Readjustment In Spanish North America
Effect of the Seven Years' War.—The outcome of the Seven Years' War caused several readjustments in Spanish North America. It left Spain in a position where she must restore her colonial power or sink to the rank of a third rate nation. Renewed war with England was regarded as inevitable. Florida was lost, and was poorly compensated for, it was thought, by western Louisiana. The French barrier having been removed, Spain's hold on Louisiana and the Pacific Slope was threatened by the English, advancing both through Canada and from the thirteen colonies. On the Pacific Slope the Russians seemed even more threatening than the English. Added to all this, northern New Spain was overrun by increasingly hostile tribes. Poor and unprepared though she was, therefore, Spain was forced to get ready for another war with England, occupy Louisiana and Alta California, strengthen the frontier defences of New Spain against the Indians, and explore or reëxplore the northern interior.
The Reforms of Charles II.—All these demands could be met only by the most heroic measures; and these were applied by the energetic Charles III. This king, a Bourbon, had come to the throne in 1759, after a long and forceful reign as King of Naples. By the time of his accession, Spain had already profited much by the Bourbon reforms which from time to time had been instituted since the opening of the century, but the national revenue was still small, commerce stagnant, the army and navy weak, and colonial administration corrupt. Now came the new demands entailed by the outcome of the great war. To make the program of defence possible, it was necessary to provide revenue. This could be done only by increasing commerce and reforming the fiscal administration of the colonies.
Commercial reforms.—Commercial reforms were outlined in a series of decrees enacted between 1764 and 1778. The ends at which they aimed are indicated by the deliberations of the junta held in 1765. This body condemned especially the monopoly enjoyed by Cadiz, delays due to the flota system, the export duties on Spanish goods, restrictions upon intercolonial commerce, the smuggling habit, and the English monopoly of the slave carrying trade.
Reforms of José de Gálvez.—To carry out the reforms in New Spain King Charles sent José de Gálvez, who, as visitador general, was entrusted with a complete overhauling of the administration. The special function of Gálvez was to increase the revenues from New Spain. The amount collected had been limited by crude fiscal methods and by corrupt officials. Gálvez laid a heavy hand upon "graft," and devised new sources of revenue. Conspicuous among the latter was the tobacco industry, which he made a royal monopoly.
Explorations on the Gulf coast.—One of the first steps toward readjustment of the frontier to the new situation was a series of explorations looking to the defence of the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico against rumored dangers from the English, now in possession of Florida. To this end, in 1766 Colonel Escandón and Colonel Parrilla explored the Nuevo Santander and Texas coasts between Tampico and Matagorda Bay.
Rubí's tour.—To inspect and report on the northern outposts of New Spain, the Marqués de Rubí was commissioned. Leaving Mexico in March, 1766, he passed through the frontier establishments from Sonora to the borders of Louisiana. He found the whole northern frontier infested with warlike tribes, especially the Apaches and Comanches, who committed depredations all the way from the Gila to central Texas. Rubí recommended rearranging the northern posts so as to form a cordon of fifteen, extending from Altar in Sonora to La Bahía in Texas. Regarding Texas he recommended that the Comanche harassed district of San Sabá and all of the establishments on the Louisiana border be abandoned, and that a war of extermination be made against the Eastern Apaches, relying for the purpose on the aid of their enemies. In 1772 most of the Rubí recommendations were adopted in the form of a "New Regulation of Presidios." To Hugo O'Conor, as comandante inspector, fell the task of arranging the line of presidios.
Expulsion of the Jesuits.—For reasons which need not be discussed here, in 1767 the king of Spain expelled the Jesuits from all of the Spanish dominions. This caused a general shifting of the missionary forces, the places of the Jesuits in the northeastern provinces being taken by the Franciscans. The temporalities were at first put in the hands of soldier commissioners, but were soon turned over to the Franciscan missionaries. To Pimería Alta were sent Franciscans from the College of the Holy Cross of Querétaro. To Lower California went members of the College of San Fernando of Mexico, the president being Junípero Serra, already distinguished for work in Sierra Gorda.
Gálvez in Lower California.—In 1768 the visitor, Gálvez, was called to California and Sonora. In California he restored the temporalities to the missionaries, consolidated the Indian pueblos, and tried to stimulate Spanish colonization and mining, but without great success. It was while on the Peninsula, too, that he organized the expedition to occupy Alta California.
Gálvez in Sonora.—To end the Indian disturbance which for many years had been menacing Sinaloa and Sonora, Gálvez sent Colonel Domingo Elizondo at the head of eleven hundred men. The war began in 1768. After a year of futile campaigns, chiefly against Cerro Prieto, the landing place of the enemy, Gálvez himself took command for a time, with little better results. Elizondo was restored to the command, and for another year the war continued. By dint of guerrilla warfare, presents, and coaxing, by the middle of 1771 the rebels were pacified and settled in towns.
The Provincias Internas.—Prominent among the plans of Gálvez were the establishment of the intendant system in New Spain, the erection of the northern provinces into an independent commandancy general, and the establishment there of one or more bishoprics. The project of a separate government for part or all of the northern provinces had often been considered. It was felt that the viceroy was overworked, and too far from the frontier to understand its needs. The demand was sectional, based on regional interests. In 1760 a separate viceroyalty had been proposed, but Gálvez favored a military commandancy general. In 1776, after he became Minister of the Indies, his ideas were put into effect. Nueva Vizcaya, Sinaloa, Sonora, the Californias, Coahuila, New Mexico, and Texas were put under the military and political government of a comandante general of the Interior Provinces, directly responsible to the king and practically independent of the viceroy, the Audiencia of Guadalajara retaining its judicial authority. Chihuahua became the capital, except for a short time when Arispe was the seat of government (1780-1782). The first comandante general (1776-1783) was Teodoro de Croix, brother of Viceroy Croix, and himself later viceroy of Peru. By writers on California history, with attention fixed on the West, he has been regarded as incompetent.
New dioceses in the North.—In 1777 the Diocese of Linares was created to embrace the northeastern provinces of Coahuila, Nuevo León, Nuevo Santander, and Texas. Two years later was formed the Diocese of Sonora, to include Sinaloa, Sonora, and the two Californias.
The intendancies.—The primary purpose of the intendancies was to provide for the fiscal administration. A French institution, the system had been established in Spain in 1749 with satisfactory results. In 1764 the intendancy of Havana was established, likewise with good results. In 1768 the system was tentatively established in Sonora. At that time Gálvez favored eleven intendancies, dependent on the viceroy as superintendent general of revenues. The plan was not put into general operation until 1786, when Gálvez was Minister of the Indies.
The captaincy-general of Havana.—Up to the middle of the eighteenth century the audiencia and captaincy-general of Santo Domingo comprised all of the West Indies and Venezuela. Though nominally within the district, Florida was a separate captaincy-general, dependent directly on the Council of the Indies for judicial and military affairs. In other respects it was subject to the Viceroy of Mexico. As a result of the English war, in 1764 Havana was made the seat of an independent captaincy-general and of an intendancy. In 1795 the Audiencia of Santo Domingo was moved to Havana.
Next: The Russian Menace
Previous: The French And Indian War