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Slave Exports and the Politics of Slave Punishment during Colombia’s Abolition Process (1820s–1840s)

In: Journal of Global Slavery
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  • 1 Yale University, USA, New Haven, CT
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Abstract

This article focuses on the contentious process that characterized the slow, gradual abolition of slavery in Colombia and New Granada between 1821 and 1852. I investigate how in this period slaveowners in the southwest advocated for their right to export their slaves as a form of punishment. In the foundation of the antislavery Colombian Republic, the 1821 manumission law had prohibited Colombians from participating in slave trading. Yet the slave-owning elite justified their appeal for exporting their enslaved property by claiming that selling the slaves outside of Colombian territory (New Granadan after Colombia was dissolved in 1830) was a strategy to get rid of the Afro-descendant populations, whom they considered to be dangerous to the social order. I also study how the position of the enslaved in the southwestern region was politicized both by the military dynamics and legal changes underway after independence. Justifying slave exports as a punishment of the “unruly slaves” was not only a strategy of the slaveowners to regain their capital. It was, mainly, a form of empowerment in response to the challenges they faced as a class in the context of gradual abolition, including the state’s courting of slaves through antislavery legislation.

Abstract

This article focuses on the contentious process that characterized the slow, gradual abolition of slavery in Colombia and New Granada between 1821 and 1852. I investigate how in this period slaveowners in the southwest advocated for their right to export their slaves as a form of punishment. In the foundation of the antislavery Colombian Republic, the 1821 manumission law had prohibited Colombians from participating in slave trading. Yet the slave-owning elite justified their appeal for exporting their enslaved property by claiming that selling the slaves outside of Colombian territory (New Granadan after Colombia was dissolved in 1830) was a strategy to get rid of the Afro-descendant populations, whom they considered to be dangerous to the social order. I also study how the position of the enslaved in the southwestern region was politicized both by the military dynamics and legal changes underway after independence. Justifying slave exports as a punishment of the “unruly slaves” was not only a strategy of the slaveowners to regain their capital. It was, mainly, a form of empowerment in response to the challenges they faced as a class in the context of gradual abolition, including the state’s courting of slaves through antislavery legislation.

1 War, Abolition, and the Politics of Slave Punishment in Southwestern Colombia and New Granada

One particularity of Colombia’s 1821 constitutional abolitionist project was that its institutional, economic, and social implications became visible and extremely controversial post-facto. That is, the abolitionist foundations of the Colombian Republic (including Ecuador, Venezuela, New Granada, and Panama, which was part of New Granada at that time) were not the product of a deep process of deliberation or a concerted vision that represented all the regional elites’ interests. Rather, the decision to tie the independence, revolutionary, and republican projects to an antislavery program emerged during the war of independence, stemming from the pragmatic, strategic alliance of the Bolivarian armies with the populations of African descent mobilized as soldiers and from Simón Bolívar’s diplomatic commitments with Haiti.1

Colombia promulgated its gradualist abolition legislation in the 1821 Cúcuta Constitution. The law of 21 July 1821, called the “law of manumission,” had three parts: (1) the creation of manumission juntas in each municipality to free slaves with the funds that the juntas would collect from inheritance taxes (testamentarias); (2) the Free Womb law that declared that all children born from an enslaved mother after 21 July 1821 would be free and established that the freed child or liberto would live with his/her mother’s owner until the age of eighteen, working for the mother’s owner to repay his/her maintenance during those years; (3) the continuation of the internal slave trade, but the prohibition of the importation and exportation of enslaved people into and out of Colombia.2

This article examines the ideological, political, and legal background of the southwestern slaveowners’ successful campaign of the second half of the 1840s to change New Granadan legislation to allow them to ship their slaves, via Buenaventura, to Panama and then sell them to Peruvian and U.S. buyers. The combative politics of the slaveholding elites at the center of this article show that they succeeded by framing this goal in the rhetoric of punishment and thus exported the slaves legally during the years between 1843 and 1847. The southwestern slaveowners’ desire to sell their slaves outside of New Granada went back to the 1820s, in part as a reaction to the social and political threats that these regional elites saw in the rights that people of African descent were acquiring as a result of Colombia’s abolition project.

Through the abolitionist project, the leaders of the independent republic positioned Colombia in the vanguard of antislavery among other American states. The abolition of the slave trade was a fundamental element of Colombia’s gradual abolition law seeking on one hand to limit the arrival of more enslaved people into the territory. On the other hand, it was central to the insurgent Spanish Americans’ opposition to Spain’s expanding slave economy and an expression of contemporary geopolitical developments unifying the imperial and republican states of the Atlantic around the goal to end slave trading.3

Just as happened everywhere across the Americas, immediately after the promulgation of the Colombian antislavery laws, slaveowners posed practical obstacles to the implementation of all aspects of the manumission law. Internally, these laws were a form of negotiation with the people of African descent and a means to expand the new state’s bureaucratic structure into provincial areas. For this latter reason, underlying the conflicts that arose with regional elites—not just in southwestern New Granada, also in Venezuela and Ecuador—was an antagonism, a resistance directed against the central government located in Bogotá starting in 1822.4

The slaveholding elite of Colombia’s southwest publicly opposed the state’s fast-changing relationship to the enslaved that the gradual abolition project implied. This elite was one fortified through family networks and its deep roots in the colonial system of gold extraction, colonial New Granada’s most important contribution to the Spanish economy. The elite also possessed haciendas and profited from regional commerce in a market connecting Cali and Popayán with Cartagena, Antioquia, Panama, and Santa Fe to the north and with Quito and Guayaquil to the south.5 Having headed the local government since colonial times, after independence the Arboleda, Mosquera, Valencia, Torres, and Arroyo families (among others) defended their economic and political power and sought to maintain a central role in the republican government.6 Though the patriarchs of these families made alliances with Bolívar during his march south in 1822 while he was enjoying the victories of the Ejército Libertador in the region, the South’s relationship with Bogotá was never easy. This was due to these elites’ interests in, among other things, defending the capital they possessed in enslaved property and putting their economic vision at the forefront of republican development projects.7

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Map 1

Southwestern New Granada in the Republic of Colombia

Citation: Journal of Global Slavery 7, 1-2 (2022) ; 10.1163/2405836X-00701006

Map by Yoly Velandria based on “Province of Popayán” by Santiago Muñoz and “Provincia de Popayán, siglo XVIII. Relieve e hidrografía,” by Marta Herrera Angel

To understand how the slaveowners’ activism evolved in the specific social context of the Colombian/New Granadan South, we must look at the parallel and entwined history of the politics of the enslaved.8 The perspectives and interests of slaveholders from the southwest were shaped by the behavior of their slaves and the free people of African descent who lived in the region, in urban as well as in rural areas, at two critical junctures: during the independence war throughout the 1820s, and in the 1840s, when tensions increased during and after the first civil war fought in New Granada, the War of the Supremes. As we will see below, powerful slaveholders, members of the Mosquera, Arroyo, and Arboleda families, reacted to the unruliness of the slaves, arguing that the export of “dangerous” slaves was the solution to their problems. While slaveowners were proposing changes to the law in Congress, they were also selling their slaves illegally with impunity.

Historian Jacques Aprile Ginset found that illegal trade through the port of Cascajal in Buenaventura went back to the origins of the republic. He wrote that “from 1826 to 1850, at least, New Granadans and foreigners doing business, as well as ship captains, even Europeans … negotiated equally with gold and slaves.” Thus, the central role that the sale of slaves played in commerce along the Pacific coast of South America and the persistence of a small-scale local market in Buenaventura both suggest that, despite the existence of a law against slave trading, this traffic had continued. During the period in which slaveowners and slave traders could get away with this in different parts of the territory, the punishment of slaves through their transportation outside of Colombia was framed in the politics of the independence wars when significant sectors of the enslaved population sided with the Spanish government and, later, in the civil war in New Granada when slaves were allies of the liberals who supported abolition.9

As Diana Paton argued, “part of the legal meaning of slavery’s abolition is that” the right to punish their slaves “is withdrawn from slaveholders” and taken over by the state.10 Two specific elements that underlie this relationship defined slave exports as punishment in Colombia’s abolition process. First, in the context of Spanish rule slaves convicted of crimes were frequently expelled as punishment and this practice informed the southwestern New Granada slaveholders’ view of their right to sell their slaves whom they considered rebellious during and after independence.11 Yet in the late eighteenth century the Bourbons had initiated establishing mechanisms to oversee slavery, mediate the relationship between master and slave, and control slaveowners’ treatment of their enslaved property by promulgating the 1789 Instrucción sobre la educación, trato y ocupaciones de los esclavos.12 Though the Crown ultimately withdrew the cédula in response to slaveholders’ protests, the protective measure was fundamental to changes in slave politics across the Spanish empire and even influenced British policy in the Caribbean.13 The legacy in New Granada was twofold: as “the state laid claim to the master’s power to punish,” the enslaved saw the state as increasingly protective.14

Based on the precedent of this attempt at legal reform, the second factor that defined slave punishment in Colombia was abolition, in turn a crucial element in the politics of slave military recruitment. Abolition itself was a project publicized among the enslaved as a humanitarian act that would benefit them, in view of the need to mobilize the slaves militarily and counter the threat of slave royalism. Moreover, the Bolivarian antislavery state reinstated the protective Bourbon law to position the republican government as the only legitimate authority that could make decisions about slave punishment. This was meant not just to mitigate the violence of slaveowners against slaves but, as we will see, other forms of punishment—namely slave exports—seen as tyrannic in nature and unsanctioned by law. The representatives of the Bolivarian state, including the Vice-President Francisco de Paula Santander who issued a decree to regulate slave treatment in 1822, prioritized winning the slaves over to the Colombian side by adopting the protective stance vis-à-vis slaves that the Bourbon state had sought to establish in the late eighteenth century, which was simultaneously an effort to exercise greater control over slaveowners.

The region’s powerful slave-owning elites obviously clashed with this approach. They saw the republic’s policies as threatening to their rights as a class and embarked on a rebuttal of the Colombian state between the 1820s and 1840s to legalize their right to export their slaves deemed as dangerous. Taken together these two positions illustrate different views on slave punishment that were guided by the opposing interests of the Colombian/New Granadan elites contending for power. By forcing the state to restore their right to sell their slaves out of New Granada in the 1840s, the slaveowners in the southwest achieved a victory by reclaiming their legitimacy to punish the slaves through deportation and recover their investments in slaves. At a time when the politics of enslaved people intensified in search not just for freedom but moreover rights in the new republic, they became the objects of the southwestern elites’ rage. The slaveowners declared the enslaved enemies and sold them both illegally and legally to buyers in Panama and Peru. Physical removal became one of the harshest punishments because it destroyed the slave communities, violated the rights that the enslaved and their children had acquired in the Colombian legislation, and exposed them to the additional vulnerability of the slave market in a country that was not their own.

2 Republican Regulation of the Treatment of Slaves

Throughout the war of independence that took place between 1810 and 1825, the southwestern elites struggled to control and contain the enslaved and free Afro-descendant populations that lived in the region, who had acquired unprecedented power and agency. Freeing slaves was a crucial strategy of the colonial officials and later of the Spanish military commanders, who arrived to repress the creole insurrection in places like Cali and Quito. The insurgents also had recourse to arming slaves. In both cases, slaveowners understood that the juncture of the war had fueled a potent and irreversible political dynamic among the enslaved. Whether they mobilized in favor of independence or in favor of the Crown, the slaves’ degree of political recognition by the state and their antagonism with the slaveowners increased.15

Given the tensions around slavery that the independence process unleashed, conflicts heightened in the southwest at the precise time when Bolívar was heading toward Quito and Peru with his army, seeking to recruit more slaves. The South had one of the largest populations of slaves in New Granada in the new Republic of Colombia. On the eve of independence there were around 100,000 slaves in Colombia, including 46,000 in New Granada, about half of whom lived in the southwest. The enslaved worked in haciendas or in the cities. Others in the Pacific Lowlands lived in gold mining camps in cuadrillas or slave gangs, which also constituted communities.16 The density of the enslaved population in the region led Bolívar to reason that they were a crucial group with potential to reenforce his army.17

In October 1821, the Colonel José Concha who oversaw the campaign around Cali, knowing the need for enlisting slaves, made an extreme decision and publicly promised slaves that they could gain freedom and free their families if they joined the army. This desperate offer was quickly controversial among slaveowners in the area. They complained to Bogotá and pressed the government to withdraw Concha’s offers.18 They also punished the slaves who collaborated with Concha. Yet the enslaved were aware of the need that the republic had for their support, and many approached him to complain of mistreatment by their masters, seeking his protection. Colonel Concha sent a letter on 26 January 1822 informing Vice-President Santander that slaves were being tyrannized by their masters and asking that the government produce a regulation to guarantee the slaves’ proper treatment. Concha stressed that the masters were furious with the enslaved. Their retaliation was making slaves afraid to accept the government’s invitation to mobilize in the army. The problem was that “masters” did not know how to penalize the slaves according to their fault and punished them with “vengeful passion.” “Your Excellency is the only one who can remedy this” he wrote, “for that reason, I share with you the clamors of this oppressed humanity.”19

In response, the Secretary of Interior in Bogotá, José Manuel Restrepo, asked Santiago Pérez in his office to write a regulation to address this problem. The draft document, dated 25 February 1822, reveals the process whereby the final decree was produced. While Pérez intended to create a legislation for adapting slavery to the republican context—regulating working hours and the care of the enslaved, also ensuring the state would have the privilege of punishing them, if needed—Restrepo’s comments shifted the emphasis in two important ways.20 He noted the slaves’ crucial participation in the war and said they should be made aware that abolition was a project that the Colombian state had devised for their benefit. Restrepo added that the punishment of the enslaved should be regulated based on the Spanish cédula of 31 May 1789 for the treatment of slaves, which had established guidelines for the slaves’ fair treatment by their masters.

Why was Restrepo linking the republican regulation of slavery with the 1789 Spanish cédula? It is worth recalling that the Instrucción had in fact been repealed by the Spanish Crown soon after it aroused tensions with slaveowners across the monarchy’s territories. Despite that, in the southwest, it had become essential for the administration of slavery and, importantly, for the politics of the enslaved themselves.21 It seems surprising for the republic to have invoked a Spanish law in the realm of slavery precisely when it was embarking on an antislavery project, claiming to reject that institution on the basis that it was a perverse Spanish legacy. It is also interesting that in Restrepo’s view Colombia should ground the republican state’s offer of protection to the slaves on the Spanish law. Yet it is even more significant that Restrepo wrote in his comments to Pérez’s draft that it was important to apply the Instrucción so that, were slaves to commit serious crimes, “the masters should report this to the republican authorities so they are punished in the same way as other citizens, as the Spanish cédula orders,” and added, “in this way we will prevent the masters’ fraud who take the criminal slaves to distant places to be sold.”22 It is clear here how republican officials in Bogotá prioritized ending the slaveowners’ practice of punishing the enslaved by removing them from the territory, which went against the law abolishing slave trading and deterred slaves from joining the army.

Following these recommendations, on 14 March, Vice-President Santander issued a decree that responded to Concha’s reports of slaveowners’ widespread mistreatment of slaves, “that they are not well-dressed nor properly fed, and subjected to inhumane punishments.”23 Santander’s decree communicated that the Spanish cédula of 1789 should be published in every town, informing that the law was “not repealed” by the Colombian congress and must be observed in the treatment of slaves. The 1822 Colombian decree highlighted the duties of the slaveowners to dress and feed slaves according to the cédula and referred to the regulation of labor hours. Article 7 remarked on the limitations on punishment that the law had established, namely that correction should be moderate. In a statement that reveals how crucial the regulation of slavery was to the Colombian state project and its own state-building process, Santander’s decree mentioned that local officials should make sure “that the families of those slaves who have served under the republican flags are well-treated,” adding that “any owner of slaves who mistreats these families will be punished with utmost severity because [that behavior] is clearly a sign of hatred of the current [republican] system.” Article 9 said that priests should inform slaves about the “great benefit” they had received from the Colombian government in the form of freedom for their children, and the government’s efforts to seek funds to slowly free the parents. Yet, it specified that “loyal slaves of good customs and the most hardworking will be preferred.” The priests should also inform the slaves that if “the Spanish government returned” neither they nor their children would receive any of these benefits.

With this decree the Colombian government adapted the institution of slavery to the republican context, centering it under the republican government’s authority, while it was gradually abolishing it. The constitutional law of manumission and the decree of 1822 together sought to drive the enslaved to the republican side in the ongoing independence war, delineating the incentives for rejecting Spanish rule and portraying the republic as their benefactor. In relation to the slaves, the government attempted to position itself in the same paternalist stance used by the Spanish Crown, in a framework that—as Christian De Vito analyses in his essay in this special issue—sought to regulate the punishment of the enslaved and establish control of the slave-owning class. But it went further by politicizing the question of the treatment of the slaves and their punishment at the juncture of the war of independence. Slaveowners who did not follow the rules would now be deemed to be acting against the republican government. With the publication of the Spanish law, the republic’s intention was to make slaves aware of the mechanisms it established for their protection and the benefits offered them in abolishing slavery gradually. Crucially, these benefits were conditional on the slaves’ loyalty to the new government and their rejection of the Spanish one.

As we will see next, this is relevant to understand how, in the slaveowners’ campaign to export their slaves, they appropriated the language of loyalty to the republic that the 1822 decree presented as the condition for the slaves’ protection. They argued that since the government was taking steps to protect and benefit the slaves, expelling slaves who were turbulent, and therefore against the republic, was justified.

3 Slaveholders’ Activism in Favor of Removing Turbulent Slaves

The law of 21 July 1821, which set the Republic of Colombia on a gradual path toward abolition, was published in Popayán on 8 September of the same year.24 Immediately, representatives of the most powerful slave-owning families in the southwest whose wealth had been the product of gold extracted by their slave gangs in their Pacific lowland mines, presented proposals of reform to the 1821 law. Gerónimo Torres was followed by members of the Mosquera family in outlining the different subjects that they found either “unreasonable,” “harmful,” “unjust,” or “inviable.” These points can be summarized as follows: First, they challenged the state’s capacity to provide fair compensation to the owners for their property and exposed the harmful effects of the Free Womb law, which would frustrate the slaveowners’ expectation to see their capital reproduced through the ongoing births of new slaves. Second, they disputed the logic of gradual emancipation through manumission, arguing that this would have the imprudent effect of generating inequality and therefore resentment among the enslaved. Third, they wanted to have the freedom to sell their slaves outside of the country, a measure that would allow them to retain their wealth instead of losing it progressively during the gradual process of slavery’s extinction. This point was based on a racist discourse about the dangers of the Afro-descendant populations, whose unruliness since independence was evidence that they were enemies of the republic and a latent danger to the social order. A fourth and final point complementing this notion was that both free-born and freed Blacks, while they were being educated to be free laborers, should be classified in a separate socio-legal category.25

Thus, the slave-owning elite from the southwest developed a project of exporting their enslaved property that went against—and was made illegal by—the 1821 law that had prohibited Colombians from participating in slave trading.26 Revealingly, they justified this proposal by suggesting that selling the slaves outside of Colombian territory would be a strategy to get rid of the Afro-descendant populations which they considered dangerous to the social order. This “social order” was defined, of course, from their perspective and in reference to the state’s sanctioning of their authority as a powerful class in Colombia. An advocate of this reform, José Rafael Mosquera, presented to Congress in 1824 a project entitled “Project of the law for the manumission of slaves and indemnification of the masters.” Initially, J.R. Mosquera declared his support for the 1821 law, but qualified this saying: “That being one of the most beneficial and just laws of Colombia, the law of Free Womb, manumission, and abolition of the unjust traffic in slaves, it should, in any case, be reasonable.”27 One of the points that he thought would make the law “reasonable” was presented in Article 34, which said that the government should not only allow slaveowners to get rid of troublesome slaves but, moreover, support them to do so institutionally:

Slaves should be removed from those departments where they have behaved turbulently, or shown to be enemies of the republican cause, despite the benefits that the republic grants them. Intendants [state officials at the local level] will allow and facilitate the owners’ removal of those slaves from Colombia.28

Significantly, following the Colombian Republic’s own conditional protection to the slaves who favored the republic, as laid out in Santander’s 1822 decree, J.R. Mosquera appropriated this principle to justify the punishment of the enslaved by their removal from Colombia. He advocated for reforming the manumission law, stating that the slaves in the South were not loyal to the republic, and moreover, highlighted their character as “enemies of the republic.”

At the same time, slaveowners like the Mosqueras knew that they could sell “turbulent” slaves outside of Colombia, taking advantage of their alliances with European capitalists who were seeking to invest in modernizing gold extraction in the Pacific coast mines with new technologies. In these negotiations, the slaveowners offered to contribute their slaves as a labor force—an offer that seems to have been attractive to the Europeans.29 This was expressed precisely in the statement of another political and ideological representative of the Popayán slaveholding elites, the senator Joaquín Mosquera, José Rafael Mosquera’s cousin.

J. Mosquera gave a speech in Congress in 1825, which he later published as “Discourse about the need to reform the law of Colombia’s Constituent Congress of 21 July 1821, that sanctioned the liberty of births, manumission, and abolition of the slave trade.”30 J. Mosquera stressed the idea that slaves were a mechanism for saving capital and that their reproduction guaranteed the growth of the slaveowners’ capital. The physical mobility of that enslaved labor force was central to the successful defense of these rights, and this was one reason that the slaveowners dedicated many of their efforts to legalizing the movement of their property. In defending these arguments, they appealed to the republic’s interests—but equally important to them was the fulfillment of their own goal of recovering their capital.31

Meanwhile, in one very interesting example of how these tensions played out with the enslaved, we see they were eloquently using the tools that the Colombian state had offered to defend themselves from the slaveowners’ attacks. In July 1825, José Antonio Arroyo was having serious trouble with the enslaved people he owned in Esmeraldas, who had gained unprecedented autonomy during the independence war by making alliances with the forces seeking independence.32 He had “made crazy proposals to them but they did not accept anything” so he decided to “go on an expedition to Panama, taking the negros there to sell them.”33 Arroyo was not the only slaveholder seeking to bring the enslaved back under control and to establish order in the Pacific region at this time. Among the members of the powerful Mosquera family, José María wrote to his son Tomás Cipriano—who was at the time governor in Buenaventura—that “those blacks should be sent away (botar) to Panama or Guayaquil, at least those suspected of rebellion.”34 Then, between April and June of 1826, the mine captains Fruto Arroyo, Cornelio Arroyo, Agustín Valencia, and Guillermo Valencia—representing the enslaved communities in the mines in the Santiago River, Playa de Oro, and Guembí—complained in court in Quito. With the support of the protector de esclavos, they sought to refute Arroyo’s false incrimination that they were in total disorder, saying that they had remained “subordinate to the Colombian government.” In their words:

Today we are falsely accused of being rebellious slaves and impossible to control because we are resisting being transplanted from our native soil (suelo patrio) to other regions, destroying our cuadrillas (slave gangs) that could be very useful to the state.35

Thus, what from the perspective of the slaveholders was denounced as a “rebellion,” was, in fact, the slaves’ defense against Arroyo’s attempt to export them. In this case, the enslaved seem to have been successful in their struggle against being uprooted. The point about the injustice of being taken away from their native soil very strategically revealed their sense of belonging and patriotism, putting pressure on the state to recognize them as part of Colombia. They also cleverly emphasized that it was not a good idea to export them because, as workers, they were useful to the Colombian economy, an argument that weighed heavily and was echoed in the lawyers’ decision. Indeed, the republican lawyers accepted that the Spanish law of 1789 should be observed in the mines of Esmeraldas in 1826. They declared it a fair request needed to “alleviate [the conditions under which] that unhappy caste of inhabitants [lived], who pose their claim in front of a benefic and religious authority that is capable of [carrying out] such a dignified proposal.” The language that the slaves had used in their complaint—openly presenting themselves as loyal and subordinate to the republic—was powerfully effective. Yet it seems that the most important reason that the slaves wanted to avoid being sold was that this would “destroy” their communities, hence their argument that they were seeking the protection of their families as collectivities.36

4 “Unfaithful, Traitor Slaves, Ungrateful to a Government That Constantly Favors Them”

A decade after the creation of an independent Republic of New Granada, its first civil war, the War of the Supremes (1839–1842), erupted. Historians have identified a few points around which the conflict between—and within—the regions emerged: public education, infrastructure, the establishment of an export economy, the reorganization of the fiscal system, and the formation of a state bureaucracy and its proposed investments across New Granada. The question of how and why slavery represented a crucial element in the protection of capital and status and became a source of contention for political power during and after the war has received less scholarly attention.37

During the War of the Supremes, in the southwestern provinces, slaves and free Blacks became central actors. Leading one of the contending armies in the war, José Maria Obando mobilized slaves under the promise of granting them freedom. Obando had a social base in the rural areas around the cities of Popayán and Cali, where he had relationships with peasants and other free people. He decreed in 1841 that “any slave in the province of Popayán that has already joined my army or does in the future will be freed.”38 By making this bold decree a weapon in the war, Obando was using the same strategies employed by royalists and insurgents thirty years earlier to attract the slaves to their side.39 One of the challenges for the government during and after the war—which ended in 1842—was to overturn the rebellion of people of African descent. Moreover, the war and the mobilization of free and enslaved people to Obando’s side expanded beyond the frontiers of the provinces of Popayán and Buenaventura, spreading north into Chocó, where most of the population was enslaved.

Even though the army which had represented conservative interests—such as those of the slaveholders in the southwest—was victorious in the War of the Supremes, for the elites in the South, the problems that had formed the basis of their mobilization against the government persisted. This was perfectly illustrated in Vicente Javier Arboleda’s letter to T.C. Mosquera in January 1843, in which he wrote: “There is nothing worse than this poor South, until the bogotanos consider us their equals at all levels.”40 The “poor South” saw itself disempowered by the central government’s disavowal of the southwestern elites’ clearest interests. Though these elites had been contesting the republican law mandating the abolition of slavery for decades, the government had still not reformed it. Instead, the government had again published the 1789 Spanish cédula as part of the law of 29 May 1842, “additional to the law of 21 July 1821,” in the appendix to the Recopilación de leyes de la Nueva Granada.41

These circumstances led the slaveowners in the South to take their activism to another level in 1843. They exploited the fear that the mobilization of people of African descent generated among themselves through three complementary political strategies. First, in response to their acts of violence during and after the war, Obando’s Black allies were targeted, arrested, and submitted to harsh criminal penalties. Second, the prominent slaveowner Julio Arboleda—an owner of haciendas and slaves in Popayán and Cali of the Arboleda-Mosquera family—founded the newspaper El Payanés, for the purpose of exposing in articles of his authorship every violent action committed by Afro-descendants during this time. Presenting evidence of the widespread sedition of people of African descent, he used the newspaper to denounce the situation in the region and to inform the nation’s public of the dangers that the slaves, as a population, represented. Third, having accumulated and made public such evidence, and having repressed Obando’s Black allies, the slaveowners from Cali and Popayán presented in Congress at the close of the war a proposal for reforming the existing law of manumission, which outlawed commerce with slaves, succeeding in having the traffic in slaves legalized in 1843.42

Alarmed by the continued mobilization of people of African descent, Julio Arboleda led the activism in favor of exporting slaves from Popayán. He wrote in El Payanés 10 (4 May 1843) that with their victory at the battle of La Chanca (11 July 1841), they had expected that all the problems that had been caused by the manumission law would have ended. Instead:

The unfaithful slaves, traitors, ungrateful to a government that constantly favors them, even if at its own expense, and to so many good citizens, loyal patriots, have continued […] committing all sorts of crimes.43

Classifying slaves as traitors, Arboleda also returned to the rhetoric of the slaves as disloyal and unworthy of the state’s protection.

That same year, the slaveowners of Popayán drafted a memorial representing the provinces of Buenaventura, Cauca, Chocó, Pasto, and Popayán, which stated the following:

These provinces are a very important part of New Granada, and, if they suffer, then the entire nation will suffer too … The capital that gave life to commerce, agriculture, and mining in these productive provinces was based on the capital we owned in slaves that the law extinguished without compensation … as a result, all the productive enterprises that were founded on the slaves are in decline.44

Detailing all the types of crimes that the slaves had committed, the memorial then turned to proposing specific measures that should be taken to resolve the urgent problems plaguing the region. These measures, which echo the government’s earlier conditional approach to the slaves’ protection and liberation, are worth citing at length:

In order to curb the growing immorality among the slaves … The law that prohibits the export of slaves should be repealed … The executive power should give slaveowners protection when they seek to export those vicious or criminal slaves that could potentially drive other slaves to sedition … Slaves who are seditious or murderers or thieves should lose their right to manumission, along with their children.45

In response to the intense, direct, and multi-sided pressure of the slaveowners on the national government, President Pedro Alcántara Herrán turned their requests into legislation in two complementary ways: first, by criminalizing violent actions of the free and enslaved Afro-descendant populations in the South; second, by giving permission to export the slaves who represented a danger to the social order. In the constitutional law of 22 June 1843, “Measures to Repress Slaves’ Insurrectionary Movements” (Sobre medidas represivas de los movimientos sediciosos de esclavos), Article 4 repealed Article 6 of the Law of 21 July 1821, thus permitting the sale of slaves outside of New Granada “as long as this sale of married slaves is done without dividing marriages.” This was the moment, after two decades of activism, when the southwestern slave-owning class finally saw its vision of radical changes to the manumission law instituted.46 The decision illustrates the state’s repressive stance in the aftermath of the war.47

Julio Arboleda, in August 1846, wrote to T.C. Mosquera, his “dear Uncle and Friend,” that in Peru there is currently a good market for slaves. Slaveowners from New Granada are, then, facing the possibility of getting rid of a cancer and bringing real capital to the country … If what we need in this country is to decrease the number of blacks … it is absolutely necessary to protect those who want to export their slaves.”48

This letter reveals three important things about the trade originating in New Granada after the law of 1843 legalized slave exports. Slaveowners now referred to their goal as “to decrease the number of blacks” in the country. The main place where the slaves were being taken was Peru, where there was a good market for them. It is also clear from the letter that by 1846 Arboleda wanted to ensure the protection to continue exporting the slaves out of Popayán and into Peru without it becoming a matter of public debate or, potentially, a scandal.

In fact, it was Julio Arboleda himself who initiated the most infamous movement of slaves into Peru, which generated a diplomatic controversy with Britain. In September 1846, Arboleda exported a total of 212 people who were first transported to Panama, where they were sold and then sent to the port of Paita in Peru. In the group, however, there were only 53 slaves, while the rest were libertos (children of the Free Womb).49

Understanding the export of slaves throughout the Pacific region requires us to consider the changes taking place in Peru and to place New Granada within a wider South American perspective that reveals parallels and connections with other contexts.50 In Peru, after independence, the hacendados embarked on an ideological dispute against Bolívar’s and José de San Martín’s founding abolitionist measures, blaming them for the decline in the Peruvian economy. Like the representatives of the New Granadan slaveowners, Peruvian slaveholders embarked on a campaign in defense of slavery and published a text entitled “Claims against the violated rights of the landowners” (1833), written by the conservative José María Pando. Resembling and even citing the texts of Gerónimo Torres and the members of the Mosquera family, Pando referred to long-standing debates about slavery and abolition in Spanish America and the Atlantic World and to the cases of the United States, Britain, Haiti, Guatemala, and Colombia.51 In the 1830s, the Peruvian slaveowners’ legislative pressure increased and had positive results for the hacendados. Their efforts culminated in the approval of the law of 29 July 1845, which permitted the importation of slaves in conjunction with the economic project of expanding sugar plantations in the north.

Even if originating in different economic systems—in Peru the economy was based on plantations, while in New Granada, it was based on mining—the economic, social, and political projects of both countries converged during the 1830s and 1840s. This convergence of the economic plans of Peru and New Granada was also expressed in the parallel goal to transform the antislavery laws established in the constitutions of both republics at the time of their foundation.52 Though in the history of the anti-abolition politics of New Granada slaveowners had not explicitly defended slavery, at the 1846 juncture they took a more aggressive position vis-à-vis the state and openly cited the case of the United States to argue in favor of slavery and, more specifically, of the legitimate possibility of the existence of slaves in a republican context.53 But the legal exportation of slaves to Peru between 1843 and 1847 made visible in the international arena the philosophical and practical contradictions that the legalization of the trade in slaves represented for both Peru’s and New Granada’s republican states.

The type of commerce in slaves—and, even worse, in free-born children—that developed along the Pacific coast between New Granada and Peru was also a straightforward affront to those values that the South American republics had claimed to be defending. The British council in Bogotá, Florencio O’Leary, was alarmed that this international traffic was incompatible with New Granada’s core republican principles and its diplomatic commitments. He denounced it as violating (1) a basic republican principle, that of protecting New Granadan citizens and (2) the terms of the 1825 Colombia-Britain treaty, specifically Article 13, which prohibited anyone living in New Granada from taking part in slave trafficking.54

One remarkable aspect of this episode that took place in the South American Pacific region was how the New Granadan slaveowners, along with the state that had legalized the trade to protect their interests, defended their decision. In contrast to the cases of Brazil and Cuba, which relied on contraband trade in Africans, when it was done legally—openly—as was the case in New Granada, this decision to permit slave trafficking outside of its territory had to be defended internationally.55 In Bogotá, Pedro Gual, a diplomat who had ample experience negotiating with Britain during the Colombian period, conceded that the law favoring the slave trade was extremely dangerous for the stability of New Granada’s international relations. Finally, New Granada repealed the law that allowed the exportation of slaves, making importing and exporting slaves illegal with the law of 28 April 1847.56

It was the eve of abolition, and tensions between slaves and slaveowners remained high. On 22 June 1850 the government published a law, “additional to the law of manumission,” reinstating—again—the 1789 Spanish Instrucción.57 Yet the precariousness of the government’s premise to protect slaves prevailed and slaveowners from Popayán continued selling their slaves. This time, no longer president, T.C. Mosquera organized the slaveowners around a plan to transport their slaves to Panama.58 This plan was not a direct flouting of the 1847 legislation against the traffic of slaves. Panama was part of New Granada, so moving the slaves there was legal. However, in Panama, with T.C. Mosquera as their intermediary, the slaveowners negotiated with the Panama Railroad Company, which held a contract to build a railroad.59 Facing the final abolition of slavery and the emancipation of all slaves in New Granada, the slaveholders from the southwest went to war with the republic again in 1851. Their activism in the preceding three decades had made abolition anything but linear and, once it consolidated, they would continue to cast people of African descent as unfit for citizenship.60

5 Final Remarks

This article investigated the clashes of slaveholding elites from the southwestern region of New Granada with the government in Bogotá and the parallel conflicts between two local social forces in the southwest, slaveowners and the enslaved. It analyzed the process of politicization of slave punishment—and, concretely, slave exports as a form of punishment—as a result, together, of Colombia’s independence war and its abolition project. In its geopolitical dimensions, the southwestern slaveowners’ struggle to shape the process of abolition reveals that the slave-owning elites’ transnational economic and financial interests and alliances—with European capitalists, Peruvian slave and plantation owners, and U.S. developers of the railroad in Panama—were fundamental to making their legal and political strategies viable. At the same time, the victory of slave-owning interests in internal conflicts within New Granada drove the South American republic that stood committed to abolishing slavery to conflicts with Britain.

The existence of a slave market in the Pacific region of New Granada around Buenaventura suggests that slaves were already being exported before the passing of legislation in 1843 that legalized their trade. In the Peruvian port of Paita, we find evidence that slaves and their free-born children had been imported to work as domestics and in haciendas since the 1830s. For example, in 1848 María Portocarrero, from New Granada, complained in court that she had been brought to Peru “secretly” (clandestinamente) by Jacoba Távara in 1833. Portocarrero’s free-born daughters, Matea Torres and Dolores Reina, had been taken to Piura with their mother because she did not want to abandon them, since they were only 10 and 6 years old.61 Portocarrero’s complaint of 1848 provides an interesting window into the legal and illegal schemes by means of which slaveowners and the governments of Peru and New Granada carried out their policies dealing with slavery and its abolition in the two decades between 1830 and 1850. The fact that Portocarrero made her complaint in 1848 is significant because that was the year after the law of 1843, which allowed for the exportation of slaves from New Granada, was revoked. In that context, slaves who had been sold in Peru either legally or illegally during those two decades were aware of the controversies that the legislation dealing with slave trafficking along the Pacific coast had generated in the international arena. It was a moment when the 1821 Colombian Free Womb law and the prohibition of slave trafficking regained importance as political tools for free and enslaved people of African descent, overriding the interests of the proslavery elites of the South American Pacific region.62

This case has parallels with a variety of situations and developments across the Americas in different ways. It resonates with the almost simultaneous rise of the trade of Mayan prisoners of war from Yucatán to Cuba during the Caste War (1847–1901), in which the indigenous people considered a “damned race” and enemies of the Mexican state were taken out of the territory, creating a lucrative business through their enslavement.63 Broadly speaking, it connects with the rise and expansion of the illegal internal (as well as international) slave trades in Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, and the U.S. There is also a similarity with the nonlinear transition from slavery to freedom in all places across the Atlantic where laws for abolition were flouted and reversed, and where the end of slavery led to the emergence of new forms and practices of unfree labor.64 In all, slaveowners devised strategies to defy changes resulting from the attack on slavery by states and slaves, expressing, in Ada Ferrer’s words, “a shared commitment to slavery and to containing black power.”65

In the transport of convict-slaves in Brazil and Virginia, slaveowners regained their capital by pardoning slaves who were condemned to death and legalizing their trade regionally and internationally. The New Granadan trade in slaves differed from these cases in that the slaves had not been declared criminals through legal procedure but were being forced out of the territory—in some cases illegally—by their owners, who clearly sought monetary benefits. Still, as with the crafting of Virginian laws in the first half of the nineteenth century studied by Philip Schwarz, the activism of the slaveowners to punish “defiant slaves” intensified and led to making “a de facto practice … legalized at the very time when slave resistance appeared to be growing.”66 Overall, the relocation of slaves through sales outside of the southwestern region of Colombia/New Granada was a form of punishment that contrasted with the contemporary practice of physically confining convicts by removing them from the public arena to prisons. Yet it did have in common with this practice the underlying anxiety of the slave-owning classes as the prospects of abolition in the early American republics improved.67

Acknowledgments

Thanks to Viola Müller and Christian De Vito for organizing our fruitful conversations leading to this special issue and for their comments on my essay. I also appreciate the feedback I received from the two readers for the journal.

1

Peter Blanchard, Under the Flags of Freedom: Slave Soldiers and the Wars of Independence in Spanish South America (Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press, 2008); Marcela Echeverri, Indian and Slave Royalists in the Age of Revolution: Reform, Revolution, and Royalism in the Northern Andes, 1780–1825 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016); Ada Ferrer, “Haiti, Free Soil, and Antislavery in the Revolutionary Atlantic,” American Historical Review 117, no. 1 (2012): 60; Sybille Fischer, “Bolívar in Haiti: Republicanism in the Revolutionary Atlantic,” in Carla Calarge, et al., eds., Haiti and the Americas (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2013), 25–53; Roger Pita Pico, El reclutamiento de negros durante las guerras de independencia de Colombia, 1810–1825, 2nd ed. (Bogotá: Academia Colombiana de Historia, 2021); Paul Verna, Pétion y Bolívar. Cuarenta años (1790–1830) de relaciones haitiano-venezolanas y su aporte a la emancipación de Hispanoamérica (Caracas: Imprenta Nacional, 1969).

2

The law can be found in Eduardo Posada and Carlos Restrepo Canal, La esclavitud en Colombia y leyes de manumisión (Bogotá: Imprenta Nacional, 1935), 227–232. On the debates and promulgation of the law, see Jaime Jaramillo Uribe, “La controversia jurídica y filosófica librada en la Nueva Granada en torno a la liberación de los esclavos y la importancia económica y social de la esclavitud en el siglo XIX,” in Ensayos de Historia Social, Tomo I: La sociedad neogranadina (Bogotá: Tercer Mundo Editores, 1989), 217–250; Yesenia Barragan, Freedom’s Captives: Slavery and Gradual Emancipation on the Colombian Black Pacific (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021), ch. 3. See also Harold Bierck Jr., “The Struggle for Abolition in Gran Colombia,” Hispanic Historical American Review 33, no. 3 (1953): 365–386; Margarita González, “El proceso de manumisión en Colombia,” Cuadernos Colombianos 2 (1974): 147–240; Jorge Andrés Tovar and Hermes Tovar, El oscuro camino de la libertad. Los esclavos en Colombia, 1821–1851 (Bogotá: Editorial Universidad de Los Andes, 2009).

3

James Ferguson King, “The Latin-American Republics and the Suppression of the Slave Trade,” Hispanic American Historical Review 24, no. 3 (1944): 387–411. See the special issue edited by Celso Castilho and Marcela Echeverri, “Ecos atlánticos de las aboliciones hispanoamericanas” in Historia Mexicana 69, no. 2 (2019), for a recent approach to studying abolition in the Spanish American republics. On these processes across South America see Magdalena Candioti, “Regulando el fin de la esclavitud. Diálogos, innovaciones y disputas jurídicas en las nuevas repúblicas sudamericanas, 1810–1830,” Jahrbuch für Geschichte Lateinamerikas 52 (2015): 149–171.

4

In Marcela Echeverri, “Abolición de la esclavitud y formación del estado en Colombia,” in Margarita Garrido, et al., eds., Historia de lo político en Colombia, vol. 1 (forthcoming), I describe the specific institutional and diplomatic implications of abolition as it was linked to the creation of the republican state. Underlying a process of decolonization vis-à-vis Spain, abolition also implied the development of laws and their implementation as part of the enforcement of the central government’s authority over regional and local powers. This is similar in essence to the British case in which abolition was linked to empire building and reform. See Lauren Benton and Lisa Ford, “Island Despotism: Trinidad, the British Imperial Constitution, and Global Legal Order,” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 46, no. 1 (2018): 21–46.

5

Germán Colmenares, Historia económica y social de Colombia, vol. II, Popayán: Una sociedad esclavista, 1680–1800 (1979; Bogotá: Tercer Mundo Editores, 1999); Peter Marzhal, “Creoles and Government: The Cabildo de Popayán,” Hispanic American Historical Review 54 (1974), 636–656; Frank Safford, “Social Aspects of Politics in Nineteenth-Century Spanish America: New Granada, 1825–1850,” Journal of Social History 5, no. 3 (1972): 344–370.

6

On the role that lawyers from these families had in the Colombian republican state, see Víctor Uribe Urán, Honorable Lives: Lawyers, Family, and Politics in Colombia, 1780–1850 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000), 61–62.

7

Gustavo Arboleda, Diccionario biográfico y genealógico del antiguo departamento del Cauca (Bogotá: Biblioteca Horizonte, 1962); Luis Ervin Prado and David Fernando Prado-Valencia, “La familia Mosquera y Arboleda y el proyecto bolivariano (1821–1830),” Memoria y Sociedad 14, no. 29 (2010): 55–69; Oscar Almario, “Anotaciones sobre las provincias del Pacífico Sur durante la construcción temprana de la República de la Nueva Granada, 1823–1857,” Anuario de Historia Regional y de las Fronteras 6, no. 1 (2001): 120–166.

8

Comparative analyses of the dialectic between slave politics and punishment can be found in Alexandra Brown, “A Black Mark on Our Legislation: Slavery, Punishment, and the Politics of Death in Nineteenth-Century Brazil,” Luso-Brazilian Review 37, no. 2 (2000): 95–121; Vincent Brown, “Spiritual Terror and Sacred Authority in Jamaican Slave Society,” Slavery & Abolition 24, no. 1 (2003): 24–53; Edward Rugemer, “The Development of Mastery and Race in the Comprehensive Slave Codes of the Greater Caribbean during the Seventeenth Century,” William and Mary Quarterly 70, no. 3 (2013): 432–433; and Miranda Spieler, “Slave Flight, Slave Torture, and the State: Nineteenth-Century French Guiana,” French Politics, Culture & Society 33, no. 1 (2015): 55–74.

9

Jacques Aprile Ginset, “El Cascajal, puerto republicano y negrero,” in Jacques Aprile Ginset and Gilma Mosquera Torres, eds., Hábitats y sociedades del Pacífico 2. Génesis de Buenaventura (Buenaventura: Universidad del Pacífico, 2002), ch. 8, 100. Roger Pita Pico, “El debate sobre la abolición del comercio internacional de esclavos durante la independencia y la temprana república en Colombia,” Diálogos 16, no. 1 (2015): 246, 250. James Sanders, Contentious Republicans: Popular Politics, Race, and Class in Nineteenth-Century Colombia (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004).

10

Diana Paton, No Bond but the Law: Punishment, Race, and Gender in Jamaican State Formation, 1780–1870 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004), 4.

11

Magdalena Candioti, “Free Womb Law, Legal Asynchronies, and Migrations: Suing for an Enslaved Woman’s Child in Nineteenth-Century Río De La Plata,” The Americas 77, no. 1 (2020): 81; Marcela Echeverri, “ ‘Enraged to the Limit of Despair’: Infanticide and Slave Judicial Strategies in Barbacoas, 1789–1798,” Slavery & Abolition 30, no. 3 (2009): 410.

12

The Instrucción can be found in Richard Konetzke, Colección de documentos para la formación social de Hispanoamérica 1493–1810, III:2 (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1962), 643–652.

13

Manuel Lucena Salmoral, Sangre sobre piel negra. La esclavitud quiteña en el contexto del reformismo borbónico (Quito: Centro Cultural Afroecuatoriano, Ediciones Abya-Yala, 1994); Caroline Spence, “Ameliorating Empire: Slavery and Protection in the British Colonies, 1783–1865” (PhD dissertation, Harvard University, 2014), ch. 1. A relevant comparative analysis is Malick Ghachem, The Old Regime and the Haitian Revolution (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

14

Spieler, “Slave Flight, Slave Torture,” 57. On the centrality of protection to state authority and legitimacy, and its ambiguity, see Lauren Benton, et al., eds., Protection and Empire: A Global History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018).

15

Echeverri, Indian and Slave Royalists, ch. 5; Rocío Rueda, De esclavizados a comuneros. Construcción de la etnicidad negra en Esmeraldas, siglos XVIIIXIX (Quito: Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, 2019).

16

1825 census data in González, “El proceso de manumission en Colombia,” 219 and David Bushnell, El régimen de Santander en la Gran Colombia (Bogotá: El Ancora Editores, 1984), 205. On slave communities, see Mario Diego Romero, Poblamiento y sociedad en el Pacífico colombiano, siglos XVI al XVIII (Cali: Universidad del Valle, Editorial Facultad de Humanidades, 1995); Claudia Leal, Landscapes of Freedom: Building a Postemancipation Society in the Rainforests of Western Colombia (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2018); Echeverri, Indian and Slave Royalists.

17

Bierck, “The Struggle for Abolition in Gran Colombia,” 368.

18

Pita Pico, El reclutamiento de negros, 177–204. José María Mosquera to Joaquín Mosquera Arboleda, Santa María, 1 November, 1821, in Manuel Pareja Ortiz, ed., Epistolario de José María Mosquera y Figueroa (Bogotá: Universidad de la Sabana, 2018).

19

Archivo General de la Nación (Colombia, AGN), República, Miscelánea T 201, ff. 140r–142r.

20

AGN, República, Miscelánea T 201, ff. 142v–146v.

21

Echeverri, “Enraged to the Limit of Despair”; and Echeverri, Indian and Slave Royalists, ch. 3.

22

AGN República Miscelánea T 201, f. 146v.

23

Bierck, “The Struggle for Abolition in Gran Colombia,” 374. The decree can be found in Archivo Histórico Nacional del Ecuador (AHNE), Fondo Corte Suprema, Serie Gobierno, Caja 78, exp. 2, fol. 17 and in José María de Mier, La Gran Colombia, Tomo 1 (Bogotá: Presidencia de la República, 1983), 68–69; Sergio Mosquera, La gente negra en la legislación colonial (Medellín: Editorial Lealon, 2004), 135–137; Humberto Triana y Antorveza, Léxico documentado para la historia del negro en América, siglos XVXIX, Tomo 2 (Bogotá: Instituto Caro y Cuervo, 2001), T. 2, 480–483.

24

Archivo Central del Cauca (Popayán, ACC), Archivo Muerto (AM), Ls 32–52, Doc. 45, 18 March 1838.

25

Gerónimo Torres, Observaciones de G.T. sobre la Ley de manumisión del Soberano Congreso de Colombia (Bogotá: Impreso por José Manuel Galagarza, 1822). For more on the slaveowners’ activism, see Marcela Echeverri, “Esclavitud y tráfico de esclavos en el Pacifico sudamericano durante la era de la abolición,” Historia Mexicana 69, no. 2 (2019): 627–691.

26

Though the internal slave trade was not prohibited. Yesenia Barragan investigates the inter-provincial slave trade in Freedom’s Captives.

27

José Rafael Mosquera, Proyecto de ley sobre manumisión de esclavos e indemnización a los amos (1824). Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia (BNC), Fondo Pineda (FP), Tomo 36, Cuaderno 16.

28

J.R. Mosquera, Proyecto de ley.

29

Manuel Martínez to T.C. Mosquera, Bogotá, 6 February 1825. ACC, Sala Mosquera (SM), 2,064.

30

Joaquín Mosquera, Memoria sobre la necesidad de reformar la ley del Congreso Constituyente de Colombia de 21 de julio de 1821. Que sancionó la libertad de los partos, manumisión, y abolición del tráfico de esclavos (Bogotá: Impreso por F.M. Stokes, 1825).

31

Jorge Castellanos, La abolición de la esclavitud en Popayán, 1832–1852 (Cali: Universidad del Valle, 1980), ch. 5.

32

On the crisis of slavery in Esmeraldas during the independence war, see Rueda, De esclavizados a comuneros.

33

J.A. Arroyo to T.C. Mosquera, Popayán, 12 December 1825. ACC, SM, 1,610.

34

J.M. Mosquera to T.C. Mosquera, Popayán, 7 December 1825. ACC, SM, 2,059.

35

AHNE, Esclavos, Caja 23, exp. 3, 10-IV-1826, fol. 2.

36

A study of slaves’ perceptions of and reactions to forced migrations in the United States can be found in Damian Alan Pargas, Slavery and Forced Migration in the Antebellum South (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

37

Robert Louise Gilmore, El federalismo en Colombia, 1810–1858, T. I (Bogotá: Universidad del Externado, 1995). For a treatment of slave politics during the war, see María Camila Díaz Casas, ‘Salteadores y cuadrillas de malhechores’. Una aproximación a la acción colectiva de la población negra en el suroccidente de la Nueva Granada, 1840–1851 (Popayán: Editorial Universidad del Cauca, 2015); Luis Ervin Prado Arellano, Rebeliones en la provincia. La guerra de los supremos en las provincias suroccidentales y nororientales granadinas, 1839–1842 (Popayán, Editorial Universidad del Cauca, 2007), 150; Castellanos, La abolición de la esclavitud en Popayán, ch. 4.

38

José María Obando, Apuntamientos para la historia (1837; Medellín: Editorial Bedout, 1972). Alonso Valencia Llano, Dentro de la ley, fuera de la ley. Resistencias sociales y políticas en el valle del río Cauca, 1830–1855 (Cali: Universidad del Valle, 2008), 92–93.

39

Prado Arellano, Rebeliones en la provincia, 107; Castellanos, La abolición de la esclavitud en Popayán, 64.

40

V.J. Arboleda to T.C. Mosquera, Popayán, 17 January 1843. ACC, SM, 17,009.

41

BNC, FP, 509.

42

Prado Arellano, Rebeliones en la provincia, 184. Gilberto Loaiza Cano, Sociabilidad, religión y política en la definición de la nación (Colombia, 1820–1886) (Bogotá: Universidad del Externado, 2011).

43

El Payanés 10, 4 May 1843. Díaz Casas, Salteadores y cuadrillas de malhechores, 114.

44

“Memorial que los vecinos de Popayán enviaron a la cámara de representantes,” in Posada and Restrepo Canal, La esclavitud en Colombia, 3–14.

45

“Memorial que los vecinos de Popayán,” 9.

46

“Decreto de 13 de noviembre en ejecución del artículo 4 de la ley del 22 de junio de 1843 que permite la venta de esclavos por fuera de la Nueva Granada.” Posada and Restrepo Canal, La esclavitud en Colombia, 16, 27. González, “El proceso de manumisión en Colombia,” 202–203.

47

On this repressive period, see Luis Ervin Prado Arellano, “La paz conservadora, 1841–1849,” in Carlos Camacho et al. eds., Paz en la república. Colombia, siglo XIX (Bogotá: Universidad del Externado, 2018), 63.

48

Julio Arboleda to T.C. Mosquera, Popayán, 9 August 1846. ACC, SM, 20,672.

49

John Kitchens, “The New Granadan-Peruvian Slave Trade,” Journal of Negro History 64, no. 3 (1979): 205–215; John Kitchens and Lynne Kitchens, “La exportación de esclavos neogranadinos en 1846 y las reclamaciones británicas,” Boletín de Historia y Antigüedades LXIII, no. 713 (1976): 240.

50

Marcela Echeverri, “Slavery in Mainland Spanish America in the Age of the Second Slavery,” in Dale Tomich, ed., Atlantic Transformations: Empire, Politics, and Slavery during the Nineteenth Century (Albany: SUNY Press, 2020), 19–44; The pressure of the slave-owning class on republican governments during the first half of the nineteenth century was not exclusive to the Andean region. Argentina also re-established the slave trade temporarily. See George Reid Andrews, The Afro-Argentines of Buenos Aires, 1800–1900 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1980).

51

José María Pando, Reclamación de los vulnerados derechos de los hacendados de las provincias litorales del departamento de Lima (Lima: Imprenta de J.M. Concha, 1833). Beinecke Library, Peruvian Pamphlets 54.

52

Peter Blanchard, Slavery and Abolition in Early Republican Peru (Wilmington: S.R. Books, 1992), esp. ch. 3; Echeverri, “Esclavitud y tráfico.”

53

“Esclavitud está apoyada en los libros sagrados.” Cali, 12 March 1847. They cited Exodus ch. 21 and Saint Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, ch. 6.

54

Kitchens and Kitchens, “La exportación de esclavos,” 239–293. More on this controversy in Echeverri, “Esclavitud y tráfico.” See the 1825 Colombia-Britain treaty in Posada and Restrepo Canal, La esclavitud en Colombia, 347–351. On the traffic of the Free Womb Children in Chocó, see Barragan, Freedom’s Captives.

55

See Leslie Bethell, The Abolition of the Brazilian Slave Trade: Britain, Brazil, and the Slave Trade Question, 1807–1869 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009); Ada Ferrer, Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014); Josep Fradera and Christopher Schmidt-Nowara, eds., Slavery and Antislavery in Spain’s Atlantic Empire (New York: Berghahn, 2013).

56

Posada and Restrepo Canal, La esclavitud en Colombia, 347–351.

57

Published in Gaceta Oficial, 30 June 1850. See also Posada and Restrepo Canal, La esclavitud en Colombia, 202.

58

ACC, SM, 28,263; Carpeta 50 (Varios), 1861.

59

The project to build a transoceanic railroad in Panama had been arranged during T.C. Mosquera’s presidency. Moreover, he was an investor in the company and did business directly with John L. Stephens, one of the partners in New York City. According to Aims McGuinness, Path of Empire: Panama and the California Gold Rush (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008), 59, soon after the purchase of the New Granadan slaves, the PRC stopped using enslaved labor and turned to importing indentured workers, some from Cartagena and others from Jamaica, the United States, and China. On Mosquera’s views on development, see Lina del Castillo, Crafting a Republic for the World: Scientific, Geographic, and Historiographic Inventions of Colombia (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2018), 81.

60

On the war of 1850, see Margarita Garrido, “La paz de la razón liberal, 1851–1854,” in Carlos Camacho, et al., eds., Paz en la república. Colombia, siglo XIX (Bogotá: Universidad del Externado, 2018), 68–114. On postemancipation Colombia, see Sanders, Contentious Republicans; Jason McGraw, The Work of Recognition: Caribbean Colombia and the Postemancipation Struggle for Citizenship (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

61

Archivo de Paita, Causas Civiles, Epoca Republicana, Juzgado de primera instancia, Caja 69, exp. 1356, 12 July 1846; Caja 75, exp. 1510, 14 June 1848.

62

The controversy around the export of libertos did not end there, however. In 1852, right after the final abolition of slavery in New Granada, Manuel Ancízar, then New Granadan Consul in Peru, embarked on an effort to repatriate the children who had been illegally exported.

63

Izaskun Alvarez Cuartero, “De Tihosuco a la Habana: La venta de indios yucatecos a Cuba durante la Guerra de Castas,” Studia Historica: Historia Antigua 25 (2007): 559–576.

64

Ferrer, Freedom’s Mirror, ch. 4; Kim D. Butler, “Slavery in the Age of Emancipation: Victims and Rebels in Brazil’s Late 19th-Century Domestic Trade,” Journal of Black Studies 42, no. 6 (2011): 968–992; Sidney Chalhoub, “The Politics of Ambiguity: Conditional Manumission, Labor Contracts, and Slave Emancipation in Brazil (1850–1888),” International Review of Social History 60 (2015): 161–191; Keila Grinberg, “The Two Enslavements of Rufina: Slavery and International Relations on the Southern Border of Nineteenth-Century Brazil,” Hispanic American Historical Review 96, no. 2 (2016): 260–290; Walter Johnson, ed., The Chattel Principle: Internal Slave Trade in the Americas (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), ch. 13 and ch. 14; Candioti, “Free Womb Law, Legal Asynchronies, and Migrations.”

65

Ferrer, Freedom’s Mirror, 172.

66

Jeff Forret, William’s Gang: A Notorious Slave Trader and his Cargo of Black Convicts (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2020), ch. 3. Philip Schwarz, “The Transportation of Slaves from Virginia, 1801–1865,” Slavery & Abolition 7, no. 3 (1986): 220.

67

Paton, No Bond but the Law; Rashauna Johnson, Slavery’s Metropolis: Unfree Labor in New Orleans During the Age of Revolutions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), ch. 4.

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