew Mulcahy, Hubs of Empire: The Southeastern Lowcountry and British Caribbean (Baltimore, MD, 2014), 188. 35 Trevor Burnard, Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire: Thomas Thistlewood and His Slaves in the Anglo-​ Jamaican World (Chapel Hill, NC, 2004), 77–​79. 36 Petley, Slaveholders in Jamaica, 63 37 In the August 1776 elections in St. Vincent for example, only those candidates opposed to a 4.5 percent duty on exported goods were elected to the legislative council; see Selwyn Carrington, “Eighteenth-​Century Political Conflict in the British Empire: A Case Study of St. Vincent, 1775-​ 1779,” Journal of Caribbean History 20, no. 2 (1985): 147–​68. 38 Heuman, Between Black and White, 5; Arnold Sio, “Race, Colour, and Miscegenation: The Free Coloured of Jamaica and Barbados,” Caribbean Studies 16, no. 1 (1976): 5–​21 39 David Geggus, “The Haitian Revolution,” in General History of the Caribbean Volume IV: The Long Nineteenth Century, ed. K.O. Laurence and Jorge Ibarra Cuesta (London, 1997), 17.

Foundations, Ruptures, and Fissures  87 overrode the local decision and granted free coloreds and free blacks full political rights in 1792. In the following year, free black man Jean-​Baptiste Belley and free colored Jean-​Baptiste Mills were elected as representatives of Saint Domingue’s north province to the French National Convention which succeeded the National Assembly.40 Thereafter, through a mix of war and politics, Saint Domingue/​Haiti became increasingly independent of French rule, declaring itself fully independent in 1804. The chapter is not concerned with its post-​colonial development, but Emannuel Lachaud takes up this story in Chapter 11 of this volume. France’s grant of full political rights to free coloreds and free blacks had limited impact in both space and time. In Martinique, which was under British occupation from 1794 to 1802, free black and colored privileges were revoked, and slavery was maintained. In the early nineteenth century with the rise of Napoleon, slavery was reinstated in Guadeloupe and French Guiana, and the rights even of free coloreds and free blacks were peeled back across the empire, largely because of decisions made at the local level by planter elites and others within the white community. As a result, voting and the right to hold public office remained the domain of whites until 1833 in the French Caribbean, when the new, liberal French government once again granted free blacks and free coloreds full political rights.41 Despite this apparently bold step, political participation in practice remained limited. Eligibility both to hold office and to vote required payment of a tax of 600 francs (roughly equivalent to owning 30,000 francs in property). Few free blacks and free coloreds were able to meet these stringent standards.42 British practice in relation to political rights for non-​whites ran in step with the French—​though because the British government ended slavery earlier, when rights were extended the number of free non-​whites was larger. Even before abolition, in 1829, an “order in council” proclaimed that civil rights applied regardless of race; in 1831 the Jamaica assembly endorsed this, and in 1831 so did the Barbados assembly. By 1834, all free adult colored and black men across the English-​speaking Caribbean in principle had access to the right to vote, if their colony had an elective assembly (which the

40 Jeremy Popkin, You Are All Free: The Haitian Revolution and the Abolition of Slavery (New York, 2010), 327. 41 Rebecca Schloss, Sweet Liberty: The Final Days of Slavery in Martinique (Philadelphia, PA, 2012), 152. 42 Jeremy Popkin, A Concise History of the Haitian Revolution (Malden, MA, 2011), 81.

88  Re-imagining Democracy subset of Crown colonies generally did not)43 and if they met the legal property requirements (which they rarely did).44 During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, there was rapid growth in the number of free coloreds and free blacks even as increasing anti-​ slavery clamor helped to prompt agitation for political rights for non-​whites. By the time emancipation was proclaimed, significant strides in the granting of basic political rights to free coloreds and free blacks had been made. However, the survival of property qualifications for not only candidates but also voters ensured that most mixed-​race and black people were excluded from elections. Changes to the suffrage in the post-​emancipation era will be considered in the final section of this chapter.

Petitions A wide cross-​section of people in the Caribbean made use of petitions to engage with authority. In fact, for many—​including less privileged whites, free coloreds, free blacks, and enslaved persons—​petitioning was the best means of influencing those in power. Petitions were accessible to both the literate and the illiterate, who could turn to lawyers or writers to help draft them.45 Petitioning was a long-​standing tradition in France and Britain and their colonies. However, in the late eighteenth century, there was a shift in the frequency and nature of petitions in the Caribbean. For one thing, a series of wars led to transfers of colonies from one European power to the other. After the Seven Years War, for example, the British acquired Grenada, Tobago, St. Vincent and Dominica (the so-​called Ceded islands), mostly from the French. As Hannah Weiss Muller explains, those who thereby became new subjects had then to negotiate their status within the British realm. One of the main ways they did this was through petitions.46 Political upheaval associated with the American, French, Haitian, and Spanish American revolutions, anti-​slavery sentiment, and changes in political culture in metropolitan as well as colonial societies, later combined to inspire a rise in petitioning. 43 Trinidad and St. Lucia had no elected assembly, while in British Guiana a part of the legislature was elected. All other British territories had some form of elected assembly. 44 Franklin Knight, “The Caribbean in the Age of Enlightenment, 1788–​1848,” in A Companion to Latin American Literature and Culture, ed. Sara Castro-​Klaren (Malden, MA, 2008), 233. 45 Hannah Weiss Muller, Subjects and Sovereign: Bonds of Belonging in the Eighteenth-​century British Empire (New York, 2017), 125. 46 Muller, Subjects and Sovereign, 127.

Foundations, Ruptures, and Fissures  89 Colonial councils and legislative assemblies made use of petitions to metropolitan officials to seek their attention to important colonial matters.47 In the British Caribbean, more colonial assemblies appointed agents to represent their views to the British government and Parliament.48 Overall, there was more direct petitioning of the Crown and other parts of government, and also engagement with the wider public context, given the publishing of petitions in the press. Although elite planters dominated colonial political institutions, planters who were not members of these institutions regularly petitioned those bodies, individually or sometimes collectively. Non-​member planters, for example, were outraged by British metropolitan officials’ decision in July 1783 to enforce navigation laws against the United States that restricted trade between the British Caribbean colonies and the newly formed nation. The Jamaican legislative assembly received petitions from groups of planters from various parishes. In response, the assembly drafted its own petition to the king echoing some of the key concerns raised.49 Similarly, planters in the French Caribbean habitually petitioned royal officials directly, especially when their livelihood seemed threatened, as by the rise of anti-​slavery sentiment. In 1788, around seventy or so planters from the northern part of Saint Domingue sent a petition to the intendant and governor of the colony about the unprecedented prosecution of a planter for the torture and murder of enslaved persons. The planters recognized the need to prevent “cruel men from giving themselves over to violent outbursts,” but feared that a public sanctioning of this particular planter might undermine rather than stabilize the institution of slavery in the colony.50 The rise of anti-​slavery sentiment from the late eighteenth century sent planters across the Caribbean more widely into a petitioning frenzy in efforts to influence decision-​making in the metropole. The white citizenry of the French Caribbean made increasing use of petitions, especially to the new colonial assemblies that were created in the aftermath of the French Revolution. When the Saint Domingue assembly considered the right of petition in August 1792, one deputy remarked that a 47 Several assemblies, for example, petitioned Parliament in the midst of 1765 Stamp Act crisis; see Andrew O’Shaughnessy, An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean (Philadelphia, PA, 2000), 103. 48 Andrew O’Shaughnessy, “The Formation of a Commercial Lobby: The West India Interest, British Colonial Policy and the American Revolution,” The Historical Journal 40, no. 1 (1997): 71–​95. 49 Petley, White Fury, 124–​25. 50 Malick Ghachem, The Old Regime and the Haitian Revolution (Cambridge, UK, 2012), 193.

90  Re-imagining Democracy culture of petitioning had recently become established. He noted that “he had always seen petitions being carried from door to door to gather signatures, some demanding the dissolution of the assembly [and] others trying to force it to enact laws against the local needs of this country . . . .”51 Given that members of assemblies in the British Caribbean often relied on support from less wealthy, middling, and poor whites during elections, and for the general stability of the plantation regime, they had to take their petitions seriously. Hence, when the assembly in Jamaica raised taxes to support more troops in response to the situation in Saint Domingue, a large group of non-​elite whites from across several parishes sent a petition to the assembly decrying the burdens imposed by (perhaps doubting the necessity of) the increased public payment for defense.52 Enslaved persons, maroons, and newly freed Africans in both French and British colonies made increasing use of petitions. When new commissioners to Saint Domingue, Étienne Polverel and Léger-​Félicité Sonthonax, arrived in the colony in 1793, they issued a proclamation protecting enslaved persons from being forced to work on Sundays and reducing working hours for pregnant or nursing enslaved women. Included in the proclamation was an invitation for enslaved persons to raise concerns about masters or managers with local officials. Shortly after, Commissioner Sonthanax received a petition on behalf of some enslaved persons complimenting the proclamation for having “much diminished the rights our . . . masters pretended to have over us.”53 Former enslaved persons took to regularly petitioning their new de facto leader, Toussaint Louverture, after emancipation in Saint Domingue. In 1799, for example, a group of former slaves from the parish of Petite-​Riviere petitioned Louverture indicating their refusal to work until a popular military commander was released from prison.54 Maroons—​enslaved escapees living in autonomous communities in Jamaica—​were also in the habit of petitioning the colonial assembly and metropolitan officials based on the terms of peace treaties between these parties.55 Trelawny Town maroons, for example, petitioned the legislature in March 1792 requesting access to more

51 Popkin, You Are All Free, 78. 52 David Geggus, “Jamaica and the Saint Domingue Slave Revolt, 1791-​1793,” The Americas 38, no. 2 (1981): 219–​33. 53 Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution (Cambridge, MA, 2004), 155. 54 Malick Ghachem, “The Colonial Vendee,” in The World of Haitian Revolution (Indiana, IN, 2009), 170. 55 The first of these treaties came at the end of the First Maroon War in 1739 and 1740.

Foundations, Ruptures, and Fissures  91 land on the island. Though this particular request was denied, the assembly always considered their petitions, not least because of the threat they posed to the plantation regime as potential harborers of further escapees.56 The increased use of petitioning in the Caribbean was perhaps most pronounced among free coloreds and free blacks, especially from the late eighteenth century. Before then, individual black or colored men petitioned for special privileges typically reserved for whites, especially in larger colonies such as Saint Domingue and Jamaica, where a large elite group of free coloreds and free blacks emerged. In Saint Domingue, they petitioned royal officials in the colony and in France. In 1783, prominent free colored planter Julien Raimond petitioned colonial administrators and followed up by reaching out to officials in Versailles the following year about racial discrimination faced by free people of color.57 Free colored and free black Jamaicans also petitioned the island legislature for exceptions. These petitions were brought up as private bills by assembly members in the legislature. Given that each successful private bill only provided specific privileges to specified individuals, such petitions had to be repeated. The assembly passed 128 of them during the eighteenth century. Only four of these bills provided the named petitioners with the full rights of white men, including the right to vote and hold public office.58 The American and French revolutions inspired a dramatic upsurge in the use of petitions by free coloreds and free blacks, initially by those who served in some military capacity who sought increased civil rights and greater inclusion in political institutions. Subsequently, the French National Assembly’s Declaration of the Rights of Man ushered in a flurry of petitioning among free people of color as they pressed, now as a whole group, for the newly declared rights. Their request to the National Assembly eventually met success in 1792, when full political rights were given to all free men of color. In the same year, as mentioned at the start of the chapter, a group of free Jamaican men of color petitioned for the right to vote. It seems likely that the petitioners were well aware of the situation in nearby Saint Domingue. The success of free coloreds and free blacks and their new ventures in petitioning in the Francophone Atlantic, as well as changes in British 56 Mavis Campbell, The Maroons of Jamaica, 1655-​1796 (Granby, MA, 1988), 200. 57 John Garrigus, “Julien Raimond (1744-​1801): Planter, Revolutionary, and Free Man of Color in Saint-​Domingue,” in The Human Tradition in the Atlantic World, 1500-​1850, ed. Beatriz Mamigonian and Karen Racine (Lanham, MD, 2010), 101. 58 Samuel Hurwitz and Edith Hurwitz, “A Token of Freedom: Private Bill Legislation for Free Negroes in Eighteenth-​Century Jamaica,” The William and Mary Quarterly 24, no. 3 (1967): 423–​31.

92  Re-imagining Democracy metropolitan petitioning culture, inspired an upsurge of collective petitioning for equal rights across the Caribbean. Between 1799 and 1814, seven collective petitions were submitted by free people of color to the legislative assembly and governor in the British colony of Barbados, clearly representing a form of campaign for political rights.59 The first was signed by fifty-​eight persons. Another in 1803 was backed by almost three hundred petitioners. Several other British colonies witnessed increased mass petitioning from free coloreds and free blacks in the early nineteenth century.60 In the newly acquired colony of Trinidad, which included the largest proportion of free coloreds and free blacks in the British Caribbean (many who came from neighboring French Caribbean territories), there was also some increased public engagement by this group of people as British metropolitan officials considered what form of colonial government system should be implemented on the island. They sent a petition to London, signed by 236 free colored men, asking for permission to be included in whatever form of government eventually emerged.61 There were collective petitions from Trinidad in 1810, Montserrat in 1813, the Virgin Islands in 1813, and the Danish West Indies in 1810 and 1816 (during and immediately following their occupation by the British).62 The numbers were especially striking in Jamaica. In 1813 a petition was submitted to the assembly, making similar requests to the one in 1792; this time it was signed by over 2,400 free coloreds and free blacks. Legislators responded with some concessions but remained unwilling to provide political rights to people of color.63 The movement thereafter continued with great momentum. There were two rival Jamaica petitions in 1816; then in 1823, free men of color organized the first island-​wide petition for improved rights, including the right to vote in elections. The timing of the appeal suggests that they intended their activities to coincide with the launch in Britain of the Anti-​Slavery Society, with which such people had growing connections.64 Some 3,000 persons signed the new petition.65 It was once again rejected, but the widespread 59 David Lambert, White Creole Culture, Politics and Identity During the Age of Abolition (Cambridge, UK, 2005), 93. 60 Major petitions also emerged in the islands of Trinidad, Montserrat, Antigua, Grenada, Dominica, and Jamaica. 61 Brereton, History of Modern Trinidad, 43–​44. 62 Gad Heuman “The Social Structure of the Slave Societies in the Caribbean,” in General History of the Caribbean, Volume III: The Slave Societies of the Caribbean, ed. Franklin Knight (London, 2003), 160; Brereton, History of Modern Trinidad, 43. 63 Heuman, “The Social Structure of the Slave Societies,”160. 64 Heuman, Between Black and White, 33. 65 Petley, Slaveholders in Jamaica, 72 >

Foundations, Ruptures, and Fissures  93 mobilization gave people of color further experience of organizing in a political context. A key change was that support now came from more than just elite free men of color. One Jamaican assemblyman contemptuously noted that those who signed the petition were “of the lowest class, uneducated, and uncivilized . . .”66 Petitions were also promoted in 1823 in Trinidad, Barbados, and Grenada. Non-​whites in the French Caribbean also promoted petitions, especially after the Napoleonic era brought the repeal of rights previously granted. In response, major petitioning campaigns from free people of color clamoring for equal rights emerged in the 1810s, 1820s, and 1830s, alongside the rise of anti–​slave trade and anti-​slavery politics led by organizations such as the Société de la morale chrétienne (Society of Christian Morals) in France and against a background of hostile and sometimes violent racial discrimination by local whites.67

Associations/​Collective Action Popular petitioning went hand in hand with the development of groups, societies, associations, or clubs that sought to influence political decision-​ making. The benefits of association were significant, Joanna Innes notes, because it facilitated “the development of a participatory political culture by encouraging people to see their views about public matters as of more than personal significance.”68 While individuals could sometimes find ways to have minor issues addressed or to acquire personal benefits, people, especially those typically excluded from active political participation, who sought widespread change or greater group protections, had to turn to collective action. Even those who did have influence in local politics saw the need to assemble in formal associations within wider imperial politics. In the colonial world there appeared formal and informal associations among whites, free

66 Ibid. 67 Léo Elisabeth, “The French Antilles,” in Neither Slave Nor Free: The Freedman of African Descent in the Slave Societies of the New World, ed. Jack Greene and David Cohen (Baltimore, MA, 1972), 169; Lorelle Semley, To be Free and French: Citizenship in France’s Atlantic Empire (Cambridge, UK, 2017), 13; Robin Blackburn, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 1776-​1848 (London, 1988), 477–​78; Lawrence Jennings, “French Anti-​Slavery under the Restoration: the Société de la morale chrétienne,” Revue française d’histoire d’outre-​mer 81, no. 304 (1994): 321–​31 68 Joanna Innes, “People and Power in British Politics to 1850,” in Re-​imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions, 141.

94  Re-imagining Democracy people of color, and enslaved persons. The late eighteenth century ushered in a period of unprecedented collective action among people in the Caribbean. Outside local governing bodies, which included only a limited number of planters, there was a need for alternative fora for planters in general to discuss common concerns. Planters regularly gathered within specific parishes or provinces to firm up their opinions and ensure that their voices were heard by councils, assemblies, and metropolitan officials. Though these meetings were typically social in nature, issues were informally raised and discussed.69 In the late eighteenth century there was an explosion in the establishment of transatlantic and local clubs and associations by resident and absentee planters across the Atlantic world that were increasingly political in nature. The power of informal networks was evident in the swiftness with which planters could mobilize.70 In 1766, for example, when the Saint Domingue governor’s proposal to reform the militia was rejected by one of the Superior Councils on the island, he swiftly convened a “general assembly” of planters across the island in an attempt to bypass the council’s decision. Informal networks extending into metropolitan Britain and France helped planters when they attempted to project their influence beyond Caribbean contexts. Planters in the British Caribbean, for example, relied on personal networks that included some parliamentarians. They also frequently petitioned or sent agents, through their assemblies, to London to voice concerns to Parliament and the Crown.71 The American Revolution and the rise in anti-​slavery sentiment during the 1780s significantly influenced planters in the British Caribbean. They began to anticipate threats to the plantation regime and recognized the need to move beyond informal networks to secure their interests in imperial politics. They founded more formal organizations which sought new ways to support slavery and aggressively to defend their interests in metropolitan circles and to the wider public. One of these organizations was the West India Committee, which was established in Britain during the American revolutionary war. As Andrew O’Shaughnessy has noted, the committee “evolved from an informal group soliciting political favors into a more organized impersonal body that foreshadowed [modern-​day] economic interest groups.”72 69 Kenneth Morgan, Slavery and the British Empire: From Africa to America (Oxford, 2007), 51; James McClellan, Colonialism and Science: Saint Domingue and the Old Regime (Chicago, IL, 2010), 96–​97; 70 Garrigus, Before Haiti, 129. 71 Petley, Slaveholders in Jamaica, 51. 72 O’Shaughnessy, “The Formation of a Commercial Lobby.”

Foundations, Ruptures, and Fissures  95 While the initial stimulus for its formation was the negative economic impact of the war, it was the rise of anti-​slavery sentiment and the founding of a major British abolitionists group in 1787 that spurred its vigorous assertion of its voice in imperial politics. The French context was a little different. The Société des Amis des Noirs (Society of Friends of the Blacks) did not oppose the colonial lobby in France as effectively as the British abolitionists. Les Amis des Noirs were less numerous, amounting to no more than 150 elite adherents.73 They focused their attention on the legislature, and initially their goal was limited to achieving equal rights for free people of color.74 Both mobilizations nonetheless provoked a planter response. French Caribbean planters in August 1789 founded the Club Massiac, a network of white colonial planters which emerged as a powerful single-​issue lobby.75 The West India Committee and the Club Massiac did more than just follow the traditional route of lobbying Parliament. Both were well funded and committed resources to countering efforts from abolitionist societies. Pro-​ slavery actors made use of various forms of print, including opinion pieces in major periodicals, pamphlets, treatises, travel narratives, novels, art, plays, and songs aimed specifically at an audience outside of formal political institutions—​especially urban, educated, and wealthier people.76 Efforts in Britain were more extensive and outward-​facing owing to the strength of anti-​slavery sentiment, which pro-​slavery interests sought to counter. Though the Club Massiac dissolved just two years after its creation, both British and French pro-​slavery lobbies were influential in shaping imperial policy. The formation of pro-​and anti-​ slavery clubs and societies in the Caribbean itself was part of a broader change in political culture during the revolutionary era. Political clubs were a notable feature of the early French Revolution, spreading to French Caribbean colonies. Clubs that emerged across Saint Domingue, Martinique, and Guadeloupe differed along ideological lines but also closely matched some of the existing divisions within 73 John Garrigus and Trevor Bernard, The Plantation Machine: Atlantic Capitalism in French Saint-​ Domingue and British Jamaica (Philadelphia, PA, 2016), 265. 74 John Stauffer, “Abolition and Antislavery,” in The Oxford Handbook of Slavery in the Americas, ed. Mark Smith and Robert Paquette (Oxford, 2010), 565. 75 Jeremy Popkin, “The French Revolution’s Other Island,” in The World of Haitian Revolution, ed. David Geggus and Norman Fiering (Indiana, IN, 2009), 203. 76 Paula Dumas, Proslavery Britain: Fighting for Slavery in an Era of Abolition (Basingstoke, 2016), 1–​2, 52.

96  Re-imagining Democracy white colonial society. As a result, royalist groups largely composed of white planters, while patriot and republican clubs, composed of middling and poor whites engaged in intense power struggles. In 1793 in Guadeloupe, two political clubs, the Society of the Friends of the French Republic (Société des amis de la République française) and the Friends of Equality (Les amis de l’égalité), were established to help counter efforts from groups of royalist planters who were close to the colonial assembly.77 Republican political clubs supported racial equality but remained strongly pro-​slavery, while royalist groups were counterrevolutionary and also proponents of slavery, although at times they encouraged black aspirations toward freedom as a tactical measure to undermine the appeal of revolution.78 People in the British Caribbean, especially those outside the elite group of planters, also seem to have been influenced by the revolutionary changes in the French Atlantic. The effect, as historian Karl Watson has noted, was a “heightening of political awareness and ambitions” also involving use of French revolutionary language to support their causes.79 Nevertheless, political divisions were determined more by internal class struggles than by abstract ideology. In particular, anti-​slavery sentiment seemed to open up an opportunity for smaller planters and agents to begin to wrestle some influence away from elite planters. In early nineteenth-​ century Barbados, for example, a two-​party political system emerged during assembly elections: the “Pumpkin” party, made up of the landed elite, and the “Salmagundi” party, which consisted of an enfranchised middling group that was also supported by poorer whites not able to vote.80 Later, as people of African descent agitated for greater political rights, with some success by the 1830s, political divisions were recast, dividing sharply along racial lines. Free coloreds and free blacks formally organized themselves on both a local and a transatlantic level. Shortly after the Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789, a group of Saint Dominguan people of color in Paris founded the Society of American Colonists (Société des Colons Américains). The group lobbied the French government for equal rights and representation in the National Assembly.81 Their metropolitan base enabled them to reach out to 77 William Cormack, Patriots, Royalists, and Terrorists in the West Indies: The French Revolution in Martinique and Guadeloupe, 1789-​1802 (Toronto, 2019), 156. 78 Ibid., 155. 79 Karl Watson, “Salmagundis vs Pumpkins: White Politics and Creole Consciousness in Barbadian Slave Society, 1800-​34,” in The White Minority in the Caribbean, ed. Howard Johnson and Karl Watson (Kingston, 1998), 22. 80 Ibid., 23–​24. 81 David Geggus, “Racial Equality, Slavery, and Colonial Secession during the Constituent Assembly,” The American Historical Review 94, no. 5 (1989): 1290–​308.

Foundations, Ruptures, and Fissures  97 organizations representing colonial interests. The society first reached out unsuccessfully to the Club Massiac before successfully forming an alliance with the Amis des Noirs. The beginnings of more formal organization among free coloreds and free blacks were reflected in the petition campaigns across the Caribbean already discussed. In 1823, for example, free Jamaicans of color established a committee of correspondence to organize the island-​wide petition campaign as mentioned above. They not only sent circulars to spread information and solicit views from people, but also organized public gatherings across several parishes. The result of these efforts was a petition that now not only represented the wishes of a wide cross-​section of people of color, but also made sophisticated arguments for equal rights. As a group, they also sought to extend their efforts beyond the context of Jamaica because of the significant prejudice against them there. First, they appointed metropolitan-​based Englishman Michael Hanly to serve as their agent to the Colonial Office in London, to encourage the Crown to directly intervene or to pressure the Jamaican assembly to consider their requests. Dissatisfied with Hanly’s progress, they then sought to establish stronger connections with the anti-​ slavery movement and gain their support to raise their issues in Parliament.82 Similarly in 1823, there was significant mobilization of free people of color in the newer British colony of Trinidad.83 Trinidadian-​born free colored and Edinburgh-​educated medical doctor Jean-​Baptiste Philip emerged as a leader of free colored activism on the island. In 1824, he printed an important book entitled An Address to the Right Hon. Earl Bathurst, His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, Relative to the claims which the Coloured Population of Trinidad have to the same Civil and Political Privileges with their white fellow-​subjects, which was an over-​300-​page account of the collective injustices faced by the free people of color that also made a strong case for legal and political equality. Similar developments occurred in the French Caribbean. In the early 1820s there was some mobilization of free coloreds and blacks in what local authorities labeled a plot to overthrow the colonial order. They cited as evidence the circulation of an anonymous pamphlet entitled De la situation des gens de couleur libres aux Antilles françaises (On the situation of free people 82 Heuman, Between Black and White, 32–​34. 83 For more on the Free Colored movement in Trinidad, see Carl Campbell, Cedulants and Capitulants: The Politics of the Coloured Opposition in the Slave Society of Trinidad (Newtown, Port of Spain, 1992).

98  Re-imagining Democracy of color in the French Antilles). The pamphlet reported “legislation in France based on justice and equity,” questioned why free non-​whites did “not enjoy the rights that the Charter [the Charte associated with the restoration of the monarchy] seems to guarantee to all subjects of His Majesty,” and demanded “in the name of justice and humanity, the destruction of the exceptional laws which govern [free non-​whites in the colonies] and the granting of legislation in harmony with the present state of civilization.”84 Further mobilization occurred in the wake of the revolution of July 1830, when a royal ordinance permitted the establishment of societies among free coloreds and free blacks.85 As a result, committees were swiftly created in Martinique and Guadeloupe. Free coloreds and free blacks elected, in effect, alternative representatives to represent them in Paris, arguing that white officials had not allowed them to participate in colonial affairs. The new representatives lobbied liberal French politicians and published several pamphlets and newspaper articles to continue pressure for equal civil and political rights.86 As in the British context, these committees became increasingly aligned and worked in cooperation with the anti-​slavery movement. It seems there was a gradual convergence of the metropolitan anti-​slavery movement and the movement for equal rights for free coloreds and free blacks as emancipation approached in the British and French Atlantic. Colonial and local officials sought to exclude enslaved persons from accessing local government, but their efforts were not always successful. Indeed, even enslaved Africans were able to shape the character of the political realm and policy and craft their own organizational environment through various forms of resistance. Grand marronage, which led to the existence of large independent communities (already briefly mentioned), provides a powerful instance of this. These communities, which emerged with the earliest use of enslaved African labor in the early sixteenth century, constituted different and separate though overlapping political worlds. The maroons of Jamaica signed several formal treaties with the colonial government in the mid-​and late eighteenth century, securing their right to live in autonomous communities with their own political systems.87 As we have 84 De la situation des gens de couleur libres aux Antilles françaises (Paris, 1823), 5–​7. 85 Leo, “The French Antilles,” 170. 86 Lawrence Jennings, French Anti-​Slavery: The Movement for the Abolition of Slavery in France, 1802-​1848 (Cambridge, UK, 2000), 30. 87 For reading on Maroon Communities see Silvia Groot, “Maroon Communities in the Circum-​ Caribbean,” in The General History of the Caribbean, Vol. 3: Slave Societies, Franklin Knight (London, 2003); Richard Price, ed., Maroon Societies: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas (Baltimore, MD, 1996); Campbell, The Maroons of Jamaica.

Foundations, Ruptures, and Fissures  99 noted, the threat that these communities posed to the stability of the plantation regime ensured that whenever they sent petitions to the Jamaican assembly, throughout our period, their concerns were always considered. Slave revolts also represented important efforts by the enslaved to gain a voice in local affairs. Studies of revolts in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century reveal that enslaved Africans were aware of, if not always accurately informed about, local and metropolitan deliberations about the institution of slavery. In 1789 there was an attempted rebellion in Martinique by slaves who claimed that the government in France had abolished slavery, but local planters were preventing the governor from implementing the decree.88 Similarly, rumors circulated in Saint Domingue prior to the 1791 slave uprising noting that the king had granted further reforms in slavery, including three days of freedom per week.89 The three major early nineteenth-​ century slave revolts in the British Caribbean were also tied to key stages of deliberation about the reform and abolition of slavery. In 1831, Samuel Sharpe, an enslaved Baptist preacher, was well aware of discussions in Britain and believed that the king and the British people were in favor of slave emancipation. As a result, he encouraged enslaved persons to engage in mass strike action to secure their freedom; this eventually steamrolled into one of the largest slave uprisings in the British Caribbean.90 Similarly, when French colonial officials delayed the implementation of emancipation in 1848, over 20,000 slaves revolted in Martinique. The provisional governor of the colony responded by immediately proclaiming emancipation the following day.91 The collective action of enslaved persons could therefore significantly influence colonial policies.

Post-​emancipation Aspirations and Realities In British and French colonies, emancipation fundamentally changed a way of life previously centered around the institution of slavery. As emancipation 88 David Geggus, “Slavery, War, and Revolution in the Greater Caribbean, 1789-​1815,” in A Turbulent Time, 7–​8. 89 Carolyn Fick, “Emancipation in Haiti: From Plantation Labour to Peasant Proprietorship,” Slavery & Abolition 21, no. 2 (2000): 11–​40. 90 Wim Klooster, “Slave Revolts, Royal Justice, and a Ubiquitous Rumor in the Age of Revolutions,” The William and Mary Quarterly 71, no. 3 (2014): 401–​24; Mary Turner, Slaves and Missionaries: The Disintegration of Jamaican Slave Society, 1787-​1834 (Barbados, 1998), 152–​55. 91 Bernard Moitt, “Slave Resistance in Guadeloupe and Martinique, 1791-​ 1848,” Journal of Caribbean History 25, no. 1 (1991): 151–​52.

100  Re-imagining Democracy proclamations were implemented (1834 in Britain and 1848 in France), the legal status of hundreds of thousands of formerly enslaved persons changed. They were no longer chattels or the property of others but now free persons in the eyes of the law and entitled to certain rights and privileges. Formerly enslaved persons were now considered full subjects in the British Caribbean and citizens in the French Caribbean. They had the right to control their own labor as wage workers. Despite these similarities, there were some marked differences between the British and French Caribbeans. The emancipation process was a more gradual and complicated affair in the British Caribbean than in the French. In British colonies other than Antigua, formerly enslaved persons had to go through an “apprenticeship” system, which was intended to help the transition to full freedom. Apprenticeship gave British officials time to prepare for free society and to establish a new legal system to replace older slave codes and to work out the political status of the formerly enslaved. Planters also had time to consider new ways of managing their plantations based on wage labor. In the French context, emancipation was rolled out much more suddenly, against a background of revolution in the metropole. There was no transition system; instead, all those formerly enslaved became French citizens. This meant that they gained full political rights, including universal male suffrage, as newly introduced in France. Almost all previous qualifications for the franchise were abandoned, and all people of color were granted freedom of assembly, the press, and expression, along with greater access to education.92 The formerly enslaved in French colonies were put on an equal footing with people in metropolitan France, and all laws operated across the board. In the British context, colonial assemblies had freedom to interpret guidance from the metropole. As William Green has noted, the Colonial Office “held firmly to the view that interference by the imperial Parliament in the legislative affairs of the colonies should be confined to what was strictly necessary.”93 Despite these differences in the emancipation framework, in both sets of colonies there was a fundamental change in the status of the formerly enslaved, and their activities in the immediate post-​emancipation period show them taking advantage of this.

92 Nelly Schmidt, “1848 dans les colonies françaises des Caraïbes. Ambitions républicaines et ordre colonial,” Revue d’histoire Outre-​Mers, no. 320 (1998): 33–​69. 93 William Green, British Slave Emancipation: The Sugar Colonies and the Great Experiment 1830-​ 1865 (Oxford, 1991), 122.

Foundations, Ruptures, and Fissures  101 Nonetheless, we should not see developments in the political practices of the now much-​enlarged body of mixed-​race and black people only as responses to emancipation. They also built on lessons learned and changes that had taken place earlier. Formerly enslaved people across the British and French Caribbean abandoned former slave owners entirely or negotiated for better wages and conditions. Some reached out to local government officials, by petition or in person, to request assistance in negotiations or to acquire state lands for smallholdings.94 Sometimes they set down their tools and refused to work until better conditions were met. Immediately after the apprenticeship period in Jamaica, for example, work stopped across many estates until planters agreed to suitable contracts. Where wages met workers’ expectations, there was a regular flow of labor. Where planters were more reluctant to pay higher wages, supply was less consistent.95 In Martinique, shortly after emancipation, when some formerly enslaved were pressed to get back to work, they replied that “the land belonged to the good God, that it belonged to everybody, and that when they were given their portion, they would work . . .”96 When dissatisfied with conditions on a wider scale, blacks collectively engaged in strikes, protests, and riots, raising their concerns not only with planters but also with colonial officials. If some of these developments were particular to the freeing of the enslaved labor force, others applied more widely across the formerly free colored, free black, and enslaved populations, especially in the realm of politics. The post-​emancipation era brought more involvement of mixed-​race men and blacks in local government elections and institutions. In British colonies, though property qualifications to vote remained, an increasing number of mixed-​race and black men became eligible. In Jamaica the electorate peaked in the 1849 colonial assembly elections, as more of the non-​white population met property requirements. In St. John and St. Thomas parishes, over 60% of the electorate were small freeholders.97 As a result, twenty of the forty-​five assembly members were mixed-​race or black men, the highest number ever elected to the assembly. (The assembly ceased to meet after 1865, when it 94 Rosamunde Renard, “Labour Relations in Martinique and Guadeloupe, 1848-​1870,” Journal of Caribbean History 26, no. 1 (1992): 37–​61. 95 Swithin Wilmot, “Emancipation in Action: Workers and Wage Conflict in Jamaica, 1838-​1840,” in Caribbean Freedom: Economy and Society from Emancipation to the Present, ed. Hilary Beckles and Verene Shepherd (Kingston, 1996), 48–​54. 96 Renard, “Labour Relations in Martinique and Guadeloupe,” 41. 97 Heuman, Between White and Black, 124.

102  Re-imagining Democracy was closed down as part of an attempt to quiet political passions in the aftermath of the Morant Bay rebellion).98 In the French Caribbean, the two years succeeding emancipation similarly saw very strong electoral participation by the mixed-​race and black populations. In Martinique and Guadeloupe, voter turnout averaged 65% to 68% between 1848 and 1850.99 Colonial assemblies also became more diverse as more non-​white men were regularly elected. In French Guiana’s first elections after emancipation, for their representative to the French legislative assembly, there were two candidates—​a white prosecutor-​general and a magistrate of color. Despite the governor and his supporters’ efforts at voter suppression among the newly enfranchised masses, the magistrate of color was overwhelmingly elected.100 The immediate post-​emancipation period therefore saw a marked shift in non-​white involvement in colonial elections and representation in political institutions. The immediate post-​emancipation period also brought an upsurge in the participation of mixed-​race and black people in public discourse within French and British colonies, in association with the expansion of the press. In the Anglophone Caribbean, newspapers dramatically increased from about forty in the second half of the eighteenth century to 104 in the first half of the nineteenth century, and 132 in the second half.101 There was a similar increase in newspapers in the French Caribbean, although from a lesser base: there were a mere handful of newspapers across the French Caribbean in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries because of stricter regulation and censorship of newspapers by the state; then an increase in 1848 and later in 1870, with the emergence of the short-​lived Second Republic and Third Republic respectively—​the first of which briefly, the second more enduringly encouraged freedom of the press.102 Newspapers were sometimes associated with agitations around specific issues. For example, the movement for greater racial equality fueled the rise of the non-​white press. A wave of mixed-​race and black presses in the Anglophone Caribbean emerged on the eve of emancipation in the late 1820s. Jamaica’s first non-​white newspaper, the Watchman and Jamaica Free Press, was established in 1829.103 Another 98 Ibid., 131. 99 Schmidt, “1848 dans les colonies françaises des Caraïbes,” 51. 100 Miranda Spieler, Empire and Underworld: Captivity in French Guiana (Cambridge, MA, 2012), 148–​49. 101 John Lent, Third World Mass Media and Their Search for Modernity (London, 1977), 44. 102 John Lent, Mass Communications in the Caribbean (Ames, IA, 1990), chap. 14. 103 Alpen Razi, “ ‘Coloured Citizens of the World’: The Networks of Empire Loyalism in Emancipation-​Era Jamaica and the Rise of the Transnational Black Press,” American Periodicals 23, no. 2 (2013): 105–​24.

Foundations, Ruptures, and Fissures  103 important bilingual (French and English) newspaper called The Trinidadian was established in June 1848 by George Numa Dessources, a man of color, in the island of Trinidad. Dessources was probably from Saint Domingue, one of the large number of free colored and black people from the French Caribbean that settled in the colony. The paper developed a reputation for heavily criticizing the colonial government and strongly promoting the cause of non-​whites, and especially those from foreign territories.104 Similarly in Guadeloupe, the first non-​white newspaper, Le Progrès, was established in 1849; it consistently pushed for equal rights for all across France and its colonies.105 Atlantic-​wide discussions on representative democracy that emerged around the 1832 and 1867 Reform Acts in Britain, the 1848 revolution in France, and the emergence of working-​class reform movements in the United States fueled post-​emancipation discussions about broadening political rights in the British and French Caribbean. These external contexts helped to shape the ways in which “democracy” was invoked. An instance of North American-​influenced usage is provided by an 1832 letter to the editor in Jamaica’s Watchman and Jamaica Free Press, which cited a US working-​ class newspaper, the Workingman’s Advocate, on the importance of independent newspapers in the development a more democratic society: Let it not be thought that we speak selfishly, when we deem it of the very first importance that all true friends of practical democracy should by a united effort, support and give stability to such presses . . . if the people can have, and will support honest presses, they can and will have liberty and reform!106

The prominent place given to “democracy” in French political discourse in the era of the 1848 revolution evidently shaped an editorial in Le Progrès June 17, 1849, which offered its own solution to racial inequality: Republicans by principle and conviction, we believe in Democracy and what it teaches; we push back what it pushes back. We believe in the sovereignty of the people. We finally want the unity of the population through 104 Bridget Brereton et al., “Introduction,” in Adolphus, A Tale (Anonymous) and The Slave Son by Mrs William Noy Wilkins, ed. Lise Winer (Kingston, 2003), xxiv. 105 Schmidt, “1848 dans les colonies françaises des Caraïbes.” 106 Jamaica Watchman (Kingston, Jamaica) August 8, 1832.

104  Re-imagining Democracy the fusion of races, sincerely practiced with the help of this humanitarian symbol: Freedom, Equality, Fraternity.107

Finally, British discourse was echoed in local constitutional reform debates in Jamaica, at a time when white government officials were attempting to curb the growing colored influence in local government. The Morning Journal, a later version of Jamaica’s first non-​white newspaper, in December 1853 published the views of some mixed-​race assemblymen who suggested that it would be safe to allow them more opportunities within the specifically British form of liberal democracy: Is it, that the intelligence of the Colony is likely to be represented by a race formerly proscribed as unfitted for any but the most menial offices? Yes or no? Is it that an old oligarchy is afraid of being overwhelmed by a liberal democracy, which would be dangerous, but for its amalgamation with a limited monarchical form of Government.108

The rise of the non-​white press provided mixed-​race and black people with an important means of getting their voices heard and exerting pressure on the colonial political system, but—​these instances suggest—​the political ideas that informed it were also colored by the political discourses of imperial metropoles and the United States. Despite emancipation and further developments in the political activism of non-​white people, legacies of racial exclusion and economic subordination were not easily dispatched. Colonial elites sought new ways to ensure that the more things changed, the more they would remain the same: they could no longer defend slavery, but they still had a plantation economy to defend, and had an interest in maintaining other forms of coerced labor and social and political hierarchy to create a context in which their views were most likely to prevail. Planters in particular launched a significant counterattack on French and British metropolitan government policies. Though equality before the law now officially prevailed, racial prejudice and attention to color

107 Nelly Schmidt, “Schoelchérisme et assimilation dans la politique coloniale française: de la théorie à la pratique aux Caraïbes entre 1848 et les années 1880,” Revue d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine 35, no. 2 (1988): 305–​40. 108 Heuman, Between White and Black, 155.

Foundations, Ruptures, and Fissures  105 and shade were recast as pillars of post-​emancipation social hierarchy, with the effect that some early changes in retrospect look more like false dawns.109 Ingenious new means were employed to protect white privileges. In the British Caribbean, assemblymen repeatedly passed laws that increased property qualifications for new voters while protecting from disenfranchisement older white voters who would not meet these new requirements.110 This was clearly a discriminatory tactic. Its effects were perhaps most extreme in Barbados, where by the middle of the nineteenth century there was only one non-​white member of the colonial assembly and less than one in a hundred had the vote: the electorate comprised a mere 1,350 voters: one percent of a population exceeding 135,000.111 Elite whites continued to dominate Barbadian government until nearly the middle of the twentieth century. The situation was only slightly different in turn-​of-​the-​nineteenth century Crown colonies like Trinidad. As emancipation approached, the Colonial Office granted a nominated council of government (later legislative council) to the island. Members were to be selected by the governor and were typically drawn from among the elite propertied colonists. Wealthy and primarily white planters and merchants, in consequence, dominated Trinidad’s local government until the early twentieth century when constitutional reform began to shift their influence.112 In the French context, egalitarian ideals were swiftly abandoned after the collapse of the Second Republic and with the rise of the Third Empire from 1851. The metropolitan government tended to align with colonial plantocracies to the detriment of people of color. As a result, despite an early participation in elections among now enfranchised formerly enslaved males, significant restrictions were almost immediately put in place. With the emergence of the Third Empire, participation in elections dropped from an average of 65 percent in 1848 so that it stood only around 11 percent at the start of the Third Republic in 1871.113 Local white officials ensured increased regulation and censorship of newspapers, the banning of political clubs, freedom of expression, and assembly. All of these efforts emerged as early as the short reign of the Second 109 Bridget Brereton, “Social Organization and Class, Racial and National Conflicts,” in General History of the Caribbean, Volume IV: The Long Nineteenth Century, ed. K. O. Laurence (London, 2011), 339. 110 Green, British Slave Emancipation, 176. 111 Ibid.; Brereton, “Social Organization,” 342. 112 Brereton, History of Modern Trinidad, chap. 8. 113 Schmidt, “Schoelchérisme et assimilation.” >

106  Re-imagining Democracy Republic.114 The interim governor of French Guiana, for example, who expressed his belief that the formerly enslaved were “not sufficiently enlightened to understand the exercise of political rights,” deliberately used his authority to restrict the agenda of the Second Republic.115 Similarly, when the governor of Guadeloupe suspended all newspapers in May 1850, he noted that: [T]‌he suppression of the local press is, without a doubt, of all the measures that the circumstances necessitated, the one which has contributed the most to this result. The country is not ripe for such freedoms.116

By 1870, colonial elites had successfully managed to overturn several inroads made in favor of the formerly enslaved in the immediate post-​emancipation period. Their efforts so frustrated mixed-​race and black people that major revolts emerged across the British and French Caribbean during the 1860s and 1870s, including the 1865 Morant Bay rebellion in Jamaica, the 1870 South Insurrection in Martinique, and the 1876 Confederation riots in Barbados and Tobago. These uprisings spurred more deliberate efforts by metropolitan governments to address the severe racial inequality that marked the post-​emancipation period.

Conclusion The late eighteenth century witnessed important shifts in colonial political culture and government, associated especially with attitudes toward the institution of slavery. Anti-​slavery sentiment challenged the slave system in unprecedented ways. In response, elite white men dramatically increased their political activity, seeking to consolidate their power in local political institutions and to strengthen their influence through the creation of formal transatlantic organizations. Similarly vigorous political activity emerged from anti-​slavery supporters, non-​elite whites, free coloreds, free blacks, and enslaved persons. Petitioning, a tool used by an increasingly wide cross-​ section of people, became an even more important part of colonial political culture. A new era of mass petitioning emerged, as signatories dramatically

114 Ibid.

115 Spieler, Empire and Underworld, 150. 116

Schmidt, “Schoelchérisme et assimilation.”

Foundations, Ruptures, and Fissures  107 increased from dozens to hundreds and later to thousands, over equal rights for free colored and free black people and the abolition of the slave trade and slavery. Local and transatlantic clubs and societies, as well as aggressive collective action, also helped to successfully challenge the authority of colonial elites and widen access to the political realm. All of this went hand in hand with the rise of the abolitionist movement. Just as elite white men recognized that their political status relied on the maintenance of slavery, so, conversely, free coloreds and free blacks acknowledged that full political equality could only come with the dismantling of the slave regime. It was the determination to maintain slavery that first inspired French planters to deny free people of color access to elected colonial assemblies and then subsequently, in a bid to gain allies in the context of revolutionary turmoil, to accord full political rights to free French Caribbean colored and black men. Additionally, it was the reform of slavery that led to the denial of elected legislative assemblies in the new Caribbean colonies that the British acquired after that date, as they strove both to curb the authority of white planters and to protect the interests of non-​white people. Slavery therefore stood at the center of changes to political institutions and culture in the Greater Caribbean. The abolition of slavery ushered in a new era, as the status of hundreds of thousands of formerly enslaved persons suddenly shifted from being considered property to being subjects or citizens with political rights. Mixed-​ race and black participation in local government and public discourse, dramatically increased, especially with the rise of the non-​white press. However, continuing efforts to maintain racial exclusion and economic subordination limited the impact of change through the late nineteenth century. When the experience of the French and British Caribbean colonies is set alongside that of the Iberian states that achieved independence in this period—​even those states in which slavery was not an important social and economic institution—​it is clear that political culture in these colonies was shaped by different preoccupations and ideas. For one thing, in Iberian territories there were deeper divides within the free part of the population, notably between officials sent out from European metropoles and local creoles. These two groups were generally equal in law, although not necessarily in practice. The fact that colonial elites—​who pitted themselves against “peninsulares”—​comprised planters, merchants, royal officials, senior clergy, lawyers, and military personnel meant that a broad range of issues stimulated political discussion. Their efforts to obtain more rights of self-​government,

108  Re-imagining Democracy and ultimately independence, were however complicated by the racial diversity of local populations, which often included large indigenous communities alongside large numbers of mixed-​race and black people. At times, cross-​ racial alliances, although sometimes tense and fragile, emerged during imperial conflicts. As a result, as Nancy Appelbaum notes in Chapter 6, ideas of racial harmony gained currency among independence leaders. This was not the case in the British and French Greater Caribbean, nor even in nineteenth-​ century Cuba, where political discourse remained tied to the maintenance of the plantation regime even after slavery.

3 Iberian Legacies Anthony McFarlane

At the start of the nineteenth century, the dissolution of the Spanish and Portuguese empires and the emergence of independent states throughout Iberian America marked an historical watershed. While in post-​Napoleonic Europe politicians were seeking to rebuild the absolutist monarchies overturned by the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, in Spanish and Portuguese America new states were proclaiming independence. By 1825 Spain’s dominions on the American continents had all become independent republics, leaving Cuba and Puerto Rico as the sole remnants of the old empire. Portugal’s American losses were even more comprehensive when, in 1822, Brazil became an independent constitutional monarchy known as the Empire of Brazil. The significance of these developments for the former American territories can be overstated, given the “colonial heritage” of social and economic structures in the newly independent states.1 Nonetheless, they mark a highly significant moment of political transformation, ending three centuries of Spanish and Portuguese dominion and inaugurating a transition toward new ways of political thinking and behaving. There were of course many variations between Iberian American regions, not least a marked divergence between Brazil and Spanish America. Independent Brazil took the form of a constitutional monarchy rather than following the Spanish American republican trend, and for most of the nineteenth century was more united and stable than almost all the Spanish American republics. It is, then, unsurprising that Brazilians represented the break with the metropole in less rancorous terms than Spanish Americans. Although Brazilians criticized Portugal and occasionally turned on the Portuguese in their midst, they did not represent Portuguese rule as the source of all their country’s ills. Spanish American republicans were, by contrast, inclined to 1 Stanley J. Stein and Barbara H. Stein, The Colonial Heritage of Latin America (Oxford, 1970). Anthony McFarlane, Iberian Legacies In: Re-​imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–​1870. Edited by: Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, Joanna Innes, and Mark Philp, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/​oso/​9780197631577.003.0003

44  Re-imagining Democracy portray their Spanish heritage in very negative terms. Nineteenth-​century writers frequently blamed Spanish “tyranny” and “despotism” for their countries’ ills, establishing an interpretation that has been echoed since in various ways, both by scholars of nineteenth-​century Latin America in general and by those concerned with the history of Latin American democracy more particularly.2 Recently, however, the emphasis on the “colonial heritage” has been sharply questioned. Rather than searching for obstacles from the colonial past—​such as forms of patrimonial rule that deprived social elites of political powers, a weak rule of law, and identities based on relations of kinship and clientage—​or insisting on the fundamental incompatibility of liberalism with Latin American cultures—​historians of the Spanish American republics now prefer to avoid such explanations and seek instead to reconstruct the ways in which post-​independence politics actually functioned.3 This chapter also focuses on the political, but in the context of pre-​ independence Spanish and Portuguese rule. It examines the ways in which Spain and Portugal governed their American territories, and how political cultures evolved under colonial rule. It argues that Iberian American societies were not just colonies subject to the centralized rule of imperialist monarchies, but components within larger political systems that allowed participation and negotiation and offered a wide measure of local autonomy. During the eighteenth century, this regime was modified both by centralizing reformers who sought to change the political economy of the empires and by Enlightenment ideas that affected their political cultures. The implications of these changes did not surface fully until external crises destabilized the Iberian monarchies. Then, older elements of political life—​ such as ideas about popular sovereignty and the contract between rulers and ruled, elite assertions of rights to participate in government, and practices of local, community-​based governance—​interacted with emerging notions of citizenship and representation in the post-​independence world, allowing tradition to blend with modernity.

2 Richard Morse, “The Heritage of Latin America,” in Louis Hartz, ed., The Founding of New Societies (New York, 1964); François-​Xavier Guerra, Modernidad e independencias (Madrid, 1992); Carlos Forment, Democracy in Latin America, 1760-​1900 (Chicago, IL, 2003); Paul W. Drake, Between Tyranny and Anarchy: A History of Democracy in Latin America, 1800-​2006, (Stanford, CA, 2009). 3 Hilda Sabato, Republics of the New World (Princeton, NJ, 2018) incorporates these new approaches.

Iberian Legacies  45

The Constitution of the Iberian Monarchies Systems of rule in Iberian American colonies were shaped by traditions of political thinking, laws, and institutions that derived from late medieval understandings of society and government. Christian theologians portrayed society as a human community that should be ordered as a “republic,” a hierarchical association of groups that came together to secure justice and the common good, preferably, though not necessarily, under the rule of a king. In the Iberian monarchies, the king’s powers were both personal and public. Kingdoms were a family patrimony, in which kings claimed title to the lands, waters, and minerals of their realms and the right to grant their usufruct to others; they could also create and fill public offices and delegate their powers where they wished. Yet royal power was not unfettered. Although Spanish and Portuguese kings claimed to be absolute rulers in the sense that they allowed no superior within their kingdoms, their powers were limited by responsibilities for providing the good government (buen gobierno) that was essential for achieving the common good (bien común).4 Sixteenth-​century Spanish philosophers argued that the king’s authority derived from a pact in which the people ceded their sovereign power to the king in return for good government. An influential version of this concept of popular sovereignty, formulated by the Jesuits Francisco Suárez (1548–​1617) and Juan de Mariana (1536–​1624), claimed that the people might justifiably reclaim their sovereignty if the king broke the pact by behaving tyrannically, by failing to provide laws (vacatio legis), or by absence (vacatio regis).5 Suárez was also influential in Portugal, where his affirmation of the right to combat tyranny was used to justify Portuguese rebellion against Spain in 1640.6 In the Hispanic world, this doctrine continued to circulate among political writers and in university curricula and was manifested in political practices which contested royal orders, notably in rebellions that called on the king for justice to remedy abuses by his officials.7 4 Pedro Cardim, Antonio Feros, and Gaetano Sabatini, “The Political Constitution of the Iberian Monarchies,” in The Iberian World 1450-​1820 ed. Fernando Bauza, Pedro Cardim, and Antonio Feros (New York, 2020), 35–​61; Lyle N. MacAlister, Spain and Portugal in the New World, 1492-​1700, eds. Fernando Bauza, Pedro Cardim, and Antonio Feros (Minneapolis, MN, 1984), 33–​39. 5 Colin M. MacLachlan, Spain’s Empire in the New World (Berkeley, CA, 1988), chap. 1. 6 Nuno Gonçalo Monteiro and Pedro Cardim, Political Thought in Portugal and its Empire, c. 1500-​ 1800 (Cambridge, UK, 2021), Introduction and Part II. 7 O. Carlos Stoetzer, The Scholastic Roots of the Spanish America Revolution (New York, 1979), 23–​26, 40–​52, 121–​3; Monica Quijada, “From Spain to New Spain: Revisiting the Potestas Populi in Hispanic Political Thought,” Mexican Studies/​Estudios Mexicanos 24, no. 2 (2008): 184–​219.

46  Re-imagining Democracy The monarch’s central responsibility was to dispense justice in accord with divine and natural law, and government was the means for making and imposing law. Spanish America had a strong legal culture founded on natural law, the ius commune, customs, bibilical tenets, and royal legislation, a matrix that allowed judges a wide range of interpretation. As legislation was generated to solve particular cases, a vast corpus of Spanish American law (derecho indiano) emerged, codified in the Recopilación de las leyes de las Indias.8 Portugal took a different approach, extending the laws promulgated in the legal code known as the Ordenações Manuelinas to its overseas territories and adding new laws to address issues in colonial life not covered by metropolitan legislation.9 In both monarchies, the dispensation of justice was decentralized: officials with legal powers exercised personal discretion when making judgments, a power of arbitration that allowed for local compromise and accommodation. Iberian monarchs stood in different relationships with their American possessions. Until the later eighteenth century, Spain’s American territories were not called “colonies.” They were the “Reinos de las Indias” (Kingdoms of the Indies), constituent parts of a vast composite monarchy in which culturally distinct and semi-​autonomous kingdoms owed allegiance to a single king while retaining their own identities, laws, institutions, and fiscal arrangements. In fact, the Kingdoms of the Indies were not equals of the king’s European realms, since they lacked the historical institutions and customary “freedoms” (privileges) of the kingdoms of, say, Aragon, Valencia, or Catalonia, and their cities had no representation in a Cortes. However, Spanish American elites, particularly in rich regions such as Mexico, claimed a comparable status, based on the idea of an historic contract between crown and conquerors which allowed them a substantial degree of autonomy.10 Brazil, by contrast, was regarded simply as part of the Kingdom of Portugal. The Portuguese crown absorbed American lands into its patrimony in the

8 On sources of law and the workings of the judicial system in Habsburg Spanish America, Charles R. Cutter, “The Legal Culture of Spanish America on the Eve of Independence,” in Judicial Institutions in Nineteenth-​Century Latin America, ed. Eduardo Zimmerman (London, 1999), 10–​14; Christoph Rosenmüller, Corruption and Justice in Colonial Mexico, 1650-​1755 (Cambridge, UK, 2019), chap. 1. 9 On law in Brazil, see MacAlister, Spain and Portugal in the New World, 445–​46; Stuart B. Schwartz, Sovereignty and Society in Colonial Brazil: The High Court of Bahia and its Judges, 1609-​ 1751 (Berkeley, CA, 1973), 45–​50. 10 Polycentric Monarchies: How Did Early Modern Spain and Portugal Achieve and Maintain a Global Hegemony?, eds. Pedro Cardim, Tamar Herzog, José Javier Ruiz Ibáñez, and Gaetano Sabatini, (Eastbourne, UK, 2022); Political Representation in the Ancien Régime, eds. Joaquim Albareda, Manuel Herrero Sánchez (New York, 2018).

Iberian Legacies  47 same way that it annexed territories in the Atlantic islands, Africa, and Asia; that is, as extensions of Portugal, regulated by the Lisbon-​based councils that had oversight over all Portugal’s overseas possessions. For most of Portuguese rule, Brazil was a mosaic of “captaincies,” linked to the king by personal ties. Originally “donatorial captaincies,” or hereditary grants of royal jurisdiction given to a dozen proprietors, these multiplied over time as the crown created new captaincies of its own.11

Royal Government Within these frameworks, Spanish and Portuguese monarchs asserted their sovereignty through institutions modeled on Iberian administrative, judicial, and ecclesiastical structures. First among these were the municipal councils—​cabildos in Spanish America and senados da câmara in Brazil—​which governed the towns that were the building blocks of Iberian America. Established by settlers when they founded towns, these councils were institutions with long-​established Iberian antecedents, reflected in well-​defined corporate structures and procedures and a clear sense of themselves as primary instruments of government. Imposed on this primary level were various agencies of royal government—​viceroys, governors, audiencias (high courts), and so on—​which bound the new territories to the person of the king and provided channels for his sovereign power. A third arm of authority, closely linked to the monarchy, was the Catholic Church. Because Iberian monarchs justified their claims to sovereignty in the New World as a mission to propagate Christianity, they secured from the papacy rights of ecclesiastical patronage (the Spanish patronato or Portuguese padroado). Throne and Altar were thereby joined in a close partnership. Theologians justified monarchy and social hierarchy, including slavery; the clergy cultivated a belief system which embraced all the king’s subjects and bound them to the crown; and, last but not least, the Church provided an arena for royal patronage in which the crown could reinforce loyalty by distributing ecclesiastical roles and rents.12 11 H. B. Johnson, “The Portuguese Settlement of Brazil, 1500-​1800,” in Cambridge History of Latin America, ed. Leslie Bethell, 11 vols. (Cambridge, UK, 1984), Vol. 1. 12 On the institutions and development of Spanish governance, C. H. Haring, The Spanish Empire in America (New York, 1963); Mario Góngora, Studies in the Colonial History of Spanish America (Cambridge, UK, 1975), 67–​126.

48  Re-imagining Democracy Spain’s system of rule in the Americas had distinctive features.13 The Habsburgs assumed responsibility for the evangelization and government of indigenous peoples and succeeded in preventing the emergence of American territorial aristocracies that held lordship over the natives. To meet the economic demands of the settlers while protecting indigenous communities, the crown created an administration for organizing the allocation of native labor among the settlers, making the king’s government indispensable to the extractive relations on which their economy depended. Here, it seems, was a structure of a new kind: a “colonial state” with professional officials and procedures of bureaucratic control that allowed the crown to impose central authority.14 Epitomizing bureaucratic government were the salaried letrados, whom the Spanish crown deployed to dispense justice and oversee aspects of administration, though their Weberian features should not be overstated.15 Within the American realms, royal government was in many respects polycentric. Crown officials regarded their positions as personal gifts from the king and were more likely to compete than to cooperate with each other. Their authority in principle derived from the historic legitimacy of the monarchy and its symbolic power, expressed in political discourses and public ceremonies designed to project images of royal majesty and inculcate loyalty.16 In practice both royal and official power were constrained by their need to secure support in the societies where they served, whether by dispensing patronage and favors or complying with local interests. Salaried officials—​viceroys, audiencia judges, treasury officials—​ were supposed to stand aloof, but invariably became enmeshed in local politics through ties of marriage, friendship, or business connections. Indeed, their ability to exercise power depended heavily on relationships with local social networks.17 Portugal’s government in America was simpler and less intrusive. Without the large tribute-​paying indigenous peasantries and abundant precious metals found in sixteenth-​century Spanish America, the Portuguese crown 13 For comparisons, see J. H. Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic World, Britain and Spain in America 1492-​1830 (New Haven, CT, 2006), chap. 5; Gabriel Paquette, The European Seaborne Empires (New Haven, CT, 2019), 97–​114. 14 John L. Phelan, The Kingdom of Quito in the Seventeenth Century (Madison, WI, 1967), 320–​37. 15 Mark A. Burkholder, “Bureaucrats,” in Cities and Society in Colonial Latin America, ed. Louise Schell Hoberman and Susan Migden Socolow (Albuquerque, NM, 1986), 77–​136. 16 Alejandro Cañeque, The King’s Living Image: The Culture and Politics of Viceregal Power in Colonial Mexico (London, 2004), 4–​11, 238–​43. 17 Tamar Herzog, La administración como un fenómeno social: La justicia penal de la ciudad de Quito, 1650-​1750 (Madrid, 1995), chap. 4.

Iberian Legacies  49 lacked the means to create a substantial network of royal officials. Settlers were left to manage their own workforce, increasingly from enslaved Africans, and the crown’s ability to defend and exploit Brazil depended heavily on the settlers and their descendants.18 Foundations for a royal government were put down in the mid-​sixteenth century, with the installation in Bahia of a governor-​general to oversee all Portugal’s American territories. However, the crown did not replace the proprietary governors, who retained considerable powers and communicated directly with the king. Nor did the royal writ extend far. Brazil was too large and its parts too separate to be governed from a single center, and the governor-​general’s power was mainly focused on the Bahia region. In fact, for most of Portuguese rule, there was no unified royal government in Brazil. The Estado do Maranhão (1621–​1777) in the north and northeast and the Estado do Brasil in the center and south were effectively separate colonies, each with a governor answerable directly to the king. The crown nonetheless reinforced its symbolic and juridical authority by installing a professional magistracy during the later seventeenth century, in the form of juizes da fora (salaried outside judges, mainly from Portugal) who served the towns for fixed periods. These judges were, like the oidores of Spain’s audiencias, bound by rules designed to ensure their impartiality; in practice, they relied on cooperation from powerful local groups and formed alliances with wealthy families.19 Despite these differences, Spanish and Portuguese American systems of governance shared key characteristics. Both were based on the core belief that the social order was a system of hierarchies in which the king provided privileges to “nobles,” who used their power and influence to instill respect for royal authority among the population at large. While both aimed to keep royal control of government by appointing officials for fixed terms and from outside their native lands, they allowed local elites to hold positions in government and in practice treated crown officials as intermediaries between the king and distant American elites. In this manner, Iberian monarchs sought to strike a balance between royal, metropolitan, and local interests, so as to sustain their authority with minimum force. Iberian American elites learned in this context to see royal government as an entity that could be

18 James Lang, Portuguese Brazil: The King’s Plantation (New York, 1979), 30–​31, 35–​51. On government in Brazil and comparisons with Spanish American governance: MacAlister, Spain and Portugal in the New World, 25–​69, 260–​88; 439–​51. 19 Schwartz, Sovereignty and Society, 280–​313.

50  Re-imagining Democracy shaped to their needs, either by acquiring office or by making mutually beneficial connections with royal officials.

Subjects of the Crown Spanish and Portuguese migrants took to America a key tenet of sixteenth-​ century Iberian political thought: that people who accepted the king’s sovereignty should organize themselves in a political community or “republic” that was governed according to its own laws and customs, and organized in corporate bodies of various kinds. In Spanish America, with its large indigenous populations, the idea of the republic took two forms: the república de españoles and the república de indios. The former was embodied in the towns created by early settlers, and its members were those who had established residence in the town and were thus regarded as vecinos. The vecinos were responsible for the government and defense of their town, which they could serve by acting as councillors and magistrates, by paying taxes, and by serving in militias. The status of vecino was long reserved for españoles, whether peninsular Spaniards or American-​born Spaniards (criollos or creoles), and excluded people of African or mixed ethnic origins. Non-​Spaniards were, however, gradually incorporated into the fabric of urban life through membership of the corporate groups which structured society as a whole and played key roles in enforcing social norms.20 Indigenous peoples were also allowed self-​government under the overarching authority of the Spanish crown. In Spanish law, “indios” were treated as free vassals of the crown, and they were brought into Spanish governance as members of repúblicas de indios led by native leaders. Their communities—​ generally known as pueblos de indios—​held rights to common lands and autonomous government in return for payment of a head tax or tributo, collected by native officials. Their legal position was not equal to that of españoles, as they were included in the category of miserables (unprotected people deserving of special protection from the law). This meant that Indians were treated as legal minors, a position which promoted a lexicon of entreaty and inclined Indians to regard the king as their best hope for checking the powerful.21 These rights came at a price, as they required acceptance of laws 20 Louisa Schell Hoberman and Susan Migden Socolow, eds., Cities and Society in Colonial Latin America (Albuquerque, NM, 1986), 1–​18. 21 Brian P. Owensby, Empire of the Law and Indian Justice in Colonial Mexico (Stanford, CA, 2008), chap. 3; Cañeque, King’s Image, chap. 6.

Iberian Legacies  51 devised and implemented by Spaniards, but Indians quickly learned to use Spanish law for their own purposes, devising ways to defend themselves against exploitation, influence the outcomes of laws, and solve disputes within communities.22 Because lines between the judicial and the political were blurred, the courts became arenas for forms of communal political action, a practice which lived on long after Spanish rule. Indeed, access to the courts was part of a larger political repertoire, for, when Indian communities found that favorable judicial decisions were not enforced, they reacted to the failure of justice by taking extrajudicial action in riots and rebellions that became integral elements of indigenous political behavior and culture. The concept of the república de indios had enduring consequences. On the one hand, it labeled the “indio” as an inferior who was culturally separated by language, food, and dress, subject to tribute payments and labor dues, and kept beyond the Hispanic pale by exclusion from education beyond catechization, and (except for Indian nobles) from eligibility for the Catholic priesthood or professions such as the law.23 On the other hand, it encouraged Indians to believe that they had a voluntary contractual relationship to the Spanish crown and underpinned political claims. In mid-​eighteenth century Peru, for example, clerical and indigenous leaders appealed to the crown to reinstate the privileges to which the Indian republics were legally entitled but were in practice being eroded. They called for non-​Indians to be expelled and communities placed under the tutelage of indigenous leaders and priests, who would exercise authority on behalf of the crown and the Church while delivering royal taxes and clerical dues. In 1750, this idea of the Indian republic animated a plot to create an autonomous indigenous realm subordinate only to the king, a claim which fed into the great Andean rebellions of 1780–​1782.24 In Brazil, indigenous peoples invariably held a weaker juridical position. While Portuguese kings recognized the Indians’ civility, they did not try to ensure that they were treated as free subjects. Those who resettled in aldeias (missionary-​supervised villages) quickly diminished to a small minority, 22 Woodrow Borah, Justice by Insurance: The General Indian Court of Colonial Mexico and the Legal Aides of the Half-​Real (Berkeley, CA, 1983), 409–​13; Steve Stern, Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Conquest: Huamanga to 1640 (Madison, WI, 1982), 114–​37. 23 On the education of Indian nobles in Peru, Scarlett O’Phelan Godoy, La Gran Rebelión en los Andes: De Tupac Amaru a Tupac Catari (Cusco, 1995), chap. 2; David T. Garrett, Shadow of Empire: The Indian Nobility of Cusco, 1750-​1825 (Cambridge, UK, 2005). 24 Alcira Dueñas, Indians and Mestizos in the “Lettered City”: Reshaping Justice, Social Hierarchy, and Political Culture in Colonial Peru (Boulder, CO, 2010), 108–​28.

52  Re-imagining Democracy overtaken by expanding Portuguese, African, and mixed-​race populations. As for the indigenous peoples of the interior who refused assimilation into Portuguese-​Brazilian society, they were treated as little more than a reservoir of slave labor, subject to persistent raiding and warfare.25 The initial division of society into European whites and indigenous peoples was short-​lived. Mixing between different ethnicities produced new social groups that had no formal place in the two “republics” and did not enjoy the “freedoms” of españoles and indios. Throughout Iberian America, people of mixed Indian-​white ancestry (mestizos), black-​white lineages (pardos and mulatos) and Indian-​black ancestry (zambos) were relegated to inferiority because they lacked limpieza de sangre (“purity of blood”). Invented in the Iberian Peninsula by “Old Christians” to defend their privileges against “New Christians” (converted Jews and Muslims), this concept became in Spanish America a tool for discriminating against mixed-​race peoples, especially those of African descent.26 The attribution of inferiority to slaves and free people of color did not make them politically passive. Iberian law offered the means for slaves to seek freedom via manumission; slaves also adapted European institutions to their needs, notably through participation in religious confraternities, which gave them a social space independent of their owners.27 And, of course, slavery engendered resistance and rebellion.28 For free people of color, there were avenues for assimilation through the narrow openings available to those who could claim reward for service to the king. In coastal regions, pardos and mulattos were sometimes permitted to organize militias and, by bearing arms for the king, found opportunities to assert their right to freedoms normally restricted to whites.29 Free people of color might also use the Spanish legal system to overcome discrimination by securing individual 25 Robin M. Wright, “Destruction, Resistance, and Transformation—​Southern, Coastal, and Northern Brazil (1580-​1890),” in Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas, ed. Frank Salomon and Stuart Schwartz, 3 vols. (Cambridge, UK, 2008), Vol. 3, Part 2, 292–​313. 26 María Elena Martínez, Genealogical Fictions: Limpieza de Sangre, Religion and Gender in Colonial Mexico (Stanford, CA, 2008), 95–​122, 161–​70. 27 A.J.R. Russell-​Wood, The Black Man in Slavery and Freedom in Colonial Brazil (New York, 1982), 69–​79, 128–​60; James H. Sweet, Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship, and Religion in the African-​Portuguese World, 1441–​1770 (Chapel Hill, NC, 2013); Michelle A. McKinley, Fractional Freedoms: Slavery, Intimacy and Legal Mobilization in Colonial Lima, 1600-​1700 (Cambridge UK, 2016), chap. 1; Edgardo Pérez Morales, Unravelling Abolition: Legal Culture and Slave Emancipation in Colombia, (Cambridge UK, 2022). 28 Aline Helg, Plus jamais esclaves! De l’insoumission à la révolte, le grand récit d’une émancipation, 1500-​1838 (Paris, 2016), chap. 2–​4. 29 Ben Vinson III, Bearing Arms for His Majesty: The Free Colored Militia in Colonial Mexico (Stanford, CA, 2001).

Iberian Legacies  53 royal licenses (known as the gracias al sacar) that testified to their Spanish origin, their standing in the community, and their service to the crown.30 The gracias al sacar, though rarely granted, encouraged the belief, particularly among pardos and mulattos, that parity with whites could be achieved by recourse to the patrimonial “economy of favors.” Such claims accepted the discourse of a racially stratified society but were not politically neutral. Indeed, they can be construed as a challenge to the norm that social and moral status derived solely from ethnic origin, for they asserted rights to freedom based on the subject’s virtuous behavior and role as loyal vassal.31 Here, then, was a desire for equality which, when the opportunity arose, quickly translated into demands for the rights of citizenship. Indeed, these demands quickly pushed the issue of pardo and mulatto status onto the political agendas of governments faced with reconfiguring rule after 1810.32

Political Culture: Supplication, Negotiation, Representation If nineteenth-​century depictions of Iberian American governments as “despotic” overlook ancien regime understandings of governance, they also underestimate the extent of American political participation. The central concept of patrimonial rule—​the exchange of favors for loyalty and service—​ encouraged subjects to engage constantly with the king and his officials via supplication and negotiation. In Spanish America, petitions from individuals and corporations were one means of instigating and shaping royal laws.33 Their constant stream reflects the sense of a right to be heard even at the highest levels of government; municipal councils indeed paid agents at court in Madrid to pursue particular projects or grievances.

30 Ann Twinam, Purchasing Whiteness: Pardos, Mulattos and the Quest for Social Mobility in the Spanish Indies (Stanford, CA, 2015), 101–​25 340–​82, 411–​16. 31 Margarita Garrido, “‘Free Men of All Colours’ in New Granada. Identity and Obedience before Independence,” in Political Cultures in the Andes, 1750-​1950, ed. Nils Jacobsen and Cristóbal Aljovín de Losada (Durham, NC, 2005); Sarah C. Chambers, From Subjects to Citizens: Honor, Gender and Politics in Arequipa, Peru, 1780-​1854 (University Park, PA, 2004), chap. 5–​6. 32 Aline Helg, Liberty and Equality in Caribbean Colombia, 1770-​1835 (Chapel Hill, NC, 2004); Marixa Lasso, Myths of Harmony: Race and Republicanism during the Age of Revolution, Colombia, 1795-​1831 (Pittsburgh, PA, 2007). 33 Adrian Masters, “A Thousand Invisible Architects: Vassals, the Petition and Response System, and the Creation of Spanish Imperial Caste Legislation,” Hispanic American Historical Review 98, no. 3 (2018): 377–​406.

54  Re-imagining Democracy Royal power was further mediated by the belief—​central to Iberian political culture—​that the justification for monarchy was its provision of justice, an idea embedded in a strong legal culture and in practices that allowed royal subjects to contradict the king’s orders. The most famous example was the Spanish legal formula “I obey but do not comply,” which allowed officials to suspend implementation of a royal order if they judged it injurious to the common good. This legal device has been deemed responsible for a disregard of law that extended into the post-​independence life of Spanish America. In fact, it rested on the legal principle that laws were invalid when contrary to conscience, to natural law, or the laws and freedoms of Spain’s kingdoms; so rather than encouraging disrespect for law, this formula articulated the belief that the king’s responsibility to be just allowed for his commands to be contradicted. The judicial review (residencia) conducted at the end of a term in office also offered a means to ensure that the king’s subjects were treated justly. Although it often became a mere formality, residencias could be a potent political weapon, since they might result in fines, even imprisonment and proscription from future office-​holding.34 The visita, an inspection by a high-​ranking agent of the crown, was another institutional mechanism for monitoring royal officials that provided opportunities for groups and individuals to present grievances to higher authorities.35 Both practices might be subverted by collusion among officials or stymied by social networks; nevertheless, they allowed private and corporate interests to enter the political arena and pursue their own purposes.36 Americans also penetrated the institutions of government by purchase of public office. During the later seventeenth century, the variety of such sales expanded enormously in Spanish America, where creoles not only took many lower and mid-​ranking positions but, if sufficiently wealthy and well-​ connected, bought senior positions in the judiciary and treasury.37 By the

34 Peter Marzahl, Town in the Empire: Government, Politics and Society in Seventeenth Century Popayán (Austin TX, 1978), 124–​ 36; Christoph Rosenmüller, Patrons, Partisans and Palace Intrigues: The Court Society of Colonial Mexico (Calgary, 2008), 150–​61. 35 For accounts of visitas, see Phelan, Kingdom of Quito, 247–​64; Rosenmüller, Corruption and Justice in Colonial Mexico, chap. 7. 36 See, for example, Jonathan Israel, Race, Class and Politics in Colonial Mexico (Oxford, 1975), chap. 5; Charles F. Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion (Cambridge, MA, 2014), 35–​38; Sergio Serulnikov, Subverting Colonial Authority: Challenges to Spanish Rule in Eighteenth-​Century Southern Andes, (Durham NC, 2003), 41–​53. 37 Kenneth Andrien, “The Sale of Fiscal Offices and the Decline of Royal Authority in the Viceroyalty of Peru, 1633-​1700,” Hispanic American Historical Review 52, no. 1 (1982): 49–​71.

Iberian Legacies  55 mid-​eighteenth century, the “Americanization” of the Spanish audiencias had reached the point where creoles outnumbered Peninsular Spaniards in Lima, Santiago de Chile, and Mexico.38 Brazilian creoles followed a similar route, acquiring posts by purchase or inheritance.39 This access to high office had a double significance. It reinforced the idea of office as a private benefit that could be treated as a form of property, a source of income, and, as a sign of honor and rank, a fund of social capital which could be passed on through families. Second, it fortified the belief that creoles were entitled to govern their own countries in the king’s name, by reason of their social position and loyalty to the crown. Consequently, when in the later eighteenth century the Bourbons tried to repopulate the upper ranks of Spanish American governments with European Spaniards, creoles objected strongly. According to the attorney for the cabildo of Mexico City, “the appointment of natives to the exclusion of foreigners is a rule supported by the laws of all kingdoms, adopted by all nations, dictated by obvious principles conforming to natural reason, and imprinted on the hearts and minds of men. . . . if we cannot class it as a natural right, it is certainly common among all peoples and therefore deserving of the most sacred observance.”40 Iberian Americans found their firmest footing in government by controlling the municipal corporations which managed town affairs.41 Their membership typically consisted of a number of councillors (regidores in Spanish America or vereadores in Brazil) who were appointed by the king, viceroy, or governor, or sometimes elected. They had powers to regulate many aspects of urban life (such as managing town lands, collecting municipal taxes, implementing royal ordinances), and they represented the town’s interest by sending agents to viceregal and royal courts. They also held powers of law enforcement through their selection of justices of the peace (Spanish alcalde or Portuguese juiz ordinario), the magistrates of first instance. They were, unsurprisingly, dominated by the local social and economic elite.

38 Mark A. Burkholder and D. S. Chandler, From Impotence to Authority: The Spanish Crown and the American Audiencias, 1687-​1808 (Columbia OH, 1977). 39 On the “Brazilianization” of the bureaucracy, see Schwartz, Sovereignty and Society, 314–​56. For Spanish America, Mark A. Burkholder, Politics of a Colonial Career: Jose Baquíano and the Audiencia de Lima (Albuquerque NM, 1980), 1–​29. 40 Antonio Joaquín de Rivadeneira, “Representación que hizo la ciudad de México al rey D. Carlos III,” in Latin American Revolutions 1808-​1826, ed. John Lynch (Norman OK, 1994), 60. 41 John Preston Moore, The Cabildo in Peru under the Hapsburgs (Durham, NC, 1954); J. R. Russell-​ Wood, “Local Government in Portuguese America: A Study in Cultural Divergence,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 16, no. 2 (1974): 187–​231.

56  Re-imagining Democracy In Spanish America, indigenous communities also developed self-​ government by cabildos. Although often built on preconquest forms, they conformed to the Hispanic principles of appointive and elective conciliar government and, as their membership reflected the local social hierarchy, they were usually controlled by traditional, often hereditary indigenous leaders.42 In Mexico, frequent litigation over elections suggests that Indian communities saw them as an important means for controlling their own affairs.43 In parts of Peru, hereditary Indian kurakas regarded themselves as a nobility equal to that of Castile, and used cabildo office-​holding to reinforce their claims. In the Norte de Potosí and other regions of upper Peru, by contrast, Indian communities ousted hereditary leaders and chose their kurakas on the basis of community consensus.44 Town council procedures offered some experience of collective (and to a limited degree, elective) self-​government. However, as councillorships were increasingly acquired by purchase, either for life or in perpetuity, Spanish American cabildos were often dominated by local oligarchies whose control became self-​perpetuating. Councillors annually elected two alcaldes chosen from men outside the council but of similar social standing. Elections were not always conducted: they might be overridden by royal officials, who could impose candidates or annul elections if they disliked their outcomes. When elections were held, councillors might agree to a prearranged slate of candidates or, in the event of competition, would chose candidates by a combination of voting and lottery.45 Brazilian town councils had broadly similar responsibilities, procedures, and social composition, though in the absence of powerful royal institutions and with fewer purchased posts, they were probably more active vehicles of government. Councilors, justices of the peace, and town attorneys were chosen there every three years. The existing câmara members compiled a list of homens bons (respectable men of property) who drew up a shortlist of candidates; the governor or a provincial

42 Robert Haskett, Indigenous Rulers: An Ethnohistory of Town Government in Colonial Cuernavaca (Albuquerque NM, 1991), chap. 2–​4. 43 William Taylor, Magistrates of the Sacred (Stanford, 1996), 346–​52; Owensby, Empire of Law, 212–​27. 44 Karen Spalding, Huarochirí. An Andean Society under Inca and Spanish Rule (Stanford, CA, 1984), 216–​29; Walker, Tupac Amaru Rebellion, 25–​26; Serulnikov, Subverting Colonial Authority, 25–​27; Sinclair Thomson, We Alone Will Rule: Native Andean Politics in the Age of Insurgency (Madison, WI, 2002), 272–​76. 45 On office-​holding and elections, see Marzahl, Town in the Empire, 55–​73; Reinhard Liehr, Ayuntamiento y oligarquía en Puebla, 1787-​1810, 2 vols. (Mexico City, 1971), 1:88–​111.

Iberian Legacies  57 judge then shortlisted several names for each post and made a final selection by lottery.46 The town council was not the only medium of corporate self-​government. Within the “republics,” bodies such as artisan and merchant guilds, universities, religious orders, cathedral chapters, religious confraternities, and charities played a key role. They had written constitutions that defined their purpose and regulated the behavior of their members; they shared benefits and settled disputes, sometimes held elections of officers, and in so doing acted as vehicles for instilling social discipline and modeling political behavior. They had their own identities, rights, and privileges, defended their group interests against other corporations, and mediated between their members and the larger society.47 These corporate bodies were representative in the ancien régime sense, which identified political authority with social rank and saw local notables as natural leaders of their communities. In Spanish America, office was usually for American-​born notables, rather than European residents; by contrast, Brazilian câmaras often accepted participation by Portuguese merchants. Spanish law formally allowed for wider participation on exceptional occasions through the cabildo abierto (open council), which was occasionally summoned to sound community opinion on important issues. These meetings were not a popular forum: those invited were members of local elites, both secular and ecclesiastical, representing their estates or corporations. Participation in local politics was not confined to the elites, however. There are plentiful signs of a wider participation recorded in riots and other forms of protest that periodicially occurred in towns and villages. These were essentially respectful of royal authority, but their participants’ behavior reflected a belief in their right to express opinions about taxation, the behavior of officials, and who should be allowed to hold local office and administer justice; in short, they reflected a conception of local sovereignty.48 Spanish American councils were reinvigorated in the late eighteenth century, when the crown encouraged them to play a more active role in urban 46 Lang, King’s Plantation, 52–​54. 47 On corporations and their political significance, see Annick Lempérière, Entre Dios y el Rey: La ciudad de México de los siglos XVI al XIX (Mexico City, 2013), chap. 1–​2. For cofradías in Mexican villages: Taylor, Magistrates of the Sacred, 301–​12. For Brazil: J. R. Russell-​Wood, Fidalgos and Philanthropists. The Santa Casa da Misericórdia of Bahia, 1550-​1755 (London, 1968), 19–​23; 105–​19. 48 Anthony McFarlane, “Civil Disorders and Popular Protests in Late Colonial New Granada,” Hispanic American Historical Review 64, no. 1 (1984): 17–​54.

58  Re-imagining Democracy administration.49 Indeed, when Spain was plunged into crisis in 1808, cabildos frequently occupied the political vanguard, using their legal rights to take special measures in times of emergency. The Laws of the Indies provided that in the case of a vacatio regis, a leading cabildo could assemble the agents of other cabildos in a junta which, if the council failed to respond to petitions from the cabildos, could legislate on behalf of the “common good.”50 In 1810, many went further, by assuming sovereignty in the absence of the king and deposing the king’s leading officials, thus playing a strategic part in initiating the emergence of new states in 1810–​1814.

Reforming Old Regimes The structures of Iberian American government and political culture developed under the Iberian monarchies were very stable in the later seventeenth century. At the turn of the century, Portugal’s transatlantic ties were strengthened by Brazil’s gold mining boom, and during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–​1713), Spanish American ties to Spain remained strong.51 Spanish Americans accepted the transfer of power to the Bourbons without demur and, despite some early attempts at reform, the Habsburg pact remained largely intact. Later, however, the old relationships came under strain, as Iberian monarchs sought to enlarge their power and political elites embraced new, “enlightened” ways of thinking.52 Motivated by a desire to emulate European competitors, eighteenth-​ century Spanish and Portuguese monarchs experimented with new concepts and forms of government. The Bourbons aimed to exert closer control in both hemispheres via more centralized administration, more efficient fiscalization, a more active mercantilist policy, and a regalist assertion of the crown’s rights over the Church. Their ambitions were linked to a new vision of monarchy in which the king, rather than simply providing order and justice, actively promoted felicidad pública (public wellbeing) through economic growth and social reform. In this context they adopted the ideas of 49 John R. Fisher, Government and Society in Colonial Peru: The Intendant System, 1784-​1810 (London, 1970), 174–​91. 50 Antonio Annino, Silencios y disputas en la historia de Hispanoamérica (Bogotá, 2014), 232. 51 A.J.R. Russell-​Wood, “Colonial Brazil: the Gold Cycle, c.1690-​1750,” in Cambridge History of Latin America, 2:547–​600. 52 On the Iberian powers’ parallel shift to a new model of empire, see Jeremy Adelman, Sovereignty and Revolution in the Iberian Atlantic (Princeton, NJ, 2006), 22–​33.

Iberian Legacies  59 political economists who advocated government intervention to overcome economic backwardness.53 America was central to their plans. In his Nuevo sistema de gobierno económico para la América (1743), José del Campillo y Cossio identified American markets as the key to Spain’s regeneration and recommended that they be enlarged by loosening mercantilist regulations and incorporating indigenous peasantries into the commercial economy.54 Recognizing that American elites had scant interest in changing a relationship that had allowed them to accumulate wealth and power, he also called for the creation of a new cadre of officials to drive reform. By about mid-​century, the idea that Spain had to reconfigure its “empire of conquest” as an “empire of commerce” had become an axiom of reformist thinking and, following the accession of Carlos III (1759–​1788), ministers introduced major reforms.55 Transatlantic trade regulations were changed to improve Spain’s access to American markets and resources; audiencias were purged of local influence; intendants were installed to act as the king’s agents in regional government; taxes were altered to enlarge American contributions to the royal treasury; and militia reorganization gave Americans a larger role in defending Spanish sovereignty. Conspicuously absent was a greater role for Americans in their own government. Although they were invited to attend Spanish universities and seek political posts in Spain, Bourbon reformers did not offer either a larger share of power in their homelands or new channels to convey their opinions to the center. Portuguese policy moved in a similar direction under the Marquês de Pombal (1755–​1777), who adopted a neo-​mercantilist approach to transatlantic trade and instituted administrative reforms designed to increase royal authority. Private captaincies were replaced by crown-​appointed governors; the captain-​general became the viceroy of Brazil; Rio de Janeiro replaced Bahia as Brazil’s capital; and royal military power was enhanced by co-​opting local notables to command an expanded militia system. Pombal also adopted an innovative population policy, aimed at binding Brazil closer to Portugal

53 Gabriel Paquette, Enlightenment, Governance and Reform in Spain and its Empire, 1759-​1808 (Basingstoke, 2008), chap. 2–​3; Allan J. Kuethe and Kenneth J. Andrien, The Spanish Atlantic World in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge, UK, 2014), chap. 1–​3. 54 Anthony Pagden, Lords of All the World (New Haven, 1998), 124–​26; Brian Owensby, “Between Justice and Economics: ‘Indians’ and Reformism in Eighteenth-​Century Spanish Imperial Thought,” in Legal Pluralism and Empires, 1500-​1850, ed. Lauren Benton and Richard Ross (New York, 2013), 149–​69. 55 Kuethe and Andrien, The Spanish Atlantic World, chap. 7–​9.

60  Re-imagining Democracy by increasing Portuguese immigration and integrating indigenous peoples into European ways of life.56 These broadly comparable reformist policies had different political effects. Although Pombal upset entrenched interests among Portuguese merchants, he avoided conflict with Brazil’s urban oligarchies and regional elites by introducing reform in a flexible manner. By contrast, José de Gálvez, Carlos III’s minister for the Indies (1776–​1787), provoked rebellion by his inflexibility. In the viceroyalties of New Granada and Peru, demands by his general-​ inspectors for more efficient administration and larger tax returns—​and their expectation of quick results—​generated opposition among patricians, plebeians, and peasants alike, leading in some regions to large-​scale rebellion. In New Granada, opposition was driven by popular rejection of new taxation and patrician objections to Bourbon violation of the Habsburg “unwritten constitution.” The 1781 rebellion of the Comuneros (so called for their defense of the común or commonwealth) was fundamentally a movement to defend ancient liberties and was couched in traditional political and juridical language.57 The Comuneros sought, in effect, to assert the autonomy of the “republic of Spaniards” within the monarchy and insisted on their right to defy the king’s order when his commands conflicted with community interests. In Peru, rebellion sprang from similar roots but became larger and more violent as it spread from Cuzco into upper Peru and triggered the release of long-​standing social antagonisms. This great Andean rebellion was started by an acculturated indigenous cacique (community chief) who took the name Tupac Amaru to signal his descent from the last Inca king—​but it became a collection of regional movements instigated and controlled by ethnic leaders. Tupac Amaru (1780–​1782) claimed rights to self-​government, in this case for the “republic of Indians” arraigned under the leadership of an indigenous nobility descended from the Incas, the “natural lords” of Peru. Peasant rebels, stirred by millenarian visions, violently assaulted the creoles and mestizos whom they regarded as their predators, but did not demand the overthrow of the Spanish monarchy. Like the Comuneros, they understood

56 Kenneth Maxwell, Pombal, Paradox of the Enlightenment (Cambridge UK, 1995); Gabriel Paquette, Imperial Portugal in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions: The Luso-​Brazilian World, c.1770-​1850 (Cambridge, UK, 2013), 17–​83. 57 John L. Phelan, The People and the King: The Comunero Revolution in Colombia, 1781 (Madison, WI, 1978).

Iberian Legacies  61 their action as a defense of a reciprocal pact with the Spanish crown, and they mobilized violence chiefly as a means to negotiate. The rebellions in New Granada and Peru had radical anti-​ colonial elements, especially in the case of peasants in Upper Peru who aimed to expel whites and to govern themselves according to their own rules and under their own leaders. However, despite coinciding with the American revolution, the New Granadan and Peruvian rebels did not seek independence, nor take up ideas written into North American constitutions. While British colonists asserted universal rights as learned from the Enlightenment, the Spanish American rebels referred to the laws and practices of the Habsburg monarchy and the Catholic Church, and showed no inclination to establish a republic on the North American model. They looked instead to the old ways of decentralized, participatory government, in repúblicas where local leaders defended customary rights or, in indigenous communities, ancestral and communal rights to self-​government and corporate lands. Nevertheless, as information about the American revolution was more widely disseminated, it added a new dimension to political thought in the Hispanic and Luso-​Brazilian worlds. In The Law of Nations (1758), the influential Swiss jurist Emmerich de Vattel had argued that because men were naturally free and independent, so too were nations. When, in 1776, the rebellious North American colonies declared that they were free and independent states, this idea came to life. The new American Republic not only reinforced the Enlightenment critiques of empire, which, largely through Raynal’s Histoire Philosophique des Deux Indes, were disseminated across the Americas during the 1770s and 1780s, but also created an exemplar of an independent nation that rested on the consent of its citizens. People in the Iberian empires responded by re-​imagining their future in various ways. Royal officials suggested that the dangers to empire could be countered by political restructuring, for example, by creating confederations of kingdoms ruled by Spanish Bourbon princes or, in the Portuguese case, moving the center of the monarchy to Brazil. For educated Americans, the American revolution suggested another possibility: complete independence from European rule.58 58 Anthony McFarlane, “The American Revolution and Spanish America,” in Spain and the American Revolution: New Approaches and Perspectives, ed. Gabriel Paquette and Gonzalo M. Quintero Saravia (New York, 2020); Kenneth R. Maxwell, “The Generation of the 1790s and the Idea of Luso-​Brazilian Empire,” in Colonial Roots of Modern Brazil, ed. Dauril Alden (Berkeley, CA, 1973).

62  Re-imagining Democracy Change in political discourse in Iberian America was bound up with Enlightenment paradigms. Some issued from Spain and Portugal, sponsored by royal officials who looked to the writings of modern political economy for guidance on how to revitalize their economies and societies and strengthen their states. To stimulate economic revival, they patronized “patriotic societies” dedicated to promoting agriculture, commerce, and industry; encouraged reform of universities; and permitted the creation of a periodical press to spread “useful knowledge” conducive to economic and social development.59 Their enthusiasm for change was replicated among American ilustrados, who adopted the perspectives of the Enlightenment “philosophy of nature.” They called for reform of university curricula in favor of theoretical and applied sciences; they contributed articles on social and economic improvement to the nascent periodical press; and they joined in formal associations and tertulias (cultural salons) to discuss new knowledge and ideas. Creoles also developed a sharper sense that they had a history and identity of their own and gained a new conceptual armory for asserting equality with Europeans and imagining a new future. Favorable comparisons of New to Old World environments and peoples, the likening of preconquest civilizations to those of ancient Europe, and the representation of America as a cornucopia of natural resources allowed ilustrados to challenge Spanish intellectual leadership and promote pride in American identities.60 A very important political effect of all this was, moreover, to foster habits of intellectual exchange, debate, and criticism.61 A handful of enlightened thinkers directly discussed the desirability of political change. In Spain, some ilustrados championed mixed government in which the king shared power with others, cautiously cloaked in a new interpretation of Spanish history. Jovellanos suggested precedents in medieval Spain, a position subsequently and influentially endorsed by Francisco 59 Richard Herr, The Eighteenth-​Century Revolution in Spain (Princeton, NJ, 1958); R.S. Shafer, The Economic Societies in the Spanish World, 1763-​1821 (Syracuse, NY, 1958); Paquette, Imperial Portugal, 44–​50. 60 On “creole patriotism,” David Brading, The First America: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal State, 1492-​1867 (Cambridge, UK, 1994). On regional enlightenments, José Carlos Chiaramonte, La Ilustración en el Río de la Plata: Cultura eclesiástica y cultura laica durante el Virreinato (Buenos Aires, 1989), 51–​116; Renán Silva, Los Ilustrados de Nueva Granada, 1760-​ 1808: Genealogía de una comunidad de interpretación (Medellín, 2002). On the historical debate in and about New Spain, Jorge Cañizares-​Esguerra, How to Write a History of the New World (Stanford, CA, 2001). 61 Victor M. Uribe-​Uran, “The Birth of a Public Sphere in Latin America during the Age of Revolution,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 42, no. 2 (2000): 425–​57.

Iberian Legacies  63 Martínez de Marina, who in his Teoría de las Cortes (1813) re-​imagined Spain’s Visigothic era as a time of “temperate, monarchical government, mixed with aristocracy and democracy.”62 Where references to “democracy” appeared, they referred to its place in mixed government or alluded to the desirability of nurturing public interest in reform. After the French Revolutionary Terror, even these relatively benign meanings were sidelined, as the official discourse treated “democracy” as a synonym for anarchy and barred it from discussion. The identification of medieval precedents for representative government was, nonetheless, important because it allowed constitutional reform to be portrayed as the recapture of Spain’s lost liberties rather than an imitation of foreign models; it became an important element of liberal discourse in the Cortes of Cádiz (1810–​1814).63 In Spanish and Portuguese America, both the American and the French revolutions prompted the imagining of a new political future. In the early 1780s, Francisco de Saavedra, the Intendente of Caracas (1783–​ 1788), observed that interest in foreign authors revealed a growing desire for independence, with the United States “as the leader, inspiration and model for . . . that part of the world.”64 The Recueil de Loix Constitutives des États-​Unis de l’Amérique, a compilation of the various North American constitutions, circulated covertly and was, on two occasions, directly associated with subversion. One was the conspiracy that took place in Brazil in 1788–​1789, when a group of conspirators in Minas Gerais plotted to replace Portuguese rule with a republic on the North American model.65 The other was in New Granada, where a group of Bogotá intellectuals led by Antonio Nariño were arrested on suspicion of sedition in 1794. There, the influence of both the American and the French revolutions were apparent. Officials discovered that Nariño had translated the French assembly’s Déclaration des droits de l’homme into Spanish and printed it for public dissemination, and that his group shared an interest in the Philadelphia constitution, informed by their access to the Recueil de Loix Constitutives. Investigating magistrates confirmed their fears when they found in Nariño’s library an image of Benjamin

62 Herr, Eighteenth Century Revolution, chap. 3 and 6; Brading, First America, 507–​9, 541–​42. 63 Javier Fernández Sebastián and Gonzalo Capellán, “Democracy in Spain. An Ever-​Expanding Ideal” in Re-​imagining Democracy in the Mediterranean, 55–​58. 64 Francisco de Saavedra, Los Decenios (Autobiografía de un sevillano de la Ilustración), ed. F. Morales Padrón (Seville, 1992), 207. 65 Kenneth Maxwell, Conflicts and Conspiracies: Brazil and Portugal 1750-​1808 (Cambridge, UK, 1973), chap. 5.

64  Re-imagining Democracy Franklin marked with the motto, “He snatched the lightening from the skies and the sceptre from the tyrant’s hand.”66 The French revolution had a yet greater impact as news spread of its extraordinary effects in Europe and in French Saint Domingue. During the 1790s, Spanish officials on the alert for signs of sedition inspired by the French republic detected what they took to be revolutionary activity in several places, including Quito, New Spain, and Venezuela. Of these, the most threatening were in regions where the French and Haitian revolutions disseminated a vivid image of “liberty” that was especially attractive to people of color. Government officials and social elites in the Spanish Caribbean, from Cuba to the coasts of New Granada and Venezuela, were greatly alarmed by the prospect that news of revolutionary France and Haiti might inspire blacks and free coloreds to demand change or even overthrow their masters.67 Venezuela was particularly exposed, as its proximity to the French Caribbean islands brought exceptional flows of refugees and texts carrying news of war and revolution. For most whites, the torrent of information and influx of foreigners raised fears of rebellion and prompted demands for repression. Among pardos, free blacks, and slaves, on the other hand, news of revolution showed that change was possible and stimulated belief that they might improve their position.68 The uncovering of the 1798 “Tailors’ Revolt” in the city of Bahia was equally alarming for Brazilian authorities, since it showed that the French revolutionary example could inspire blacks and mulattos to attack slavery and seek equality. While the Spanish and Portuguese monarchies remained stable, the turbulent backwash of the French and Haitian revolutions posed little immediate danger to their authority; indeed, while news from France and Haiti revealed the vulnerabilities of monarchy, official reporting on the excesses of French democracy and Haitian insurgency may have dampened the enthusiasm for republicanism which the American revolution had kindled among educated creoles. Although small groups had acquired new political ideals and a new political language, those who harbored hopes for radical 66 Anthony McFarlane, “Science and Sedition in Spanish America: New Granada in the Age of Revolution, 1776-​1810,” in Enlightenment and Emancipation, ed. Susan Manning and Peter France (Lewisburg, PA, 2006), 97–​117. 67 David B. Gaspar and David P. Geggus, eds., A Turbulent Time: The French Revolution and the Greater Caribbean (Bloomington, IN, 1997); Clément Thibaud, Libérer le Nouveau Monde: La fondatión des première républiques hispaniques (Colombia y Venezuela, 1780-​1820) (Bécherel, 2017), 93–​97, 145–​51. 68 Cristina Soriano, Tides of Revolution: Information, Insurgencies, and the Crisis of Colonial Rule in Venezuela (Albuquerque, NM, 2018).

Iberian Legacies  65 change were still few and their prospects faint. Ilustrados saw an enlightened monarch as an indispensable agent of change, while the vast majority of American subjects remained willing to accept rule by a European dynasty. The parameters of American politics were changed much more when the French revolution entered its expansionary Napoleonic phase. For, when Napoleon invaded Portugal and Spain in 1807–​1808, he triggered an extraordinary sequence of events that overturned the status quo, accelerated political change throughout the Hispanic and Luso-​Brazilian worlds, and ended by toppling Iberian rule on the American continents.69

Transitions The immediate responses of Portuguese and Spanish subjects to crisis in the Iberian metropoles combined traditional political ideas with innovative political behavior. In 1808, people in both Portugal and Spain rallied to their ruling dynasties by establishing juntas, or emergency governments that assumed powers of government in the king’s name and organized for war. Portugal’s juntas were acknowledged by the crown for their loyalty, but the Prince Regent refused them an effective political role by insisting on ruling through royal governors. Spain’s juntas had a greater political impact, for they opened a way to the convocation of a Cortes at Cádiz in 1810 and the creation of a constitutional monarchy. Spanish American juntas also facilitated innovation: by refusing to accept the authority of the Spanish regency and the Cortes in 1810, they cleared a path toward the foundation of independent republics, more than a decade before Brazil broke with Portugal. The greater resilience of the Portuguese colonial system owed much to the installation of the crown, royal court, and government in Brazil, which preempted a crisis of legitimacy of the kind caused by Fernando VII’s removal from Spain. Furthermore, Dom João’s presence allowed the Bragança dynasty to sustain and indeed enhance the bureaucratic-​patrimonial system by which it ruled Brazil. João cultivated support by distributing personal favors, noble titles, and government posts among Brazilian-​born elites, and furthered Brazilian interests by allowing direct trade with the British. He

69 For comparison of these crises, Tulio Halperín Donghi, Reforma y disolución de los imperios ibéricos 1750-​1850 (Madrid, 1985); Adelman, Sovereignty and Revolution; Brian R. Hamnett, The End of Iberian Rule on the American Continent, 1770–​1830 (Cambridge, UK, 2017).

66  Re-imagining Democracy courted popular allegiance by allowing vassals of whatever race and status, even slaves, to petition the king and thereby enter into the patrimonial “economy of favors.”70 Finally, he formally elevated Brazil into a kingdom in 1815, equal with Portugal. Continuity was reinforced by the presence of a cohesive political elite in the upper ranks of government, bonded by education at Coimbra and shared commitment to reform directed from above. The ubiquity of slavery also fortified support among the propertied classes for Portuguese rule. In the wake of the Haitian revolution, these Brazilians were well aware of the social dangers associated with political fissures between metropole and colony. Brazilian politics were, nonetheless, affected by liberal ideas, drawn both from Europe and Spanish America. After 1815, Masonic lodges in the port cities disseminated republican ideas which added a new dimension to political discourse and, in 1817, these played a part in inspiring regionalist rebellion in the northeastern provinces of Pernambuco and its neighbors. The rebels’ slogan “Religion, Patria and Liberty” reflected ideas previously deployed during the war against the Dutch in 1645, but their political language also included concepts of popular sovereignty and civic equality learned from the American revolution, harnessed to aspirations for independence of the kind achieved in neighboring regions of Spanish America.71 The revolt was rapidly suppressed, but the liberal ideas it had expressed acquired greater resonance following Portugal’s Porto revolution of 1820. Portuguese liberals planned to put the empire on a new footing, with a constitutional monarch and a Cortes in Lisbon, and a constitution drafted by deputies from across the empire. This stimulated intense debate in Brazil, dividing elites and regions. For the north and northeast, provincial representation in an imperial parliament offered a chance to achieve what they had long wanted: greater autonomy and release from Rio’s dominance. For elites in central and southern cities, on the other hand, the project threatened to undercut the Brazil-​centered arrangements of the preceding decade. To resist this “recolonization” they supported a declaration of independence in 1822 by King João’s son Dom Pedro.

70 Kirsten Schulz, Tropical Versailles: Empire, Monarchy, and the Portuguese Royal Court in Rio De Janeiro, 1808–​1821 (New York, 2001), chap. 3–​5. 71 Roderick Barman, Brazil: The Forging of a Nation, 1798-​1852 (Stanford, CA, 1988), 56–​60; João Paulo Pimenta, La independencia de Brasil y la experiencia hispanoamericana (1808–​1822) (Santiago de Chile, 2017), 230–​52.

Iberian Legacies  67 Crowned “Constitutional Emperor and Perpetual Defender of Brazil” in 1823, Pedro I provided an essential bridge from Portuguese rule to an independent constitutional monarchy that incorporated liberal ideas about citizenship and representation. Liberal proposals had limited reach, however. When Brazil’s liberal factions opposed the emperor’s demands for powers to veto legislation and dissolve the legislature, Pedro dissolved the constituent assembly, arrested opponents, and imposed a constitution which privileged the executive power. This prompted rebellion in Pernambuco and other northern provinces, which joined in proclaiming an independent republic, known as the Confederation of the Equator (1824), committed to adopting a federal system akin to that of the United States. The rebellion was overcome by the emperor’s superior armed forces but, amidst growing opposition in Brazil and ongoing complications in relations with Portugal, Pedro was unable to stem a revival of liberal opposition. In 1831 he abdicated in favor of his infant son and left Brazilian liberals to preside over a decade of struggles between and within provinces, until by the mid-​1840s the dominant elites reached a consensus in favor of uniting Brazil under conservative, centralist government.72 While Brazil’s transition to independence entailed ideological ferment and revolt after 1822, Spanish America was immediately and deeply disrupted by the repercussions of Iberian crisis in 1808. This was largely because the overthrow of the Bourbon dynasty raised fundamental questions about sovereignty and opened a path toward representative government on both sides of the Atlantic. Initially, Spanish Americans joined Spaniards in affirming their loyalty to the king, using traditional political language and practices.73 In Spain, towns and cities established autonomous juntas by invoking Spanish neo-​scholastic doctrines and contractualist formulations, notably that in vacatio regis the people had a right to reassume their sovereignty, rooted in the corporate bodies of the realm and linked to the king by the “ancient constitution.” Similarly, when Spanish juntas and Spanish American cabildos sent deputies to the Central Junta in 1809, they used elections of the kind used to convoke the historic Cortes.74 Yet thereafter, following the convocation of the Cortes at Cádiz and the creation of American juntas that refused to accept Spain’s sovereignty, newer intellectual sources increasingly came into play. 72 Paquette, Imperial Portugal, 140–​78; Barman, Brazil, 97–​129; 160–​88. 73 Guerra, Modernidad e independencias, 149–​75. 74 Stoetzer, Scholastic Roots, 157–​ 62, 195–​ 204; Margarita Garrido, Reclamos y reclamaciones: Variaciones sobre la politica en el Nuevo Reino de Granada, 1770-​1815 (Bogotá, 1993).

68  Re-imagining Democracy In America, the leaders of competing governments increasingly spoke in the political language of the American and French revolutions. Terms such as republic, federation, citizenship, and nation, among others, became common in public debate, often with multiple meanings and usages. From 1810, revolutionary ideas acquired a new salience throughout the Hispanic world, as people on both sides of the Atlantic responded to the problems thrown up by Spain’s crisis. In Spain itself, the Cádiz Cortes (September 1810–​May 1814) proclaimed that henceforth sovereignty lay with the “Spanish nation” and on this revolutionary foundation sought to erect a mixed political system of the kind favored by Spain’s late eighteenth-​ century ilustrados.75 Drawing on old doctrines of popular sovereignty, the myth of medieval constitutionalism, and enlightened ideas, liberal deputies championed a blend of aristocracy and democracy while rejecting the pure democracy blamed for the Terror in France—​even as they followed the example of the French constitution of 1791 by concentrating power in a unicameral legislature and proclaiming their commitment to individual liberty, civil equality, the rule of law, and elections.76 While asserting the continuity of Spanish rule in America, the Cádiz constitution restructured its foundations: subjects became citizens; citizens were to elect representatives to governing institutions; freedom of expression and a free press amplified the public sphere; seigneurial jurisdiction was abolished, along with indigenous tribute and forced labor. Cádiz liberals sought to curb the power of the Church (the Inquisition was abolished) and to secularize the state—​though, recognizing religion’s role in promoting social unity, they acknowledged Catholic exclusivity. The new local institutions introduced at Cádiz—​the diputacíon provincial and the ayuntamiento constitucional—​ bore traces of existing forms of regional and municipal governance (the intendancy and the cabildo, respectively), but their elective character sharply differentiated them from colonial predecessors. The Cortes did not give citizenship to all Americans. Indigenous peoples were included, but people of African descent were excluded from citizenship (unless recognized for meritorious service), and slavery remained legal.

75 Roberto Breña, El primero liberalismo y los procesos de emancipación de América, 1808-​1824 (Mexico City, 2006), chap. 4–​5. 76 Joaquín Varela Suances, “Los modelos constitucionales en las Cortes de Cádiz,” in Las revoluciones hispánicas: Independencias americanas y el liberalismo español, ed. François-​Xavier Guerra (Madrid, 1995).

Iberian Legacies  69 In Spanish America, political changes had the same point of departure as those in Spain but moved in different directions. In Spain’s crisis, Spanish Americans saw opportunities for turning traditional ideas of autonomy into actual self-​government, based on the principle of popular sovereignty. The first stage was to establish juntas to replace crown officials, a move which, once taken, tended to encourage demands for independence. This process was slower in Mexico, Peru, and Cuba, the oldest American colonies, where the governing elites prevented the creation of juntas and deployed military means to defend Spanish sovereignty. Cuban loyalism is readily explained. In the unstable environment created by the Haitian Revolution and warfare in the Caribbean, the desire to preserve the sugar plantation economy and to continue with large-​scale slavery were strong inducements to support the established authorities.77 In Mexico, loyalism was more complex. The frustration of creole demands for autonomous government triggered a large-​scale insurrection in 1810, in which middle-​ ranking creoles and priests led indigenous and mixed-​race communities into a prolonged, trans-​regional insurgency against the Spanish government in Mexico City. This movement was mainly rooted in colonial political culture, which represented the king as the guardian of justice and the Church as the guarantor of salvation. Its leaders aimed initially for autonomy within the monarchy but subsequently moved toward demands for independence, using ideas and practices drawn from Spanish liberalism. However, in the unstable environment caused by violent insurgency, Mexican liberalism developed mainly from the Cádiz reforms, which left a lasting imprint by introducing representative government at the local level. Most important was the replacement of the colonial cabildo with ayuntamientos constitucionales, which allowed elective self-​government to any community of over a thousand inhabitants, regardless of ethnicity, and thus introduced a new form of participatory practice into communities of many kinds.78 In Peru, liberal ideas had less political leverage, mainly because successive viceroys obstructed the Cádiz reforms and sustained existing structures of authority using military force.79 The Cádiz Constitution had its greatest 77 Ada Ferrer, Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (New York, 2014), chap. 6–​ 7; Juan Bosco Amores Carredano, “La Habana en la crisis del Imperio Español en América: una visión comparada,” Anuario de Estudios Atlánticos 62 (2016): 1–​18. 78 Peter F. Guardino, Peasants, Politics and the Formation of Mexico’s National State. Guerrero, 1800-​1857 (Stanford, CA, 1996); Víctor Peralta Ruiz, La independencia y la cultura política peruana (1808-​1821) (Lima, 2010). 79 Timothy Anna, The Fall of Royal Government in Peru (Lincoln, NE, 1979); Peralta Ruiz, La independencia y la cultura política peruana .

70  Re-imagining Democracy impact in 1814, when demands for its implementation started a regional uprising that began in Cuzco, based on a blend of liberal ideas and invocations of an idealized Inca state. The vision of a “Peruvian empire” independent of Spain, with its own Cortes in Cuzco, reflected the continuing relevance of Tupac Amaru’s ideas but with a novel commitment to independent representative government.80 This was illusory, however. Like Tupac Amaru’s insurgents, the Cuzco rebels were vanquished by the superior military organization of Peru’s royalist forces, and liberal ideas were marginalized until the 1820s, when they were reintroduced from outside Peru by San Martín’s army of liberation. The Cádiz revolution was undoubtedly important throughout Spanish America because it acted as a catalyst for change in political thinking in most regions.81 In the long term, however, the South American rebellions that started in 1810 were more important in shaping the course of events and influencing people’s political behavior and ideas about government. Almost all the South American juntas that were established in cities throughout the viceroyalties of New Granada and the River Plate, and in the captaincies-​ general of Venezuela, Chile, and Quito went on to become independent governments (or parts thereof). Some drew up their own constitutions before Cádiz, proclaiming liberal ideals and incorporating North American and French declarations of rights. Caracas created the first republic in 1811 with a constitution that borrowed heavily from the United States’ federal constitution of 1787. In New Granada, several proto-​republics emerged in 1810–​1815, endowed with written constitutions that showed familiarity with North American and French templates.82 In Chile, José Miguel Carrera disseminated ideas from the United States and briefly installed a republican dictatorship. In Buenos Aires, a succession of juntas, triumvirates, and directorates focused on war with royalist Peru.83

80 David Cahill, “New Viceroyalty, New Empire, New Nation. A Transnational Imaginary for Peruvian Independence,” Hispanic American Historical Review 9, no. 2 (2011): 203–​35. 81 Jaime E. Rodriguez O., The Independence of Spanish America (Cambridge, 1998); Scott Eastman and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, eds., The Rise of Constitutional Government in the Iberian Atlantic World: The Impact of the Cádiz Constitution of 1812 (Birmingham, AL, 2015). 82 Daniel Gutiérrez Ardila, Un Nuevo Reino: Geografía política, pactismo y diplomacia durante el interregno en New Granada (1808-​1816) (Bogotá, 2010), Part II; Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, “Spanish America and US Constitutionalism in the Age of Revolution,” in Spain and the American Revolution, ed. Paquette and Quintero Saravia. 83 Collier, Ideas and Politics of Chilean Independence, chap. 2–​3; Marcela Ternavasio, Gobernar la Revolución. Poderes en disputa en el Río de la Plata, 1810-​1816 (Buenos Aires, 2007).

Iberian Legacies  71 The most striking feature of this initial period of independent government in Spanish America (1810–​c.1815) was the rejection of monarchy and the adoption of republican, federal forms of government. Some contemporaries criticized the federalist penchant as uncritical imitation of the United States. However, although the latter offered a useful toolkit of ideas and institutions for those seeking to create new states, federalism already had deep local roots, in a context where the city or town (the pueblo) had long been regarded as the primary location of political privileges and obligations. In such settings, the concept of the soberanía del pueblo (sovereignty of the people) was easily understood as the sovereignty of the town, in line with the long-​established idea of self-​governing “republics” presided over by local notables.84 The resurgence of Spanish absolutism in 1814–​1820 interrupted the development of these new syntheses. In Spain, Fernando’s VII’s restoration allowed conservative forces to rally popular monarchists, oust the liberals, and reestablish the old order. In Spanish America it brought armed repression and a militarization of royal government, spearheaded by Spanish officers hardened in the Peninsular War. The “patriot” side militarized in response, under experienced commanders whose overriding priority was to defeat Spain’s armies and install independent governments throughout South America. The focus on military solutions, however, only temporarily delayed the implementation of liberal ideas. In Spain, Fernando VII was forced to reinstate the Cádiz Constitution in 1820 and return to constitutional government. The American policies of the liberal triennium (1820–​ 1823) were too little and too late to reconfigure the empire in the guise of a trans-​hemispheric “Spanish nation,” but the Cádiz reforms still influenced developments in American politics. Thus, when Mexico’s political elites forged a plan for a separate constitutional monarchy in 1821, their leader, the military commander Agustín de Iturbide, took the Cádiz Constitution as its template and proceeded to install a new government following the precedents of Spain’s constitutional system. The Cádiz Constitution was less visible in South America. Armies built by military leaders like Páez and Bolívar in Venezuela and San Martín, and O’Higgins in Chile, became the vanguard of a republican political revival, a veritable “republic in arms.” Sensing Spain’s weakness, they demanded unqualified recognition of their 84 Jordana Dym, From Sovereign Villages to National States: City, State, and Federation in Central America, 1759-​1839 (Albuquerque, NM, 2006); Federica Morelli, Territorio o nación. Reforma y disolución del espacio imperial en Ecuador, 1765-​1830 (Madrid, 2005); Daniel Gutiérrez Ardila, La Restauración en la Nueva Granada (1815-​1819) (Bogotá, 2019).

72  Re-imagining Democracy independence.85 Though Spain did not readily concede that recognition, in practice, Spanish rule in the American continents was over by 1826, monarchy was superseded by republics, and new governments were led by men whose politics had been tempered in war. At independence, the new states of Iberian America broke the political molds shaped by colonial rule and assumed new forms based on liberal constitutions and representative governments. The embrace of republicanism was linked to a broad acceptance that the new states should be based on popular sovereignty, civil equality, and the right of at least a significant part of the male population to participate in their governance. It helped to open the way to the rise of new men into politics, including those of mixed race, and to wider participation in political life, whether through elections, mobilization among plebeians and peasants, or through the emergence of caudillos, local strongmen who took power in rural areas. The latter have often been regarded as a symptom of the breakdown of government, a ruralization of power that reflected underlying structures of Hispanic American society. However, while regional caudillos (notably in Argentina and Uruguay) arose in isolated areas where large landowners had traditionally taken governing roles such as dispensing justice, organizing militias, and enforcing social order, they also reflected a shift against old hierarchies and toward greater popular agency in politics.86 Elements of the old order nonetheless remained, as new concepts of society which challenged traditional hierarchies ran ahead of actual social and cultural change. The established Church lost power as a result of damage done by war and a decline in the prestige of clerical careers, but in most regions it remained culturally central, with concomitant social and political influence. Religion indeed remained a source of shared identity, since it was practiced by all social groups. In continental, once-​Spanish America, slavery was generally eradicated by the 1850s, though abolition took longer in some places than others. Only Cuba, which remained under Spanish rule, kept slavery beyond the 1860s, along with Brazil, where it remained legal until 1888. The elimination of slavery from the Spanish American republics

85 Clément Thibaud, Republica en Armas. Los ejércitos bolivarianos en la guerra de independencia en Colombia y Venezuela (Bogotá, 2003). 86 John Lynch, Caudillos in Spanish America, 1800-​1850 (Oxford, 1992); Rebecca Earle, ed., Rumours of War: Civil Conflict in Nineteenth Century Latin America (London, 2000); Charles Walker, Smouldering Ashes, Cuzco and the Creation of Republican Peru (Durham, NC, 1999), chap. 5–​6.

Iberian Legacies  73 should not, however, disguise a persistent reliance on unfree labor, such as the indentured Chinese workers imported into Peru. The position of indigenous people in the new republics varied widely. During the wars of independence, Indian communities often sided with the king as a means of improving their position within the existing order.87 After independence, when liberal governments aimed to overturn the “republic of Indians” by abolishing tribute payment and turning community lands into private properties, indigenous communities reacted against such changes in ways learned under colonial rule: namely, by legal actions and rebellions against intrusive government. In some regions this meant attempting to preserve the “tributary pact” with the state in order to defend their corporate lands and communal autonomy; in others, Indian villagers used the new political language of the republic and struck up alliances that drew them into wider political networks.88 Other continuities were visible in the territorial shape of the new states, where old jurisdictions remained visible. Brazil’s borders roughly retraced those of Portuguese Brazil in 1808. In Spanish America, the new states of the 1820s based their territorial claims on long-​standing colonial jurisdictions, justified by the doctrine of uti possidetis. Thus, Iturbide’s Mexican Empire resembled the viceroyalty of New Spain, and Bolívar’s Republic of Colombia encompassed the viceroyalty of New Granada. These large entities later broke into smaller republics, but their borders also retraced Spanish boundaries: Venezuela and Chile were built on the Spanish captaincies-​ general; the audiencia of Lima became Peru; Charcas became Bolivia; Quito became Ecuador; and so on. And, within these boundaries, the distribution of political power often followed provincial divisions embedded under Spanish government. Monarchy’s legacy was feebler. In Brazil, the elites of the major cities found in constitutional monarchy a vehicle for maintaining their privileges while conceding political rights and representation regarded as essential for 87 See, for example, Marcela Echeverri, Indian and Slave Royalists in the Age of Revolution. Reform, Revolution and Royalism in the Northern Andes, 1780-​1825 (Cambridge, UK, 2016). 88 Tristan Platt, Estado boliviano y ayllu andino. Tierras y tributos en el Norte de Potosí (Lima, 1982), 94–​101; Walker, Smouldering Ashes, chap. 7; Peter Guardino, The Time of Liberty. Popular Political Culture in Oaxaca, 1750-​1850 (Durham, NC, 2005), chap. 4–​5; Benjamin T. Smith, The Roots of Conservatism in Mexico: Catholicism, Society, and Politics in the Mixteca Baja, 1750-​ 1962 (Albuquerque, NM, 2012), chap. 2–​3; Marcella Echeverri, “‘Sovereignty Has Lost Its Rights.’ Liberal Experiments and Indigenous Citizenship in New Granada, 1810-​1819,” in Justice in a New World: Negotiating Legal Intelligibility in British, Iberian and Indigenous America, ed. Brian P. Owensby and Richard J. Ross (New York, 2018), 238–​69.

74  Re-imagining Democracy legitimacy in the new era. In Spanish America, constitutional monarchy had some champions, but suitable European princes were scarce, and making American kings seemed incongruous. Manuel Belgrano’s suggestion that the River Plate provinces adopt an Inca descendant as king was never taken seriously; Iturbide’s term as Emperor of Mexico lasted less than a year (1822–​ 1823), and Bolívar consistently refused offers of a crown. Monarchy therefore quickly gave way to republics, even in Mexico and Peru where republicanism had few footholds before the 1820s. The creation of republics was associated with hopes of constructing new administrative, fiscal, and legal systems, but in key respects the apparatus of government echoed the past. For example, town governments survived as a core political institution, notably in Mexico and Central America, and in many regions departments for regional government echoed the intendancies introduced by Bourbon reformers. Colonial institutions lasted longer in some regions than others. In the Andean regions of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, where economies depended on the exploitation of indigenous labor and where Indian tribute had been a major source of government income, penurious governments refused to abolish indigenous tribute payments, corporate landholdings, and forced labor, and creole property owners and indigenous leaders did not always respond to the lure of market-​based progress.89 Attitudes toward public office also retained older characteristics. The leaders of the first new states inherited Bourbon ambitions to create centralized governments capable of driving reform from above, though they were hindered by economic stagnation and fiscal deficits. Some of the new republics had been badly damaged by war, and none saw any major economic change before the mid-​nineteenth century.90 This sharpened struggles for state resources. Competition for public office intensified, especially among lawyers, who regarded salaried posts as sources of prestige and profit and, in the new political context, qualifications for political careers.91 Although offices were no longer distributed by a patrimonial monarchy, the belief that they offered private access to public resources was slow to change.

89 Brooke Larson, Trials of Nation Making: Liberalism, Race, and Ethnicity in The Andes, 1810-​1910 (Cambridge, UK, 2004). 90 Leandro Prados de la Escosura, “The Economic Consequences of Independence,” in Cambridge Economic History of Latin America, ed. Victor Bulmer-​Thomas, John Coatsworth, and Roberto Cortés Conde, 2 vols. (Cambridge, UK, 2005), 1. 91 Victor M. Uribe-​Uran, Honorable Lives: Lawyers, Families and Politics in Colombia, 1780-​1850 (Pittsburgh, PA, 2000), 9–​19; Reuben Zahler, Ambitious Rebels: Remaking Honor, Law, and Liberalism in Venezuela, 1780-​1850 (Tucson, AZ, 2013).

Iberian Legacies  75 The political legacies of Iberian rule were unevenly distributed. In Brazil, the independent empire preserved key elements of the colonial past by retaining monarchy, aristocracy, and slavery. However, Brazil’s 1824 constitution introduced liberal principles into government and broadened political participation by allowing a substantial proportion of adult males to vote in indirect elections for the senate and chamber of deputies. In Spanish America, the creation of republics implied greater political change, but the survival of colonial social and economic structures also imposed constraints and provided occasions for conflict. Economic growth and prosperity often proved elusive, and underlying social structures were in part maintained—​ particularly hierarchies based on ethnicity and color. Indians, for example, were celebrated as symbols of freedom from Spanish oppression but treated as cultural inferiors who could earn citizenship only by abandoning their communities and cultures and adopting European ways.92 Among the creole elites, elements of the old order also remained, sustained by leading families that proved able to survive the turmoil of war and preserve their economic and political power in changing times. However, the early decades of independence saw the rise of new men—​the local “aristocracies” which came in for recurrent criticism were not necessarily of long standing, and included men of mestizo or pardo origins—​and the introduction of new political institutions, new modes of political life, new forms of political culture, and new lexicons. How these interacted with older practices, ideas, and languages, and which remained salient, depended on local circumstances. In the contests for power that took place in post-​independence political environments, older ways jostled with the new, providing resources that could be redeployed and reworked in changing times, including images, invective, and forms of mobilization that could be used to denounce the shortcomings of the new order—​a new order with its own forms of “tyrant” and “despot” and its own inadequacies at fulfilling the right of the pueblos and the rights of man.

92 Rebecca Earle, The Return of the Native: Indians and Myth-​Making in Spanish America, 1810-​ 1930, (Durham, NC, 2007).

5 Emerging States Natalia Sobrevilla Perea

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold W. B. Yeats

The Napoleonic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula set in motion a period of accelerated change in the Americas. Although initially the notion prevailed that sovereignty reverted to the people and could be directed to propping up a placeholder regime, eventually still more radical revolutions were triggered that challenged the king’s right to govern. Neither in the peninsula nor in Iberian America were power struggles resolved by the restorations of the old dynasties. In Spain, even though the Bourbons returned to power, political instability lingered and some degree of representation continued to be sought, while in Spanish America the republic came to be seen as the most desirable form of government. In Brazil the Bragança dynasty managed to cling to power largely because the monarch’s relocation to Rio opened the way for its ascendancy over an independent empire. This chapter explores how the new states emerged from the crucible of war by deploying a variety of material and symbolic elements that made it possible to establish control over specific territories and their populations. It emphasizes the tensions between the need for military leaders in the initial context of armed struggle, the desire to establish some form of representative government, the pull of centrifugal forces that led to disaggregation, and the need to institutionalize compromise and consent in order to stabilize new regimes. The new states of Spanish America were forged, and their systems of government developed, in the context of fifteen years and more of armed conflict. The first section of this chapter chronicles some of these conflicts and looks at their impact on newly emergent states. It stresses the importance Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, Emerging States In: Re-​imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–​1870. Edited by: Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, Joanna Innes, and Mark Philp, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/​oso/​9780197631577.003.0005

110  Re-imagining Democracy of previous patterns in the localization of power in determining how power devolved in these conditions, and the importance of military leadership and military operations in reassembling larger structures. It highlights how chaotic and unstable the situation often was. In tension with lawlessness and the ready resort to force, though, were repeated efforts to equip new states with constitutions and representative governments. Variations on these themes played out in Brazil, and—​from an earlier starting point—​in Haiti. The second section of the chapter looks at the disaggregation and re-​ aggregation of power from another angle, with an emphasis on the instability of territorial units. In all states, it proved difficult to secure agreement on where the powers of government should be concentrated—​at what level in relation to older systems. The creation of federal structures offered one solution—​but well into the independence period, questions of how centralized power should be, and over what grouping of territories, continued to provide a focus for sometimes violent conflict. There were also recurrent boundary disputes between new states. In this context, constitutions and representative systems were not features only of what ultimately emerged as national states, but also formed part of power-​building exercises at other levels. Conflict between rival power centers was fueled by the fact that multiple centers could claim to derive their legitimacy from popular choice. The final section of the chapter explores how fledging states were built from the colonial structures they inherited, but inflected by the fact that during the revolutionary process power had returned to localities and municipalities. It was at this local level that much governance happened and from which it had to be aggregated into larger national and federal structures. To be viable, states needed to have access to some material basis from which to exercise power. Control over a mint, a customs house, a local treasury, or a system for taxation could be useful, as could the people who had been part of these bureaucracies. Symbols such as flags and anthems were important in mobilizing support and aid in the process of imagining a common identity, and in most places these were brought into existence during the wars.1 Law and order needed to be maintained, so new states needed some popular support to create armies, militias, and police forces. For all this to be considered legitimate, appropriate legal systems and codes of law had to be developed. Legislation could also provide a vehicle for reforms, for attempts to reshape states and societies for the better. 1 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Birth of Nations (London, 1990).

Emerging States  111

Military and Civil Government in the Wars of Independence Throughout Iberian America, the route to independence was shaped by two imperatives. First, the action of armed forces, whether army or militias, was needed to consolidate “national liberty.” Second, representative bodies mattered, and constitutions and elections were repeatedly deployed in efforts to share power between elites and military leaders, as well as to gain legitimacy within popular urban and rural sectors in the territory. Even though these constitutional arrangements often collapsed or were remade, they were still usually considered a requirement under the inspiration of models provided by the United States, France, Spain, and Portugal, and because of theories about the division of power that were popularized in the eighteenth century. The instability of territorial units complicated these developments. From the beginning of the crisis precipitated by the Napoleonic invasion, many cities and provinces argued that the displacement of the dynasties meant that they had the right to govern themselves. That notion also underpinned resistance in Spain, where local juntas provided interim government until, in 1810, a constituent Cortes was convened in Cádiz, to which Spain’s American provinces were invited to dispatch elected delegates. In America, new initiatives were sometimes undertaken within the 1812 Cádiz constitutional framework, but in other instances outside it. Thus, within the old viceroyalty of New Granada, where juntas were quickly established, local constitutions also proliferated, for example in the province of Venezuela, where independence was declared as early as 1811. In the River Plate, the collegiate bodies that governed from 1810 neither swore allegiance to the absent monarch nor declared independence; instead, all senior officials and employees were required to swear to the junta, then in 1813 to a local constituent assembly.2 In New Spain, a priest in a small town in the central valleys of the Bajío rose up in an insurgency that decried bad government, while declaring loyalty to the king and the true faith. This unleashed a war between those loyal to the viceroy in Mexico City and the insurgents, who were progressively radicalized into calling for outright independence but managed to

2 Juan Carlos Garavaglia, “The Bureaucracy in Río de la Plata: Buenos Aires, 1760-​1861,” in Latin American Bureaucracy and the State building Process 1780-​1860, ed. Juan Carlos Garavaglia and Juan Pro Ruíz (Cambridge, UK, 2013), 244.

112  Re-imagining Democracy maintain power only in small areas in the highland jungle peripheries on the Pacific coast. Even when they aimed at independence, these initial juntas did not consolidate into durable governments—​sometimes because they were attacked by external forces, like those sent to the northern section of South America from the peninsula after Napoleon’s defeat, and at other times because they had to fight a strong colonial army made up of local militias, as in Mexico and Peru. The River Plate was never overcome by loyalist forces, but leading groups failed to agree how to organize themselves. In that region, after centrifugal forces had thwarted the junta, a new body was elected. This body met in Tucuman in 1816 and declared the independence of the United Provinces of South America (reflecting the representatives’ ambition ultimately to include the whole continent). As stability still proved elusive, the assembly relocated to Buenos Aires, where it agreed a constitution in 1819. Yet this failed too, because many provincial juntas disliked the prominence given to the capital and abandoned the union to create the short-​lived “League of Free People” that brought together the provinces of Santa Fe, Entre Ríos, and the area surrounding Montevideo. Paraguay had already taken its own path to autonomy in 1811 and was proclaimed a republic in 1813 (submitting itself to a series of dictators over the following decades). Meanwhile, most of the provinces in the audiencia of Charcas (effectively modern Bolivia, transferred from Peru to the River Plate in 1776), like Peru itself, remained firmly loyalist even though independent polities known as the republiquetas sprang up and endured in some inter-​Andean valleys. Throughout Spanish America, armies organized to fight back against loyalists supporting the restored Spanish monarchy created the bases for the first viable states. Because the restored monarch repudiated the Cádiz constitution, initial struggles were between anti-​constitutionalist loyalists and constitutionalist republicans, though matters were complicated during 1820–​1823, when constitutionalist forces in Spain briefly gained the upper hand and the Cádiz framework was reinstalled. “Liberating” forces almost always evinced a desire to establish constitutions and representative legislatures. However, in Chile and Peru such moves were postponed; in New Granada, though they were instituted they were compromised in practice by divisions among provinces and continuing armed conflict. The problems encountered in the River Plate underscored the difficulties of building consensus about civil structures.

Emerging States  113 The Republic of Chile was created by the apparatus surrounding the “Liberating Expedition” made up of troops from Buenos Aires, the northern River Plate, and Chile, following their military victory over loyalists there in 1818.3 José de San Martín and Juan Martín de Pueyerredón, the main leaders from the River Plate, decided between themselves that once victory was achieved, their fellow commander and closest Chilean ally Bernardo O’Higgins would become “Supreme Director.”4 Given continuing difficulties in the River Plate, all those involved in the campaigns thought it crucial that someone should control Chilean politics, the military and the economy. A new independent polity was accordingly established in the central valley around Santiago, using colonial administrative structures to form the core of a new state, even though large portions of its territory remained under loyalist control. As early as 1818, O’Higgins produced a provisional constitution for approval by “general will.” The hope was that by the time the congress convened, more regions would be free and could participate.5 In the meantime, those living in cities and towns were invited to endorse the project by signing registers to attest to their adhesion or rejection—​a device first used by Napoleon.6 O’Higgins and the military clearly believed that to be considered legitimate they needed explicit local backing, even if the institution of representative mechanisms was postponed. Simón Bolívar, who gained prominence in the northern part of South America through military means, was notably quick to set a constitutional process in motion in Venezuela. In opening the Congress of Angostura (1819) he stated that “repeated elections” were “essential for popular systems” to avoid “tyranny.”7 He provided a historical account in which he insisted that monarchy would not do as a system of government in the Americas, and that “only democracy [. . .] is susceptible to absolute liberty,” though he was uncertain of its record in securing freedom. (Bolívar is notable for the frequency of his references to democracy, but also his ambivalence toward it). He said he was a citizen like all others and had no interest in serving as a dictator; his only ambition was to fight for liberty. Leaving legislators to their task, he 3 Juan Luis Ossa Santa Cruz, “The Army of the Andes: Chilean and Rioplatense Politics in an Age of Military Organisation, 1814-​1817,” Journal of Latin American Studies 46, no. 1 (2014): 29–​58. 4 Ossa Santa Cruz, “The Army of the Andes,” 54 5 Proyecto de Constitución Provisoria para el Estado de Chile (Santiago, 1818). 6 Proyecto de Constitución, iii. 7 Discurso pronunciado por el Libertador Simón Bolívar ante el Congreso de Angostura el 15 de febrero de 1819, día de su instalación. https://​cata​logo​enli​nea.bib​liot​ecan​acio​nal.gov.co/​cli​ent/​es_​ES/​ sea​rch/​asset/​69865/​0

114  Re-imagining Democracy indeed continued fighting until military success allowed him to propose, to the still-​existent congress, the creation of a Republic of Colombia (called by historians Gran Colombia) that would unite the provinces of the captaincy general of Venezuela with others from the viceroyalty of New Granada, even though not all had yet abandoned loyalism. The fundamental laws passed in December 1819 created a republic with three “great departments: Quito, Venezuela and Cundinamarca, with capitals in Quito, Caracas and Bogotá, each ruled by a Vice-​President, named by Congress.”8 Parliament was intended to be of paramount importance in this large federation, though in reality military leaders were left in charge, and Quito and its surroundings, as well as the vast provinces of Popayan and Pasto in the southwest, remained loyal to the Crown.9 Bolívar fought on, while alongside, a new political system took shape with only former colonial structures and a series of armies to give it force. In Caracas the formidable General José Antonio Páez battled to establish his position in Venezuela, while Cundinamarca provided the base from which General Francisco de Paula Santander aspired to govern the whole of Colombia.10 By 1821, the situation had stabilized enough for a “general congress” to promulgate a fully developed constitution.11 The desire to create some sort of representative government also shaped proceedings in Peru, though, as in Chile, its implementation was postponed. Plans set out by the Supreme Directors of Chile and the United Provinces in 1819 aimed to provide Peru with a government “freely elected” by its inhabitants, even if most had shown no desire for independence.12 This did not happen because in the meantime, central government in the River Plate collapsed, removing the basis for San Martín’s Army of the Andes.13 In March 1820, San Martín—​who now needed to legitimize his own position—​sent a note to the camp at Rancagua in central Chile, asking the officers to “freely 8 Ley Fundamental de la República de Colombia, Angostura 17 Diciembre 1819. https://​es.wik​isou​ rce.org/​wiki/​Ley_​Fundamental_​de_​la_​Re​públ​ica_​de_​l​a_​Gr​an_​C​olom​bia. 9 See Marcela Echeverri, Indians and Slave Royalists in the Age of Revolution. Reform, Revolution and Royalism in the Northern Andes, 1780-​1825 (Cambridge, UK, 2016). 10 In contrast to Paez, Santander is most often seen as a civilian leader and was known as “el hombre de las leyes.” But when he became VP of the department of Cundinamarca he was a military officer, and tended to choose military men for offices of state; see David Bushnell, The Santander Regime in Gran Colombia, (Newark, DE, 1954), 27, 41. 11 https://​cata​logo​enli​nea.bib​liot​ecan​acio​nal.gov.co/​cli​ent/​es_​ES/​sea​rch/​asset/​77914/​0 12 Juan Luis Ossa, Armies, Politics and Revolution. Chile, 1808-​1826 (Liverpool, 2014). This treaty can be found in Archivo Nacional de Chile, Fondo Vicuña Mackenna, vol. XCIV, ff. 22–​24v. 13 Alejandro Rabinovich, “La máquina de la guerra y el Estado: el Ejército de los Andes tras la caída del Estado central del Río de la Plata en 1820,” in Las fuerzas de Guerra en la construcción del Estado en América Latina, siglo XIX, ed. Juan Carlos Garavaglia, Juan Pro Ruiz, and Eduardo Zimmermann (Rosario, 2012), 212.

Emerging States  115 choose and name a General in Chief that should lead and direct them.”14 The Army of the Andes thus became an itinerant force, not linked to any particular territory.15 Elections within the army had featured in the French Revolution,16 but this was a rare example in Latin America of an attempt to create governance structures and gain legitimacy not rooted in a particular territory. Though San Martín framed his campaign in Peru as one of liberation, he feared that constituting a representative body might hinder the war effort. Instead, he aimed to nourish the idea of an independent state by creating a specifically Peruvian army and a new flag.17 Ironically, it was not the would-​be liberating army but rather the loyalist viceroy who first staged elections, following the reinstatement of the Cádiz Constitution in Spain: this mandated elections of members of local authorities. Even when San Martín gained the upper hand, he continued to drag his heels over instituting representation. In July 1821 loyalists abandoned the capital, relocating to the highlands to set up a new viceroyalty in Cuzco within the Cádiz framework. Fearing popular insurrection in the power vacuum, Lima elites invited San Martín to take the city, where he declared independence with large public ceremonies, following the colonial template for swearing allegiance to power.18 Symbols were effectively deployed as ceremonies were accompanied by private signing of documents incorporating oaths of allegiance to the new state. San Martín then set about governing on the basis of a “provisional statute.” He organized a “Patriotic Society” to debate whether Peru should be a monarchy or a republic, and meanwhile appointed himself “Protector of the liberty of Peru.”19 His experience in the River Plate, where he saw several constitutions fail, shaped his choice. In a bando (proclamation) published in 1821, the Protector explained he had taken power due to the “empire of circumstance” and because “he knew the damage hastily called Congresses had caused when enemies were still around.”20 Though he took executive and legislative powers upon himself, he left judicial power independent because 14 San Martín a los oficiales de los Andes, quoted in Rabinovich, “La máquina de la guerra y el Estado,” 216. 15 Rabinovich, “La máquina de la guerra y el Estado,” 216. 16 Rafe Blaufarb, The French Army 1750-​1820. Careers, Talent, Merit (Manchester, 2002), 111. 17 San Martín created the flag on October 21, 1821; see Pablo Ortemberg, Rituales de Poder en Lima (1735-​1828) De la monarquía a la república (Lima, 2014), 230, fig. 12. 18 Ortemberg, Rituales de Poder en Lima. 19 José de San Martín, Estatuto Provisional dado por el Protector de la libertad del Perú para el mejor régimen de los departamentos libres interna se establece la constitución permanente del Estado Lima, 8 octubre 1821. 20 José de San Martín, “Bando Dado en Lima a 3 de Agosto de 1821,” in Colección de los Bandos Publicados por el Gobierno de Lima Independiente (Lima, 1821), 25.

116  Re-imagining Democracy “the independence of the judiciary is the only true guarantee of freedom.”21 One of his goals in assuming power was to pay his troops, as the Chilean authorities had little incentive to send funds with victory largely secured, and no money could be expected from the River Plate.22 In 1813 the Mexican insurgents sought to legitimize their fight for independence by calling the Congress of Anahuac in the city of Chilpantzingo. Nine deputies were elected, one for each of the “free” provinces.23 According to Michael Ducey, the electoral process itself strengthened the insurgents’ authority with a population still needed to carry on the fight.24 A year later, in 1814, these deputies presented the constitution of Apatzingán as a basis for liberating the Mexican regions of America from Spanish control. As elsewhere, the realities of war made it impossible to put the constitution into practice. Mexican independence was ultimately achieved in 1821 through a negotiated agreement, brokered by the army which had been created to confront the domestic insurgency; this brought together a series of actors surviving from the colonial period who had coalesced in and around the creole militias.25 Local elites had edged toward self-​rule under the Cádiz framework: they lobbied to create appointive provincial governments which, following that constitution’s lead, they called diputacións (councils). They hoped to use this framework to end the popular uprising and ensure that they retained control.26 Against a background of division, the army’s Plan of Iguala, which promised independence for Mexico as well as equality for all its citizens, was welcomed by many who expected it to lead to a constitutional settlement, even as they differed as to what form that constitution should take. Crucial to some of the support that it attracted was that the Plan, which “acknowledged the Spanish Constitution of 1812 and the statutes instituted by the Spanish Cortes as the law of the land,” envisaged the establishment of

21 Estatuto Provisorio, http://​www4.congr​eso.gob.pe/​histor​ico/​quipu/​const​itu/​1821b.htm 22 Rabinovich, “La Maquina de Guerra y el Estado,” 227–​29. 23 Virginia Guedea, “Las elecciones para diputados del Supremo Congreso Nacional Americano,” in La insurgencia mexicana y la constitución de Apatzingán ed. Ana Carolina Ibarra, Marco Antonio Landavazo, Juan Ortiz Escamilla, José Antonio Serrano, and Marta Terán (Mexico City, 2014), 15–​28. 24 Michael T. Ducey, “Gobierno, legitimidad y movilización: aspectos de la vida electoral en tiempos insurgents,” Historia Mexicana 68, no. 4 (2019): 1593–​638. 25 Rodrigo Moreno Gutiérrez, La trigarancia. Fuerzas armadas en la consumación de la independencia. Nueva España, 1820-​1821 (Mexico City, 2016), 382–​85. 26 Authors such as Jaime Rodrigues, Manuel Chust, and Ivana Frasquet have all examined the reasons for this.

Emerging States  117 a constitutional monarchy at the head of a Mexican empire, ideally with a member of the Spanish royal family as sovereign.27 In the interim, a Council of Regency served as an executive and a provisional junta as the legislative body. The new state inherited vice-​regal governing structures (as modified by Cádiz). Symbols were deployed to imagine the new polity; some, like the three-​colored flag, were innovations, while others like the Virgin of Guadalupe were re-​appropriated.28 The junta proposed the election of a unicameral constituent congress on the Spanish model, but the Regency, presided over by Augustin de Iturbide, the man behind the Plan of Iguala, imposed a bicameral system “with deputies elected on the basis of a complex mixture of corporate interests and partidos” (counties).29 Among remaining challenges were how to control peripheral provinces that had never effectively been under the sway of Mexico City authorities, and how to find a prince. Power at the center also remained in contention. Iturbide claimed that he, as the liberator, “embodied the national will,” but Mexican legislators believed that “as representatives of the Nation they should be supreme.”30 In May 1822, Iturbide crowned himself emperor, and in October he dissolved Congress. Provincial governments reacted strongly against what they considered an encroachment on their constituent powers and began calling for the election of a new parliament.31 When Iturbide refused, Mexico became atomized, fragmenting back into lesser colonial jurisdictions, and several provinces set up their own governing juntas supported by powerful local militias. By March 1823 the empire was reduced to Mexico City and its surrounding deputation. With no army, Iturbide relented.32 He finally summoned a constituent congress, and its deputies met in Puebla, where the emperor abdicated. Some provincial governments then demanded new elections, because the constituent congress represented localities and was not proportional to population. Meanwhile, Oaxaca declared independence, and

27 Jaime E. Rodríguez O. “The Struggle for the Nation: The First Centralist-​Federalist Conflict in Mexico,” The Americas 49, no. 1 (1992): 2. 28 The first of many articles on this theme in English was “The Virgin of Guadalupe: A Mexican National Symbol,” The Journal of American Folklore 71, no. 279 (1958): 34–​39. 29 Rodríguez, “The Struggle for the Nation,” 3. 30 Ibid. 31 The full text is in the database put together by Will Fowler and his team at the University of Saint Andrews, to be found at https://​arts.st-​andr​ews.ac.uk/​pronu​ncia​mien​tos/​dates.php?f=​y&pid=​ 747&m=​2&y=​1823). 32 Nettie Lee Benson, “The Plan of Casa Mata,” The Hispanic American Historical Review 25, no. 1 (1945): 55.

118  Re-imagining Democracy several other provinces assumed control of their governments.33 This continued until November 1823, when a congress was finally elected following the specially drafted law that gave provinces one representative for each 50,000 people, and just one member of congress when provinces had fewer inhabitants.34 This new parliament finally proclaimed a Federal Republic that was acceptable to all. The tendency for power to default downward, which had both ideological and practical roots, was also evident in the Central American provinces, making the convening of a congress a constructive way forward.35 The provinces of Guatemala (once an element within New Spain) renamed themselves the United Provinces of Central America and convened their own separate congress in 1823.36 Thirty-​four districts sent representatives to create an executive, a legislative, and a judicial power. The main question was whether this would be a federation of cities or of states, and, if the latter, who would decide their shape and size.37 In 1824, the congress resolved to create the Federal Republic of Central America. The removal of the Bragança court to Rio de Janeiro in 1808 set the scene for a distinctive series of developments in Brazil, as the colonial periphery unexpectedly became the monarchy’s center. In 1815, Brazil was elevated to the status of kingdom within the monarchy, becoming a partner in a union with the Kingdom of Portugal and the Kingdom of the Algarve. Republican sentiment was not absent, and in 1817 the people of Pernambuco, to the north, rose in revolution.38 In the same year, the Kingdom of Brazil expanded southward to the River Plate by invading what had been the “Oriental Province” of the River Plate, which they renamed the “Cisplatine Province.”39 The 1820 liberal revolution in Portugal altered the dynamics again. The reconvened Cortes forced the king to return to Europe: he would have risked all his kingdoms had he remained in America.40 He left his son Pedro as 33 Rodríguez, “The Struggle for the Nation,” 15–​20. 34 https://​www.memo​riap​olit​icad​emex​ico.org/​Tex​tos/​2ImpDi​ctad​ura/​1823​BEC.html. 35 Pablo A. Rodríguez Solano, “State Metamorphosis: The Evolution of Institutional-​Bureaucratic Structures in Costa Rica 1785-​1842,” in Latin American Bureaucracy, 108 36 Jordana Dym, From Sovereign Villages to National States: City, State and Federation in Central America, 1759-​1839 (Albuquerque, NM, 2006), 196. 37 Dym, From Sovereign Villages to National States, 196. 38 Jeffrey C. Mosher, Political Struggle, Ideology, and State Building: Pernambuco and the Construction of Brazil 1817-​1850 (Lincoln, NE, 2008). 39 Julio Sánchez, “La independencia de la República Oriental del Uruguay: los realistas en la Banda Oriental,” in Bastillas, cetros y blasones: la independencia en Iberoamérica, ed. Ivana Frasquet (Madrid, 2006), 57–​92. 40 Leslie Bethell, Brazil: Empire and Republic, 1822-​1930 (Cambridge, UK, 1989), 29–​33.

Emerging States  119 regent in Brazil. Throughout 1821, the provinces asserted their autonomy, with some in the northeast choosing to side with the Cortes in Lisbon, while others remained loyal to Rio. Several provinces elected representatives to the Lisbon Cortes, and some of these even traveled to take up their seats. Brazil, like many Latin American republics, seemed destined to fragment. But in fact the heir, Pedro, managed to hold things together by military means and by making himself the champion of Brazilian independence, promulgating a constitution in 1822 which made him emperor. Even so, an assembly elected in 1823 proved unable to agree where authority should reside, whether with the emperor as the embodiment of the nation or with representative institutions.41 Ultimately Pedro himself in 1824 promulgated a constitution for Brazil, which not only provided for a strong executive power and bicameral legislature but also (in accordance with a constitutional theory developed by the French liberal Benjamin Constant) gave the monarch a “moderating” power, that is, allowed him to appoint senators and to dissolve the chamber. As Gabriel Paquette has explained, the new arrangement “severely diminished provincial autonomy,” prompting a “revolutionary outbreak.”42 The biggest challenge came from the Confederation of the Equator that aimed to set up a republic in the northern provinces.43 However, the emperor prevailed thanks to a hastily put together army and navy. Despite these political upheavals, ultimately “the transition from colony to independent empire was characterized by an extraordinary degree of political, economic and social continuity.”44 Most Caribbean islands remained in the hands of their traditional imperial overlords, their situation changing chiefly inasmuch as changes elsewhere affected them. Cuba and Puerto Rico remained part of the Spanish monarchy but became places where émigrés from the wars of independence in the continent found refuge. The French portion of the island of Hispaniola followed its own path after a slave uprising in 1791 unfolded into what is now termed the Haitian revolution—​a distinctive experiment in state-​building. After ten years of war, Toussaint Louverture, a former slave turned Chief General of the revolutionary army, promulgated a first constitution, notionally for a state that would remain under French jurisdiction, though his 41 Mosher, Political Struggle, Ideology, and State Building: Pernambuco, 43, 62. 42 Gabriel Paquette, “The Brazilian Origins of the 1826 Portuguese Constitution,” European Historical Quarterly 41, no. 3 (2011): 450. 43 Mosher, Political Struggle, Ideology, and State Building: Pernambuco, 67. 44 Bethell, Brazil: Empire and Republic, 42.

120  Re-imagining Democracy initiative was not to Bonaparte’s taste. As Julia Gaffield has shown, the military were to be the backbone of the strong state Louverture envisioned, while he and his central assembly would have the power to name his successor. He hoped to set the scene for former slave owners to return so as to revive the trading economy.45 As would subsequently be the case across Spanish America, this first constitutional experiment was short-​lived, as a year later the French army returned and took Louverture prisoner. Jean-​Jacques Dessalines continued fighting, and in 1804 declared the independence of Haiti, enacting a second constitution a year later. It stated that slavery was forever abolished and that the government would be led by an emperor who would also be the army’s commander in chief.46 Given that independence had been achieved through armed struggle and that a strong military was still needed to defend the new state against possible attack—​surrounded as it was by slaving nations—​it was understandable that Dessalines wanted to keep tight control.47 One of his first actions was to cross into the other part of the island (Spanish Santo Domingo) with 20,000 men, to attack the European troops that had withdrawn there with a view to setting up a regime loosely associated with France based on enslavement of the local population.48 Dessalines’ empire was short-​lived, as he was killed in an uprising organized by his subordinates, who carved Haiti into two states. Henri Christophe established a kingdom in the north, and Alexandre Pétion a republic in the south, while Spanish troops sent from Puerto Rico retook Santo Domingo.49 Constitutions, however, clearly retained their appeal: in 1806 one was passed for the republic, and in 1807 one for the kingdom, both concentrating power in the executive and depending heavily on the military.50 Pétion initially paid lip service to the sovereignty of the people, but by 1816 he had himself named president for life, and in 1818 he closed the senate. He appointed Jean-​Pierre Boyer as his successor, and he swiftly took over when Pétion died of yellow fever. Boyer challenged Christophe, seen as an autocrat by many of his own people,

45 Julia Gaffield, “Complexities of Imagining Haiti: A Study of National Constitutions, 1801-​1807,” Journal of Social History 41, no. 1 (2007): 86–​88. 46 Gaffield, “Complexities of Imagining Haiti,” 91 47 Carolyn Fick, “Emancipation in Haiti: From Plantation Labour to Peasant Proprietorship,” Slavery and Abolition 21, no. 2 (2000): 29. 48 Andrew Walker, “All Spirits Roused: The 1822 Antislavery Revolution in Haitian Santo Domingo,” Slavery and Abolition 40, no. 3 (2019): 590 49 Walker, “All Spirits Roused,” 591. 50 Gaffield, “Complexities of Imagining Haiti,” 96.

Emerging States  121 and was able to unify Haiti when the emperor, fearing defeat, took his own life in 1820. Spanish Hispaniola, Santo Domingo, was, like Mexico, destabilized by constitutional disputes arising from the reinstatement of the Cádiz charter—​ though Dominicans faced the additional challenge of having to position themselves in relation to authoritarian but abolitionist Haiti. Their first bid for change took the form of an attempt to combine independence with the preservation of slavery. In November 1821 a Dominican creole proclaimed the independence of what he called Spanish Hayti, attaching this portion of the island to Bolívar’s recently created Colombia, hoping in this way to maintain slavery.51 However, the authorities in the island’s interior and border towns wanted to abolish slavery and saw adoption of the Haitian constitution as a means to do that. It was in this context that Boyer was able to unite Hispaniola.52 He reached an agreement with France that achieved recognition for the new state in exchange for a large indemnity. According to David Nicholls, foreign visitors described the island as “a sort of republican government sustained by the bayonet . . . where civil authorities were subordinate to army officers.”53 As elsewhere, army and military success did more than constitutions to consolidate power until the 1840s (though again it is notable that constitutions were repeatedly deployed). As a mix of empires and republics was established and some began to consolidate, war continued to rage in Peru, Charcas (roughly modern Bolivia) and in the southern provinces of Chile. Bolívar, though formally president of Colombia, in 1823 accepted an invitation from Peru to become their “dictator” and to direct the war effort in the west, though only after receiving permission from the Colombian congress. In a pamphlet he portrayed himself as reluctant to take this step: “I would have rather witnessed your loss than accept the frightful title of Dictator. But Colombia depended on your fortune, and I have not been able to hesitate.”54 Bolívar was always aware of the importance of titles and claims to legitimacy and now fashioned himself as a Roman dictator, vested with extraordinary powers in order to respond to extraordinary times. He also stressed that this was a perilous course: “one 51 Patrick Bryan, “The Independencia Efimera of 1821, and the Haitian Invasion of Santo Domingo 1822: A Case of Pre-​emptive Independence,” Caribbean Quarterly 41, no. 3 (1995): 15. 52 Walker, “All Spirits Roused,” 593. 53 David Nicholls, From Dessalines to Duvalier: Race, Colour, and National Independence in Haiti (New Brunswick NJ [1979] 1996), 68. 54 Proclama, April 28, 1824 in El Triunfo del Callao, included in Colección Documental de la Independencia del Perú CDIP, “Ausntos Militares” VI/​9, (Lima, 1974), 150.

122  Re-imagining Democracy person remaining in power for too long was the sepulchre of democratic governments.”55 In Peru and points south, the re-​implementation of the Cádiz constitution gave loyalists a final lease of life, helping them to mobilize some local support. But when the liberal triennio ended and the king of Spain dispensed with the constitution again, divisions surfaced, leading to loyalist defeat at the Battle of Ayacucho in southern Peru in 1824. That the conflict had been above all a civil war was highlighted by the fact that after the capitulation, only 500 of the 5,500 men who fought in that region abandoned America.56 Some weeks later the last loyalist commander in Charcas was killed by his own men. In 1825, Antonio José de Sucre, Bolívar’s right-​hand man, arrived in La Paz, where he held elections for a congress in which all the provinces that had been part of the audiencia of Charcas were to be represented. Their experience with autonomy within the Cádiz constitutional framework persuaded people in the region that the best way to maintain a union of equals was to create a republic.57 Bolívar traveled to Cuzco, where he was crowned with a wreath made of gold, diamonds, and pearls, and accepted the creation of the Republic of Bolivia, named in his honor. He drafted a constitution that Congress amended to reject the liberation of slaves and ensure that the country would remain exclusively Catholic. Bolívar was adamant that this charter was not monarchical, even though the presidency was to be for life.58 In 1826 both Bolivia and Peru enacted this constitution. Bolívar hoped that Colombia would pass it as well, to create a federation of countries that he had liberated, all ruled by the same charter.59 The need to fight wars and contain domestic unrest shaped the experiences of all new states. Overall, aspirations for self-​government and representation clearly became pervasive, if drawing on diverse sources of inspiration and taking a variety of forms, but the unstable setting postponed and complicated their institution and stabilization. Moreover, the same impulse was manifest in a variety of territorial units, some of them nested inside other units, so that

55 Bolívar cited by Rafael María Baralt and Ramón Díaz, Resumen de la Historia de Venezuela desde el año 1797 hasta el de 1830 (Paris, 1841), 151. 56 Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, “From Europe to the Americas and Back: Becoming Los Ayacuchos,” European Historical Quarterly 41, no. 3 (2011): 472–​88. 57 Sobrevilla Perea, The Caudillo of the Andes, ch. 4. 58 Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, “Batallas por la legitimidad: constitucionalismo y conflicto político en el Perú del siglo diecinueve (1812-​1860),” Revista de Indias 69, no. 246 (2009): 101–​28. 59 Sobrevilla Perea, The Caudillo of the Andes, ch. 4.

Emerging States  123 institutionalizing processes themselves also complicated attempts to stabilize power.

Independent States: Could Centers Hold? The greatest source of tension within new states continued to be the relationship between centers and provinces. The end of colonial structures unleashed apparently unstoppable centrifugal forces. This was most evident in the River Plate, despite continuing attempts to create a wider polity, as for instance in 1826 when the third constituent congress for the United Provinces debated whether sovereignty was national or provincial. The constitution’s proponents argued that, even though the charter had a unitarian structure with central control, it also offered the advantages of a federal system.60 Most provincial administrations however disagreed, and this resulted, again, in the central government’s implosion. These centrifugal forces also operated across Colombia where, by 1826, Bolívar’s dream of a Federation of the Andes lay in tatters, even as he traversed cities and towns seeking support for a union based on the constitution that awarded him lifelong powers. He attempted to legitimize himself through popular endorsements set out in official documents known as Actas, which were provided by the authorities of Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca, Panama, Cartagena, and Maracaibo. When his rival José Antonio Páez rose against him, Bolívar used the Actas to arrogate to himself dictatorial powers.61 Meanwhile, the troops he had left in Peru to support his “constitutional” regime rose to topple the 1826 charter, claiming that by such means Bolívar sought to turn “(Gran) Colombia into a monarchy with the name of a republic.”62 Even apparent endorsements need to be interpreted with care. Federica Morelli has shown that the municipal government of Guayaquil backed Bolívar’s dictatorship on the premise that sovereignty resided in the locality, and that their members had the right to decide whether to join a 60 Hilda Sabato and Marcela Ternavasio, “De las Repúblicas Rioplatenses a la República Argentina. Debates y Dilemas sobre la cuestión republicana en el siglo XIX,” in Independencias iberoamericanas. Nuevos problemas y aproximaciones, ed. Pilar González Bernaldo de Quirós (Buenos Aires, 2015), 252. 61 Daniel Gutiérrez Ardila, “La convención de las discordias: Ocaña, 1828,” Revista de Estudios Sociales 54 (2015): 151, 152. 62 Representación motivada a la Gran Convención de Colombia por los Jefes y Oficiales de la República ahora en el Perú contra el arbitrario decreto de deserción pronunciado contra ellos por el presidente Simón Bolívar (Lima, 1828), 4

124  Re-imagining Democracy federation or confederation with the rest of Colombia.63 In deciding in favor of Bolívar for the moment, they were not abjuring that basic right. In Colombia, difficulties of instituting a legitimate government reached such a pitch as to necessitate legal gymnastics to make it possible to convene a new constitutional convention, because the Cucutá Charter of 1821 had explicitly prohibited any changes before the end of the decade.64 At the new convention, which brought together representatives of the provinces, the key question was whether the state should be organized into twelve “departmentos” or into three larger “districts” each with several smaller departments within them. Sucre, at that point president of Bolivia, prophetically wrote that if “districts” were chosen this would be Colombia’s ruin, as each would eventually become a little republic.65 While the convention met, Bolívar hovered nearby, threatening to impose his will with his large army. But as Santander, his nemesis, gained majority support in the convention, Bolívar returned to Bogotá and declared himself dictator even before the convention closed without having reached agreement. In 1828, as the Colombia imagined by Bolívar crumbled, regional wars broke out: Peruvian forces invaded Bolivia, accusing its president Sucre of wanting to reimpose the constitution giving lifelong powers to the president. Bolívar reacted by declaring war on Peru.66 Bolívar’s Colombia ultimately disintegrated as its component parts asserted their right to determine their own destinies. At the end of the decade, 1829, one vice-​president called for representatives of each of the provinces in the three southern departments to come to Quito to create a junta.67 At the meeting, those present agreed to declare independence.68 By September the newly named state of Ecuador had passed a constitution, though without renouncing hope of forming part of the larger union of Colombia. Meanwhile in Venezuela, as Véronique Hébrard has shown, it was argued that legitimacy emanated from cities and towns, and it was their prerogative

63 Federica Morelli, “ ‘Una gran asociación de pueblos.’ La Gran rebelión de Guayaquil y su percepción en la Gran Colombia (1827),” Anuario Colombiano de Historia Social y de la Cultura 45, no. 2 (2018): 152–​74. 64 Gutiérrez Ardila, “La convención de las discordias,” 152. 65 Antonio José de Sucre, Carta a Bolívar, Cochabamba, 19 mayo 1827, De mi propia mano (Caracas, [1981] 2009), 458. 66 Baralt y Díaz, Resumen de la Historia de Venezuela, 256. 67 Baralt y Díaz, Resumen de la Historia de Venezuela, 284. 68 Mark J. Van Atken, King of the Night: Juan José Flores and Ecuador, 1824-​1864 (Berkeley, CA, 1989), 34, 35.

Emerging States  125 to elect representatives to decide on constitutional arrangements.69 They decided that elections should be indirect, beginning with the summoning of parish assemblies that would choose the electors, who would travel to the main town in each province to select the deputies who in turn would travel to a congress in Valencia in May.70 In contrast to what happened in Quito, this congress agreed a constitution in November 1830 that confirmed its separation from the federal structure. Panama meanwhile made its membership in the union contingent on Bolívar retaining power within it, but by then it was clear this was no longer an option. Instead, they therefore joined what emerged in 1831 as the republic of New Granada (mainly consisting of today’s Colombia and Panama but with some other parts later absorbed into other states).71 Though he retained support from some quarters, Bolívar was a spent man. He renounced the presidency, as he had done before, and left for exile. His death at the end of that year, December 1830, was the last nail in the coffin of the attempt to found a republican political union that embraced the former viceroyalty of New Granada. Like that trialed in the River Plate, this intended new state failed because it proved impossible to strike a balance between central control and desires for representation and autonomy. Because those in cities, towns, and provinces believed that sovereignty resided with them, they insisted on their right to make their own choices. This was illustrated when the province of Popayan voted to become part of Ecuador, whereas residents in the port city of Guayaquil refused.72 Eventually Guayaquil submitted and joined Ecuador, while Popayan was included in New Granada under its first constitution in 1832. When unity was achieved, as it was between the provinces of the isthmus in Panama, it was hard-​won.73 The centrifugal forces unleashed by the Napoleonic crisis were so strong that only a handful of the states that first emerged survived. These included the two largest, Brazil and Mexico. Even though they experienced tensions between the center and the provinces, they retained their basic identities. Brazil was the biggest exception in that while some provinces attempted to break free, none succeeded except the Oriental Province, recently acquired 69 Véronique Hébrard, Venezuela independiente: una nación a través del discurso (1808-​1830) (Madrid, 2012), part 4, ch. 2. 70 Baralt y Díaz, Resumen de la Historia de Venezuela, 287. 71 David Bushnell, The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself (Berkeley, CA, 1993), 83. 72 Baralt y Díaz, Resumen de la Historia de Venezuela, 339. 73 Bushnell, The Making of Modern Colombia, 84.

126  Re-imagining Democracy from the River Plate. (That was retaken by local men who had gone into exile and who summoned a congress, which established the new state as the Republic of Uruguay in 1830).74 As already mentioned, an attempt by the northern provinces to establish a Confederation of the Equator following the dissolution of the 1823 constituent assembly was swiftly defeated by a naval campaign. But that was not the last unsuccessful such attempt. In 1835 Rio Grande du Sul, Brazil’s southernmost province, rose in rebellion against the center. The Farroupilha Revolt, or Ragamuffin War, lasted for a decade, during which a republic was created in the interior, fueling discontent in the neighboring province of Santa Catarina and a revolt in Bahia in 1837. Though all these movements were eventually defeated, the desire for autonomy and independence survived, as manifest in a large regional uprising, the Praieira revolt, which erupted in Pernambuco between 1848 and 1849.75 Jaime Rodriguez argues that Mexico did not disintegrate, but this is true only of the central areas that had been under the jurisdiction of the audiencia of New Spain, largely coinciding with modern Mexico.76 As noted, Central America abandoned the union as early as 1823. In 1835–​1836 there was another casualty, as a General Convention of the People of Texas declared independence. The text they produced stated that they had broken away because “the Federal Republican Constitution we have sworn to support no longer has substantial existence.”77 This initiative was wrapped up in complicated ways with the region’s relationship with the United States, the politics of slavery (abolished in Mexico but still extant in the United States), and the sheer numbers of Anglo settlers—​yet it still followed the common pattern: local assemblies asserted the right to decide whether to be part of a nation or not.78 In this case the outcome was the annexation of Texas to the United States following American intervention and the Mexican-​American War of 1846–​1848.

74 Ana Frega, “Proyectos políticos y faccionalismo militar. Ecos de la crisis de la Monarquía Portuguesa en Montevideo, 1820-​ 1824,” in “Dossier: Facciones y grupos políticos en la Hispanoamérica del siglo XIX,” ed. Ignacio Zubizarreta and Mario Etchechury-​Barrera, Islas e Imperios, no. 17 (2014): 59; Ana Ribeiro, “De las independencias a los Estados Republicanos (1810-​ 1850): Uruguay,” in De las independencias iberoamericanas a los estados nacionales (1810-​1850) 200 años de historia, ed. Ivana Frasquet and Andréa Slemian (Madrid, 2009), 69, 70. 75 Mosher, Political Struggle, Ideology, and State Building: Pernambuco, ch. 5. 76 Rodríguez O. “The Struggle for the Nation,” 24. 77 Unanimous Declaration of Independence of Mexico, March 2, 1836, San Felipe de Austin, printed by Baker and Bordens, 1836 https://​www.gilder​lehr​man.org/​col​lect​ion/​glc02​559. 78 Paul D. Lack, “Slavery and the Texas Revolution,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 89, no. 2 (1985): 181–​202.

Emerging States  127 Through to the mid-​1830s, the trend across the continent was toward disaggregation and provincial secession. A rare and brief move in the other direction was the creation of Peru-​ Bolivia Confederation, 1836–​ 1839. Championed by Bolivian president Andrés de Santa Cruz, it attempted to bring order to civil war–​prone Peru; it was legally underpinned by three extraordinary congresses. It aimed to unite Bolivia and Peru, but also to divide Peru into two states—​North-​Peru and South-​Peru—​such that the union would have been tripartite.79 It could therefore be argued that though the project sought to bring states together, it also followed the centrifugal logic unleashed by independence. That the Confederation was defeated by internal and external enemies is no surprise, given that support even from the congresses that brought it into being was lackluster at best. After its fall, the threat that Peru might divide into two smaller states continued for a couple of decades, but never came to pass. Central America splintered into extremely small units when its hard-​won federation imploded in slow motion between 1838 and 1840. As Jordana Dym has shown, wars broke out between cities within states, between states, and between states and federal authorities. Some states developed congresses and executives even while federal institutions languished; the fact that representative institutions survived at the city and town level indeed made it easier for smaller states to emerge.80 Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica all eventually became independent by summoning congresses. They continued to declare that they wanted a union, though since they could not agree how to fund the federal government, nothing was achieved.81 Hispaniola might seem to present another case of union, as what had been for a period separate Haitian states consolidated and then annexed Spanish Santo Domingo. However, the latter’s war for liberation from 1838 eventually led to the establishment of the Dominican Republic in 1844 (subsequently briefly re-​annexed by Spain, 1861–​1865). In the River Plate, fragmentation was ultimately reversed, but it took time, well into the 1860s. Representatives of the provinces of Buenos Aires, Entre Ríos, and Santa Fe did agree a federal pact to create the Unitarian League aiming at a strong union, but in 1829, Juan Manuel de Rosas, governor of 79 Sobrevilla Perea, The Caudillo of the Andes, ch. 4. 80 Dym, From Sovereign Villages to National States, 228–​30. 81 Juan Carlos Sarazúa, “The Formation and Expansion of Bureaucracy in Central America: The Federation and the State of Guatemala,” in Latin American Bureaucracy, 88.

128  Re-imagining Democracy Buenos Aires, emerged as the strongest leader and implemented a loose Argentine Confederation instead. Even though no formal constitution was enacted, elections and plebiscites were used to legitimize Rosas and to award him executive, legislative, and judicial powers.82 The case of the Argentine Confederation provides a rare instance in which no written charter bestowed legitimacy until after mid-​century. More normally the process of creating states in Latin America was accompanied by constitution-​making. Constitutions were primarily aimed at internal audiences, aiming to imbue unions with the legitimacy provided by representatives from provinces, cities, and towns. In a sense they were letters of intent written by scattered elites in the hope of making a state, a union, or a federation viable. In reality, a constitution was not enough to stabilize a political entity. For that to be achieved, its constituent parts had to agree that the charter had meaning and represented them.

Governing in the New Era States thus came into existence after complex wars, inheriting some colonial structures. We conclude by asking, how did they operate in practice, and how did they impinge on people’s lives? This depended on a variety of factors including their size, their ability to control their territory and finances (depending largely on what they had inherited from colonial arrangements), what was involved in controlling their populations, and what they did with the resources they had. Four things especially shaped the character of new state structures. First, it was only possible to govern when legitimacy could be found and, in most places, that resided at the most local level: the municipality. It was there that first-​level elections took place and most local decisions were taken. Second, to be viable, states needed funding, which could be acquired through monopolies, levies, or taxation—​but if people were taxed they wanted to have a say as to how heavily, or if even if, they should be taxed at all. Many states did not put officials in charge of tax collection; but instead outsourced it or as it was then termed “farmed” it to external agents who acted for a fee; the outcome was a shortage of administrative systems with direct control over populations. Third, states were expected to maintain law and order, and again people might want to play a part in ensuring this was

82 José María Rosa, Historia argentina: Unitarios y federales (Buenos Aires, 1974), 220–​27.

Emerging States  129 done effectively, be it through armies, militias, or police forces. Militias were crucial and were organized locally. Finally, in representative regimes, legislation provided a vehicle for state action. It was never easy to construct strong central administrations, and attempts to do this were variably successful. There were special challenges in federal states. Those who inherited large vice-​regal capitals, as did Mexico and Peru, had some elements of central power in place but still had to work hard to control their territory and become effective. Even smaller states such as Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, and some of the Central American republics struggled to create effective central structures, and the challenge was acute in mid-​sized countries such as New Granada, Venezuela, Peru, and Chile, where regional elites challenged the centers with varying degrees of success. The imperial implosion brought about by the French Revolution and Napoleon led to the retreat of politics into the smallest traditional units of local governance. Independence brought a provincialization of power, not well described as ruralization since it continued to emanate from towns and cities. Local government mattered to people, as it was at that level that they mostly lived; power was accumulated through participation in municipal offices. As Timo Schaeffer reminds us in the case of Mexico, municipal governments carried out many indispensable functions including tax collecting, building and repairing public structures such as roads, bridges, aqueducts, and fountains, and organizing national celebrations: the symbolic centerpieces of political life.83 It was at the local level that elections took place, militias were organized, and petitions signed, and from here that power flowed upward into the provinces, the states, and, when they existed, federal structures. The church, and the parish more specifically, remained important. Not only did they retain charge of most education, but also the church took care of hospitals, orphanages, and asylums, and was the place where information on people was held, from baptismal to marriage and death records. Most electoral systems depended heavily on the church, both as a place of voting and due to its role in holding information on voters: this was the case with the indirect system of voting introduced during the Cádiz constitutional process in Mexico, Central America, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.

83 Timo H. Schaefer, Liberalism as Utopia. The Rise and Fall of Legal Rule in Post-​Colonial Mexico, 1820-​1900 (Cambridge, UK, 2017), 48.

130  Re-imagining Democracy On whatever infrastructure they rested, electoral processes were important. Given that there were regular elections at local, national, and in some cases federal levels, dense political networks developed to dispense patronage and in this way manage voting at both the local and national levels. In Chile, where direct elections for the Lower Chamber were established early, after 1833 the national government managed to exercise what J. Samuel Valenzuela calls “limited power”—​where control by the executive over the electoral process was mediated by constant negotiations with local forces.84 After studying the process of voting in the province of Buenos Aires in the first half of the nineteenth century, Marcela Ternavasio has concluded that participation in elections was widespread and that they mattered to people.85 Even in the Brazilian Empire, elections provided a base for political organization and gave local and national elites a context within which to interact. Richard Graham has shown how indirect elections in the smallest towns and provinces formed building blocks for patronage networks.86 What states could actually do depended heavily on finances. The economic fallout caused by independence should not be underestimated because, as Alejandra Irigoin and Regina Grafe have shown, the Spanish Empire operated a system whereby income from wealthier regions was used to pay the costs of ports and expanding frontiers, as well as aiding areas that needed cash injections. The wars of independence disrupted deep connections, as did the creation of new states.87 Juan Pro has argued that treasuries were “the primitive organism from which subsequent civil bureaucracies developed” even though collection was sometimes farmed out.88 Some conflict over taxes was deferred, as new states relied in the first instance on colonial-​era taxes: sales taxes, monopolies such as tobacco, playing cards, distilled alcohol, salt, official stamped paper, and contributions paid only by indigenous people (found in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, several states in the Mexican Federation, and the northern provinces of the Argentine Confederation).89 The opening of trade

84 J. Samuel Valenzuela, “Building Aspects of Democracy Before Democracy: Electoral Practices in Nineteenth-​Century Chile,” in Elections Before Democracy: The History of Elections in Europe and Latin America, ed. Eduardo Posada-​Carbó (London, 1996), 233–​58. 85 Marcela Ternavasio, La revolución del voto (Buenos Aires, 2001). 86 Richard Graham, Patronage and Politics in Nineteenth Century Brazil (Stanford, CA, 1992), 2. 87 Regina Grafe and Alejandra Irigoin, “A Stakeholder Empire: The Political Economy of Spanish Imperial Rule in America,” The Economic History Review 65, no. 2 (2012): 609–​51. 88 Juan Pro Ruíz, “Considering the State from the Perspective of Bureaucracy: Lessons from the Latin American Sattelzeit,” in Latin American Bureaucracy, 6, 7. 89 Juan Carlos Garavaglia, “State Building in Latin America: The Preceding Steps,” in Latin American Bureaucracy, 31.

Emerging States  131 allowed for new options such as import and export taxes. Sometimes moves were made to replace the Indian tribute with a personal tax; in Colombia, this was intended to take the form of a direct tax on income, but that was not successfully implemented.90 Attempts in Peru to introduce direct taxation after the abolition of the Indian tribute also failed, as there was little appetite on the part of legislators to increase general taxation, even if liberal politicians saw this as the only long-​term option available.91 To make new states governable there also needed to be a degree of control over the armed forces, some “monopoly of violence,” but this was not always achieved, as conflict was prevalent throughout the period, and militias turned into armies and then back into militias. Men responded to varying incentives to fight, initially mostly to defend their locality. During the wars of independence, large armies assembled and many traveled far and wide to fight—​some in the hope of fortune, others, such as enlisted slaves, for freedom. After independence, most of the new countries remained highly militarized, in some areas because of the large number of veterans and in others because new states needed armed men to sustain themselves. Though most men returned to their local areas, there they staffed local militias and remained open to taking up arms when they saw the need. As Sabato has shown, from 1820 most new states laid down general orders and regulations for their militias in ways that placed immediate responsibility in the hands of municipalities, such that the link between men of arms and their localities was strengthened.92 These armed men were based in the provinces, cities, and towns where politics was practiced and where decisions were taken on whether to join one country or another, or on what terms to incorporate to a federation, a confederation, or a centralized state. They stood at the heart of participatory politics as practiced in this period. Militia members embodied “citizenship in arms” as “the guardians of popular sovereignty, and therefore as safeguards of the republican polity.”93 The relationship between civilians and the military varied between states, though it was common for the men who rose to prominence during the wars of independence to take governing positions in the aftermath. That was the 90 Frank Safford and Marco Palacios, Colombia. Fragmented Land, Divided Society (Oxford, 2002), 110. 91 Liberal politician Domingo Elías proposed this to the Peruvian parliament when he was minister, but it was rejected; see Memoria que presenta el Ministro de Hacienda de la República del Perú a la Convención Nacional de 1855 (Lima, 1855), 38–​41 92 Sabato, Republics of the New World, 33. 93 Sabato, Republics of the New World, 35.

132  Re-imagining Democracy case in Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. New Granada was to some extent demilitarized by default following the dissolution of Gran Colombia, since most of the Venezuelan officers who had been part of the Bolivarian army, over 200 of them, were expelled from the country—​but still, some military figures continued to play political roles, including as heads of the state.94 An exception was Brazil, where the emperor was ascendant, though connections in the military and the militias were still important in building patronage links for a political career. Armies varied in size and prominence, and exact numbers are elusive. However, the research carried out by the team led by Juan Carlos Garavaglia—​which examined in detail numbers for Guatemala, Costa Rica, New Granada, Ecuador, Uruguay, Chile, and some provinces of the Argentine Confederation—​concluded that up to at least mid-​century, and in some places for longer, eighty to ninety percent of state salaries were paid to agents in charge of war or state repression, including armies, militias, police, and customs law enforcement. Nonetheless, numbers of such people were not necessarily high.95 People interacted with the law on a daily basis, and for some this was the only way in which they encountered the state—​because they were subjected to discipline, or because they wanted to do business, or needed to deal with domestic matters ranging from writing wills and passing property through the generations to family separation and divorce. During the colonial period, the church had had a monopoly over what we now consider family law, which it did not readily surrender, though the century did witness the abolition of corporate courts for the church and the military. The way in which law was administered varied widely. Timo Schaefer has shown in the case of Mexico that justice was a municipal charge,96 whereas in Buenos Aires and in Brazil, justices of the peace traversed the space between public and private.97 Elvira Lopes has shown that in Chile, some state functionaries worked pro bono, not being paid regularly.98 There were also changes in legal training. Lawyers played a very important part in the process

94 Anthony P. Maingot, “Social Structure, Social Status, and Civil-​Military Conflict in Urban Colombia, 1810-​1858,” in, Nineteenth-​Century Cities. Essays in New Urban History, ed. Stephan Thernstrom and Richard Sennett (New Haven, CT, 1969), 231–​343. 95 Garavaglia, “State Building in Latin America,” 33. 96 Schaefer, Liberalism as Utopia, 50. 97 Wilma Peres Costa and Andréa Slemian, “The Justice System, the National Guard and Control of Public Order: the Brazilian Empire and the Initial Decades of the Nineteenth Century,” in Latin American Bureaucracy, 402–​22. 98 Pro Ruíz, “Considering the State from the Perspective of Bureaucracy,” 8.

Emerging States  133 of creating and imagining these new states, as they were often the ones who designed constitutions and debated laws in parliament. Congressional meetings in some countries were occasional, as much events as institutions. In Mexico and Peru they did not meet every year. In New Granada and Chile, they met every year, in calendars set by their constitutions, but only for two to three months in a year. The extent to which parliaments carried weight needs further study, but even under strongman executives they were not always rubber stamps for the executive.99 The Chilean congress, by constitutional stipulation, had every year to approve the budget and the size of the army, potentially a check on presidential power. In Brazil, the Chamber of Deputies “enjoyed apparent independence and power” during the 1830s after the abdication of its first emperor, though the monarchy regained control during the 1840s under Dom Pedro II.100 Reformers of the mid-​nineteenth century often claimed to be removing the last relics of colonial government, giving the impression that the colonial legal order had survived up to that point. Although some colonial legislation continued to be enforced after independence, legislative activity in early new republics was in fact sometimes quite intense. An index of legislation passed by Congress in New Granada from 1821 to 1841 and still in force at the end of the period listed over 600 titles, touching upon many significant aspects of social and political life.101 While some were narrow in scope, others, such as the organic law on public education passed by the Colombian congress in 1826, were substantial.102 In the successor state of New Granada, among the seventy-​four laws and decrees passed in 1834, the more ambitious dealt with the organization of the army, the judiciary, and the administration of the provinces; there was also a comprehensive law on civil procedure.103 Some eras were marked by campaigns for reform, when legislatures were particularly active. This was perhaps especially true of the various regimes dominated by Liberals in the 1850s. Jay Robert Grusin notes that, in New 99 Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, “Power of the Law or Power of the Sword: the Conflictive Relationship Between the Executive and the Legislature in Nineteenth-​Century Peru,” Parliaments, Estates and Representation 37, no. 2 (2017): 220–​34. 100 Jeffrey D. Needell, The Sacred Cause. The Abolitionist Movement, Afro-​Brazilian Mobilization, and Imperial Politics in Rio de Janeiro (Stanford, CA, 2020), 41. 101 Indice jeneral de las disposiciones lejislativas que se hallan vijentes entre las sancionadas desde 1821 hasta el presente y arreglado por el orden de las materias de que se ocupan para el uso de los cursantes de jurisprudencia (Bogotá, 1841). 102 Ley y reglamentos orgánicos de le enseñanza pública en Colombia, acordados en el año de 1826 (Bogotá, 1826). 103 Colección de las leyes i decretos espedidos por el Segundo congreso constitucional de la Nueva Granada en el año de 1834 (Bogotá, 1834).

134  Re-imagining Democracy Granada between 1849 and 1854, Congress was “the center of activity”; working with the liberal government, it passed an impressive array of legislation abolishing slavery, separating church and state, decentralizing fiscal resources, promoting the education and civil rights of women, and abolishing capital punishment.104 Mid-​century also saw big changes in the law in Peru, as a liberal congress passed a new Civil Code that marked a significant break with the colonial legislation it superseded.105 All state operations depended on the state’s legitimacy. States could not operate without the backing of large numbers of people, who participated in militias and armies; who obeyed the law and sometimes petitioned authorities in the hope of gaining redress; and who engaged in elections to choose representatives who could voice local concerns in constitutional conventions or parliaments. Non-​officeholders got involved in a myriad of ways. When they had no vote, they used other avenues to make their voices heard, from supporting or challenging authority in militias to violent takeovers of ballot boxes. In most places, constitutions were seen as crucial to legitimacy and were repeatedly drafted, agreed, and promulgated, even though they rarely brought the stability desired. However, representation and participation interacted with deeply entrenched authoritarian tendencies—​sometimes involving a hankering after what was seen as lost social and political stability. Armed men of various types played an oversized role in the creation and governing of these new states—​though they did so with the support of civilians and, in some countries like Chile and New Granada, these increasingly took the upper hand. In Chile an extraordinary cohort of civilians, including the Venezuelan Andrés Bello, led the process of state-​building from the 1830s.106 Whatever the balance struck in that regard, all new regimes continually sought ways of presenting their power as an expression of the wishes or serving the interests of the people, even if this was sometimes just a veneer. The fact that power lay so much at the local level nonetheless meant that local power and local opinion mattered, though in the course of the nineteenth century this started to change.

104 Jay Robert Grusin, “The Revolution of 1848 in Colombia” (unpublished dissertation, The University of Arizona, 1978). 105 Carlos Ramos Nuñez, Historia del Derecho Civil Peruano: siglos XIX y XX. Vol. La codificación del siglo XIX: los códigos de la Confederación y el Código Civil de 1852 (Lima, 2000). 106 Iván Jaksic, Andrés Bello. Scholarship and Nation-​Building (Cambridge UK, 2008); Simon Collier, Chile: The Making of the Republic, 1830-​1865. Politics and Ideas (Cambridge, UK, 2003), chap. 3–​4.

6 From Caste to Race Re-​imagining Diversity in Spanish America Nancy P. Appelbaum

We are not Europeans, nor Indians, but a species halfway between aboriginal and Spanish. Americans by birth and Europeans by law, we find ourselves contending with the natives for titles of ownership and at the same time trying to maintain our rights in our birth country against the opposition of the invaders; thus our case is most extraordinary and complex. —​Simón Bolívar, Angostura Address, 1819

As Simón Bolívar laid out his vision of a new representative government in his Angostura Address of 1819, in the midst of fighting for Spanish American independence, he stated that “our people are not European, nor North American, but are closer to a blend of Africa and America than an emanation from Europe.”1 He used the idea of mixture to justify the fight for separation from the Spanish Empire, but the diversity of his compatriots also worried him. He feared that an imperfect population made perfect democracy and equality impossible. Nonetheless, the new republics that emerged after the independence wars mandated male racial equality by proclaiming an end to discrimination by color or caste. Even Brazil, which commenced its independent nationhood as a monarchy rather than a republic, with almost 40 percent of its population enslaved, declared the legal equality of all free-​born men in its 1824

1 “The Angostura Address,” in El Libertador: Writings of Simon Bolivar, ed. David Bushnell (Oxford, 2003), 38. Nancy P. Appelbaum, From Caste to Race In: Re-​imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–​1870. Edited by: Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, Joanna Innes, and Mark Philp, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/​oso/​9780197631577.003.0006

136  Re-imagining Democracy constitution. Unlike in the United States, Latin American states did not define full citizenship as the exclusive purview of white men. Why not? The fundamental reason is that the Spanish American republics were the products of interracial alliances among a diverse and overwhelmingly non-​ white population. Diverse population groups mobilized on both sides of the independence wars and made their own demands, such as an end to enslavement and discrimination. They played crucial military and political roles in defeating the Spanish Empire and founding new nations. The republics certainly inherited the social hierarchies and tensions of colonial society, but broad alliances also led to significant changes. The first few decades after independence constituted a time of experimentation and conflict over what the new social order, as well as the political order, would be. Diverse inhabitants of the new republics pushed for inclusion in politics, and often for equality as well. Bolívar and other early republican leaders at times viewed indigenous people as outside the polity, “competing” for resources and territorial control. Certainly, some indigenous nations and communities, in vast borderland territories never conquered by any European empires, remained outside the early republics and (as was also the case along the US and Brazilian frontiers) successfully fought encroachment into their dominions until the late nineteenth century. Yet, those indigenous and African-​descended people who had lived for generations under the Spanish Empire did participate in the new post-​colonial order, whether enthusiastically or reluctantly. They expressed frustration at the new republics’ limitations and inequalities, and they often pushed republican ideals such as “liberty” and “equality” in directions that political leaders and economic elites did not want to go. They sometimes even demanded the return of certain colonial-​era rights and institutions. As was also true in the first two American republics (the United States and Haiti), women of all classes and colors, despite their contributions to independence struggles, were excluded from formal participation in politics and governance. Other identities besides gender, such as enslavement, also precluded citizenship rights such as suffrage and political office. At times over the course of the nineteenth century (and even into the twentieth), illiteracy, dependent status within a household (as in the case of children or servants), poverty, and membership in indigenous communities all provided grounds for exclusion. Nonetheless, ancestry or color alone rarely disqualified adult men from citizenship. For men the overall pattern, argues historian Hilda Sabato, was

From Caste to Race  137 political inclusion rather than exclusion. Such inclusion was however hierarchical and discriminatory; “egalitarian norms did not materialize in egalitarian institutions or practices.”2 This tension between racial inclusion and exclusion would run through early republican laws, norms, and practices. The first section of this chapter provides an overview of racial diversity and hierarchy in the late colonial period, when what we now think of as “race” was framed in the language of “caste.” Caste hierarchy was both highly discriminatory and, at the same time, unstable and contested. Subsequent sections of the chapter examine the first few decades after independence, when caste laws gave way to theories about “race,” and argue that early republicans re-​ imagined and reshaped social hierarchies in the early nineteenth century, experimenting with new forms of both inclusion and exclusion. This experimentation was not simply a “top-​down” process carried out by elites. Rather, the racial dynamics and hierarchies of the new republics were shaped by conflict and negotiation among diverse sectors of the population. This chapter focuses on the mainland republics that gained independence from Spain in the second and third decade of the nineteenth century, from Mexico to the Southern Cone. Comprehensive coverage across two continents is not possible. Therefore, specific examples will be highlighted, especially the cases of Colombia and Guatemala, each of which represents a different demographic pattern. In addition, the Spanish Caribbean island colonies and Brazil will be referenced, though their trajectories and timing in regard to republicanism, coerced labor, and racial dynamics were quite distinct from those of the early nineteenth-​century Spanish American republics.

Hierarchy and Mobility in the Late Spanish Empire Sedentary indigenous populations survived and revived mainly in the mountainous areas of Mesoamerica and the Andes, where pre-​Columbian empires, federations, and city-​states had flourished up to the Spanish Conquest. Indigenous communities cultivated their own lands, traded their products, and provided (often coerced) labor to mines, estates, and infrastructural projects. By the eighteenth century their populations were rebounding from the catastrophic epidemics of the early colonial era, but they suffered from 2 Hilda Sabato, Republics of the New World: The Revolutionary Political Experiment in Nineteenth-​ Century Latin America (Princeton, NJ, 2018), 18.

138  Re-imagining Democracy dramatic ecological changes and increased competition for land and other natural resources. Spaniards, whether American-​born criollos or European-​ born peninsulares, clustered mainly in towns and cities, from which they ventured into the hinterlands to trade, missionize, and manage estates and mines. Large swathes of territory, meanwhile, were unconquered by Spain and other European empires and remained the dominion of autonomous indigenous nations and communities. Enslaved Africans and their descendants were mainly concentrated in hotter lowland regions along coasts, in inter-​montane valleys, and on Caribbean islands, where indigenous populations had been decimated early on by colonization and disease. Enslaved people, both indigenous and black, were brutally exploited in every sector of the rural and urban colonial economy, but black enslaved labor was particularly central to mining and export agriculture. The trans-​Atlantic trade in enslaved human bodies continued throughout the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth. Even as millions lived and died in captivity under abominable conditions, however, a minority always managed to escape slavery through resistance and negotiation. In mainland Spanish America as well as in Brazil and the Caribbean, runaway groups of Africans and their descendants formed autonomous communities, some of which outlasted the institution of slavery. During the colonial era, moreover, a relatively small number of enslaved individuals (typically less than 2% per year) obtained manumission. Women were more likely to be manumitted than men, so the freed population enjoyed greater fertility than the enslaved, while also benefitting from better living and working conditions. As a result, the free black population grew faster than the enslaved. Mixtures among, and divisions within, these various populations (also involving Asians and other Europeans) blurred and complicated these broad patterns. By the 1700s, conflict, migration, and intermingling among pre-​ Columbian, African, and European peoples for more than two centuries of colonialism had given way to new ethnicities and identities through processes that scholars refer to as “ethnogenesis.”3 People of mixed ancestry constituted the majority in many regions.

3 Stuart Schwartz and Frank Salomon, “New Peoples and New Kinds of People: Adaptation, Readjustment, and Ethnogenesis in South American Indigenous Societies,” in The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas, ed. Frank Salomon and Stuart Schwartz (Cambridge, UK, 1999), 443–​501.

From Caste to Race  139 Authorities and subjects of the empire had organized this human diversity into what they called castas or “castes.” In addition to negro (black), indio (Indian), and español (Spaniard), numerous other caste labels emerged over the course of the colonial period to connote various ancestral mixes, such as mulato or pardo (mulatto), castizo (almost white), mestizo (originally denoting European/​indigenous ancestry), and zambo (mixed indigenous and African), to name a few of the most common. Regional variations in labels emerged and evolved, such as cholo in the Andes, and ladino in Central America, connoting cultural or ancestral mixedness. Even the simple categories of negro and indio elided diversity, encompassing and homogenizing a vast array of African and Native American identities, nations, and languages. The Spaniards, meanwhile, were themselves divided by class, status, and place of birth. Caste was legally reinforced through differential laws on taxation, occupation, and consumption. Certain castes were excluded from “honorable” professions of high status, which were restricted to those with limpieza de sangre (“clean blood”). What we would now refer to as a system of institutionalized racism thus undergirded a vast and violent mercantile regime of extraction, taxation, and exploitation to favor colonial elites and, most importantly, to enrich the imperial metropole. And yet, imperial authorities and elites were not always successful or consistent in their efforts to impose a rigid and profitable order. Without minimizing the brutality of empire, recent historiography has increasingly pointed out the fluidity and instability of caste. Caste categories were contested and malleable. Spanish American subjects at all levels of society appear in the archives wielding notions of caste and honor to their own advantage. Individuals and families found ways to revise caste and legal status. A person labeled indio at birth, for example, might marry outside the community or migrate, perhaps become wealthier, and die a mestizo or mestiza. The next generation might become known as castizo (mostly or almost Spanish) or even español. As precise ancestry was often unknowable, economic class intersected with parentage, behavior, and physical appearance to shape people’s caste identities and personal reputations. Birth to legitimately married Spanish parents of “clean blood” conferred honor. Honor and caste were linked to behavior in highly gendered ways.4 For women, being known as Spanish 4 Sonya Lipsett-​Rivera and Lyman L. Johonson, eds., The Faces of Honor: Sex, Shame, and Violence in Colonial Latin America (Albuquerque, NM, 1998).

140  Re-imagining Democracy was generally associated with comportment defined as honorable for their sex (modesty, virginity, and monogamy). Indigenous, mixed-​caste, and especially black and enslaved women were assumed by authorities and elites to be morally lax, even when these women defined themselves as honorable. The empire’s own policies regarding caste and honor were not entirely consistent and were shaped in part by initiatives from below. For example, in the second half of the eighteenth century a handful of upwardly mobile men of mixed African and European descent, known as pardos or mulatos, petitioned the crown for exemption from the restrictions associated with their caste (they had risen in society through their service in colonial militias or success as artisans).5 In 1795 the ruling Council of the Indies created a legal mechanism called a gracias al sacar (roughly translated as “clemency” or “exemption”), whereby certain people of mixed African and European descent could petition to erase the “stain” of their African origins and essentially purchase whiteness. Only a handful of individuals benefitted (fewer than fifty such legal cases have surfaced in archives). The 1795 law enraged criollo elites who claimed for themselves the exclusive prerogatives of whiteness. Yet even wealth and status did not exempt criollos from having the purity of their blood challenged.6 Just as the late Spanish Empire, ruled by the Bourbon dynasty from 1714 onward, toyed with caste divisions, it also revisited policies toward natives. The prior Habsburg rulers had tried to segregate the indigenous population into a subordinate sphere known as the república de indios. Indigenous authorities enjoyed certain rights to govern their own communities and exercise control over communal lands, which (at least in theory) could not be divided or sold to outsiders, in return for which the communities provided tribute payment and labor. That policy was not entirely successful: settlers, miners, and livestock all encroached on indigenous territories, while mestizaje (mixture) blurred caste boundaries. Toward the end of the century, imperial reformers questioned the república de indios. Officials in the viceroyalty of New Granada, for example, argued that the putative inferiority of the

5 Ann Twinam, Purchasing Whiteness: Pardos, Mulattos, and the Quest for Social Mobility in the Spanish Indies (Stanford, CT, 2015). 6 Even top criollo revolutionary leaders such as Simón Bolívar and Francisco Miranda were at times rumored to have black ancestors. Peninsular Spaniards in particular questioned and mocked criollo pretensions to caste purity.

From Caste to Race  141 indios would be overcome through mixture with other castes.7 Meanwhile, in the viceroyalty of Peru, after the massive Tupac Amaru rebellion (1780–​ 1782), Spanish authorities tried to replace the república de indios with forced assimilation.8 Together the indigenous, black, and mixed-​caste populations of Spanish colonial society far outnumbered Spaniards, who had also become known as “whites.” For example, indigenous people constituted about 60% of the total population of what is now Mexico (which was about 6 million) by the end of the eighteenth century.9 Free mestizos and other people of color together made up about 22%, while whites were about 18% and enslaved people less than 1%. For Peru, Indians also formed a sizeable majority (around out of 1.232 million or 63%); mestizos accounted for about 20% and whites only 11%, while free and enslaved people of likely African descent together constituted about 6%. Indigenous people similarly constituted the majority in what are now the Andean countries of Bolivia and Ecuador. In Venezuela, by contrast, the population reflected an economy dependent on the labor of enslaved Africans and their descendants: free people of African descent constituted the largest group at 49 percent (about 440 thousand out of 898 thousand) versus white (21%), enslaved (12%), or indigenous (18%).10 Class and power did not entirely coincide with caste; there were poor whites and rich mestizos, indigenous nobles and pardo military officers. By and large, however, the colonial elites were likely to be reputed as white and Spanish. Although there were many exceptions, negros and indios (then as now) were disproportionately to be found among the poorest and most exploited rungs of the colonial economy. Among Spaniards, American-​born criollos competed for power not only with the groups rising from below, but also with peninsulares.

7 Frank Safford, “Race, Integration, and Progress: Elite Attitudes and the Indian in Colombia, 1750-​1870,” The Hispanic American Historical Review 71, no. 1 (1991): 1–​33. 8 Charles F. Walker, The Tupac Amaru Rebellion (Cambridge, MA, 2016). 9 George Reid Andrews, Afro-​Latin America (New York, 2004), 41, 203–​7, based mainly on the 1778–​1781 census, which should be considered approximate at best and subject to different interpretations. For example, Andrews uses the census’s libre category in some regions as a proxy for people of African descent. 10 By comparison, Brazil had about equal proportions, 30% each, of people considered white and free people of color, out of an overall population of almost two million. Another 37% were enslaved and only about 3% defined as Indians, ibid.

142  Re-imagining Democracy

The Impact of Popular Participation in Independence Wars Most of the colonized American mainland gained independence in the early nineteenth century, as did Haiti. Independence wars swept mainland Spanish America from 1810 to 1825. Locally, these upheavals took the form of civil wars between opposing royalist and patriotic forces, both of which were heavily American-​born, including people of every caste. War brought economic devastation along with dislocations, disease, and death on a massive scale. War also brought opportunities. The turmoil upended local mining and plantation economies, thus weakening the control of slaveholders. Subordinated communities and individuals attempted to take advantage of disruptions to improve their social conditions and defend or improve their legal status, often by taking sides against whomever they viewed as their oppressors. Their participation on both sides reflected tensions in colonial society and shaped the duration and outcomes of the independence wars. For example, when the slaveholders of Popayán, in what is now Colombia, rose up against the Spanish Crown in 1810, some enslaved mineworkers rose up in turn as royalists, achieving de facto freedom. In neighboring Pasto, Andean indigenous communities extracted concessions from the colonial state. Black and indigenous royalists proved crucial to preserving the empire’s territorial control over what historian Marcela Echeverri refers to as the “Pacific royalist block,” which extended from Panama to Chile, for over a decade.11 In the Andean highlands of what would become Peru and Bolivia, on the other hand, the revolutionary age commenced in the 1780s in some indigenous communities, which revolted en masse against Spanish officials, even as some other indigenous communities sided with Spain to repress those revolts. Most Peruvian criollos, terrified of their majority indigenous population, stuck with Spain for as long as they could. In Mexico the most important revolutionary leaders included men of color such as rebel priest José María Morelos and General Vicente Guerrero. As in Peru, the criollo elite of Mexico largely supported the crown for the first decade of strife, delaying Mexican independence until 1821.

11 Marcela Echeverri Muñoz, Indian and Slave Royalists in the Age of Revolution: Reform, Revolution, and Royalism in the Northern Andes, 1780-​1825 (New York, 2016); Jairo Gutiérrez Ramos, Los indios de Pasto contra la república (Bogotá, 2007).

From Caste to Race  143 In Venezuela, independence plots at the end of the eighteenth century had involved people from diverse sectors, inspired by the US and Haitian Revolutions.12 But in 1811 when criollos, including men such as Francisco de Miranda and Simón Bolívar, proclaimed independence, they met opposition from the mixed castas and slaves they had long exploited. A decade of civil war ensued. Only after Bolívar and his cohort had promised to end slavery, and had negotiated alliances with regional leaders commanding large black and brown followings, did the patriotic forces gain the advantage. Several of the patriotic military leaders in Venezuela and neighboring Colombia (then known as New Granada) were pardos, such as General Manuel Píar and Admiral José Padilla. Such alliances did not always last, however. Píar was executed in 1817 for opposing Bolívar’s leadership; Padilla was executed in 1828 after an attempted coup against Bolívar’s post-​independence dictatorship. The crucial participation of all these actors in the independence wars gave them leverage to push for improvements in their status. In the Caribbean port city of Cartagena (in what is now Colombia) the pardo artisan and rebel militia leader Pedro Romero demanded “equal rights for all the classes of citizens.”13 Meanwhile, in Buenos Aires in 1810–​1811, independence leaders promised to end “prejudices” in order to gain the allegiance of militiamen of color. A decade later in Mexico, Guerrero agreed to join forces with the criollo officer Agustín de Iturbide only once the latter promised to abolish caste laws. Iturbide stated that “all inhabitants, without distinction among Europeans, Africans, and Indians” would henceforth be citizens eligible for all offices “according to their merits and virtues.”14 As for the enslaved, historian George Reid Andrews writes that “amid the turmoil of war, slaves were forging their own emancipation.”15 The participation of enslaved soldiers was one of the factors that led to the enactment of “free womb” laws, aiming at gradual emancipation, across mainland Spanish America from 1811 to 1842. Gradual emancipation was a slow and tortuous process whereby children born to enslaved mothers were technically free yet remained captives of their masters or mistresses until reaching adulthood, and could even be sold away from their parents to other enslavers in 12 Cristina Soriano, Tides of Revolution: Information, Insurgencies, and the Crisis of Colonial Rule in Venezuela (Albuquerque, NM, 2018). 13 Andrews, Afro-​Latin America, 88; Alfonso Múnera, El fracaso de la nación (1717-​1821) (Bogotá, 1998). 14 Andrews, Afro-​Latin America, 87. 15 Ibid., 59.

144  Re-imagining Democracy the meantime.16 Throughout this painful period of transition from slavery, enslaved women and men took advantage of opportunities to speed along the process, whether through self-​purchase, purchasing family members, serving in the military, fleeing, or filing lawsuits. Within a generation, chattel slavery as a legal institution disappeared from Spanish American republics (though illegal enslavement and other forms of coerced labor, particularly involving indigenous and black people, persisted long after). Meanwhile, legal slavery also ended throughout the French Caribbean in 1848. Britain abolished slavery in 1834 in its Caribbean territories, followed by six years (ultimately shortened to four) of coerced labor known as “apprenticeship.” Abolition came later in the Brazilian Empire and remaining Spanish colonies of Cuba and Puerto Rico. Imports of enslaved Africans to Brazil and the Spanish Caribbean actually increased around the turn of the nineteenth century, especially once the Haitian Revolution (1791–​1804) had freed the enslaved people of Saint Domingue, ending the French colony’s preeminence in sugar production. Enslaved Africans continued to arrive until the middle of the century, and legal chattel slavery would persist until the 1870s (Puerto Rico) and 1880s (Cuba and Brazil). Cuba would eventually follow a pattern similar to that of continental Spanish America in that its independence wars of the 1860s and 1870s provided opportunities for enslaved people to push for an end to slavery. In the Dominican Republic, meanwhile, legal slavery ended when Haiti unified the island of Hispaniola in 1822.17 In Texas, on the other hand, slavery expanded after Mexican independence with the influx of Anglo slaveholders, even as the Mexican government outlawed it, contributing to the conflicts that led ultimately to the Mexican-​American War and the cession of a large swathe of Mexican territory to the United States in 1848. Although slavery was not immediately abolished in most Spanish American republics, free men of color did vote and attain electoral office, including high leadership posts. The wars of independence had demonstrated that Spanish American criollos could not go it alone, whether in war or in governance. They had to accept military men and intellectuals of known 16 Yesenia Barragán, Freedom’s Captives: Slavery and Gradual Emancipation on the Colombian Black Pacific (Cambridge, UK, 2021). 17 Dominican political leaders (after separation from Haiti in 1844 and unsuccessful attempts at national consolidation) rejoined the Spanish Empire in the 1860s, leading to the Restoration War, during which mostly black Dominican and Haitian fighters vanquished the Spaniards for good in 1865. See Anne Eller, We Dream Together: Dominican Independence, Haiti, and the Fight for Caribbean Freedom (Durham, NC, 2016).

From Caste to Race  145 or reputed mixed descent among the republican leadership. For example, Vicente Guerrero, who became the second president of Mexico, was of mixed African and indigenous origin (his enemies called him “el negro Guerrero”).18 In the Andes, mestizo military leader Andrés de Santa Cruz y Calahumana founded and presided over the short-​lived Peru-​Bolivian Federation (1836–​1839).19 His father was Spanish, his mother an indigenous noblewoman (enemies called him el indio). José Antonio Páez, an independence leader who led Venezuela’s separation from Colombia in 1829 and became Venezuela’s first president, was reputed to be of mixed descent. The essential military roles played by men of color and their followers in the wars for independence forced white Spanish criollos, whose own ancestry was also sometimes questioned, to accept them, if often reluctantly or briefly, as compatriots and statesmen. Thus, out of the wars of independence emerged what historian Marixa Lasso has called a “myth of racial harmony,” which formed a “fundamental” element of Spanish American patriotism. She argues that the explicit embrace of caste equality was initially a political maneuver.20 Yet, she insists, criollo promises to end caste discrimination were “not just facile rhetoric.”21 Patriotism and equality became inextricable. Paradoxically, as Lasso and other historians have shown, this same discourse of racial equality could be used in the new republics to repress demands for full equality.

Imagining Nation and Race in New Republics Framing their nation-​building efforts against a Black Legend of Spanish despotism, early republican statesmen extolled the egalitarianism of their new republics and proclaimed that they had ended caste discrimination. At the same time, however, rumors proliferated that people of color were conspiring to start guerra de castas (“caste war”). In 1829, for example, an alleged 18 Later black and mulatto nineteenth-​century Afro-​Latin American presidents included Vicente Roca in Ecuador (1845–​1849), Joaquín Crespo in Venezuela (1884–​1886, 1892–​1897); Ulises Heareaux in the Dominican Republic (1882–​1899), per Andrews, Afro-​Latin America, 99. 19 Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, The Caudillo of the Andes: Andrés de Santa Cruz (Cambridge, UK, 2011). 20 Criollo representatives to the Cortes (parliament) in Cádiz, Spain (1810–​1814) sought to increase Spanish American political representation by enfranchising people of African descent, see Marixa Lasso, “Race War and Nation in Caribbean Gran Colombia, Cartagena, 1810–​1832.” American Historical Review 111, no. 2 (2006): 336–​61. 21 Ibid., 338, 340.

146  Re-imagining Democracy conspiracy by Afro-​Peruvian artisan Juan de Dios Algorta startled the city of Lima. To the north of Peru, in what historians refer to as Gran Colombia (the first Colombian republic, which included today’s Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Panama), rumors of conspiracies proliferated in the 1820s. In this context, pardos who complained of discrimination were subject to prosecution for inciting strife. In one example from 1832 uncovered by Lasso, an artisan named Agustín Martínez, referring to himself as an “honest pardo,” satirically denounced a segregated café in Cartagena as violating republican values: “only men of high status (those called whites) can sit down, converse and play cards, and come and go as they please, because they have money or blue blood . . . long live the aristocracy.”22 Local authorities responded by banishing Martínez for two years. Others who complained of discrimination were jailed, expelled, or even executed. Lasso concludes that “there was no room for the notion of racial grievances within an elite discourse that declared equality to already have been achieved.”23 Most caste war conspiracies never came to fruition, and many were likely little more than rumors. Meanwhile, political grievances and uprisings on the part of indigenous, black, and pardo Latin Americans could be glossed as race war. The Yucatan Mayan uprising (1847–​1855) became known as the Caste War of the Yucatan. A Mexican newspaper described the Mayans’ demands, which included abolishing colonial-​ era caste distinctions, as showing that “the colored race seeks to attack the white race whenever the occasion presents itself.”24 When the criollo warlord José María Obando recruited free blacks and slaves to an 1839–​1842 uprising in what is now southwestern Colombia, the “monster Obando” was accused by slaveholders of fomenting caste hatred.25 An alleged conspiracy among enslaved and poor free people in the Caribbean port city of Cartagena in 1841 further worried Colombian enslavers. Just three years later in 1844, the Caribbean basin was rocked by an alleged conspiracy among free and enslaved Cubans (possibly abetted by British imperial interests), which was brutally repressed. Fears of racial violence reflected larger concerns about disunity in an era of political and economic instability. As various political and military factions fought for control of nascent states, lettered intellectuals (letrados and 22 Ibid., 356. 23 Ibid., 358. 24 Quoted in Michel Gobat, “The Invention of Latin America: A Transnational History of Anti-​ Imperialism, Democracy, and Race,” American Historical Review 118, no. 5 (2013): 1355. 25 Barragán, Freedom’s Captives, 182–​83.

From Caste to Race  147 letradas) fretted over their nations’ “heterogeneity” of “interests,” “customs,” and “races,” which they often characterized as divisive forces that impeded national unity and economic progress. A Mexican author explained in 1840 that “what I am struggling to characterize, and do not know how, is the physiognomy of that heterogeneous society made up of discrete parts with no ties to each other, which formed a whole from a distance, but seen up close was composed of the most dissimilar of elements.”26 He and other costumbrista writers and artists celebrated their nations’ diversity even as they worried about it. Influenced by European romanticism, costumbrismo became popular across the Spanish-​speaking world by the 1830s as a literary and artistic trend that depicted local culture. One of its characteristic written forms was the cuadro de costumbres (portrait of customs), which employed descriptive prose and dialogue to verbally paint characters inhabiting local scenes. Scientific geographical expeditions also documented local scenes and population diversity in costumbrista-​style prose and illustrations. Writers, artists, and geographers (often in collaboration with traveling foreign scientists and investors) portrayed their national population as an array of regional and racial tipos (“types”).27 They organized human diversity into patterns that would ideally coalesce into a national profile. Type labels drew on older taxonomies and thus, to some degree, reproduced the hierarchies and essentialism—​and often the actual vocabulary—​of caste. Caste was also increasingly reconfigured as race. In combination with the older labels of caste and the newer language of type, nineteenth-​century Spanish Americans used the term raza. In the sixteenth-​and seventeenth-​ century Atlantic world, “race” had mainly referred to lineage or breed, especially in reference to animals and apparently not much applied to humans until the eighteenth century. European Enlightenment thinkers then divided humanity into four or five broad, continentally based “varieties” or races, each with its own physical and moral traits. This template formed the basis of the modern vocabulary and science of race. Nineteenth-​century Latin Americans, meanwhile, imbued raza with their own meanings. They drew on both caste and the Enlightenment template to analyze and categorize their 26 G. Prieto, quoted in Erica Segre, Intersected Identities: Strategies of Visualization in Nineteenth-​ and Twentieth-​Century Mexican Culture (New York, 2007), 11. 27 Julio Arias Vanegas, Nación y diferencia en el siglo XX colombiano: orden nacional, racialismo y taxonomías poblacionales (Bogotá, 2005); Nancy P. Appelbaum, Mapping the Country of Regions: The Chorographic Commission of Nineteenth-​Century Colombia (Durham, NC, 2016).

148  Re-imagining Democracy populations, while also proposing that new mixed national and continental “races” were emerging. By mid-​century, some Spanish American writers and statesmen embraced the idea of physical and cultural mixture, mestizaje, to forge what they referred to as a unified national race. In 1850–​1851, for example, Colombian intellectual Manuel Ancízar argued for what he saw as a “progressive” mixture taking place in the northeastern highlands of his country: “[W]‌hen the absorption of the indigenous race by the European has been completed . . . a homogeneous, vigorous, and well-​formed race will be left.”28 As various scholars now point out, such formulations of mestizaje implied the devaluation and erasure of blackness and indigeneity.29 Ancízar’s preference for whiteness was evident in comments he made in the province of Tunja, where he noted “the progressive improvement of the castes: the children are white, blonde, with fine and intelligent facial features and better built bodies than their elders.”30 Ancízar and his likeminded peers characterized this process of racial improvement as cultural and political, not simply physical. Race was not only a matter of “blood” but was also shaped by republican institutions, education, and the natural environment. He envisioned a new national “race” that would be “galvanized by democratic institutions and modified in its manner of living by liberty of industry and movement.”31 Whether left implicit or made explicit in such national imaginings, sexuality played a role in the foundation of a national whitened mestizo race. Some nineteenth-​century fiction in both Spanish America and Brazil (referred to as “foundational fictions” by literary critic Doris Sommer) portrayed heterosexual unions between people of different races, factions, or classes as bonds that would unify the nation.32 Perhaps the most notorious and explicit example of sexual mixture as part of nation-​building took place in Paraguay. In 1814, the soon-​to-​be-​dictator José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia tried to force Spaniards to marry non-​Spaniards.33 28 Ancízar, Peregrinación de Alpha, 2 vols. (Bogotá, 1984), 1:120. 29 For example, Mercedes López Rodríguez, Blancura y otras ficciones raciales en los Andes colombianos del siglo XIX (Bogotá, 2019); Eduardo Restrepo, “‘Negros indolentes’ en las plumas de los corógrafos: Raza y progreso en el occidente de la Nueva Granada de mediados del Siglo XIX,” Nómadas, no. 26 (2007): 28–​43. 30 Ancízar, Peregrinación de Alpha, 1:105. 31 Ancízar, Peregrinación de Alpha, 1:121. Likewise, Florentino González argued that races (e.g., the “Anglo-​Saxon” race, the “Spanish” race) were “regenerated” or “degenerated” by “good” or “bad” institutions: González, “Sofismo de la raza,” El Neo-​Granadino (Bogotá), January 21, 1853, 20. 32 Doris Sommer, Foundational Fictions: The National Romances of Latin America (Berkeley, CA, 1991). 33 Interpretations of his action vary. See Juan Manuel Casa, “From Paraguay, A History Lesson on Racial Equality,” The Conversation, December 2, 2016, https://​thec​onve​rsat​ion.com/​us.

From Caste to Race  149 By the 1850s, Spanish American intellectuals from multiple countries argued that they belonged to the “Latin race,” which gave rise to the term “Latin America.”34 Influenced by the French theory of a shared essence among nations speaking Latin-​based languages, they claimed an identity distinct from that of the expanding Anglophone United States. Some of these writers, like Argentine Juan Bautista Alberdi, explicitly associated “Latin” with European ancestry, while others described it in blurrier, less exclusive terms. For Panamanian Justo Arosemena, the Latin race was defined by its sentimentality and democracy, in opposition to the overly materialist and imperialist “Yankee race.”35 The “Latin race” also implied certain exclusions, particularly when it came to indigenous and black inhabitants. It left out speakers of indigenous languages. Arosemena, moreover, explicitly excluded black Caribbean immigrants. Most of his peers also excluded Haitians; they viewed the black republic with trepidation. Some Spanish Americans also excluded Brazil, either because of its heavily black and pardo population or because of its monarchy. The remaining Spanish and other Caribbean colonies were generally excluded from this race as well. Not all early nineteenth-​ century letrados expressed optimistic ideas about the Latin race. For one Colombian writer in 1850, “our indolent race,” resulting from the mixture of Europeans, Indians, and Africans, could only be improved with immigration of “the Caucasian race,” preferably “Germans and Anglo-​Saxons.”36 Indeed, newly independent governments launched schemes to attract Europeans. In some nations with large majority indigenous populations, perhaps unsurprisingly, the possibility of whitening through “absorption” did not seem to gain much traction. Nonetheless, the leaders of tenuous new republics needed the masses to form a citizenry, including those whom they labeled as inherently or culturally inferior and “uncivilized.” As during the independence wars, the criollos

34 Gobat, “The Invention of Latin America: A Transnational History of Anti-​Imperialism,” 1345–​75. 35 Aims McGuinness, “Searching for Latin America: Race and Sovereignty in the Americas in the 1850s,” in Race and Nation in Modern Latin America, ed. Nancy P. Appelbaum, Anne S. Macpherson, and Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt (Chapel Hill, NC, 2003). 36 R. Gutiérrez, “Raza Hispano-​Americana,” El Neo-​Granadino (Bogotá), August 30, 1850, 284. Alongside fiction that depicted interracial unions as foundational were other works that portrayed interracial sex as endangering the elite and weakening the nation; see López Rodríguez, Blancura y otras ficciones raciales. Negative views of each nation’s racial makeup would only become more pronounced as the century wore on, and ideals of white supremacy increasingly came to dominate the Atlantic world.

150  Re-imagining Democracy could not go it alone; they could only gain and retain power through alliances with popular sectors. Following are some examples of how indigenous and black republicans were uneasily and unevenly included in the early Spanish American republics, drawing mainly from two countries characterized by different demographic patterns.

From Indian Subjects to Indigenous Citizens: The Cases of Guatemala and Colombia As in the late colonial period, early republican laws and policies reflected disagreements and controversies over how and whether to assimilate indigenous communities. Many founders, particularly those of a liberal bent, viewed indigenous culture and landholdings as part of the colonial order they sought to sweep away, even as they extolled and mythologized pre-​ Columbian civilizations of the distant past.37 Pre-​Columbian Indians were cast as precursors to the nation, while contemporary Indians were seen as backward obstacles to national progress. Indigenous lands were potentially valuable for commercial agriculture, mining, or ranching. On the other hand, indigenous communities had long served as sources of tax revenues, coerced labor, and political or military support. Indigenous communities, moreover, took part in these debates. They drafted petitions, voted (when permitted), took up arms, went to court, and formed alliances with regional strongmen (caudillos). In so doing, they affected the resulting laws and policies regarding their communities. The new republics generally started out on an assimilationist note. Lawmakers replaced the colonial caste category of indio with “indigenous” (indíjena, per a common nineteenth-​century spelling, or indígena, as it is spelled now). They mandated the privatization of indigenous landholdings, abolition of tribute and draft labor, and dissolution of autonomous local indigenous cabildos (councils). Local indigenous authorities did not necessarily want such changes. They often resisted, negotiated, and otherwise impeded or modified initiatives that undercut colonial-​era protections. The colonial state had created cabildos and communal landholdings to facilitate exploitation, evangelization, and tribute collection, but these institutions 37 The most comprehensive of various studies of how criollos deployed pre-​Columbian symbols is Rebecca Earle, The Return of the Native: Indians and Myth-​Making in Spanish America, 1810-​1930 (Durham, NC, 2007).

From Caste to Race  151 also guaranteed the communities’ subsistence base and allowed indigenous leaders some autonomy and authority. In the Andean highlands of early republican Bolivia, some indigenous communities even petitioned to maintain their tribute and labor obligations in return for keeping their land and local institutions. Historian Tristan Platt referred to this arrangement as “the tribute pact.”38 Guatemala provides an example of a Mesoamerican country with a large and distinct indigenous Mayan population (in this respect it parallels the Andean nations of Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, with their Quechua and Aymara-​speaking majorities). Various Mayan ethnicities, each with its own language and dress, together constituted about half the nation’s population. Republican leaders of what was initially the Guatemalan state within the Federal Republic of Central America (1823–​1844) argued for political and economic assimilation, or rather, in their own words, “civilization.” The markers of civilization (e.g., Spanish language, European-​style clothing, literacy, private property) meant that most Mayans did not conform to the elite’s conception of what the Guatemalan citizenry should be. Liberal reforms of the 1820s that intended to “civilize” Mayan communities limited local autonomy, discouraged many outward expressions of Mayan culture, and increased taxation. Lawmakers made Spanish the official language and sought to eradicate Mayan languages. They abolished local indigenous institutions. In 1837, indigenous communities in Guatemala’s western highlands rose in revolt. Even as that uprising was repressed, unrest spread into mixed communities in eastern Guatemala, and ultimately brought to power the government of Rafael Carrera, a ladino of humble origins. He enjoyed support from some elite families and clerics as well as from indigenous authorities and some eastern ladinos, including black Guatemalans. In 1839, his government reinstated indigenous communal governments and institutionalized what historians have called an “ethnically differentiated citizenship,” or “republican república de indios,” whereby Mayans were treated as a “protected class of subjects.”39

38 Tristan Platt, Estado boliviano y ayllu andino. Tierra y tributo en el norte de Potosí (Lima, 1981). 39 The quotations are from, in order: Arturo Taracena Arriola, “From Assimilation to Segregation: Guatemala, 1800–​1944,” in Histories of Race and Racism: The Andes and Mesoamerica from Colonial Times to the Present, ed. Laura Gotkowitz (Durham, NC, 2011), 98; Greg Grandin, The Blood of Guatemala: A History of Race and Nation (Durham, NC, 2000), 104; and René Reeves, Ladinos with Ladinos, Indians with Indians: Land, Labor, and Regional Ethnic Conflict in the Making of Guatemala (Stanford, CA, 2006), 156.

152  Re-imagining Democracy Indigenous men, like women and children, were cast as legal minors, presumed incapable of managing their own affairs. Indigenous communities had to provide corvée labor for coastal plantations and infrastructure. The communities progressively lost agricultural land to non-​indigenous commercial farmers. Yet many indigenous leaders supported the paternalistic regime because it allowed them to reaffirm the local authority and relative privilege they had enjoyed under colonial law. For his part, Carrera could not afford an all-​out assault on indigenous power and landholdings. Indigenous support was crucial to his ability to quell a major rebellion and hold power until his death in 1865. In Guatemala, as elsewhere in Latin America, a division between liberals and conservatives was emerging. The most divisive issue was the power of the Catholic Church, which liberals sought to limit and conservatives to maintain. Conservatives such as Carrera were less committed than liberals to the ideal of an undifferentiated citizenry and generally more amenable to the preservation of colonial institutions. In the 1870s, liberals would again take power in Guatemala and push aggressively to privatize indigenous agricultural lands suitable for export coffee production. But in the first half of the century the liberal–​conservative divide in Guatemala, as elsewhere, was far from clear or consistent. Historians have shown that individual positions on indigenous landholdings and assimilation (like their positions on slavery and emancipation) tended to reflect less partisan ideology than local dynamics.40 The case of Colombia illustrates this early complexity. Unlike Guatemala, Colombia had a relatively small population labeled as Indian, at most around 20% by 1780, a percentage that continued to decline after independence.41 In the country’s Andean highlands, the majority of the population likely had indigenous ancestry, yet by the nineteenth century only a minority belonged to indigenous landholding communities, known in Colombia as resguardos. Several hundred resguardos were scattered across the new republic. They were especially concentrated in the southwestern highlands, where indigenous communities exercised considerable political and military power. Some of those communities, but not all, maintained their own languages and distinctive dress. Following patterns that began in the colonial period, however, 40 Reeves, Ladinos with Ladinos. 41 Andrews, Afro-​Latin America, 41. Nineteenth-​century Colombian geographer Felipe Pérez estimated 15% in his Geografía general física i política de los Estados Unidos de Colombia y geografía particular de la ciudad de Bogotá (Bogotá, 1883), 171. Recent censuses put the indigenous population at under 5%.

From Caste to Race  153 non-​indigenous settlers established farms, ranches, and mining claims on indigenous lands. As in Guatemala, Colombian leaders vacillated between assimilationist and segregationist impulses.42 As early as 1810, as revolutionary fervour first took hold, some provincial governments called for the dissolution of resguardos. Likewise, in 1821, the Congress of Cucutá called for the abolition of indigenous tribute and communal lands in all of Gran Colombia. In 1828, however, Bolívar, who had assumed dictatorial powers, decreed the preservation of resguardos. This move allowed him to reinstate tribute, under another name, in an effort to raise revenues. In 1832, after the dissolution of Gran Colombia, the Republic of New Granada (as present-​day Colombia was then known) once again abolished tribute and mandated the surveying and division of resguardos among indigenous households, with land set aside for schools and neighboring towns.43 Privatization seemed to accelerate during the 1840s–​1850s, as export agriculture increased. Some elite observers complained of the pernicious effects of disentailment in the most affected provinces, such as rising food costs and increased landlessness and poverty. But Colombian disentailment was halting and never fully completed. As historian Lina del Castillo has shown, trained surveyors were few and expensive, and indigenous people found ways to block the surveys.44 Internal divisions further complicated the process. Disputes emerged over who deserved a share in communal lands, for example whether outsiders who married indigenous women could receive land, and whether women who married outside of the community should be ejected. The ethnic and geographic boundaries between neighboring indigenous communities were often unclear and disputed.45 The basic question of who constituted an indíjena, with legal right to resguardo lands, remained unresolved at mid-​century and long after. Indigenous resistance affected the laws governing their lands. Especially in the southwestern regions known as El Cauca and Pasto, indigenous communities enjoyed a history of autonomy, strong ethnic identities, and military mobilization. They formed military alliances with criollo strongmen, 42 Safford, “Race, Integration, and Progress.” 43 Tribute was however retained in Ecuador and reinstated in Bolivia and Peru. Liberal reforms would sweep out tribute in Peru in 1854, in Ecuador in 1857, and in Bolivia in 1874. 44 Del Castillo, Crafting a Republic for the World: Scientific, Geographic, and Historiographic Inventions of Colombia (Lincoln, NE, 2018). 45 Gloria Lopera Mesa, “ ‘We Have The Land Titles.’ Indigenous Litigants and Privatization of Resguardos in Colombia,” PhD thesis, Florida International University, 2021.

154  Re-imagining Democracy such as José María Obando in the 1830s and Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera in the 1850s–​1860s. Indigenous communities of El Cauca pressured successfully for provincial legislators (both conservative and liberal) to enact laws to protect communal landholdings and reinforce the legal authority of indigenous cabildos. Yet some other regional governments pressed forward with disentailment. Policies toward resguardos—​like so much else in Colombian history—​varied significantly by region. Indigenous authorities also varied in their responses to privatization, which could provide opportunities for economic advancement, particularly for individuals who were well-​positioned to accumulate land when communities dissolved. Indigenous leaders sometimes colluded with local officials in the process of disentailment, facilitating the liquidation of their communities. But when indigenous landholdings and cabildos were dissolved, indigenous leaders lost authority. Meanwhile, poorer indígenas ended up landless, swelling the numbers of the mobile rural proletariat or working as tenant farmers on their ancestral lands. Outsiders took good agricultural land. Therefore, indigenous authorities and their constituents frequently protested and resisted disentailment. With the assistance of local lawyers and scribes, indigenous authorities deployed the terminology of republicanism, citing their constitutional rights. For example, petitioners from the community of Guane in Colombia’s northeastern highlands pointed out that forcing indígenas and not whites to cede land for a school was a violation of constitutional guarantees of equality for all citizens.46 Throughout the Andes (and by extension Mesoamerica), according to scholars such as Mark Thurner and Brooke Larson, “creole elites and indigenous peasantries engaged in a mirror-​game of ambivalent republicanismo.”47 At the same time, indigenous communities recurred to colonial tropes that equated indigeneity with poverty, misery, and incapacity, calling for protection by a benevolent state. They also cited rights they had enjoyed under the colonial government to bolster their demands.

46 Safford, “Race, Integration, and Progress,” 14. 47 Larson, Trials of Nation Making, 11, drawing on Mark Thurner, From Two Republics to One Divided: Contradictions of Postcolonial Nationmaking in Andean Peru (Durham, NC, 1997). Sanders goes further: indígenas in El Cauca laid “claim to a citizenship (and republicanism) that did not deny their Indian identity but rather sought to protect it within the new nation,” James Sanders, “‘Belonging to the Great Granadan Family:’ Partisan Struggle and the Construction of Indigenous Identity and Politics in Southwestern Colombia, 1849-​1890,” in Race and Nation in Modern Latin America , 61.

From Caste to Race  155 In Colombia, Guatemala, and elsewhere, privatization of communal land was linked with ethnic change. Along with losing their communally held lands and cabildos, disentailed indigenous communities often shed cultural practices and even their identities as indigenous, becoming known as mestizos (ladinos in Guatemala and other parts of Central America). Yet, despite losses, sedentary indigenous citizens across Spanish America succeeded in preserving institutions and much of their land base, at least until new economic pressures came to bear due to a widespread surge in export commodity production in the late nineteenth century.

Black Liberalism: The Case of Southwestern Colombia By mid-​century in Colombia and several other countries, liberal factions that emphasized democracy and equality took power. Along with dividing indigenous landholdings, liberal governments in the late 1840s and 1850s emancipated slaves, expanded suffrage, founded cross-​class/​interracial political clubs, and confiscated church properties, among other reforms. Universal male suffrage was enacted in Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela (briefly), and Mexico. Liberals, in particular, allied with free pardos and blacks, including those newly emancipated and enfranchised. Given that Spanish American liberals often opposed slavery, it is not surprising that people of African descent tended to join them. Liberals’ emphasis on liberty and equality resonated with Afro-​Latin American struggles against enslavement and discrimination. Yet some conservative leaders such as Rafael Carrera, discussed above, and, most famously, Argentine dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas, also successfully courted pardo and black support. Colombia provides a salient example of mid-​century black and pardo liberal activism (other cases, not explored here, include Peru, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Panama, which then still formed part of Colombia).48 While Colombia’s indigenous population at this time was less than 20% of its total and falling, the free population of known African descent constituted at least 30%.49 Meanwhile, at the time of independence, something under 10% of the population remained enslaved. Some free and

48 On Central America see Lowell Gudmundson and Justin Wolfe, Blacks and Blackness in Central America: Between Race and Place (Durham, NC, 2000). 49 Andrews, Afro-​Latin America, 41; Pérez, Geografía general, 171.

156  Re-imagining Democracy enslaved people of African descent supported Obando in the 1839–​1842 civil war, the different sides of which did not follow a neat ideological divide. By the late 1840s, however, as the labels of liberal and conservative were becoming salient in Colombian politics, Colombians of African descent mostly joined the liberals, particularly in the Caribbean and the southwestern Cauca region50 In the sugar-​producing Cauca River valley, part of the larger province of El Cauca, enslaved people rebelled, with liberal support, against conservative slaveholders who opposed abolition. A liberal-​dominated congress then enacted abolition nationally in 1852, followed by universal male suffrage in the 1853 constitution. According to James Sanders, black and pardo liberals in the Cauca avidly embraced the language of republican citizenship.51 They preferred the equalizing identity of ciudadano (citizen) over the old caste labels of negro, pardo, or mulato. Nonetheless, opponents continued to refer to them, and by extension all the region’s liberals, as black, alluding to negative stereotypes that associated African descent with unbridled violence and sexuality. The Cauca valley became notorious in the country as a hotbed of black and brown militancy; conservatives and even many liberals looked on in horror. By the 1860s letrados described the region as “made up of blacks, zambos, and mulattos, assassins and thieves.”52 According to Sanders, Afro-​Caucanos “appropriated and reframed” liberalism.53 Black and brown liberals sought more economic and social equality than party leaders were willing to concede, seeking concessions such as ending liquor monopolies. The monopolies hurt small producers, many of whom were women. Afro-​Caucanos protested vagrancy laws, and, most importantly, defended poor people’s access to public natural resources, claiming a “natural right” to land, which the leaders of their own party opposed. In Colombia such conflicts, in conjunction with economic malaise and civil wars, would ultimately divide liberals, bringing an end to liberal dominance in the 1880s and the ascendance of conservative-​party rule until 1930. By contrast, liberals would consolidate control over most national governments elsewhere in late nineteenth-​century Latin America, having come to power in civil wars with black, pardo, and in some countries indigenous support. 50 On the Colombian Caribbean, see Jason McGraw, The Work of Recognition: Caribbean Colombia and the Post-​Emancipation Struggle for Citizenship (Chapel Hill, NC, 2014). 51 James E. Sanders, “ ‘Citizens of a Free People’: Popular Liberalism and Race in Nineteenth-​ Century Southwestern Colombia, Hispanic American Historical Review 84, no. 2 (2004). 52 Quoted in Sanders, “ ‘Citizens of a Free People,’ ” 302. 53 Ibid., 308.

From Caste to Race  157 Interracial and cross-​class alliances often did not turn out quite the way either side wanted. Such alliances broke down when popular mobilization threatened the authority and privilege of regional and national elites. Such alliances had facilitated independence from Spain and constituted a central feature of the civil wars that wracked republican Spanish America in the nineteenth century. Despite their ephemeral nature, these alliances had important effects on the nations that emerged. Indigenous and Afro-​Latin American participation in independence and civil wars—​as well as in political clubs, elections, and local governments—​shaped an ethos of egalitarian republicanism, ended legal slavery, allowed some indigenous communities to preserve their land base and identities, and ultimately helped to bring liberals to power throughout most of Spanish America in the second half of the century.

Conclusion: New Mule and New Riders Historian John Lynch, writing in 1973, described post-​colonial Mexico as “new mule, same rider.”54 Despite independence and new republican forms of governments, he and other scholars argued that Spanish American society remained essentially colonial, and criollo elites continued to exploit and manipulate the masses. In this view, Spanish American independence “revolutions” were insufficiently revolutionary—​indeed they were essentially reactionary—​and failed to upend a rigid and hierarchical social order. Independence leaders’ egalitarian rhetoric was a facade that masked criollo elites’ goals of preserving their own privilege. The basic idea in this argument, that post-​colonial societies have remained prisoners of colonialism, has long been debated in Spanish American historiography and by extension in the larger field of Latin American studies. It influences important twentieth-​and twenty-​first century scholarly paradigms such as dependency theory and decoloniality. Colonial rule did lay the basis for systemic racism, which has continued to pervade Latin American societies even today, although often in more subtle and fluid—​and thus more easily deniable—​ways than in the neighboring United States or much of the rest of the Caribbean. White criollos 54 John Lynch, The Spanish-​ American Revolutions, 1808-​ 1826 (2nd ed., New York, 1986 [1973]), 326.

158  Re-imagining Democracy did seek to preserve their privilege even as they emphasized equality. Republican letrados and letradas from Mexico to the Southern Cone shared Bolívar’s unease about the population’s fitness for democracy. But “new mule, same rider” overstates continuity. More recent historiography from the 1990s onward, upon which this essay is based, makes clear that earlier historians such as Lynch underestimated rupture, overestimated caste rigidity, overestimated the power of criollo elites, and, perhaps most importantly, underestimated the agency of non-​elites.55 Historians now argue that the mobilization of the black and brown majorities in the Age of Revolution and nineteenth-​century civil wars transformed Latin America in multiple and profound ways. One obvious change was that people of known African or indigenous descent broke into the ruling class. Of course, one can argue that leaders like Santa Cruz, Guerrero, or Mexico’s indigenous mid-​century president Benito Juárez were rare exceptions that proved the rule, given that white criollos constituted the majority of the new nations’ political and economic elites. Still, history is about more than its leading men. The presence of black and brown leaders in national palaces was the result of their black and brown supporters’ massive mobilization in the key conflicts that founded and shaped the new nations. Beyond the handful of famous individuals, many more men of African and indigenous descent joined political clubs, voted in elections, were elected to local political office, fought in civil wars, and rose through the ranks of the military. The active military and political participation of enslaved people, indigenous people, and all manner of free people of color forced criollo leaders to abolish caste laws, equate patriotism with male equality, expand male suffrage, preserve indigenous institutions, slow down disentailment, and abolish slavery. Early republican leaders did not always keep their promises to their subaltern allies, whom they often regarded with trepidation and disdain. But through the efforts of enslaved men and women and their allies, legal chattel slavery did come to an end in most Spanish American republics even as it continued in the United States, Brazil, and the remaining Spanish imperial colonies of Cuba and Puerto Rico. Sedentary indigenous communities, meanwhile, conserved part of their land base and institutions, which allowed them to preserve indigenous identities, cultural practices, and languages.



55 See Further Reading for this chapter.

From Caste to Race  159 Women of all classes and colors participated in uprisings, conspiracies, and negotiations. Even those who were still formally excluded from politics—​ whether because they were female, enslaved, illiterate, or otherwise deemed to be “uncivilized”—​took part in the interracial alliances that indelibly shaped the new Spanish American republics of the early nineteenth century.

7 Democracy and Liberal Constitutionalism José Antonio Aguilar Rivera and Eduardo Zimmermann

The first decades of the nineteenth century witnessed the emergence of new Latin American and Caribbean nations in an explosive period of constitution-​ making. The region became a laboratory of experimentation, leading to an “Age of Constitutions” that coincided with the Age of Revolution. The first constitutions of the emerging states were issued by Haiti (1805–​1811), Venezuela (1811), and several provinces in New Granada (1811–​1812), followed by the Cádiz Constitution, which was enforced in the territories that remained loyal to Spain after it reached America in September 1812. Their numbers multiplied in subsequent years. Marie-​Danielle Demélas has counted seventy-​four constitutional texts between 1810 and 1830,1 though one should perhaps distinguish laws and decrees of a constitutional nature from constitutions proper and charters, and national from provincial constitutions. The tendency to produce new constitutions did not abate after 1830. What was most notable, however, was not the number of constitutional texts and projects discussed and sanctioned (among which some were short-​lived, though others had a long life), but rather the willingness to experiment with a wide variety of existing models and novel formulas. These constitutions, fundamental laws, and constitutional edicts were sanctioned in various ways by national or provincial assemblies, or granted by the emperor in the case of the Brazilian 1824 “Charter.” By the 1870s, collecting the region’s constitutional texts was argued to have become necessary for an understanding of its politics, “marked by colonialism and revolution”.2 1 Marie-​Danielle Demélas, “Las primeras constituciones de la América española (c. 1810-​ 1830),” Revista de Historia Americana y Argentina, no. 45 (2010): 48–​50; M. C. Mirow, “The Age of Constitutions in the Americas,” Law and History Review, no. 32 (2014): 229–​35. 2 Justo Arosemena, Constituciones políticas de la América meridional reunidas y comentadas por Justo Arosemena. Abogado de Colombia y de Chile, 2 vols. (Le Havre, 1870), with a second edition in 1878 under the title Estudios constitucionales sobre los gobiernos de América Latina (Paris, 1878). In his introduction, Arosemena emphasized the origins of the new nations in the context of “el coloniaje y la revolución.” José Antonio Aguilar Rivera and Eduardo Zimmermann, Democracy and Liberal Constitutionalism In: Re-​imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–​1870. Edited by: Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, Joanna Innes, and Mark Philp, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/​oso/​9780197631577.003.0007

Democracy and Liberal Constitutionalism  161 Recent historiography on the development of Western constitutionalism has set this rich Latin American experience in a wider spatial framework, revealing the common challenges and dilemmas faced by constitution-​makers in the Atlantic world. It has been suggested that the new “Creole constitutionalism” tended to converge on similar institutional solutions: unified, centralized, strongly presidentialist political systems. Others have emphasized issues that emerged as especially challenging in this context: the definition of sovereignty and its locus (the Nation, the People, or the peoples of multiple states); the idea and practice of representation (ancient and modern, territorial or corporative); and the allocation of jurisdiction (to nations, provinces, or cities). The new constitutions also had to settle relations between the branches of government, to define the place of the Catholic religion in the new political order, and to specify individual rights.3 While “democracy” was not entirely absent from early constitutional discussions in the region, the first constitutional arrangements were generally adopted after explicit dismissals of “absolute democracy.”4 Because it was feared and considered part of the ancient, not the modern, world, a deputy in the constituent congress that created Gran Colombia in 1821 proposed that the word democracy should be excluded from the fundamental article of the constitution. This constitution defined the form of the government that it instituted in words that had become common in previous constitutions: “popular representative.”5 Deputies in the 1829 constitutional assembly in Uruguay also distanced themselves from “democracy,” though some endorsed the system of direct election for the Lower Chamber of the legislature as “democratic.”6 Exceptionally, the 1812 constitution of the province of Barcelona, Venezuela, defined its government as “purely popular and democratic in the rigorous meaning of this word.” Bolívar’s draft of the constitution for Bolivia in 1826 was also exceptional in terming “the government” a “representative democracy.”7 That was not the case elsewhere in the

3 Examples of these different previous approaches in Joshua Simon, The Ideology of Creole Revolution: Imperialism and Independence in American and Latin American Political Thought (Cambridge, UK, 2017); Annino and Ternavasio, El laboratorio constitucional, 11; José M. Portillo Valdés, Historia mínima del constitucionalismo en América Latina (Mexico City, 2016); Antonio Annino and Marcela Ternavasio, eds., El laboratorio constitucional iberoamericano: 1807/​1808-​1830 (Madrid, 2012). 4 Congreso de Cúcuta, Libro de Actas (Bogotá, 1923), 73. 5 Constitución de la República de Colombia (Rosario de Cúcuta, 1821), 5. 6 Actas de la Asamblea General Constituyente y Legislativa del Estado, 3 vols. (Montevideo, 1897), 2:62, 71. 7 Simón Bolívar. El Libertador. Writings of Simón Bolívar, ed. David Bushnell (Oxford, 2003), 64.

162  Re-imagining Democracy region in the aftermath of independence. By the 1850s, however, the terms of the constitutional debate had changed. In Bases, the document that inspired the Argentine constitution of 1853, Juan Bautista Alberdi stated that “democracy . . . more than a form is the very essence of government.”8 In Mexico, as will be shown below, some of the important issues debated at the constitutional congress of 1857 were discussed in relation to the “democratic system.” The constitutions of New Granada in 1853 and Mexico in 1857 both defined their governments as “democratic.” This chapter offers an examination of Latin American (and Haitian) constitutionalism from independence to 1870 and explores the tensions between constitutionalism and democracy as the latter was being re-​imagined. In the next section we discuss the dilemmas that confronted the first constitution-​ makers and the models they had at hand. We then look at the various means through which the early constitutions were diffused and popularized, before examining in more detail some of the main components of the constitutions and how they evolved during the period. Our final section looks at key constitutional debates in Mexico and Argentina to explore what democracy meant for their constitution-​makers.

The Origins of Latin American and Caribbean Constitutionalism Haitian constitutions were the first in Latin America and the Caribbean. Though in acquiring a constitution Haiti followed the example of France and French satellite states, specific provisions were tailored to local circumstances. Toussaint Louverture’s 1801 constitution for Saint Domingue (among other things, making him governor for life), though conceived as regulating a component within a larger French empire, was seen by Bonaparte as a challenge. The several constitutions of independent Haiti instituted a variety of political systems: 1805 (a Haitian empire), 1806 (a southern republic), 1807

8 Juan Bautista Alberdi, Bases y punto de partida para la organización política de la República Argentina (Buenos Aires, [1852] 1991), 134. Alberdi saw the constitutions of the first half of the century as misguided. Independence and liberty had been their only goals, fueled by political cultures in which “military glory was the most sought-​after prize. Trade and material well-​being were presented as lackluster things.” But by the mid-​nineteenth century, Alberdi argued, things were seen differently. Constitutions had to be the instruments for the material, economic, and social transformation of the region. Alberdi, Bases, English translation in Liberal Thought in Argentina, 1837-​1940, ed. N. Botana and E. Gallo (Indianapolis, IN, 2013), 116–​117.

Democracy and Liberal Constitutionalism  163 (a northern republic), 1811 (a northern kingdom), and 1816 (a united republic). All combined radically libertarian and egalitarian elements with an equally strong paternalism and concentration of power in the figure of the president or emperor, who was usually also the commander in chief of the armed forces. These texts outlined systems of government, but as much or more they were ideological statements projecting aspirations to a particular national identity, premised on the rejection of slavery and discrimination on the basis of skin color.9 As we shall see, the 1816 Haitian text inspired some of the most innovative elements of the 1826 Bolivian constitution drafted by Simón Bolívar. Two intellectual conversations were particularly salient once the process of constitution-​making took off on the mainland: one with US constitutionalism, the other with the Spanish Cortes that issued the Cádiz Constitution of 1812. US texts were available in the region. A French translation of a volume with texts of the US constitutions was confiscated from the library of Antonio Nariño by the Spanish authorities in Bogotá in 1794.10 Hispanic American letrados themselves translated key texts, which circulated widely after 1811. Between 1820 and 1850, Philadelphia and New Orleans, with their printing presses and commercial networks with Latin American ports, operated as centers for the diffusion of the “six seminal documents” (the Declaration of Independence, the first state constitutions, the Articles of Confederation, the US Constitution, The Federalist Papers, and the Bill of Rights).11 Attempts to put these principles into practice gave rise to debates about alleged “cultural” deficiencies in the Latin American societies that obstructed the working of the model. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in those terms about the Mexican case; a long list of followers (down to the present day) have given catalogues of reasons for “the success of constitutionalism in the United States and its failure in Latin America.”12 Many prominent features of Latin American constitutionalism—​including presidentialism, federalism, the division of 9 Julia Gaffield, “Complexities of Imagining Haiti: A Study of National Constitutions, 1801-​1807,” Journal of Social History 41, no. 1 (2007): 81–​103. For the complete texts of the constitutions, Laurent Dubois, Julia Gaffield, and Michael Acacia, eds., Constitutional Documents of Haiti 1790-​1860 (Berlin, 2013). 10 Recueil des loix constitutives des colonies angloises confederéees sous la dénomination d’etas-​Unis de l’Amérique septentrionales (Philadelphia, 1778), in El constitucionalismo fundacional, 97. 11 See Miguel García de Sena, La independencia de la Costa Firme justificada por Thomas Paine treinta años ha (Philadelphia, 1811). We have consulted a reprinted edition (Caracas, 1949). 12 Keith S. Rosenn, “The Success of Constitutionalism in the United States and its Failure in Latin America: An Explanation,” Inter-​American Law Review 22, no. 1 (1990–​1991): 1–​39; Miguel Schor, “Constitutionalism through the Looking Glass of Latin America,” Texas International Law Journal 41, no. 1 (2006): 1–​38.

164  Re-imagining Democracy powers, and so forth—​were taken from the Philadelphia constitution according to complex processes of historical adaptation, with uneven results. Other historians have argued that the 1812 Cádiz Constitution and its impact in the region reveal an “endogenous” Hispanic liberal constitutionalism. Indeed, the notion of “national sovereignty,” reproduced in almost all the Latin American constitutions of the period, was a legacy of Cádiz. Another, characteristic of almost all the Latin American texts, was the adoption of the Catholic religion as the state religion and an almost absolute intolerance of the public practice of other faiths. Spanish American constitution-​makers also had in mind the British “model,” not least because many of the independence-​ era leaders had spent many years in London (starting with Francisco de Miranda but later including Simón Bolívar, Andrés Bello, and Vicente Rocafuerte, among others). They appreciated the British tradition of the mixed constitution, the virtues of its parliamentary system, and its ability to combine reform and stability. Simón Bolívar, for example, highlighted English legislative and constitutional precedents in some of his discussions of constitutional models, such as his Jamaica Letter (1815) and his speech to the Angostura Congress (1819). Given the availability of these models, two sets of questions were repeatedly posed for the new community of legislators and constitution-​makers. First, were the new nations better served by copying or adapting existing models, or by growing constitutions organically from the culture of the country? In addressing the Angostura Congress in 1819, Simón Bolívar made an early and spirited defense of a historical approach: Do we not read in the Spirit of the Laws that [laws] must be suitable to the country for which they are written? That it is an astonishing coincidence for the laws of one nation to be applicable to another? That they must take into account the physical aspect of the country, its climate, the nature of its terrain, its location, size, and the way of life of its people? That they must reflect the degree of freedom that the constitution can support, the religion of the inhabitants as well as their inclinations, their standard of living, their number, their commerce, their customs, and their character? This then is the code we should consult, not the one written for Washington!13



13 El Libertador, 35, 37.

Democracy and Liberal Constitutionalism  165 Another key question was whether the new constitutional texts should aim to advance the rights frequently proclaimed during the “Age of Revolutions,” or whether by contrast they should strive above all to contain what was quickly seen as the threat of social and political instability and to maintain order. Latin American constitutions were in practice often “Janus-​faced,”14 attempting to combine universalism and particularism in their ideological foundations, and order and liberty in their institutional designs. The Brazilian constitution of 1824 provides an example of the ways in which these polarizing forces of order and liberty could affect constitutional development. This constitution was promulgated by Emperor Dom Pedro after he had rejected a draft constitution and dissolved the assembly responsible for it in 1823. That draft constitution had been based on the 1822 Portuguese constitution, which was in turn an adaptation of the 1812 liberal Cádiz Constitution. Dom Pedro then proceeded to write a Carta Constitucional for Portugal, which mostly followed the Brazilian 1824 text. Both these latter texts established a hereditary monarchy, with a bicameral legislature and a strong executive power. They were, as Gabriel Paquette points out, “an attempt to re-​outfit absolutism with the political language of purportedly ‘moderate’ constitutionalism.”15

Printed Constitutionalism and the “Literalization of Sovereignty” Latin American and Caribbean constitution-​makers looked, with more or less enthusiasm, to models from elsewhere. They also looked to and learned from each other. The period saw print technology expand, in the context of affirmations of freedom of the press and expression. In her recent analysis of hundreds of constitutions sanctioned in different countries and continents between the American Declaration of Independence and the mid-​nineteenth century, Linda Colley concludes that the clauses referring to freedom of the press were more numerous than those establishing popular sovereignty, religious freedom, or habeas corpus.16 The importance of the press in laying 14 Kelly L. Grotke and Markus Prutsch, eds., Constitutionalism, Legitimacy, and Power: Nineteenth-​ Century Experiences (Oxford, 2014), 11–​12. 15 Gabriel Paquette, Imperial Portugal in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions. The Luso-​Brazilian World, c. 1770-​1850 (Cambridge, 2013), 165. 16 Linda Colley, The Gun, the Ship and the Pen: Warfare, Constitutions and the Making of the Modern World (London, 2021). 127–​28.

166  Re-imagining Democracy foundations for a new political order was stressed by the Venezuelan newspaper El Constitucional Caraqueño in 1824: “. . . we can guarantee that the throne on which liberty and justice base their sovereignty is only secured in the faculty of writing. Arms can open up a path to it; but freedom of the press is the architect that calculates, measures, polishes, adorns and embellishes the ground on which the people march towards its happiness.” The newspaper proceeded to print in successive editions the complete text of the 1824 Mexican constitution.17 An expanded and free press made possible the wide circulation of the constitutions, both within communities and throughout the region. Constitutional texts were published in single volumes for wide distribution and, in turn, were reproduced by newspapers, often with continental impact. In the first decade of the new century, New Granada’s El Redactor Americano (1806–​1809) reported retrospectively on the slave rebellions in the Caribbean and included the text of one of the early Haitian constitutions. Printed versions of one of the earliest Hispanic American constitutions, the 1811 Constitución de Cundinamarca (New Granada), were circulated locally but also sent to other governments of the region in Lima, Panama City, and Mexico City. The authors of the 1818 Chilean constitution decided to print and distribute the text “in all of the cities, villages and towns of the state.” In 1820, alongside news of the liberal revolution in Spain, the Correo del Orinoco announced that the new Constitución política del Estado de Venezuela was for sale in its offices.18 These efforts must have helped constitutions to be seen as expressions of the character of whole communities. Writing about similar processes in the United States, Michael Warner described the circulation of printed constitutional texts as “literalizing the doctrine of popular sovereignty.”19 Though constitutions were rarely subject to popular ratification, nonetheless the innumerable public oaths, demonstrations of allegiance, parades, and celebrations that ensued when they were issued played a similar role by symbolically manifesting popular acceptance and identification with these 17 El Constitucional Caraqueño, September 13, 1824 (our translation). 18 V. Uribe-​Urán, “Constitución. Colombia,” in Diccionario I, ed. Fernandez Sebastián, 366; Isidro Vanegas, “La constitución de Cundinamarca,” Historia constitucional, no. 12 (2011): 262–​63; Colley, The Gun, the Ship and the Pen, 130; El Correo del Orinoco, no. 55, March 18, 1820. Toussaint Louverture’s constitution of 1801 had already been translated and published by at least 24 newspapers in the United States. David A. Bell, Men on Horseback. The Power of Charisma in the Age of Revolution (New York, 2020), 159. 19 Michael Warner, The Letters of the Republic. Publication and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-​ Century America, (Cambridge, MA, 1990), 97, 107–​8.

Democracy and Liberal Constitutionalism  167 instruments. For example, approval of the 1811 Cundinamarca constitution was accompanied in Bogotá by a horseback parade formed by two members of each of the branches of government and military officers. Once this parade arrived at the central plaza, a salvo of cannon shots saluted the occasion, and a public reading of the government decrees broadcast the authorities’ obligation to comply with and enforce constitutional principles. Similar ceremonies were conducted outside Bogotá, where the text of the constitution was read to the vecinos, who were then asked if they agreed with it before swearing an oath to the constitution.20 Public oaths to the Cádiz Constitution in Mexico in 1820 were repeated in the different states, following procedures that the Spanish Cortes had established and adding others at the behest of local authorities. In St. Augustine, East Florida, local residents “translated into stone” their adoption of the Cádiz text, erecting a monument (that still stands today) to commemorate the occasion.21 Some of the celebrations were registered in pamphlets that were then circulated among the public. In the small town of Marinilla, in New Granada, the constitution of 1832 was officially published in a ceremony where citizens gathered, following the announcement of the event by gunshots. The secretary of the municipality read aloud the text of the constitution, with intervals during which there was music and fireworks, and shouts praising the constitution. A “solemn mass” was offered at the local church the following day.22 Constitutions were given yet further reach by the publication of political catechisms that, in the format of questions and answers and in plain language, aimed at instructing school children and popular sectors about the fundamental principles of the new republics. These texts usually started by defining what a constitution was, as did the Catecismo Político issued in Colombia in 1824: “An orderly collection of the fundamental or political laws of a nation.”23 That is, it went on to explain, the laws that “establish the form of government.” A similar text published in Chile in 1828 described 20 Isidro Vanegas, El constitucionalismo fundacional (Bogotá, 2012), 15. 21 Vanegas, “La constitución de Cundinamarca,” 263; Ivana Frasquet, “Se obedece y se cumple. La jura de la Constitución de Cádiz en México en 1820,” in Visiones y revisiones de la independencia americana. La Constitución de Cádiz y las constituciones iberoamericanas, ed. I. Álvarez and J. Sánchez (Salamanca, 2007), 217–​45. The appendix contains a detailed account of the ceremonies in towns and villages in the Mexican states. Matthew C. Mirow, “Translating into Stone: The Monument to the Constitution of Cadiz in Saint Augustine, Florida,” in David Hook and Graciela Iglesias-​Rogers, eds., Translations in Times of Disruption (Basingstoke, 2017), 101–​17. 22 Discurso pronunciado en la Iglesia parroquial de la Villa de Marinilla . . . en la misa solemne que por orden superior se manda celebrar al otro día de publicada la constitución (Rionegro, 1832). 23 Catecismo político arreglado a la constitución de la república de Colombia de 30 de agosto de 1821 para el uso de las escuelas primarias (Bogotá, 1824), 6.

168  Re-imagining Democracy constitutions as “pacts made among all citizens through their representatives” about the mutual rights and duties underpinning the “bases of the social organization.”24 Typically, these documents devoted separate chapters to explaining the rights and duties of citizens, the division and functions of the various branches of power, and the way their members were elected or appointed, offering in fact a summary of the constitutions. Some, like the Colombian and Chilean catechisms, were relatively short texts; others, like that produced by the Ecuadorian Luis Fernando Vivero (Lecciones de política según los principios del sistema popular representativo adoptado por las naciones americanas) were more comprehensive.25 The practice of producing constitutional manuals to instruct the wider public continued through the period, at both the national and the local levels. In the town of Socorro, in Colombia in 1865, for example, a provincial teacher published La Constitución del estado soberano de Santander puesta al alcance del pueblo [The Constitution of the Sovereign State of Santander made available to the People].26 In discussions of the forms of government in these texts, the language of democracy sometimes figured. Both the Colombian text of 1824 and the Chilean text of 1829 acknowledged the three classic types of government (“constitutions” in the Chilean vocabulary): monarchical, democratic, and aristocratic. Both identified their respective regimes with popular, representative government. The Chilean text in this context distinguished “pure” from “representative democracy,” adding that the latter form, in which the people act through their elected representatives, was the government of the “new republics of America.”27 In teaching law, Spanish American universities in the colonial period included accounts of natural law and ways of constituting states. Probably 24 Breve esposición de la constitución chilena o diálogo entre un ciudadano y un diputado al Congreso de 1828 (Santiago, 1829), 14. 25 Luis Fernando Vivero, Lecciones de política según los principios del sistema popular representativo adoptado por las naciones americanas (Paris, 1827). 26 Adriano Páez, La constitución del estado soberano de Santander puesta al alcance del pueblo (Socorro, 1865). See also Cerbeleón Pinzón, Catecismo republicano de instrucción popular (Bogotá, 1864), commissioned by the Colombian president for the instruction of the members of the army, though the author stated that it was written to reach all schools, private and public, to be used for “popular instruction.” 27 Breve esposición, 17–​19. Similar structure and content can be found in two Argentine “civic catechisms” of the 1860s: José María Cantilo, La Constitución Arjentina esplicada sencillamente para la instrucción de la juventud. Con la Acta de Independencia y el Himno Nacional (Buenos Aires, 1866); and Clodomiro Quiroga, Manual del Ciudadano. Testo sobre el Gobierno. Cuidadosamente anotado con numerosas definiciones y citas explicativas de la Constitución, tomadas de Jueces y Estadistas Americanos, Europeos y Arjentinos, y de otras autoridades respetables (Buenos Aires, 1872).

Democracy and Liberal Constitutionalism  169 “democracy”—​after all, a classical and established concept—​earned some mentions in that context.28 Shortly after independence, some universities introduced courses in ciencia constitucional and employed treatises on constitutional law that engaged with “democracy” as it was then coming to be understood. References ranged from more traditional discussions regarding the forms of government, to positive endorsements of democracy and accounts of institutions now conceived to embody it. In New Granada in the 1840s, students at the Colejio de San Bartolomé sat public examinations in which they were asked to address the benefits of “popular, representative, responsible, elective and alternating” governments; separation of powers; freedom of the press; bicameralism; and the banning of consecutive presidential reelection.29 While foreign treatises on constitutional law, like that of Benjamin Constant, circulated in both French and Spanish, Latin Americans soon also produced their own books for use in local university teaching. In 1839, for example, Antonio del Real, professor at the Universidad del Magdalena e Istmo in Cartagena, published Elementos de Derecho constitucional, in which he not only discussed the general principles of the discipline but also offered a “critical examination” of the New Granada constitution. In 1852, José María Samper published in Bogotá his Cuaderno que contiene la esplicación de los principios cardinales de ciencia constitutional. While Del Eal kept his discussion of democracy at the level of the forms of government, Samper seemed to identify constitutional science with democratic government, whose key principles he outlined: “all public function originates in the power of the people, in the equality and universality of political rights, and in the responsibility and alternation of those who govern.” Given the popular origins of democratic governments, Samper noted, it was all the more necessary that citizens be educated in constitutional science so they could exercise their rights, including the right of self-​government. Along similar lines, Colombian Florentino González explained in detail in his Lecciones de Derecho Constitucional (an 1869 compendium of his Constitutional Law lectures at the University of Buenos Aires) the links between the theory of the “representative democratic republic” and the growing influence of the

28 See discussion by Eduardo Posada-​Carbo in his introductory chapter on language. 29 See the leaflets: La clase de derecho público (Bogotá, n.d., 184?), and Ciencia constitutional (Bogotá, 1842) available in the digital collection of the Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia: https://​cata​ logo​enli​nea.bib​liot​ecan​acio​nal.gov.co/​cli​ent/​es_​ES/​bd/​?dt=​list

170  Re-imagining Democracy US constitutional model, which he suggested should be taken as a guide for South America in general.30 If in many cases Latin American constitutions were given popular appeal through symbolic and material presentations, they were nonetheless fundamentally juridical-​political programmatic statements, whose contents were expected to organize and regulate life under new political orders. The next section analyzes in more detail some of these provisions.

The Content of Nineteenth-​Century Latin American Constitutions After an early experimental period, as the new nations emerged, national constitutions were generally the pace-​ setters. This section will focus on those. Constitutional texts were generally wide in scope. They were usually structured into chapters that first defined the territorial boundaries of the jurisdiction in question and the criteria one had to meet to be a national or a citizen; then set out what branches of government there were and how they should relate, at the level of the state and between states and provinces; and how the electoral system was to function. Some included separate sections on rights and duties, the army, education, and local government. They usually ended by specifying processes for reforming the constitution. A major design issue was how power should be distributed among the different branches of the central government, and then how those branches were to interact. A standard premise was that executive, legislative, and judicial power should be separated. This was one of Montesquieu’s principles, enshrined in varying ways in the American, various French, and the Spanish Cádiz constitutions. The principle favored presidential over parliamentary government. But that left open such questions as how much power should be vested in the executive; in what ways that power should be balanced or offset; and whether it was desirable that that power should be vested in one man, potentially for an extended period—​even, in one extreme option, for his lifetime, thence perhaps being passed to a chosen or natural successor (the monarchical model). 30 Florentino González, Lecciones de Derecho Constitucional (Buenos Aires, 1869; 5th ed., París, 1909), 63–​81.

Democracy and Liberal Constitutionalism  171 Some models and local experiences favored strong executives; others favored strong legislatures. The instability and disorder associated with wars of independence seemed to some to need containing by strong executives. Wars also brought to prominence military leaders with larger ambitions (as in other parts of the world in the same period).31 The very fact that these conditions were widespread meant that those who argued that strong executives were needed in local circumstances could also cite other states as models. Haiti’s 1816 constitution, which provided for a lifetime presidency, was thus invoked by Simón Bolívar in his project for the 1826 Bolivian constitution. Bolívar proposed for Bolivia (named in his honor) a life president with the right to choose a succesor. He argued that democratic conditions necessitated strong leadership: “in systems where there are no hierarchies, we need more than in any other, a fixed point (the Executive Power).” He suggested that the Haitian model merited imitation because this was “the Executive of the most democratic republic in the world.”32 He suggested similar arrangements for Colombia—​but his authoritarian turn provoked his opponents to a sustained campaign of denunciation about the dangers of dictatorship and set the scene for his downfall.33 Provision for a strong executive in the 1833 Chilean constitution represented a swing of the political pendulum against the mood of the late 1820s. Whereas an 1828 constitution had focused on the preservation of “liberty.” the new text had “order” as its axis. As well as providing for a strong executive with power to veto legislative initiatives,34 its successor limited the number of elected offices, especially at the provincial level, limited voting rights, and discouraged popular mobilization. Andrés Bello, one of the foremost jurists of the region—​a Venezuelan who had relocated in Chile—​ defended the 1833 reforms (which he may have helped to draft), explaining that the goal was “to combine a vigorous government with the complete enjoyment of well-​ordered freedom; that is, to give the government strength to defend itself against attacks of insubordination produced by the excess of 31 Colley, The Gun, the Ship, and the Pen, 348; Bell, Men on Horseback, sets Toussaint Louverture and Simón Bolívar among other contemporaries. 32 Academia Nacional de la Historia “Constitución de Bolivia de 1826,” in El pensamiento constitucional hispanoamericano hasta 1830. Compilación de constituciones sancionadas y proyectos constitucionales, 5 vols. (Caracas, 1961), I:175, our italics. 33 Matthew Brown, “Enlightened Reform after Independence: Simon Bolivar’s Bolivian Constitution,” in Enlightened Reform in Southern Europe and its Atlantic Colonies, c. 1750-​1830, ed. Gabriel Paquette (Farnham, Surrey, 2009), 339–​60. 34 Congress needed a qualified majority of two-​thirds of members present in both chambers in order to override it.

172  Re-imagining Democracy democracy.”35 Diego Portales, an influential minister in the new regime, had a few years earlier described the kind of republic that he thought the new nation needed: “a strong centralized government, in the hands of true models of virtue and patriotism, with the duty of leading the citizens to the path of order and civic virtues. Only then, when they are properly moralized, can we have a liberal government, free and full of ideals, in which all citizens can take part.”36 Hereditary monarchs and lifelong presidents were nonetheless exceptions in the region: even those who accepted the case for a strong executive often balked at allowing the same individual to retain power for long periods. Most constitutions limited presidential terms and opportunities for reelection, something not originally provided for in the US Constitution. The Chilean constitution thus allowed reelection only once. Moreover, strong executives were not universal. The Cádiz Constitution provided for a strong legislature, and some judged this arrangement best suited to local needs. By mid-​century, strong executives were sometimes pilloried as legacies of colonial despotism. While some constitutions (like the 1853 Argentine constitution) continued to provide for strong executives into the third quarter of the nineteenth century, others, like the 1857 Mexican constitution, swung instead to bolstering legislative power.37 Even in the relatively centralist 1843 constitution of New Granada, congress retained the right to initiate legislation. Colombia’s subsequent 1863 constitution was designed to minimize executive power; this constitution lasted until 1886. If powers were separated, that posed the question of how to resolve clashes between different branches of government. Even constitutions which established relatively weak executives (including the Cádiz Constitution) nonetheless often gave them some sort of veto power.38 The Chilean constitution and 35 Andrés Bello, Selected Writings (Oxford, 1997), Introduction by Iván Jaksić, xlviii, 255–​56. 36 Juan Luis Ossa Santa Cruz, “Revolución y construcción republicana en Chile, 1810-​1851,” in Historia política de Chile, 1810-​2010, tomo I, Prácticas políticas, ed. Iván Jaksić and Juan Luis Ossa (Santiago, 2017), 44; Alejandra Castillo, “Constitución Chile,” in Fernández Sebastián, Diccionario I, 360. 37 Aguilar Rivera, En pos de la quimera: reflexiones sobre el experimento constitucional atlántico (Mexico City, 2000), 109, 126; Ignacio Fernández Sarasola, “La Constitución española de 1812 y su proyección europea e iberoamericana,” Fundamentos: Cuadernos Monográficos de Teoría del Estado, Derecho Público e Historia Constitucional, no. 2 (2000): 73. Roberto Gargarella describes as “fusion constitutionalism” the convergence of liberal and conservative elements in the Latin American constitutions of the second half of the nineteenth century, in Latin American Constitutionalism, 1810-​2010. The Engine Room of the Constitution (Oxford, 2013), 20–​43. 38 The king could deny the royal sanction of the laws for two consecutive times, in different legislative periods. However, if the law was presented a third time by three successive legislatures he had to acquiesce and sanction it.

Democracy and Liberal Constitutionalism  173 Venezuelan constitutions of the federal period (1864–​1893) were exceptions. Conversely, some constitutions which established strong executives, such as Brazil’s 1824 charter and most Haitian constitutions, did not give the executive a veto power. Perhaps it seemed less necessary. Political conflicts nonetheless quite often played out by (among other means) conflicts between executive and legislative. Both Brazil in 1824 and Mexico in 1836 sought a way out by providing in their constitutions an “exogenous” solution: a “moderating” power that would preserve a proper equilibrium among the branches of government. In the case of Brazil this power was vested in the emperor. Mexico, by contrast, created a fourth power, the Supreme Conservative Power, though this was a short-​lived experiment. Judicial arrangements among others could be tilted either toward strengthening central power or toward encouraging popular participation. Provision for central appointment of professional judges leaned in the first direction. But some constitutions focused rather on giving the people a role in judicial affairs, providing, for example, for the establishment of juries, appointment of lay justices, boards of arbitration and conciliation, and collegiate tribunals charged with evaluating the performance of justices and judicial functionaries. As Andréa Slemian and Carlos Garriga have recently shown, provisions of this kind could be important in giving these texts popular appeal.39 Another set of choices facing constitution-​makers concerned the distribution of power, and structure of relationship, between the center and individual “states” or “provinces.” The United States was perceived at least initially as relatively weak at the center; only later did the US version of “federalism” come to connote strong government. Latin American “federalists” were people who favored the devolution of power. As Natalia Sobrevilla Perea shows in Chapter 5, for some decades it remained unclear which jurisdictions in the region would ultimately emerge as sovereign states, and the distribution of power between different levels within states remained contentious for even longer. Simón Bolívar, in his 1815 Letter from Jamaica, anticipated that these 39 For professional magistrates in Imperial Brazil, cf. Thomas Flory, “Judicial Politics in Nineteenth-​ Century Brazil,” Hispanic American Historical Review 55, no. 4 (1975): 664–​92. Andréa Slemian and Carlos Garriga, “Justicia popular. Sobre la dimensión judicial del primer constitucionalismo iberoamericano,” Jahrbuch für Geschichte Lateinamerikas /​Anuario de Historia de América Latina, no. 55 (2018): 27–​59; Garriga, “El constitucionalismo popular.” Bianca Premo has analyzed litigation in pre-​revolutionary Spanish America as another instance in which popular groups made concrete application of Enlightenment values within the framework of monarchical institutions. Bianca Premo, Enlightenment on Trial. Ordinary Litigants and Colonialism in the Spanish Empire (Oxford, 2017).

174  Re-imagining Democracy issues would prove hard to settle: “Some provinces as a matter of course will form federal and some central republics [. . .] some of which will fare so badly that they will disintegrate in either present or future revolutions.”40 Many nations in Latin America alternated between the two forms of organization. The founding constitution of Gran Colombia (today Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panamá), the 1821 constitution, was centralist. Venezuelans and Quiteños were dissatisfied with this arrangement and sought separation. Bolívar’s project collapsed in less than a decade. The lesser Colombia (initially New Granada) that emerged from this debacle had two centralist constitutions in the nineteenth century: 1843 and 1886. Federal constitutions were by contrast enacted in 1853, 1858, and 1863. In Mexico the establishment of federalism in 1824 was a matter of political realism. The war of independence dispersed political power, and by the time of emancipation the political center was very weak. Yet soon conflict between centralists and federalists erupted and, after little more than a decade, the 1824 federalist constitution was replaced by the 1836 centralist constitution. The republic had two federal constitutions (1824 and 1857) and two central constitutions (1836 and 1843). The federal constitution of 1857 proved more enduring. Brazil rejected federalism in the 1824 charter. Soon after, revolts erupted in Pernambuco, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, and elsewhere. Several provinces declared the Confederation of Ecuador, a separate republic from Brazil. The rebels claimed that absolutism and centralization went hand in hand. When Pedro I abdicated in 1831, an attempt to reform the constitution to create a federal monarchy failed. Many feared that the country would become fragmented if the American constitution was emulated, and Mexico’s 1824 constitution was cited as demonstrating this risk. A compromise was struck in 1834 with a constitutional amendment granting only limited concessions to meet federalist demands, such as provincial assemblies and fiscal redistribution to the regions. In the next years five significant rebellions took place, with three provinces declaring independence at some point. In reaction, conservatives in congress rolled back decentralization laws and reduced the power of provincial assemblies. The police and the judiciary were placed under the control of the central government. In 1841 conservatives reinstated the Council of State. The last federalist revolt in Brazil took place in 1848; yet, pressures to return to federalism returned in the 1860s. Once again, the

40 El Libertador, 25.

Democracy and Liberal Constitutionalism  175 American constitution provided inspiration for Brazilian federal reformers. Debates on federalism persisted until the abolition of the monarchy in 1889. Many Latin American constitutions included bills of rights. This was less often the case with early models. Influential texts elsewhere provided varying recipes for how to protect individual rights. The 1789 American constitution did not include a bill of rights in its original text (amendments 1–​10 were passed in 1791). In the case of France, the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man preceded the enactment of the constitution. The 1812 Cádiz Constitution did not include a formal declaration of rights, though several of its articles acknowledged civil liberty and property as well as other “legitimate rights pertaining to the individual.” Nonetheless, by the time the first constitutions were enacted in Latin America in the second decade of the nineteenth century, the idea was well established that constitutions must acknowledge individual rights in some form. Some constitution-​makers followed the amended American model, providing specific protections against government abuse (e.g., the 1824 Mexican constitution, Articles 147–​ 153), while others echoed revolutionary France’s more abstract declaration of natural rights. The Spanish colonial polity had given special rights and privileges (fueros) to corporations, such as the army and the clergy. Constitutions were not always the instrument of choice for reformers seeking civil equality; some key measures were originally enshrined in decrees and laws, and only later enshrined in the constitution. The Cádiz Constitution did not abolish titles of nobility (nor were such titles abolished by law in Spain in this period). In contrast, some Latin American states quickly abolished them after independence. Thus, after pronouncing that “all men are equal under the law” and banning the hereditary principle, the 1812 constitution of Antioquia in New Granada stated that the “idea of men being born King, Magistrate, Legislator, or Judge is absurd and contrary to nature.”41 Noble titles were abolished in Argentina in 1813 and Chile in 1817, although not in constitutional texts. Colombia, in Article 181 of its 1821 constitution, abolished “all titles of honor granted by the Spanish government.” It barred congress from granting in the future “titles of nobility, honors or hereditary distinctions.” Peru did likewise in its 1823 constitution, which abolished “hereditary privileges” (Article 23). As a monarchy, however, Brazil did not abolish nobility until the republic 41 Constitución del estado de Antioquia (Santafe de Bogotá, 1812), 5–​6. https://​cata​logo​enli​nea.bib​ liot​ecan​acio​nal.gov.co/​cli​ent/​es_​ES/​sea​rch/​asset/​134​221/​0

176  Re-imagining Democracy was established in 1889. Fueros and privileges posed a more significant challenge—​sometimes, as in Mexico, entailing a long and protracted fight. The pursuit of civil equality usually entailed jettisoning the Spanish colonial practice of formally categorizing people by race. The constitutions of Venezuela and New Granada recognized the equality of Indians—​and also the equality of pardos (people of part-​African descent) in the case of Venezuela (Articles 200 and 202). Alongside, special rights for indigenous communities, the “Indian republics,” were abolished. It is notable that more zeal was shown for abolishing these than ecclesiastical and military privilege. Abolishing slavery, inasmuch as it entailed an attack on property rights and sometimes potentially the dispersal of a crucial labor force, took much longer and, as in the case of titles of nobility, did not always initially or even later involve constitutional declarations. Chile, with few slaves, was the first to enact such a law in 1811. Once the republic had been securely established, abolition was achieved through a decree of the Senate in 1823 and was shortly after made part of the 1823 constitution. Argentina declared freedom of wombs (children of slaves deemed born free) in 1813, but slavery as such was formally abolished only by Article 15 of the 1853 constitution. Brazil preserved slavery into the last quarter of the century. Freedom of wombs was established in 1871, and slavery abolished by means of the “Lei Áurea” in 1888. However, the 1824 constitution was never amended to ban slavery, and the 1891 constitution only proscribed it indirectly by stating that “no one could be forced to do, or not to do, anything but by means of the law” (Article 72). Early Latin American constitutions followed Spanish example in being religiously intolerant: not only was Catholicism established as the state religion, but other denominations were banned. Only a few constitutions, like those of New Granada in 1853 and Mexico in 1857, provided for separation of church and state. Voices such as that of the Guayaquileño Vicente Rocafuerte, calling for the emulation of the North American model of religious toleration, were marginal. If the context of war from which new nations emerged produced in some a yearning for strong and stable leadership, another effect was to make it seem necessary to give a measure of power to the people, whose support had been crucial to the outcome of these conflicts. Many constitutions recognized the link between sacrifice on the battlefields and new political rights by exempting military veterans from the property requirements (Venezuela 1819, Bolivia 1826). In other cases, electoral legislation made enrollment in the national guard or other military corps a precondition for active

Democracy and Liberal Constitutionalism  177 citizenship.42 Assertions that “democracy” was born during independence struggles, which can be found from the 1830s, however, reflect subsequent understandings and evaluations of that concept.43 Constitutional texts usually included basic provisions defining who was entitled to vote. The earliest Latin American constitutions embraced a relatively expansive electoral franchise, as evidenced in the constitutions of New Granada: the 1811 constitution of Cundinamarca, for example, gave the vote to all free adult males, vecinos, who lived off their rent and occupation without depending on others. While the constitution adopted by the Cádiz Cortes the following year excluded from the vote those “originarios del Africa” (meaning those of African descent), it did not introduce property, income, or tax qualifications to the franchise, though the economically dependent, like domestic servants, had their citizenship status “suspended” (so it was phrased: citizenship rights were the default, but were suspended in some cases). The Cádiz text also included a literacy requirement, but this was to be enforced only from 1830. Such expansiveness remained notable in many countries after independence. As Hilda Sabato has noted, “exclusion” from the suffrage in the region “was mainly associated to the lack of autonomy”—​women, children, enslaved people, and domestic servants were therefore excluded. But race never became a criterion for exclusion except in a couple of provincial constitutions in the River Plate. If literacy restrictions were included, they tended to follow the Cádiz’s clause in postponing implementation. Some constitutions introduced income or property restrictions, but these were often listed as part of a series of alternative thresholds, as in the 1823 Peruvian constitution which granted citizenship to all adult males who had a “property, or exercise any profession, or an art, or worked in a useful industry without depending on others as servants or jornaleros.”44 In Brazil, the 1824 charter adopted an income restriction, but the required sum was so low that it could be met by large sectors. Periods of upheaval were sometimes followed by voting restrictions—​as in Mexico in 1836 and New Granada in 1843. In neither case, however, did such restrictions endure. Indeed the latter adopted universal 42 Colley, The Gun, the Ship, and the Pen, 272; Hilda Sabato, Republics of the New World. The Revolutionary Political Experiment in Nineteenth-​ Century Latin America (Princeton, NJ, 2018), 55–​56. 43 Arosemena, Constituciones, xxvii; José María Samper, Ensayo sobre las revoluciones políticas (1861), 90. Banco de la República, Colombia, Biblioteca Virtual. https://​babel.ban​repc​ultu​ral.org/​ digi​tal/​col​lect​ion/​p1705​4col​l10/​id/​2401 44 Constitución política de la república peruana (Lima: 1823), 2. The emphasis in italics is ours.

178  Re-imagining Democracy male suffrage in the 1853 constitution, while the 1857 Mexican constitution gave the vote to all adult males who followed an “honest way of life.”45 In some other countries, suffrage restrictions were more enduring. Literacy qualifications were adopted by the 1833 Chilean constitution and effectively enforced from 1840; in addition, one had either to own real property, work in an industry, or earn some income—​threshold sums for all these were left for provincial authorities to specify.46 Altogether these regulations were reflected in a relatively small electorate until the 1874 reforms which, in practice, only excluded the illiterate. This picture was further complicated in those countries that adopted a federal system, like Mexico in 1824 and Colombia in 1863, whose constitutions left the electoral regulations in the hands of individual states. The 1853 federal constitution in Argentina, the first national constitution adopted since independence, did not include references to the suffrage but, given its overall broad notion of rights, the magistrates and the congress interpreted the constitution as having adopted universal male suffrage. In sum, very broad franchises, though not invariable, were common. But voting was usually indirect: first-​level voters chose secondary electors to nominate or decide between candidates. Political manipulation of elections often turned on these secondary electors. Nonetheless, some states opted for direct elections. The provincial legislature of Buenos Aires adopted direct elections in 1821 (though from 1853 the executive was indirectly elected, on the American model). Likewise, Chile’s 1823 constitution (Article 92) provided for direct elections, a measure reiterated by the 1833 constitution (Article 18).

“Democracy” in Four Constituent Moments What did “democracy” mean for constitution-​makers? What use did they find for the term as they strove to agree choices between the various options described above? We explore some possible answers to this question by focusing on two key moments in Mexico and Argentina, where constitutional 45 See José Antonio Aguilar, Eduardo Posada-​Carbó and Eduardo Zimmermann, “Democracy in Spanish America: The Early Adoption of Universal Male Suffrage, 1810-​1853,” Past and Present, https://​doi.org/​10.1093/​pastj/​gtab​028 (published online December 2021). 46 Constitución de la república de Chile, jurada y promulgada el 25 de mayo de 1833 (Santiago, 1833), 4.

Democracy and Liberal Constitutionalism  179 conventions met at about the same time: 1823–​1824 and 1856–​1857 in the case of the former, 1824–​1827 and 1852–​1853 in the case of the latter. The 1820s marked an early stage in the life of the newly independent republics—​ in Mexico there were initially deep divides; in Argentina, struggles between the interior provinces of the River Plate impeded attempts to construct a larger national state. Ultimately, irresoluble disagreement between centralists and federalists doomed the 1826 constitution, which aimed to establish a “representative, republican” government, “consolidated in a unitary regime” for a large territorial entity. The interior provinces rejected this last feature, which had been championed by Buenos Aires centralists, condemning the constitution to a premature death. The Mexican 1823–​1824 congress was much more successful. Early debates about the drafting of the Acta Constitutiva, a document in which the constitution-​makers spelled out the most difficult questions, facilitated rapid agreement on the final text, sanctioned in 1824. Two decades later, the constituent assemblies convened in the 1850s reflected “the heyday of liberal reform.”47 Both countries’ constitution-​making took place as they emerged from dictatorship, a more prolonged one in the case of Argentina. Both evidently had several serious problems to resolve. By the 1850s Mexico had suffered internal conflict and the loss of territory to the United States, and Argentina was still wrestling with the problems posed by the threat of provincial secession. Elected by various systems,48 the four conventions differed in size—​they were much larger in Mexico. Their political composition also varied between the two periods, being more pluralistic in the 1820s than in the 1850s. The Mexican congress of 1856–​1857 was wholly composed of liberals, though they were split between moderados and the more radical puros.49 Before each congress, documents were published that served to inform the discussions (Juan Bautista Alberdi’s Bases in the Argentine case); their debates were published in both official and non-​official transcripts and were followed by the press. Francisco Zarco, a liberal journalist elected to the 1856–​1857 47 David Bushnell and Neil Macaulay, The Emergence of Latin America in the Nineteenth Century (Oxford, 1988), 193, 221. 48 Members of the 1856–​1957 Mexican congress were chosen through an indirect system: all national males over 18 years old had the “right to vote” in the first electoral tier, except criminals, vagrants, and the clergy. Francisco Zarco, Historia del Congreso Extraordinario Constituyente (1856-​ 1857) (Mexico City, 1956), 13, 14. 49 For the alignments of the 1824 Mexican congress, see Alfredo Ávila, En nombre de la nación. La formación del gobierno representativo en México (Mexico City, 2002), 312–​13.

180  Re-imagining Democracy Mexican congress, published the records of the convention both in his Historia and in press chronicles intended to serve “the cause of democracy.”50 The debates were open to the public—​members of which, in the case of the Mexican congress in 1856–​1857, frequently applauded the orators from the galleries. A look at how the word figured in these conventions shows not only for what ends it was used in these varied settings, but more particularly highlights changes in ideas about “democracy” among constitution-​makers between the early decades of independence and the mid-​nineteenth century. The expression was scarcely used in the constitutional debates of the 1820s, when a negative conception of democracy prevailed despite some endorsements. Clearly it often connoted direct democracy; it was often contrasted rather than equated with representation, though it was also more vaguely understood as entailing the allocation of a significant measure of direct power to the people through any of a variety of institutions or practices. “What does democracy mean? What is a democratic government?” asked Valentín Gómez in Buenos Aires: “One in which the people play the major role. . . . Therefore, what is closer to the mass of the people is democratic, what sets itself apart from the mass of the people is aristocratic.” As a centralist liberal, he was wary of populist excess. His like-​minded colleague, Manuel Antonio De Castro, denigrated democracy: “a vice” contrasting with a republic. In a republic, he said, unlike a democracy, the “people, though it has sovereignty, elects representatives to exercise it.”51 In Mexico, the liberal Lorenzo de Zavala opened the 1824 convention by declaring that “democratic government must necessarily finally prevail, after being revived with improvements on the ancient republics by the vivifying inspiration of modern genius.”52 But not everyone agreed on this construction of democracy, or with the direction of travel it announced. It was sometimes urged that, though some recognition should be given the forces of democracy, these should be tempered by the presence of an aristocratic element so as to achieve a balanced constitution. In Buenos Aires, the committee that drafted the 1826 constitution, which hoped to rally support for a system dominated 50 Ibid., 5. In Buenos Aires, for example, transcripts of the discussion about direct elections appeared in El Mensajero Argentino on October 4, 1826. 51 Asambleas Constituyentes Argentinas, ed. Emilio Ravignani, 6 vols. (Buenos Aires, 1937), 3: 1023. See also Rubén Darío Salas, “Aproximación al léxico polítco rioplatense (1816-​1826). Democracia, República y Federación: Alcances semánticos del discurso de sus detractors,” Jahrbuch für Geschichte Lateinamerikas, no. 31 (1994): 101–​2. 52 Cited in Chapter 13 of this volume.

Democracy and Liberal Constitutionalism  181 by the city and province of Buenos Aires, explicitly defended a “mixed form of government” that transcended the “simple forms” exemplified in “the turbulent democracy of Athens,” “the arrogant aristocracy of Venice,” and “the harsh monarchy of Russia.”53 As illustrated above, “democracy” was relatively prominent in discussions about forms of government, but it had other uses. It might denote “equality of men,” as in the draft presented to the Mexican congress in 1824, in which context it was used favorably to designate an “undeniable principle” “because divine rights, a privileged caste, or an exclusive class born to rule, are theories that civilization, after centuries of struggle, has declared as absurd.”54 In Buenos Aires, democracy was invoked in discussions about what form of election to adopt, specifically in discussions around proposals to establish direct elections for the president. Some favored indirect elections as less “democratic.” The federalist Pedro Saez de Cavia backed direct elections, but—​ obviously wary of the word’s negative connotations—​ challenged representations of the popular meetings they would entail as democratic: “As long as the people does not deliberate, sanction, and enforce the laws by itself, we cannot properly say that we have set up a democracy.”55 He did nonetheless avow the term when he argued that “every possible popular and democratic element” should be incorporated among the ranks of voters for congress.56 The semantic and conceptual change that took place in both countries by the 1850s was astounding. From having a limited, chiefly political and often negative meaning, democracy evolved a complex set of connotations, including interestingly an association with individual rights. The word was generally endorsed by those participating in the constitutional debates—​ though, if this partly reflects the term’s growing acceptability it also reflects the political bias of these assemblies. In the Bases, the text that framed Argentine constitutional discussion in the 1850s, Alberdi stated that in wishing the republic to be democratic, “the nation had thought as a single man.” He also looked back at the nation’s 53 Asambleas, III, 215. See also de Castro on this theme. Asambleas, III, 734–​38, 751–​55, 998. His rival Manuel Dorrego was adamant in his critique of this approach, fearing the establishment of “an aristocracy of money.” Confrontations between centralists Manuel Antonio de Castro and José Eugenio del Portillo and federalists Manuel Dorrego and José Francisco Ugarteche at 219–​20; 807–​ 14; 850–​54; 919–​22. 54 Zarco, Historia, 320. 55 Asambleas, III, 1057–​59. 56 Asambleas, III, 1021–​23; 1031–​32.

182  Re-imagining Democracy history through the lens of democracy. The convention, nonetheless, did not decide officially to term Argentina a “democracy”; it preferred the traditional “republican, representative, federal” formula. Alberdi was, though, not the only one to identify as democratic a liberal conception of rights which ultimately won endorsement—​providing for the first time for religious tolerance. He argued that while “the religion of our fathers” had to be protected, protection should conform to liberty and employ only “the proper means of a liberal and democratic regime.”57 The constitution adopted by the Mexican congress by contrast defined the government as “democratic”; indeed the congress was explicitly convened to “constitute . . . the nation” as a “democratic representative republic.”58 The commission that drafted the constitution glossed democracy in terms of the “equality of men,” and also proceeded to outline a series of basic rights and freedoms as expressions of the “democratic theories” that underpinned their project, including “freedom of expression, the press, [and] universal suffrage.”59 Other rights supported with the language of democracy during the debates included freedom of religion: “to say democracy while limiting the way of worshipping God” was said to be a contradiction.60 The term was also invoked by Mexican constitution-​ makers in discussions of institutional arrangements. The senate was suppressed as “anti-​democratic,” and federalism was supported as the “symbol of democratic principles,” though Zarco argued that if the senate was given a role in constituting a federal system it could be “democratic” in effect. The article that proposed the continuation of the indirect (tiered) electoral—​–​provoking one of the most heated debates—​resulted in challenges to the democratic credentials of some deputies. Those who favored direct election, like Zarco and Ignacio Ramírez, did not hesitate to praise that option as the more democratic: they argued that indirect election was incompatible with the “democratic theories” expounded by its supporters in other sessions. Proponents of indirect elections were however equally keen to claim democratic credentials, stating that the system that had been endorsed was

57 Alberdi, Bases, 27, 115, 122. A similar point was made by El Nacional in Buenos Aires: the program of the “1810 revolution” had been to establish the “empire of democratic ideas,” El Nacional, March 3, 1853. 58 Zarco, Historia del Congreso, 311. 59 Zarco, 319–​20. 60 For a fuller discussion, see José Antonio Aguilar, “La redención democrática: México 1821-​ 1861,” Historia Mexicana 69, no. 1 (2019): 7–​56.

Democracy and Liberal Constitutionalism  183 “representative” not “pure democracy” and warning about the power of the Church over the people. In sum, by the mid-​nineteenth century democracy had a prominent place in constitutional discussions, in stark contrast to its role in the debates of the 1820s in both Mexico and Argentina—​though it was more present and more widely endorsed in Mexico. Those arguing about the relative merits of direct and indirect elections had earlier seen it as a disadvantage to brand their preference “democratic” but later saw it as an advantage. Democracy gained an association with the protection of individual rights. In the Mexican case, this consensus was clearly in important part an artefact of its composition, as is underlined by the radically anti-​democratic stance adopted by excluded conservatives, who went on to collude with the imposition of Maximilian as emperor; only with the defeat of that attempt did “democracy” become hegemonic. In Argentina, the post-​Rosas affirmation of democracy proved more enduring.

Conclusion Constitutional textbooks published in the closing years of our period often reiterated, in their own way, long-​standing ideas about the need to adapt constitutional models to local circumstances—​while sometimes recognizing that local circumstances had the potential to change. In a text designed initially for his students at the University of Buenos Aires, but subsequently aimed at a more general readership, the Colombian Florentino González contrasted what he called “the European (artificial) system” of government (constitutional monarchy) with “the American (natural) system of government (republican representative democracy).” Spanish America, in his view, however still had to work out how to adapt the American system to its own historical circumstances. Doing so would require a transformation of its “social forms” in order to reconcile them to this new “political form.” González hoped to see application of the model itself play a part in effecting that transformation. He said that Argentina had taken a first step by basing its 1853/​60 constitution on American principles (that is, on republican principles, federalism and limited government).61



61 Lecciones de Derecho Constitucional (1869), xii.

184  Re-imagining Democracy At about the same time, the Panamanian jurist Justo Arosemena (cited early in this chapter), published his compilation of the region’s constitutions with an interpretive essay in which he tried to find a common thread uniting the uneven fortunes of different countries. He argued that many constitutional attempts had failed to allow sufficiently for the “point of departure” of the new political orders. Hispanic American statesmen (and he clearly understood the region to include Brazil and the Caribbean, whose constitutions were among his texts) had relied on an abstract science of politics that provided an ample catalogue of ideas, philosophies of government, and constitutional models, whereas an applied political science (such as was then being recommended by positivists) would have shown that difficulties were bound to arise from a “reality born out of the two powerful generating forces, colonialism and revolution.” Colonialism had brought into the new world populations that were “mostly ignorant, audacious and enterprising, commoners other than a few exceptions, that laid the grounds for democracy, only partially counterweighted by the overseas aristocracies . . .” Social, often race-​based inequalities, postponement of the aspirations of the creole elites, excessive bureaucracy, and regulations hurting local commerce had set the scene for the revolutions that exploded after the Napoleonic invasions of the Iberian metropoles. Revolution, in its turn, and the ferocious responses from the Spanish, had given birth to a Hispanic American version of republicanism that had quickly evolved into a set of local caudillismos. Thus, “the cause of democracy and the rule of law was delayed.” “Nothing is more difficult,” lamented Arosemena, expressing a more pessimistic outlook than González, “than to reconcile the past with the new situations presaging the future; the Anglo-​Americans were able to solve the problem but something very different happened to the Hispanic Americans.”62 Both commentators showed awareness that changes were underway, though they displayed different levels of optimism. Indeed, Latin American nations were then undergoing profound structural change, shaped by closer integration into the Atlantic economy. The framework of thought was changing, too. Liberalism was being reworked under the influence of various forms of positivism and “scientific politics.” In the new era, liberals would give high priority to social and political order, which it was hoped that commerce, with its supposed civilizing effects, would help to advance.



62 Arosemena, Constituciones, xxvi–​xxix.

Democracy and Liberal Constitutionalism  185 Constitutional debates in the earlier decades often resonated with an exalted republican liberalism. Nonetheless, as we have seen, only rarely was democracy then invoked as a positive value. In the later period, the language of democracy was more in evidence, yet it was increasingly defined and limited so as to serve the needs of order and stability.63

63 Charles A. Hale, “Political and Social Ideas in Latin America, 1870-​1930,” in The Cambridge History of Latin America, ed. Leslie Bethell (Cambridge, UK, 1986), 4:367–​441; James Sanders, The Vanguard of the Atlantic World: Creating Modernity, Nation, and Democracy in Nineteenth-​Century Latin America (Durham, NC, 2014), 176–​224; Sabato, Republics of the New World, 197–​202.

8 Political Cultures and Practices in Spanish South American Cities Paula Alonso and Marcela Ternavasio

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the crisis of the Spanish monarchy catalyzed profound transformations in Spanish America’s political cultures by propelling armed mobilizations and rapid politicization. The adoption of the principle of popular sovereignty brought broad sectors of the population into politics through new electoral processes and various forms of participation in the public sphere. After fifteen years of struggle, a variety of republican systems took form, entailing new rules of play, including written constitutions and definitions and safeguards for the principles of representation, citizenship, and freedom of the press and assembly, among others. A common feature emerging across these political communities was that their readiness to launch armed revolutions coexisted with sustained efforts to establish and maintain constitutional governments and representative systems based on large electorates. Once, historians characterized the period of state formation as one of prolonged anarchy, analyzed through the frame of caudillismo, understood as top-​down patronage or clientelism that curtailed the development of institutionalized power.1 Newer scholarship has revealed a much more heterogeneous social, political, and institutional landscape. Natalia Sobrevilla Perea in Chapter 4 of this volume stresses that armed struggle and the creation of constitutions and representative bodies interacted in complex ways, while Hilda Sabato has also underlined how, after independence, periodic elections and lively public opinion coexisted with armed rebellions within a “normalized” if turbulent pattern of politics. Uprisings of different kinds were often perceived not as definitive ruptures in a republican order but rather as embodying a legitimate choice among an

1 John Lynch, Caudillos in Spanish America (Oxford, 1992). Paula Alonso and Marcela Ternavasio, Political Cultures and Practices in Spanish South American Cities In: Re-​imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–​1870. Edited by: Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, Joanna Innes, and Mark Philp, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/​oso/​9780197631577.003.0008

Political Cultures and Practices  187 array of political instruments.2 Over time, a trend toward the institutionalization of political conflict is observable across the Spanish American world, although how far political institutions succeeded in containing violent contestation varied from state to state. These developments in practices were both reflected in and shaped by developments in language. “Democracy,” among other words, was put to new uses in changing local contexts, giving meaning (sometimes positive, sometimes negative) to novel and diverse experiences. This chapter focuses on the interactions between practices and language in selected urban political settings from the 1810s to the 1860s. It aims to illustrate the performative function and the changing understandings and value of a term used to legitimize or condemn different political practices. Languages and practices, and the relation between them, acquire meaning when analyzed in contextual spaces. In order to provide this context, the first section offers a brief analysis of the many forms of political practice that emerged after Spain’s imperial and monarchical crises at the start of the nineteenth century until the consolidation of independence. Starting in the second section, the chapter begins to focus on the cases of Peru and the River Plate, which are developed in more detail in the third and fourth sections. These were two regions with contrasting colonial pasts, responses to Spanish crises, and post-​ independence paths. Debates surrounding “democracy” assumed greater prominence from the 1840s; the last two sections continue with these case studies to illustrate different ways in which countries addressed the new challenges that the affirmation of democracy presented. Rather than attempt to cover the entire region, this chapter aims to suggest how “democracy” was invoked, defined, and used at particular moments and for particular political purposes. Our choice of cases and themes analyzed needs some preliminary clarification. First, this study concentrates on some of the political practices developed in “cities.” It should be remembered that the Spanish American territory was a discontinuous landscape in which urban and rural areas were relatively distinct. Cities, once the bases from which the empire expanded, were organized through cabildos; they coexisted with a variety of smaller villas and pueblos with jurisdiction over the surrounding rural spaces where most of the population lived. It should be noted that during colonial times, the status of “city” was an administrative 2 Hilda Sabato, Republics of the New World. The Revolutionary Political Experiment in Nineteenth-​ Century Latin America (Princeton, NJ, 2018), 112–​15.

188  Re-imagining Democracy and political privilege granted without reference to population numbers or demographic criteria. Hence, the “urban” territorial landscape in Spanish America manifested great variation. Cities were diverse in size and ethnic makeup. There were regions with large and small “cities,” others with many pueblos, while yet others were very thinly populated. Demographic criteria began to define jurisdictions during the nineteenth century, following the adoption of constitutions, at different rhythms and jurisdictional norms depending on the country. At the end of the eighteenth century, among the bigger cities, Mexico City, the largest city of the Spanish Empire and capital of the viceroyalty of New Spain, had 112,000 inhabitants (nearly twice the size of New York, the largest city in the United States). Lima, the capital of the viceroyalty of Peru (more comparable to New York), had a population of 52,600 people representing one-​ twentieth of the total population, followed by Cuzco (32,000), Huamanga (26,000), and Arequipa (23,551). In contrast, in the viceroyalty of the River Plate, Buenos Aires, the capital, had a somewhat smaller population of 40,000, followed by Córdoba (11,500); populations of other cities in the River Plate were no larger than 5,000. People of Hispanic descent dominated city populations, but to different degrees. Lima registered 38% Spaniards, then a mix of other “castes” (8% Indians, 9% mestizos, 12% mulatos, 18% blacks, and 7% zambos), while Buenos Aires registered 70% Spaniards and 28% blacks, zambos, and mulatos, but only 5% Indians and 5% mestizos.3 The role of cities as colonial administrative seats of power was undermined during the wars of independence. Rural areas, villas, and pueblos became more politicized, as leaders emerged from highly mobilized multi-​ethnic popular sectors, transforming Spanish American political cultures. The fact that we focus on cities does not mean that we think one should ignore these crucial rural transformations. However, we think it is important to focus on particular, concrete scenarios in order to illuminate the many uses of “democracy” amid changing practices. The influence of cities also transcended their immediate circumstances: it was in cities, especially capital cities, that central authorities and many of their agents were based. Cities were also the chief sites in which electoral campaigns were organized, and the rules

3 Pilar Pérez Cantó, “La población de Lima en el siglo XVIII,” Boletín Americanista, no. 32 (1982): 396–​97; Raúl Fradkin, “Población y sociedad,” in Argentina. Crisis imperial e independencia, ed. Jorge Gelman (Madrid, 2010), 199. See chapter by Nancy Appelbaum in this volume.

Political Cultures and Practices  189

“Interior of a pulpería.” Trajes y Costumbres de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Litográfica de Bacle y Co.1833–​1835, N.1. Courtesy of the University of Notre Dame.

governing “national” political life were debated in print culture, associations, and in cafés, pulperías (canteens), and political clubs. Not only have we restricted our account to cities, but also to a particular array of practices. Many topics are passed over. We have little to say about the embedding of political practices (and related debates) in a deeply religious Catholic culture. Elections took place in churches, parishes served as electoral districts, mass was celebrated at the start of an election cycle, leaders appealed to Catholic symbols, blasphemy was criminalized in freedom of the press laws, and many associations did not permit the discussion of religious issues. In most places Catholicism was designated the official religion of the state, and Church leaders and followers developed their own ideas about democratic republics. Another relevant topic that deserves more attention than we have been able to give it is the role of women in politics. In these republican patriarchal societies, women from different social sectors participated in the political sphere through various channels including spying, fighting, mobilizing, and writing. Finally, our focus on selected

190  Re-imagining Democracy practices only does not mean that we consider these “sites of democracy” or precursors of “modern forms.” Rather, we simply aim to illustrate with concrete examples some of the ways in which “democracy” was related to practice. Because we are concerned with the interaction between words and practices, we focus on the world of the public written word, mostly the work of publicists (letrados, journalists, and politicians) in the press and public speeches—​even though, as historians of popular politics have emphasized, all sectors of society were protagonists in the political cultures and practices of the time.

Emergence and Consolidation of Popular Sovereignty (1810–​Independence) Responses to the crisis of the Spanish monarchy on both sides of the Atlantic tended to endorse popular sovereignty, either to resist Napoleonic rule in Spain or to justify the emergence of autonomous and independent governments in Spanish America. Spain’s Cádiz Constitution of 1812 was intended to serve all the territories of the Spanish monarchy in every part of the globe by creating a new sovereign entity: the bi-​hemispheric nation. Insurgents against this Cádiz system, however, refused it and created their own autonomous governments. In some cases, independence was declared early (as in Venezuela and New Granada) and in others it was later (such as in the River Plate or Chile). Across Spanish America, aspirant polities faced a common challenge: how to give institutional expression to these forms of bottom-​up sovereignty while enforcing political obedience. The question was debated in an unprecedentedly wide forum because freedom of the press was instituted in both insurgent and loyal areas. In territories which remained loyal to the metropolis, electoral processes were defined by the Cádiz Constitution. It established a system of indirect suffrage to elect members of ayuntamientos (local governments) in redefined districts containing populations of at least 1,000, and also (via an indirect process) provincial deputies and representatives to the Cádiz Cortes. The constitution was enforced only until the absolutist restoration in 1814; it was re-​established between 1820 and 1823 after Spain’s liberal revolution. Although at that later date Spain proved unable to contain the independence movements in America, the constitution had a significant and long-​term impact on political practices.

Political Cultures and Practices  191 The novel inclusion of the transatlantic territories in the monarchy’s Constitutional Assembly set the scene for disputes over territorial balance. The American deputies in the Cortes of Cádiz complained about their unequal representation, until the constitution was changed to include the principle that the number of representatives assigned to each electoral district should reflect population numbers. A second set of complaints centered on suffrage qualifications. The 1812 constitution recognized as Spaniards all “free men born and avecindados in the Spanish dominions, and their male descendants” and gave these men citizenship and voting rights. The Spanish concept of vecindad traditionally referred to a head of household with property and residency in a community, such as a city, a villa, or a pueblo. But in these years, vecino gradually lost its association with privilege and was increasingly used as a synonym for “citizen” or “free man,” though domestic servants, the unemployed, bankrupts, and those in debt to the public treasury were excluded. Native Americans were recognized as Spanish citizens and thus qualified to vote, but descendants of Africans, including the many mixed-​race pardos, were explicitly excluded (unless in individual cases they demonstrated qualities that warranted exceptional treatment).4 This discriminatory policy spurred American representatives in Cádiz to defend the equality of the excluded—​a move which had the potential to expand the representation of their territories. In insurgent territories where this constitution did not apply, authorities were elected according to rules and regulations specific to each jurisdiction but with similarly expansive suffrage, usually exercised through indirect elections. Definitions of “citizenship” in electoral regulations varied, but generally involved criteria for inclusion or exclusion according to certain social, racial, and ethnic categories. However, it is important to underline that all electoral regulations distinguished between the active vote (that is, the right to vote) and the passive vote (the right to be elected), with stricter qualifications for the latter.5 Recent scholarship has underlined the impact of electoral processes on Spanish American political cultures. Voting rights allowed for broad popular participation. The inclusion of indigenous people as active citizens gave rise to participatory practices that transformed pre-​existing balances of power by promoting inter-​ethnic pacts between Indians, Creoles, and Spaniards that 4 Manuel Chust, La cuestión nacional americana en las Cortes de Cádiz (Valencia, 1999). 5 Sabato, Republics, 50–​89.

192  Re-imagining Democracy varied from region to region. The disruption of former political and territorial hierarchies, especially in the loyal regions in New Spain, Peru, and the rest of the jurisdictions that applied the constitution of Cádiz, was one major change. Elections to ayuntamientos in districts of 1,000 people meant that power was extended to rural areas and local communities. In insurgent regions, the right to vote also expanded across cities, villas, pueblos, and rural areas.6 Popular sovereignty was also more informally expressed through other avenues, including cabildos abiertos (general meetings of vecinos), petitions, consultations, rebellions, armed revolutions, or some combination of these. Riots, uprisings and revolutions, associated with the figure of the “citizen in arms,” were undoubtedly the political practices most feared by governments. In some cases, armed movements aimed simply to negotiate specific demands. Thus, mutinies from within the ranks of the militias or the regular army often demanded improvements in material conditions. In other cases, mobilizations developed into armed revolutions aimed at removing authorities elected through representative systems, and there were also many examples of disputes related to the electoral process that became entangled in, or led to, armed confrontations.7 The central dilemma facing Spanish America was how to establish a stable government that expressed the principle of popular sovereignty and yet secured compliance. In this context, the term “democracy” (when it was employed, as it seldom was at this time) was variously associated with anarchy, a mixed form of government, or a republic. Sometimes “democracy” connoted equality. But one of the most frequent uses was to distinguish between direct popular rule and representative government. The former was linked with antiquity (and was sometimes called “pure” or “rigorous” democracy) and was generally portrayed as a source of disorder and as an obstacle to solving the dilemma at hand. Although “democracy” sometimes appeared in association with “republic,” and might in this context implicitly be linked to representative government, the concept “representative democracy” was not part of the political vocabulary during independence. It should, however, be underlined that those who contrasted direct democracy with representation were reducing the complex, varied, and intertwined 6 Antonio Annino, ed., La revolución novohispana, 1808-​1821 (Mexico City, 2010); Víctor Peralta Ruiz, La independencia y la cultura política peruana, 1808-​1821 (Lima, 2010). 7 Gabriel Di Meglio, “La participación popular en las revoluciones hispanoamericanas, 1808-​1816. Un ensayo sobre sus rasgos y causas,” Almanack, no. 5 (2013): 97–​122.

Political Cultures and Practices  193 repertoires of wide-​scale popular participation to just two alternatives, when in fact, distinctions were often not so clear-​cut. The discursive might be seen as reflecting efforts to describe, assimilate, or confront uncertainty amid dizzying new political experiences. These terms also operated performatively to endorse certain practices and processes and denounce others. Drawing the distinction entailed attempts to differentiate between the rulers and the ruled in a context in which the founding of legitimate power on popular sovereignty opened space for popular assertion.

New Sovereignties and the Problem of Order— ​From Independence to 1840 Following independence, Spanish America adopted republican forms of government, excepting only the two Mexican imperial experiments: Agustín de Iturbide’s (1822–​1823) and the Second Empire (1864–​1867). The republican forms adopted all provided for representation, though remained open to challenge by alternative manifestations of popular sovereignty. Two common features characterized the numerous political and armed struggles that took place across post-​independence Spanish America. First, there were disputes about the locus of self-​government: in what territories should it inhere, and how should it be divided between centers and localities. Second, in contrast to what happened in Europe, the fear of popular uprisings did not translate into severe voting restrictions. The extent to which suffrage was extended varied across post-​ independence states, and changes over time did not follow a lineal pattern. “Autonomy” was the main criterion for inclusion, and women, children, and enslaved men were generally excluded on grounds of “social dependency,” as at times were domestic servants and journeymen. Literacy could also be listed as a requirement, although its enforcement was generally postponed. Provisions relating to property, income, or profession changed over the years as constitutions changed, as in Chile, Ecuador, and Colombia. Electoral legislation generally did not make ethnic or racial distinctions; as a result, wide swathes of the middle and lower sectors including Indians, mestizos, and free blacks had suffrage rights.8 Studies of electoral practices have shown that the participation of these groups often depended on control 8 Sabato, Republics, 50–​60.

194  Re-imagining Democracy mechanisms—​formal and informal—​that could prevent them from voting. The fact that electoral processes were usually supervised by local authorities opened the way to negotiation and forms of inclusion or exclusion that were not legally mandated. In this period, Peru and the River Plate—​the two case studies to which we particularly attend in this chapter—​traced contrasting trajectories, setting the scene for different patterns in terms of how “democracy” was discussed. Peru, following San Martín’s protectorate and the Bolivarian era (1822–​ 1827), entered a period in which military caudillos engaged in constant and violent disputes for power, with no one able to establish a secure hold on the presidency. Recent scholarship highlights caudillos’ flexible use of available political tools. Cristóbal Aljovín has outlined a common sequence in which caudillos claimed that government corruption necessitated a resort to violence. They appealed to popular support to launch an uprising, congress endorsed the action, and the cycle ended with new elections to legitimize the new ruler.9 In this context, though caudillos formed alliances with local notables, they also needed to negotiate their support among peasants—​who were mostly indigenous, as Cecilia Méndez’s studies have shown,10 and in Lima with artisan unions, as explored by Iñigo García-​Bryce.11 Some features of Peru’s electoral culture deserve emphasis. First, a very inclusive voting law defining who had the right to vote at the first stage of the indirect electoral process opened the way to broad participation, although social hierarchies and networks played a large part in the selection of candidates to the electoral colleges.12 Second, elections were competitive, and success depended on mobilizing the electorate. Third, competing claims were often resolved at the next level, in the electoral colleges, adding another instance of negotiations and complexity. Fourth, factional or party divisions were volatile and did not straightforwardly reflect social identities or ideologies, although, as Paul Gootenberg has argued, caudillos did have 9 Cristóbal Aljovín de Losada, “Votos y bayonetas: Perú 1825-​1851,” in Historia de las elecciones en el Perú: estudios sobre el gobierno representativo, ed. Cristóbal Aljovín de Losada and Sinesio López (Lima, 2005): 177–​78. 10 Cecilia Méndez, The Plebeian Republic: The Huanta Rebellion and the Making of the Peruvian State, 1820-​1850 (Durham, NC, 2005). 11 Iñigo García-​Bryce, Crafting the Republic: Lima’s Artisans and National Building in Peru, 1821-​ 1879 (Albuquerque, NM, 2004). 12 Peruvian suffrage was quite open, except under the Bolivarian constitution of 1826 and in the Santa Cruz period, 1836–​1839. The 1828 constitution granted citizenship to all men over 21 years, or married, without any limitations except participation in the trafficking of enslaved persons, holding positions abroad, incarceration for serious crimes, vagrancy, religious vows, or having abandoned their wife or divorced with culpability.

Political Cultures and Practices  195 diverse competing visions for the republic.13 Fifth, in the larger cities, the growing presence of periodicals and pamphlets became a key feature of electoral campaigns. In villages and small pueblos, candidates used other tools. In 1834, for example, Luis José de Orbegoso undertook a campaign trip through the Andean south to forge personal ties with potential voters.14 A conflict that erupted in 1834 illustrates several kinds of disruption that arose in the context of elections. In 1829, the military leader Agustín Gamarra assumed the presidency and, although he dealt with almost two dozen rebellions and uprisings, he became the first president to complete his term. As the constitution of 1828 did not allow the president to be reelected for a consecutive term, Gamarra called a national convention in 1833 to modify this constitutional clause so that he could serve again immediately. Elections to the convention were competitive and violent, and while the new constitution introduced only minimal changes, it soon faced strong opposition. Furthermore, after no candidate achieved enough votes in the electoral colleges, the convention, claiming the right to choose the new president, proceeded to appoint the military leader Luis José de Orbegoso. Gamarra challenged the decision and initiated a civil war but was defeated. Orbegoso’s presidential authority was nevertheless weakened by these events. He therefore embarked on negotiations with the president of Bolivia, Mariscal Andrés de Santa Cruz, which ultimately led to the formation of a Peruvian–​Bolivian confederation and to a further new constitution in 1837. After the fall of the confederation, Gamarra laid claim to the Peruvian presidency, and in 1839 a further new constitution was approved to legitimize his rule. The cycle of revolts and elections nevertheless continued.15 The experience of the River Plate was significantly different, as provincial demands for autonomy led to the collapse of an attempt to centralize power in 1820. Until 1852, the region remained divided into sovereign provincial units linked through interprovincial pacts and, after 1831, through membership in a loose confederation dominated by Buenos Aires, the most powerful province. For more than three decades, each province was organized under republican governments with their own rules and with authorities elected by 13 Paul Gootenberg, Between Silver and Guano. Commercial Policy and State in Post-​independence Peru (Princeton, NJ, 1989), 69–​99. 14 Cristóbal Aljovín de Losada, “Sufragio y participación política. Perú 1808-​1896,” in Historia de las elecciones en el Perú, 49–​59. 15 Aljovín de Losada, “Votos,” 178–​80; Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, “Batallas por la legitimidad. Constitucionalismo y conflicto político en el Perú del siglo XIX (1812–​1860),” Revista de Indias, no. 246 (2009): 115–​16.

196  Re-imagining Democracy popular suffrage which, in most cases, was highly inclusive. In 1821 the government of Buenos Aires passed a new electoral law that granted the right to vote to all “free men” (or avecindados) over 20 years of age. More strikingly, the law established direct elections for legislative representatives, something highly unusual in this era when indirect suffrage was more common and generally perceived to be an important step to the control of the “excesses” of popular sovereignty.16 Legislators appointed the governor, who was the head of the executive branch of government.17 At the same time cabildos, key colonial institutions of urban government but now seen as the locus of popular assemblies and associated with direct democracy, were abolished and were not replaced by new municipal institutions, thus eliminating any intermediate representative body.18 The provincial government fostered public debate by stimulating the circulation of newspapers and periodicals that were protected by the freedom of the press law of 1821, and by encouraging civil associations.19 During the 1820s, political life in Buenos Aires was very active, with broad electoral participation in both urban and rural areas and intense public campaigning accompanied by debate in the press about lists of candidates. In the early years, these lists did not make clear distinctions among “parties” or “factions”; rather, they presented the contest as one among lists of people who competed to have a seat in the legislature. At the end of 1824, during the Constitutional Congress that was set up with the aim of bringing together all the provinces, a clear divide emerged between two main contending groups, later known as Unitarians and Federalists. The congress failed and dissolved in 1827, leaving deeper factionalism and increasing political violence. It was in this context that Juan Manuel de Rosas, a large landowner and commander of rural militias, was elected governor of Buenos Aires in 1829, emerging as leader of the Federalists. In contrast to Peruvian contenders, Rosas managed to dominate the political order for two decades—​both in the province of Buenos Aires and across the entire confederation, although his 16 An example of less inclusive electoral regulations is provided by the Province of Córdoba. The constitution of 1821 established indirect elections to choose representatives to the legislature and excluded descendants of slaves until the fourth generation, paid domestic servants, and those with no property of at least 400 pesos or lucrative useful employment for the country. 17 It should be noted, however, that to be a representative one had to be over the age of 25 and an owner of property. 18 The political control of the province in the urban and rural areas was in the hands of the “judges of peace” (jueces de paz) appointed by the governor. 19 Pilar González Bernaldo, Civilidad y política en los orígenes de la Nación Argentina. Las sociabilidades en Buenos Aires, 1829-​1862 (Buenos Aires, 2001).

Political Cultures and Practices  197 power was not legitimized by a constitution. Capitalizing on pre-​existing factious disputes, he imposed a novel “republican experiment” in Buenos Aires (described below) and, from there, expanded his influence over the rest of the provinces through negotiations and pacts with local leaders and also through his powerful armies. Making use of the classic cry of the “republic in danger,” he presented his opponents as conspirators and enemies of order; many were forced into exile. As Jorge Myers has highlighted, Rosas appealed through the official press to tropes of classical republicanism rooted in ancient Rome, though in practice he depended on modern republican tools—​such as the representative system—​to legitimize his regime.20 Within the province of Buenos Aires, elections were held annually according to the electoral law of 1821, with its wide and direct suffrage. By the 1830s, popular sovereignty embodied in the right to vote had become such an essential dimension of the political culture that a periodical article signed by “Las Porteñas Federales” demanded that women also be granted voting rights.21 In this context of high social and political mobilization, Rosas succeeded in building an order that effectively excluded his rivals. He closed opportunities to participate in the shaping of candidate lists, by imposing a single-​list system and ending the freedom of the press. Electoral processes in this context became rituals that legitimized his power, supported by a formidable apparatus of political propaganda that centered on devotion to his persona and the demonization of his opponents. Rosas also implemented plebiscites to ratify the “extraordinary powers” delegated to him by the legislature in 1835. Plebiscites were celebrated as opportunities for “the people” to “directly” express their “will.”22 By channeling the exercise of popular sovereignty in this way, Rosas consolidated his regime on the basis of substantive popular support from both urban and rural subaltern groups, from the black population in the city of Buenos Aires to the gauchos and “friendly Indians” who inhabited the province’s frontier.23 In sum, Peru came to be dominated by military leaders who failed to stabilize their authority within a representative system; instead, there was a string of revolutions, elections, and constitutions. In the River Plate, a 20 Jorge Myers, Orden y virtud. El discurso republicano en el régimen rosista (Bernal, 1995). 21 La Gaceta Mercantil, Buenos Aires, April 27, 1833. 22 Marcela Ternavasio, La revolución del voto. Política y elecciones en Buenos Aires, 1810–​1852 (Buenos Aires, 2002), 175–​237; Marcela Ternavasio, “Rosas y el rosismo: lecturas sobre la república plebiscitaria,” Estudios, no. 45 (2021): 79–​98. 23 Ricardo Salvatore, Wandering Paysanos. State Order and Subaltern Experience in Buenos Aires during the Rosas Era (Durham, NC, 2003).

198  Re-imagining Democracy constitution-​less confederal order was dominated by the governor of the most powerful province, who legitimized his authority through a personalist regime and with military strength but also on the basis of popular electoral support within his own province.

Mid-​century Visons of Democracy The 1840s brought a degree of stability and economic growth to Spanish America, and with it, significant change. In some places, for instance Buenos Aires, this was achieved by a tightening of executive grip, involving the consolidation of Rosas’ rule by closing in on the opposition and reinforcing controls over the public sphere. In other states, including Peru and Chile, these changes resulted in more political openness, a greater circulation of ideas, the flourishing of print culture, and the emergence of new political practices. New visions of democracy spread by publicists reflected, in large part, a response to such local experiences as well as to imported and adapted French “Doctrinaire” ideas and selective readings of the political culture of the United States. Doctrinaire ideas, involving the belief that democracy should equate to the rule of reason, could serve to enforce hierarchies and justify exclusions. For some, the United States presented an aspirational or even utopian model of an educated civil society. Discourses of representative democracy, as characteristic of modern republics, gradually replaced previous usages associated with direct government and antiquity—​though democratic republics could still be envisioned in multiple ways. A common question posed in new discourses related to “the people” was whether the new republics in Spanish America were ready for democratic practice. Holding rather somber views about their societies, the political elites saw the development of the press, education, and associations as tools to move forward toward a better future, meanwhile using “democracy” variously to legitimize or condemn particular ideas and practices. Illustrations of the multiple references and political applications of “democracy” in public debate at this time can be found in the writings of anti-​ Rosas Argentines in exile. Many exiles had been members of the “New Generation,” a political and cultural movement that had borne fruit in the foundation of the University of Buenos Aires in 1821 and was shaped by the 1837 Salón Literario that emulated Mazzini’s Young Italy and other such European associations, and whose members aimed to define a national

Political Cultures and Practices  199

“Juan Manuel de Rosas.” In Muera Rosas, no. 10. Montevideo, March 5, 1842.

project for Argentina. Once Rosas consolidated his power, he closed down the Salón Literario, defunded the university, and censored any reference to politics in the press. The number of periodicals in circulation declined from nineteen in 1830 to four in 1841, and those that remained were put to the task of disseminating official doctrine.24 Rosas’s opponents and most members of the “New Generation” were forced into exile, from whence they continued their public campaign against the “tyrant” mostly through a series of periodicals, such as Muera Rosas, printed in Montevideo and then circulated clandestinely in Buenos Aires among the governor’s opponents. Thirteen issues were published between December 1841 and April 1842. Mostly taking the form of satire, Muera Rosas was one of the first periodicals in the River



24 Myers, Orden y virtud, 28.

200  Re-imagining Democracy Plate to incorporate caricatures as a political, visual weapon, aiming to reach a wide audience (particularly among the popular sectors) to undermine the government’s propaganda.25 Many exiles fled to Chile, where the conservative government of Manuel Bulnes, inaugurated in 1841, provided a space for cultural expansion and political stability in the context of a curtailed opposition.26 Argentine exiles played important roles in Chilean cultural developments, particularly in the expanding press. Their writings had a significant impact on public debates both within Chile and before wider audiences inside and outside Latin America.27 In these writings they made frequent reference to democracy, developing three main lines of thought depending on whether they used the term in relation to the River Plate, the United States, or Chile. In the River Plate, they argued, the emergence of democracy during the post-​1810 revolutionary politics had led to the despotic government of Rosas. While the exiles offered several explanations for this outcome, all premised that the people were ill-​equipped to exercise sovereignty. The electoral law of 1821 was viewed as having enabled Rosas’ rule by awarding the right to vote to persons not yet fit for it. The law began at this point to be described as having bestowed “universal suffrage,” a term not used when it was introduced, when its breadth had been discussed in terms of the difficulty of finding any clear “fixed rule” for exclusion in a society perceived to have no deep inequalities or rigid social hierarchies.28 In retrospect, it was argued that the law had been based on an erroneous idea of “democracy.” Thus, Esteban Echeverría, one of the romantic leaders of the “New Generation” and deeply influenced by the ideas of the French Doctrinaires (in particular by Guizot), published in his Dogma Socialista (1838) the view that, rightly understood “democracy . . . is not the absolute despotism of the masses, nor of the majorities; it is the regime of reason.”29 Accused of being a conspirator 25 Claudia A. Román, “Gritos visibles. Imágenes y palabras en los periódicos de oposición durante el Segundo gobierno de Rosas (1839-​1842),” Anuario IEHS 33 (2): 218. 26 Edward Blumenthal, Exile and Nation-​State Formation in Argentina and Chile, 1810-​1862 (Cham, Switzerland, 2020). 27 Ana María Stuven, La seducción de un orden. Las elites y la construcción de Chile en la polémicas culturales y políticas del siglo XIX (Santiago, 2000). 28 “Ilustración sobre las causas de nuestra anarquía y del modo de evitarla,” signed by “Don F.S y dada a luz por un amigo suyo,” (Buenos Aires, 1820). Archivo General de la Nación, Buenos Aires, Sala 7, Colección Celesia, Impresos 1820, legajo 2472. 29 Esteban Echeverría, Dogma Socialista (Buenos Aires, 1915), 185; Klaus Gallo, “Esteban Echeverría’s Critique of Universal Suffrage: The Traumatic Development of Democracy in Argentina, 1821-​1852,” in, Giuseppe Mazzini and the Globalization of Democratic Nationalism 1830-​1920, ed. C. A. Bayly and Eugenio B. Biagini (Oxford, 2008), 229–​310.

Political Cultures and Practices  201 on account of this publication, Echeverría was forced to leave Buenos Aires, taking refuge in Montevideo. Similarly, Domingo F. Sarmiento, while in exile in Santiago, wrote of the dialectical, tense coexistence of two cultures: one rural and barbaric, the other urban and civilized.30 He concluded that in that context, to “democratize” meant to “barbarize,” and campaigned against the “anarchic excesses of democracies out of control,” of which the River Plate was the prime example.31 By contrast, the United States, read selectively through Alexis de Tocqueville’s account, was praised as the most perfect of democracies.32 The exiles argued that although the River Plate and the United States demonstrated shared values in their struggles for independence, their different trajectories could be explained by the backwardness and ignorance of the masses in the former, in contrast to the level of education and associational life in the latter.33 The exiles invoked the example of the United States in support of proposals for decentralization of power to municipalities, party competition, and the promotion of associations and education.34 Ruminations on their host country, most interestingly, allowed the exiles to move beyond the reductive binary between Rosas’s demagogic despotism on the one hand, and on the other “a democracy that only exists in North America.”35 Seeing through the prism of their own political experiences, they joined local conservative voices in praising Chile’s “exceptionality” as the only Spanish American republic that had managed to achieve enduring stability “without having enthroned either a caudillo or a despot.”36 A stable constitution, regular elections and congressional sessions, and institutional strength were all perceived as positive features. But the exiles were at the same time critical of Chilean society’s hierarchies, as manifest both in official ceremonies and in more profound ways.37 They criticized the large gap 30 Sarmiento’s famous Facundo, Civilization or Barbarism, was first published in El Progreso in 1845 before it was printed as a book. 31 “Intervención anglo-​francesa,” El Progreso, June 8, 1843. 32 José Antonio Aguilar Rivera, “Democracy in the (Other) America,” in The Cambridge Companion to Democracy in America, ed. Richard Boyd (Cambridge: 2022), 204–​5; Jorge Myers, “Democracy in South America,” in Importing Modernity in Post-​Colonial State Formation. The Appropriation of Political, Educational and Cultural Models in Nineteenth-​Century Latin America, ed. Eugenia Roldán Vera and Marcelo Caruso (Frankfurt, 2007), 153–​204. 33 “El Progreso: el telégrafo,” El Progreso, July 20, 1844. 34 “Teorías del Senado,” April 5, 1843; “Que es la municipalidad?” April 19, 1843; “Espíritu democrático,” August 12, 1844, all printed in El Progreso. 35 “Esclavitud moderna,” El Progreso, June 17, 1843. 36 “El progreso,” El Progreso, March 18, 1843. 37 Domingo F. Sarmiento, “Las fiestas del 18 de septiembre en Santiago,” El Mercurio, September 25, 1842.

202  Re-imagining Democracy between a small, closed, and conservative elite and the extremely poor lower classes, pejoratively termed los rotos (“those in rags”). Nonetheless, they also objected to what they saw as erroneous egalitarian notions—​witnessed in Sarmiento’s reaction to the radical Chilean Francisco Bilbao’s translation of Félicité de Lamennais’s Modern Slavery (1843). Whereas Bilbao proposed that the Chilean people should enjoy a share of political power to end their enslavement, Sarmiento warned that, “given their misery and ignorance,” Bilbao was in effect paying “homage to barbarism.”38 Bilbao, at the time a young founding member of the Sociedad Literaria, had a more radical take on “democracy” influenced by his sojourn in France (where Lamennais, for example, was a leading voice among radical Catholic democrats); such radical views were unusual in this region at this time. In his famous essay on “Chilean Sociability” published in El Crepúsculo in 1844, Bilbao presented democracy as the necessary concomitant of national sovereignty, a destiny that could ultimately be fulfilled only through a series of “revolutions” to bring freedom of religion, land distribution, access to education, and the end of political privileges. Bilbao was tried and convicted for blasphemy and immorality because he challenged the Catholic doctrines that had served as the foundations of Chile’s moderate and orderly society, though he was set free after paying bail.39 Debates about democracy also came to the fore in Peru in the late 1840s. The country experienced important cultural changes after Ramón Castilla’s first presidency (1845–​1851) inaugurated a policy of reconciliation between liberals and conservatives. Aided by an economic boom based on the export of guano, which came to account for 80% of the government’s income, the state grew in strength. Political stability and wealth expanded the circulation of ideas through a reinvigorated social and intellectual life, also bolstered, as elsewhere, by developments in education. In contrast to what happened in the River Plate and Chile, however, liberal and conservative elites in Lima in the 1840s were educated in separate institutions, reinforcing their animosity. The rivalries between the conservative Colegio de San Carlos and the liberal Colegio de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe fueled ideological debates and fed political factions.

38 “Esclavitud moderna,” El Progreso, June 17, 1843. 39 Stuven, La seducción, 251–​82; James E. Sanders, The Vanguard of the Atlantic World. Creating Modernity, Nation, and Democracy in Nineteenth-​Century Latin America (Durham, NC, 2014), 136–​60.

Political Cultures and Practices  203 Like Chile, Peru experienced a rise in the number of quality periodicals, whose production was concentrated in Lima, Arequipa, and Cuzco. Subsidized by the government or published by groups or individuals, they mostly concentrated on politics, and circulation numbers rose in anticipation of each election. While in Lima as a correspondent for the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio, Pedro Felix Vicuña found the Peruvian press freer than in his home country and was surprised by its popularity in a city with only 30% literacy. He noted that Lima residents avidly consumed periodicals, which were read aloud and commented upon in chicherías and chinganas, and that “(e)ven the women joined in.”40 Present in most cities, these taverns or corner stores were important sites for the circulation of news and rumors among the popular sectors and also served as places where urban and rural workers met. Although Peru’s periodicals were published in Spanish, these urban sites facilitated transfers to rural populations where Quechua and Aymara were the main languages. The rise of literary, scientific, and social associations also reflected the relative prosperity of Peru, and particularly Lima. The participation of newspaper owners, editors, and writers as hosts and members of these associations enhanced their importance in the circulation of ideas, even if their political impact (and number) was less than in some other Latin American cities.41 Among these Peruvian societies, artisan associations were the most numerous. At a time when associations were perceived as a marker of civilization, artisans—​ possibly influenced by the events in Europe in 1848—​defended their right to associate in order to enjoy “the benefits and advantages that democracy offers” and to achieve social equality.42 Estimated to form 5% of the population of Lima in the 1860s, artisans represented a heterogeneous middle sector between landowners and large merchants on the one hand, and peasants, servants, and (until 1854) enslaved persons on the other; among them, mestizos, black people, and Indians predominated. While the political orientation of these associations requires further research, Lima’s artisans were not political novices; on the contrary, they had a long record of political participation. They supported different caudillos and factions and engaged in relentless and successful efforts to protect their economic interests through the press and petitions to congress.43

40 Carlos A. Forment, Democracy in Latin America, 1760-​1900 (Chicago, 2003), 218. 41 Ibid., 285.

42 “Unos artesanos,” El Comercio, November 29, 1851, cited in Forment, Democracy, 233. 43 García Bryce, Crafting the Republic, 41–​70.

204  Re-imagining Democracy In the context of this larger circulation of ideas in Peru in the 1840s, as compared to the River Plate, it is not altogether surprising that “democracy” was more frequently invoked—​and not only in Lima. Cuzco, by this time a city of 30,000 people, had witnessed a surge of publications after the first arrival of a printing press in 1824.44 Now the periodical El Demócrata Americano, which first appeared in 1846, offered lengthy and positive coverage of the concept. In a five-​installment series published in 1848 and signed “Demócrata,” the paper extolled the advantages of democratic government, defined as a government based on popular sovereignty, and contrasted it with aristocracy and monarchy. It also argued that the region had retained its original “democratic instincts” despite thirty years of civil and political struggles.45 Others were less enamored. Many complained in El Comercio, Peru’s leading newspaper, about the “frenetic democrats” who refused to understand the limits that should be imposed on the people according to their capacity and reason.46 The possible meanings of the term, and their implications, came to be hotly contested in congress. The most relevant debate took place in September 1849 when, after asking, “What, then, is democracy?”, Bishop Bartolomé Herrera proceeded to define it as “a way of governing with the objective of common happiness.”47 Herrera, the former head of the Colegio de San Carlos, represented an ultra-​montane position; he maintained that God was the sole source of authority, judged post-​Gamarra disorder to be “divine punishment,” and repudiated notions of popular sovereignty and universal suffrage. It is interesting that he did not repudiate “democracy” but rather sought to define it in a way that suited him. Pedro Gálvez, voicing the liberal position, challenged Herrera, arguing that the term did not mean government for all, but by all.48 In other debates in congress and in opinion pieces in the press, writers and legislators representing different political viewpoints used France as a point of reference. Conservatives such as Herrera continued to embrace the ideas of the Doctrinaires and, even after 1848, the works of Thiers and Guizot remained popular. Many also argued that developments in 44 Charles F. Walker, “ ‘La orgía periodística’. Prensa y cultura política en el Cuzco durante la joven república,” Revista de Indias 61, no. 221, (2001): 2–​26. 45 “Demócrata. Ventajas del sistema democrático. Vicios y defectos de las monarquías y aristocracias,” El Demócrata Americano, January 8, 1848. See also February 7, February 22, April 7, and April 14, 1848. 46 “Defensa libre,” El Comercio, September 26, 1849. 47 The debates were reproduced in El Comercio. The citation is from September 14, 1849. 48 Gabriella Chiaramonti, “A propósito del debate Herrera-​Gálvez de 1849: breves reflexiones sobre el sufragio de los indios analfabetos,” in Historia de las elecciones en el Perú, 913–​1013.

Political Cultures and Practices  205 France after 1848 illustrated the dangers of marching toward democracy, understood as entailing social equality and the centralization of power.49 As in Chile, radical thought, by contrast, impacted the liberal youth, although usually within a Catholic framework in which anticlerical ideas such as Bilbao’s had no place.50 The implications of the cultural changes that took place in the 1840s came to the fore in the partisan world of the 1850s. The cases of Peru and Argentina, analyzed below, serve to show that once the term “democracy” attained centrality and positive value in public debate, invocations became quite numerous and diverse. References to “democracy” served different functions in the nation-​building process: rival parties used it to legitimize their policies as they disputed how best to define and implement the principle of popular sovereignty, but the concept also served as a means to unite once-​rival factions in a common cause.

Politics, Elections, and War in the 1850s The 1851 elections in Peru led to the first peaceful transfer of presidential power. As José Ragas Rojas has shown, the campaign lasted almost two years and introduced important novelties to the Peruvian political system. Elections in the parishes to choose provincial electors (according to the indirect electoral process) were held in February 1850; elections in provincial electoral colleges were scheduled for December of that year; and the newly elected president was scheduled to be announced by congress in early 1851. Amid this process, clubs and associations articulated various social groups, while platforms and partisan papers outlined competing ideologies more clearly than in the past. The election became highly competitive, with record numbers of people participating. Two candidates with military careers, José Rufino Echenique and Manuel Ignacio Vivanco, competed in February but, surprisingly, in October, Domingo Elías, a wealthy merchant from Ica, launched his own candidacy, aspiring to win provincial electors’ votes.51 Elías 49 “Francia,” May 12, 1852; “La democracia y el socialismo,” March 28, 1853, both printed in El Comercio. 50 Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, “The Influence of the European 1848 Revolutions in Peru,” in The European Revolutions of 1848 and the Americas, ed. Guy P.C. Thompson (London, 2002), 191–​216. 51 José Frank Ragas Rojas, Ciudadanía, cultura política y representación en el Perú: La campaña electoral de 1850 (Lima, 2003). See also, Martín Monsalve Zanatti, “Del sufragio a la sociedad civil: pánicos morales, utopías liberales y las campañas electorales limeñas de 1850 a 1858,” in Más

206  Re-imagining Democracy had previously presented himself as the civilian alternative to military leaders in the so-​called Semana Magna of 1844, when he launched a revolt in Lima appealing to the “citizen in arms” (in contrast to the paid soldier) arguing for civilian empowerment. After Castilla took military control and called for presidential elections in 1844, Elías became the first civilian to launch a presidential candidacy, though ultimately he received little support.52 In the presidential campaign of 1851, Elías promoted his civilian candidacy once again, now through another innovation: a political club. The Club Progresista was founded in Lima in mid-​1849 with a party platform and a periodical, El Progreso, an eight-​page weekly that aimed to engage in public debate and lift the campaign above mere personal attacks. In a context in which the word “party” was still pejorative, Echenique and Vivanco organized their campaigns through “societies.” Memberships in Echenique’s “Sociedad Conservadora de la Constitución y de la Paz” and Vivanco’s “El Porvenir” were by invitation only, and the societies had internal rules. These innovations were fragile. Associations had no legal protection and could be shut down and their members persecuted, as happened in the case of the Sociedad defensora de la Constitución y el Sufragio in Cuzco that supported Elías.53 Local clubs, which fed into these societies, oversaw the mobilization of the electorate through banquets, rallies, parades, and candidates’ visits to pulperías and chinganas. Vivanco also published a party platform and organized a “meeting” (sic) in which some 4,000 merchants, artisans, farmers, and others marched through the city of Lima in an orderly, peaceful and non-​hierarchical manner—​a novel civic display that stood in contrast to the customary violent mobilizations. The banquets held in his honor during the campaign were also depicted by the press as notably inclusive.54 These practices were not presented or celebrated as “democratic”; both Vivanco and Echenique’s electoral campaigns appealed to the traditional concepts of liberty and order.

allá de la dominación y la resistencia: estudios de historia peruana, siglos XVI-​XX, ed. Pablo Drinot and Leo Garofolo (Lima, 2005): 215–​37. 52 Víctor Peralta Ruiz, “El mito del ciudadano armado. La ‘Semana Magna’ y las elecciones de 1844 en Lima,” in Ciudadanía política y formación de las naciones. Perspectivas históricas de América Latina, ed. Hilda Sabato (Mexico City, 1999), 239–​51. 53 Alex Loayza Pérez, “El Club Progresista y la coyuntura electoral de 1849-​1851,” in Historia de las elecciones en el Perú, 1143. 54 El Comercio, November 12, 1849.

Political Cultures and Practices  207 Still, as the electoral campaign progressed, references to “democracy” became more frequent, eventually emerging as a central theme of the liberals’ campaign. The above-​mentioned debate between Herrera and Gálvez took place in the context of discussions about the electoral franchise, which, like most such debates, focused on who to exclude from the electoral system and how (rather than who to include). The 1839 constitution had raised the voting age to 25 (from 21) and established literacy restrictions, except in the case of mestizos and indigenous persons who lived in areas without primary schools, which meant that in practice, voting for these groups remained highly accessible. This proviso, set to expire in 1844, was extended in 1847 until a new constitution could decide the matter. Extreme conservatives such as Herrera resorted to the Doctrinaire concept of “capacity” in favor of a democracy where the illiterate would be excluded, and the right to vote would be stripped from most Indians (representing 60% of Peru’s population, of which 80% were illiterate), mestizos, and the urban plebe.55 Not all conservatives agreed. Vivanco, possibly speculating on the advantages of high voting numbers given that his base was in densely populated Arequipa, supported universal suffrage, arguing that while intelligence was distributed in society in a hierarchical three-​tier system, yet each group had a role to play.56 Liberals defended universal suffrage in the name of democracy on the grounds that it trained the population for citizenship. Understood as the right of all men to exercise sovereignty, “democracy” became central to their campaign. Through El Progreso, they presented Elías as the “man of the people” whose candidacy was “the most consistent with the essence of our democratic institutions.”57 Democracy was linked to civilian government, presented as incompatible with military power, and also as exercised through associations, political clubs, the printed press, and debate. It should be noted that liberals’ discourse on “democracy” and support for universal suffrage did not entail reference to social equality or a change in Peru’s social, racial,

55 Gabriela Chiaramonti, “A propósito del debate Herrera-​Gálvez de 1849: breves reflexiones sobre el sufragio de los indios analfabetos,” in Cristóbal Aljovín de Losada and Sinesio López ed. Historia de las Elecciones en el Perú (Lima, 2005). On the relationship between literacy and voting regulations and practices, see José Ragas, “Leer, escribir, votar. Literacidad y cultura política en el Perú 1810-​ 1900,” Histórica 31, no. 1 (2007) : 107–​34. 56 Programa del Diputado electo por la Provincia de Arequipa Gral. D. Manuel F. de Vivanco, precedido de los documentos que lo han originado (Lima, 1850), 130–​31. Vivanco’s position on universal suffrage changed again after the elections in favor of restrictions. Alicia del Águila Peralta, La ciudadanía corporativa: política, constituciones y sufragio en el Perú (1821-​1896) (Lima, 2013), 129. 57 El Progreso, November 30, 1850. See also, September 15 and 29, 1849; and December 14 and 28, 1850.

208  Re-imagining Democracy or gender hierarchies; if anything, it aimed to shore them up. The expansion of education, one of its main priorities, was designed to improve the quality of artisans’ work but not to raise their status. Women, considered “the weak sex, born to embellish men’s domestic existence,” were to be instructed in domestic virtue.58 Liberals were ideologically diverse. Some advocated the end of Indian tribute and slavery, whereas some leaders, including Elías, were among the larger owners of enslaved people.59 Regardless of partisan discourses, elections required voters, and election times were moments in which social hierarchies became blurred. Artisans, who during the campaign portrayed themselves as “the people” and as hard-​ working and productive members of society, were particularly sought after by all candidates. They could help to organize voters, and some qualified to be electors at the next level.60 The campaign was highly competitive, and the elections were particularly violent; Echenique’s victory was assured once Castilla opted to support him, with Elías securing the second most votes and Vivanco coming in a distant third.61 Having lost the presidential election, liberals nonetheless soon gained the chance to implement their program. In 1854, taking advantage of general discontent with Echenique’s presidency, they organized a series of uprisings, and Castilla, taking command of the revolution, overthrew Echenique in January 1855. These lengthy struggles had important consequences, as their leaders entered into negotiations with, and made concessions to, different social sectors to gain support.62 As a result, Indian tribute was abolished, and enslaved peoples’ long struggles for legal freedom came to an end with the abolition of slavery. Neither the language of these measures nor of revolutionary proclamations invoked the term “democracy”; these were framed by both sides in terms of fairness and justice.63 Following tradition, once in power as provisional president, Castilla called for elections for an assembly charged with drafting a new constitution. During their moment in power, liberals introduced a series of institutional and administrative initiatives. The National Assembly was elected in 1855

58 “Invitación,” El Progreso, November 10, 1849. 59 Peter Blanchard, “The ‘Transitional Man’ in Nineteenth-​Century Latin America. The Case of Domingo Elías of Perú,” Bulletín of Latin American Research 15, no. 2 (1996): 157–​76. 60 Monsalve Zanatti, “Del sufragio.” 61 Loayza Perez, “El Club,” 95–​103. 62 Víctor Peralta Ruiz, “La guerra civil peruana de 1854. Los entresijos de una revolución,” Anuario de Estudios Americanos 70, no. 1 (2013), 195–​219. 63 Blanchard, “The Transitional Man.”

Political Cultures and Practices  209

In “My Printing Press,” Manuel Fuentes depicts his editorial and printing room, portraying himself as half man /​half bat, deciding on what to publish in his periodical. Reprinted in Manuel A. Fuentes, Aletazos del Murciélago, Paris, 1866, Vol. 1, 11. Courtesy of the University of Notre Dame.

under a new electoral law which provided for universal suffrage and a direct vote. All men over 21 years, with no further restrictions, were granted the vote in the most expansive electoral law implemented in Peru since independence. The momentum gave liberals the opportunity to put into practice their ideas about democracy as consisting in a large electoral base ruled by the “most capable,” while the lower sectors were educated in its practices. However, the success of liberals’ drive for universal suffrage proved short-​ lived. The constitution of 1856 maintained the age restrictions and the direct vote in the context of limited suffrage by adding some requirements: literacy, or be head of a workshop, or own property, or being retired following service in the armed forces. The law did not make any specification regarding the indigenous peoples, who as owners of property often continued to be included as citizens even if they were illiterate. The requirements affected more directly the urban illiterate population—​many of its members were indigenous, mestizos, and black people, and were less likely to have property or be workshop heads.64 While radical representatives such as José Gálvez



64 Aguila Peralta, La ciudadanía, 162–​68.

210  Re-imagining Democracy

In “The Tabladillo Project,” Manuel Fuentes mocks the liberals’ 1855 electoral system of direct elections and universal male suffrage. The Tabladillo, the electoral booth, is depicted as surrounded by voters from the lower sectors, including black people in the first post-​abolition elections. Manuel A. Fuentes, Aletazos del Murciélago, Paris, 1866, Vol. 1, 98. Courtesy of the University of Notre Dame.

continued to defend unrestricted and direct suffrage, moderate liberals echoed conservatives’ views that the electoral experiment had been disappointing. Some conservative voices went further. Journalist and academic Manuel Fuentes, notably, launched a series of satires against the government in his newspaper El Murciélago (The Bat), one of the few publications that included lithograph cartoons.65 The black population was particularly blamed for violence and corruption on election day and accused of “discrediting all democratic institutions.”66 Ungrounded accusations that violence and corruption in the city had risen as former enslaved people voted for the first time served to discredit the law offering universal suffrage.67 The constitution of 1856 was never implemented,

65 El Murciélago was published between March and May 1855, and some of its issues were reprinted in Manuel Fuentes, Aletazos del Murciélago (Lima, 1866). For Fuentes, see https://​digi​tal-​exhib​its.libr​ ary.nd.edu/​3df​8798​28f/​in-​a-​civili​zed-​nat​ion/​showca​ses/​e14​22b4​d52/​the-​bat-​of-​mid-​cent​ury-​lima. 66 Fuentes, Aletazos del Murciélago, 111. 67 Carlos Aguirre, Agentes de su propia libertad. Los esclavos de Lima y la desintegración de la esclavitud, 1821-​1854 (Lima, 1993), 316.

Political Cultures and Practices  211 but the electoral regulations it had included were maintained until 1860, when a newly elected congress approved a still more conservative constitution, followed by an electoral law that in 1861 re-​established the indirect vote. The language of democracy was not abandoned after the liberals’ defeat.68 Instead, with the increase in popularity of the term, all political groups competed to impose their preferred meaning upon it; most policies came to be defended or attacked in the name of “true democracy.” Liberals continued to defend the democratic principles embedded in the constitution of 1856,69 while conservatives defined it as an act of “demagoguery” and an example of “primitive democracy.”70 The River Plate experienced profound changes in the 1850s, when the fall of Rosas marked the opening of a new political era. In a dramatic sequence of events, the governor of Entre Ríos, Justo José de Urquiza, led a coalition that militarily defeated Rosas in February 1852. Under the Acuerdo de San Nicolás, Urquiza summoned a Constitutional Congress to unite the fourteen provinces into a federal republic, but Buenos Aires rejected the Acuerdo and rose in rebellion against Urquiza, abandoning the confederation. Urquiza’s forces besieged Buenos Aires between December 1852 and March 1853 when, under a new agreement, the province became a separate, autonomous state until 1861. New narratives were required to legitimize leaders’ decisions and actions. In Buenos Aires, public and political life were reborn; freedom of the press was restored, newspapers proliferated, and new associations and political clubs emerged. In this setting the term “democracy” gradually acquired a new and central place in the public sphere. As previously noted, critical members of the “New Generation” had represented Rosas’s despotism as embodying an “erroneous” concept of democracy, supported by the masses empowered by the electoral law of 1821. By contrast, Rosas supporters had portrayed him as the “strong man who put an end to anarchy” arising from “profusely democratic forms.”71 The rise of Urquiza and the confederation, however, required 68 Carmen McEvoy, “De la República jacobina a la República práctica: los dilemas del liberalismo en el Perú, 1822-​1872,” in Liberalismo y poder. Latinoamérica en el siglo XIX, ed. Iván Jaksic and Eduardo Posada-​Carbó (Santiago, 2011), 223–​30. 69 José Gálvez, La Convención Nacional y la Constitución de 1856 (Lima,1858); reprinted in Ius Inkarri. Revista de la Facultad de Derecho y Ciencia Política de la Universidad Ricardo Palma, no. 8 (2019) : 373–​74, 382. 70 Diario de Debates del Congreso reunido en 1860 que ha reformado la Constitución dada por la convención en 1856 Tipografía del “Comercio” por José María Monterola, Calle de la Rifa, n. 55, (Lima, 1860). See, for example, sessions July 30, 1860, 2; and September 10, 1860, 168. 71 Alejandro Eujanian, El pasado en el péndulo de la política. Rosas, la provincial y la nación en el debate politico de Buenos Aires, 1852-​1861 (Buenos Aires, 2015), 47–​51.

212  Re-imagining Democracy the contending sides to unite. Furthermore, if Buenos Aires aspired to lead the new republic, it needed a story about itself other than one of failed leadership, misguided ideas, and tyrants supported by large sectors of its populace. Alejandro Eujanian has shown how a new story was soon devised. All segments of the Buenos Aires elite declared themselves victims of Rosas’s regime; as such, they could bury their differences. Democracy was re-​conceptualized as denoting both a desirable form of government and a positively conceived social egalitarianism. The May Revolution of 1810 was now said to have initiated “the empire of democracy and justice,” while the universal suffrage law of 1821 came to be celebrated as a precocious expression of democracy. The original and profoundly democratic instincts of Buenos Aires, now portrayed as latent during Rosas’s era, were said to have made possible his defeat. Thus rehabilitated, Buenos Aires’s “essentially democratic” character could be invoked in the fight against the new caudillo, Urquiza. A culture of social equality was also claimed to differentiate Buenos Aires both from the provinces of the confederation and from other Latin American countries.72 The newly returned exiles had some experiential basis for contrasting egalitarian Buenos Aires with rigid social hierarchies in Chile; they also invoked Tocqueville to suggest similarities between Buenos Aires and the United States.73 Naturally, things were viewed very differently from within the confederation. President Urquiza denounced the “demagoguery” of Buenos Aires, while Juan Bautista Alberdi, an Argentine exile who supported Urquiza and drafted the 1853 constitution, blamed the 1821 electoral law for having caused continuous disorder in Buenos Aires by politically activating its populacho (lower sectors).74 Yet, Alberdi’s often quoted lines were written in private correspondence. In public, the leaders of the confederation increasingly invoked “democracy” to legitimize their proposals.75 The confederation adopted Buenos Aires’s electoral law of 1821 providing for direct universal male suffrage to elect national authorities. While a few argued for voting restrictions in the name of “capacity,” they were silenced in the name of “democracy.”76 Both states thus came to portray themselves as “born democratic,” both in

72 Ibid., 83. 73 Blumenthal, Exiles, 295–​310. 74 Eujanian, El Pasado, 240. 75 Congreso General Constituyente de la Confederación Argentina, sesión de 1852-​1854, (Buenos Aires: 1871). See, for example, sessions, May 5, 1853, 53; August 25, 1853, 62; October 7, 1853, 73; and November 28, 1853, 79. 76 Congreso Nacional, Cámara de Senadores, Actas de las sesiones del Paraná correspondientes al año 1857 (Buenos Aires, 1884), 60–​66.

Political Cultures and Practices  213 their form of government and in terms of social equality. This story was cemented as the official national narrative for the whole country when, after 1860, Buenos Aires became the leading province of the Argentine Republic and Bartolomé Mitre its first president (1862–​1868) and one of its primary historians.

Final Reflections The era of revolutions and independence struggles encouraged interpretations of popular sovereignty which allowed for its direct exercise. Understanding that insurrections could be legitimized as expressions of popular sovereignty makes it easier to see why revolts, constitutional conventions, and elections so often coexisted in Spanish American political culture—​though the role of insurrection in the mix was greater in some regions than in others (it was large in Peru, less so in Argentina). “Democracy” was variously understood in these contexts, sometimes being invoked by those enthusiastic about changes in the political and social order that undermined old hierarchies and gave more power to the people. Yet it was also quite often understood negatively, above all when it was used to refer to informal expressions of popular will. It was always possible to aspire to a future in which popular participation might be peacefully channeled through elections. The chapter has stressed that popular participation in elections was not a meaningless ritual. Although elections were commonly indirect (reducing the immediate impact of popular choices) and were subject to all sorts of manipulation, they did make it necessary for would-​be political leaders to cultivate real popular support, to enter into negotiations, and to build alliances. Opting for “representative democracy” in this context did not mean opting for an easy fix. By the 1840s representation, sometimes referred to as “representative democracy,” was being widely urged as the best way forward and, at least in major urban centers, election campaigns were increasingly associated with ideological debate in print (including debate about the meaning of “democracy”) and in club-​based efforts to mobilize voters. However, even liberal proponents of this participatory but mediated form of politics remained ready to endorse insurrectionary contests if they saw no other route to getting their way. Moreover, their faith in the voting public as it actually existed—​ rather than as they hoped it might one day be—​was often qualified and

214  Re-imagining Democracy conditional. Those who had knowledge of European debates were more often attracted by the capacitarian idea of democracy developed by the French Doctrinaires than by the more radical egalitarianism of French democratic socialists, though the latter also found some followers. No major restrictions to voting franchises were enacted in this period, but it was already possible to see that hopes of instituting “rational democracy” had the potential to give rise to attempts to exclude sections of the population from politics altogether. Policies of inclusion or exclusion in formal politics varied, as countries in the region followed different paths. While Peru established literacy requirements in 1896, which in practice excluded most of the indigenous population from voting, in Argentina by contrast the new founding myth of a country “born democratic” discouraged any attempt at formal exclusion.

9 Education, Citizenship, and Contesting the Future, 1800–​1860 Nicola Miller

The urgency of educating the people was widely proclaimed during the wars of independence. Napoleon Bonaparte’s ousting of the Iberian monarchs in 1808 conjured up a host of imagined political futures for their American territories, ranging from restoration of the status quo, to greater autonomy under restored colonial rule, to independence as a constitutional monarchy, to independence as a republic. A rare point of agreement was the importance of popular education to the success of whichever project was championed. Advocates of full sovereignty, who were in the minority for some years, stoked the Black Legend of a Spanish tyranny that had deliberately kept the Americas in ignorance of modern knowledge. The Great Liberators proclaimed that emancipation and enlightenment would converge to create a glorious future, thereby making access to education a central element of their claims to legitimacy. More pragmatically, in the midst of long wars, the main imperative was social order: the need to civilize disruptive troops lent urgency to the dream of an educated citizenry. After independence, small ruling classes based in capital cities urgently sought to instill good conduct in the population at large, not least because so many people had borne arms. Education was understood as the prerequisite not only for a virtuous polity but also for the very possibility of orderly social life. As the decree of 1822 on public instruction in Peru declared: “Without education there is properly speaking no society.”1 Governments elsewhere, especially in northwestern Europe and the United States of America, likewise saw a rising role for the state in education, a fact that stoked the ambitions of Creole policymakers who sought alignment with those countries. As historians have repeatedly shown, there is no 1 Gaceta de Lima, July 6, 1822. Nicola Miller, Education, Citizenship, and Contesting the Future, 1800–​1860 In: Re-​imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–​1870. Edited by: Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, Joanna Innes, and Mark Philp, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/​oso/​9780197631577.003.0009

216  Re-imagining Democracy necessary correlation between any particular political system and any kind of educational provision, despite the assumption often made in social science literature that education and democracy are interdependent.2 Even so, it is worth highlighting that the question of national education took on a new twist in countries that enacted new constitutions after social revolutions and/​ or wars of independence. The significance of education policy as a source of legitimacy for newly founded states with insecure control over territory or population was even more striking in those countries that opted for republicanism, as happened throughout Spanish America as well as in France, Haiti, and the United States. In a modern republic, education was represented as both a right, to which everyone was freely entitled, and a duty, whereas previously it had been more of a favor bestowed by a monarch in return for loyalty.3 The change is made clear by comparing the Cádiz Constitution of March 1812 with similar documents adopted soon thereafter by the regional authorities of present-​day Colombia. The Cádiz charter devoted a whole chapter (no. 9) to “Public Education,” stating: “Introductory schools shall be established in every town throughout the kingdom, in which children shall be taught to read, write and cypher, the catechism of the Roman Catholic Religion, and a brief exposition of natural and civil duties and obligations.” In a clear echo but in a markedly different tone, Title 9, “Public Instruction,” of the May 1812 constitution of Antioquia state, declared: “primary schools shall be established in every parish, in which children of whatever social group or background (de cualquiera clase, y condición que sean) shall be taught reading, writing, the bases of Religion, the rights of Man, and the duties of the Citizen, plus the principles of Arithmetic and Geometry.”4 A commitment to popular education was written into the founding constitutions of Latin American states and was retained in subsequent versions, even when much else was discarded. In some cases, the clauses on 2 Key works include Joanna Innes, “L’«éducation nationale» dans ies Îles Britanniques, 1765-​ 1815: Variations britanniques et Irlandaises sur un thème européen,” Annales Histoire, Sciences Sociales 65, no. 5 (2010): 1087–​116; Mary Jo Maynes, Schooling in Western Europe: A Social History (Albany, NY, 1985); and Johann N. Neem, Democracy’s Schools: The Rise of Public Education in America (Baltimore, MD, 2017). On the alleged connection between democracy and education, see Kathy Hytten, “Democracy and Education in the United States,” Oxford Research Encyclopedias, published online March 2017, https//​doi.org/​10.1093/​acrefore/​9780190264093.013.2. 3 Eugenia Roldán Vera, “Towards a Logic of Citizenship: Public Examinations in Elementary Schools in Mexico, 1788–​1848: State and Education before and after Independence,” Paedagogica Historica 46, no. 4 (2010): 511–​24, 523. 4 Constitution of Cádiz, March 19, 1812, http://​www.cerva​ntes​virt​ual.com/​obra-​visor/​the-​politi​ cal-​const​itut​ion-​of-​the-​span​ish-​monar​chy-​prom​ulga​ted-​in-​cadiz-​the-​nin​etee​nth-​day-​of-​march-​-​ 0/​html/​; Constitución del Estado de Antioquia, May 3, 1812 (Santafé de Bogotá, 1812), 65.

Education, Citizenship, Contesting the Future  217 education were far-​reaching: Peru’s constitution of 1823 devoted a whole chapter to “public education,” starting from the premise that “Instruction is a common necessity, and the Republic owes it equally to all its individuals,” and moving on to stipulate a university for every department capital and a primary school for even “the smallest places.”5 Similar clauses can be found throughout the region, including in documents from the failed independence struggles in Cuba.6 In some jurisdictions education was even declared to be compulsory, far in advance of any capacity to implement such a policy but indicative of the significance attached to educating the population.7 Mexico was an apparent exception, but only a partial one. The radical declaration of Apatzingán (1814) called for the whole of “society” to do all in its power to encourage “the instruction necessary to all citizens.” Public education” was mentioned only in passing in the republican constitution of 1824, despite its other debts to the Cádiz document. Yet the cautious formulation arose not from any lack of interest in education, but from an inability to agree whether the federal state or the regional legislatures should be in charge of it, or indeed what should be the role of any part of the state. The failure to resolve these conflicts during the Constituent Congress of 1856–​1857 meant that Mexico’s constitution had no clause on popular education until 1917.8 There is no doubt, however, that popular education mattered in early republican Mexico, as indeed it did in all of the newly sovereign states. Haiti’s experience testifies to the range of political positions compatible with the promotion of education for all. That aim featured consistently in documents as diverse as the first constitution of 1805, which established the Empire of Hayti and stipulated “a public school” for each of the six military zones of the territory; the republican documents of 1806 and 1816; and the separatist charter of Henri Christophe’s northern kingdom.9 In Brazil, where republicanism was rejected until 1889, the empire was conceived as “the political 5 Sección 3, capítulo 3, art. 181 and 184, in Primeras constituciones: Latinoamérica y el Caribe, ed. Nelson Chávez Herrera (Caracas, 2011), 336. 6 Intriguingly, it did not appear in Cuba’s constitution of 1869, perhaps because the document was geared toward organizing the war effort and made few commitments to the future. 7 Gran Colombia, 1821; Buenos Aires, 1822; Chile, 1823; Paraguay and Costa Rica, 1828; Guatemala 1835; from Carlos Newland, “La educación elemental en Hispanoamérica: desde la independencia hasta la centralización de los sistemas educativos nacionales,” Hispanic American Historical Review 71, no. 2 (1991): 335–​64, 338. 8 Apatzingán Constitution, 1814, Article 39, in Primeras constituciones; 1824 Constitution, Article 50: http://​www.diputa​dos.gob.mx/​bib​liot​eca/​bib​dig/​const_​mex/​con​st_​1​824.pdf; and 1917 Constitution, Article 3, which specified all branches of the state as ‘the Federation, the states and the municipalities’: http://​www.diputa​dos.gob.mx/​Leye​sBib​lio/​pdf_​mov/​Consti​tuci​on_​P​olit​ica.pdf. 9 Constitution du 20 mai 1805, https://​mjp.univ-​perp.fr/​cons​tit/​ht1​805.htm.

218  Re-imagining Democracy association of all Brazilian citizens” with a government that was “representative” as well as “monarchical-​hereditary.” And the constitution of 1824, among a list of thirty-​five civil rights, promised free primary instruction to all citizens (thereby excluding slaves).10 After independence, with popular sovereignty constitutionally enacted in delegated form, throughout the Iberian Americas and in Haiti, a variety of pragmatic justifications for extending education came into play. From across the political spectrum it was argued that freedom had to be literate, or it would serve tyranny or anarchy. An ignorant population provided easy prey for despots, it was claimed; ill-​educated elites, countered others, would be prone to corruption and heedless of the common good. It is worth emphasizing that Spanish American republicans saw their newly liberated countries as destined to become more civilized than Europe, where, they argued, the weight of tradition would continue to preclude full realization of equal rights, self-​government, social justice, and associational life. A common metaphor in public discourse represented education as a means of clearance of the body politic, a great broom to sweep away everything—​inherited privilege, venality, vested interests—​that blocked the route to republican virtue.11 Education was seen as the means of fulfilling the aspirations of representative government while mitigating its risks.12 From the earliest days of the republics, governments anticipated the civic education in schools that they could not yet fund by printing and distributing thousands of copies of politico-​ religious catechisms informing both children and adults about how to fulfill the duties that accompanied their rights.13

10 Title I, Articles 1 and 3; Title VIII, Article 179, clause xxxii. Available in Portuguese at http://​ www.plana​lto.gov.br/​ccivil​_​03/​const​itui​cao/​con​stit​uica​o24.htm. 11 José María Luis Mora, “Pensamientos sueltos sobre educación pública,” in Obras sueltas (2nd ed., Mexico City, 1963), 167. It is possible, even likely, that the metaphor was suggested by the English pun on the name of Lord Henry Brougham, a champion of national education who was widely depicted wielding his reforming broom in English and French periodicals read by educated Latin Americans. 12 Sol Serrano, Macarena Ponce de León, and Francisca Rengifo, eds., Historia de le Educación en Chile (1810-​2010), 3 vols. (Santiago, 2012), Vol. 1, Aprender a leer y escribir (1810-​1880), 18. 13 One that circulated widely was José Amor de la Patria (pseud., attributed to Jaime de Zudáñez), Catecismo político-​cristiano dispuesto para la instrucción de la juventud de los pueblos libres de la América meridional (Santiago [1810], 1843). After independence, most governments (both national and regional) printed catechisms: for example, Catecismo político arreglado a la Constitución de la República de Colombia de 30 de Agosto de 1821, para el uso de las escuelas de primeras letras del departamento de Orinoco, (Caracas, 1824). Both of these texts introduced children to three types of government: monarchical, despotic, and “republican, or democratic government.” This was an adaptation of Montesquieu’s schema in which republican government could be either aristocratic or democratic. For further examples, see Rafael Sagredo Baeza, ed., De la colonia a la república: los catecismos políticos americanos, 1811-​1827 (Madrid, 2009), “Introducción y selección documental.”

Education, Citizenship, Contesting the Future  219 Yet it is central to my argument that education was by no means only an elite preoccupation. The independence era had created some popular demand for literacy—​partly because a periodical press had rapidly expanded to meet the demand for information stimulated by war, but also because letter-​ writing was the only way of maintaining contact between family members separated by war.14 It is now well documented that the reading aloud of printed matter took place in multiple sites, especially in urban areas, including inns, barbershops, general stores, and public plazas, resulting in greater public awareness of the power of literacy.15 The accumulated evidence of recent research supports the claim of Protestant missionary James Thomson, who traveled throughout Latin America in the 1820s to organize schools, that “the public voice is decidedly in favour of UNIVERSAL EDUCATION [sic]. I never heard, even once, what is still to be heard elsewhere, ‘that the poor should not be taught’. The very opposite feeling . . . prevails among the clergy and the laity, the governors and the governed.”16 A convergence of elite and popular concerns created a founding commitment to education for everyone, for the good of the polity as well as the fulfillment of the individual or the prosperity of the society.17 It followed that debates about education policy in Latin America were not only and not always instrumental (i.e., geared to economic development or social mobility); rather, they were imbued with the political ideal that popular sovereignty entailed a right to education for all. Education policy and practice—​curriculum content, textbook usage, punishment of pupils, and training of teachers—​provoked not only heated confrontations in legislatures and literary salons, but also social mobilization and popular protest in the streets. It is because of the tensions that existed between these different sets of expectations that education debates can tell us a good deal about political life in Latin America in the fifty years after independence, even though policy implementation was weak during the period studied in this chapter. While nearly all governments continued to reiterate their commitment to universal elementary education, rates of school building, teacher training, school inspection, and literacy improved unevenly and erratically before the late nineteenth century. Most of the scarce funding available for education was 14 Víctor M. Uribe-​Uran, ed., State and Society in Spanish America during the Age of Revolution (Wilmington DE, 2001). 15 See François-​Xavier Guerra ed., Los espacios públicos en Iberoamérica (Mexico City, 2008). 16 James Thomson, Letters on the Moral and Religious State of South America (London, 1827), 291. 17 Daniel Morán and María Aguirre, Prensa política y educación popular en la independencia de América Latina (Lima, 2015).

220  Re-imagining Democracy directed into secondary and higher institutions, reflecting a political decision to prioritize the formation of an educated professional class, most successfully in Chile, where a network of liceos (secondary schools on the French model) was established covering all main provincial towns during the 1830s.18 Many of the Latin American children recorded as enrolled at primary school in the 1850s were taught either in private establishments or in schools run by the Catholic Church, which continued to play a major role in educational provision at all levels well into the later nineteenth century. In accounting for the slow implementation of state elementary education, the general factors of war, political instability, and lack of secure revenues all played their part, but historians of education have also pointed to a persistent cultural bias among those in power toward ensuring that public education policy reinforced the social status quo. Where there were state schools, their pupils were drilled in “decency” and “good taste” to foster deference and a moral outlook that was intended by the authorities to form citizens disinclined to engage in strife or protest.19 This was not necessarily what parents wanted for their children: while there is evidence they did expect schools to instill morality and self-​discipline, they also hoped—​and indeed agitated—​for the teaching of subjects that would enhance social status, such as grammar, geography, and modern manners.20 Yet it is precisely in these gaps between discourse, policy, and implementation that the interest lies for historians of democratic language and practice. It was at least partly because of the failures of the new authorities to deliver on their promises that bottom-​up initiatives emerged to fight for educational reform. In the course of such struggles the meanings of political participation, citizenship, and social justice all came under scrutiny. As the main vehicle for realizing a glorious future in societies divided by race, region, and acute inequality, education policy became a proxy for wider debates about the new forms of political community, who could participate, and what kind of people they should be. Education was not just one among many questions about institutional arrangements: it was the central question, touching all

18 Mario Monsalve Bórquez, “. . . i el silencio comenzó a reinar” Documentos para la historia de la instrucción primaria 1840-​1920 (Santiago, 1998). 19 Mark Szuchman, “In Search of Deference: Education and Civic Formation in Nineteenth-​ Century Buenos Aires,” in Molding the Hearts and Minds: Education, Communications, and Social Change in Latin America, ed. John A. Britton (Wilmington, DE, 1994), 1–​18. 20 G. Antonio Espinoza, Education and the State in Modern Peru. Primary Schooling in Lima, 1821-​ c.1921 (Basingstoke, 2013), 121–​25.

Education, Citizenship, Contesting the Future  221 others. To illustrate my argument, I will focus in turn on state capacity, citizenship, attitudes toward authority, and participation in public life.

Education and State Capacity On independence, the precarious new governments all had to contend, in varying ways and to different degrees, with two rival sources of authority and legitimacy: (i) local power bases, and (ii) the Catholic Church. Many regional politicians emerged from the wars of independence with control over economic resources and/​or military assets, while the would-​be national governments based in capital cities commanded few sources of revenue. Over the next three decades or more, the competing merits of centralist and federalist constitutions were debated in tandem with persistent and volatile power struggles on the ground, as regional interests fought either to prevent interference from the central state or to manipulate it to their own advantage in conflicts with other regions. Nor was it easy for central governments to find a modus vivendi with the Catholic Church. The legacy of its colonial power had ensured that Catholicism became the state religion in all the independent countries, but even so, the Church was an institution on the defensive. It was reeling from the shattering of its alliance with the Iberian monarchies, its own divisions over independence (the hierarchy was opposed, but many priests and lay Catholics actively supported it), and the threat of anti-​clerical policies such as those enacted by liberals in Spain in 1821 and in Buenos Aires a year later. In this context, education became a major battleground in the wider power struggles between central and local actors, and between the Catholic Church and liberal politicians committed to secularizing public policy. To offer a broad-​brush sketch of a complex picture, in the 1820s the central government usually assumed responsibility for overall policy direction and oversight of popular education, while the provision, operation, and funding of schools were assigned to municipal governments—​with a continuing role for the church and the religious orders being tolerated, if not welcomed. The ensuing tensions played out in multiple ways. For example in Bolivia, a law of 1839 gave municipalities the legal right to build and run their own primary schools, but the central state was nervous about the boost thereby given to local authority, and often preferred to support the creation of church schools instead, with the unintended consequence that the church became in some

222  Re-imagining Democracy regions the main body running schools for indigenous people.21 To an extent this constitutional division of labor was a continuation of the colonial order, in which local councils had overseen schools. After independence, the occurrence of more regular municipal elections decisively changed the conditions in which education policy was implemented, with greater weight attached to the views and concerns of members of the community. Yet, parents and communities sometimes favored church over municipal provision. In Colombia, for example, in 1826 President Santander introduced boards of local residents to oversee schools and appoint teachers, thereby proposing an ambitious partnership between civil society and the nascent state to form citizens for the new republic.22 Three years later, however, Bolívar reinstated the role of the church in primary education and allowed priests to run the school boards, a decision he took at least partly in response to protests from parents who objected when they thought public education policy was fostering contempt for Catholic doctrine. Santander’s system was brought back in 1835, but community resistance continued until an uneasy compromise was reached in 1844, when Christian teaching was restored to the core curriculum, while the state assumed responsibility for the appointment and training of teachers.23 At root the disputes were not so much about who ran the schools as what that meant for the place of revealed knowledge in public life. Tensions ran particularly high over the works of Jeremy Bentham, who was prescribed as core reading for Colombia’s colleges and universities in Santander’s 1826 plan. A report from 1835 noted that parents mobilized persistently and vehemently against works they believed to “corrupt the morality and destroy the religion” of their sons,24 and controversy over utilitarianism continued into the 1860s. In many parts of Latin America, the tenacity with which the Catholic Church was able to defend its hold over education until the late nineteenth century was at least partly a product of popular support.

21 Marten Brienen, “Los orígenes del caos educativo: El desarrollo del sistema educativo y el papel de las comunidades indígenas en la construcción del estado-​nación boliviano, 1825-​1920,” in La mirada esquiva. Reflexiones históricas sobre la interacción del estado y la ciudadanía en los Andes (Bolivia, Ecuador y Peru), siglo xix, ed. Marta Irurozqui Victoriano (Madrid, 2005), 321–​46, esp. 331. 22 La mirada esquiva, 159. The board members were vecinos, that is, residents of good social standing. 23 Olga Lucía Zuluaga Garcés, “Las escuelas normales en Colombia (durante las Reformas de Francisco de Paula Santander y Mariano Ospina Rodríguez),” Revista Educación y Pedagogía (Antioquia), nos. 11–​12 (1995): 263–​78, esp. 268–​71. 24 Informe de la Dirección General de Instrucción Pública sobre la enseñanza de Bentham (Bogotá, 1835), 3.

Education, Citizenship, Contesting the Future  223 Deeply problematic questions about how to align the rights and liberties introduced by secular discourses of liberalism and republicanism with a widespread popular commitment to the Catholic faith were refracted through debates about education. In Mexico, for example, where the 1857 constitution explicitly aimed “to constitute the nation in the form of a democratic, representative and popular Republic,”25 one controversial issue during the preceding debates was autonomy in teaching. Its main proponent, Manuel Fernando Soto, made the argument that allowing teachers to work free of any state-​determined curriculum was the only way to reconcile three conflicting sets of rights: the rights of parents (to have their children instructed in the Catholic faith), the rights of “the studious young people” (to cultivate their intelligence and their virtue), and the rights of “all peoples” (to civilization). He invoked the ancient classical republics in which the rights of man and family were forced to cede to the state, in order to compare favorably the situation “among us, democratic republicans [. . . where] it is necessary that civil liberty exists, and therefore freedom to teach.”26 There was a minority of voices in favor of government inspection, but they were defeated in the ensuing vote. However, the volatility of these disputes was confirmed by the fact that just four years later, a newly created Ministry of Justice and Public Instruction was mandated to supervise all schools and develop a uniform curriculum for the whole country.27 There were recurrent moves to centralize the education system and make it more uniform across the national territory, which began to achieve partial success around mid-​century, although there were subsequent reverses, and fully national elementary education systems did not operate until much later. Charting the history of decisions about where responsibility for education lay provides a good barometer of fluctuations in institutional power during these decades. As the only policy the nascent states were in a position to attempt for half a century or so that was not primarily extractive (taxation) or coercive (military recruitment), education became a gauge of state reach, capacity, and legitimacy, especially the degree to which central governments were able to extend their jurisdiction beyond the capital city.

25 Constitución federal de los Estados-​Unidos Mexicanos, 1857, in Francisco Zarco, Historia del Congreso Extraordinario Constituyente de 1856-​1857, 2 vols. (Mexico City, 1857), 2:913–​1016, 993. 26 Ibid., 2:128–​39, quotations at 128 and 132. 27 “Ley de instrucción, April 15, 1861,” in Josefina Vázquez de Knauth, Nacionalismo y educación en México (Mexico City, 1970), 46.

224  Re-imagining Democracy

Education and Citizenship In addition to the general commitment to educating the people, the founding constitutions of many Spanish American republics contained clauses specifying literacy as a requirement for citizenship. Echoing the Cádiz Constitution, most of them also postponed implementation to a specified future date.28 In previous scholarship, social scientists have tended to emphasize the requirement, while historians focus on the repeated postponements and lack of implementation. In my view, it is important to keep in mind both the aspiration to an educated citizenry and the inability to achieve that ideal, because it was, once again, the gap that was important: it was in the space between them that debates took place about who was a member of the political community and on what terms. It was a central tenet of the republican order that all individuals were equal before the law, but education policy was a means of testing the limits of that principle, both in theory and practice. In other words, some members of the new political community were deemed to be active participants in its construction, while others were assigned a passive or marginal role. Thus, education policy illustrates the multiple ways in which the model of representative government was gendered and racialized in practice. In order to appreciate the significance of education policy to debates about citizenship, it helps to be aware that during the period studied the Spanish word educación (in Portuguese educação) connoted far more than schooling, or even formal learning: its meaning is closer to formation for social life. The concept of educación was capacious, implying an alignment of the individual’s moral commitment to “self, neighbor, family, homeland [Patria], and all humanity.”29 The term for classroom teaching was instrucción/​ instrução. A widely used Argentine literacy primer captured the distinction well: “The instructed man knows a lot; the well-​educated man conducts himself well” (El hombre instruído sabe mucho; el bien educado se conduce bien).30 A third term was la enseñanza/​o ensino, which was literally the practice of teaching, but is often translated as training because it implies applied or practical knowledge. In light of the constitutional commitments to educating the 28 Colombia until 1840 (1821, Section I, Art. 15, clause 3); Peru also until 1840 (1823, Chapter IV, Art. 17, clause 3); Bolivia until 1836 (1826, Chapter III, Art. 14, clause 3). In Primeras constituciones, 286, 315, 342. 29 Esteban Echeverría, Manual de enseñanza moral para las escuelas primarias del estado oriental (Montevideo, 1846), (facs. Edn. Montevideo, 1998), 4. 30 José Antonio Wilde, El Silabario Arjentino (Buenos Aires, 1869), 96.

Education, Citizenship, Contesting the Future  225 people, many of which extended to specifying literacy as a desirable condition of citizenship, the question of whether children should be educated, instructed, or trained was deeply connected to debates about participation in the new political communities. At the radical end of the spectrum was a conception of republican citizenship that relied on a combination of all three approaches to education in order to forge politically aware and technically skilled citizens who were knowledgeable about the Americas and committed to social justice. This vision of schools as crucibles of an egalitarian republic was elaborated by Simón Rodríguez (1769–​1854), who became famous for being Bolívar’s tutor but who also spent a long and varied life developing a philosophy and praxis of education. His purpose was to enable the peoples of Spanish America to overcome obstacles to the direct exercise of their sovereignty, which he identified as “the three manias for commercialism, European immigration and religiosity.”31 He argued that literacy was the starting point, not the end point, of education, and that children needed to acquire both academic and practical knowledge. Working in a succession of South American countries, he opened experimental schools that challenged social convention by teaching all children together, irrespective of race, gender, or social background. His ideas met a good deal of resistance and therefore enable historians to probe the limits of official and popular tolerance for egalitarian principles.32 The importance of education for women was a prominent feature of public debates about popular education both during and after the wars of independence, with calls to remedy Spain’s allegedly “culpable neglect” of girls a recurrent theme of republican discourse.33 Public elementary schools for girls were founded during the 1820s, notably in Buenos Aires, Lima, and Bogotá, a fact which continued to be a source of civic pride for liberal governments into the early twentieth century. The remit of these schools was limited: they followed the republican motherhood approach of instilling basic literacy, needlework, and a few precepts of civic duty into the mothers of the next generation. As with so many other early initiatives, it was not until much later in the nineteenth century that consistent policy was developed anywhere in Latin America for female education. Even so, these foundations were not without effect. Former pupils who became teachers began to criticize not 31 Simón Rodríguez, “Sociedades americanas,” in Obras completas, 2 vols. (Caracas, 1975), 1:355. 32 Nicola Miller, “The ‘Immoral’ Educator: Race, Gender and Citizenship in Simón Rodríguez’s Programme for Popular Education,” Hispanic Research Journal 7, no. 1 (2006): 11–​20, 16. 33 Gaceta de Lima, July 6, 1821.

226  Re-imagining Democracy only such restricted notions of what women should learn, but also the related assumptions about their confinement to the domestic sphere. A well-​known example is Juana Manso, who attended the first girls’ school in Buenos Aires in the 1820s, taught herself about international educational theory, wrote a novel illustrating the inadequacies of republican motherhood, and, from the 1850s onward, assumed a leading role in promoting educational reform and women’s rights.34 As more women began to work as teachers from the mid-​ century onward, receiving low wages on the assumption that they would be financially supported by their husbands, so the case for women’s education increasingly entailed taking a broader stance on their participation in the public sphere and political life. In the case of indigenous peoples, debates about their education were proxy debates for wider questions of inclusion, perhaps to a greater extent even than was the case with women or slaves and former slaves, because the liberal republican policy of the 1820s was to abolish the colonial categories of ethnic differentiation. In the Spanish American republics, the legal separation of the indigenous communities into a separate nación was formally ended, which in theory meant that indigenous people, at least the men, were entitled to the same rights as everyone else, including the right to education. Yet the limits of inclusion came to be marked in other ways, notably by policy decisions about the language of instruction, which everywhere was legally proclaimed to be Spanish. The severity of state policies toward indigenous languages in schools varied from outright prohibition in Ecuador in 1830, to apparent acceptance in Paraguay, where travelers observed that most people could read and write.35 Systematic state initiatives to teach indigenous citizens in their native languages did not happen anywhere in Latin America until the second half of the twentieth century.36 Yet, the hegemony of Spanish did not go uncontested at the time, even in Mexico, where early republican policy toward indigenous people was geared to creating citizens equal before the law, with the same rights as everyone else and no special privileges. At the Constituent Congress of 1824, leading liberal José María Luis Mora argued for abolition of the legal category of indio, urging instead that Mexico adopt what he presented as a universal 34 Catherine Davies, Claire Brewster, and Hilary Owen, South American Independence: Gender, Politics, Text (Liverpool, 2006), 242, discusses how Juana Manso’s novel La familia del Comendador (1854) refuted the republican motherhood vision in Alberdi’s Bases. 35 Juan Speratti, Historia de la educación en el Paraguay, 1812-​1932 (Asunción, 1996). 36 Anita Krainer, Educación intercultural bilingüe en el Ecuador (Quito, 1996), esp. 30.

Education, Citizenship, Contesting the Future  227 conception of citizenship, which in effect meant a Hispanicizing one.37 It was by means of an argument about education policy that Mora was challenged by another liberal lawyer and educator, Juan Rodríguez Puebla (1789–​1848), who came from a poor indigenous family and had benefited from a scholarship for indigenous children to attend the prestigious Colegio de San Gregorio. Rodríguez Puebla’s case that scholarships should continue to be reserved for indigenous students was made on the grounds of equity, namely that it would be a false kind of equality to deny indigenous people the few benefits to which their separate status entitled them without removing the deep disadvantages they suffered because of it. He lost the argument. Spanish was mandated as the language of instruction and officially declared the national language in 1842.38 However, Rodríguez Puebla continued to promote his “[dream] of a system of education designed by and for the Indians, in which they might continue the use of their native tongues”39—​first as a congressman during the 1820s and later when he returned to the Colegio San Gregorio as its rector.40 He was an early example of an indigenous leader who sought to mobilize education as a route to participation in public life on more equitable terms, an approach that Benito Juárez, Mexico’s first indigenous president, was later to continue, notably in laws of 1867–​1869 making elementary education compulsory. Debates over education sometimes turned on its potential to affect indigenous political conduct. In Peru, most of the local bosses who controlled elections in the indigenous regions (the gamonales, most of whom spoke Quechua) were opposed to indigenous people being taught Spanish because it would make it harder to control them: “the literate Indian was a lost Indian,” went the refrain (el indio leído era un indio perdido).41 In the Peruvian congress in 1849, conservative deputy Bartolomé Herrera argued for education for the indigenous population on the grounds that they could not be permitted to exercise voting rights until they had at least acquired literacy. He claimed that popular sovereignty was an absurdity in conditions 37 See Charles Hale, Mexican Liberalism in the Age of Mora, 1821-​1853 (New Haven, CT, 1968). 38 There were a few regional experiments with bilingual literacy primers, but unfortunately little is known about them. Gregorio Rivera, Silabario de la lengua Mexicana (Mexico City, 1818); Joaquín Ruz, Cartilla ó silabario de lengua maya, para la enseñanza de los niños indígenas (Mérida de Yucatán, 1845). 39 Shirley Brice Heath, Telling Tongues: Language Policy in Mexico, Colony to Nation (New York, 1972), 62. 40 María Eugenia Xilonetl Flores Rodríguez, “Juan de Dios Rodríguez Puebla: en defensa de la instrucción para los indios,” https://​archi​vos.juridi​cas.unam.mx/​www/​bjv/​lib​ros/​7/​3100/​28.pdf 41 Sonja Steckbauer, Perú: educación bilingüe en un país plurilingüe (Madrid, 2000).

228  Re-imagining Democracy where three-​quarters of the population could not read or write, and wanted to replace it with “sovereignty of the intelligence.” His opponents, notably liberal deputy Pedro Gálvez, favored preserving the 1839 exemption of “Indians and mixed-​race people” from the literacy requirement for suffrage, on the grounds that if rights had to derive from capacities, the exercise of suffrage would require not only literacy but also an understanding of public law.42 In the constitutions of 1856 and 1860 the exemption was dropped, which in practice excluded most indigenous men from voting, although other provisions technically made it possible for a few to do so. To highlight the lasting significance of the relationship between education policy and political participation, it is worth emphasizing that in 1896 an electoral law confirmed the exclusion of indigenous voters through literacy requirements, even though state educational provision was still virtually non-​existent in the Andean departments. It was not reformed until 1979.

Mutual Education, Rote Learning, and Attitudes toward Authority Debates about educational methods were also sometimes vehicles for expressing deeper ethical or political conflicts, even if such debates are less easy to interpret than differences over questions of access or curriculum content. One example is the history of the system of mutual education, which was rapidly adopted in the early 1820s by post-​independence governments throughout the region, including the Empire of Brazil.43 The appeal to Latin American leaders of this method, first developed in London by Joseph Lancaster (1778–​1838), is easy to grasp. Lancaster’s simple method, by which the best students were deployed to pass on their newly acquired knowledge to the other pupils, could quickly be extended across a whole country. Schools could be built cheaply; relatively few trained teachers were required (claims varied, but it was proposed that one teacher, aided by monitors, could instruct at a minimum 300 children). On that basis, President Santander deemed it viable to plan three escuelas normales (teacher-​training schools) for the whole of Gran Colombia, a vast territory including the three countries now 42 Espinoza, Education and the State in Modern Peru, 57. 43 Argentina, Chile, Greater Colombia, and Peru (1821); Mexico 1822; Brazil (1823). Lancasterianism was also present in Cuba and in parts of Haiti (from 1817, when separatist monarch Henri Christophe welcomed British missionaries).

Education, Citizenship, Contesting the Future  229 known as Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Panama.44 The minimal curriculum of basic literacy and numeracy, plus needlework for girls and woodwork for boys, could be delivered with a minimum of teaching materials. The missionary “Diego” Thomson was assiduous in helping to fund the translation, printing, and distribution of Lancaster’s standard manual for setting up a primary school.45 These relatively low costs meant that governments could envisage providing state elementary education to both boys and girls for free. Advocates of mutual schooling took care to accommodate local social expectations. Although the system was Protestant in origin, the manual stipulated that Lancasterian schools were to be run on the principle of respect for the family religion. Teachers were required to be religiously observant, and children were drilled in morality, self-​discipline, and personal hygiene, all of which was in line with what many parents wanted. While the Catholic Church was formally opposed, it was only when secular politicians used Lancasterianism as a cover for anti-​Catholic measures—​for example distributing the shorter Protestant Bible, as happened in Ecuador during the 1830s—​that serious tensions arose.46 In many places the Catholic clergy joined the mutual education societies that were organized to found more schools. Yet despite all the apparent advantages of the monitorial system, there was a widespread rejection across Latin America of this top-​down attempt to produce docile citizens with rudimentary skills. There were a few places where it took root, for example in areas of Colombia (notably Bogotá and Antioquia) and in Mexico, where the Lancasterian Society received funds from the central government and in the 1840s was given responsibility for running all primary education. Yet they were exceptions. Everywhere else, the immediate post-​independence enthusiasm faded within ten to fifteen years. In Chile, a government-​appointed commission of 1832 condemned the Lancasterian system as actively harmful to children’s progress, teaching them errors and bad habits that were then impossible to correct.47 The famous educators of nineteenth-​century South America were notoriously scathing about the 44 “El Congreso General de la República de Colombia,” in Leyes de 1821, Repositorio Universidad Nacional, 108–​113, http://​repo​sito​rio.unal.edu.co. 45 Joseph Lancaster, Manual del Sistema de Enseñanza mutua aplicado a las escuelas primarias (Bogotá, 1826). 46 Diana Carolina Villagómez Vacacela, Inicios de la enseñanza de las primeras letras en Ecuador: Período 1822–​1839 (Guayaquil, 2019), 15, http://​dsp​ace.cas​agra​nde.edu.ec:8080/​bitstr​ eam/​ucas​agra​nde/​1953/​1/​Tesis2​125V​ILi.pdf 47 Simón Rodriguez, “Luces y virtudes sociales, 1840,” in Obras completas, 2 vols. (Caracas, 1975), 2:187.

230  Re-imagining Democracy monitorial system: Domingo F. Sarmiento said it might have been designed to discourage even those who were keen to learn;48 Simón Rodríguez dubbed it the educational equivalent of Rumford’s soup (an early nineteenth-​century broth manufactured as cheap nutrition for the poor).49 But much of the resistance came from parents and teachers on the ground. One major source of parental anger, especially at first, was the lack of trained teachers. Central governments expected that the funds for training and employing teachers would be raised by the Lancasterian Society in the community where the school was to be built, but at local level many vecinos (residents of some social standing but not necessarily a high level of wealth) either could not or would not contribute. In consequence, teachers were not always paid, including Lancaster himself while teaching in Caracas at the invitation of Bolívar.50 In other places, the opposite problem arose: the prestige of mutual education as an imported method enabled teachers to command higher salaries that were resented by those obliged to stump up for them. There was even more criticism of the monitors, who did most of the actual instructing and whose inadequacies became the cause of frequent complaint. In Colombia, for example, parents argued that the monitors were not teaching so much as covering up for the weaknesses of other pupils and should be replaced by paid teaching assistants—​a bid rejected by the authorities in Bogotá, asserting that they had no more funds for schools, and any such salaries would have to come out of the municipal budget.51 In other countries, too, the view came to prevail that the monitorial method did not deliver on its promise to provide everyone with basic education at a low cost. Beyond the criticisms of inefficacy, there was increasing dissatisfaction among many people involved in public schooling at the impoverished vision of education that Lancasterianism entailed, with its narrow focus on the rudiments of literacy and numeracy. Instead of an education for the citizen of a free and independent nation (this argument was made in Brazil as well as in the republics of Spanish America), it was seen as the product of the British monarchical system, where the people were subjects, to be mechanically drilled in the basic knowledge needed for them to fulfill their function in the 48 Domingo F. Sarmiento, De la educación popular (Santiago, 1849). 49 “Aditamento, Luces y virtudes, 1834 edition,” in Obras completas, I:186. 50 Edgar Vaughan, Joseph Lancaster en Caracas (1824-​1827), trans. Héctor D. Mago Rodríguez (Caracas, 1987–​1989). 51 Bárbara Yadira García Sánchez, “Proyecto pedagógico de la Gran Colombia: una ruptura frente a los ideales republicanos,” Revista Científica, no. 9, (2007–​2008): 69–​113, https://​revis​tas.udi​stri​tal. edu.co/​index.php/​rev​cie/​arti​cle/​view/​353 (online, p. 21/​27).

Education, Citizenship, Contesting the Future  231 system of production. Across the political spectrum, it increasingly began to be argued that a good education would go beyond the three Rs. One such line of argument, which explicitly invoked a concept of “democracy,” was made by Esteban Echeverría (1805–​1851), an influential member of the Argentine “Generation of 1837” who drew upon French utopian socialism to revive the ideals of the independence era. During the 1840s, reflecting on his country’s brief but tragic history, he elaborated an ideology pitting the “May tradition” (referring to the “revolution” that deposed the Spanish viceroy in 1810) of “progress, association, fraternity, equality, liberty, democracy, humanity” against “the retrograde colonial system, counter-​ revolution, etc.”52 Musing sadly on the state of Rosas’s Argentina from exile in Montevideo, Echeverría argued that if Argentine children had been taught from the beginning to understand the meaning of these values, as urged by the May Revolution leader and champion of universal education Mariano Moreno (1778–​1811), then anarchy and tyranny would not have been possible. He explicitly identified the education of the next generation as “the only resource” for moving beyond political authoritarianism to implement the constitutional commitment to “democracy.”53 He defined “democracy” as “equality of classes,”54 which entailed universal suffrage but also required the Argentine people to be educated in a whole new way of living. In this discourse, “democracy” referred to a mode of conducting oneself in the world, a particular way of dressing, of treating and interacting with each other. It was often invoked through imagery of the United States, where equality was thought to be demonstrated by “clothes and manners as much as by constitutions.”55 Citizenship was conceived as a style to be cultivated through self-​refashioning, as promoted through the experimental periodical La Moda (1837–​1938), which aimed to inspire “a democratic civility” (una urbanidad democrática) in “the people.” Democracy connoted certain forms of sociability at least as much as any specific political process, which gave education a decisive role in ensuring that everyone knew how 52 Esteban Echeverría, “Ojeada retrospectiva sobre el movimiento intelectual en el Plata desde el año 1837” [1846], in Obras completas, 4 vols. (Buenos Aires, 1870–​1874), Vol. 4, Escritos en prosa, 51. 53 Esteban Echeverria, Manual de enseñanza moral para las escuelas primarias del estado oriental (Montevideo, 1846; facs. edn., Montevideo, 1998), esp. vi–​vii. 54 “Ojeada retrospective,” 39. I have translated “la igualdad de clases” literally, but Echeverría did not mean self-​conscious classes in the Marxist sense: “social equality” is closer to his meaning, in the sense of ending the rigid distinctions of colonial society. 55 “Modas de señoras,” La Moda (Buenos Aires), no. 3, December 2, 1837, 89–​90; La Moda. Gacetín semanal de música, de poesía, de literatura, de costumbres [1837-​8], Edición facsimilar (Buenos Aires, 2011).

232  Re-imagining Democracy to behave in a modern republic. Echeverría was explicit that the requisite civilizing process could not be carried out only in schools and universities (indeed he saw “the morally bankrupt [vicioso] system of public instruction implemented in Buenos Aires from 1821 to 1827” as actively damaging to the cause).56 A truly democratic republic, for Echeverría, would need a holistic education system involving a variety of cultural institutions, discourses, and practices, all committed to instilling principles of equality, justice, and sociability. There is a deep connection made between education and democracy here, and Echeverría’s ideas highlight the need for historians to unpack what was meant by both of those terms.

The Pedagogy of Literacy and its Implications for Political Participation The question of language featured prominently in the public discourse of the new political communities. A famous example is the debate of the 1840s between the university-​educated scholar Andrés Bello and the autodidact Domingo F. Sarmiento. The dispute has traditionally been interpreted through the lens of colonialism, contrasting Bello’s preference for maintaining the rules of grammar established by the Royal Spanish Academy with Sarmiento’s call to emancipate all the varieties of Spanish spoken in the Americas from regulation by the former colonial power. But the two intellectuals shared a concern to establish a version of Spanish that could be easily taught to all, so that everyone could understand laws and public debates and thereby exercise citizenship (their differences lay in whether grammar or spelling was the best route to standardization). Their high-​profile exchanges were distillations of arguments that had been waged across the region since independence, reflecting multiple concerns about the Spanish language and how it was spoken in these lands. It was in this context that controversies arose over the means by which the state proposed to teach children to read and write. An overlooked consequence of Lancasterianism was that pedagogy, especially the pedagogy of literacy, became established as a distinct sphere of knowledge in Latin America during the 1820s. Many prominent Latin American educationalists wrote literacy primers, and in the 56 Esteban Echeverría, “Objeto y fines de la instrucción publica” [1840s? when in Montevideo as member of Consejo de Instrucción Pública], Obras completas, 5:394–​402, 394–​95. Also relevant is No. 23, April 21, 1838, “El asesinato politico,” 155–​56.

Education, Citizenship, Contesting the Future  233 history of their varying approaches it is possible to trace competing attitudes toward authority, which relate in turn to ideas about citizenship and participation in public debate and associational life. Three key changes in the pedagogy of literacy can be detected during the period studied. The first innovation, a consequence of the widespread adoption of mutual education, was to teach reading and writing together. During the colonial period the two skills were often taught in sequence, with the result that quite a lot of people who could read, especially women, could not write (in Mexico a law of 1810 stipulated that girls should be taught to read but not to write). From the 1820s to the 1840s, in translated versions of Lancaster’s textbook, children across Latin America first learned the individual letters of the alphabet, then were presented with combinations of two letters, three letters, four letters, and so on, only at the end of a long process of rote learning being introduced to words and their meanings. The approach was symptomatic of societies in which formal written language was still granted high status, as in the colonial “lettered city” analyzed by Angel Rama.57 By contrast, a republican discourse of equality implied a need to break the elite’s monopoly on the written word. In its focus on the letters of the alphabet, the mutual method assumed a particular model of passive learning and deferred understanding, which became the focus of its critics. A second change occurred around mid-​century with the invention of new methods starting from the sounds of syllables and words, reflecting a wider social shift from lettered city to spoken word. In the 1840s, Uruguayan teacher and school inspector Marcos Sastre developed a method for teaching children to read within three months, holding public examinations in Buenos Aires to prove the effectiveness of his method. His approach was new in dispensing with prior knowledge of the alphabet, instead setting out a program for teaching reading phonetically through the recitation of memorable words and syllables rather than individual letters. His text, Anagnósia, o el arte de leer, was officially adopted by the new government in 1852 and by the Sociedad de Beneficencia in 1853, making it the established method in Argentine schools. It was published in multiple editions of high print runs—​ 80,000 copies of the twenty-​fifth edition in 1870—​and his ideas were adopted in Italy and Spain.58 It is alleged that Sarmiento hastily amended his own

57 Angel Rama, La ciudad letrada (Hanover, NH), 1984. 58 Casavalle’s catalogue, No. 11, July 1, 1870, 393/​43; "Métodos de lectura," El Monitor de la Educación (Buenos Aires, n.d., 1873?). Online at https://​repo​sito​rio.educac​ion.gov.ar.

234  Re-imagining Democracy famous literacy textbook, which was also based on the sound of syllables not the names of letters, to omit the introductory lessons on the alphabet, which had relied on assembling all (or most) of the letters as printed on the page into a single memorable phrase. A third change in approach, which was explicitly framed in terms of its consequences for the kind of citizens children would become, was led by women teachers such as Juana Manso (1819–​1875) in Buenos Aires, or Mercedes Marín del Solar (1804–​ 1866) in Santiago. These women educationalists condemned the rote learning that characterized both the conventional methods, arguing instead that children should be encouraged to develop their innate capacities for understanding and thinking for themselves. Marín del Solar argued that teachers should avoid “parrot learning,” urging them instead to “speak to the eyes” of their pupils, anticipating the new method of teaching with objects that became internationally fashionable during the 1870s.59 Manso defined the “mission of a school in republican countries” as being “to educate the child to be the future citizen and public servant.” All her writing about education was framed in terms of the future of Argentina (and other South American countries) as modern republics.60 In that context, it was completely inappropriate, she argued, to conceive of a child’s mind as an empty vessel to be stuffed full of “prayers, grammatical definitions and geographical descriptions.” Instead, “in the modern world” a school’s role was stimulate “a love of knowledge” so that each pupil could participate actively in their own learning, especially through interaction with the natural world.61 She thereby shifted the ground of assumptions about citizenship: instead of a privilege to be earned (through virtue, ability, or accumulated knowledge) she saw it as a natural right. In her view, each state school should be “a small museum of curiosities”62 embedded in a network of public cultural organizations—​actual museums, libraries, and community arts centers which, in combination, could create the conditions for future citizens to be educated rather than merely instructed. Although the well-​known educational reforms of the 1870s, including the Popular Libraries Law, were based on a top-​down model of creating virtuous citizens, the ideas Manso sketched out for a more egalitarian, participatory kind of citizenship came 59 Citations in Miguel Amunátegui Solar, Mercedes Marín del Solar (Santiago, 1867), 510. 60 Juana Manso, Informe sobre las escuelas infantiles para ambos sexos por el año de 1869 (Buenos Aires, 1870), 8. 61 Manso, Informe, 14; Curso graduado de instrucción en las escuelas públicas de Chicago: para servir de modelo a las de la República Argentina, trans. Juana Manso (Buenos Aires, 1869), 7. 62 Manso, Curso graduado, 7.

Education, Citizenship, Contesting the Future  235 to be widely shared among schoolteachers, especially women, well into the twentieth century.63

Informal Education The historiography on education in Latin America has focused, with good reason, on schools, colleges, and universities. However, I would argue that a full picture of the contribution of education to understanding the languages and practices of democracy would include a variety of informal sites of learning, particularly when and where state authorities had little or no control over what was happening. The true scope of informal transfer of knowledge is difficult to document, and it is only possible here to sketch out some possibilities for future research. Yet it seems worth doing so, because the many passing references in sources, especially memoirs, suggest that such practices were quite widespread and certainly not confined to the capital cities. Two main areas to consider are (i) ways in which knowledge learned in schools and colleges was distributed more widely, and (ii) the role of other social organizations in providing opportunities to acquire knowledge. On the first theme, there is evidence that people who benefited from education (whether schooling or private tutoring) passed on their knowledge to others who did not. This happened in families, from brother to sister or from son to mother, and in households, where a woman taught her maid or a man his servant. It happened between slave-​owners and slaves (especially in urban areas where most slavery was domestic)—​sons of wealthy Creoles taught clever slaves to read and write so that they could assist with college assignments. There were instances of temporary classrooms being improvised in a church, a local store, or in a public square. There were also social sites where informal teaching took place, for example in talleres (workshops), especially printing shops, where people congregated to gossip and discuss current affairs. None of this started with Lancasterian schools, but that method in itself lent a certain credibility to the informal communication of learning. Second, in part because public provision was patchy and slow to develop, various social organizations began to create opportunities to acquire basic 63 On women school teachers, see Graciela Morgade and Mabel Bellucci, Mujeres en la Educación: Género y docencia en Argentina, 1870-​1930 (Buenos Aires, 1997).

236  Re-imagining Democracy knowledge and skills. The artisan societies, active from the late 1830s onward, offered courses in education for citizenship, as did mutual societies by mid-​century and then trade unions.64 Furthermore, there were organized ways of spreading ideas and information that did not rely on a literate audience. In many parts of Latin America, popular theatre, especially itinerant companies, staged episodes of patriotic history and mythology, and traveling cabinets of curiosity unpacked mini-​museums in provincial public squares. The evidence is fragmentary, but it is possible to piece together a patchwork of sites in which those who sought education could find it. If historians pay attention only to schools, they will remain ignorant of the educational experiences of the excluded or marginalized. For example, in Brazil it was almost impossible for slaves to acquire formal education, even after the 1854 reform which made state primary schools free and obligatory for children from age seven, because pupils were excluded from schools if they had contagious diseases such as smallpox or tuberculosis, which were endemic among the slave population. Yet there is evidence they worked together informally in secret societies where they practiced African religions, learned to read, write, calculate, and speak Portuguese as well as their native tongue.65 The continuous education carried out in indigenous communities has recently begun to be researched, although most of the work focuses on recent practices with only sketchy information about what happened in the nineteenth century.66 Analysis of indigenous responses to the schooling proposed by Creole authorities would be greatly improved by more knowledge about the history of indigenous philosophies and practices of education. It was partly from such alternative sites, in the late nineteenth century, that pressures arose for greater equality of access to state education and for innovation in pedagogic practice.67 As Sol Serrano has argued, the history of schooling tends to confirm the idea of history as progress, whereas the history of education, like the history of democracy, is “far from linear and progressive, [but] complex, discontinuous, quite often paradoxical and resistant to change.”68 64 See, for example, Iñigo L. García-​Bryce, Crafting the Republic: Lima’s Artisans and Nation Building in Peru, 1821-​1879 (Albuquerque, NM, 2004). 65 Geraldo da Silva and Marcia Araújo, “Da interdiçao escolar às açoes educacionais de sucesso: escolas dos movimentos negros e escolas profissionais, técnicas e tecnológicas,” in História da Educação do Negro e outras histórias (Brasília, 2005), 65–​78, esp. 68–​69. 66 José Portugal Catacora, Historia de la educación en Puno: experiencias educativas en el Altiplano (Puno, 2014), goes back to the 1880s. 67 For examples, see Nicola Miller, Republics of Knowledge (Princeton, NJ, 2020), 211–​26. 68 Serrano et al., Historia, 16. See Maynes, Schooling in Western Europe, Ch. 2, on the various agents of literacy in early modern Europe.

Education, Citizenship, Contesting the Future  237

Conclusion The story of this period is of a cumulative—​but by no means one-​directional, consistent, or even—​increase in control over education by central states throughout Latin America. By the 1860s most governments had founded a central administrative body to oversee policy and to organize some kind of inspection regime. It was increasingly accepted by teachers and parents that the state should exercise control over what was taught in the nation’s schools. Although such measures were implemented more regularly in the capital cities, the reports of school inspectors indicate a notable level of commitment to visiting schools in all regions. There was a clearly established state aspiration to standardize provision throughout what were increasingly being represented as national territories, even if it fell far short of implementation. The obstacles were so great that it is the persistence of the attempts, rather than their limited success, that strikes the historian. In mid-​nineteenth-​ century Chile, for example, the rural population was so sparsely distributed that implementing the official policy of a school for every parish would have meant building a school for every household.69 Even the weights and measures varied from region to region, including of time: in inspection reports, the most frequently requested item was a clock. In such conditions, schools could exacerbate inequalities across the national territory.70 Sharp unevenness in levels of provision of primary schooling between different regions continued well into the twentieth century;71 apart from any other factors, most states did not have the information required to design effective policy until the late nineteenth century. Private schools, many of them run by individual teachers, remained an important source of education, especially for girls, as did church schools, notably in rural areas. Even in countries where literacy was relatively high, such as Chile, it still characterized only a small minority of the population: 15% of men and 9% of women could read, according to the 1854 census, with slightly fewer being able to write.72 State education of the people, anywhere in the region, was a long way from what had been envisaged in the heady days of winning independence. Yet around the mid-​century, serious commitments were made by most Latin American 69 Serrano, Historia, 293. 70 Ibid. Serrano argues that such was the case in Chile. 71 For a survey of public instruction in all the states of Mexico from 1867 to 1874, see José Diaz Covarrubias, La Instrucción pública en México (Mexico City, 1875). 72 Serrano, Historia, 23.

238  Re-imagining Democracy states to implement public elementary education, as the arguments of early liberals that freedom, sovereignty, and popular enlightenment were mutually dependent. By 1900, schools per head of population in Argentina, Chile, and Mexico were on a par with those in southern Europe.73 It follows that several points are worth highlighting with respect to the themes of this book. The main conclusion is that education was a means of keeping alive ideals of equality, social justice, and potential for virtuous self-​government even in periods when the actual political regime was unconstitutional and authoritarian. Education policy continued to be a way, perhaps the most significant way, of exploring how to forge what Innes and Philp called, in the first volume of this series, “new kinds of links . . . between people and government” and the fostering of “a new political and social ethos.”74 As a broad umbrella sheltering multiple sites of contestation, education policy serves as a gauge of the extent and character of participation in these new polities, not only by those who were educated but, even more importantly, by those who were not. It was a means of both promoting and contesting conceptions of citizenship. Debates about education and access to knowledge, including what might seem to be the minutiae of curriculum content, classroom design, and pedagogic method, served as a key means of keeping alive founding ideals of equality and social justice, probably to a greater extent than any specifically political discourse such as republicanism or liberalism. Education policy reveals the compromise at the root of the republics: despite the principle of equality before the law—​and ubiquitous claims that the people of the Americas were “naturally enlightened”—​the view that came to prevail was that the inhabitants were not born equal but had to be made so. In identifying the differences between policy design and implementation on the ground, we can trace the varying degrees in different countries to which formal equality coexisted with racialized and gendered restriction and exclusion. During the half-​century after independence, when education was widely held to be the panacea for all social ills, education debates are rich sources for historians seeking to understand contests for authority and struggles for representation at all levels in the new political communities.

73 Diaz Covarrubias, La Instrucción pública: one school per number of inhabitants: Argentina, 1547; Chile 1729; Mexico 1110; Austria 1316, Belgium 893; Greece 1250; Italy 656; Portugal 2056. The United States figure was 277; Brazil 2736. 74 Re-​imagining Democracy in the Mediterranean, 2.

10 Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean The View from Elsewhere Carsten-​Andreas Schulz and Mark Petersen

Post-​ independence political experiments in Latin America and the Caribbean unfolded against the background of broader, transnational debates about the virtues and vices of popular government. Historians have long noted that political debates in Europe and the United States reverberated throughout this region.1 Recently, they have paid more attention to the effect of developments in Latin America and the Caribbean on debates elsewhere.2 This chapter will build on that foundation by analyzing how observers in Europe and the United States interpreted the region’s politics and suggested implications for their own contexts. As British Whig historian and jurist Henry Sumner Maine noted in 1885, Latin America provided “a most striking, instructive, and uniform body of facts” for anyone interested in the “prospects of popular government.”3 Although Latin American examples were generally peripheral in European and US political debates, they nonetheless played a role. Latin America’s diversity and proximity to the United States provided opportunities to explore the preconditions for stable representative government. Some onlookers generalized about the region and disregarded

1 Iván Jaksić and Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, “Shipwrecks and Survivals: Liberalism in Nineteenth-​ Century Latin America,” Intellectual History Review 23, no. 4 (2013): 479–​98. 2 The impact of the Haitian revolution on other societies has attracted attention for decades; see The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, ed. David Geggus (Columbia, SC, 2001). Other examples of this attention include Matthew Brown and Gabriel Paquette, “The Persistence of Mutual Influence: Europe and Latin America in the 1820s,” European History Quarterly 41, no. 3 (2011): 387–​96, and James Sanders, The Vanguard of the Atlantic World: Creating Modernity, Nation, and Democracy in Nineteenth-​Century Latin America (Durham, NC, 2014). 3 Henry Sumner Maine, Popular Government (Indianapolis, 1976 [1885]), 44. Carsten-​Andreas Schulz and Mark Petersen, Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean In: Re-​imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–​1870. Edited by: Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, Joanna Innes, and Mark Philp, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/​oso/​9780197631577.003.0010

240  Re-imagining Democracy crucial differences among its societies. Others seized on perceived distinctions to make arguments about popular government’s viability. Many observers differentiated Haiti from the rest of the region due to its early abolition of slavery and the fact that it was governed by people of African descent. These conditions made Haiti especially interesting to some groups outside the region. In the United States, according to the North American Review in 1838, the island republic had “a strong claim upon the curiosity of every American.”4 Brazil’s monarchical system, meanwhile, clearly made it distinctive, even if it sustained patterns of political participation like those of its republican neighbors. Overall, opinions about the region’s politics reflected the local/​national context and geopolitical interests of the observers, who often altered or exaggerated details to fit categories and narratives relevant to their own circumstances. Distortion was not always intentional. Knowledge of the region at the start of the nineteenth century rested on the shaky foundations of scarce information and “blurry stereotypes” forged through centuries of trans-​Atlantic exchange, rivalry, and warfare.5 Common generalizations included that there were significant non-​white populations and a tropical climate, and that the prevailing faith was Roman Catholic. The flow and accuracy of information increased in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries thanks to works including Alexander von Humboldt’s widely read treatises on Spanish America, which highlighted the commercial potential of the region. Changes in the circulation of goods and people wrought by revolutionary upheaval in the Atlantic also opened new channels through which information flowed. The emergence of independent states in Latin America and the Caribbean introduced multiple new sources of information, from diplomatic and commercial agents to expatriate and exile communities. Despite these trends, confusion about the region’s politics continued to reign in Europe and the United States for much of the nineteenth century, as some commentators recognized. Maine, for example, noted “inattentiveness” to Latin America in England, France, and Germany, and blamed those societies’ lack of familiarity with the Spanish language.6 On the other side of the Atlantic, one US writer lamented that knowledge

4 North American Review 46, no. 98 (January 1838): 293. 5 Caitlin Fitz, Our Sister Republics: The United States in an Age of Revolutions (New York, 2016), 18. 6 Maine, Popular Government, 44.

The View from Elsewhere  241 of the region was limited “only to the most prominent events.”7 Indeed, wars and revolutions overshadowed more mundane or quotidian political developments. US designs for expansion and commercial aspirations filtered much of the information flowing from south to north.8 The centrality of the slavery question in US political discourse during the nineteenth century also rendered newsworthy the fortunes of racially diverse societies to the south. In Europe, news of Latin America and the Caribbean focused on developments that might affect investments in and immigration to the region. Latin American and Caribbean governments and private citizens also contributed to distorting the view of political realities in the region by peddling their various political and personal agendas. Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, the Argentine intellectual and author of Facundo (1845), a thinly veiled critique of Juan Manual de Rosas’s regime in Argentina (1829–​1852), provides an illustrative example. Sarmiento hoped to shape foreign opinions of Argentina in order to attract international support for the forces opposing Rosas, and international recognition for himself.9 He encouraged journals in Europe to review his works and convinced the renowned educator and reformer Mary Peabody Mann to translate Facundo into English in the 1860s. Sarmiento worked closely with Mann to ensure that the translation and its accompanying biography of the author portrayed him and his political career in the best possible light. The region’s role in discussions of popular government elsewhere varied and changed over time. For some observers, it offered a cautionary tale illustrating the dangers of popular political participation under the wrong conditions of extending political rights to groups that were considered unprepared or unable to wield them responsibly. For others, Latin America and the Caribbean affirmed popular government’s universal potential. Those confronting restrictions to political participation and opposition to popular government in their own societies occasionally turned to the region as a source of inspiration and positive examples. This rest of this chapter will elaborate the themes outlined above by assessing opinions of the region’s politics in Europe and then in the United States.

7 North American Review 68, no. 143 (April 1849): 316. 8 J. Valerie Fifer, United States Perceptions of Latin America 1850-​1930: A “New West” South of the Capricorn? (Manchester, 1991), 1–​2. 9 Iván Jaksić, The Hispanic World and American Intellectual Life, 1820-​1880 (New York, 2007), ch. 6.

242  Re-imagining Democracy

The View from Europe The Atlantic revolutions and aftermath of the Napoleonic wars provided the context for interpretations of Latin American politics among European observers. “Restoration” of old dynastic regimes in Europe after Napoleon’s defeat in 1814–​1815 did not end debates about the sources of sovereignty and benefits of political experimentation there. European conservatives continued to worry that republican movements anywhere might destabilize monarchism; they saw developments in Latin America as exemplifying the dangers of revolution and unfettered “democracy,” which they associated with anarchy and mob rule. By contrast, some liberals hoped that the ideals of popular sovereignty, equality, and representation on display in the Americas would also take hold in Europe. Their optimism, however, gave way to skepticism in the late 1820s as continuing political instability across the Atlantic cast doubt on the viability of popular government in societies that seemed ill-​prepared for self-​rule. Geopolitical calculations shaped European opinions. European powers hoped to exploit the commercial and strategic opportunities opened by the crisis of Iberian colonialism while minimizing the threat to the legitimacy of their own regimes and colonial enterprises.10 Spain, meanwhile, desperately sought to fend off more powerful rivals even as the restoration of its vast American holdings became increasingly unlikely. The Spanish government withheld full diplomatic recognition of the newly independent states for years. Mexico was the first to receive recognition in 1836; Honduras had to wait until 1894. Competition for access to markets and strategic advantage in the Americas continued throughout the nineteenth century, and increased European sensitivities to instability in the region. Disorder could, on the one hand, endanger European lives, property, and investments. On the other hand, political instability provided an excuse for European powers to assert their interests through gunboat diplomacy and occasional invasion. Latin Americans understood and manipulated this dynamic for their own ends. In Britain, support for independence efforts in Latin America cut across ideological lines, bringing critics of “colonial despotism” together with statesmen and businessmen hoping to keep France and the United States out of the region, and their own access to lucrative markets open. Commerce 10 Rafe Blaufarb, “The Western Question: The Geopolitics of Latin American Independence,” American Historical Review 112, no. 3 (2007): 742–​63.

The View from Elsewhere  243 with Spanish America and Brazil was imperative during the war against Napoleon. After the war, the new Latin American states emerged as attractive destinations for British investment, especially in the form of government bonds and mining shares. Bond holders and merchants lobbied for their government’s support of the insurgents. In relation to the politics of the region, British opinions were generally concerned about what they implied for the prospects of securing British commercial and strategic interests. As the Marquess of Lansdowne noted while debating whether to recognize the newly independent states, the question was whether those governments were “able to maintain relations of amity and commerce, which ought to exist between independent, and friendly nations.”11 Ability to protect the life and property of British subjects was paramount: a “minimal standard” for membership in the society of “civilized” states.12 There were exceptions to the primacy of commerce, of course. Prominent British abolitionists, including Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce, followed political news from Haiti and corresponded with leaders on the island. Clarkson defended the political system of the Kingdom of Haiti and the ability of blacks to rule themselves to his British contemporaries, countering common depictions of decadence and violence with descriptions of “law and order.” Wilberforce, in contrast, abstained from pro-​Haiti propaganda “until [Haiti] is better able to stand on its own legs.”13 A turn toward abolition in parts of independent Spanish America also attracted British abolitionists’ attention. Developments in Latin America and the Caribbean also fascinated political philosophers. Jeremy Bentham commented extensively on Spain’s liberal constitution of 1812 and its implications for continuing colonial rule in the Americas.14 He maintained close personal contact with Spanish American patriots, dispatching lengthy letters to Bernardino Rivadavia and Simón Bolívar in which he offered his services as a constitutional drafter. In the early 1820s, he expressed hopes that Spanish Americans would follow the example 11 House of Lords Debates, March 15, 1824, Vol. 10, cols. 971–​1003. 12 Carsten-​Andreas Schulz, “Civilisation, Barbarism and the Making of Latin America’s Place in 19th-​Century International Society,” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 42, no. 3 (2014): 837–​59. 13 David Geggus, “Haiti and the Abolitionists: Opinion, Propaganda and International Politics in Britain and France, 1804-​1838,” in Abolition and Its Aftermath: The Historical Context, 1790-​1916, ed. David Richardson (London, 1985), 130, 133; Robin Blackburn, “Haiti, Slavery, and the Age of the Democratic Revolution,” The William and Mary Quarterly 63, no. 4 (2006): 643–​74. 14 Jeremy Bentham, Colonies, Commerce, and Constitutional Law: Rid Yourselves of Ultramaria and Other Writings on Spain and Spanish America, ed. Philip Schofield (Oxford, 1995).

244  Re-imagining Democracy of the United States in establishing “representative democracy.”15 Spanish American elites cultivated such connections both in hope of securing recognition and from a genuine interest in British constitutionalism.16 British opinions of Latin American politics dimmed in the late 1820s as instability in the region persisted and the “first Latin American debt crisis” unfolded.17 Spanish American governments defaulted on debt payments, provoking a stock market crash in London and destabilizing the British banking sector. Only Brazil continued to service its debt. Although British commercial interests in Latin America persisted, its government had a largely pessimistic view of the region’s governance. By 1843, Foreign Minister Lord Palmerston included Spanish and Portuguese America alongside the Chinese and Ottomans as “half-​civilized governments” that would “require a dressing down every 8 or 10 years to keep them in order.”18 Spanish America thus became a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of popular government. This shift in opinion coincided with debates over the expansion of popular participation in British politics, which eventually yielded the Representation of the People Act of 1832. Some participants in those debates pointed to Latin American experiences in their arguments. Tory Member of Parliament John Walsh, for example, used the Spanish American republics as proof of “the evils which always attended democracies.”19 Three decades later he returned to Spanish American examples while opposing further franchise expansion. In a tract published in 1860, he asked: “What has been the actual fruit of these thirty or five-​and-​thirty years of republicanism and democracy in Spanish America? A succession of wars, revolutions, conspiracies, extending from Buenos Ayres to Mexico—​industry suspended, public faith violated, property and life frightfully insecure, chronic anarchy prevailing, man retrograding into the savage state.”20 Walsh was typical in excepting Brazil

15 Bentham to Rivadavia, June 13-​15, 1822, and Bentham to Bolívar, January 6, 1823, reprinted in The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, 12 vols. (London, 1968–​), Vol. 11, ed. Catherine Fuller, 112–​ 18 and 185–​89, respectively. 16 Gabriel B. Paquette, “The Intellectual Context of British Diplomatic Recognition of the South American Republics, c. 1800-​1830,” Journal of Transatlantic Studies 2, no. 1 (2004): 75–​95;Karen Racine, “‘This England and This Now’: British Cultural and Intellectual Influence in the Spanish American Independence Era,” Hispanic American Historical Review 90, no. 3 (2010): 423–​54. 17 Frank G. Dawson, The First Latin American Debt Crisis: The City of London and the 1822-​25 Loan Bubble (New Haven, CT, 1990). 18 Cited in Matthew Brown, “Introduction,” in Informal Empire in Latin America: Culture, Commerce and Capital, ed. Matthew Brown (Oxford, 2008), 19. 19 John B. Walsh, Popular Opinions on Parliamentary Reform, Considered. Fifth Edition, with Additions, and a Postscript to the Ballot (London, 1831), 13. 20 John B. Walsh, The Practical Results of the Reform Act of 1832 (London, 1860), 125.

The View from Elsewhere  245 and the United States from his strictures, crediting the stability of the former to its monarchical system and of the latter to its legacy of British customs and institutions. A quarter-​century later, Maine echoed Walsh’s conclusions, noting the “universal and scarcely intermitted political confusion which at times has reigned in all Central and South America, save Chile and the Brazilian Empire.”21 The impact of Latin American and Caribbean politics on France dates from the 1790s, as the entangled revolutions in France and its colony Saint Domingue got underway. French sans-​culottes explicitly connected their demands for political rights with the struggle of the enslaved in the Caribbean.22 Spanish American independence efforts in the 1810s coincided with another transition in French politics: the Bourbon restoration. That context complicated French strategy in the Americas. Hoping to expand France’s presence in the region while also upholding dynastic legitimacy, the Restoration government in France favored the installation of Bourbon monarchs in the emerging independent states.23 Back in France, divisions over the prerogatives of the French monarchy colored opinions of the new Spanish American governments. Liberals expressed hopes for governments in Spanish America that seemed to embrace principles similar to their own. Conservatives, in contrast, saw their fears confirmed by the new republics’ instability. These dynamics were notable in the late 1820s. At the same time that the government of Charles X (1824–​1830) in France became increasingly intolerant of dissent, the government of Simón Bolívar in Gran Colombia took a more dictatorial path. Liberals, including prominent intellectual and politician Benjamin Constant, made a connection between the two developments. In an article advocating the open discussion of political questions, Constant included a critique of Bolívar for dissolving representative government “with the banal pretext that his fellow citizens were not enlightened enough to rule themselves.”24 The Abbé de Pradt, a fellow member of the Chamber of Deputies who supported Spanish American independence but preferred 21 Maine, Popular Government, 44. 22 Casper Gelderblom, “Sans-​ Culottes and Slaves: Transatlantic Interactions and Popular Abolitionism in the French and Haitian Revolutions (1789-​1794),” Unpublished MA Thesis, Leiden, Panthéon-​Sorbonne, Oxford, 2018. 23 Blaufarb, “The Western Question”; Edward Shawcross, France, Mexico and Informal Empire in Latin America, 1820-​1867: Equilibrium in the New World (Basingstoke, 2018). 24 Le Courrier Français, January 1, 1829, cited in José Antonio Aguilar Rivera, “The Liberal Cloak: The Constant-​De Pradt Controversy on Bolívar’s Last Dictatorship,” Jahrbuch für Geschichte Lateinamerikas/​Anuario de Historia de América Latina, no. 55 (2018): 91.

246  Re-imagining Democracy constitutional monarchy, defended Bolívar.25 In his view, “preachers of liberty” like Constant misunderstood the conditions in Spanish America. There, societies were immature, riven by factionalism, and violent. De Pradt pointed to “the horrible mixture of blacks, mulattos, llaneros, creoles, all men who were suddenly dragged from the bosom of slavery and barbarism to function as legislators and statesmen” as proof that some societies were not ready for the type of government that Constant proposed.26 This polemical exchange attracted widespread attention. Ultra-​royalists, for example, seized the opportunity to underline the fact that liberal, constitutional rule required the right conditions, in France as in Spanish America.27 The July Revolution of 1830 brought to power a less conservative monarch along with Doctrinaire liberals who supported constitutional monarchy and representative government by citizens “of capacity” chosen by a limited electorate. The new government formally recognized the Spanish American republics but also sought more aggressively to protect French interests in the region. It justified naval blockades and interventions, such as the “Pastry War” in Mexico and the blockade of the River Plate, both in 1838, by pointing to the purported inability of Spanish Americans to achieve self-​rule. Echoing de Pradt, the government discussed Latin American politics in terms of race and civilization.28 Diplomat Charles Lefèbvre de Bécourt, for example, disparaged the independent republics as “torn by rival ambitions, divided into numerous parties, governed from the bottom up . . . political rights have been granted to the slaves of yesterday, who are incapable of exercising them.” In Spanish America, “the last colonel wants to the president, at least for a few days,” and “all the cities aim to become capitals.”29 In the same vein, the government-​friendly Journal des Débats justified French intervention in Spanish America as a defense of “some great principle of the law of nations” and “the interests of civilization.” Spanish American politics and civilization compared unfavorably to those of the United States.30 While Mexico and its sister republics had “many enlightened men,” it noted, “the mass of the people is not [enlightened].” Sadly, “by the inevitable effect 25 Laura Bornholdt, “The Abbé De Pradt and the Monroe Doctrine,” The Hispanic American Historical Review 24, no. 2 (1944): 204. 26 Le Courrier Français, January 12, 1829. 27 Aguilar Rivera, “The Liberal Cloak,” 92. 28 Iwan Morgan, “French Ideas of Civilizing Mission in South America, 1830-​1848,” Canadian Journal of History 16, no. 3 (1981): 379–​404. 29 Charles Lefèbvre de Bécourt, « Des rapports de la France et de l’Europe avec l’Amérique du Sud,” Revue des Deux Mondes, July 1, 1838, 56–​69. 30 Journal des débats politiques et littéraires, July 31, 1838.

The View from Elsewhere  247 of the democratic institutions of the country, the opinion of this mass makes the law.”31 These themes also featured in the writings of two influential French writers of the mid-​nineteenth century: Michel Chevalier and Alexis de Tocqueville. Chevalier had visited the United States, Mexico, and Cuba between 1833 and 1835. In his travel accounts, Chevalier argued that social conditions underpinned a society’s political constitution and concluded that Spanish Americans “were an impotent race without a future” requiring French tutelage.32 Drawing on the distinction between productive and idle classes, characteristic of the political-​economic thought of French Ideologues, Chevalier contrasted the prosperous and orderly United States with the backward and unruly former colonies of Spain: “the republican principle has produced the United States, but it also gave birth to these miserable republics of Hispanic America.”33 Tocqueville similarly contrasted Spanish America with the United States. In his seminal De la démocratie en Amérique, he cited Spanish America—​Mexico, especially—​as proof that social and economic conditions were crucial to stable democratic government. “South America,” Tocqueville noted as a matter of fact, “cannot support democracy.”34 In some cases, Latin Americans themselves propagated this civilizational discourse. Sarmiento invoked the struggle between civilization and barbarism in Facundo partly to enlist European support for the effort against Rosas. He addressed the foreign minister, François Guizot, by name in multiple passages, urging him to intervene on behalf of the “European party” in the River Plate.35 In 1846, Sarmiento traveled to Europe and convinced the editor of the Revue des Deux Mondes to discuss his treatise. The reviewer considered the “little book” a testament to the barbarous state of the South American republics and concluded that Spanish Americans lacked the basis for “true political organization” despite their attempts to write constitutions—​a marked contrast with the United States.36 Other Latin Americans challenged such 31 Ibid. 32 Michel Chevalier, Lettres sur l’Amérique du Nord, 2 vols. (Brussels, 1836), 2:405. 33 Michael Drolet, “Industry, Class and Society: A Historiographic Reinterpretation of Michel Chevalier,” The English Historical Review 123, no. 504 (2008): 1229–​71; quotation from Chevalier, Lettres, 302. 34 Quotation from Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (New York, 2004), 353. See also José Antonio Aguilar Rivera, “Tocqueville in Mexico,” Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies 26, no. 2 (2020): 175–​88. 35 Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Facundo: Civilization and Barbarism (Berkeley, CA, [1845] 2003), 34. 36 Charles de Mazade, « De l’Américanisme et des républiques du Sud—​La société argentine. Quiroga et Rosas,” Revue des Deux Mondes, November 15, 1846, 629–​30. On French responses

248  Re-imagining Democracy civilizational arguments. A burgeoning community of Spanish American exiles in Paris used French periodicals to advance their own notions of civilization under a new label: Latin America.37 Stereotypes of instability were difficult to overcome, however. One Mexican diplomat in Paris lamented in 1856: “we are regarded here as a sorry group of people . . . incapable of governing ourselves.”38 French writers continued into the 1850s and 1860s to use discussions of Latin America and France’s policies toward the region to make arguments about civilization, popular government, and French politics. Debate over France’s actions in Mexico provides a clear example. The government of Napoleon III—​in power after revolutionary upheaval and a short-​lived republic from 1848 to 1852 gave way to the Second French Empire—​joined Britain and Spain in a blockade of Mexican ports in 1861. The official justification was the suspension of debt payments by liberal Mexican president Benito Juárez after the end of that country’s Reform War (1857–​1861). Hoping to restore France’s presence in the Americas and responding to calls from Juárez’s opponents for help in ending the “anarchy” of liberal republicanism, the French government invaded Mexico and installed Austrian archduke Maximilian as Mexican emperor.39 Mexican forces led by Juárez resisted for five years, eventually overthrowing the French-​backed government, restoring the republic, and executing Maximilian. For some French observers, the whole episode reaffirmed the “barbarous” nature of Mexican politics. France’s official newspaper, Le Moniteur Universel, declared Mexico outside the family of “civilized nations” for its treatment of Maximilian and predicted Mexico’s eventual absorption into the United States.40 Liberals and republicans, by contrast, condemned the attack on Mexico and used the fiasco to highlight Napoleon’s fiscal irresponsibility and the need for liberal reform in France.41 Writing from exile in Guernsey, to Facundo, see Diana Sorensen, Facundo and the Construction of Argentine Culture (Austin, TX, 1996), 96. 37 Michael Gobat, “The Invention of Latin America: Transnational History of Anti-​Imperialism, Democracy and Race,” The American Historical Review 118, no. 5 (2013): 1345–​75. 38 Quoted in Nancy N. Barker, “Monarchy in Mexico: Harebrained Scheme or Well-​Considered Prospect?” The Journal of Modern History 48, no. 1 (March 1976): 53. 39 Erika Pani, “Juárez Vs. Maximilano: Mexico’s Experiment with Monarchy,” in American Civil Wars: The United States, Latin America, Europe, and the Crisis of the 1860s, ed. Don H. Doyle (Chapel Hill, NC, 2017), 167. 40 Le Moniteur universel, July 5 and 7, 1867. 41 Sanders, The Vanguard of the Atlantic World, 230–​32, and Jerome Greenfield, “The Mexican Expedition of 1862-​1867 and the End of the Second Empire,” The Historical Journal 63, no. 3 (2020): 679.

The View from Elsewhere  249 the novelist and critic of Napoleon’s regime Victor Hugo cheered Juárez and appealed for clemency to show the world the “beauty” of democracy’s true principles.42 That political experiments in Spanish America had an audience and influence in Spain is unsurprising given the profound connections between the two. Spanish Americans participated in the writing of Spain’s liberal constitution of 1812, which included representative governance based on a relatively broad male suffrage. After the restored Bourbon monarch Fernando VII abolished the constitution in 1814, a few notable Spanish liberals cast the Spanish American insurgents as fellow fighters against tyranny, though cooperation between the two groups did not materialize.43 A coup led by liberals in 1820 reintroduced the 1812 constitution. French intervention helped to suppress it again three years later. Throughout this tumult, Fernando and his supporters connected the revolutionary upheaval in the colonies to the threat to monarchical rule in Spain. Writing to Russian Czar Alexander I, Fernando explained: “the Constitution formed in Cádiz, and the revolution made in Spain, were the work of the machinations of those who desired to separate the Americas from the metropolis.”44 Fernando’s government launched a propaganda campaign branding the people “as a demagogue-​prone mob” and offered Spain’s experience as a warning for the rest of Europe.45 In an influential history of the Spanish American wars published in 1829–​1830, absolutist Mariano Torrente excoriated the “exalted demagogues” who had misled the people with flattering illusions of liberty and self-​government.46 Many Spanish liberals also believed that Spanish Americans had been misled and would return to the imperial fold under a liberal government.47 Thus, they struggled to comprehend both the colonies’ decision in favor of independence and the failure of liberalism at home. In the face of these losses, some came to argue against popular participation in politics without proper moderating forces. They retrospectively criticized their own efforts and attacked reactionary Carlism by labeling it “a kind of pure democracy,

42 Victor Hugo, “L’Empereur Maximilien,” in Oeuvres completes. Actes et paroles, 2 vols. (Paris, 1883), 2:391. 43 Blaufarb, “The Western Question,” 745. 44 Timothy Anna, Spain and the Loss of America (Lincoln, NE, 1983), 272. 45 Mark Lawrence, Nineteenth Century Spain: A New History (London, 2019), 55, and Gaceta de Madrid, May 5, 1831. 46 Mariano Torrente, Historia de la revolución hispano-​americana, 3 vols. (Madrid, 1829–​1830), 3:607–​8. 47 Anna, Spain and the Loss of America, 274–​76.

250  Re-imagining Democracy demagoguery, and anarchy.”48 Spanish republicans looked to the United States as a model instead of to Spanish America.49 Pedro Méndez del Vigo, for example, applauded the Spanish Americans’ political principles but emphasized that centuries of Spanish colonialism had resulted in a “lack of republican customs and habits in the new states.” In light of those conditions, Méndez prescribed education, “the establishment of less democratic institutions,” foreign immigration, and “strong and vigorous government that cannot degenerate into despotism nor be carried away by the torrent of the masses due to its weakness.”50 Democracy, as he added in a footnote, was ill-​suited to the task of civilizing the rougher parts of the population. Over the next decades, Spaniards continued to express ambivalence toward Spanish America. Writers in the 1840s, including the editors of a newspaper supportive of democracy as an ideal, warned against following the example of Spain’s erstwhile colonies due to their instability.51 Negative accounts suited Spain’s geopolitical calculations in the 1850s–​1860s, as the country attempted to reassert its presence in the Americas by re-​annexing the Dominican Republic and occupying islands off South America’s Pacific coast. More positive assessments appeared in the mid-​1860s. Public support for Juárez’s government during the French intervention came from liberals, including Juan Prim, and republicans, including Emilio Castelar. In several articles, Castelar defended democracy in the Americas as a “sacred and providential fact.”52 In 1868, Prim and Castelar participated in a revolution against the scandal-​ridden government of Queen Isabella II. A new constitution expanded political rights and paved the way for the First Spanish Republic in 1873.53 Castelar, president of the republic, bolstered his regime’s legitimacy by lauding the “marvelous transformations” that countries like Chile, Argentina, Mexico, and Peru had recently experienced.54 Even after the republic fell in 1874, Castelar continued to extol the achievements of Spanish American democracies.55 48 Mark Lawrence, Spain’s First Carlist War, 1833-​40 (London, 2014), 8. 49 Florencia Peyrou, “Los Republicanos Españoles y los otros. Impacto e influencia de los modelos republicanos foráneos, 1840-​1874,” Revista de Estudios Políticos, no. 175 (2017): 331–​56. 50 Pedro Méndez de Vigo, España y América en progreso (Paris, 1835), 84–​85. 51 Javier Fernández Sebastián, “Discussing Democracy in Spain and in Latin America during the Age of Revolutions: Commonalities and Differences,” Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies 26, no. 2 (2020): 121–​22. 52 La América, June 12, 1864, 6–​7. 53 Peyrou, “Los Republicanos Españoles,” and Javier Fernández Sebastián and Gonzalo Capellán, “Democracy in Spain: An Ever-​Expanding Ideal,” in Re-​imagining Democracy in the Mediterranean. 54 Emilio Castelar, Historia del movimiento republicano en Europa (Madrid, 1874), 11. 55 See Castelar’s prologue to Luis Varela, La Democracia práctica (Paris, 1876), vii–​xi.

The View from Elsewhere  251 Spanish America also provided a canvas on which hopes and fears were projected by observers from European societies with fewer commercial or strategic interests in the region. Italian and German liberals looked across the Atlantic for inspiration for their own struggles to establish nation-​states. Italian émigrés played a role in the wars of independence in the Americas. Although Italian liberals of the Risorgimento supported republicanism in Latin America, they eventually echoed skeptical assessments of its political institutions and experiences. Giuseppe Garibaldi, who spent his formative years fighting in Brazil and Uruguay, lauded the more egalitarian and free-​ spirited nature of the South American gaucho to his European audiences. However, his depiction of the region’s politics was less flattering: “what is called a government” was often “but the amalgamation of a few of the most powerful.”56 He saw Ibero-​America as offering a lesson on the necessity of dictatorships in times of war. In fact, most Italian liberals regarded the United States as the better model to follow.57 North of the Alps, Humboldt’s descriptions of Spanish America raised interest in the region and challenged long-​held views of Spanish despotism.58 The governments of Austria and Prussia were formally committed to dynastic legitimacy and hence supportive of Spain in the wars for independence, although they, like other powers, hoped to benefit commercially from Spanish America’s opening.59 German liberals of the Vormärz (the generation before 1848) proclaimed their solidarity with the Spanish American patriots during the Napoleonic wars and remained keenly interested afterward. Debating developments in North and South America provided them with an opportunity to explore political questions without violating censorship rules.60

56 Giuseppe Garibaldi, Autobiography of Giuseppe Garibaldi, trans. A. Werner, 3 vols. (New York, 1971), 1:194. 57 Maurizio Isabella, Risorgimento in Exile: Italian Émigrés and the Liberal International in the Post-​ Napoleonic Era (Oxford, 2009), 56; see also Riall, Garibaldi, 56. 58 Hans-​Joachim König, “Entstehen, Fortwirken und Wandlungen der Amerikabilder im deutschen Sprachraum seit 1492: ein Überblick,” in Transatlantische Perzeptionen: Lateinamerika-​ USA-​Europa in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. Hans-​Joachim König and Stefan H. Rinke (Stuttgart, 1998), 25–​59. 59 Manfred Kossok, Im Schatten der Heiligen Allianz. Deutschland und Lateinamerika 1815-​1830 (Berlin, 1964). 60 Ulrike Schmieder, “Das Bild Lateinamerikas in der preußischen und deutschen Publizistik vom Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts bis zur Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts,” in Preussen und Lateinamerika. Im Spannungsfeld von Kommerz, Macht und Kultur, ed. Sandra Carreras and Günther Maihold (Münster, 2004), 74–​75.

252  Re-imagining Democracy When they discussed potential constitutional designs for a German republic, they studied federal constitutions such as Mexico’s of 1824.61 Unlike other European observers, German writers initially viewed Haiti and Spanish America as “purer” models of republicanism and constitutional rule than the United States, which was tainted by slavery. Focusing on constitutional principles rather than political realities, German liberals heralded Haiti “as a mirror for German politics topics,” a “canvas” on which to project their own problems, and “a shining example to the rest of the continent.”62 Bolívar was also popular among liberals. Conservatives responded by highlighting Latin America’s political instability. The Prussian state gazette, for example, observed in 1826 that independence and the promise of “liberty” and “equality” in America had brought ethnic violence and turmoil. “The classic theories of government,” the author concluded, “stand in contradiction with America’s uncertainty and level of moral development.”63 Events in the 1820s led the advocates of independence in Latin America to reconsider their optimism. German intellectuals lost interest in Haiti, and subsequent assessments of the island echoed racist arguments about self-​ government seen elsewhere.64 Support for Bolívar waned. Humboldt, for example, began to highlight Cuba, a site not of successful republican revolution but rather of reform within Spain’s empire in the 1820s, as a more suitable model.65 As in other parts of Europe, German writers increasingly found Spanish America wanting in comparison to the United States. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, lecturing in the 1820s, elaborated on this distinction: “North America owes its prosperity to the growth of its industry and population and to civil order and firmly established freedom. . . . In South America, however, the republics are based solely on military force; their whole history is one of continuous revolution.”66 The United States’ Protestantism and settlement

61 Hans-​Otto Kleinmann, “Die politische und soziale Verfassung des unabhängigen Mexiko im Bild und Urteil liberaler deutscher Zeitgenossen,” Jahrbuch für Geschichte Lateinamerikas, no. 8 (1971): 221–​49. 62 Karin Schüller, “From Liberalism to Racism: German Historians, Journalists, and the Haitian Revolution from the Late Eighteenth to the Early Twentieth Centuries,” in The Impact of the Haitian Revolution, ed. David P. Geggus, 38 and 31. 63 Allgemeine Preußische Staats-​Zeitung, November 26, 1826, 1106. 64 Schüller, “From Liberalism to Racism.” 65 Michael Zeuske, “¿Padre de la Independencia? Humboldt y la transformación a la Modernidad en la América,” in Alejandro de Humboldt y el mundo hispánico. La Modernidad y la Independencia americana, ed. Miguel Ángel Puig-​Samper (Madrid, 2000), 70. 66 Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History (Cambridge, 1975 [1837]), 166.

The View from Elsewhere  253 through colonization rather than conquest contributed to its success. Hegel excluded Brazil from the terms of his comparison.67 In attempting to understand the failures of the 1848 revolutions in Europe, intellectuals including Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx turned to comparisons with developments in the Americas. In an article warning against faith in lofty and unrealistic principles such as “democratic pan-​Slavism,” Engels invoked the recent US–​Mexican War to prove his point. Although the United States and Mexico were both republics and so, in theory, “fraternally united,” it had been the “sovereign will” of the “energetic Yankees” to take California from the “lazy Mexicans.” Engels, in fact, deemed the result “in the interest of civilization.”68 The lesson was twofold: the language of democracy was often a veneer for power politics, and pre-​capitalist peoples—​such as the Slavs or the Mexicans—​were not ready for revolutionary change. Marx similarly used the Americas as a “reflection of the Old World” when he wrote an entry on Bolívar for the New American Cyclopaedia in the 1850s.69 Seeing Bolívar in the mold of Napoleon III, Marx derided the South American’s dictatorial tendencies and penchant for “triumphal entries, manifestos, and the proclamation of constitutions.” The society of Gran Colombia, moreover, was backward and its government shambolic: “a military anarchy, leaving the most important affairs in the hand of [Bolívar’s] favorites who squandered the finances of the country, and then resorted to odious means in order to restore them.”70 In sum, Latin America’s political experimentation occurred in the context of European competition in the Americas as well as contestation over political rights and popular representation in Europe. Unsurprisingly, European conservatives remained deeply skeptical of republicanism in the Americas and used evidence of “mob rule” there to contest demands for change at home. Liberals initially supported the patriots’ cause, though disillusionment in the 1830s led them to join conservatives in invoking Latin America as a cautionary tale. The distinction between the United States and Latin America structured political reflection for decades. The events of the 1860s 67 Ibid. 68 Friedrich Engels, “Democratic Pan-​Slavism,” Neue Rheinische Zeitung 222, February 15, 1849, reprinted in Marx Engels Collected Works, 50 vols. (London, 1975–​), 8:365. 69 Pedro Scaron, Karl Marx Friedrich Engels Materiales para la historia de América Latina (Mexico City, 1972), 12, and Ronaldo Munck, “Review: Marx and Latin America,” Bulletin of Latin American Research 3, no. 1 (1984): 143. 70 Karl Marx, “Bolivar y Ponte,” in The New American Cyclopaedia: A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge, ed. George Ripley and Charles A. Dana, 16 vols. (New York, 1858), 3:400, 442, 445.

254  Re-imagining Democracy provided the context for some reassessment. Civil war in the United States cast doubt on its status as an exceptional model and confirmed to many European conservatives the folly of popular government. That development and the French invasion of Mexico led some observers previously dismissive of Latin American politics—​including Marx and Engels—​to see region’s regimes in a more sympathetic light.

The View from the United States Unlike European societies, the United States had a governing regime based on popular sovereignty and a society profoundly shaped by racial diversity, immigration, and slavery. The writers of the 1787 constitution eschewed “democracy,” opting instead for a federal republic and leaving the extent of participation largely to the state governments. Initially, those governments restricted participation on a number of criteria: race, gender, property ownership, and ability to pay taxes. Challenges to those restrictions soon emerged, and interest in democracy increased in the 1790s.71 In subsequent decades, direct participation in politics through the franchise expanded for white men. Women, non-​white inhabitants, and immigrants faced continued exclusion and, in some cases, even experienced an erosion of rights. Territorial expansion and the influx of immigrants, many of them poor and Roman Catholic, fueled debates over the impact on self-​government of social, religious, and geographic diversity. Slavery’s gradual abolition in the North countered by its expansion in the South brought new voices and new dynamics to discussions over the place of black Americans in the country’s political process. Amid these changes and challenges, people in the United States maintained an interest in the fortunes of popular government abroad. In the 1780s, US observers eagerly sought signs that other societies would follow their country’s example. France’s 1789 revolution offered a glimmer of hope, only to dim as that revolution and others inspired by it stalled and descended into civil and international war. Simultaneously, news of slave insurrection in the Caribbean raised the twin specters of mob violence and race war. This turn of events gave credence to a different account of what US history meant: rather 71 Seth Cotlar, “Languages of Democracy in America from the Revolution to the Election of 1800,” in Re-​Imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions.

The View from Elsewhere  255 than providing a universal example, the United States became unique, exceptionally combining conditions to make popular government possible. But was this so, and if so, what could be done to preserve those conditions which made it so? The fact that many Latin American societies had adopted political institutions similar to those in the United States amplified the temptation to use the region as a mirror or to judge the region’s politics against US standards. As one reviewer of Mann’s translation of Facundo noted, “an intelligent American can hardly read the life of [the Argentine] Republic . . . without seeing in it again and again the broken image of his own country.”72 This practice served an array of political agendas. While some observers saw in Latin America confirmation of US superiority and a warning against changes to its governing structures, others pointed southward to clarify the deficiencies of US politics.73 Geopolitics also played a role in determining US opinions. The dissolution of European empires in the Americas presented both opportunities and potential threats to the United States. On the one hand, the development reduced the presence of European powers in the hemisphere, produced like-​minded republican states, and presented new possibilities for US commerce. On the other hand, the wars of independence, ensuing civil strife, and apparent weakness of the southern republics had the potential to attract a new wave of European intervention. President James Monroe gave famous expression to those fears in 1823 when he warned the US Congress that any European attempts to extend control over the newly independent states of the Americas would endanger the United States. As pressure for expansion into Spanish American territory mounted in the 1830s, portraying the governments there as unstable or corrupt became a weapon in the expansionists’ arsenal. US reactions to the outbreak of revolution in Saint Domingue demonstrated the impact that developments in Latin America could have. The enslaved in the United States took inspiration from Saint Domingue to organize their own forms of resistance, and free black North Americans referred to this struggle in their efforts to challenge limits on their citizenship.74 72 Quoted in Jaksić, The Hispanic World, 119. 73 Ricardo Salvatore, “North American Travel Narratives and Ordering/​ Othering of South America (c. 1810-​1860),” Journal of Historical Sociology 9, no. 1 (1996): 105. 74 Douglas Egerton, Gabriel’s Rebellion: The Virginia Slave Conspiracies of 1800 and 1802 (Chapel Hill, NC, 1993).

256  Re-imagining Democracy Some white commentators in the United States interpreted the news as a warning against citizenship too narrowly defined. One New York newspaper, for example, blamed the island’s upheaval on racialized limits to participation in political assemblies.75 For others, the lessons of Saint Domingue were starkly different. The island exemplified the dangers of political experimentation and extending the rights of citizenship too quickly. Several US newspapers and politicians linked the chaos of Saint Domingue and the violence of revolutionary France, with “Jacobin” political philosophy and the “civic emancipation” of non-​white populations lying at the heart of the disorder.76 Fearing that news from the island might inspire similar unrest, states throughout the Union passed legislation restricting the activities of black North Americans, free and enslaved.77 Paranoia heightened with the discovery of slave conspiracies in Virginia in 1800 and 1802. When Haiti declared independence, the government of Thomas Jefferson refused to recognize it and imposed an embargo on trade with the island. This diversity of opinion continued into the 1810s. Although many equated Haiti with anarchy and slave revolt, others saw in the island an example of black self-​governance and a refuge from slavery and restricted citizenship in the United States.78 Haitian propaganda, aided by black North American orators and newspapers, encouraged the latter image. Unsurprisingly, the divide in opinion fell along racial lines with a few notable exceptions. Some white US merchants and farmers, hoping to effect the repeal of the embargo and thus gain a market, sent accounts of Haiti as among the “best ordered governments of the white world” to newspapers in various northern port cities.79 Washington continued to refuse recognition, but these efforts cemented Haiti’s role as proof of successful non-​white self-​government among black North Americans.80

75 The Diary, or, Louden’s Register, October 11, 1792, quoted in René Koekkoek, The Citizenship Experiment: Contesting the Limits of Civic Equality and Participation in the Age of Revolutions (Leiden, 2020), 100. 76 Koekkoek, The Citizenship Experiment, 101–​3. 77 Tim Matthewson, “Jefferson and the Nonrecognition of Haiti,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 140, no. 1 (1996): 25. 78 These responses are examined in Maurice Jackson and Jacqueline Bacon, eds., African Americans and the Haitian Revolution: Selected Essays and Historical Documents (New York, 2010). 79 Sarah C. Fanning, “The Roots of Early Black Nationalism: Northern African Americans’ Invocations of Haiti in the Early Nineteenth Century,” Slavery and Abolition 28, no. 1 (2007): 66–​67. 80 Charlton W. Yingling, “‘No One Who Reads the History of Hayti Can Doubt the Capacity of Colored Men’: Racial Formation and Atlantic Rehabilitation in New York City’s Early Black Press, 1827-​1841,” Early American Studies 11, no. 2 (2013): 314–​48.

The View from Elsewhere  257 The Spanish American struggles for independence after 1810 also provided opportunities for general commentary on political participation and reflection on US politics. News of the revolutions initially excited the US public. Speeches, toasts, and articles throughout the country hailed Spanish American independence as confirmation of the historical significance of the 1776 revolution and the universality of its principles.81 Yet, these revolutionary developments also attracted skepticism based on pre-​ existing prejudices against Catholicism, racial mixing, and Iberian “tyranny.” Jefferson, for example, noted in a letter to Humboldt from 1813 that “history . . . furnishes no example of a priest-​ridden people maintaining a free civil government.”82 John Quincy Adams echoed these doubts almost a decade later.83 He disparaged the “arbitrary power, military and ecclesiastical, [that] was stamped upon their education, upon their habits, and upon all their institutions.” The North American Review, an increasingly influential journal, contrasted the United States from Spanish America in 1821. Whereas the former achieved its independence “without shedding a drop of civil blood,” the latter was consumed with wanton violence. “National character” determined by history, climate, and race caused this difference. The “mixture of blood” combining “Spanish bigotry and indolence, with savage barbarity and African stupidity” in Spanish America was especially problematic and led the author to predict that “South America will be to North America . . . what Asia and Africa are to Europe.”84 The success of independence and embrace of republicanism in Spanish America boosted confidence in the United States as a universal model. The North American Review revised its earlier pessimism and noted in 1826 that Spanish America was “pressing forward in the race of improvement, with all that speed and vigor, which liberal institutions never fail to impart.”85 Its authors noted the virtues of the region’s new constitutions, including Mexico’s “federalist government” and Colombia’s “central or consolidated” system.86 In a “popular” history from 1825, Connecticut judge and aspiring politician John Milton Niles hailed Spanish American independence as confirmation 81 Fitz, Our Sister Republics. 82 Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813, quoted in Aguilar Rivera, “Tocqueville in Mexico,” 176. 83 John Quincy Adams, Memoirs of John Quincy Adams: Comprising Portions of His Diary from 1795 to 1848, 12 vols. (Philadelphia, PA, 1874–​1877), 5:325. 84 North American Review 12, no. 31 (April 1821): 433–​42. 85 North American Review 23, no. 53 (October 1826): 475. 86 Ibid., 315 and 475.

258  Re-imagining Democracy of the “inestimable benefits of freedom” and “the happy fruits of our republican institutions.”87 Yet, he also emphasized important differences: “the people [of Spanish America] at large are not sufficiently enlightened, or in any way prepared for a government founded on the principles of that of the United States, where so much power is reposed in the hands of the people. It will take time to overcome habits, the effects of forms of government, and modes of thinking, which are the bitter fruits of a jealous and gloomy despotism.”88 The principles were universal, but conditions still mattered. Whether Spanish America would prove the universality or the exceptionalism of popular government as modeled by the United States remained to be determined. Diplomat Alexander Hill Everett, an advocate of acquiring Cuba lest it fall into the hands of another power or become an “independent principality of blacks,” noted the historical significance of Spanish American independence in a volume from 1827.89 Everett situated Spanish America on a spectrum of competing political systems in the Christian world, with the “popular government” of the United States on one end, the despotism of Russia on the other, and the “mixed” system of Great Britain in between.90 He commended Spanish American leaders for implementing a “system of representative democracy,” although he believed that further experimentation was needed to fit institutions properly to the “condition of the people.”91 On the chances of success, he offered cautious optimism. “The mass of population had never enjoyed or exercised any political rights whatever,” he noted, and then wondered: “Is it possible that a free and popular government erected on such a basis can be permanent? Far be it from me to affirm the contrary.”92 Many of his contemporaries were willing to pass that judgment by the end of the 1820s. News of civil wars and overturned constitutions confirmed earlier pessimism, and many observers blamed deficiencies of Latin American societies. Joel Poinsett, who had served as an envoy to revolutionary governments in South America and Mexico, sounded a familiar refrain when he complained that the former Spanish colonies did not have the 87 J.M. Niles, A View of South-​America and Mexico, 2 vols. (New York, 1825), 2: iv. 88 Ibid., 24. 89 Quotation about Cuba from “Letter from Alexander H. Everett to the President of the United States,” November 30, 1825, in Cuba: The Everett Letters on Cuba (Boston, MA, 1897), 7. Alexander Hill Everett, America: Or, A General Survey of the Political Situation of the Several Powers of the Western Continent with Conjectures on their Future Prospects (Philadelphia, PA, 1827). 90 Everett, America, 18–​24, 167. 91 Ibid., 184, 205. 92 Ibid., 188.

The View from Elsewhere  259 right conditions for republicanism, notably a “free and virtuous peasantry.”93 Years later, Alexis de Tocqueville drew on conversations with Poinsett when writing his treatise on democracy.94 Geopolitical concerns and domestic political controversies contributed to shifting opinions. Hopes that the new governments might treat US interests preferentially gave way to suspicion as Spanish Americans courted the wealthier and more powerful Great Britain. Border disputes with Mexico and news of abolitionist sentiments in Spanish America further divided US opinion.95 Some observers viewed abolition and the extension of political rights as laudable. Enslaved black Americans found hope in this news, and some attempted to flee southwards.96 Other US observers saw the trend as a potential threat to the United States and its economic development based on slave labor. Rumors circulated that Spanish Americans would push for a hemispheric commitment to emancipation at a congress of plenipotentiaries at Panama in 1826.97 Supporters of slavery rushed to denounce the “darker-​ skinned radicals” and “republican pretenders” who governed Spanish America while hailing the United States as a “moderate exception” to such revolutionary politics.98 Proponents of US expansion soon appealed to stereotypes of US superiority and Latin American instability. John O’Sullivan, the journalist who coined the term “Manifest Destiny,” called for expansion into Mexico’s territory by lambasting the Mexican government as “imbecile and distracted.”99 When the United States went to war with Mexico in 1846, US apologists for the war argued that intervention would save Mexico from tyranny and military despotism. General Winfield Scott, a leader of the US forces, framed the campaign as an opportunity for Mexicans to recover their republicanism. Soldiers, like Jacob Oswandel, believed Mexico would now “let the people rule,” while Jane McManus Storms, correspondent for the New York Sun,

93 Joel Poinsett to Martin Van Buren, 1829, in The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics, ed. Gilbert M. Joseph and Timothy J. Henderson (Durham, NC, 2002), 13. 94 James T. Schleifer, The Making of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (Chapel Hill, NC,1980). 95 Johnson, A Hemisphere Apart, 85–​93. 96 Alice Baumgartner, South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War (New York, 2020). 97 Fitz, Our Sister Republics, ­chapters 5–​6. 98 Ibid., 10 99 John O’Sullivan, “Annexation,” The United States Magazine and Democratic Review 17 (1845): 5–​10.

260  Re-imagining Democracy hoped war would motivate Mexicans to develop a “better sense of republicanism” and the “arts of free government.”100 Efforts of US citizens to support or spark revolutions in circum-​Caribbean states in the 1850s used similar justification. William Walker, the most famous of these “filibusters,” believed that the United States would “convert the world to democracy,” by which he meant representative government based on universal male suffrage and greater social equality among whites.101 Walker led a campaign in 1855 to intervene in a Nicaraguan civil war at the behest of liberal forces there; this effort succeeded and led to a short-​lived government with Walker as president. Throughout his controversial tenure, during which he resorted to violent repression and re-​legalized slavery, Walker claimed to restore “democracy . . . to its fullest extent,” surpassing that of even the United States.102 Such rhetoric and targeted appeals to contradictory interests in the United States garnered him the ephemeral support of black North Americans, female social reformers, southern slaveholders, and, eventually, the US government. As political developments in the Latin American states diverged, some US observers used the differences to draw general conclusions about the conditions necessary for stable popular government. The contrast drawn between Chile and its neighbors is illustrative. Chile was, in the words of one 1851 account, a “model republic . . . the first to follow [the US] example.” It owed its success to well-​balanced political institutions, attention to education, and “the character of her people.”103 US writers emphasized the homogeneity, piety, and sobriety that allowed the Chilean peasantry to resist the “philosophy of France” and the demagogues that exist “in all free lands.”104 Its neighbors, by contrast, were chaotic lands of uncivilized gauchos, ignorant indigenous peasants, and widespread miscegenation. US diplomats and journalists criticized dictators such as Rosas in Argentina while also admitting that despotic rule was necessary to govern unruly populations.105

100 Robert W. Johannsen, To the Halls of the Montezumas: The Mexican War in the American Imagination (New York, 1985), 296–​301. 101 Michel Gobat, Empire by Invitation: William Walker and Manifest Destiny in Central America (Cambridge, MA, 2018), 59. 102 El Nicaraguense 1, no. 35, July 12 1856. 103 North American Review 73, no. 153 (October 1851): 277–​310. 104 Ibid., 306–​8. See for more references Salvatore, “North American Travel Narratives,” 99. 105 William Dunesberry, “Juan Manuel de Rosas as Viewed by Contemporary American Diplomats,” Hispanic American Historical Review 41, no. 4 (1961): 504–​8 and North American Review 68, no. 143 (April 1849): 342.

The View from Elsewhere  261 Opinions of Brazil also highlighted the importance of local conditions. Although Brazil was a monarchy, its liberal constitution reminded US observers of their own. One observer even suggested “considering [Brazil] a republic, having at its head an immovable chief magistrate.”106 Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz and her husband Louis Agassiz, prominent intellectuals who traveled to Brazil in the 1860s, praised Brazil’s constitution for allowing “the largest practical liberty.”107 Yet the “conditions of the people” prevented politics there from transcending “petty tyranny.”108 Among Brazil’s problems were low levels of education and public interest in politics, pervasive corruption among Catholic clergy, and the influence of slavery. The dangers of political participation in a society with the wrong conditions were thus widely accepted by US observers of Latin America. One article, while discussing the River Plate, noted that “even the most absolute tyranny has always been nominally derived from the people, and rested on their right of election.”109 Another observed that those societies which had failed to establish fundamental principles such as “equality before the law, security to property, and freedom of the press” were the “more democratic” ones.110 Sometimes, authors drew direct connections between conditions in Latin America and those in the United States. Commentary on unruly peasants or corrupt clergy in Latin America, for example, provided opportunities to express anxieties over the Irish immigrants in the United States in the 1830s and 1840s.111 Racial mixture and the participation of non-​whites in politics—​a theme that many authors highlighted—​was another source of lessons for the United States. Haiti remained, for some, a warning. In a book published in 1837, US doctor Jonathan Brown decried the incompetence, ignorance, and corruption of politics in the island republic. “As a nation the blacks of St. Domingo are in a retrograde movement as regards intellectual improvement,” he noted, concluding that political instability was the consequence.112 Brown offered this moral to his US readers: “we should not, by ignorant or unnecessary legislation, disturb that arrangement of the social order under which 106 North American Review 68, no. 143 (April 1849): 322. 107 Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz and Louis Agassiz, A Journey in Brazil (Boston, MA, 1868), 291. 108 Ibid., 292. 109 North American Review 68, no. 143 (April 1849): 343. 110 North American Review 73, no. 153 (October 1851): 299. 111 Salvatore, “North American Travel Narratives,” 100. 112 Jonathan Brown, The History and Present Condition of St. Domingo, 2 vols. (Philadelphia, PA, 1837), 2:289.

262  Re-imagining Democracy experience has assured us that our national prosperity is safe.”113 As tensions over the slavery question and black citizenship reached a fever pitch in the late 1850s, Senator Jefferson Davis, in a speech to a Democratic convention in 1858, used Spanish America as proof that miscegenation produced instability.114 Although Spanish Americans “have the forms of free government, because they have copied them,” he explained, they did not enjoy the benefits “because that standard of civilization is above their race.” The United States, in contrast, succeeded because its founders “proudly maintained the integrity of their race.” Others argued, however, that Latin American examples proved non-​white participation in self-​government was viable. The implications of that argument for the United States, however, varied. For the North American Review, the greater social and political possibilities for non-​whites in Latin America justified support for colonization, or the removal and resettlement of black Americans outside of the United States.115 Some black writers disagreed and used Latin American examples to refute racist arguments about their contributions to US society. One newspaper declared in 1838 that Haitian history dispelled doubts over “the capacity of colored men” and “the propriety of removing all their disabilities.”116 Frederick Douglass, who had escaped slavery and was a leading voice against racial limits to citizenship, heralded Haiti as a “city set upon a hill” and ran articles on Nicaragua, “a colored republic,” in his newspaper during the 1850s.117 Articles on the Central American republic from 1852 emphasized its mixture of races and “franchise universal” covering “all native males above twenty years old.”118 In the 1860s, as the Civil War and Reconstruction led to the abolition of slavery and the expansion of political participation in the United States, US observers continued to look to Latin America for examples. Douglass and other black writers pointed southwards to bolster arguments for black enfranchisement.119 Mary Peabody Mann, meanwhile, used her

113 Brown, The History and Present Condition, 2:iv. 114 Dunbar Rowland, Jefferson Davis, Constitutionalist: His Letters, Papers and Speeches (Jackson, MS, 1923), 287. 115 North American Review 85, no. 17 (October 1857): 543. 116 “Republic of Hayti,” Colored American, March 15, 1838, quoted in Yingling, “No One Who Reads,” 314. 117 Juliet Hooker, Theorizing Race in the Americas: Douglass, Sarmiento, Du Bois, and Vasconcelos (New York, 2017), 42–​48. Quotation from Frederick Douglass’s Newspaper, January 8, 1852, 2 118 Frederick Douglass’s Newspaper, January 15, 1852, 2. 119 Hooker, Theorizing Race, and Brandon R. Byrd, “Black Republicans, Black Republic: African-​ Americans, Haiti, and the Promise of Reconstruction,” Slavery and Abolition 36, no. 4 (2015): 545–​67.

The View from Elsewhere  263 translation of Sarmiento’s Facundo to advance her own policy preferences for Reconstruction. In particular, Mann hoped to promote education as the antidote to the “pernicious doctrine of state sovereignty” (another term for states’ rights) that had plagued both Argentina and the United States.120 Although Latin America and the Caribbean examples were not generally at the forefront of debates over politics in the United States, they had a place in debates over citizenship, the conditions necessary for stable popular governance, and US exceptionalism. US opinions of Latin American politics frequently aligned with those across the Atlantic, especially in regard to the civilizational and racial conditions needed for popular government to succeed. That alignment was in part due to the connections between observers in the United States and Europe, exemplified in the correspondence between Jefferson and Humboldt and the conversations between Poinsett and Tocqueville.

Conclusion The flow of ideas, models, and examples of political practices in the nineteenth-​century world was multidirectional. As this chapter has shown, European and US societies observed political experimentation in Latin America and the Caribbean and attempted to interpret what they saw in light of their own debates over political participation. Although local context and geopolitical interests led to important variation in observations, some broad themes are evident. Latin American examples played a role in the process of clarifying ideas about political participation and good government elsewhere. In particular, references to Latin America were important in debates about the conditions necessary for popular government to succeed. Instability in Latin America seemingly confirmed that government in the “hands of the people” without the right conditions was dangerous. Among the problematic conditions identified by observers were racial diversity, limited experience of self-​governance, and the strong presence of the Catholic Church. These conclusions provided a justification for suppressing efforts to expand political participation at home and for intervening in the affairs of Latin American states.



120 Jaksić, The Hispanic World, 123.

264  Re-imagining Democracy Yet others found in Latin America hope for their own campaigns for self-​government and political participation. Some, like Castelar in Spain, heralded the advances Latin America had achieved despite the alleged disadvantages it faced. Opponents of slavery and racial restrictions to rights in the United States pointed to Latin America as proof that stable popular governance and racial diversity were not mutually exclusive. Whether inspiring pessimism or optimism, Latin American examples clearly had a place in the unfolding global debates over democracy.

11 Articulating Democracy in Hispaniola Haiti and the Dominican Republic Emmanuel Lachaud

Introduction Scholarly interest in the Haitian Revolution and its reverberations across the Atlantic has boomed in recent decades.1 Yet there has been little attention to uses of the word “democracy” through the early nineteenth century, and studies do not commonly consider the fortunes of the island of Hispaniola as a whole—​not just French colonial Saint Domingue but also Spanish colonial Santo Domingo, not just independent Haiti but also what became, later and more haltingly, the Dominican Republic. In fact, the revolutionary nation-​building process that shaped the colonies’ transition to independent post-​slavery status spanned the island. Political changes in one part often prompted island-​wide conversations that impacted talk about democracy in other parts. Many Hispaniolan political experiences were echoed elsewhere in the globe: the conflict between imperial/​monarchical and republican tendencies in Haiti had parallels in France, Mexico, and Brazil; tensions between more autocratic and more representative ideals echoed conflicts across Latin America; and the repeated fragmentations, schisms, and re-​imaginings likewise echoed patterns across the Atlantic. Of course, Hispaniola had distinctive features: its colonial economic inheritance, the influence of African political cultures, and the particular challenge its nations faced in gaining international recognition in a world saturated by slavery and imperialism. The specificities of its political cultures conditioned the forms that democracy could take and how it was talked about. And a series of major unresolved

1 This article owes a great debt to the preliminary work and insights provided by Carrie Gibson. Emmanuel Lachaud, Articulating Democracy in Hispaniola In: Re-​imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–​1870. Edited by: Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, Joanna Innes, and Mark Philp, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/​oso/​9780197631577.003.0011

268  Re-imagining Democracy questions about the distribution of land, power, and liberty complicated the islanders’ ideas about democracy. The word “democracy” was not to the fore in the cultural politics of Hispaniola. And the limits of written sources mean that—​as elsewhere, but even more so—​we have little evidence about popular conversations. Hispaniola’s political lexicon developed around conflicts over slavery and sovereignty, and forces of inertia and resistance contained and curbed the development of an expansive democratic lexicon. Instability of boundaries also complicated the development of political cultures. What we might conceptualize as democratic values certainly pervaded the language of the literate, but “democracy” as such made only occasional and unsettled appearances until the end of our period. When we have evidence of democracy being invoked in early independent Haiti, it was by elite people writing letters or in the press; given the nature of surviving sources, we cannot be certain whether it was in wider use, but there is no sign that it was either popular or an important object of aspiration before the mid-​century. When democracy was explicitly and positively evoked, as in the Dominican case, it was an ideal in tension with the caudillo politics of the early national leaders. In exploring the political languages of post-​independence Hispaniola, this chapter finds that most important contexts for “democracy” were provided first by constitutionalism and then, in the 1830s, by liberalism; both occupied space into which democracy would later expand. Yet these languages—​ liberalism, populism, and more generally representation—​had to contend with the language of sovereignty (outward and inward facing) and with the important role that executive power was seen to play in securing stability.

A Revolutionary Lexicon The event we call the Haitian Revolution was not focused on a singular fixed political goal; it consisted rather of a trans-​imperial set of fractured episodes in which numerous factions engaged in a thirteen-​year conflict. The word “revolution” was not commonly used at the time in relation to the birth of the Haitian nation.2 In addition, as Graham Nessler has underlined, revolution “did not simply ‘spill over’ ” from French Saint Domingue into Spanish Santo 2 Chelsea Stieber, Haiti’s Paper War: Post-​Independence Writing, Civil War, and the Making of the Republic, 1804-​1954 (New York, 2020), 21.

Articulating Democracy in Hispaniola  269 Domingo.”3 New discourses of freedom and citizenship emanating from France, on the contrary, complicated relations between the two colonies. In 1789 the French colony of Saint Domingue was home to an exceptionally large slave population and also to an economically powerful class of free people of color. Spanish Santo Domingo was less populous, with sparse tracts inhabited by cattle rancheros (hatos/​hateros) in the south and a history of metropolitan negligence. The Saint Domingue insurrection of 1791 was in essence an African uprising emerging from and intersecting with uprisings on the part of a Creole Francophone elite—​partly “white,” partly gens de couleur, free people of color—​deeply influenced by proceedings in revolutionary France. Macro-​political changes during the Franco-​Haitian revolutionary period shaped interactions between their hopes of claiming a share in political power and slave resistance on the ground. Political aspirations and ideas about possible futures were diverse. Slave insurrectionist leaders like Georges Biassou articulated royalist sentiments and promoted monarchist war in the name of the Spanish crown, exploiting unregulated colonial borders to move between Santo Domingo and Saint Domingue, meanwhile selling slaves.4 We should not overstate the role of new French ideas in sparking insurrection. There had after all been many earlier slave revolts. Enslaved people did not need to be exposed to enlightenment values to see attraction in claiming their own liberty or to register the opportunities supplied by panic on the part of their white masters. As Jacobinism and emancipation entered the political landscape in Saint Domingue in 1793–​1794, with the arrival of French civil commissioners Léger-​Félicité Sonthonax and Étienne Polverel, the terminology of citoyennété, égalité, souverainété, vertu publique, and la patrie proliferated. These ideals rapidly spread, turning a core of slave leaders into pro-​French revolutionaries by 1794, notably the increasingly ascendant ex-​ slave Toussaint Louverture. As colonial governor, Louverture (1797–​1802) shaped the course of the revolution, asserting control over Santo Domingo and declaring the abolition of slavery on the island as a whole in 1801. Important divisions emerged under Louverture’s leadership: the free people of color generally tended to band with the French-​leaning factions of the island’s elite, whereas the newly-​freed largely supported black colonial leaders and 3 Graham Nessler, An Island-​ wide Struggle for Freedom: Revolution, Emancipation, and Reenslavement in Hispaniola, 1789-​1809 (Chapel Hill, NC, 2016), 3. 4 See Nessler, “I am the King of Counter Revolution: Revolution and Emancipation in Hispaniola, 1789-​1795,” in An Island-​wide Struggle for Freedom, 23–​61.

270  Re-imagining Democracy maroons. As all this unfolded, research to date suggests that “democracy” was rarely if ever invoked—​not surprisingly, given that it was also not a prominent concept in France at this time. Instead, the motifs of liberté and égalité melded with the idea of self-​sovereignty, as the French republic endorsed and practiced radical citizenship. During the last years of the war (1802–​1803), after Toussaint’s capture and deportation, his successor, former slave Jean-​Jacques Dessalines, established two central aspirations amid many disagreements: the abolition of slavery and independence from colonial rule, at least for the former French territory.5 These revolutionaries did not clearly articulate what freedom should look like or what independence entailed; they simply promoted an open-​ ended anticolonial, antislavery struggle. What the political fruits of independence should be was a question squarely faced only in the next phase.

Early Post-​Independence Given the diversity of attitudes in revolutionary Haiti, it is not surprising that Haiti’s Acte de l’Independence of 1804 announced the establishment of the “state of Haiti” rather than specifically a republic.6 There was little or no enthusiasm for popular participation in government at the highest level, whether in a republican or monarchical context. The language and imagery of democracy was absent; what was foregrounded was the extirpation of France and of slavery. During the revolutionary period, indeed, every leader ruled as a near absolutist general, framed by colonial logic and the necessities of the moment. Moreover, almost all leaders and their high-​ ranking followers endeavored to maintain the plantation system inherited from Saint Domingue, if in modified form, to provide an economic basis for Haiti’s independence.7 Haiti’s leaders saw reason to maintain a military hierarchy against the threats of internal conflict and French re-​invasion. 5 French forces from Saint Domingue remained in active military control of Santo Domingo until 1809, poised on a campaign of re-​enslavement. In 1809 Santo Domingo reverted to Spanish control, but the Napoleonic invasion of Spain and subsequent Latin American revolutionary period left it to its own devices. See Nessler, An Island-​wide Struggle for Freedom, 138–​67. and Roberto Marte, El pasado como historia: La nación dominicana y su representación histórica (Santo Domingo, 2017), 236. 6 Boisrond Tonnere, “The Declaration of Independence,” in The Haitian Revolution: A Documentary History, ed. David Geggus (Indianapolis, IN, 2014), 179. 7 Johnhenry Gonzalez, Maroon Nation: A History of Revolutionary Haiti (New Haven, CT, 2019), 167.

Articulating Democracy in Hispaniola  271 Anyone who was inclined to champion representative government would have to address new questions. What could liberté mean for the citizen, when leadership policies were driven by overriding concerns with reestablishing colonial exports? And, could a largely mixed-​race, freeborn leadership command legitimacy when a majority of the nation’s inhabitants were black and newly freed? The most immediately pressing question was which of the two main competing alliances would in practice rule independent Haiti and its largely black citizenry. Chelsea Stieber rightly affirms that in discourses associated with the alliance led by Dessalines, notions related to democracy would have been specifically excluded because that lexicon was associated with his political enemies, the Francophone-​leaning elite who championed limited republicanism.8 What the Dessalinean camp advocated was the centralization of power under one charismatic executive, conforming to some royalist sentiments and alternative political ideas associated with the African origins of the newly freed.9 Early republicanism in free Haiti was the ideology of a competing party. Dessalines’s assassination in 1806 prompted the consolidation of competing alliances into regionally based factions, which roughly divided Haiti between them while waging an eleven-​year civil war. In the north, authority was centralized under Dessalines’s successor, Henri Christophe, who in 1811 established a constitutional monarchy under the title Henri I and ruled with absolutist authority. In the south, Alexandre Pétion supported republicanism and governed somewhat less arbitrarily, in conjunction with a representative body, as president. Though the social base of the republic did expand, Pétion became increasingly autocratic. By 1810, Pétion was reelected by a shrunken senate consisting of just five members.10 Neither regime routinely identified itself with the cause of “democracy.” Reading publics were small in both states, but the literary arena was combative, and the merits of the rival regimes were contested there in interesting ways, colored by ideas about the failings of the first French republic. Pompée Valetin, Christophe’s secretary, known as Baron de Vastey, queried the merits 8 Stieber, Haiti’s Paper War, 34. 9 Scholars cannot ignore the ideological dimensions of power and authority deriving from western and central African political cultures. Nearly two-​thirds of the inhabitants of independent Haiti were African-​born, and cross-​cultural influences were central to the developing political culture. See John K Thornton, “‘I Am the Subject of the King of Congo’: African Political Ideology and the Haitian Revolution,” Journal of World History 4, no. 2 (1993): 181–​214. 10 Dubois, Haiti, 60. For more on the constitutional changes in the early southern republic see Claude Moïse, Constitution et luttes de pouvoir en Haïti (1804-​1987): Tome I: La faillite des classes dirigeantes, 1804-​1915 (2nd ed., Port-​au-​Prince, 2009), 67–​82.

272  Re-imagining Democracy of the southern republican regime. He saw it as essentially cast in a French mold. As such, its intentions were no more to be trusted than those of France, which had deceitfully declared that free people of color were “equal” even while “they meditated in their hearts the horrible design of either reducing us to slavery, or, if that was found impractical, totally exterminating us.”11 Vastey was not impressed when Pétion unveiled his amended constitution of 1816. The new document extended participation by adding a lower house to the existing senate, while also making Pétion president-​for-​life.12 Vastey decried it as a “sham constitution” before imploring Haitians in the south to “destroy this demagoguery, which tends to dishonor and demean you in the eyes of nations.”13 It was not Pétion’s power as such, but the basis on which it was established that Vastey thought discreditable. By contrast, in the capital of the south, Port-​au-​Prince, the newspaper editor Jules Solime Milscent, writing in the L’abeille haytienne in 1817, described Pétion’s “mixed republic” (république mixte) as the sort of system in which “the law given by the nation is entrusted to a single executive power, elective and accountable.” He thought this no sham but instead “preferable in all respects” to other possible forms of republic. He observed that while it would be possible for a republican government to be “simply democratic,” that would entail an “ease of accusing the agents of the People” which might “deprive the Government of the stability which suits the body politic.”14 Vastey was misguided, argued Noël Colombel, another southerner, when “Led by a beautiful zeal for autocracy, he sees . . . only the seed of a stormy democracy; the seed of anarchy and destruction.”15 What is clear is that negative images of the first French republic were held by supporters of both regimes, and both had this precedent in mind when they argued the need to check the power of the people. The southern writers

11 Baron de Vastey, Reflexions on the Blacks and Whites (London, 1817), 65–​72. For a detailed examination of the differences between the print culture of north and south Haiti see ­chapters 2 and 3 in Stieber, Haiti’s Paper War. 12 See Articles 54 and 142 in “Révision de la Constitution Haïtienne de 1806 (1816)”: https://​haiti​ doi.com/​consti​tuti​ons/​1816-​2/​ 13 Baron de Vastey, Essai sur les causes de la révolution et des guerres civiles d’Hayti (Sans-​Souci, 1819), 368; An Essay on the Causes of the Revolution and Civil Wars of Hayti (Exeter, 1823),239. For more on Hamilton, see Daut, Baron de Vastey, 70–​71. On the changing meanings of democracy in Britain, Joanna Innes, Mark Philp, and Robert Saunders, “The Rise of Democratic Discourse in the Reform Era: Britain in the 1830s and 40s,” in Re-​Imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions. 14 Jules Solime Milscent, “Suite Des Considérations Sur l’Ile d’Haïti,” L’abeille Haytienne, no. 4, 1817: 3–​4. 15 Noël Colombel, Examen d’un pamphlet, ayant pour titre: Essai sur les causes de la Revolution et des guerres civiles d’Haïti, Etc. (Port-​au-​Prince, 1819), 51.

Articulating Democracy in Hispaniola  273 quoted did not see democracy as necessarily bad, but they did see dangers in being “simply democratic” or in enabling a “stormy democracy.”

A Republic of the Bayonet and the Liberal Revolution of 1843 In the early 1820s, against the background of Latin American independence movements, the island of Hispaniola was united on a republican base. Pétion’s republican successor, President Jean-​Pierre Boyer (1818–​1843), invaded Christophe’s northern kingdom in 1820. In 1821, the Dominican Republic bid for independence from Spain, aiming to maintain slavery. One year later, Boyer marched into Santo Domingo on a wave of Dominican support and abolished slavery once more.16 Boyer brought political stability, embracing Pétion’s 1816 constitution, consolidating the social and economic power of Hispaniola’s urban bourgeoisie, and stamping the united polity with characteristic “autocratic, but defiant republicanism.”17 Boyer won recognition of the independent state from France in 1825, in exchange for a tremendous 150-​million-​franc indemnity, then—​in order to pay that, or possibly with the need to pay as an excuse—​legislated the 1826 Code Rurale, tying a majority of peasants to the fermage system: the peasant, now legally labeled a cultivateur, was “tied” to the land, had established production quotas, and was regulated by a special rural police. One visitor, Jonathan Brown, described the nation as “a sort of republican monarchy, sustained by the bayonet.”18 To many of these ex-​slaves and their freeborn progeny, this was slavery by another name. Structural tension between government and planter desires for profits sustained by a docile labor force, and peasants’ dream of semi-​autonomy, small-​ scale agriculture, and a life free of exploitation, challenged the country’s narrowly based republicanism, expanding and radicalizing conversations about democracy. Over the course of the 1830s, newspapers proliferated, and democracy changed from being an occasionally deployed analytical 16 Anne Eller, We Dream Together: Dominican Independence, Haiti, and the Fight for Caribbean Freedom (Durham, NC, 2016), 5. 17 Ibid., 6. 18 Jonathan Brown, The History and Present Condition of St Domingo, 2 vols. (Philadelphia, 1837), 2:259. For more on discussion of Boyer’s Code Rurale and the French indemnity see “The Land Question and the Triumph of the Haitian Republic” in Gonzalez, Maroon Nation, 158–​98, and Jean Alix René, Haïti après l’esclavage: formation de d’état et culture politique populaire, 1804-​1846 (Port-​ au-​Prince, 2019).

274  Re-imagining Democracy tool to become part of the everyday political language of the writing opposition. Arguments about political participation, popular politics, and democracy burst onto the scene in novel newspapers such as Feuille du Commerce (1828), L’Union (1837), Le Manifeste (1841), and La Patriote (1842). Boyer’s republic came under attack from an increasingly vocal new generation of idealists, mainly from the elite professional class based in urban commercial centers on the island, who identified with a desire for more liberal government. In turn, three features of Boyer’s rule—​his fierce opposition to reforms mooted in the senate, his authoritarian response to the press, and the increasingly evident failure to incorporate the eastern portion of the island into Port-​au-​Prince politics—​enabled the multiplication of anti-​Boyeriste liberals and with that, calls for democracy. Cross-​ Atlantic conversations helped set the scene for more positive invocations of democracy, though its flowering in Haitian discourse at this time also reflected these specific local circumstances. In late 1835 the Feuille du Commerce, established by Joseph Courtois, who had been educated in France, ran extracts over six non-​consecutive issues from the first volume of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, published earlier that year. The four-​page weekly printed only a fraction of Tocqueville’s substantial study, but Courtois’s choices can be read as a sort of commentary shaped by the concerns of an emerging Haitian opposition. One selection focused on “Why the President of the United States does not need to have a majority in the house in order to direct affairs”; another was “on universal suffrage.”19 He also republished these lines from Tocqueville’s introduction: “I am very far from believing that they [the United States] have found the only form of government that democracy can give itself.”20 Citations of Tocqueville in Feuille both reflected and helped to create a rising tide of interest in “democracy” that spoke to new urban elites and the petite bourgeoisie in commercial cities such as Les Cayes, Jérémie, and Santiago de los Caballeros. Mimi Sheller also identifies a social reformist discourse invoking democracy, influenced by French socialists.21 In 1842 La Patriote cited Henri de Saint-​Simon and Charles Fourier, and Welshman Robert Owen in the cause 19 Feuille du Commerce, December 27, 1835; “Du vote universel” in Feuille du Commerce, January 7, 1836. 20 “De la Démocratie en Amérique . . .” Feuille Du Commerce, November 29, 1835; Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, ed. Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop (Chicago, IL, 2000), 12. 21 Mimi Sheller, “The Army of Sufferers: Peasant Democracy in the Early Republic of Haiti,” New West Indian Guide 74, no. 1 (2000): 39.

Articulating Democracy in Hispaniola  275 of wide-​ranging and radical reform: “[W]‌e do not conceive of democracy without the divisions of lands; we admit to promoting universal suffrage and the greatest distribution of property.”22 “Democracy” for this more extreme wing offered a rallying point against “aristocracy” associated with the concentration of wealth. Paris-​trained lawyer and historian Joseph Le Pelletier Saint-​Rémy, writing in Le Manifeste, scorned the republic on a representative base as an outmoded model, asserting that “[D]emocratic or popular government is the inverse of representative government . . .” and noting that in places like Britain, representation served only to consolidate oligarchy.23 It seems that conversation about democracy had begun to revolve around social and economic betterment as well as the type of government Hispaniola should have. Domestic criticism became more explicit after the opposition to Boyer received electoral support in the 1838 elections. The lower chamber began to agitate for electoral and judicial reforms under the leadership of Hérard Dumesle, the well-​educated member politician of the influential southern city Les Cayes. Already in his sixties, Dumesle set up the Société des droits de l’homme et du citoyen—​a coalition of Haitian and Dominican liberals that deliberately invoked the revolutionary past. In late 1842, the Société circulated the Manifeste de Praslin.24 This was a call to revolution, which declared that “democracy is by divine right” and that “in order to have better government” the people must bring about the reign of liberty and democracy. The manifesto decried the lack of national development, the dearth of public education and poor legislation, the suppression of the press, and the abuse of the executive powers over the legislative branch. The writers also declared that while Pétion’s government provided a magnificent foundational constitution, it had produced the “unfortunate effects of an authority which holds each day to absolutism” inasmuch as the powerful executive “deprived us of the advantages and benefits of a good democracy.”25 Democracy seems here to be associated with checks on executive power—​and in at least one instance cited above, with universal suffrage—​but above all with outcomes: “good democracy” was about serving the interests of the people and bettering the social inequities institutionalized by Boyer’s regime. 22 La Patriote, April 13, 1842. 23 Le Manifeste, April 9, 1843. 24 Feuille Du Commerce, April 2, 1843. 25 “Manifeste, to our Friends, to our Enemies, 1842,” reprinted in Feuille Du Commerce, April 2, 1843.

276  Re-imagining Democracy In January of 1843, Boyer, faced with a revolution, abdicated the presidency and fled to Jamaica. Thereafter calls for democracy became more linked to imagining a Haiti free of a powerful executive. The executive was often cited as the source of all problems. Deputy J.H. Fresnel argued that without a better political balance between the branches of government, “we will see that representative democracy will always be placed under the rule of the executive power.” He called for a president who “will always be required to consult either the Senate; or the Congress.”26 Federico Peralta y Rodríguez, from the Dominican part of the island, spoke at the constitutional convention in Port-​au-​Prince with dramatic condemnation of “the despotism and forced tyranny” of Boyer on the eastern part and with boundless enthusiasm for the political changes, “so liberal and democratic,” outlined in the Manifeste of 1842: “Without democracy, society cannot exist!”27 In the French journal Revue des Deux Mondes, Saint-​Rémy enthusiastically responded to political developments, exclaiming that “Democracy flowed full to the brim” and comparing what was happening to the “tendencies of ‘93” and “the sovereignty of the commune.” Saint-​Rémy hailed 1843 as “the legitimate manifestation of [the people’s] voices,” in this way introducing a more active, agential element into conversation; effectively he hailed a process of democratization.28 Some reformers, to be sure, worried about “too much” democracy. Elite fears of a black rural uprising were especially strong, and strained the fragile alliance between rural collective demands and urban bourgeois leaders. Deputy Jean-​Baptiste Daumier argued that, following the promulgation of the Praslin Manifesto, “the people count on a democratic constitution which will assure the welfare of the country,” though he stressed that he himself was “far from accepting ultra-​democracy” since it would enable “the despotism of liberty.” Daumier called for “moderate democracy.” He looked to “democracy” as a welfare outcome, while worrying about what it might entail by way of political process.29

26 “Opinion de député J.H. Fresnel, sur le Projet des Bases de la Constitution. Séance du 13 Novembre 1843,” Feuille Du Commerce, February 11, 1844, 3. 27 Quoted in Emilio Rodríguez Demorizi, Invasiones Haitianas de 1801, 1805 y 1822 (Cuidad Trujillo, 1955), 302. 28 Joseph Le Pelletier de Saint-​Rémy, “La République d’Haïti,” in Révue des Deux Mondes, November 15, 1845. 29 “Discours improvisé par le député Damier, à la séance du 16 courant,” Feuille du Commerce, November 26, 1843, 3.’

Articulating Democracy in Hispaniola  277 Discussions over this period eventuated in the constitution of December 30, 1843, meant to eliminate worries about an overweening executive. The office of president-​for-​life was abolished and replaced by provision for four-​ year term limits. Two legislative chambers would have rights to introduce laws and elect the president, and the army would be subject to the authority of the senate. Charles Rivière-​Hérard, general of the 1843 revolution and cousin of Dumesle, was elected to the presidency. At the annual independence celebrations held in the first week of January 1844, Dumesle addressed the constituent assembly to affirm his commitment to democratic social regeneration, extolling citizens to rejoice in the “spirit of the decade” and explaining that “having democracy raised the level of equality between citizens.”30 Though this rhetoric was not wholly empty, the new government had lauded democratic change without addressing the blatant inequities of the Code Rurale, the persistent questions of color, or the reality that they had placed another general in executive power.

The Political Crises of the 1840s “Democracy” retained a place in public discourse in the next period but was subsumed under a range of different political imperatives. Though its uses had implied a program of social betterment, political leaders failed to set in motion any real transformation, and in its absence, popular discontent endured. Ultimately, the failure of liberalism in Hispaniola to address deep social and economic inequalities opened the way for a revival of autocratic monarchy, now more than ever sacralized as serving the people. In the first three volumes of his Histoire d’Haïti (1847–​1848), the Haitian historian and director of the lycée nationale of Port-​au-​Prince, Thomas Madiou employed the word “democratic” retrospectively to characterize the political options that were available early in the century, in the era of Dessalines. Writing about the decision to allow Dessalines to crown himself emperor, Madiou wrote that “several of the signatories of the act of Independence were of the opinion that [the title] should be changed; but they wanted to adopt that of president and make a democratic Constitution,” adding that at this time “the masses then had no idea of democratic institutions.”31 Madiou described the constitutional assembly established

30 “Programme” in Feuille Du Commerce, 14 January 1844.

31 Thomas Madiou, Histoire d’Haïti, 3 vols. (Port-​au-​Prince, 1848), 3: 168, 171.

278  Re-imagining Democracy in the south in 1806 as reflecting Pétion’s desire for a “democratic constitution.”32 Indeed, to Madiou, Pétion’s republic “always had been democratic.”33 As we have seen, contrary to this account, early references to democracy were ambivalent and combative at best, and Pétion did not obviously conceive of his republic as a “democracy,” still less intend it to respond to the wishes of the masses. But Madiou wrote at a time when Haitian political institutions and programs had undergone dramatic shifts. Yet the liberalizing shift failed to alleviate discontent. Black elite landowners in southern Haiti accused the new government of securing hegemony for the mixed-​race elite. Mobilizing the region’s peasantry, black landowners from Les Cayes armed themselves in the summer of 1843. Though the uprising was swiftly crushed by President Hérard-​Rivière, it gave rise to new ideas about democracy and statehood as it became clear to the entire island either that the regime was botching implementation of the ideals of 1843, or that 1843 had not in fact entailed the extension of the rights that the masses claimed. Though there were many initial calls to maintain unity, along with island-​ wide excitement about constitutional reform, President Rivière-​Hérard’s maneuvers had the unintended effect of fueling Dominican desires for separation—​desires that were already present under the Boyer regime.34 The Dominican Trinitaria manifesto of January 16, 1844 did not foreground claims about “democracy”; the dominant discourse justifying the breakaway was about freedom, about independence from tyrannical domination. The manifesto did however assert that the revolution would “protect and guarantee the democratic system.”35 Yet it is unclear what was meant by “democracy” (though it is interesting that it was a concept people wanted to invoke—​the very vagueness of the assertion suggests the word’s symbolic power). At this time, newspapers such as El Dominicano celebrated nascent nationhood in terms of libertad, progreso, órden, and independencia, not democracia. What is moreover clear is that the economic, social, and political elites who took the lead in the new Dominican Republic were socially conservative. When they did affirm democracy, that did not imply any design

32 Ibid., 364 33 Ibid., 385. See Stieber, Haiti’s Paper War, ­chapter 4, for more detail on how Haiti was recast as an inevitable republic during the Boyer period. 34 Eller, We Dream Together, 27. 35 “Manifestación de los pueblos de la parte este de la isla antes Española o de Santo Domingo, sobre las causa de su separación de la República haitiana,” January 16, 1844, quoted in Emilio Rodríguez Demorizi, Documentos para la Historia de la República Dominicana, 2 vols. (Ciudad Trujillo, 1944), 1:14.

Articulating Democracy in Hispaniola  279 undermine the power of local oligarchs, even if it loosely connoted some form of liberalization. As attention moved away from issues that had been discussed in terms of democracy, President Rivière-​Hérard took an autocratic initiative, seizing control of the government in Port-​au-​Prince and personally leading an army to end the Dominican revolt. The Dominican revolution took onboard a number of conservative military figures to secure victory. Establishing sovereignty was the primary goal. Junta members Tomás Bobadilla, first governor of the Dominican Republic, and Pedro Santana, an eastern cattle rancher and emergent military leader, worried about ensuring independence from Haiti under a merely civil government. By 1846, some favored seeking French protection, to be repaid by a grant of commercial privileges, though they were ousted by Santana’s army. In the end, deputies in San Cristóbal drew up a constitution based on Haiti’s 1843 constitution, but revised that in one important respect by means of Article 210, which allowed the executive to decree law and freely organize the army without impediment for as long as there was a Haitian threat. Pressure of circumstances yet again encouraged giving security priority over representation, let alone fundamental social reform. The limits of autocratic power in Port-​au-​Prince were soon made manifest. At the end of March 1844, Haitian peasants outside of Les Cayes, uninterested in elite conversations and tired of the Code Rurale, formed the L’Armée Souffrante, or army of sufferers.36 Bands of peasants, named Piquets for their characteristic makeshift spears, organized themselves and rebelled as the movement spread through the southern and western departments. Northern elites around Cap-​Haïtien also seceded, following the Dominican example. This concatenation of challenges brought an end to the constitution of 1843, which was never fully applied. It was superseded by the conservative constitution of 1846, which returned to the values of 1816 in establishing a presidency-​for-​life. In the aftermath of these developments, talk about the potential of democracy in a specifically Haitian context diminished. There were references in the press to the United States as a “country of great democracy” (grande démocratie) and, in the aftermath of the 1848 revolutions, to the establishment of a “pure democracy” in Rome, but internal conversations were

36 For a deep discussion on the Piquet movement and the potential of democracy in post-​ emancipation, see Mimi Sheller, Democracy After Slavery: Black Publics and Peasant Radicalism in Haiti and Jamaica (Gainesville, FL, 2000).

280  Re-imagining Democracy framed instead in terms of “national representation” (itself an 1848 catchphrase) and “duty to the people.”37 We do find concern that the regime lacked a sufficient foundation of popular support: “What do we do when the people have not participated directly in the calling of the government?”38 These political problems of the 1840s set the background against which empire returned to Haiti in 1849 (prior to its re-​establishment in France). To a majority of the population—​peasants, Piquets, and non-​elites—​republics, whether liberal or authoritarian, had brought little to no advantage. And as regional and factional squabbles continued to plague the political landscape, President Faustin Soulouque (elected under the new 1846 constitution in March 1847) built a new political agenda on these anti-​elite sentiments.39 Responding to nationwide upheavals in 1844–​1848, he represented himself as the true voice of the popular will. In August 1849, Soulouque was “elected” emperor by mass petitions.40 The streets were adorned with inscriptions that proclaimed vox populi, vox dei: “the voice of the people is the voice of God.”41 Invocations and demonstrations of popular will and an authoritarian system were of course compatible (as would shortly be demonstrated in France). In this new version of enlightened monarchy, “democracy” returned to public discourse as the name of an element within a mixed form of government rather than as a form of government in itself. When Soulouque was belatedly crowned in 1852 (he had chosen to wait in the vain hope of winning Vatican recognition), the Haitian official newspaper, Le Moniteur haïtien, observed that “this new order of things in accordance with the customs and the ideas of the people, combines the democratic element with the aristocratic element, and satisfies all interests of the nation.”42 Under the second Haitian empire, references to democracy stood within a broader conceptual spectrum alongside absolutist authority and constitutionalism. Although mentions of “democracy” as such were sporadic, the imperial regime was concerned to justify empire as the most popular form of government. The trajectory of Napoleon III was offered as a comparator: “Universal suffrage inaugurated a new era . . . [but] outside of universal

37 Le Moniteur haïtien, December 18, 1847 and April 21, 1849. 38 Le Moniteur haïtien, May 15, 1847. 39 Moïse, “Soulouque ou la déchirure: La constitution impériale de 1849,” in Constitution et luttes de pouvoir en Haïti, 175–​96 and Emmanuel Lachaud, “Emancipated Empire: Faustin I Soulouque and the Origins of the Second Haitian Empire, 1849-​1859,” PhD dissertation (Yale University, 2021). 40 Le Moniteur haïtien, September 1, 1849. 41 Ibid. 42 Le Moniteur haïtien, May 1, 1852.

Articulating Democracy in Hispaniola  281 suffrage, nothing stable was founded.” To defenders of the empire, though the establishment of a central authority may have eliminated “the ballot box” it had more usefully destroyed “all the evolutions of parties” that had disrupted the 1840s.43 Le Moniteur maintained that this was an enlightened empire where “the chief of state that you have in front of you is the expression of popular will.”44 It is clear that republican talk about democracy represented only one way—​or one family of ways—​of talking about political belonging. It is clear too that although it continued to bear a wide range of meanings, democracy had become embedded in the political consciousness of the age.

The Dominican Crucible In the eastern part of the island, meanwhile, forms of republicanism endured. In that context, democracy provided an umbrella term for ideals that legitimized political authority. Yet it had more than one connotation. In May 1849 General Pedro Santana returned to power, having defeated the forces of Haitian President Faustin Soulouque. Santana was determined to bring about uncontested presidential elections that summer, and in that connection made a significant declaration to the electoral college about the problems faced by states “where the element of democracy prevails”: he warned that “there will no longer be freedom, equality, independence, prosperity, there where elections are allowed to be dominated by favor, the plea or the intrigue.”45 Democracy here connoted a wayward, corruptible popular will, and its vulnerability to exploitation by the power-​hungry. Santana’s anxieties about “democratic” forms of electoral process—​and in principle therefore all electoral processes—​were made clear. In any event the election in July was dominated by his choices, as the nation’s foremost military leader. Santana eventually selected Buenaventura Báez, a wealthy landowner and career politician from Azua in the south. In making this choice, Santana ended the electoral process and discussions of democracy. Aspirations to exercise a political voice in the Dominican Republic had come under pressure some years previously. From 1845, Dominicans faced the challenge of establishing their territorial sovereignty against Haiti and 43 Le Moniteur haïtien, January 2, 1852. 44 Le Moniteur haïtien, May 8, 1852. 45 “Pedro Santana, a los Miembros de los Colegios Electorales, 5 June, 1849,” in Demorizi, Documentos, Vol. 1, 184.

282  Re-imagining Democracy also the threat of foreign intervention, first through French annexation, and then actual Spanish recolonization. Tensions between those who wanted and those who feared a powerful executive proved difficult to resolve. In addition, the early Dominican national period was marked by intense factionalism revolving around Santana and Báez. Though Santana had backed him, after his election in 1849 Báez began to remove Santana’s allies and soon made himself Santana’s rival. The two dominant political figures’ alternating presidencies were increasingly autocratic and were characterized by informal dictation of legislation.46 When Santana was reelected president in 1853, he forced Báez into exile in Saint Thomas. From there, Báez denounced Santana’s government, arguing that: “[Santana’s] pretense of turning Congress, in disdain of democratic ideas, into an instrument of oppression is clearly visible.” Báez declared that “If the enemies of Santana had proposed a process of trying to prove his despotism, they could not have extended more convincing acts than those offered by his own decrees and manifestos.”47 There was no democracy, he argued, when Santana asphyxiated power. Báez asserted that his own presidency, by contrast, had “established newspapers that disseminated the most democratic theories, defending the principle of popular sovereignty” and “the immunity of the legislative power.”48 It remains unclear quite how Báez understood these concepts and their interrelationships. Pressured by congressional representatives for a more liberal constitution, Santana capitulated to a constitutional assembly which ratified the constitution of February 1854. Throughout the ensuing summer, Santana threatened congressmen with repercussions, and in December 1854 yet another new constitution placed even more power in the hands of the executive and eliminated the senate. In 1857 Báez was elected president for the second time, only to be confronted by an uprising led by the tobacco commercialists of the Cibao Valley. The insurrection culminated in the proclamation of the Moca Constitution of 1858. This ordered the return of representative government; it abolished the death penalty for political crimes, proclaimed the right to petition, and established immunity for members of the senate and house 46 Eller, We Dream Together, 44; Eugenio Matibag, Haitian-​Dominican Counterpoint: Nation, State, and Race on Hispaniola (New York, 2003), 112–​19; and the chapter titled “The First Caudillos: Santana and Báez (1844-​1856),” in Frank Moya Pons, The Dominican Republic: A National History (3rd. ed. Princeton, NJ, 2010), 165–​83. 47 Buenaventura Báez, “A sus conciudandanos, Saint Thomas, 1 August 1853,” in Demorizi, Documentos, 1:299. 48 Ibid., 314.

Articulating Democracy in Hispaniola  283 for the opinions they expressed. Civil liberties such as free speech, free movement, and public meetings were also guaranteed.49 This was not just the work of Báez’s critics: the movement echoed the 1843 mobilizations, involving as it did an elite professional class devoted to expansive liberal government. However, the Cibaeño revolutionaries lacked arms and rural support, and they called upon the conservative yet popular Santana to overthrow Báez, underlining the complexities and paradoxes of the political scene. The response of Báez to the Cibao insurrection reveals the haziness of the principles of Dominican constitutionalism. When Báez indicted the Cibao insurrection, he blamed political instability on the pattern whereby institutional changes were determined only by “the satisfaction of the dictator,” “to the detriment of the rights of the people.” Yet he also saw “the people” as potentially providing cover for scheming, denouncing Cibao’s “current conspiracy” as “disguised behind a democratic flag.”50 In effect, “the people” were recognized as such only when they backed the right cause. Báez said that his own aim was to “[secure] forever the freedom of more citizens,”51 yet it seems clear that to him—​as to many other Hispaniolan elite figures—​democracy and autocracy were not antithetical.

Conclusion Revolution once more swept Port-​au-​Prince in 1858. The reinstatement of a Haitian republic in 1859, under President Fabre Nicolas Geffrard, was associated with a vigorous revival of democratic language—​reinforcing the connection that had become standard in Hispaniola in the preceding decades between republican political forms and (not always very clearly focused) celebrations of democracy. The new regime claimed to be poised to “regenerate the country,” having re-​established liberal institutions and restored democracy.52 One article in La République traced the “lineage” of Haitian democracy, naming Pétion as its “father”—​presumably on account of his 49 For more on the Moca Constitution see Julio G. Campillo-​Pérez, “El liberalismo Cibaeño en la Politica dominicana de 1844 a 1900,” Eme eme: Estudios Domincanos 9, no. 46 (1980): 51–​67 and Américo Moreta Castillo, “La Constitución de Moca de 1858 inspiración del Gobierno Restaurador,” Clio 78, no. 178 (2009): 127–​48. 50 Buenaventura Báez, “A los dominicanos, 1 October, 1857,” in Rodriguez Demorizi, Documentos, 1:398. 51 Ibid., 403. 52 Le Moniteur haïtien, nos. 6–​7, January 22, 1959, 3.

284  Re-imagining Democracy republican (though not notably democratic) commitments. Boyer for his part was celebrated for having brought “the great Haitian Republic to the entire island.” The article placed the new President Geffrard in a line of descent from them, praising him for saving the republic from anarchy and dissension, and as the “restorer” of Haitian democracy.53 Meanwhile, developments in the Dominican Republic followed a converse path. Santana’s return to power in 1858 entailed the return of the authoritarian constitution of 1854. In 1861, Santana solicited the Spanish to return, relinquished independence, and for a brief time ended talk of democracy. Torn between foreign intrigue, the fear of re-​enslavement, and dialogues about national sovereignty, conversations about democracy reemerged in the context of calls for Dominican self-​determination and, eventually, an armed struggle supported by an island-​wide alliance with the Haitian president Geffrard.54 In 1863, with the colony on the verge of full-​scale revolution, members of the provisional government penned an indignant letter to the Queen of Spain invoking democracy as a source of symbolic power against empire. Identifying Boyer’s unification period as the first in which the nation truly experimented with democracy, they highlighted the significance of the key word by capitalizing it: “This people enjoyed forty years of political and civil liberty under republican rule . . . not least among them a National Congress and participation in public affairs that DEMOCRACY necessarily brings with it, a poor fit with monarchical and even colonial regimes.”55 Ultimately, conversations about democracy in Hispaniola revolved around the island’s multiple configurations of sovereignty within a landscape of imperialism and slavery. Within the island’s political elite, it was normally feared that efforts to expand “democracy” or to make “democracy” the end goal might entail projects putting independence in jeopardy by undermining prosperity. Though the term was not always used negatively, elites generally preferred to endorse less dangerously expansive goals such as enfranchisement, or discharging one’s duty to the people. While democracy occupied a limited and transient space, liberty by contrast was often commended; it connoted both the abolition of slavery and national independence. In the 1830s some literate groups did hold up “democracy” as a goal, relatively 53 La République, September 22, 1859. Also Dubois, Haiti, 154, and Stieber, Haiti’s Paper War, 201–​2. 54 For a detailed monograph on this conflict see Eller, We Dream Together and April J. Mayes, The Mulatto Republic: Class, Race, and Dominican National Identity (Gainesville, FL, 2015). 55 Quoted in Emilio Rodríguez Demorizi, Actos y Doctrinas del Gobierno de la Restauracíon (Santo Domingo, 1963), 40.

Articulating Democracy in Hispaniola  285 expansively understood. But thereafter, democracy again took a backseat as attention focused rather on executive power, national sovereignty, and competition between leading political figures. In the 1840s, though democracy remained a reasonably common word in the political lexicon, it was deployed to characterize and debate a variety of political aspirations, from liberal republicanism to military autocracy to constitutional monarchy. In essence, by the end of our period, democracy and the values associated with it had had their moments as legitimizing principles in politics but had never found definitive embodiment in practice. It was a positive term but not a clear one; a virtue, to be sure, but a pliant one.

12 An Empire among Republics “Democracy” in the Constitutional Monarchy of Brazil Andréa Slemian

Brazil was, exceptionally, a monarchical regime in the midst of the republics established in the rest of the Americas; it was also unusual in maintaining the slavery of Africans until 1888, even after abolishing the slave trade in 1850—​though those freed from slavery enjoyed, in principle, equal access to citizenship. Although part of the indigenous population could also access citizenship, a huge population “not yet” integrated into society was excluded.1 Yet throughout the nineteenth century, “democracy” was seen as compatible with some of these conditions elsewhere: for example in Europe, where the possibility of establishing monarchical democracies was affirmed from the 1840s; in the United States, where slave-​owners happily identified with the cause of “democracy”; and in other Latin American states, where democracy was not usually taken to entail giving political rights to the less-​assimilated indigenous population. And in fact these circumstances did not prevent democratic vocabulary from emerging or being given a place in discussions about the construction of representative government in the Brazilian empire. If it was less used than in some other Latin American states, the difference was relative, not absolute. The territory that was subsequently constricted as Brazil was initially a territory of the Portuguese crown, allocated to it by the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, which imagined a division within new-​found lands across the western ocean between Portugal and Spain by the drawing of a simple line soon varied on the ground. Portuguese settlers fought against or sometimes in alliance with particular groups of indigenous people to establish their claims to land.

1 Keila Grinberg, A Black Jurist in a Slave Society: Antonio Pereira Rebouças and the Trials of Brazilian Citizenship (Chapel Hill, NC, 2019); Maria Regina Celestino de Almeida, Os índios na história do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro, 2010). Andréa Slemian, An Empire among Republics In: Re-​imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–​1870. Edited by: Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, Joanna Innes, and Mark Philp, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/​oso/​9780197631577.003.0012

An Empire among Republics   287 Especially from the later years of the sixteenth century, slaves were imported to work on sugar plantations. The discovery of gold in the interior in the 1690s gave mining a crucial place in the economy and enabled significant growth in population, also prompting a change in the location of the capital. The Napoleonic invasion of the Iberian peninsula threatened Portugal’s overseas territories as it threatened Spain’s, but in the case of Portugal the Bragança Court decided to cross the seas and settle in Rio de Janeiro, under British protection. Tensions and conflicts between Brazil and Portugal after the outbreak of the constitutional movement in 1820 were responsible for an independence project headed by the then–​heir to the throne Dom Pedro, which in 1822 concluded with agreement that Brazil should form an independent empire ruled by Dom Pedro and centered on Rio de Janeiro, though in practice the unity of this kingdom was contested for several decades. Recent historiography stresses that apparent continuities from this point through the nineteenth century should not be taken for granted: they were contested, and outcomes were contingent. Though the throne continued to be held by the Bragança dynasty, a constitutional assembly was convened. To enhance his legitimacy, Pedro promulgated a constitution of his own devising in 1824. This concentrated more power in hands of the emperor, who was however to rule through a Council of State, a bicameral assembly, and a judiciary. Liberal ideas had a strong following, as in Spanish America, though different political groupings backed more and less liberal arrangements.2 Slavery likewise did not just continue. The major slaveholding regimes of the nineteenth century (in the South of the United States, in Cuba, and in Brazil) represented a response by groups of colonial landholders to the development of new and much more competitive conditions for tropical goods in the international economy. Slavery was reinvented as a “necessary evil” despite international pressure against it.3 Brazil was particularly exposed to English pressure for the extinction of the slave trade after 1808, but large merchants allied with the crown had a clear incentive to increase the traffic in slaves. The volume of slaves imported continued to grow until 1850, when the traffic was finally ended. Independence may indeed have postponed its 2 For a summary, Andréa Slemian and João Paulo Pimenta, Naissance politique du Brésil. Origines de l´état et de la nation (1808-​1825) (Paris, 2019). 3 Dale Tomich created the term “Second Slavery” for this process. See his “The Second Slavery and World Capitalism: A Perspective for Historical Inquiry,” International Review of Social History 63, no. 3 (2018): 477–​501; also Rafael de Bivar Marquese, “African Diaspora, Slavery, and the Paraiba Valley Coffee Plantation Landscape: Nineteenth-​Century Brazil,” Review (Fernand Braudel Center) 31, no. 2 (2008): 195–​216.

288  Re-imagining Democracy extinction by making possible the rise of an imperial slaveholding class committed to defending the institution. As context for a survey of how the word democracy was used, we need to take into account the conditions of production of literate culture and public opinion in Brazil. Before 1808, the year when the Portuguese court came to Rio de Janeiro, print publication was prohibited in the colony. One of the king’s first measures after his arrival was to install the Imprensa Régia (Royal Press) in Rio de Janeiro, though this operated under censorship. It was however only after the revolution in Portugal in 1820, and its acceptance in Brazil, that the ideal of press freedom spread. Just before independence there was a boom in the publication of printed matter and journals in several provincial capitals. Following debates and measures about abuses of press freedom, printed output tended to decrease in the early years of the empire, though a fever of printing broke out when Emperor Pedro abdicated in 1831 to return to Portugal. In the late 1830s there was a renewed drive for control over printed material, reflecting a conservative turn. Only from the mid-​century did print culture stabilize its position as a space for open debate.4 This account of the ways in which the language of democracy was employed in this context distinguishes three phases. At first, after independence, it was predominantly seen negatively, being contrasted with the moderate monarchy of the empire. Then the word gained a more positive place in public discourse after the abdication of the Emperor Pedro in favor of his son in 1831, when the political environment became amenable to more liberal measures. During the 1860s, in the context of a new reformist surge, it revived in popularity but chiefly among critics of the royalist regime, and even they did not push their criticisms very far. Only during the 1870s was it widely endorsed as a slogan by those who wanted more radical change. The relatively limited and unambitious place that the concept of democracy held in Brazilian culture perhaps reflects Brazilians’ sense of their position within the larger Latin American scene. Politically aware Brazilians knew that within their immediate geographical context, their state stood out as avowedly hierarchical and unequal. In that context “democracy” was not a slogan that anyone broadly content with the status quo was likely to push to the fore.

4 Marco Morel, As transformações dos espaços públicos. Imprensa, atores políticos e sociabilidades na cidade imperial (1820-​1840) (São Paulo, 2005); Andréa Slemian, Vida política em tempos de crise: Rio de Janeiro (1808-​1824) (São Paulo, 2006); Hendrik Kraay, Celso Castilho, and Teresa Cribelli, eds., Press, Power, and Culture in Imperial Brazil (Albuquerque, NM, 2021).

An Empire among Republics   289

Independence and the Birth of a New Empire 1820–​1831 A polysemic term in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, “democracy” came to be associated, in Latin America as elsewhere, especially with institutions of representative government. As these proliferated, it acquired a new significance and coloring. This was also the case in Brazil.5 In the early nineteenth century democracy was often seen as antithetical to monarchy. According to Christian Lynch, a contributor to the Iberconceptos project, eight arguments were used to show the impossibility of democracy in Brazil: that it was a “chimera,” anachronistic, incompatible with the form of aristocracy which existed in the monarchist regime, opposed to representative government, incompatible with the reality of Brazil and with slavery, as well as generating disorder.6 Nonetheless, supporters of a liberal form of monarchy, at whose head the heir to the Portuguese throne placed himself, employed the term in a variety of not always negative ways. Some among them also saw democracy as completely antagonistic to the monarchical regime and needing to be combated. Sometimes their negativity related to the role played by the Cortes Constituintes, established in Lisbon by the 1820 revolution. Paralleling the liberal revolution in Spain, the Portuguese revolution aimed to fill the vacuum left by the court’s decision to remain in Rio. A key demand was that the monarch return to Portugal. His decision to comply provoked the movement for Brazilian independence. Brazilian critics of the Cortes and its mode of proceeding denounced its members as “democratic republicans,” comparing them to internal rebels.7 Within Brazil, the term was sometimes used to score small political points. Thus, in the constituent assembly established in Rio de Janeiro in 1823, the liberal deputy Henriques de Resende described as “democratic” the argument that it was necessary to wait for more representatives from the house to vote on a law which he opposed: These prepositions are inadmissible; Brazilians cannot meet en masse to sanction Laws: to demand this is to require the people en masse to judge their affairs, and we would then have pure Democracy; which only

5 Joanna Innes and Mark Philp, “ ‘Democracy’ from Book to Life”; Caetano, Democracia. 6 Christian Lynch, “Democracia—​Brasil,” in Caetano, Democracia, 56–​59. 7 Domingos Cadavila Veloso, “A cascavel” (Rio de Janeiro, 1824), 4.

290  Re-imagining Democracy has a place in small Cities or ancient States: then even unanimity can be achieved.8

As in Portugal itself at this time, the term “democracy” was most likely to be used positively when it was represented as one element within a balanced constitution, representing a “middle” way.9 One of Dom Pedro’s most loyal supporters, José Joaquim Carneiro de Campos, thus defended the new regime as a “mixed government” that offered the best combination of democracy and aristocracy.10 In this connection, he defended the emperor’s predominant role in lawmaking as preferable to what might be found in a pure democracy: In democracies in which the people together in assemblies make their laws, national influence is at its political zenith; in this government the supreme magistrate cannot be more than the passive agent and the executor of the immediate will of the people; and his influence on the legislation is reduced to a simple unity; he thus does not figure except with his vote, like any other citizen, and not as a magistrate or head of the nation.11

As this deputy saw it, the legitimacy of the monarch was (as in a long tradition) based on his “acclamation” by the people but also on his respect for the fundamental laws of the nation, then being restored by the constitution.12 So, though he distinguished the Brazilian arrangement from a pure democracy, he defended it as embodying the best features of democracy. It is not impossible to find critics of the regime invoking democracy in just the way that defenders of the status quo feared. In Pernambuco, where rebellions seeking more autonomy erupted in 1817 and 1824 (and again in 1848), there is said to have been a secret society named the Democratic University. The term was certainly used, negatively, of Pernambucans: thus, in 1829, the minister of justice, suspending constitutional guarantees in the region, noted that its inhabitants had twice attempted to establish “the

8 Diário da Assembleia Geral, Constituinte do Império do Brasil, September 1, 1823, 686. 9 Rui Ramos, “Democracy without the People: The Rise of Democratic Liberalism in Portugal,” in Innes and Philp, Re-​imagining Democracy in the Mediterranean, 81–​84. 10 Christian Lynch, “Do despotismo da gentalha à democracia da gravata lavada: história do conceito de democracia no Brasil (1770-​1870),” Dados 54, no. 3 (2011): 355–​90. 11 Diário da Assembleia, July 26, 1823, 299–​300. 12 Andréa Slemian, Sob o império das leis: constituição e unidade nacional na formação do Brasil (1822-​1834) (São Paulo, 2009), ­chapter 1.

An Empire among Republics   291 democratic system.”13 They did not however bring the word to the fore as their slogan. Frei Joaquim da Silva Rabelo, known as Frei Caneca, a Pernambucan deputy, after the emperor closed the constituent assembly in 1823, precipitating regional revolt, spoke openly of a “republic” but not of democracy.14 Equally, the term was not favored by the combative journalist Cipriano Barata, who was a tireless critic of the Rio de Janeiro government. He denounced what he considered to be the greatest despotisms of the monarchy, including injustices relating to the poor, blacks, and people of mixed races. If he ever used the term, he certainly did not give it prominence.15

Preserve to Change, Change to Preserve the Regime, 1831–​1837 In 1831, in a context of rising political tension in Brazil, Dom Pedro abdicated in favor of his young son and, like his father before him, took up the Portuguese crown, leaving Brazil in the hands of regents—​first the politician and Catholic priest Diogo Antônio Feijó, then the Marquis of Olinda. This regime in Brazil, though seen by some as too liberal, was by others seen as not liberal enough. Large popular movements demanding its transformation took to the streets in some regional capitals, and some entire provinces experienced insubordination and revolts. Some said that a “real revolution” was under way.16 Various projects for both political and social change were canvassed. “Democracy” was not a prominent slogan in this context. But it seems to have come into wider use, as it was endorsed—​cautiously and under certain conditions—​by people taking a variety of political positions. Thus, we find it employed by members of the educated elite as they weighed up arguments for different political options. During 1835, before becoming regent, Diogo 13 Jeffrey Mosher, Political Struggle, Ideology and State Building. Pernambuco and the Construction of Brazil, 1817-​1850 (Lincoln, NE, 2008), 22, 73, 85. 14 Denis Bernandes, “Pernambuco e sua área de influência: um território em transformação (1780-​ 1824),” in Independência: história e historiografia, ed. István Jancsó (São Paulo, 2005), 379–​409. 15 Marco Morel, As transformações dos espaços públicos. Imprensa, atores políticos e sociabilidades na cidade imperial (1820-​1840) (São Paulo, 1820). 16 Ilmar Rohloff de Mattos, “La experiencia del Imperio del Brasil,” in De los imperios a las naciones: Iberoamérica, ed. Antonio Annino et al. (Zaragoza, 1994), 613–​28; Marcello Basile, “O laboratório da nação: a era Regencial (1831-​1848),” in O Brasil Imperial II, ed. Keila Grinberg and Ricardo Salles (Rio de Janeiro, 2011), 53–​119.

292  Re-imagining Democracy Antônio Feijó—​writing in O Justiceiro, a newspaper he had helped to found—​described the monarchy of Brazil as “democratic” because the king ruled in conjunction with an elected assembly, though Feijó was opposed to the king’s role being made elective (as proposed by some). Effectively, he invoked the mixed monarchy ideal, though he remained especially keen to stress the monarch’s role within the mix. He suggested that a strong monarchy brought Brazil benefits in two forms: (1) the solidity of the government due to the perpetuity of its first magistrate, who should always be drawn from the ruling dynasty, thereby avoiding the attempts of the ambitious, the intrigues of pretenders and the irreparable convulsions of elections (. . .); (2) a better guarantee for the conduct of public business, as the monarch has an immediate interest in the tranquility and safety of citizens, in the prosperity of the state.”17

Self-​proclaimed “moderates” meanwhile framed the word so as to serve their cause, as in this argument made in the moderado newspaper O Farol Paulistano: If we immediately proclaimed a republican government by revolution, we would infallibly have the name of a Republic but [in practice] a state of anarchy, whose term would not be easy to assign, or the absolute empire of a military despot, or something similar. [By contrast, if we brought] in reforms through the procedures of the Constitution, we would soon have all the guarantees of the most perfect democracy, we would have the substance of a Federative Government, even though other names would continue in use for the space of some years.18

This discourse effectively identified the moderates with the maintenance of the monarchy and the 1824 constitutional charter, at most with reforms within that framework.19 “Democracy” was also sometimes invoked by would-​be reformers, who wanted more radical changes to the monarchical system.20 Thus, a prominent 17 O Justiceiro, no. 17, March 5, 1835; Jorge Caldeira, Diogo Antônio Feijó (São Paulo, 1999), 166. 18 July 30, 1831, cited in Augustin Wernet, Sociedades politicas: 1831-​1832 (São Paulo, 1978), 168. 19 Ilmar Rohloff de Mattos, “La experiencia del Imperio del Brasil,” in Annino, De los imperios a las naciones. 20 Silvia Carla Brito Fonseca, A ideia de República no Império do Brasil: Rio de Janeiro e Pernambuco (1824-​1834) (Rio de Janeiro, UFRJ, doctoral thesis); Marco Morel, Cipriano Barata na Sentinela da Liberdade (Salvador, 2001).

An Empire among Republics   293 exaltado, Ezequiel dos Santos, in his famous newspaper Nova Luz Brasileira, called for a “sui generis American monarchy,” a ”democratic monarchy” that would be constitutional, representative, federalist, and also non-​hereditary—​ he was one of those who wanted to see the monarch elected—​with a lifelong mandate, but capable of being removed.21 To quiet disorder, the regent initially agreed to reforms. These included the first legal codes (criminal in 1830 and criminal procedure in 1832). The judicial structure was criticized as too distanced from the people and not making provision for popular participation; solutions advocated, some of which were implemented, included the appointment of justices of the peace from among local residents without legal training and the use of juries.22 A law freeing all Africans who landed in Brazil was passed—​though it was soon ignored; slave trafficking continued until 1850.23 Constitutional changes proposed included the replacement of lifetime appointments to the senate with shorter terms (senators were appointed by the emperor from lists generated in the localities), abolishing the monarch’s determinative Poder Moderador, and doing away with the Council of State, so that the monarch formally depended only on the advice of ministers. One of the most sensitive issues in the previous reign had been changes to the structure of provincial government. In the colonial period, the great redoubts of power and representation had been the municipal councils, which were spheres of collegiate decision-​making by locally elected members, echoing the ancient conception of republican self-​government.24 They had been the chief sites of political life.25 In the wake of the 1820 revolution in Portugal, the question of how provincial government in the Americas should be structured came onto the agenda. In 1821, elective Juntas Provisórias de Governo were established and played an important role in the ensuing power 21 Marcello Basile, “Luzes a quem está nas trevas: a linguagem política radical nos primórdios do Império,” Topoi (September 2011): 99. 22 Andréa Slemian and Carlos Garriga, “Justicia popular Sobre la dimensión judicial del primer constitucionalismo ibero-​americano,” Jahrbuch für Geschichte Lateinamerikas/​Anuario de Historia de América Latina 55 (2018): 27–​59; Thomas Flory, Judge and Jury in Imperial Brazil, 1808-​1871 (Austin, TX, 1981). 23 Tâmis Parron, A política da escravidão no Império do Brasil, 1826-​1865 (Rio de Janeiro, 2011). 24 Pedro Cardim, “La jurisdicción real y su afirmación en la corona portuguesa y sus territorios ultramarinos (siglos XVI-​XVIII),” in De Re Publica Hispaniae: una vindicación de la cultura política en los reinos ibéricos en la primera modernidad, ed. Francisco Aranda Pérez and José D. Rodrigues (Madrid, 2008), 349–​88; Annick Lempérière, Entre Dieu et le roi, la repúblique. México, XVIe.-​XIXe. Siècles (Paris, 2004). 25 José Murilo de Carvalho, “Dimensiones de la ciudadanía en el Brasil del siglo XIX,” in Ciudadanía política y formación de las naciones. Perspectivas históricas de América Latina, ed. Hilda Sabato (Mexico City, 1999), 325.

294  Re-imagining Democracy struggles. However, following independence the juntas were replaced by an imperially appointed executive president in each province, checked only by the provision that he could be held responsible for his actions.26 The new structure was represented as embodying the principle of the separation of powers—​separating executive power from legislative, seen as the proper locus for representation. However, the change caused uproar among those who thought the Juntas more legitimate. The monarchist project came to be seen as a centralizing.27 The shift to this new system triggered a debate about the validity of federative principles, in which local bodies were represented as key sites for public participation. It is necessary to understand this background to understand the resonance of arguments made under the regency for the reconstitution of Brazil as a “federative monarchy.” In the event, the 1834 constitutional reform did not rename the empire a “federation”; nevertheless, new powers were given to the provinces—​involving notably the creation of elected legislative assemblies—​and there was some hope that the 1834 Additional Act might prove transformative. Despite the enactment of some reforms, revolts, rebellions, and fratricidal wars nonetheless continued in several parts of the empire. These were popular in the sense that large sections of the population participated in them, including indigenous people and the free poor. There was often an element of racial confrontation, as in the “Cabanagem” in Pará (1835–​1840) and the “Balaiada” in Maranhão (1838–​1841). The centralized form of the governmental system was often a target—​as in the case of the “Farroupilha” separatist and republican movement in Rio Grande do Sul (1835–​1845), and later in the Praieira insurrection in Pernambuco between 1848 and 1849. There are instances of democracy being invoked in these contexts. During the Farroupilha revolt, the first president of the Rio Grande republic, Bento Gonçalves, claimed that it was under the republican or democratic system (he used the terms interchangeably) that mankind had been happiest—​ though his critics argued that he kept too much power for himself and ignored “the essence of the representative democratic system.”28 Although 26 The emergent administrative sphere in Brazil was strongly influenced by the French model. Luca Mannori and Bernardo Sordi, “Justicia y Administración,” in El estado moderno en Europa: Instituciones y derecho, ed. Maurizio Fioravanti (Madrid, 2004). 27 Slemian, Sob o império das leis. 28 “Manifesto by Bento Gonçalves defending the Farroupilha Revolution, 1840” and “Manifesto against Gonçalves by other Farroupilhas, 1843,” in Anais do Arquivo Histórico do Rio Grande do Sul, ed. Denise Zullo Castro and Gladis Vilma Ruttke Dillenburg (24 vols., in progress), Vol. 4, 146–​51, 190–​207 (available online at https://​cult​ura.rs.gov.br/​publ​icac​oes-​onl​ine). Cf. Lynch, Do

An Empire among Republics   295 the word could thus be used to think with, it was not pushed to the fore. “Democracy” could be invoked to justify republican or representative forms of government, but in its broader, egalitarian sense it did not capture what landowners supporting “federation” hoped to achieve, which was to see more power delegated to localities but not shared with ordinary people. Moreover, the word remained a high-​register word; it was not yet a resonant term in popular discourse.29

A Consecration of the Old Order or a Harbinger of Crisis? 1837–​1870 Having failed to resolve strong tensions within the empire, Feijó resigned as regent in 1837. Three years later, the regency was overthrown, and there was a movement in favor of the emperor’s son Dom Pedro II, then fourteen years old, assuming the throne. Following his accession in 1841, a fresh round of reforms was enacted. Several historians have seen in these events a conservative turn, reaffirming the power of the court in Rio de Janeiro and of the crown (by, for example, reestablishing the monarch’s Council of State), with negative implications for the provinces and the judiciary (thus the powers given to elected judges were reduced). Others question quite how centralizing the changes were. Yet there is no doubt that they tended to reduce the participation of the population in decision-​making spaces, and to that extent they represented an advance for the monarchy.30 Meanwhile, the empire turned a blind eye to the continuing importation of enslaved Africans, which continued at a significant level, though illegally, until 1850.31 Democracy continued often to be invoked to stigmatize “opponents” of the prevailing political order. In contrast to what can be observed in many other

despotismo da gentalha, 371. For discussion, Andre Jockyman-​Roithman, “De pátria a nación: Rio Grande do Sul, 1835-​1845,” in Gabriel Entín and Jorge Myers, eds., Una polisemia exacerbada: el concepto “comunidad” entre el republicanismo y la revolución social en la era de los conceptos que se bifurcan: Europa-​América Latina, 1810-​1890 (forthcoming). 29 Gabriel Paquette, “Demotic and ‘Democratic’ Languages in Post-​Independence Brazil, 1822-​ 1848,” Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies 26, no. 2 (2020): 149–​58. 30 Andréa Slemian, Sob o império das leis; Ivo Coser, Visconde do Uruguai: centralização e federalismo no Brasil 1823-​1866 (Belo Horizonte/​Rio de Janeiro, 2008); Miriam Dolhnikoff, O pacto imperial: origens do federalismo no Brasil (São Paulo, 2005). 31 Rafael Marquese and Dale Tomich, “O vale do Paraíba escravista e a formação mundial do café no século XIX,” in Grinberg and Salles, O Brasil Imperial, 340–​83.

296  Re-imagining Democracy places, it did not at this time come to function as a standard name for existing institutional arrangements. Instead, with the conservatives in power, the favored description was “representative monarchy.” Conservatives continued to fear plebeian access to spaces of power. In 1857 José Antônio Pimenta Bueno, one of the jurists most closely identified with the regime, made a famous declaration about problems with the existing extent of the vote in Brazil, which was indeed associated with a very low property qualification that large numbers could meet. He characterized the 1824 constitution as having established a “universal vote” with few exclusionary criteria (place of birth, age, belonging to a religious corporation, or being a servant), so that only a “beggar” did not qualify (that women and slaves were excluded he did not think worthy of comment). He said that it had been an error to make citizens out of “simple figures, without paying attention to the conditions of intelligence or property.”32 (As in many other Latin American states, the franchise, though broad, was indirect: in fact the votes of the many had their effect only as filtered through the choices of the few). Only from the 1860s did references to democracy proliferate and become more positive, though chiefly among the regime’s critics, in the context of the rise of so-​called republican ideas, according to which the empire was despotic and over-​centralized. These critics also promoted a broad social reform program.33 Those who took this line often saw themselves as standing in a continuous lineage of opposition. Senator Teófilo Ottoni (one of the most emblematic “liberal republicans”) clearly did this when he wrote a Circular to voters in his constituency of Minas Gerais in 1860, in the form of an autobiography in which he attempted to justify his actions over the years, looking back to a long history of tensions between liberals and conservatives.34 He argued that the monarchy should be given a “democratic profile,” modeling itself in some ways on the United States, granting a high degree of provincial autonomy, and lodging sovereignty more clearly in the provincial assembly. His tone was nonetheless somewhat defensive. By his account he had: . . . never dreamed of anything other than a pacific democracy, the democracy of the middle class, the democracy of the clean-​tie, the democracy

32 Eduardo Kugelmas, ed., Pimenta Bueno(São Paulo, 2002), 265. 33 José Murilo de Carvalho, “República, democracia e federalismo. Brasil, 1870-​1891,” Varia Historia 27, no. 45 (2011): 141–​57. Lynch, “Democracia,” 63. 34 Valdei Araújo and Weder Ferreira da Silva, “Fragmentos de um periódico perdido a Sentinela do Serro e o sentido da “republicanização” (1830-​1832),” Varia Historia 27, no. 45 (2011): 75–​95.

An Empire among Republics   297 which repels with the same disgust the despotism of mobs and the tyranny of an individual.35

Phrases of this sort became commonplace when democracy was commended. Still, champions of democracy thereafter often saw it as entailing not only a challenge to the status quo, but equally as a criticism of the moderates of the 1830s who, according to Senator Ottoni, had become anxious about radical ideas being enunciated in the streets and sought to avoid further political change. It was in the context of an argument for decentralization that the deputy Aureliano Cândido Tavares Bastos urged a return to “democracy” (apparently equated with past reforms entailing more sharing of power). In his view: The so-​called politics of order and moderation, suppressing or forgetting liberty, did not compensate for it by bringing glory; and in the end, disbelieving, restless, satiated, the country has gone through the first episodes of a long economic crisis . . . . So here it is, returning contritely to the altars of democracy, which should not be abandoned.36

Although democracy was understood to be embodied in the broad franchise, not even the radical liberals pushed hard for its further broadening. Tavares Bastos said that while universal suffrage was a “beautiful ideal in the ancient democracies,” it was inappropriate for the empire.37 Modern studies have revised older views, which suggested that elections in Brazil were peculiarly marked by fraud and violence.38 The older view that elections attracted few voters has also been challenged: it has been shown that they mobilized many “men of color” and workers (though such people were not themselves elected).39 It has also been shown that a particularly important factor in shaping the outcome of elections was the power of justices of the peace to determine which voters were qualified. Whether or not they recognized that the system had these features, even reform-​minded contemporaries did not generally push to make it more inclusive. 35 Circular dedicada aos Srs. eleitores de senadores pela provincia de Minas Gerais . . . , (Rio de Janeiro, 1860), 17. 36 Tavares Bastos, A Província. Estudo sobre a descentralização do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro, 1870), vi. 37 Lynch, Do despotismo da gentalha, 382. 38 Fernando Limongi, “Revisitando as eleições do Segundo Reinado: manipulação, fraude e violência,” Lua Nova 91 (2014): 13–​51. 39 Richard Graham, “Ciudadanía y jerarquía en el Brasil Esclavista,” in Sabato, Ciudadanía, 361.

298  Re-imagining Democracy Similarly, even for republicans the extinction of slavery was not a priority until the end of the 1860s.

Epilogue: “Democracy” and the End of Slavery and Empire We have found some instances of people being willing to use “democracy” as a positive term, but generally cautiously and often with the explicit concession that there were bad forms of democracy, from which good forms needed to be carefully distinguished. No evidence has been found to show that the word had a place in popular political culture. The place of “democracy” in political discourse changed only after 1870, as republicanism gained strength and an abolitionist movement was formed. The future of monarchy and slavery persisted as major themes in debate thereafter, until the promulgation of the liberation of slaves (1888) and the end of the empire (1889). In this context, instead of arguments about democracy being compatible with monarchy, it began to be argued that democracy was best realized in a republic. Thus in the 1881 propagandistic anti-​monarchist pamphlet by the republican politician Joaquim Francisco de Assis Brasil: The essential character of the republic is the absolute absence of privilege of all and any type; for this reason democracy exists only in a republic.40

Yet even the establishment of a republic did not in practice bring more political inclusion. On the contrary—​the electoral reform of 1881 introduced a direct vote but at the same time brutally reduced the number of citizens participating in the process, as income qualifications were raised and illiterates excluded, reducing the electorate by almost 90%.41 These new arrangements persisted into the era of the republic. Joaquim Nabuco, author of one of the most iconic defenses of abolition, stated in 1883:



40 Carvalho, República, democracia e federalismo, 146.

41 José Murilo de Carvalho, Cidadania no Brasil (Rio de Janeiro, 2003), 29.

An Empire among Republics   299 With slavery there is no free government, no true democracy; there is only a government of caste and a regime of monopoly. The senzalas [slave quarters] cannot have representatives and the overwhelmed and impoverished population does not dare to have them.42

He even argued that it was erroneous to consider the United States a free government, given the enduring legacy of slavery. However, republicans did not necessarily see it as urgent to abolish slavery,43 even though some, such as Nabuco, did support the abolitionist movement, which emerged with great popular support.44 That movement chiefly operated outside the ordinary political system, and without much reference to the word democracy. In general throughout the period covered by this chapter, order was prioritized. Conservatives and liberals alike supported expansion into the interior—​“inward expansion” of the territory, to use the expression of Ilmar Mattos—​and in that context were prepared to accept the persistence and even invigoration of slavery, and the expectation that many people would not be integrated into “civilization.”45 Although the term democracy was to some extent domesticated into Brazilian discourse over these decades, it was usually in a way that set aside its egalitarian element.

42 Joaquim Nabuco, O Abolicionismo (Rio de Janeiro/​São Paulo, 2000), 61. 43 Fernanda Lombardi, “Os republicanos e a abolição,” Revista Sociologia e Política, no. 27 (2006): 181–​95. 44 Jeffrey Needell, The Sacred Cause: The Abolitionist Movement, Afro-​Brazilian Mobilization, and Imperial Politics in Rio de Janeiro (Stanford, CA, 2020). 45 Ilmar Rohloff de Mattos, “Construtores e herdeiros: a trama dos interesses na construção da unidade política,” Almanack Braziliense, no. 1 (2005): 8–​26.

13 Democracy in Mexico Guy Thomson

Recent literature on “democracy” suggests that the word was invoked little and mostly negatively in Mexico between the end of absolutism in 1812 and the 1850s. Only from 1848 would a younger generation of liberals more warmly embrace the term.1 This chapter will modify this account by showing that it had some presence before as well as after 1850, in constitutional debate, in political allegiances and the naming of parties and newspapers, in the description of popular protests, in the rhetoric of armed petitions (pronunciamientos), and in contemporaries’ understanding of the internal governance of indigenous communities—​though it was canonized only after Mexico was officially declared a “democratic, federal, representative republic” in Article 40 of the 1857 constitution.2 Two features of Mexican debates deserve special notice. One—​not unique to Mexico—​was that democracy quite often appeared as the antonym of aristocracy, the two being employed to characterize and take positions on social conflicts, but also to sketch out political options in the context of a widespread and enduring belief that the country was, at least in its current state of development, simply not suited for any thoroughgoing version of democracy. Also of note is that although the term did come to be endorsed by embattled liberals, even while endorsing it they expressed great uncertainty about whether and how democracy could effectively be institutionalized in view of Mexico’s ethnic diversity and social inequality. Spain’s largest, wealthiest, and most populous American possession, the Kingdom of New Spain was hard hit by the political conflicts unleashed by severance and by their economic and social effects. In the Spanish era, silver sustained a highly integrated and diverse economy which linked far-​flung

1 José Antonio Aguilar Rivera, “La redención democrática: México 1821-​1861,” Historia Mexicana 69, no. 1 (2019): 7–​56. 2 1857 Constitution, http://​www.ordenj​urid​ico.gob.mx/​Const​ituc​ion/​1857.pdf Guy Thomson, Democracy in Mexico In: Re-​imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–​1870. Edited by: Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, Joanna Innes, and Mark Philp, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/​oso/​9780197631577.003.0013

Democracy in Mexico  301 provinces, yielded fiscal surpluses to fund imperial defense, and drove Pacific and Atlantic trades.3 It also created a highly stratified society, with extremes of wealth and inequality that dazzled and shocked Humboldt in 1803–​1804, though a flexible regime of social and ethnic ranking did allow people of mixed Spanish and Indian (mestizo), African, and Asian descent to enjoy civic and economic freedoms.4 Set apart politically from the colonial mainstream was the indigenous population, the república de los indios, comprising in 1814 some 60% of New Spain’s population of around 6,000,000, residing mostly in separate, self-​governing pueblos de indios, although with significant numbers of indios bárbaros occupying the vast northern expanses of the viceroyalty.5 Following independence in 1821, mining, while much diminished, remained the leading sector, though coin no longer was shipped just from Veracruz and one mint in the capital, but travelled directly from provincial mints to peripheral ports. A consequent decline in the authority of Mexico City allowed the provinces to assert themselves politically. Despite the advantage derived by centralists from the special status (fuero) accorded to the church and the regular army in the 1824 constitution, “federalists” who favored devolving authority mostly prevailed during the half-​century of wars and revolutions that followed, though they too struggled to stabilize their hold on power. The continued danger of invasion from Spanish Cuba (which became reality in 1829 and 1861) generated rival nationalist discourses. In that context too, federalists were by and large more successful, as they impugned the patriotism of their centralist rivals, argued for locally commanded civil militias (later national guards) funded by municipalities, and occupied the vacuum left by a weakened Catholic Church in rural society. Centralists, who based their power on the cities and cathedral chapters of the central plateau, harked back to the peace and greatness of New Spain, painted federalists as handmaidens of Anglo-​American expansion, and leaned heavily on the regular army, with the result that military spending absorbed ever more of the diminishing national budget.6 3 Alfredo Avila and John Tutino, “Becoming Mexico: The Conflictive Search for a North American Nation,” in New Countries. Capitalism, Revolutions, and Nations in the Americas, 1750-​1870, ed. John Tutino (Durham, NC, 2016), 233–​77. 4 Alexander von Humboldt, Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain (London, 1811). 5 Brian Connaughton, Prácticas Populares, cultura política y poder en México, siglo XIX (Mexico City, 2008), 12. 6 Conrado Hernández, “‘Espíritu de cuerpo’ y el papel del ejército permanente en el surgimiento del Estado-​nación, 1821-​1860,” Ulúa 4, no. 8 (2006): 129–​54.

302  Re-imagining Democracy In this polarized and externally exposed political terrain, democracy was invoked, positively and negatively, in many quarters. The chapter explores its changing meanings and uses from the imperial crisis to the era of the Reforma, which saw the reconstitution of the state, and of relations between church and state under modernizing liberal auspices.

From Imperial Crisis to Federal Republic, 1808–​1824 From the onset of constitutional government in 1812 until the fall of the First Empire in 1823, democracy appeared as a term of rebuke, but was also used more analytically, often paired with aristocracy, as commentators struggled to envisage institutional arrangements that would make this divided and stratified society governable. Distance, censorship, and an inward-​looking political culture initially immunized New Spain from French revolutionary enthusiasm, though events in Europe provoked anxiety. Political horizons opened up when remnants of Spain’s Bourbon regime resisted Napoleonic rule by mobilizing popular forces and endorsing a version of constitutionalism. Creole sermons reveal a tacit acceptance of the new age.7 Yet, this did not entail endorsing democracy. A canon of Valladolid (Morelia) proclaimed in 1808 the land’s unfitness for any wide sharing of power: . . . to implant democracy, such a delicate tree, in land so sterile of virtues, so covered with weeds, muddied with ambition, envy, luxury and lust; to expect it to flourish in the midst of the effervescence of passions, is delirium.8

The eleven-​year independence revolution (1810–​1821) saw Mexico internally divided, as those who wished to defend a traditional version of the royalist order (who remained powerful at the center) clashed with those readier to follow the constitutional-​royalist route and with provincial rebels, who responded to official conservatism by radicalizing further under the leadership of priests Miguel Hidalgo and José María Morelos, and later the mulatto landowner Vicente Guerrero. Rebels did especially well in the mountainous peripheries of the center and south. The contending parties all experimented 7 Carlos Herrejón, “La revolución francesa en sermones y otros testimonios de México, 1791-​ 1823,” in La revolución francesa en México, ed. Solange Alberro (Mexico City, 1991), 97–​98. 8 Ibid., 100.

Democracy in Mexico  303 with reforms to the machinery of government and in policy to build popular support.9 It is not surprising that royalists seem mostly to have been negative about democracy. Before the restoration of absolutism in 1814, they were, however, occasionally prepared to accord it some role insofar as they moved toward constitutionalism. When in 1813 Superior Political Chief (the new constitutional term for viceroy) Félix Calleja stepped up the campaign against insurgents, he argued that there was now no reason to resist the government: With a just medium established between the confusion of democracy and the arbitrariness of despotism, you are now citizens, dependents of a moderate and just authority, which, divided into its three essential parts, renders impossible the hoarding, abuse or seizure of an excessive amount of power, which would harm your rights and your liberty.10

Somewhat less grudgingly, when reporting election results to Calleja in 1813, San Luis Potosí authorities declared that “if we find ourselves gathered in a genuinely Aristocratic junta, it is by virtue of Popular Democracy” which had created the conditions for their establishment.11 But neither did the rebel leader José María Morelos champion democracy tout court. Decreeing the establishment of a new province in 1811, he invited towns to regard their provincial capital as: “the center of your province, both in economic and political, as in democratic and aristocratic government . . .”12 When the would-​be absolutist Spanish monarch was forced in 1820 to reinstate the Cádiz Constitution, it strengthened the case even for royalists in Mexico to endorse a form of constitutionalism (though some hoped this might be under a Spanish Bourbon prince). Yet, even as provinces prepared for elections to the restored Cortes, southern insurgents behind Guerrero were re-​energized. The royalist General Agustín de Iturbide, having struggled to pacify the south, proposed to Guerrero to join forces and pursue full independence. In February 1821 Guerrero accepted Iturbide’s Plan de Iguala on 9 Alfredo Ávila, En nombre de la nación. La formación del gobierno representativo en México (1808-​ 1824) (Mexico City, 2002); Juan Ortiz Escamilla, Guerra y gobierno. Los pueblos y la independencia de México, 1808-​1825 (Mexico City, 1997); Timothy Henderson, The Mexican Wars for Independence (New York, 2009); Michael Ducey, “Gobierno, legitimidad y movilización: aspectos de la vida electoral en tiempos insurgentes,” Historia Mexicana 68, no. 4 (2019): 1593–​638. 10 José Luis Melgarejo, La Constitución Federal de 1824 (Mexico City, 1975), 65. 11 Quoted in John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy (London, 2009), 409. 12 Daniela Vázquez, Guerra, Poder y Autonomía. La creación de la Provincia de Técpan, 1810-​1814 (Mexico City, n.d.), 20.

304  Re-imagining Democracy the promise that “equality and liberty” would be respected.13 Their combined “Army of Three Guarantees” (religion, independence, and union between Mexicans and Spaniards—​liberty and equality were notably not pushed to the fore) rapidly prevailed over an army sent from Spain, and the provinces embraced the Plan.14 Yet, with the retreat of Spanish forces, tensions inherent in the common front re-​emerged. Iturbide favored strong executive power backed by relatively “aristocratic” political arrangements; thus he proposed representation on the basis of partidos (counties), though these ranged wildly in scale and population and involved bypassing the municipality, the basis of representation since 1812.15 Also, his preference was for deputies to be selected proportionately from privileged corporate and functional groups—​church, army, Indian communities, landowners, miners, merchants, and artisans—​rather than from the male population at large. Although opposed to servilismo (foreign domination) and in favor of “liberty and liberal principles,” Iturbide warned that these principles should not imply una tumultuosa democracia.16 The struggle between executive and legislative power which ensued revealed a tension arising from the Cádiz experiment’s bias toward the legislature—​asambleísmo—​ which new states contended with across the 17 continent. That tension encouraged reflection on balance within “mixed” constitutions. Making the case for strong executive power and a weaker “democratic” element was Antonio Valdés, well-​travelled Cuban exile, printer, and publicist. As Guadalajara’s deputy in the constituent congress, Valdés warned that the restoration of the Cádiz Constitution had created a mere “simulation of monarchy, . . . a true democratic republic” and advocated as more suitable for Mexico a “moderate monarchy” that would combine “the liberties of a republic with the vigor of monarchic unity, without the dangers exemplified by the democratic governments of antiquity and the absolute monarchies of these last centuries.”18 Unfortunately for supporters of mixed government, Iturbide lacked the instincts of a “moderate monarch.”19 Ultimately 13 Lorenzo de Zavala, Ensayo histórico de las revoluciones de México, desde 1808 hasta 1830, 2 vols. (Mexico City, 1845), 1:89–​92. 14 Jaime E. Rodríguez O., ed., The Origins of Mexican National Politics (Wilmington, DE, 1997), 74. 15 Timothy Anna, Forging México 1821-​1835 (Lincoln, NE, 1988), 92. 16 Miriam Galante, “El primer liberalismo mexicano y la encrucijada de la representación. Reflejar la nación, gobernar el país (México, 1821-​1835),” Historia Crítica (Bogotá) no. 41 (2010): 136. 17 Anna, Forging Mexico, 94–​95. 18 Catherine Andrews, “El proyecto constitucional de Antonio J. Valdés, 1822,” Estudios Jaliscienses, no. 87 (2012): 62–​63. 19 Alfredo Ávila, Para la libertad. Los republicanos en tiempos del imperio, 1821-​1823 (Mexico City, 2005).

Democracy in Mexico  305 he shut down congress for being “utopian.”20 Politics then returned to the barracks, where support for the new emperor soon dissolved, prompting his abdication.21 The federal revolution of 1823, which brought thirteen years of revolution to an end, was popular, voluntary, and overtly republican: a Phrygian hat replaced the crown over the eagle and cactus on the revolution’s banner.22 Central power was temporarily prostrated. Yet the balance between the executive, associated with central power, and the provinces remained unsettled.23 Favoring executive power were regional military commands, which over the following decades were repeatedly deployed to remove governors and close legislatures.24 Even after the federal constitution was restored in 1846, the local military commander provided a constant reminder of the limits of a civil governor’s authority.25 At a local level, moreover, oligarchies defied the principles of legal equality and popular representation, and the language of aristocracy and democracy reflected that challenge.26 Thus, in April 1823, four Guadalajara town councilors protested that it was the “aristocracy” of the province that had spoken in convening the new congress, not its “democracy.” This “aristocracy” was, they observed, composed of a “few individuals who have an entourage, set the tone, dominate municipal corporations, and arrogate for themselves the voice of the province,” while the “democracy is composed of the immense remainder of the population, always peaceful, always disposed to passive obedience, easy to be moved for not resisting, silent and mostly ignorant and little able to know their true interests.” The councilors demanded convocation of a new congress elected under democratic (1812) principles.27 Though the federal revolution could be seen as, and would soon be celebrated as, in principle, a triumph for “democratic” forces, those who favored a strong democratic element had reason to doubt that either the national or the local balance of forces in practice favored their preferences.

20 Vicente Riva Palacio, México a través de los siglos, 5 vols. (Mexico City, 1880), 4:84. 21 Nettie Lee Benson, The Provincial Deputation in Mexico (Austin TX, 2014), 121–​22. 22 Fabián Acosta, “Prisciliano Sánchez Padilla: Vida, Gobierno e Ideario Federalista,” El Tiempo de Jalisco, no. 7 (2012): 6. 23 Anna, Forging Mexico, 153. 24 Ibid., 163, 174. 25 Benito Juárez, Apuntes para mis hijos (Mexico City, 1955), 53. 26 Juan Cáceres Muñoz,“Entre la libertad y los privilegios: élite, elecciones y ciudadanía en el Querétaro de la primera mitad del siglo XIX,” Historia Mexicana 61, no. 2 (2011): 477–​530. 27 Cited in La Constitución de 1824. La consolidación de un pacto mínimo, ed. Fausta Gantús et al., (Mexico City, 2008), 133–​34.

306  Re-imagining Democracy

From Federalism to Centralism, 1824–​1836 Under the federal republic, as electoral and congressional politics became routine features of political life, “democracy” found new applications. Notably, during the 1820s and early 1830s, the adjectives “democratic” and “popular” were used interchangeably by radical liberals to describe their Masonic lodge–​based party, whose superior organization and national reach initially brought electoral success. However, elections did not remain the route to executive power. Instead, a crisis over the presidential succession in 1828 handed that role to the pronunciamiento. In the context of continuing power struggles waged by a great variety of means, “democracy” did not become a consensual name for the political system and instead served primarily as a partisan slogan. Radical liberals who made up the popular/​democratic party embraced the label, seeing themselves as the legitimate heirs to the independence revolution and of its first exercise of unrestricted popular sovereignty. Believing themselves to be the only true republicans, they denounced their opponents as “retrograde,” “aristocratic,” “stationary,” “hierarchical,” “Spanish,” or “monarchical.”28 By the end of the 1820s, political rivals on both the national and state levels had embraced or been described as either the “popular/​democratic” (radical liberal) or the “aristocratic” (moderate liberal) party, or labels with equivalent meanings such as vinagres (radicals) and aceites (conservatives).29 For their part, moderate liberals, in the face of the excesses of popular politics, began to sense the advantage in embracing “aristocracy” as a positive term, and democrat/​aristocrat labeling became common by the 1830s in the mining states of the northwest center.30 The federal constitution promulgated in 1824 was strongly influenced by the US model, borrowing various of its devices to separate and balance the powers, though providing for a notably weaker federal executive. The president and vice-​president were elected by a majority of state legislatures, 28 Zavala, Ensayo historico, Vol. 1, 21, 141, 143, 191, 194; Vol. 2, 46, 63, 92, 111. 29 El payo del Rosario [Pablo de Villavicencio], Ya tenemos en Oaxaca parte de la Santa Liga (Mexico City, 1826); Peter Guardino, The Time of Liberty: Popular Political Culture in Oaxaca, 1750-​ 1850 (Durham, NC, 2005), 156–​222. 30 El Pensador [José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi], Como no haya división, no habrá en Durango opresión (Mexico City, 1826); Rosalina Ríos Zúñiga, “Una retórica para la movilización popular: El Cometa. Periódico Político-​Literario de Zacatecas, 1832,” Historia Mexicana 58, no. 2 (2008): 756, 88; Sergio Cañedo, “Ponciano Arriaga and Mariano Ávila’s Intellectual Backing of the 14 April 1837 Pronunciamiento of San Luis Potosí,” in Forceful Negotiations The Origins of the Pronunciamiento in Nineteenth-​Century Mexico, ed. Will Fowler (Lincoln, NE, 2010), 111.

Democracy in Mexico  307 with the presidency going to the candidate attracting the highest number of votes and the vice-​presidency to the runner-​up. A legislature composed of two chambers was instituted, for fear that a single chamber would become so “flattered by its absolute power which it would very likely try to hold on to so as to oppress the people under democratic forms.”31 A senate, comprising two deputies elected from each state regardless of population, formed an equal, not superior chamber, to moderate over-​representation of the more populous states. The states were responsible for organizing civic militias with elected officers answerable to state civil governors. Out of fear that a longer term in office would cause deputies to “become swollen with power and form an aristocracy,” two-​yearly elections for congressional deputies (four years for senators) were held under something approaching universal male suffrage—​from eighteen if married and from twenty-​one if single, without property or literacy restrictions and encompassing all males in the household excluding servants.32 State and federal congressional elections were indirect in three stages—​municipal, county, and state. By contrast, elections of state governors and municipal councils were direct.33 “Democracy” was invoked in Lorenzo de Zavala’s speech opening the constituent convention as a broad characterization of a modern, representative republic: . . . on the continent of Columbus, democratic government must necessarily finally prevail, after being revived with improvements on the ancient republics by the vivifying inspiration of modern genius.34

In much more common use, however, were el pueblo, los pueblos, and soberanía popular, their relation to political representation, their implications for the indigenous population (now formally equal citizens of a single

31 Indicación dirigida por la regencia del Imperio a Su Majestad la Soberana Junta Provisional (Mexico City, 1821), cited in Erika Pani, “Ciudadanos, cuerpos, intereses. Las incertidumbres de la representación. Estados Unidos, 1776-​1789. México, 1808-​1828,” Historia Mexicana 53, no. 1 (2003): 93. 32 Diario de las Sesiones del Congreso Constituyente de la Federación Mexicana (Mexico City, 1824), 517–​18. 33 Erika Pani, “Misión imposible: la construcción de la representación política en México, siglo XIX,” Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research 20, no. 1 (2014): 36–​49. 34 “Constitutive Acts of the Mexican Federation 21 of January, 1824,” in Laws of Texas, ed. H. P. N. Gammel, 10 vols. (Austin TX, 1899), 1:69.

308  Re-imagining Democracy republic) and how they might be moderated in the interests of order. Indirect elections were expected to help with this.35 Within a decade, nonetheless, a history of this period would be written in terms of a new view of “democracy” conceived as a bottom-​up political force—​not a source of disorder, but of progressive transformation. The account in question—​the Ensayo histórico de las revoluciones de México, desde 1808 hasta 1830 (1831–​1832)—​was the work of Lorenzo de Zavala, whose speech on the opening of the congress has just been cited.36 Zavala used democracy interchangeably with “popular party” and “popular government” and made this party, or as we might say movement, the central protagonist of his book: driving the insurgency, providing a progressive and patriotic element in the politics of the 1820s, and holding the keys to Mexico’s future as a modern republic to match its northern counterpart.37 Writing to counter a recent history commissioned by Fernando VII to prepare the Spanish public for his re-​conquest, in which Mexico’s insurgents were presented as an isolated minority of malcontents, “a ferocious democracy, the sole and inexorable enemies of the Spanish throne and the empire of reason,” Zavala set out to show that a much broader social upheaval—​a patriotic and progressive revolution—​lay behind the revolt against Spain and the politics of the 1820s.38 The 1820s throughout the Americas brought a flowering of popular politics fueled by a free press, the formation of civic militia, and an influx of Cuban and European political refugees. In Mexico this democratic moment was intensified by anticipation of a Spanish re-​conquest.39 “Popular” forces coalesced in 1825 around the York Masonic lodge, promoted by United 35 Eugenia Roldán, “‘Pueblo’ y ‘Pueblos’ en México, 1750-​1850: un ensayo de historia conceptual,” Araucaria 9, no. 17, (2007): 268–​88. 36 Son of a rural Yucatan notary, Zavala (1788–​1836) was involved in the independence movement from the start, forming the “Sanjuanes” autonomist tertulia in Mérida and establishing the peninsular’s first Masonic lodge in association with counterparts in Campeche, New Orleans, and Havana, for which he was imprisoned in San Juan Ulúa between 1814 and 1817. With the restoration of the constitution in 1820, he was elected to represent Yucatan at the Cortes in Madrid, going on to play an important part in the politics of the First Republic as a member of both constituent conventions (chairing the second) in 1823–​1824, senator for the capital in 1825–​1827, and governor of the state of Mexico in 1827–​1828 and 1834–​1835. 37 Zavala, Ensayo histórico, Vols. 1 and 2, passim. 38 Ibid., vol. 1, p. 5. 39 Rafael Rojas, La escritura de la independencia (Mexico City, 2003); Torcuato Di Tella, National Popular Politics in Early Independent Mexico, 1820-​1847 (Albuquerque, NM, 1996), 155–​218; Richard Warren, Vagrants and Citizens: Politics and the Masses in Mexico City from Colony to Republic (Lanham, MD, 2007), 75–​124; Rosalina Ríos Zúñiga, “Popular Uprising and Political Culture in Zacatecas: The Sombrerete Uprisings (1829),” Hispanic American Historical Review 87, no. 3 (2007): 499–​536.

Democracy in Mexico  309 States envoy Joel Poinsett; Zavala played a leading role. The aim was to square up to the Scottish Rite (Escocés) Lodge, introduced by Spanish officers in 1820. Whereas the Escocéses attracted creoles from the regular army who had fought against the insurgency (Iturbidistas, constitutional monarchists, and members of the clergy), by contrast Yorkinos enrolled officers who had fought for independence (municipal employees, members of the civic militias, the liberal professions, and el pueblo representing artisans and the like).40 Benefiting from popular Hispanophobia, Yorkinos proved more effective at mobilizing the urban masses through popular leaders at the parish level; their nationwide network of lodges totaled around 130 by 1828. Escoceses struggled to compete. The first presidential succession presented this “popular” alliance with its greatest test. As the 1828 election approached, both parties turned to armed persuasion. Yorkinos organized “armed petitions” presented by civic militias, calling for compliance with the Public Employees Law which prohibited Spaniards from holding public office until Spain recognized Mexico’s independence.41 Provincial Escoceses however benefited from central government backing in taking state electoral colleges, enabling their leader Manuel Gómez Pedraza, minister of war, narrowly to defeat the former insurgent Guerrero (eleven states against nine). This result plunged the republic into crisis. As Yorkinos in the provinces took to arms, Gómez Pedraza intensified military and police pressure on their governors and legislatures. Repression in the capital failed to contain unrest, culminating in early December when thousands from the poorer barrios marched on the main square, sacked and burned the Parián market, symbol of Spanish commercial power, and drove the outgoing president to flight.42 Apocalyptic accounts of the Parián sacking by the “sans-​culottes” of Mexico City’s baja democracia would thereafter haunt conservative memory.43 The succession crisis brought to a close Yorkino attempts to construct electoral politics upon a popular urban base.44 40 Lorenzo de Zavala, Juicio imparcial sobre los acontecimientos de México en 1828-​1829 (New York, 1830), 10. For paeans to democracy by other Yorkinos, see Alfredo Ávila, “El Partido Popular en México,” Historia y Política, no. 11 (2004): 35–​64. 41 Harold Sims, The Expulsion of Mexico’s Spaniards 1821-​1836 (Pittsburgh PA,1990), 19; Frederick Shaw, Poverty and Politics in Mexico City, 1824-​1854 (Gainesville, University of Florida PhD dissertation, 1975), 315–​54; Pedro Santoni, “Lucas Balderas Popular Leader and Patriot,” in The Human Tradition in Mexico, ed. Jeffrey Pilcher (Wilmington, DE, 2002), 41–​56. 42 Silvia Arrom, “Popular Politics in Mexico City: The Parián Riot, 1828,” Hispanic American Historical Review 68, no. 2 (1988): 245–​68. 43 Zavala, Juicio imparcial, 19–​20. 44 José Antonio Aguilar Rivera, ed., Las Elecciones y el Gobierno Representativo en México (1810-​ 1910) (Mexico City, 2011), 53.

310  Re-imagining Democracy These events set the scene for Zavala’s history. Though he never faltered in his belief that Mexico was irrevocably on course for a democratic future, Zavala concluded that it would take many more revolutions for democracy to be achieved. His summary of the events just described shows where he saw grounds for hope: “the secret instinct that impelled the masses and popularized the party, the principal motive and constant agent of the continuing protests, was and is the desire of the people to establish absolute equality, in spite of the state of society, and democratic liberty, in spite of differences in culture” even if in practice their aspirations were blocked by ambitious military men and the church.45 A journey through the United States in 1830–​1831 brought home to Zavala the gulf separating the two republics and the obstacles Mexico faced before it could fulfil the democratic ideals of its constitution.46 Only his belief in the inevitability of revolution gave him hope: “Revolutions cannot be halted whenever judged convenient. They are torrents which sweep all before them.”47 His subsequent involvement in the Texas federalist uprising—​for which he was rewarded with the vice-​presidency of the rebel republic—​ squared with this providential view. He anticipated decades of conflict but prophesied that eventually, in the center and south, “a few generous and enlightened patriots . . . will lift their fellow citizens to the level of the adopted [republican] institutions and . . . the American [meaning the republican] system will obtain a complete though bloody victory.” “The indigenous class, until now debased and vilified” was one element that he saw as in need of elevation.48 It was not immediately apparent that the 1828 election and its aftermath marked a turning point—​Guerrero took office as president in April 1829. Yet in practice, a conservative backlash soon gathered force. Within a few months the former insurgent was ejected from office by his vice-​president, Anastasio Bustamante.49 An income qualification to vote and a property qualification for standing for public office were introduced, “armed petitions” were banned, opposition newspapers shut down, Yorkino ministers and congressmen were intimidated, imprisoned, or exiled, and governors were

45 Zavala, Ensayo Político, 2:100–​101, original italics. 46 Lorenzo de Zavala, Journey to the United States of the North of America (Houston, TX, 2005), 36, 193. 47 Zavala, Ensayo Político, Vol. 1, 300, original italics. 48 Zavala, Journey, 195. 49 Anna, Forging Mexico, 228.

Democracy in Mexico  311 removed from office. The law proscribing secret societies was used to break the popular party’s hold on local power.50 As before, the fiercest resistance came from federalist movements in the south. Guerrero took to arms in support but was captured and summarily executed in February 1831. His extrajudicial killing while still president (though suspended), followed by the execution of his Michoacán ally Juan José Codallos in May, with both men reviled in the conservative press for their African ancestry, produced cults of heroic martyrdom that inspired rebel movements over the next quarter-​century.51 Though federalists did not triumph, their resistance forced an armistice in December 1832, brokered by Antonio López de Santa Anna—​whose political influence derived from his links to the Veracruz merchant group. This entailed pardons for all political offences committed since 1828, and called state and federal elections for 1833. These went relatively well for the popular party: over the next eighteen months the liberal doctor Valentín Gómez Farías alternated with Santa Anna in the presidency, and in that role gave the country a foretaste of the reform program—​involving forced sale of the church’s properties and the introduction of religious tolerance—​ that would transform relations between church and state after 1855. Military commanders were placed under the authority of state governors and dismissed if they rebelled, while state militias were strengthened as guarantors of state sovereignty. The death sentence for political offences was abolished.52 During this short reformist interlude, “democracy” was invoked as the leitmotif of an official program. El Demócrata, a semi-​official mouthpiece published daily for nine months in 1833–​1834, publicized the reform agenda, promoted radical candidates for congress and the supreme court, and featured articles on religious toleration and public education.53 Yet the influence of army and church was soon demonstrated, and in the summer of 1834 Santa Anna placed himself at the head of a religión y fueros (religion and privileges) uprising backed by landowners and merchants, 50 Michael Costeloe, La Primera república federal de México (1824–​1835) (Mexico City, 1975), 274; Anna, Forging Mexico, 230–​31. 51 Margaret Chowning, “Elite Families and Popular Politics in Early Nineteenth-​ Century Michoacán: The Strange Case of Juan José Codallos and the Censored Genealogy,” The Americas 55, no. 1 (1998): 35–​61; María del Carmen Vázquez, “Las reliquias y sus héroes,” Estudios de Historia Moderna y Contemporánea de México, no. 30 (2005): 63–​70; Zavala, Ensayo Político, Vol. 1, 46. 52 Anna, Forging Mexico, 257–​60. 53 Iñigo Fernández, “El Liberalismo católico en la prensa mexicana de la primera mitad del siglo XIX (1833-​1857),” Historia 396, 4, no.1 (2014): 66–​67; Donald Stevens, Mexico in the Time of Cholera (Albuquerque, NM, 2019), 198–​99.

312  Re-imagining Democracy many of whom were now investing in mechanized industry behind protective tariffs.54 Gómez Farías left for the north, new elections were convoked, and federalist administrations were removed. A constituent congress overwhelmingly populated by conservatives, army officers, and clergy drafted a new constitution which was approved in December 1836. Influenced by Sieyès, Burke, and Constant, the highly centralized “Constitution of the Seven Laws” was designed to place the representative system in the hands of hombres de bien and gente de orden.55 Helping draft the document, leading conservative Lucas Alamán echoed Burke’s assertion that “a complete democracy is the most shameless thing in the world,” insisting that: The only positive quality that can exist in a democracy, the only sure way of ensuring a moderate exercise of such gigantic power, is property (. . .) or if political society is seen as a conventional company, each individual must be represented . . . in proportion to the capital he has put into it.56

The small elite group who drafted the new constitution saw the principal failing of its predecessor as its dependence upon—​despite drawing heavily from the American constitution—​the French (1791) and Spanish (1812) constitutions with their weak executives and over-​mighty assemblies. In the new constitution, suffrage was severely restricted (by property, income, age, and literacy); sites for the exercise of popular sovereignty were curtailed (sovereign states became administrative departments, civic militias were disbanded, and municipalities with populations of less than 8,000 were suppressed); the hierarchy between territorial entities was reformed (departmental governors were chosen by the center, membership of departmental juntas—​former state congresses—​was limited to six, and municipalities were placed under appointed prefects and sub-​prefects); and the balance between the powers was shifted as a new entity, the Supreme Conservative Power (SCP), was brought into being. This “fourth power” was intended to prevent the others from exceeding their competence. It could depose presidents, suspend congresses, annul laws, and alter judicial sentences. Answerable only to “God and public opinion,” it was supposed to channel the will of the nation 54 Anna, Forging Mexico, 260–​62; Margarita Urías, “Militares y comerciantes en México, 1828-​ 1846: las mercancías de la nacionalidad,” Historias, no. 6 (1984): 49–​69. 55 Lucas Alamán, Obras. Documentos diversos, 4 vols. (Mexico City, 1946), 2:45; Catherine Andrews, “In the Pursuit of Balance. Lucas Alamán’s Proposals for Constitutional Reform (1830-​ 1835),” Historia Constitucional (revista electrónica) (Oviedo) no. 8 (2007): 13–​37 56 Alamán, Obras, vol. 2, 144.

Democracy in Mexico  313 and to end the cycle of pronunciamientos that had plagued politics since independence.57

Changing the Rules: Democracy from Centralism to Reform, 1836–​1867 The new constitution did not solve Mexico’s problems. There was continuing debate about how to change the rules of the political game to better effect. In some respects, the terrain of thought and practice did shift, though old themes continued to repeat. Since independence, “democracy” had been associated especially with the federalist cause. For some, this was reason enough to reject it. Vecinos of the town of Tepetitán (Tabasco) declared in July 1835—​during the debates that resulted in the new constitution—​that they had become “convinced that the democratic system established in the Mexican nation [was] far from producing the benefits expected of it”; they called for the re-​establishment of the “aristocratic system to see if by that means the ruined Republic might improve its luck.”58 Similarly, once the new constitution was in place, Puebla’s departmental assembly in 1838 warned against attempts by “apologists of democracy” to return the country to “the tragic system of 1824” based on “chimerical ideas of the Nineteenth Century.”59 Nonetheless, centralism also failed to deliver. Mexico became a byword for decline and disorder, pitied internationally, offering an open door to US expansionism and a target for renewed colonial adventurism, as in France’s blockade and bombardment of Veracruz in November 1838. The “Central Republic” (1836–​1846) witnessed ten presidents (eight army officers and two civilians) and four congresses elected under four different variants of centralism between 1835 and 1846.60 Resentment was expressed in a variety of destabilizing challenges: departmental secessions (most notably Texas and Yucatán); peasant-​based, “popular federalist” rebellions in former heartlands of insurgency during the later 57 Anna, Forging Mexico, 261; Warren, Vagrants and Citizens, 144–​45; Michael Costeloe, The Central Republic in Mexico, 1835–​1846: Hombres de Bien in the Age of Santa Anna (Cambridge, UK, 1993), 93–​120; Catherine Andrews, “El legado de las siete leyes: una reevaluación de las aportaciones del constitucionalismo centralista a la historia constitucional mexicana,” Historia Mexicana 68 (2019): 1539–​91. 58 The Pronunciamiento in Independent Mexico, 1821–​1876, https://​arts.st-​andr​ews.ac.uk/​pronu​ ncia​mien​tos/​ 59 Ibid. 60 Costeloe, The Central Republic, 93–​297.

314  Re-imagining Democracy 1830s and early 40s;61 and challenges to and even removal of executives in 1844 and 1846 by moderate liberal congressional majorities. From exile, Gómez Farías repeatedly drew on Masonic loyalties to coordinate regional insurrections and rally the remnants of local leadership in street protests in the capital, the most spectacular of which, in the summer of 1840, provoked twelve days of artillery bombardment and left over 1,500 dead.62 In this context a young diplomat from Campeche, José María Gutiérrez, in a private though much commented-​upon letter to the president, called for a national convention to break the stalemate. He proposed that constitutional monarchy should be on the table for discussion. He did not think that the United States provided a useful model; its institutions worked only in the context of its “Anglo-​Saxon” history.63 Warning that continued disorder was courting foreign intervention, he urged: . . . the nation to direct its view to the principle of a democratic monarchy, as. . . the only means of seeing the peace we all yearn for reborn among us.64

This proposal, though appealing to local traditions, also aligned with its time, reflecting a broader renewal of interest among liberal moderates in democracy as an element in a mixed constitution, following the Orleanist revolution in France in 1830 and the restoration of constitutional government in Spain in 1834.65 At this moment in Mexico, nonetheless, republicanism was sacrosanct, associated with a nation forged in the independence struggle.66 Minister of War José María Tornel argued that it was not possible to alter Mexicans’ “adherence to democratic institutions and detestation of monarchy’; he claimed that to his countrymen, ‘those stars of the North . . . are the most perfect symbol of social regeneration and emancipation” to whom they would always turn from their own struggles and defeats.67 61 Ibid., 112–​13; Michael Ducey, A Nation of Villages: Riot and Rebellion in the Mexican Huasteca, 1750-​1850 (Tucson, AZ, 2004), 94–​141; Peter Guardino, Peasants, Politics and the Formation of Mexico’s National State: Guerrero, 1800 -​1857 (Stanford, CA, 1996), 110–​77. 62 Michael Costeloe, “A Pronunciamiento in Nineteenth-​Century Mexico: ‘15 de Julio de 1840’,” Mexican Studies 4, no. 2 (1988): 245–​64. 63 José María Gutiérrez, Carta dirigida al Escmo. Sr. Presidente de la República (Mexico City, 1840), 44–​53. 64 Ibid., 55. 65 Erika Pani, “La innombrable: monarquismo y cultura política en el México decimonónico,” ed. Brian Connaugthon, Prácticas Populares, cultura política y poder en México, siglo XIX (Mexico City, 2008), 369–​93. 66 Costeloe, The Central Republic, 170–​72. 67 Víctor Villavicencio, El camino del monarquismo mexicano decimonónico: momentos, proyectos y personajes (México, UNAM, PhD dissertation, 2015), 323.

Democracy in Mexico  315 French Doctrinaire thought, idiosyncratically represented in the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville, offered a reading of the genius of US institutions which was, arguably, more applicable. Translated into Spanish in 1837 and dispatched to bookshops in Mexico, Democracy in America clearly influenced debates on reforming the constitution in the congress that met in 1842.68 Still, there was widespread doubt about whether Mexico could safely follow US example in basing power on the mass of the people. When Santa Anna shut down congress, swayed by those who feared a return to “the cruel and intolerant demagogy of 1828 and 1833,”69 a young deputy from Guadalajara denied that was the reformers’ aim: on the contrary, he said, they aimed to “concentrate power in the middle class to avoid the evils of the upper and lower classes.”70 This suggests more a European than US model: celebration of the potential of middle-​class power was emergent in both French and British liberal political discourse at this time, providing a new way of thinking about how a “rational democracy” might work, which appealed to that section among Mexican liberals who now started to distinguish themselves as Moderados. Mariano Otero was the main spokesman for the Moderados.71 His principal debts were to Montesquieu, Burke, and Constant, but he also looked to Tocqueville. In an Independence Day speech in 1843, he proclaimed the “Democratic Republic” to be “a fait accompli. Equality and freedom are not proclaimed in books but etched deeply in the force of human events, embodied in the spirit and interests of successive generations”; in Mexico they were a legacy of the revolutions of independence.72 Federalism moreover represented the only possible way of governing vast territories.73 Yet it remained a challenge to realize the promise of democracy. Observing that an “aristocracy of merit” had failed to emerge from within the church, army, merchant, or landed classes, or even from among former insurgent patriots, Otero looked for a better future to the rise of the middle class, which, in “a nation in which the upper classes do not exist or are already weak, and in

68 José Antonio Aguilar Rivera, “Tocqueville in Mexico,” Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies 26, no. 2 (2020): 175–​88; Costeloe, The Central Republic, 198–​208. 69 Quoted in Costeloe, The Central Republic, 210. 70 Ibid., 212. 71 Ibid., 200; Otero, Ensayo sobre el verdadero estado de la cuestión social y política que se agita en la República Mexicana (1843) (Guadalajara, 1952), xvi–​xxi. 72 Consejo Editorial del H. Cámara de Diputados, ed., Obras Completas de Mariano Otero (Mexico City, 2019), 193. 73 Otero, Ensayo, 126–​34.

316  Re-imagining Democracy which the lower class is reduced to nothing” was destined to become “the principal element in society.”74 With the onset of the Mexican-​American war in 1846, radicals (now named Puros) and Moderados finally came together to depose General Paredes y Arrillaga—​who had been poised to restore the monarchy—​end the Central Republic, and restore the 1824 constitution. Over the next six years mostly Moderado-​led administrations embarked on a program of reforms to expand the size of congress, to increase the prestige and authority of the senate, to re-​establish the civic militia (now the National Guard) as a right and duty of citizenship, to increase the authority of the supreme court, and to elevate individual human rights to constitutional status protected by judicial review (juicio de amparo).75 Military defeat in February 1848, and the social and ethnic unrest that followed, insulated Mexicans from the democratic euphoria which swept Europe and other parts of the Atlantic world following the fall of the July monarchy in France. However, the speed and scale of the defeat prompted even conservatives to reconsider their rejection of the democratic institutions established in 1824. In his account of the war, conservative diarist Carlos María Bustamante admitted that: In ordinary times, frankly speaking, I would have believed that the greatest calamity for Mexico would be to give it overly democratic institutions, for which it is not prepared; but at present there is no other resource left to excite the people and nationalize the war.76

The European revolutions did however excite young Puros. In the presidential election year 1850, nineteen-​year-​old journalist Francisco Zarco launched the tri-​weekly El Demócrata to promote a civilian candidate and set out its creed: We know and deplore all the ills of our country, but we will never blame them on the democratic institutions that some have trampled on and others have ensured are not understood. We believe, on the contrary, that our 74 Ibid., 48–​49. 75 Consejo Editorial, ed., Obras Completas, 282–​91, 413–​18; José Antonio Aguilar Rivera, “Los abogados mexicanos y Alexis de Tocqueville,” Biblioteca Jurídica Virtual de la UNAM (Mexico City, 2013), 289–​317. 76 Carlos María de Bustamante, El nuevo Bernal Díaz del Castillo, o sea, historia de la invasión de los angloamericanos en México, 2 vols. (Mexico City, 1847), 2:174.

Democracy in Mexico  317 misfortunes come from having stopped halfway, that we need to follow in everything the true spirit of democracy; that we must reform everything that is contrary to it, that we must try to advance and always advance, so that freedom and equality are not just mere words written in constitutions.77

Nonetheless, later that year, in accordance its prediction that democracy could not prevail until the influence of the army was removed from politics, El Demócrata was shut down and its editor imprisoned as part of a wave of intimidation of opposition journalists and legislators. Conservatives (newly formed as a party) for their part saw grounds first for fear, then for hope in European developments. They echoed the condemnation of democracy voiced in 1849 by the arch-​Doctrinaire François Guizot in his De la democracia en Francia, published in Mexico City by Rafael de Rafael, Catalan editor of the conservative party newspaper El Universal. In 1853, this paper was contrastingly quick to welcome Louis Napoleon’s seizure of power and his creation of the Second Empire, which it said marked the “final defeat of the democratic idea, vanquished on its own ground and by its own weapons.”78 Nonetheless, Mexican conservatives were not able to achieve a similar success. They lost the presidential election in 1850, and during the next decade failed to find ways of mobilizing popular support beyond the cities, even as liberals expanded their administrative control of rural, especially indigenous, areas—​a “second conquest” in the view of Carmagnani.79 These administrative gains provided an important foundation for the military and political success of liberals under the Benito Juárez presidency (1857–​1872). While he was civil governor of the largely indigenous state of Oaxaca between 1848 and 1852, Juárez, of rural Zapotec parentage, had commented on: The democratic custom of (towns) electing officials by themselves who under the name of mayors and aldermen took care of the police, the

77 Miguel Ángel Granados, Francisco Zarco y la libertad de expresión (Mexico City, 2019), 6. 78 Edward Shawcross, France, Mexico and Informal Empire in Latin America, 1820-​ 1867 (Basingstoke, 2018),165; José Antonio Aguilar Rivera, Ausentes del Universo (Mexico City, 2012), 301–​3. 79 Marcello Carmagnani, El Regreso de los dioses (Mexico City, 1988); Erika Pani, “Entre la espada y la pared. El partido conservador (1848-​1853),” in Partidos, facciones y otras calamidades, 76–​106.

318  Re-imagining Democracy preservation of peace, and the administration of communal funds (. . .) this beneficial custom was strengthened by the federal system.80

The centralist system “which abolished those corporations” had incurred “universal dislike” in such towns, he observed, whereas its reverse with the re-​establishment of the federal system had been welcomed.81 Nicolás Pizarro was among those who, through the middle decades of the century, applied himself to imagining new institutional foundations on which democracy might more safely rest. He combined a literary with an administrative career and ultimately played an important part in the Reforma as a supporter of Juárez. A disciple of Rousseau, Fourier, Lamennais, and Proudhon, Pizarro made his way through the same educational institutions as the indigenous writer Ignacio Altamirano.82 Fertile publicists, the two wrote morally improving novels set in rural areas during the mid-​century civil wars, catechisms, histories pitched at the moral and political education of youth, Independence Day speeches, and tracts on constitutional reform. At the age of just nineteen, in 1849 Pizarro published his first political catechism, Catecismo Político del Pueblo, in Toluca, capital of the state of Mexico (a revised version of which was endorsed for use in all the nation’s schools in the era of reform). Addressing schoolchildren in “plain language,” Pizarro criticized the existing system of indirect elections (at that point being conducted on the broad franchise specified in the restored 1824 constitution). He claimed that the effect of an indirect process was to “introduce an eminently aristocratic element, that is, intermediate classes between the people and functionaries, into the very life of democracy, which consists in elections being popular.”83 He favored direct elections, but on a franchise restricted to the literate: anything wider would “endanger public order, as the history of nations testifies.”84 This was a variant on a French Doctrinaire recipe—​recently superseded (in favor of direct but universal suffrage) in France itself. The Catecismo also argued the case for more participatory local

80 “Exposición al Soberano Congreso de Oaxaca, al abrir sus sesiones, Oaxaca, Julio 2 de 1848,” in Benito Juárez, Exposiciones (Como se gobierna), ed. Ángel Pola (Mexico City:1902), 216. 81 Ibid. 82 Carlos Illades and Adriana Sandoval, eds., Nicolás Pizarro, Obras, Catecismos (Mexico City, 2005), vii; Erica Pani, “‘Para Halagar la Imaginación’; Las Repúblicas de Nicolás Pizarro,” in El Republicanismo en Hispanoamérica, ed. Aguilar Rivera and Rojas, 424–​46. 83 Illades, Nicolás Pizarro, Obras, Catecismos, 19. 84 Ibid., 14.

Democracy in Mexico  319 government: for enhancing “municipal power” that was currently “non-​ existent.” It proposed that sub-​prefects should also be directly elected.85 Following the revolution of Ayutla in 1854—​a broadly based provincial uprising that initially attracted all parties opposed to Santa Anna’s dictatorship (1853–​1855)—​Pizarro continued to search for ways of combining “most intelligently the democratic and the aristocratic elements” so as to yield “rational liberty for the people, a just distinction of talent and of property, and greater strength in the government.”86 He proposed to the constituent congress (1856–​1857) to embed the “democratic principle” by enshrining universal human rights in the constitution: rights “to security, to property, to liberty of work . . . to liberty of thought and consequently of conscience; all those rights which a government should be expected to protect for even the most insignificant individual.” When it came to political rights, by contrast—​ rights to write and publish, to vote, to assemble in public places, to petition, to be armed and belong to the National Guard—​he thought these should be allocated on an “aristocratic principle”; they should not be “conceded to everyone in the same measure, because they can only be exercised with difficulty by the masses.”87 He continued to favor participatory provincial government, though not on the old federalist model, inasmuch as individual states had become “small family tyrannies.”88 He favored instead “Departmental Administrative Councils” under the president of the republic, both elected by direct popular vote. District capitals under directly elected prefects would provide sites for libraries and reading rooms to inform the public and refresh teachers from villages, as well as a space where the National Guard might parade and be reviewed.89 Free schools in all municipalities, equipped with moral and political catechisms, would prepare Mexicans for full citizenship.90 Pizarro’s views did not prevail. Instead, Puros—​who, buoyed up by the triumph in the revolution of Ayutla, dominated the new congress—​promoted an alternative solution to the same problem: how to give a voice to the people while containing fissiparous and populist forces. Their new constitution shared many features with that of 1824, though it endorsed a wider range of 85 Ibid., 30 86 Pizarro, “La Libertad en el Orden, Ensayo sobre derecho público, en que se resuelven algunas de las más vitales cuestiones que se agitan en México desde su Independencia” [Mexico City, 1855], in Illades and Sandoval, Pizarro, Obras, 43–​44. 87 Ibid., 55. 88 Ibid., 102. 89 Ibid., 102–​7. 90 Ibid., 138.

320  Re-imagining Democracy human rights, including for the first time freedom of worship. It confirmed the states’ shared sovereignty with the national government but abolished the senate (denounced for being “aristocratic”) and provided for universal male suffrage without restrictions. A motion to replace indirect with direct elections was defeated, and indirect elections endured, though now in two rather than three stages. Nonetheless, the introduction of one-​member electoral districts facilitated control of nominees from state and federal capitals, limited the representation of minorities (losing parties), and diminished the voice of municipalities and districts.91 It was at this point that the Mexican state became officially a “democratic republic.” “Democracy” was a key term for ascendant provincial radicals. Guadalajara’s Ignacio Vallarta hailed it thus in an Independence Day speech: Democracy, sacred institution that is nothing more than the gospel of governments: democracy, which is the requirement of civilization, democracy, which is the political future of the world, the symbol of the faith professed by the revolution of 1855 . . . only democracy, when understood, knows how to solve our great national problem, and knows how to mark the end of our outrageous disorder . . . only democracy is strong enough to prevent our ruin.92

In Mexico, he thought, democracy—​inasmuch as it unleashed popular energies—​was uniquely suited to responding to the chaos and destruction wrought by colonialism and conservative misrule.93 It was however a sterner form of liberalism that emerged ten years later, following foreign intervention and the imposition of Maximilian’s short-​ lived empire. In the restored republic, Juárez continued to invoke emergency powers he had judged necessary in the context of armed conflict, but now employed to curb the autonomy of states governed by fellow liberals.94 “Democracy” against this background was invoked by Juárez’s critics,

91 Alicia Hernández and Marcello Carmagnani, “La ciudadanía orgánica mexicana, 1850-​1910,” in Ciudadanía política y formación de las naciones: perspectivas históricas de América Latina, ed. Hilda Sábato (Mexico City, 1999), 371–​401; José Varela and Luis Medina, Elecciones, alternancia y democracia. España-​México, una reflexión comparativa (Madrid, 2000), 206–​7. 92 Manuel González, ed., Archivo inédito: Vallarta hombre y funcionario (Mexico City, 1993), 107. 93 Aguilar, “La redención democrática,” 109. 94 José Antonio Aguilar Rivera, El Manto liberal: los poderes de emergencia en México, 1821-​1876, (Mexico City, 2001).

Democracy in Mexico  321 protesting abuse of executive authority, rigged elections, and federal invasion of state sovereignty.95 Radical Ignacio Ramírez led the opposition to Juárez’s re-​election in 1868. A towering figure during the constituent congress in 1855–​1856, he had by now become disenchanted both with the regime and with liberal politics generally. He envisaged instead a future shaped by “direct democracy” with the expansion of civil society around “free and spontaneous association,” inspired by the “language of action,” and protected by a free press. He likened democracy to a “tempest”: . . . it floods, thunders, dazzles, wrecks. It confounds those who wish to organize it, as if it were a regiment, a religious community or Masonic lodge: democracy is individualism.

He did not think that this force could effectively be channeled through an electoral process. He considered popular elections organized by the “administrative power” a “farce,” because the “popular will” was never effectively expressed. Instead, elections involved a “regimentation of opinions,” a form of “social pupillage.” He cited Napoleon III’s abuse of universal suffrage in support of this case.96

Conclusion Continued interest in the analytical power of the binary aristocracy/​democracy was not unique to Mexico. But its recurrence in Mexican political discourse over a long period, to make a variety of points, is striking and suggests the wide and enduring appeal to the political classes of the view that in this vast territory, with its stark social divisions and ethnic diversity, popular power needed to be checked. Alongside that continuity, though, there were clearly important changes in the ways in which Mexican political actors and commentators talked about “democracy.” Initially, it was often a bogey word, and though it sometimes figured as a synonym for the republic that many came to favor (or accept as

95 Florencia Mallon, Peasant and Nation: The Making of Post-​Colonial Mexico and Peru (Berkeley, CA, 1994), 248–​56. 96 Elías Palti, La invención de una legitimidad (Mexico City, 2005), 381, 416.

322  Re-imagining Democracy inevitable), in more detailed accounts of institutional arrangements it was at first common to propose that democratic elements should be checked. From the 1820s it acquired new significance as a term for the popular movement, often envisaged as akin to a natural force, that had driven the recent course of Mexican history. At the same time, it became a partisan label: imputed to but also claimed by those who were happiest to celebrate such democratic forces and who were most inclined to try to work with them. Insofar as liberal republicans—​though always embattled and sometimes defeated—​managed to carry the day for much of the middle swathe of Mexico’s nineteenth century, Mexico’s “democratic” identity was repeatedly affirmed and ultimately enshrined in the republic’s very name. Yet it was widely agreed to be hard to found stable, progressive governance upon that force. In that context, Mexican commentators joined in pan-​Atlantic conversations about whether, where, and how democracy could be a force for good in the modern world.

14 Democracy, Pardos, and Slaves in Venezuela Luis Daniel Perrone

One of the most interesting aspects of the intellectual history of democracy in Venezuela is its connection with the issue of the freedom and equality of “pardos” (people of part black descent) and enslaved people. In a society where, from the late eighteenth century, these groups together made up the majority of the population, it is not surprising that discourses about republicanism and democracy sometimes engaged with their political and juridical condition. Between 1797 and 1869, it is possible to identify several different moments of articulation between democracy and arguments about freedom and equality for these social groups. In the 1797 papers of the abortive “Conspiracy of Picornell, Gual and España,” an exposition of the foundations of democracy and its relation to republicanism was presented alongside a proposal for concrete measures to bring about freedom and equality among whites, “pardos”, Indians, and blacks. The conspirators’ idea of democracy was radically egalitarian and incompatible with slavery. That political program was soon forgotten. During the ensuing “revolution of independence”—​which took place between 1810 and 1830—​the concept of democracy was, by comparison with other Spanish American revolutions, relatively common in Venezuelan political discourse. But when it was expounded or invoked, it was rarely if ever conjoined with explicit statements about the equality and freedom of “pardos” and enslaved people. Simón Bolívar, the main political and military leader during most of the period, became a staunch advocate of the abolition of slavery and was the chief defender of that measure between 1819 and 1826, but he did not derive his position from the principles of democracy. Indeed, he questioned

Luis Daniel Perrone, Democracy, Pardos, and Slaves in Venezuela In: Re-​imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–​1870. Edited by: Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, Joanna Innes, and Mark Philp, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/​oso/​9780197631577.003.0014

324  Re-imagining Democracy the viability of democracy as a political form in the circumstances of the day, instead favoring a republic ruled by (among others) magistrates for life and hereditary officials. During the period in which General José Antonio Páez was the most powerful and influential figure in national politics—​that is, between the separation of Venezuela from Colombia in 1830 and the rise to the presidency of José Tadeo Monagas in 1847—​“democracy” was invoked in only one dispute relating to “pardos”—​concerning their political affiliation. No instances have been found of it featuring in discussions that promoted the enfranchisement of enslaved people on principles of freedom and equality. In the 1850s “democracy” became a more prominent term in political discourse. At the same time, members of the Partido Liberal under the leadership of the brothers José Tadeo and José Gregorio Monagas—​ veterans of the wars of independence—​undertook an abolitionist campaign promoting the granting of freedom and equality to enslaved people, and did invoke democracy. This campaign eventuated in the drafting and approval by congress of the law that definitively abolished slavery in 1854, which was then approved by President José Gregorio Monagas. After that, however, statements that linked democracy with the freedom and equality of “pardos” and enslaved people again disappeared from public discourse, although individuals such as the aforementioned Páez continued to make positive claims about the democratic potential of “men of color.” This sequence of developments suggests changes over time in ideas about what democracy consisted in, intertwined with changing ideas about how urgent it was to address these forms of inequality and oppression.1

1 The concept of democracy was expressed in a variety of terminologies in Venezuelan political discourse during the period analyzed in this chapter. There were three main ways of presenting it: treating democracy as a synonym of republic; in the form “democratic republic,” in which democracy was an adjective modifying republic; and “democracy” alone, separated from any mention of the republic. These different terms were commonly used to refer to distinct notions of democracy. This chapter focuses primarily on the third form, democracy in the singular. For examples of these different conceptions of democracy in Venezuelan political discourse, see Luis Perrone, “El concepto de democracia en Venezuela desde la conformación de la Junta Conservadora de los Derechos de Fernando VII hasta la publicación de la Constitución federal (1810-​1811),” Revista de la Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas y Políticas 137 (2012): 65–​98.

Democracy, Pardos, and Slaves in Venezuela  325

Democracy and Pardos between the Conspiracy and the Revolution (1797–​1830) “Pardo” was the designation given to people who—​according to legal categorization or customary opinion in the eighteenth century—​were the descendants of either blacks or mulattoes on the one hand and whites, Indians, or mestizos on the other. By the end of the century they made up roughly 50% of the population in the captaincy general of Venezuela. Although they had occupations that occasionally yielded a substantial income, their labor was belittled by the elites as “mechanical” and “vile.” In addition, “pardo” people were barred from filling positions in the most important colonial institutions because they were deemed to lack “purity of blood” (limpieza de sangre).2 In 1797 Juan Bautista Picornell, a Spaniard of revolutionary inclination imprisoned in the port town of La Guaira, penned the Discurso a los americanos (“Speech to Americans”) in support of the republican conspiracy that was then being plotted in that town and in the capital, Caracas. The conspiracy was devised in a context of rising tension. During the previous few years, white creoles from old colonial families—​popularly known as mantuanos (families where women wore showy mantilla headdresses)—​had become uneasy about what they experienced as the growing irreverence of “pardos”. In that context, Picornell’s pamphlet could be seen as bringing a flame to combustible material, for he promised equality intertwined with democracy for “pardo” people, in a republican setting. Picornell affirmed the basic principles of republicanism and democracy, using the two terms almost interchangeably. He understood them to require an authority with an elective, collective, and temporary character, founded on virtue. He alleged that the Spanish monarchy had sown division and promoted hatred among the inhabitants of America in order to strengthen its tyranny. That made it important in practice as well as in principle to forge the most perfect union among “whites, Indians, ‘pardos’ and blacks” and to unfetter “natural equality,” under which all would look at each other as “sons of the same father, who was Adam, as brothers of Jesus Christ, and individuals in the same state”; this in turn would allow “fraternity” to flourish.3 By writing and disseminating this pamphlet, Picornell and his sponsors, well-​connected local men Gual and España, put 2 Yuleida Artigas, Los pardos en el orden institucional de la Provincia de Venezuela (1776-​1810) (Mérida, 2018), 109–​40. 3 Juan Bautista Picornell, “Discurso a los Americanos,” in Derechos del Hombre y del Ciudadano, ed. Pedro Grases (Caracas, 1959), 50–​51 (quoted in a footnote).

326  Re-imagining Democracy their own injunctions into action inasmuch as they strove to recruit people from diverse social backgrounds to their movement.4 The call to recognize equality between whites, Indians, “pardos” and blacks was spread by various means in the ordinances, songs, and symbols created by the conspirators. For instance, the Soneto americano (“American Sonnet”) included the following stanza: “The whites, the blacks/​the Indians, the pardos/​let’s all acknowledge/​that we are brothers,/​that we are all united/​ by the same interest/​to wage war/​against despotism.”5 The conspiracy’s flag displayed on its left side four colors that represented solidarity among socio-​ racial groups, blue being the color assigned to “pardos.” In linking republic and democracy with the equality of races, Picornell, Gual, and España probably drew on three sources of inspiration. First, Jacobin slogans, which linked democracy and republicanism while emphasizing the ideal of equality. The conspirators translated the French Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen of 1793 into Spanish; they adapted its principles to the circumstances of America and Venezuela, highlighting the need to do away with racial inequality.6 Second, revolutionary events in the Caribbean (above all in Saint Domingue), which connected the ideas and practices of popular government with the concession of legal and political rights to all races, especially to black people and “pardos.” The visit of French military men “of color” to Venezuelan ports, including the conspirators’ own La Guaira, was the theme of a pamphlet written by Picornell in prison, Diálogo entre un Moreno Teniente Coronel de la República Francesa y otro Moreno Español primo suyo. In this, a “pardo criollo” expressed his admiration for the “military insignias” carried by his “cousin, the French moreno” (mulatto), at which the latter explained that in his country “all are equal and free, and as such they could obtain political and military jobs without discrimination.”7 A third source took the form of direct contacts between French republican prisoners from the revolutionary war in Hispaniola (the island that contained both Saint Domingue and the Spanish Santo Domingo) and the leaders of the conspiracy. Between 1793 and 1795, Spanish forces sent at least 800 revolutionary soldiers to prison in La Guaira. According 4 Cristina Soriano, Tides of Revolution, Information, Insurgencies, and the Crisis of Colonial Rule in Venezuela (Albuquerque, NM, 2018), 159. 5 “Papeles de Cortés Campomanes. Soneto Americano,” in Casto Fulgencio López, ed., Juan Picornell y la Conspiración de Gual y España (Caracas, 1955), 376. 6 Pedro Grases, “La conspiración de Gual y España y el ideario de la independencia,” in Escritos selectos (Caracas, 1989), 29, 48. 7 Casto Fulgencio López, Juan Picornell y la conspiración de Gual y España (Caracas, 1955), 80.

Democracy, Pardos, and Slaves in Venezuela  327 to the testimonies of witnesses and the authorities, Gual and España’s idea of establishing a republic grew out of conversations with these prisoners.8 The French soldiers they spoke to may well have dreamed of a republic or democracy, characterized by strong egalitarian and abolitionist tendencies. Suggestively, a letter in the name of the French republic was sent to the captain-​general of Venezuela on May 8, 1796, recommending the abolition of slavery in his jurisdiction since “our new brothers the Africans know their rights and duties as other citizens.”9 The failure of this conspiracy shut off this route to building a form of democracy premised on equality between “pardos” and the other groups. Neither republics nor democracies were much discussed again until the beginning of the revolutionary process in 1810, when insurgents proclaimed Venezuela to be a republic and ultimately prevailed. From that date until 1830, though “pardos” sometimes figured in political discourse and we continue to find “republic” equated with “democracy,” rarely if ever did writers emphasize the republic or democracy’s socio-​racial implications. Racial equality was in practice a concern: traditional racial privileges came under attack, alongside other aspects of the former regime. The 1811 constitution banned the use of the term “pardos.” “Pardos” gained the opportunity to study at the Universidad de Caracas and to reach the same military ranks as whites.10 Some public speeches made during the independence struggle announced and welcomed the advent of equality for “pardos.” But this theme was not usually linked to democracy, however specified. The pioneering articles about “Politics” by the lawyer and intellectual Miguel José Sanz, published in the periodical Semanario de Caracas, illustrate the very general terms in which equality in the republics, in this context equated with democracies, was discussed. Sanz argued that an aristocratic republic was a contradiction in terms, because such a body was not committed to upholding the interests of all its citizens. Only republics that were 8 Ramón Aizpurua Aguirre, “La conspiración por dentro: Un análisis de las declaraciones de la conspiración de La Guaira de 1797,” in Gual y España, la independencia frustrada, ed. Juan Carlos Rey et al. (Caracas, 2007), 244–​45; Carmen Michelena, Luces revolucionarias. De la rebelión de Madrid (1795) a la rebelión de La Guaira (1797) (Caracas, 2010), 196. 9 “Instrucción que debe servir de regla al Agente Interino del Gobierno Francés destinado a la parte Española de la Isla de Santo Domingo,” in Documentos relativos a la revolución de Gual y España, ed. Héctor García Chuecos (Caracas, 1949), 82–​84. 10 Alejandro Gómez, “La Revolución de Caracas desde abajo. Impensando la primera independencia de Venezuela desde la perspectiva de los Libres de Color, y de las pugnas político-​ bélicas que se dieron en torno a su acceso a la ciudadanía, 1793-​1815,” in Nuevo Mundo, Mundos Nuevos (2008), available on-​line: https://​journ​als.open​edit​ion.org/​nue​vomu​ndo/​32982?lang=​en.; Ildefonso Leal, Historia de la UCV (Caracas, 1981), 115.

328  Re-imagining Democracy democracies fulfilled the promise of the name. These were characterized by a love of equality and by respect for the rights of all citizens. But the implications of this for racial distinctions were not spelled out, nor were the effects of any such implication explored. Similarly the (apparently pseudonymous) William Burke’s articles on the nature of republics, published in the paper Gazeta de Caracas between 1810 and 1812, hailed equality of rights as a fundamental principle of a free and democratic republic but did not highlight the need to bring about, or the challenges entailed in bringing about, racial equality.11 The Sociedad Patriótica de Caracas (Caracas Patriotic Society), a political club set up at the end of 1810 by prominent figures of two generations, Francisco de Miranda and Simón Bolívar, again did not make any such link explicit in its public pronouncements, even though discourses and actions by the members could be taken to imply that they connected “democracy” with socio-​racial equality. The Society’s publications discussed republics (equated once again with democracies) and their implications for equality.12 Thus, an article published in the Society’s organ El Patriota de Venezuela claimed that a good legislator would say to men, “you are equal by nature” even while reminding them that “society requires a hierarchical order of citizens in the political realm.” They identified “natural equality” as in principle a pillar of “democratic government.”13 The Society also showed willingness in practice to accept the attendance of “pardos,” free blacks, and also women at its sessions, and attempted to communicate its political credo directly to “pardos.”14 One instance of this was the speech given by one of its members, the lawyer and revolutionary Francisco Espejo, at the Church of Altagracia in Caracas—​ commonly known as the “pardos” ’ parish church—​in which he asserted that “love of one’s motherland” infuses a spirit of equality among all citizens because, inasmuch as they benefit from “equal rights, prerogatives and civil

11 Luis Daniel Perrone Galicia, “Los gobiernos populares en el pensamiento político de la Independencia (1810-​1830),” Boletín de la Academia de Ciencias Políticas y Sociales 160 (Caracas, 2020) : 154–​58. 12 Luis Perrone, “El concepto de democracia en Venezuela,” 85–​90. 13 “Reflexiones sobre los obstáculos que se oponen al establecimiento sólido del gobierno democrático en las provincias de Venezuela y medios de removerlo,” El Patriota de Venezuela, no. 3, in Testimonios de la época emancipadora (Caracas, 2011), 393–​94. 14 Carole Leal Curiel, “Tensiones republicanas: de patriotas, aristócratas y demócratas. El club de la Sociedad Patriótica de Caracas,” in, Ensayos sobre la nueva historia política en América Latina, ed. Guillermo Palacios (Mexico City, 2007), 254–​60.

Democracy, Pardos, and Slaves in Venezuela  329 representation,” they end up esteeming one another as “true brothers.”15 Still, the rhetoric remained abstract and general. The club’s discourses and practices concerning democracy and equality, and its conduct in relation to “pardos,” made Juan Germán Roscio anxious. He was a former university professor and one of the leaders of the government of the first Venezuelan republic (1811–​1812). In a letter to the Venezuelan jurist Andrés Bello, then representing the revolutionary government in London, Roscio reported that recently there had appeared on the walls of Caracas “innumerable painted inscriptions cheering the democratic system adopted in the regulations of the chamber of representatives” (what regulations he had in mind exactly is not clear). In Roscio’s view, those inscriptions showed “a certain effervescence for the system of equality or democracy, originating in the patriotic society.” He also informed Bello of the imprisonment of some “pardo” individuals who had met with the military officer Fernando Galindo to talk about “matters of government and about unlimited equality and freedom.”16 It is clear that it remained possible for both those who hoped for and those who feared “democracy” to connect it with equality, and for equality to be taken to have racial implications, even though is also notable that Patriotic Society members did not spell out these links. In other settings the issue of “pardos” was approached still more cautiously. On July 31, 1811, a few days after the declaration of independence, the constituent assembly held a closed-​door meeting to define the future of “pardos” in the new state.17 Some members of the assembly argued that implementing the juridical equality of “pardos” should be left to the discretion of provincial governments. But Francisco Javier Yanes, representative of Araure (in the plains, with a largely “pardo” population) and member of the Patriotic Society, pushed for the final decision on the matter to be taken by the central, confederate government. Yanes argued that if the national congress did not take into its own hands such vital legislative matters, it would, in effect, leave each province to adopt the form of government that suited it best. He argued that it would “be a step towards anarchy if Barinas, for instance, establish a 15 Francisco Espejo, “Discurso en que se manifiesta el verdadero origen de las virtudes políticas y morales que caracterizan a los republicanos, pronunciado en la sociedad patriótica de Caracas, en honorable memoria de su consocio el ciudadano Lorenzo de Buroz,” El Patriota de Venezuela, 2, in Testimonios, 369. 16 “Roscio a Andrés Bello,” Caracas, 9 de junio de 1811, in Epistolario de la Primera República, 3 vols. (Caracas, 1961), 2:197–​99; Carole Leal Curiel, “Tensiones republicanas,” 243. 17 Inés Quintero, “El dilema de los pardos. Contradicciones y limitaciones para el ejercicio de la igualdad política (Cádiz y Venezuela, 1810-​1812),” Histórica 34 (2010): 47–​51.

330  Re-imagining Democracy monarchy, Mérida an oligarchy, Trujillo a theocracy, Cumaná an aristocracy, and Caracas a democracy” (his remarks seem to have reflected the way in which members of the Patriotic Society conceived of the local governments of these places). Interestingly, Juan Bermúdez, representative of Cumaná—​ presumably uncomfortable with Yanes’ identification of “aristocracy” with his constituency—​stated that his own constituents wanted “democracy but not disorder” because they enjoyed “civil security and subordination”; he said that “class [as an issue] was not something preponderant.”18 The linkage between democracy and equality was not completely explicit here but was arguably implied: if leaving to states decisions about how to treat “pardos” was equivalent to allowing some to establish aristocracy and others democracy, it seems that the equation was being made. After the fall of the First Republic in 1812, it is rare to find democracy invoked in relation to “pardos,” though the two issues were mentioned in exchanges around the trial of General Manuel Piar, which took place at the behest of Simón Bolívar in 1817. Piar was accused by several witnesses of attempting to raise the “pardos” against the mantuanos, a scheme that these witnesses judged nonsensical because, as they said, “pardos” had already achieved equality under the republic. Before Piar’s arrest, Pedro Briceño Méndez had written to Bolívar in his defense, stating that the general only wanted to “give Your Excellency advice to incorporate a senate or council or something democratic or representative into our form of government . . .”19 Here, what is represented in one context as support for a democracy in the sense of a representative, institutional arrangement, was represented in another as involving incitement to racial warfare (both accounts have found their place in Venezuelan historiography).20 The subsequent establishment of the republic of Colombia (historians’ “Gran Colombia”) was associated with some discussion of the principles of “representative democracy,” notably in 1824 when Francisco Javier Yanes (the Patriotic Society member whose intervention in debate was discussed above) published the first Venezuelan account so far traced of the theory of “representative democracy” in the pages of the periodical El Observador Caraqueño. The intention at this time was that the new 18 “Sesión del 31 de julio,” in Libro de actas del supremo congreso de Venezuela. 1811-​1812, 2 vols. (Caracas, 2011), 1:340, 344. 19 “Carta de Pedro Briceño Méndez a Bolívar,” Upata, June 16, 1817, in Simón Bolívar, Obras completes, 2 vols. (Havana, 1947), 1:238. 20 Cf. José Gil Fortoul, Historia constitucional de Venezuela, 3 vols. (Caracas, 1954), 1: 393; Mariano de Briceño, Historia de la isla de Margarita (hoy Nueva Esparta) (Caracas, 1885), 148–​50.

Democracy, Pardos, and Slaves in Venezuela  331 republic should abandon the old practices of social identity resting in part on racial distinctions—​and the Santander administration did, for example, resume efforts to facilitate the entrance of men “of color” to higher educational institutions. However, while Yanes did link representative democracy with legal or civil equality, he did not specifically state that it must rest on a basis of racial equality.21 In fact, whatever the formal position, racial categories remained very present in consciousness: Bolívar stated in epistolary exchanges his fear of the growing strength of what he saw as a threat to order in the new republic: “pardocracia.”22

Democracy and “Pardos” among Conservatives and Liberals (1830–​1854) Between 1830 and 1854, the absorption of principles of legal equality and common citizenship led to the exclusion from official debate of epithets associated with traditional social distinctions. However, an event that took place in 1834 showed that the word “pardo” survived in informal use, and that it still caused resentment and could raise questions about democracy. The events unfolded in the following manner. Domingo Briceño y Briceño, a politician and writer, stated in the “News” section of his periodical El Nacional that the enemies of the presidential candidate whom he favored—​Doctor José María Vargas—​had charged the doctor with being not a “patriot” but an “aristocrat” in order to win the support of “the military and of ‘pardos.’ ”23 Briceño y Briceño’s reference to “pardos” as if it were a term still in acceptable use astonished the mariñistas, supporters of the rival candidate General Santiago Mariño, a hero of the independence struggles. His claims were accordingly challenged in a publication signed by “one of the so-​called ‘pardos.’ ” Briceño y Briceño alleged that this response had been produced just to damage his reputation.24 In contrast to Vargas, General Santiago Mariño was praised by his followers as a “friend of the people, the brother of freemen of all estates and conditions who essentially make up the State, the genuine enemy of despotism and of 21 David Bushnell, The Santander Regime in Gran Colombia (Westport, CT, 1954), 173; Luis Daniel Perrone Galicia, “Los gobiernos populares”, 161–​62. 22 John Lynch, Simon Bolivar, a Life (New Haven, CT, 2006), 149–​50. 23 “Noticias,” El Nacional 26 (Caracas), Monday August 4, 1834, p. 4, col. 2. 24 “Comunicado. Sr. Redactor de El Nacional. Un incógnito,” El Nacional Extraordinario 27 (Caracas), Wednesday August 6, 1834, p. 4, col. 2.

332  Re-imagining Democracy hierarchies and distinctions invented by pride and arrogance.”25 The politician Rufino González, in his periodical paper El Demócrata—​the first in Venezuela to identify itself with that noun—​supported Mariño’s candidacy. The mariñistas’ idea of democracy was essentially social, rooted in the conviction that the true democrat was, above all, a citizen who had a friendly relationship with the lower classes of society, including “pardos” (though a democrat would never use such a word). By contrast, Briceño y Briceño had a more political notion of democracy, whose main tenet was alternation in power, as he made clear in another issue of his periodical.26 The argument did not ultimately help the mariñistas: after the electoral colleges cast their votes in 1835, the republican congress resolved a non-​ decisive outcome by electing José María Vargas as the second president.

Democracy and Slaves between the Conspiracy and the Revolution (1797–​1830) There were roughly 60,000 enslaved people in Venezuela at the beginning of the nineteenth century, around 10% of the total population.27 Though a society with slaves, this was not a slave society (to draw a conventional distinction): conditions were very different from those in Caribbean plantations.28 Only in the capital city and in parts of the province of Caracas did slaves represent a considerable section of the workforce, and only in those places was there much conflict involving enslaved people or much fear of slave revolts.29 Several testimonies reveal that there was a degree of excitement among some enslaved people at the time when Picornell was writing clandestine pamphlets about republicanism and democracy.30 Picornell’s Discurso a los americanos devoted special attention to slavery, proposing its abolition.31 25 El Republicano 3, p. 1, col. 1. 26 “Política. Cuestión polémica del día en Venezuela, interesante a todas las repúblicas americanas,” El Nacional 31, Caracas, Monday September 1, 1834, p. 1, cols. 1–​2; Luis Daniel Perrone Galicia, “Democracia mariñista, democracia varguista. La partidización del concepto de democracia a través de las definiciones de igualdad en el debate electoral de 1834,” Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia, no. 397 (2017): 153–​58. 27 John Lombardi, Decadencia y abolición de la esclavitud en Venezuela, 1820-​1854 (Caracas 1974), 56. 28 Soriano, Tides of Revolution, 21–​22. 29 Lombardi, Decadencia y abolición, 20. 30 Cristina Soriano, Tides of Revolution, 106. 31 Juan Bautista Picornell, “Discurso a los americanos,” 43.

Democracy, Pardos, and Slaves in Venezuela  333 Abolition, in his plan, was to be associated with compensation from the republic to slave owners for the loss of their property; for their part, newly freed slaves would be required to serve in the army.32 This is the only document from the period that mentions abolition. Like the project of discarding racial distinctions, the project of abolishing slavery was set aside when the conspiracy was discovered by the authorities in 1797. Subsequently, during the independence struggle, the Junta Suprema de Gobierno (the ruling junta), established in Caracas from April 1810, banned the slave trade, though in relation to existing enslaved people it did no more than preserve the old royal regulations regarding individual applications for freedom.33 This cautious approach provides context for treatments of the subject in several published discourses, which equated republics and democracies (as already noted above).34 We have observed that these writings did not push for racial equality. Likewise, they did not address the topic of slavery. The only examination of slavery that has been identified in the periodical papers of the First Republic was the work of Doctor José Domingo Díaz, who soon after deserted to the monarchical party. In the section headed “Statistics” in the periodical Semanario de Caracas, Díaz reviewed the corrupt and violent origins of slavery in many parts of the world. He described the appalling treatment meted out to black people under the yoke of slavery, and concluded by praising the laws of the Spanish crown that, according to Díaz, prevented such abuses from taking place in Venezuela.35 Nonetheless, even he did not advocate abolition. In the context of war, between 1812 and 1816 leaders fighting for Venezuela’s independence made arrangements to emancipate enslaved people that entailed mandatory military service in exchange for freedom (as earlier envisaged by Picornell).36 This conditional approach was however challenged by Bolívar in 1819, in his Angostura Address. Bolívar maintained that the abolition of slavery must be one of the pillars of the

32 “Papeles de Picornell. Constituciones (ordenanzas),” “Instrucciones,” in Casto Fulgencio López, Juan Picornell, 354–​55, 360–​62. 33 Ana Joanna Vergara Sierra, Camino a la libertad. Esclavos combatientes en tiempos de independencia (Caracas, 2011), 65. 34 Luis Daniel Perrone, “Democracia—​Venezuela,” in Caetano, Democracia, 216. 35 José Domingo Díaz, “Agricultura. Sobre la esclavitud,” Semanario de Caracas, Sunday January 6, 1811, 7–​8. 36 Vergara Sierra, Camino a la libertad, 68–​69, 91–​94.

334  Re-imagining Democracy republican government of Venezuela. Nancy Appelbaum suggests in Chapter 6 that this may have been a tactical exercise in alliance-​building. Be that as it may, Bolívar expressed passion for the cause. He implored the constitutional congress “to confirm the complete emancipation of the Slaves, as I would beg my life, or the salvation of the Republic.”37 Still, the legislators ended up ignoring his request, deciding instead to aim at the gradual extinction of the institution of slavery through manumission according to a specified timetable.38 Bolívar’s antislavery position, originally manifested in 1819, made him the leading spokesperson for the abolition of slavery at this juncture, and he has been especially celebrated for this in recent so-​called historiografía patria (patriotic historiography).39 Though he argued that abolition was a precondition for the foundation of the republic, he did not link the cause to “democracy,” about whose applicability to the Spanish America of his day he had doubts. From 1812 he made plain his reluctance to establish a form of republic based on wide political participation, because he said that the people lacked the necessary virtues to exercise “their rights amply.”40 In 1815 he explicitly distanced himself from any plan for a “democratic and federal government” with “completely representative institutions,” arguing instead that Colombia should have a government with at least one either for-​life or hereditary office.41 Bolívar argued for a more ambitious scheme of juridical and civil equality than most of his associates—​including granting slaves freedom and a set of civil rights—​but this was not in the context of advocacy of democracy. He was similarly wary in 1826, when he projected a constitution for Bolivia. In his presentation speech, Bolívar defended the establishment of a for-​life executive power able to appoint a successor, while at the same time he argued that freedom should be immediately bestowed on all slaves upon the authority of the new constitution. However, he did not succeed in abolishing slavery in either 1819 or 1826.

37 Simón Bolívar, “Discurso de Angostura.” in Doctrina del Libertador (Caracas, 1994), 105. The English version given here is from “Speech of his Excellency General Bolívar at the Installation of the Congress of Venezuela in Angostura, on the 15th day of February, 1819,” trans. James Hamilton (Angostura, n.d. [1819?]), 23. 38 Lombardi, Decadencia y abolición, 74–​75; John Lynch, Simon Bolivar, 152–​53. 39 Ana Joanna Vergara Sierra, Camino a la libertad, 13. 40 Simón Bolívar, “Memoria dirigida a los ciudadanos de la Nueva Granada por un caraqueño,” [“Manifiesto de Cartagena”], in Doctrina del Libertador, 10–​11. 41 Simón Bolívar, “Carta de Jamaica,” in Doctrina del Libertador, 57.

Democracy, Pardos, and Slaves in Venezuela  335

Democracy and Slaves between Conservatives and Liberals (1830–​1869) From 1830 to 1847 there was little public discussion of slavery in Venezuela. The North American historian John Lombardi argues that this notable silence reflected, among other things, the fact that the actual number of slaves in society was small (by the standards of “slave societies”) and that it was widely expected that slavery would disappear soon as a consequence of the 1830 law of manumission.42 Only one article that delves into the issue of slavery has been identified for this period, written by the politician and explorer Francisco Michelena y Rojas for the periodical La Verdad in 1839. Michelena y Rojas blamed the original European conquistadors for the introduction of slavery to America. However, he more strongly condemned the revolutionaries, who in his view committed fraud when they uttered “the glorious call for independence,” published “the rights,” and “proclaimed the principles of Jean-​ Jacques [Rousseau] on the freedom of man” yet nonetheless, after the end of the war, maintained slavery in the republic.43 Clearly he saw a tension between the republic’s political principles and its policy with regard to slaves, though he did not specifically talk about “democracy” in this context. By contrast, between 1847 and 1858, when the brothers José Tadeo and José Gregorio Monagas held power with the support of the Liberal Party, democracy acquired a new place at the center of Venezuelan political discussion and was invoked to justify the abolition of slavery. The statistics gathered by the government in 1850 allow us to establish with some confidence the situation in relation to slavery at this time. Having declined to around 4% and 5% of the population during the independence period (1810–​1830), slavery then further declined so that enslaved people represented only 1% or 2% of the population by the 1840s.44 Under the government of José Tadeo Monagas—​ between 1847 and 1851—​proposals to abolish slavery emerged, though they were not seen as addressing an urgent or intractable problem: their aim rather was to reconcile principle and practice. The most important proposal was presented to the congressional session of 1850 by José Silverio González, a liberal politician



42 Lombardi, Decadencia y abolición, 166–​67; 171–​72.

43 “Nueva satisfacción pública,” La Verdad 7, Caracas, Saturday July 20, 1839, 105–​59, 106–​10. 44 Lombardi, Decadencia y abolición, 164.

336  Re-imagining Democracy and representative of Cumaná (not a major slave-​owning area). He stated that “the foundation of democracy is the principle of popular sovereignty” and that from this principle, “the liberty, equality, and fraternity of men naturally” flowed. Equality was also required by “Christian doctrine” because “we are all equal before God.” In contrast to others we have discussed, Silverio González drew from these premises an imperative to act against slavery: “servitude is not only contrary to the republican and popular system, but also to the dogmas of the Gospel, and oblivious of human dignity.”45 His plan was not approved. However, other individuals and bodies such as provincial assemblies continued the discussion. Growing support for the abolition of slavery led secretary of the interior and justice Joaquín Herrera to convey his own views on the subject to congress in 1852. Herrera admitted that the system of manumission had not fulfilled its aims, and made some recommendations of his own about how to fund compensation for slave owners. As he put it, if his proposals were adopted, “the inalienable right of slaves to freedom that all men have by nature, which has been proclaimed by philosophy and which forms the base of our democratic institutions will be addressed; and with respect to masters, the none less sacred right to property recognized by our legislation and which is the foundation of all societies will be taken into consideration.”46 (One might note that while both Silverio González in 1850 and Herrera suggested that slavery was incompatible with key democratic principles, the first thought it clashed with equality, the second with liberty). The Diputación Provincial de Caracas (the legislative chamber of the province of Caracas) also invoked democratic principles, and liberty in particular, when it recommended to the subsequent congress in 1852 the dissolution of slavery. In their proposal, the members of the Diputación argued that “slavery is regarded today by the rest of the civilized peoples as a remnant of barbarism and, additionally in Venezuela, it is in contradiction with the democratic principle that rules us, having become even more extraordinary after the power of autocracy has been overthrown to buttress liberty.”47 Still, the issue remained unresolved. It was only in the congress of 1854 that representatives backed an approach put forward by their colleague José 45 José Marcial Ramos Guédez and Irma Mendoza, José Silverio González y la abolición de la esclavitud en Venezuela, 1850-​1854 (Caracas, 1990), 17. 46 Exposición que dirige al Congreso de Venezuela en 1852, el secretario del Interior y Justicia (Caracas, 1852), 39–​41. 47 Fortoul, Historia constitucional, Vol. 3, 48.

Democracy, Pardos, and Slaves in Venezuela  337 María Luyando. This ignited a debate as to whether compensation should be paid to slave owners, and if so, what should be the level of compensation. Some representatives stated that the right to property was as important as the right to freedom.48 The president, José Gregorio Monagas, intervened with a letter addressed to congress on March 10, asking for the rights of slave owners to be respected and simultaneously informing congress that the government would (if that were agreed) approve immediate abolition. He also argued that since Venezuela had been “the first in South America to recognize the great principle of popular sovereignty—​origin and source of all authority,” the country should “not appear before the eyes of the world with the horrible stain of slavery.”49 Once a scheme to compensate slave owners was agreed, in March congress sanctioned a law that was then signed and promulgated by Monagas. In consequence, the 1% of the population made up of enslaved people gained their freedom by law.50 As has been demonstrated, between 1850 and 1854 slavery was conceived of as a grave contradiction within a system that prided itself on being democratic. Although President José Gregorio Monagas did not mention democracy in his letter to congress, he similarly said how shameful it was that Venezuela, a pioneer in South America in recognizing popular sovereignty, continued to harbor slavery. With the legal end of slavery, the discourses that linked democracy with the freedom or equality of enslaved men and women subsided. However, at the end of the century the Liberal Party resumed boasting about its role in abolishing slavery and emphasized once again the connection to democracy. Whether the use of democratic principles of liberty and freedom to support abolition led to the participation of formerly enslaved people in “democratic” political processes, and how any such participation was perceived, still needs to be researched. But of interest in this connection is that in 1869, from his retirement in New York, the independence hero, two-​time president, and one-​time dictator of the republic José Antonio Páez observed in his Autobiography that the existence of the republic of Haiti proved that “the man of color” was “as capable as the man of the Caucasian race of understanding

48 Lombardi, Decadencia y abolición, 180–​81. 49 “Mensaje del General José Gregorio Monagas a la Cámara de Representantes, pidiendo decretara la abolición de la esclavitud,” in La libertad de los esclavos en Venezuela, publicación hecha de orden de la Junta Directiva del Centenario del General Monagas, ed. Manuel Landaeta Rosales (Caracas, 1895), 8. 50 Lombardi, Decadencia y abolición, 160–​61.

338  Re-imagining Democracy the benefits of democracy.”51 This was a remarkable change of view on the part of someone who had always favored representative government and manumission but had supported neither the wide extension of political rights nor the abolition of slavery when he was in power. We do not yet know if others underwent a similar transformation.

Conclusion It is clear that in Venezuela, as elsewhere, the connection between democracy and challenging racial privilege and slavery was not necessary but contingent. People could, and did, proclaim their support for democracy (variously construed) without feeling the need to confront and change race-​ related forms of inequality and oppression. “Democracy” could be narrowly construed as a political form, involving for example alternation in rule. Even when it was understood to imply an at least formally equal society, and expected to be manifest in friendly and open dealings with people from other socio-​racial groups (as the examples cited here show that it sometimes, perhaps even commonly was), still its implications for socio-​racial equality were not always made explicit or emphasized. And politically active people, including people in leadership roles who proclaimed themselves or were hailed as democrats did not see a need to take programmatic initiatives to address these issues. Furthermore, when people did criticize slavery and argue for its abolition, they did not necessarily do so on democratic premises; on the contrary, they might argue from a position of skepticism about democracy. In Venezuela as in the rest of Latin America, moves to make the territory an independent polity were associated with emphasis on the merits of republics, often at that point equated with democracies, and not only with the drawing up of a constitution and the establishment (after some debate) of a representative system, but also with a formal commitment to end racial privilege, the introduction of a color-​blind franchise, and practical measures to increase, for example, educational opportunities for marginalized socio-​ racial groups. Given that, it is particularly striking that the latter elements in the revolutionary program were not more often presented as proceeding

51 José Antonio Páez, Autobiografía del General José Antonio Páez, 2 vols. (New York, 1869), 2:104. I wish to thank Professor Eduardo Posada-​Carbó for calling my attention to this reference.

Democracy, Pardos, and Slaves in Venezuela  339 from democratic principles when that would seem to have been an easy, almost obvious, move to make. In undertaking the research reported in this chapter, the author has identified only two contexts in which connections between democracy and the ending of socio-​racial privilege or slavery were more than hinted at in Venezuela. One was the 1797 conspiracy of Gual, España, and Picornell; the other was the effort of the Monagas brothers and their associates in the 1850s to abolish slavery. In the first case, the background of the Haitian insurrection looks important in understanding why this connection was made, whether that was by French Jacobin soldiers held captive in La Guaira or by their Venezuelan sympathizers. In the second case, the fact that at this time “democracy” was increasingly invoked in all kinds of political discourse, and that those readiest to identify themselves with it were also interested in developing a more programmatic form of reforming politics, provides at least context, if not a wholly satisfying explanation. The explanation would be more satisfying if the connection had continued to be made—​if the abolition of slavery had gone on being celebrated as a democratic achievement, when in fact, it was not celebrated in this way until rather later. To what extent such connections were and were not drawn in other Latin American contexts, and whether similar or different circumstances shaped them, are questions for future research. The editors gratefully acknowledge the assistance provided by Juan I. Neves-​ Sarriegui (University of Oxford) in translating the original draft of this chapter.

15 The Allure of Democracy in New Granada, 1810–​1870 Eduardo Posada-​Carbó*

In 1852, reflecting on the need to write “the history of democracy in South América,” a leading newspaper in Bogotá lamented the frustrations associated with efforts to habituate democracy in the region. The foundations of the “democratic system” had been laid in New Granada in 1810; since then, its principles had gone from experiment to experiment but with few results.1 It was rare for contemporaries who participated in those early experiments to see them through the lens of democracy. That had changed by 1852. By that time, the language of democracy held center stage in public debate—​and was used, as in this instance, to interpret the country’s past. This chapter explores how talk about “democracy” evolved in New Granada from independence to the “democratic revolution” of the mid-​nineteenth century and its aftermath. It offers a story in which the term, from being timidly accepted by a few, was from the late 1830s embraced by all political parties and increasingly the popular classes.2 New Granada’s experience has some distinct features when compared to other places in our region. Although varied in meaning and use, for example, “democracy” seems to have figured (and been endorsed) earlier in public debate in New Granada than elsewhere, with the exception of Venezuela; efforts to popularize the term developed early in both, and in New Granada democratic language proliferated over an unusually wide geographical area.

* I am grateful to Malcolm Deas for his comments and for giving me access to some key contemporary publications. 1 “De la democracia en Sudamérica,” Neo-​Granadino (Bogotá), July 24, 1852. 2 The literature on the history of the concept in New Granada is very thin. For a notable exception, see the work of Isidro Vanegas, “Los inicios del régimen democrático en la Nueva Granada: la noción y sus dilemas, 1790-​1830,” Historia Crítica 58 (2015): 57–​75; “Colombia/​Nueva Granada,” in Caetano, Democracia, 117–​32. Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, The Allure of Democracy in New Granada, 1810–​1870 In: Re-​imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–​1870. Edited by: Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, Joanna Innes, and Mark Philp, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/​oso/​9780197631577.003.0015

The Allure of Democracy in New Granada  341 New Granada was once part of the viceroyalty of the same name that Spain established in America in 1739. After a period of independence during the Spanish monarchical crisis (1810–​1815), the territory was definitively emancipated in a joint effort with Venezuela, resulting in the emergence of the Republic of Colombia in 1821. It soon incorporated Ecuador and Panamá, and has been called by historians Gran Colombia. Simón Bolívar, the Venezuelan who led the independence army, became president of the new republic, though its government was left in the hands of his vice-​president, Francisco de Paula Santander, while Bolívar continued to lead military operations against Spanish forces. Re-​elected for five years in 1825, Bolívar assumed dictatorial powers in 1828 in a vain attempt to contain a crisis that led to the dissolution of Gran Colombia in 1830. Emerging at that point as a separate republic (still including Panamá), New Granada comprised a vast territory of 1.5 million square kilometers with a scattered population that grew from over 1.2 million to over 2.2 million people between independence and the 1850s.3 The country was crossed by three ranges of the Andean Mountains, which raised barriers to national integration, though an extensive river system linked its most populated settlements in the highlands of the Andes with its Caribbean plains. This geography shaped distinct regions, with varied ethnic composition and forms of socioeconomic development. It was overall a mestizo country,4 but indigenous peoples were prominent in (for example) the southwestern province of Pasto, peoples of African descent in the Pacific and Atlantic coastal provinces, and peoples of Spanish descent in the eastern province of Santander and the western province of Antioquia. Geography also partly accounts for New Granada’s generally dismal economic performance. Because the most productive regions were located in the Andean interior, goods faced serious 3 What follows in this subsection draws from Malcolm Deas, “Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador: the First Half-​Century of Independence,” in The Cambridge History of Latin America, ed. Leslie Bethell, 11 vols. (Cambridge, 1984–​2008), 3:507–​38; “The Fiscal Problems of Nineteenth-​ Century Colombia,” Journal of Latin American Studies 14, no. 2 (1982): 287–​328; Frank Safford and Marco Palacios, Colombia. Fragmented Land, Divided Society (Oxford, 2002); David Bushnell, The Making of Modern Colombia. A Nation in Spite of Itself (Berkeley, CA, 1993); Adolfo Meisel Roca, ed., Colombia. Crisis imperial e independencia, 1808-​1830 (Madrid, 2010), chapter by Meisel Roca, 147–​ 98; and Beatriz Castro, ed., Colombia. La Construcción nacional, 1830-​1880 (Madrid, 2012), chapters by Castro and Frank Safford, 129–​236. 4 “46 per cent of the population was classified as libres (free blacks, mulattoes and mestizos)” in the census of New Granada in 1776–​1778, while “26 percent were deemed ‘white,’ 20 percent Indian and 8 percent slaves”: in Safford and Palacios, Colombia, 51. By 1825, the number of enslaved people was around 46,000; by 1851, the year slavery was abolished, the number of enslaved people was about 16,000. Fernán Gómez, “Los censos en Colombia antes de 1905,” in Compendio de estadísticas históricas de Colombia, ed. Miguel Urrutia and Mario Arrubla (Bogotá, 1970), 19–​32.

342  Re-imagining Democracy obstacles to reaching an external market. Agriculture was the predominant source of occupation of the country, but there was also an important artisan sector, occupying some 20% of the labor force by 1870. Gold was the leading item for exports—​half being produced in Antioquia. It was also the main source of wealth accumulation, particularly for the merchants of Antioquia who dominated the trade. Yet the wealthy were few, and their fortunes relatively modest. Indeed, estimates suggest that New Granada had one of the lowest GDPs per capita in Latin America. The social and power relations produced in such a poor economy were far from simple. Independence was followed by the loosening of social bonds. Slavery went into steady decline until its final abolition in 1851 against the resistance of slaveholders in the southwestern province of Cauca, provoking much conflict from the 1840s. The Indian tribute—​a colonial head tax on indigenous communities—​was also abolished at that time. There were some large estates—​more prominent in provinces like Cauca and Cundinamarca—​ but big landowners did not monopolize land. Small and middle size farms were notable in Antioquia and Santander, while colonos (squatters) sprang up in the baldíos, vast extents of vacant land which were the source of serious disputes throughout the century. Though gold miners in Cauca and the Chocó relied on slave labor, much of the gold in Antioquia was by contrast extracted either by independent mazamorreros (gold washers) or wage laborers, who often also cultivated their own small plots of land. The main sites of power lay in the cities, towns, and villages, where the active presence of independent artisans was significant. A weak fiscal base limited the power of those in government. They could not afford a large military establishment, which in any case was not favored by the civilians who took the upper hand in the country’s politics from the 1830s—​by the 1850s, the army had barely 400 men.5 The Catholic Church, that great ally of the colonial authorities, retained clout, but its power diminished after independence and was subject to a liberal onslaught from the mid-​nineteenth century. In general, the central government found it difficult to control a scattered population in a vast territory with a poor communications system. Foreign visitors, like the French geographer and anarchist Elisée Reclus, marveled at the emptiness of the land; yet Reclus also reported newspapers circulating in distant villages, people filling the galleries of 5 Anthony Maingot, “Social structure, social status, and civil-​military conflict in Urban Colombia 1810-​1858,” in Nineteenth Century Cities: Essay in New Urban History, ed. Stephan Therastrom and Richard Sennett (New Haven, CT, 1969): 23–​45.

The Allure of Democracy in New Granada  343 provincial assemblies while the deputies discussed issues of “local interest,” electoral rivalries between conservatives and “democrats” in small towns, the impact of the 1848 revolution among indigenous peoples, and even an exquisite library that took him by surprise “in a lost hamlet in the middle of virgin jungles.”6 As Reclus noted, and as this chapter will show, the small and distant towns of New Granada were not isolated from national politics or political discussion.7 The largely rural society was structured around provincial centers—​a good number of towns that by the 1850s each held between 5,000 and 15,000 people; the only city with a larger population, 40,000, was Bogotá, the capital of the country. The rest of New Granada resisted its power, though Bogotá was able to nourish a common identity for the political nation. It was already a prominent center of learning under the viceroyalty, a role boosted by its service as the home site of the Botanic Expedition—​a notable Spanish Enlightenment project launched in 1783. Subsequently, students from all parts of the republic forged ties in the course of their education in the city’s schools and universities. It was also the seat of congress, which met regularly and almost without interruption from the establishment of the republic, bringing together representatives from the provinces. Yet Bogotá’s authority was constantly challenged. Indeed, no single force—​economic, political, regional, or military—​was able to prevail in New Granada. Perhaps that very fact enhanced the importance of congress as a place in which otherwise irresoluble rivalries could be played out to some kind of conclusion. “Federalist” tendencies in the provinces, however, sometimes led to civil wars, like the Guerra de Supremos (1839–​1841). Nonetheless, political parties helped to create links that cut across these regional divisions; for example, disputes over church–​state relations prompted the formation of two major national parties by the mid-​nineteenth century, liberals and conservatives. Political debates, whether about federalism or the clergy, acquired national dimensions through print. Established first by the colonial authorities in 1737, the press flourished with independence as newspapers sprang up in association with partisan networks throughout the country. “Democracy,” the subject of our book, made an early showing in these newspapers, being 6 Reclus, Viaje a la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (Bogotá, 1947), 45, 55, 71–​72, 86–​87, 106, 125–​ 26. Reclus stayed in New Granada between 1855 and 1857; he completed the book in 1861. 7 Malcolm Deas, “La presencia de la política nacional en la vida provinciana, pueblerica y rural de Colombia en el primer siglo de la república,” in Deas, Del poder y la gramática. Y otros ensayos sobre historia, política y literatura colombianas (Bogotá, 1993), 175–​206.

344  Re-imagining Democracy for example demonized in the Papel Periódico de la Ciudad de Santa Fé de Bogotá, the weekly publication set up by the viceroyalty in 1791. With the advent of the republic, “democracy” was gradually incorporated into the political vocabulary of the country. The next section examines the trajectory of democracy following emancipation from Spain within the wider context of Gran Colombia, though with a special focus on the territory of the later, smaller republic.

Constitutionalism Against Monarchy and Despots, 1810–​1830 In New Granada during the early years of independence, the language of democracy developed in the context of discussions related to forms of government. Though rare, “democracy” and its cognates did appear in several publications, with a variety of meanings and purposes. In 1810, a member of the junta that gathered in the northern town of Mompox to proclaim independence described the “democratic spirit” that had prevailed in that assembly: the citizens spoke with freedom, all classes of people were consulted, much consideration was given to the “Indians of the territory,” and a provisional constitution was adopted to equip citizens with barriers against tyranny.8 Occasionally, “democracy” was used to rally citizens in favor of the newly adopted constitution, or against a governor judged to harbor aristocratic ideas so as to be “incompetent” for employment by “our Democratic government”—​and, to cap it all, having been elected unfairly.9 But there were also blanket condemnations of “democracy”—​“anarchy reduced to a system” was the definition provided in a dictionary included in a publication of 1814.10 Publicists who were engaged in the rich debate about what form of government should be adopted by the liberated provinces mainly distanced themselves from the term, with its problematic baggage from the ancient world and reputation for being workable only in small territories. Hence they made arguments for representation: in a representative system, the people 8 Josef María Gutiérrez, “El representante de Mompox contesta al Manifiesto de la Junta Suprema de Cartagena,” January 28, 1811, in Documentos para la historia de la Provincia de Cartagena de Indias (Bogotá, 1883), 219. 9 El Efimero de Cartagena, September 5, 1812; and El Honor vindicado (leaflet) (Cartagena, 1815). 10 El Anteojo de Larga Vista (Bogotá), no. 2 (1814).

The Allure of Democracy in New Granada  345 “virtually conduct” their rule by delegating it to some persons to represent them.11 Representative government was seen as moderating the extremes of democracy and absolutist monarchy, while leaning toward the former.12 “Popular” and “representative” were the preferred adjectives for government in the constitutions endorsed by those provinces that embraced the republic between 1811 and 1815. Most if not all of these devoted a chapter to the rights and duties of men; abolished the hereditary principle; and, unlike the Cádiz Constitution, did not limit any rights on grounds of race—​free people of all colors were given the vote, while some of these constitutions went beyond Cádiz in very explicitly according full citizenship and the vote to Indians. Characteristically, they established a division of powers and set up bicameral legislatures and collegiate executives.13 It is important to note that this constitutional revolution unfolded in many places: eighteen different provinces across the territories of the former viceroyalty convened constitutional assemblies. Though the number of people involved in drafting these texts was limited, they reached a wider audience through publication, mass festivities, and the practice of reading them aloud to congregations of people. This constitutional experience was interrupted in 1815 when a 10,000-​strong Spanish army landed in Venezuela and reimposed absolutist rule across the whole territory, but by then constitutional language was familiar in all regions of the country. As the cause of independence regained ground, discussions about representative government and democracy returned, now in a public sphere expanded by the extension of printing and the regularization of congressional debates, and against the background of richer transatlantic communication. During the 1820s, no factor shaped the trajectory of “democracy” more than debates around whether Bolívar should be given permanency in power. “Democracy” figured prominently though ambivalently in Bolívar’s rhetoric. Consider his address to the Angostura Congress in 1819, in which he articulated his vision of government. He reflected upon initial experience with 11 William Burke, Derechos de la América del Sur y Mexico (Caracas, 1959 [1811]), Vol. 2, 185–​ 85—​first serialized in the Gazeta de Caracas from November 23, 1810. Fragments of this article were reproduced in Bogotá a month later: Suplemento al N. XLI del Diario Político de Santafé de Bogotá, December 22, 1810, and the book circulated in several cities of New Granada. 12 “Carta política 19 de Joaquín Camacho sobre las diversas conveniencias de las repúblicas pequeñas confederadas. Ibagué, 12 April 1812,” in José Joaquín Camacho. Biografía y documentos de su pensamiento y acción política en la revolución de independencia, ed. Armando Martínez et al. (Tunja, 2010), 342–​43. 13 For a typical text, see “Constitución de la República de Cundinamarca’ (1812),” in Constituciones de Colombia, ed. M.A. Pombo and J.J. Guerra (Bogotá, 1951).

346  Re-imagining Democracy a “democratic republic” in Venezuela, expressing admiration and identifying it with a society where “monarchy, distinctions, nobility, and special rights and privileges” were outlawed and where rights and freedoms were established. However, he also repeatedly noted the problems associated with “absolute democracies” and their unfitness to deliver “the greatest possible happiness,” security, and stability. Bolívar invoked the British constitution to back up his suggestion that it was best to have a hereditary senate “as counterweight for both government and the people.”14 This suggestion haunted the debate. While deputies in the constituent congress that met in 1821 shared Bolívar’s misgivings about “absolute democracy,” they nonetheless did not endorse a hereditary senate. Neither monarchy nor aristocracy were acceptable to most Colombians, though democracy was also feared as liable to degenerate into despotism. “Popular, elective, and representative” were the terms used in the 1821 constitution, and the catchwords employed by the Ecuadorian Vicente Rocafuerte in his 1823 Ensayo politico about the “[Gran] Colombian system,” which he published in a volume with other texts including fragments of Thomas Paine’s Dissertation of the First Principles of Government (1795).15 A political catechism designed to spread knowledge of the constitution in primary schools equated republican with democratic government. However, to the question “What is the form of government in [Gran] Colombia?” the answer was: “popular and representative.” It was explained that, while sovereignty essentially rested in the nation, the people did not exercise it by themselves except when voting in primary elections.16 Throughout the decade, debate was haunted by liberal fears that Bolívar’s rule might turn into despotism.17 News that the Bolivian constitution had instituted a president-​for-​life, and of Bolívar’s intentions to impose a similar constitution on [Gran] Colombia provoked agitation. From Caracas, an anonymous booklet reminded its readers of Bolívar’s words in Angostura, where he had warned that permanency in power was the reason why

14 Simón Bolívar, “The Angostura Address (1819),” in El Libertador. Writings of Simón Bolívar, ed. David Bushnell (Oxford, 2003), 31–​53. 15 Vicente Rocafuerte, Ensayo político. El sistema colombiano, popular, electivo, y representativo, es el que más conviene a la América independiente (New York, 1823). 16 Catecismo político arreglado a la constitución de la república de Colombia de 30 de agosto de 1821 para el uso de las escuelas de primeras letras del departamento de Orinico (Bogotá,1824), 15–​18. 17 Los republicanos (anonymous), Delirio español. O vindicación de sus imputaciones contra los depositarios de la soberanía de la república de Colombia (Bogotá, 1822).

The Allure of Democracy in New Granada  347 “democratic governments” had so frequently come to an end.18 The debate encouraged the notion that democracy required alternation in power. In response to Bolívar’s convening of an extraordinary assembly to reform the constitution in 1827, a pamphlet published in Bogotá explored the “very essence of representative government,” offering a defense of political and civil liberties against dictatorship and “all absolutist power.” This intellectual exercise made nuanced use of democratic language. It referred to the “democracy of the ancients” and the “democratic fanaticism” of the French revolutionary assemblies as experiences that had led, respectively, to the omnipotence of the people and parliaments. However, the pamphlet distinguished them from “our fictitious and representative democracies” (fictitious here connoting representative rather than direct, and therefore having a positive connotation). This characterization identified, perhaps for the first time in Colombian political discourse, democracy and representation.19 More usually, these publications distinguished between “popular representative” and “democratic” governments, with a preference for the former.20 Yet, equally, there were many positive accounts of democracy, as when a leaflet in Bogotá denounced the appearance of an “aristocracy” in the Cauca department as a contradiction in a republic that “should not breathe anything other than Democracy.” When contrasted with either absolute power or privilege, the word had more positive connotations.21 Fears about Bolívar’s despotic tendencies were realized when he assumed dictatorial powers in 1828. His style of rule hardened after a plot against his life, and some of his main opponents, including his former vice-​president Santander, were forced into exile. This was meant to be a time-​limited dictatorship—​Bolívar himself signaled its temporariness when, at the same time that he issued the statutory laws underpinning the new regime, he convened another constituent congress, which met early in 1830.22 The language of democracy occasionally appeared during this inter-​constitutional 18 Anon., Reflexiones sobre el poder vitalicio que establece en su presidente la república Bolivia (Caracas, 1827), 11. 19 Anon., Fe política de un colombiano, o tres cuestiones importantes para la politica del dia (Bogotá, 1827), 1, 8, 10, 11, 13. 20 For an extensive contemporary examination of the advantages of representative government over democracies, monarchies and aristocracies, see Luis Fernando Vivero, Lecciones de política según los principios del sistema popular representativo adoptado por las naciones americanas (Paris, 1827)—​one of the most comprehensive political catechisms published in Gran Colombia during this period. 21 Sin Nombre, Bogotá, July 15, 1827. 22 David Bushnell, “The Last Dictatorship: Betrayal or Consummation?” Hispanic American Historical Review 63, no.1 (1983): 66–​105.

348  Re-imagining Democracy phase, now in the mouths of some of Bolívar’s followers who, like Juan García del Río, decried the ills produced by “the democratic system” and advocated constitutional monarchy.23 In the end, Bolívar could not garner enough support to win reelection even in an assembly of his own design, so he presented his resignation.

“Educate Democracy,” 1830s–​1840s The demise of the dictatorship and disintegration of Gran Colombia provided the background for fresh discussion about forms of government in New Granada, in a press debate invigorated by the appearance of new periodicals. That one newspaper in 1830 adopted the name El Demócrata might seem to indicate a turning point in the trajectory of “democracy.” Yet even El Demócrata, though endorsing democratic principles, fell short of endorsing “democracy” as a political form. It reiterated instead two principles that had prevailed in public rhetoric since 1811: that government should be “popular” and “elective,” while adding with emphasis, “alternating and accountable”24—​adjectives that were added to the definition of the form of representative government given to New Granada in the constitution of 1832. The next decade saw partisan politics evolve, and a competitive electoral culture became embedded in the wider society. If initially people rallied around the first elected president of New Granada in 1832 (Santander, the former vice-​ president of Gran Colombia who had opposed Bolívar’s rule), nonetheless factional divisions emerged clearly in the contested election of 1836–​1837, when a coalition of former Bolivarians, moderates, and pro–​Catholic Church forces won the presidency. Displaced from power at the center, the Santanderistas appropriated the language of democracy to rally popular sectors behind the emerging “liberal party” at local elections in 1838 (on which more below). Before that point, “democracy” was not a common cry in this phase either—​ though one proposal worthy of attention that favored “pure democracy” was issued anonymously from Ríonegro, a provincial town in the northwest.25 23 Juan García del Río, Meditaciones colombianas (Bogotá, 1985 [1828]). 24 El Demócrata, June 20, 1830. My thanks to Jesús Goyeneche Wilches at the Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia (BNC) for providing me with photos of this newspaper’s collection. 25 Anon., Constitución de Libertad, o projecto de una nueva forma política central o federal establecida en la pura y sencilla democracia (Rionegro, 1832). Its author remains unknown, but the printer in charge seemed active in producing literature of liberal orientation—​it published, for example, the newspaper El Ciudadano between 1831 and 1832.

The Allure of Democracy in New Granada  349 Addressed to the 1832 constitutional convention under the title Constitución de Libertad, this unique document suggested that although there had been attempts to establish “democracy” “which proclaimed equality,” these had been obstructed by aristocratic and monarchical pretensions. It questioned the merits of “representative government,” described as “too alien from pure and simple democracies.” “Pure democracy,” it avowed, was “the best form of government, because immediately derived from the people”; it was the destination of the “universal political revolution” that had started in America. Representative government was just a transitional form. The pamphlet outlined an intricate system of government based on a network of assemblies called populados, established in four levels, from the municipality to the nation, whose members were to be selected by a combination of election and lot. It criticized the division of powers as the source of all the ills of the republic and advocated concentrating all the functions of governments in the populados. It is hard to determine the sources of this document or to assess its significance. However, it merits note as an unusual expression of support for “pure democracy” from a town, Ríonegro, that soon emerged as a hotbed of liberalism. The establishment in 1838 of the Sociedad Democrático-​Republicana de artesanos y labradores progresistas was a watershed. Marking the first systematic attempt to popularize the term “democracy,” its avowed aim was to disseminate the principles associated with democracy among its members, although it reached a still larger public through its bi-​weekly publication El Labrador i Artesano.26 It used democracy and its cognates in a variety of positive senses, conceptualizing it as a society of equals and not just a form of government, and as a doctrine whose principles needed to be spread. While there was an element of paternalism in the way the message was delivered—​ to counter what was seen as the ignorance and apathy of the masses, subject to manipulation—​its “democratic” narrative aimed to rally popular sectors in defense of their rights, against “despots,” “aristocrats,” and the clergy. Set up in Bogotá by Lorenzo Lleras, a young lawyer who had sought refuge in the United States following his participation in the plot against Bolívar, the Sociedad was a top-​down organization. Above and beyond its educational purpose, its organizers, close to the Santanderistas who lost power in 1837, 26 This section is mostly based on the issues of this newspaper, published, between September 16, 1838, and February 24, 1839, available in the digital collection of the BNC.

350  Re-imagining Democracy also intended it to rally voters. It recruited members into different categories, including natos (connoting belonging), from among those employed in any trade, mechanical professions, liberal arts, or agriculture. Instructors, chosen from among lettered men, were charged with giving weekly lectures on a wide range of subjects. A third category of members were “correspondents” who expanded the network into other provinces. In less than six months, the Sociedad opened branches in at least eight different cities outside Bogotá in the north, east, and southwest of the country. The Sociedad came to an abrupt end as civil war erupted in 1839, but during its short existence it helped to disseminate the language of democracy among the laboring classes. Soon after the war ended, some of the society’s promoters resumed lecturing on democracy. As Lleras, now rector of the leading Colegio del Rosario, announced at a graduating ceremony in 1844, the country might have attained “democratic civilization” prematurely, but it would be an “ignominy” to go back, and he would lend support “wherever [he saw] a tendency to improve democracy.”27 Its leaders’ embrace of democracy may well have been inspired in part by Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America—​which portrayed democratic trends as ineluctable and therefore needing to be harnessed for good. El Labrador i Artesano displayed a citation from Tocqueville below its masthead which emphasized this challenge: “the first of the duties that are at this time imposed upon those who direct our affairs is to educate democracy.” According to Florentino González, co-​editor of the society’s newspaper and one of its “instructors,” the book reached his hands in 1836. In the prologue to his treatise on public administration, endorsing the advantages of municipal and decentralized government, González paid tribute to “Tocqueville’s precious work.”28 Leopoldo Borda, who had also been an “instructor” in the society, translated the second volume into Spanish. Publishing in 1842, a year after the end of the Guerra de Supremos, Borda included a prologue which raised questions about the applicability of Tocqueville’s account to South America; it might not work just to imitate the United States. Borda preached moderation and suggested Democracy in America as a corrective to those who could “only think about the purest democracy.”29 27 Lorenzo Lleras, Discurso pronunciado en la noche de la función de colación de grados (Bogotá, 1844), 6–​7, 16. 28 Florentino González, Elementos de ciencia administrativa (Bogotá, 1840), i, ii. 29 Leopoldo Borda, “Prólogo,” in Alexis de Tocqueville, De la democracia en América, 2 vols. (Paris, 1842), 1: xxiii. See José Antonio Aguilar Rivera, “Democracy in the (other) America,” in The Cambridge Companion to Democracy in America, ed. Richard Boyd (Cambridge, forthcoming, 2022).

The Allure of Democracy in New Granada  351

“Under the Empire of Democracy,” 1847–​1853 From the late 1840s, the dissemination of “democracy” accelerated. Its ubiquity was remarkable. It was much in evidence during the presidential campaign of 1848–​1849, in governmental reports to congress, in the proliferation of “democratic societies,” and in an expanding public sphere. A new and more consistently liberal generation built on the ground laid out in previous decades that was now fertilized by the spirit of the French revolution of 1848, an event that was celebrated as marking the coming of “universal democracy.”30 “Democracy” permeated the contested presidential election that was resolved by congress in March 1849. All the parties used the expression to frame their platforms. The liberals in opposition accused the regime, which had been in power since 1837, of “ten years of conspiring against the democratic system.”31 The conservatives, in turn, claimed that they were “more truly democratic” than their opponents. A third “moderate” party promised to make “representative democracy” a reality.32 There were clearly differences of interpretation. Liberals welcomed the new “democratic age,” highlighting the principle of equality. Conservatives emphasized the idea, also encapsulated in Tocqueville’s description of the spread of equalization of conditions as a providential fact, that the rise of democracy must express the will of God. The moderate party, like other moderate parties in Europe and elsewhere at this time, favored a “democracy of the enlightened and propertied” to avoid “barbaric democracy.”33 Throughout the campaign a variety of topics were debated in relation to democracy, though the latter was not the sole point of reference. Democracy was used in dialogue or by contrast with other expressions, including liberalism and socialism, but other words were also employed to rally the people behind or against the different parties: patriotism, aristocracy, and despotism. The congress’s election to the presidency of the liberal José H. López furthered these trends. When, after several rounds of balloting, the congress in Bogotá announced its decision, thousands of people celebrated in the streets, while the incumbent Tomás C. de Mosquera is reported to have joined the crowds declaring that, “on behalf of democracy” he would obey

30 El Siglo, June 8, 1848.

31 La América, May 21, 1848.

32 La América, May 21, 1848; El Nacional, May 21, 1848; and El Siglo, June 29, 1848. 33 El Aviso, December 31, 1848; El Progreso, May 14, 1848; El Siglo, June 29, 1848.

352  Re-imagining Democracy and support the president-​elect.34 It became de rigueur for the president and his ministers to invoke the term in their annual reports. These were often mission statements, in line with the more programmatic liberalism of the mid-​ century, as when López summoned congress to promote the “development and action of democracy . . . legislating in the interest of the largest numbers and of the poor and laboring classes.”35 Similarly, congress was pressed to reform the 1843 constitution because it clashed with “democratic doctrines”; the starting point should be the adoption of “universal and direct suffrage” [for males] to make a “reality of the Government of democracy”; primary education was advocated as essential to “democratic institutions.”36 Indeed, the liberal reform agenda was intended to effect a “democratic revolution.”37 Democracy further expanded in use with the proliferation of “democratic societies” after 1848. Over a hundred associations of artisans were established between that year and 1854. Though they varied in their nature and political orientations, the majority adopted the “democratic” name—​as did the artisans’ society of Bogotá, originally established as the Sociedad de Artesanos before being re-​baptized as the Sociedad Democrática. Its members endorsed López’s candidacy in the belief that he would put into practice the “theories of democracy.”38 If some remained attached to their original aims of protecting their trades against foreign competition and serving as mutual aid organizations, others were set up explicitly to “defend the democratic principles” of the liberal government.39 Where it was invoked, democracy tended to be associated with equality, as in the program of the Democratic Society of San Jil, which explicitly rejected any “distinction based on color, lineage or wealth.”40 Paramount among their activities was instruction in weekly meetings, where members listened to lectures frequently tied to democracy-​related topics or received more practical guidance on, for example, how to present petitions to congress. Politicization sometimes led to internal divisions, revealing a complicated picture of class and partisan identity. What is clear is that the 34 El Neo-​Granadino, March 10, 1849. 35 Mensaje del presidente de la Nueva Granada al Congreso Constitucional de 1850 (leaflet, Bogotá, March 1, 1850). 36 Informe del Secretario de Gobierno (Bogotá, 1850), 25; Gaceta Oficial, March 1, 1851; Informe del Secretario de Estado del Despacho de Gobierno (Bogotá, 1853), 37–​38. 37 Neo-​Granadino, January 3, 1851. 38 El Aviso, June 18, 1848. 39 El Artesano, Cartagena, February 1, 1850. 40 La democracia en Sanjil, o cartas del ciudadano José Pascual Afanador (Socorro, 1851), 14–​16. For a comprehensive account of the democratic societies, see Gilberto Loaiza Cano, Sociabilidad, religión y política en la definición de la nación. Colombia, 1820-​1886 (Bogotá, 2011), 74–​113. Most of the societies just added the name of the town to the generic Sociedad Democrática, as did Sanjil.

The Allure of Democracy in New Granada  353 language of democracy, even if often vaguely focused, became increasingly socially rooted; the activities of the societies involved thousands of people from popular sectors, not just in larger towns but also in places that were little more than rural service centers. The press was central to the propagation of democracy, a term that now, with its cognates, inspired more than one newspaper title.41 Even those critical of that “noisy word” contributed to its diffusion—​“everywhere one hears the cries ‘long live democracy.’ ”42 Conservative newspapers complained that their opponents “speak only about democracy . . . in all their writings and speeches”—​but themselves claimed to endorse democratic principles.43 What this reveals is the mobilizing power that the word was thought to have acquired. Newspapers that supported the liberal government repeatedly equated the electoral victory of March 7 with the “triumph of democracy.” Conservatives who raised doubts about the validity of López’s election were told to learn that “under the empire of democracy, the alternation of parties in power” was essential. Indeed, liberal newspapers saw their role as disseminators of “democratic principles” among the less educated people, so they could learn about their rights and become engaged in public life.44 In their articles democracy was a slogan, but it was also the subject of more systematic reflections, as when Neo-​Granadino challenged the argument, made by a French journal, that “only the Anglo-​Saxon race can have democratic institutions,” or when El Aviso advocated union among liberals of Venezuela, Ecuador, and New Granada to secure “the triumph of democracy.”45 Some of the most probing examinations were first serialized by newspapers and then published in book form. That was the case with an essay by one León Hinestrosa on constitutional reforms. Hinestrosa’s point of departure was the apparent contradiction between what he identified as the two dominant ideas in New Granada: those of “leveling democracy” and those embedded in the “monarchical institutions” of the existing constitution.46 There was no democracy, the author argued, when power was concentrated in the executive, suffrage was restricted through literacy and economic 41 In 1849–​1851, there were at least El Sentimiento Democrático and El Boletín Democrático in Cali, El Demócrata in Bogotá, Socorro, and Ríohacha, and La Democracia in Cartagena. 42 El Porvenir, Cartagena, December 5, 1849, and El Sufragante, Cartagena, June 22, 1849. 43 El Nacional, December 25, 1848. 44 El Siglo, April 1, 8, and 29, 1849. 45 Neo-​Granadino, January 21, 1853; El Aviso, December 31, 1848. 46 León Hinestrosa, Reformas constitucionales (n.p., n.d., [Bogotá, 1850?]) 7–​8; serialized in El Sur Americano from January 19, 1850.

354  Re-imagining Democracy qualifications, government benefited the few, and the authorities were sustained by the clergy and the army. Hinestrosa suggested a return to ancient democracies for inspiration, and more direct involvement of the people in their own government. One notable newspaper serial also published in book form was the translation by Lorenzo Lleras of George Sidney Camp’s Democracy. Camp, today an obscure author, criticized the theory of mixed government, while providing arguments for democracy in the form of majority rule based on popular sovereignty. The appeal of this book to New Granadians was perhaps his affirmation that what was taking place in the United States was not peculiar to that country; all nations were capable of self-​government. Camp’s determination to write for a wide audience also appealed. In his introduction, the translator recommended the book in particular to the “democratic societies.”47 As the next presidential election approached, a sort of “democratic apotheosis” developed around José María Obando, an extraordinarily popular liberal leader. In exile since the end of the of the Guerra de Supremos, he returned to New Granada in 1849, when he was welcomed by large crowds wherever he went, who invariably identified their hero with democracy. Some of those who supported his candidacy called themselves “soldiers of democracy.” Democratic societies endorsed his campaign; in Mompox, an assembly of 500 members did so by acclamation. He was elected by an overwhelming majority to succeed his fellow liberal in 1853. His election secured the ground for the passage of a new constitution by congress, sealing the reform program that the López administration had devised, which had also featured the abolition of slavery and the death penalty, the separation of church and state, male universal suffrage and direct elections, decentralization, and the reduction of the army. Article 1 of the new constitution explicitly stated that New Granada was a “democratic republic.”48

Revolutions, “Liberal Democracy,” and Federation, 1854–​1870 Obando’s ascendancy was short-​lived. When some battalions of the army, supported by artisans in Bogotá, rebelled in 1854 he stood on the sidelines. 47 Jorge Sidney Camp, Democracia (Bogotá, 1852), xiii. The book was serialized in the Gaceta Oficial from early 1852. 48 Constitución política de la Nueva Granada (Bogotá, 1853), 4.

The Allure of Democracy in New Granada  355 The former opposed congressional plans to abolish the standing army; the latter were dissatisfied with their free-​trade policies. In response, all the political parties joined forces to defend the elected regime, defeating the rebels a few months later. Obando was perceived as having condoned the rebellion and was ousted and replaced by the vice-​president. The subsequent elections, representing a first trial for universal suffrage as approved in 1853, favored the conservatives: Mariano Ospina was sworn in as president in 1857. His centralist and pro-​Church policies, together with his declared intention of strengthening central government’s hold over electoral machinery, enraged his liberal opponents, a situation exploited by the maverick Mosquera, who had presided over the country in 1845–​1849 but now led what proved a successful revolution against Ospina in 1861, setting the country on a radically federal path. How did the language of democracy develop in the face of these complicated events? Those who rallied around the constitutional regime against the military-​artisanal uprising in 1854 claimed after their victory that the “flag of this government is the flag of democracy,” whereas the revolutionaries were the enemies of a “fundamental democratic constitution.” To some, however, the noun form democráticos had become pejorative, being identified with members of the democratic societies who joined the rebellion. Four years later, as opposition mounted against Ospina, an anonymous pamphlet accused the democráticos of plotting another revolution, subverting public order, and threatening the well-​being of the country.49 Nonetheless, in his annual message to congress in 1858, President Ospina acclaimed “representative democracy,” identifying it as the basis of the current constitution.50 Democracy therefore continued to be endorsed as a guiding principle even by a conservative government (albeit one enjoying considerable popular support). It also continued to supply key terms in the lexicon of the liberal generation who supported the continuation of the reform movement inaugurated by the López administration, as illustrated by the case of José María Samper. As a young lawyer, Samper gave lectures at the Sociedad Democrática of Bogotá, wrote about ciencia constitucional (constitutional science, whose study was “more required in democratic governments” given the need to form citizens), and was then elected to congress during the López administration. The 1854 rebellion reinforced his hostility to the

49 Anon., La Revolución (Bogotá, 1858).

50 Mensaje del presidente de la Nueva Granada al Congreso Nacional (Bogotá, 1858), 9–​10.

356  Re-imagining Democracy army; the fall of Ospina in 1861, he thought, proved the “federalist opinion” of the nation. He elaborated a “theory” of the “democratic republic” whose aim was to reconcile the rights of individuals with those of the people (a preoccupation in several countries in the wake of the perceived rise of socialism). Samper projected a horizon where “universal democracy” would prevail—​and suggested that the “Latin American race . . . constituted under the democratic form” was charged with a “mission” to encourage movement toward that goal. For him, mestizaje (the prevalence of mixed-​race people) and democracy were closely interrelated; indeed, the latter was the “inevitable” outcome of the former. Samper addressed the constitutional assembly convened after Ospina’s fall by publishing a “liberal program” in which he stated that the “only acceptable politics” for New Granada would be the “development of liberal democracy to its fullness,” taking into consideration not only the rights of both government and opposition, but also the needs of the population.51 In 1863, however, when an exclusively liberal convention met in Ríonegro, the main challenge was the threat of a dictatorship under Mosquera, who was present at the convention. An extreme version of federalism and a weakened executive, elected for a period of only two years, was proposed in response. “Federation and liberty are the principles” upon which the new constitution “rests,” stated Justo Arosemena, the Panamanian who presided over the convention.52 He did not refer to democracy. However, the expression was by this time embedded in the political vocabulary of the country and continued thereafter to exercise its allure, though perhaps with less intensity as new challenges emerged. The federal system that came out of Ríonegro succeeded in containing Mosquera and the army, but it was arguable, as Samper had suggested, that if the federation and the democratic republic were going to survive, democracy would have to be instituted in the municipalities, the main centers of social life.

Conclusion “The word democracy,” the Colombian conservative Sergio Arboleda noted in 1869, “has been repeated endlessly over half a century in Spanish America, 51 See José María Samper, La Federación Colombiana (Bogotá, 1855); El Programa de un liberal (Paris, 1861), and Ensayo sobre las revoluciones políticas y la condición social de las repúblicas colombianas (Bogotá, 1984 [1861]). 52 Anales de la Convención, Rionegro, May 11, 1863.

The Allure of Democracy in New Granada  357 yet we haven’t seen a single written text, nor heard a speech, that explain its true meaning.” Arboleda may have meant to call into question the merits of democracy, and indeed he devoted part of his essay to its “excesses” and the threat of “the despotism of the ignorant” under corrupt caudillos, since, he said, democracy, in its rigorous’ meaning, could not exist, as “the crowd cannot govern.”53 Arboleda, however, did not reject democracy; instead, he elaborated a vision of it tied to the moral virtues taught by Catholicism, where the majority, so educated, would be fit to select the ruling minority. Arboleda’s essay shows that the term could serve very different purposes. During the period covered by this chapter, the language of democracy acquired multiple meanings while the universe of its users expanded. If in the first decades of the nineteenth century it had been a term cited by a learned few, mostly to discuss the forms of government though also to decry privileges, by the 1850s it had been appropriated by popular sectors to demand a more equal social order. But democracy had also become a battlefield on which political parties contended, the subject of competing narratives. Conservatives like Arboleda, as shown above, endorsed a conception of “democratic power” that justified rule by the few, but liberals like Cerbeleón Pinzón by contrast advocated an all-​embracing democracy, one formed by “the wise . . . and the ignorant, by the . . . rich . . . and the poor, by the white, the colored, the aboriginals, the mixture of all these races. . . . [This would be] the democratic republic, the government of all, truly popular.”54 Fascination with the word among Colombians reached its peak in the 1850s. Democracy did not lose aspirational value in the following decades, but the debate was often more focused on the instruments needed to make it work,55 yet another form of re-​imagining.

53 Arboleda wrote a series of articles on political vocabulary, serialized first in the press and then published in book format in 1869; I have used a later edition, La República en la América española (Bogotá, 1972), “Vocabulario político: Democracia,” 179-​189. 54 Cited in Adriano Páez, La Constitución del estado soberano de Santander puesta al alcance del pueblo (Socorro, 1865), 69. 55 For example, the liberal Rafael Rocha Gutiérrez was pressing for “minority representation” as the “great democratic principle”; see his pamphlet, Artículos sobre orden jeneral (Bogotá, 1869), 74.

16 Moderating the “Democratic Impetus” Trajectories of Democracy in Chile Juan Luis Ossa

The captaincy general of Chile, one of the most peripheral colonies of the Spanish empire, reacted to the Napoleonic invasion of 1808 in much the same way as the rest of Spanish America. In the monarch’s absence, power groups in Santiago and Concepción, the main Chilean cities, argued that the administration of the territory should pass into the hands of a local governing junta with executive powers. This entailed a political revolution that allowed local politicians, landowners, merchants, and the military to take charge of the decision-​making process, ultimately resulting in Chile’s independence from Spain and acquisition of a republican government. During the following half-​century, Chilean political life was marked by three distinctive characteristics. First, the supremacy of Santiago over other cities was evident as early as 1810, when it was agreed that the junta should reside in the capital. The relatively compact and accessible character of Chile’s densely populated Central Valley undoubtedly helped to sustain its dominance thereafter. Although the Santiago-​based national executive faced several provincial rebellions—​from both south and north—​attempts to federalize the country always failed. Second, it was rapidly accepted—​by both liberals and conservatives—​that a constitution provided the best mechanism for institutionalizing the republican system. After an initial decade or so of uncertainty, during which powerful factions failed to agree on any of several constitutions, the constitution of 1833, though initially imposed in a relatively authoritarian manner, gradually won enough acceptance to support a consensual parliamentary culture. From the 1840s, loyal oppositions usually found scope to express dissent within its parameters. Third, the Chilean ruling elite was notably homogenous and bound together by a web of kin relationships. Its haciendas covered a large part of the territory and provided a focus for rural social life. Its homogeneity prevented racial factors Juan Luis Ossa, Moderating the “Democratic Impetus” In: Re-​imagining Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1780–​1870. Edited by: Eduardo Posada-​Carbó, Joanna Innes, and Mark Philp, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/​oso/​9780197631577.003.0016

Trajectories of Democracy in Chile  359 from being truly divisive. Even though various political conflicts arose because of differences of opinion within the elite, the people, more broadly conceived, presented a danger primarily inasmuch as they had the potential to be persuaded to unite behind dissidents. The history of the word “democracy” in Chile followed a fairly standard course, in that it originally had negative connotations, connoting especially the direct participation of the people, and as such was contrasted with “representation”—​a contrast influentially developed by Benjamin Constant.1 Later, it came to connote representative government, though it remained possible to argue that the system was not as democratic as it might be. From the 1840s, various letrados argued that representative democracy properly understood required the participation not just of the “few” but of the “many.”2 A symbiosis between democracy and representation came to be acclaimed as the best mechanism to resolve political conflicts.

The Republican Consensus As in other parts of Latin America, republicanism in Chile did not develop in a lineal or progressive way. A notable feature of the revolution that began in 1810 was that the king and the monarchical system continued to enjoy considerable legitimacy for a decade. There were, it is true, early arguments for replacing the overarching Spanish monarchy with a local republican regime.3 Thus, the anonymous author of the Catecismo Político Cristiano, a pamphlet that circulated in Santiago in September 1810 in the weeks before a junta was established to govern the territory while the throne was vacant, recommended republican government as the form “that least separates men from the primitive equality in which the omnipotent God has created them.”4 Others, like Antonio José de Irisarri, argued in 1813 that the concept

1 Benjamin Constant, Principios de política aplicables a todos los gobiernos (Buenos Aires, 2010 [1815]), 38. 2 The analogy of the “many” and the “few” comes from Hilda Sabato, The Many and the Few. Political Participation in Republican Buenos Aires (Stanford, CA, 2001). I take the word letrados from Tulio Halperin Donghi, Letrados y pensadores. El perfilamiento del intelectual hispanoamericano en el siglo XIX (Buenos Aires, 2013). 3 Ana María Stuven, La seducción de un orden. Las elites y la construcción de Chile en las polémicas culturales y políticas del siglo XIX (Santiago, 2000), 32–​33. 4 Ricardo Donoso. ed., El Catecismo Político Cristiano (Santiago, 1943), 7.

360  Re-imagining Democracy of republic “conveys an idea of justice, equity, and convenience that makes its meaning pleasant.”5 Yet these commentaries were exceptional compared to what seems to have been the general opinion of the ruling sectors as to what form of government to adopt. Even radicals like José Miguel Carrera, known at the time as the “Chilean Robespierre,” hesitated before declaring in favor of independence and republicanism.6 The first years of the revolution unfolded within a monarchical milieu, in which even those who preached republicanism did not necessarily conceive of it as a political regime contrasting with monarchism, but rather as a way of re-​staging the virtue of the ancients in the early nineteenth century: setting government on new ethical foundations.7 Chile’s Declaration of Independence (1818) did not refer to the introduction of republican institutions, and Bernardo O’Higgins’ administration (1817–​1823) repeatedly flirted with monarchism.8 O’Higgins favored a personalized type of government—​a monarchy (rule by a single person), if not a traditional monarchy; something not vastly different in kind from the system through which the Spanish Bourbons had governed during the second half of the eighteenth century, or from the way in which O’Higgins’ greatest ally, José de San Martín, ruled in Peru following the Chilean state’s funding of a “liberating” army to expel the last royalists from the Southern Cone (1820–​1823).9 Separation from the Spanish crown did not, therefore, necessarily entail wholesale rejection of monarchical institutions. Still, insofar as it was accepted that independent Chile could not be ruled by one person only, it was necessary to decide the nature of the new system—​the republic. The so-​called Chilean elite might have been socially coherent, but its members defended very different ways forward depending on their political, geographical, and economic interests.10 Some advocated a centralized type of republic, while others were convinced federalists; some were keen to reduce the power of the Church in the public sphere, while others saw the Church as an untouchable 5 Quoted in Gonzalo Izquierdo, Historia de Chile (3 vols., Santiago, 1989–​1990), 1:28. 6 Gaceta del Gobierno, February 9, 1815, 93. 7 Susana Gazmuri, “La función de la Antigüedad Greco-​Romana en el lenguaje y paradigmas republicanos en Chile. Emancipación y República (1810-​1830),” (Unpublished doctoral thesis, Instituto de Historia de la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, 2015). 8 Simon Collier, Ideas and Politics of Chilean Independence, 1808-​1833 (London, 1967), 251–​56. 9 Alfredo Jocelyn-​Holt, La independencia de Chile. Tradición, modernización y mito (Madrid, 1992), 234–​35. 10 Maria Rosaria Stabili, El sentimiento aristocrático. Elites chilenas frente al espejo (1860-​196 (Santiago, 2002).

Trajectories of Democracy in Chile  361 power; some supported the freedom of the press, while others rejected it as promoting excessive political participation.11 What role did “democracy” play in these early discussions? The republican turn within the ruling sectors was not accompanied by express sympathy for “democracy,” whether understood to mean expansion in the power of the people or social equality. Camilo Henríquez, Diego Portales, and Mariano Egaña represented very different interests and subsectors of the upper classes: Henríquez was one of the country’s most important letrados, Portales made his wealth and political power through commerce, while Egaña had traveled to London as Chile’s representative. Despite their differences, however, they all shared a negative view of democracy. In 1822, Henríquez declared that representation was the only mechanism that could “moderate” the unwanted “democratic impetus” of the popular groups. His main concern was that Chileans might replicate the excesses of the Jacobins.12 While it is less clear how he understood the term, Portales was equally critical when he summarized his thoughts that same year: “Democracy . . . is an absurdity in our Spanish American countries.”13 Egaña, for his part, declared in July 1827 that democracy was “the worst enemy America has.”14 It is suggestive of the low status of the term that democracy was not invoked to justify the revolutionary movement that brought about O’Higgins’ fall in 1823. The provincial groups from the cities of Concepción and Coquimbo who ousted him believed that O’Higgins had become “despotic.”15 But their anti-​authoritarian stand did not imply a claim that new social sectors should thenceforth be allowed to participate more actively in politics. His opponents moreover did not see O’Higgins’ authoritarianism as an effect of his military background; this explains why his opponents did not hesitate to support another military officer, Ramón Freire, to replace him in the role of supreme director.16 Freire was seen as more likely to share power with the legislative 11 For a recent overview in English of the 1820s, see Joanna Crow, ed., “Special Issue: New Perspectives on Political Ideas and Practices in Post‐Independence Chile (1818–​1830),” Bulletin of Latin American Research 36, no. 3 (2017). 12 Quoted in Gabriel Cid, “El temor al ‘reinado del populacho’. El concepto de democracia durante la Independencia chilena,” Universum 32, no. 1 (2017): 205. 13 Quoted in English by Iván Jaksić, Andrés Bello: Scholarship and Nation-​Building in Nineteenth-​ Century Latin America (Cambridge, 2001), 96. 14 Quoted in Stuven, La seducción de un orden, 45. 15 See the documents of the Asamblea provincial de los pueblos libres de Concepción in Archivo Histórico de Mendoza, box 704. 16 Cristóbal García-​Huidobro, “Tradición y revolución en la formación del Estado en Chile post-​ independiente: las asambleas provinciales (1822-​1830),” Illes i Imperis, no. 20 (2018): 47–​78. The institution of the supreme director was inspired by various traditions, both in the River Plate and Chile.

362  Re-imagining Democracy bodies and the provinces, but he was no more likely to try to broaden the social base of the regime than O’Higgins. Overall, a profound revolution in politics occurred during these years: Chileans not only declared their independence from Spain in 1818, but also moved from a monarchical to a republican system. Yet the republican consensus of the early 1820s built on fear of democracy. The upper sectors were afraid of the “anarchical” elements associated with the concept. Article 21 of the 1828 constitution declared that Chile was a “popular representative republic” but did not endorse democracy.17 As we will see, it was only after the publication of that constitution that a few men of letters timidly began to consider representation as a tool that might be used to temper democracy, not simply to provide an alternative to it.

Liberalism and Representation: 1824–​1830 While the republican turn of the 1820s hardly represented a bid for democracy, the same cannot be said of Chile’s emerging liberalism. Chilean letrados absorbed various currents from enlightened and republican traditions, and the liberalism that evolved was closely linked to republicanism: Anglo-​Saxon ideas of freedom, Continental or French liberalism of the 1810s and 1820s (which considered the state as the main guarantor of freedom), Hispanic liberalism from Cádiz (more reformist than revolutionary), classical republicanism (with its marked accent on public virtue), and enlightened or Catholic republicanism (inspired above all by authors of the Spanish Enlightenment) combined to infuse thinking. People like Juan Egaña, Camilo Henríquez, Manuel de Salas, José Miguel Infante, Andrés Bello, and José Victorino Lastarria drew, despite their political differences, on the same intellectual reservoir of enlightenment traditions, as well as on ancient republican ideas passed down through Spanish neo-​scholasticism and on a revolutionary republicanism in which the “people” (pueblo) was conceived as “the holder of sovereignty.”18

See Juan Luis Ossa and Alejandro Rabinovich, “Directores, dictadores y protectores. Las formas de la política revolucionaria en el Cono Sur, 1810-​1824,” Revista de Indias 81, no. 281 (2021): 19–​49. 17 https://​www.cam​ara.cl/​cam​ara/​doc/​archiv​o_​hi​stor​ico/​c_​1​828.pdf 18 François-​Xavier Guerra, Modernidad e Independencias. Ensayos sobre las revoluciones hispánicas (Mexico City, 1992), 135.

Trajectories of Democracy in Chile  363 The republican thinking that grew and took root embraced both what José Antonio Aguilar calls the “skin-​deep” conception of the republic (understood as a “regime of government” that is opposed to monarchy) and the “substantive” conception (which is a specific form of political thought that, in general, is called republicanism).19 Both these strands of republicanism developed in close conversation with the emerging liberalism. Thus the idea that any type of tyranny should be fought was shared by classic and revolutionary republicanisms and was an increasingly central element of liberal thinking. Likewise the argument, drawing on a broadly liberal conception of national sovereignty, that Chile should be independent of any foreign power was used by republicans when they defended the break with the Peninsula. For its part, the republican preference to give the state the responsibility of educating the new citizens was endorsed by noted liberals, such as Francisco Antonio Pinto and José Joaquín de Mora. Finally, once the liberal republican consensus was accomplished in the 1820s, even the most moderate liberals who historically had been prone to constitutional monarchy (the paradigmatic case is that of Andrés Bello) saw the republic as the only system that could replace the absolutist monarchy of Fernando VII.20 Chilean liberalism in the 1820s is generally held to have been embodied in the pipiolos (“novices”), whose electoral and ideological rivals were the more conservative pelucones (“big-​wigs”). Ramón Freire—​who was first appointed to succeed O’Higgins as supreme director and then was elected president—​and his minister Francisco Antonio Pinto developed a type of liberalism that dominated the political scene for the next couple of years because it reconciled various of the ideological traditions noted above, some of which appealed even to more conservative or moderate groups.21 Indeed, the pipiolos were moderate centralizers; they saw equality before the law as a major principle; they believed elections were the best mechanism for appointing authorities, but did not favor any significant change to existing franchise rules (which were already inclusive by European standards, though less so than those of some other Latin American states); they were firm supporters of the freedom of the press. The pipiolo government (1824–​ 1829) established all these principles in the 1828 constitution, which also 19 José Antonio Aguilar, “Dos conceptos de república,” in El republicanismo en Hispanoamérica. Ensayos de historia intelectual y política, ed. José Antonio Aguilar and Rafael Rojas (Mexico City, 2002), 57–​85. 20 Juan Luis Ossa, “No One’s Monopoly. Chilean Liberalism in the Post-​Independent Period, 1823-​ 1830,” Bulletin of Latin American Research 36, no. 3 (2017): 299–​312. 21 Collier, Ideas and Politics, ch. 8.

364  Re-imagining Democracy invested some powers in provincial assemblies, restricted the role of the Catholic Church, limited the powers of the president vis-​á-​vis the legislature, and abolished privileges such as mayorazgos (legal arrangements designed to maintain family landholdings through time).22 This constitution made no mention of democracy. Nonetheless, the formulation “representative democracy