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Mexico - Slavery

Mexico was one of the first nations that abolished slavery throughout its territory. Slavery towards indigenous races was practically inhuman during the stage of the conquest, since the Spaniards believed themselves with the right to possess the peoples as one of their belongings. But it should be clarified that those who had this legal status were blacks and mulattos, not Indians, an idea disseminated by some extremely nationalist historians and Mexican muralists (Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, among others), who captured the Indians in their frescoes breaking the chains of slavery, instead of blacks.

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, slavery was not widespread in Spanish America, except in some Caribbean islands such as Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico or Cuba. When Alejandro Humboldt visited this last place he called it "the island of sugar and slaves", which wanted to highlight the large production and the high number of slaves who worked in the plantations, whose owners came to argue that without them he could not grow the cane from which the sugar was extracted. In Puerto Rico the situation was similar.

At the beginning of the 19th century, slavery in the richest viceroyalty of Spanish America was diminishing, due, among other things, to the impulse that the capitalist economy had gained in the world at the end of the 18th century. The expansion of this economic system showed that the slave labor was more expensive than the wage earner. For a long time, David A. Brading documented that, during the Bourbon era, free and non-slave workers were preferably employed in the estates and mines of the Bajío, 5 who rather concentrated in the cities performing domestic work in the houses of Rich families 6Entrepreneurs were no longer interested in buying slaves because that investment did not generate greater profits; Instead, they preferred to use their money in merchant, agricultural and mining companies.

The Decree of the Abolition of Slavery, was issued by the priest Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, with the support of Ignacio López Rayón, when he held the first, the position of Generalissimo of America of the Insurgent Army, on December 6, 1810, in the Plaza de Guadalajara, Jal ., in full war of independence. This meant a breakthrough in respect for the fundamental rights of man in Mexico. Among other things, the decree said to the letter: “(…) That all slave owners must give them freedom, within ten days, under penalty of death, which will be applied for violation of this article." Hidalgo understood that by abolishing slavery it also weakened the Spaniards, slave owners and bitter enemies of the insurgent Creoles, because with the liberation of the captives they lost part of their heritage. Ending the captivity of blacks and mulattos was part of the confiscation of their property, with which this insurrection was financed.

As Hidalgo and the other insurgent leaders never had control over the entire New Spain territory, nor was their authority recognized, the sides that issued in this regard were not followed by all slave owners. In independent Mexico, during the governments of Victoria and Guerrero, abolition decrees were reissued, but indemnifying the owners so as not to affect the property right; subsequently, the Executive again suppressed it, which indicates that this matter went on in the 19th century. In the regions controlled by the royalists, the buying and selling of slaves was not interrupted.

Slavery was extended to independent Mexico, but not with the same force of the previous period. In this sense, it can be seen that the consummation of Independence did not mean a total break with respect to the viceregal stage; after 1821 both continuities and ruptures can be perceived. It is very striking, for example, that the issue at hand was not explicitly studied in the General Constitution of 1824; on the other hand, in those of the states there was an article in which it was banned.

After the Federal Republic was established (1824), and despite repeated prohibitions, little had been advanced due to the resistance of the slavers; "in fact the slaves did not regain their freedom except with the evasion and removal of their homes"; 31 Moreover, since the matter was very rough and the state and federal authorities were overwhelmed with other serious and urgent problems, little attention was given. The idea that the slave manumission without compensation to the owners was a dispossession was gaining ground. Lawmakers understood that both rights, freedom and property, deserved equal respect.

It should be noted that despite Hidalgo's intentions and although slavery was prohibited in Mexico, the official decree that abolished it was declared until 1829. After the administration of Victoria (1825-1829) the presidency of the Republic fell to Vicente Guerrero, but illegitimately because his supporters ignored the electoral triumph of Manuel Gómez Pedraza and pressured Congress to declare him president. As the leader of the south came to power supported by the popular classes, his policy was aimed at favoring these groups. In this context and with the purpose of adding to the anniversary of the beginning of the war of Independence "a tint of justice and national charity," he published a decree on September 15, 1829, by which slavery was again abolished in Mexico. The text of this law is as follows: "1st. Slavery is abolished in the Republic. 2nd. Therefore, those who until now had been considered as slaves are free. 3rd. When the circumstances of the Treasury permit, the owners of the slaves will be compensated, under the terms established by law."

But as the national treasury was always bankrupt until the end of century, most likely, the slavers were not paid.

This provision extended to Texas that until then had been practically exempted from abolishing slavery in its territory. This created great discomfort among slave-owning settlers, who pressured the federal government to repeal the ban. Although they did not succeed, they ensured that slavery continued to exist on the condition that no more slave were imported. However, for slavers it wsa clear that at any time the foundations of their prosperity may disappear and from then on, they had a clear need to establish an independent nation that protected and maintained their privileges, including slavery, a growing enterprise. and thriving in that region.

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Page last modified: 17-11-2019 19:16:59 ZULU