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Open Access Tricks of the Slave Trade

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Tricks of the Slave Trade

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Cuba and the Small-Scale Dynamics of the Spanish Transatlantic Trade in Human Beings

Around 1808, Spaniards’ ability to outfit and successfully complete slaving expeditions to Africa paled in comparison to the skill of French and British slavers. In the wake of British Abolitionism and the Cuban sugar revolution, however, some Spaniards learned the tricks of the slave trade and by 1835 had brought over 300,000 captives to Cuba and Puerto Rico (most went to Cuba). This article presents evidence on the process through which some Spaniards successfully became slave traders, highlighting the transition from early trial ventures around 1809–15 to the mastering of the trade by 1830. It pays particular attention to the operations and perspectives of the Havana-based firm Cuesta Manzanal & Hermano and to the slave trading activities on the Pongo River by the crewmen of the Spanish ship La Gaceta. Although scholars have an increasingly solid perception of the magnitude and consequences of the Cuba-based trade in human beings in the nineteenth century, the small-scale dynamics of this process, ultimately inseparable from long-term developments, remain elusive. This article adds further nuance to our knowledge of the post-1808 surge in the Spanish transatlantic slave trade.

Affiliations: 1: Department of History, University of Southern California perezmor@usc.edu

10.1163/22134360-09101001
/content/journals/10.1163/22134360-09101001
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Around 1808, Spaniards’ ability to outfit and successfully complete slaving expeditions to Africa paled in comparison to the skill of French and British slavers. In the wake of British Abolitionism and the Cuban sugar revolution, however, some Spaniards learned the tricks of the slave trade and by 1835 had brought over 300,000 captives to Cuba and Puerto Rico (most went to Cuba). This article presents evidence on the process through which some Spaniards successfully became slave traders, highlighting the transition from early trial ventures around 1809–15 to the mastering of the trade by 1830. It pays particular attention to the operations and perspectives of the Havana-based firm Cuesta Manzanal & Hermano and to the slave trading activities on the Pongo River by the crewmen of the Spanish ship La Gaceta. Although scholars have an increasingly solid perception of the magnitude and consequences of the Cuba-based trade in human beings in the nineteenth century, the small-scale dynamics of this process, ultimately inseparable from long-term developments, remain elusive. This article adds further nuance to our knowledge of the post-1808 surge in the Spanish transatlantic slave trade.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22134360-09101001
2017-01-01
2017-11-20

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