SLAVERY IN PUERTO RICO. SLAVERY IN PUERTO RICO. Term Paper ID:29297 Essay Subject: Impact of enslavement by Spain.... 7 Pages / 1575 Words 6 sources, 17 Citations, MLA Format 28.00 Paper Abstract: Impact of enslavement by Spain. Columbus' 1493 voyage claiming the island and its gold for Spain. Enslavement of native Taino (Arawak Indians) population.
Taino rebellion against Spanish colonization. Sugar production and need for labor. African slave trade; ruthless conditions and treatment.
Erosion of slave system in 1850s. Puerto Rico and independence movement.
Paper Introduction: In 1493 Columbus made his second trip to the New World. Landing in Puerto Rico, he claimed it for Spain.
He believed the land to be rich with gold; soon the local population was enslaved in the endeavor to remove that gold and send it back to Spain. The population of the island consisted primarily of 60,000 Taino or Arawak Indians. The enslavement of the Tainos was a relatively easy process for the Spanish.
The Tainos were a fairly friendly people and initially believed the Spaniards were Gods. The gold mines were played out relatively quickly. Within twenty years the mines stopped producing well and the Tainos had staged their first major uprising. While this was essentially the end of the golden era of gold mining in Puerto Rico it was only the beginning of slavery; that would not be entirely abolished until 1873 (The Tropics Online).
The population of the island consistedprimarily of 6 , Taino or Arawak Indians. Columbus oncewrote: "Gold constitutes treasure and he who possesses it has all he needsin this world. Through the nineteenth century Spain grew more interested in theeconomic development of the Antilles. Once the Taino population was largely destroyed, the Spanish beganenslaving Africans to fill their need for labor. Yettheir numbers always remained too small to retake land held by haciendaowners or to declare full-scale war against them.
The Tainos were a fairlyfriendly people and initially believed the Spaniards were Gods. Within twenty years the minesstopped producing well and the Tainos had staged their first majoruprising. All blacks were nowsubject to court-martial for any offense. There were agreat many revolts, conspiracies, and individual escapes all over theisland from 1775 to 1873 (Fotheringham, 26).
He has the means of restoring souls to the enjoyment ofparadise." Had the Tainos known Columbus' sentiments they surely wouldhave made better choices. As early as 1514, enslaved Tainos and Africans inPuerto Rico joined forces in revolt against slavery. Almost immediately after the arrival of the Spanish, the Tainos beganto rebel against colonization. The slaves were essentially promised freedom totheir slaves if they participated in the revolution, and so most didparticipate (Scarano 19 ).
One of the first rebellions of note tookplace in 1514; it was a joint plan enacted by both Tainos and Africans. While this was one of the first, it was by no means the last.
Theyno longer had the power, the support, or the money to fight or opposeabolition. Under this proclamation even the act of insulting orthreatening a white man carried a prison sentences. For example, there were 5 37 slaves in 1765, and there were 21,73 in 1821. The Tainos made their first big mistake when they showed Columbus goldnuggets in the river and told him to take all he wanted.
Inevitably these escapees werefound out and returned to bondage where their living conditions were awfuland their treatment was worse (Scarano 175). These factors marked the end of the old plantation system ofhaciendas, and the end of slavery in Puerto Rico (Scarano 24 ).
As such in the 183 s womenconstituted almost half of the slave population. Columbus initially named the island of theTainos "San Juan Bautista." The original name of the island, given by theindigenous Taino-Arawak people, was "Boriken," which means "land of thebrave people." The Tainos were an agricultural people with highly developedpolitical, social, religious, and cultural beliefs and practices, whoseancestors go back to 4, BC. Sugar production became more profitable than gold mining and alsocreated a need for paid laborers and slaves to be imported from Africa.
From around 151 to the early 18 s, many Africans in Puerto Rico were freepeople who had come for a better life and better opportunities. Univeristy of Washington Press; 1984. Owners clearly did not believe that the slave population was stupid.
They carefully watched and controlled any gathering of slaves. In fact, from 1536 to 1553only 15 African slaves were legally introduced to the island (Irizarry, et al, 11). For instance cimarrones were often given their own freedomin exchange for turning another escaped slave. Sugar production wasbooming in Cuba, Spanish Santo Domingo, and Puerto Rico, and this boominevitably led to increased slave importation from West Africa.
Could conditions and treatment become worse for the slave population? Yes.
25-32.Jenkins, Glenn: "Puerto Rico: the Economic and Fiscal Dimensions;" Boston: Harvard Institute for International Development; 1998.Irizarry, Johnny; Mills-Torres, Maria; Vega, Marta Moreno; Rivera, Anita: "Resistance in Paradise: Rethinking 1 Years of U. S. In spite of theruthless tactics for keeping slaves from forming conspiracies or revolts, the number of such incidences continued to increase over time rather thandecrease.
The goldmines were played out relatively quickly. By the 185 s the system of slavery started to erode in Puerto Rico. The erosion coincided with the beginning of Puerto Rico's movement forindependence from Spain.
One of the first goals of the independencemovement was to end forced labor. Works Cited"Brief History of Puerto Rico": Online at: http://www.
Geocities. com/TheTropics/3684/history. html; accessed November 2 2.Fotheringham, Joshua R.
: "What Should Be Done with Puerto Rico?" Hinckley Journal of Politics; Spring 2 , Vol 2, No. The slaves who successfully escaped to the mountains were calledcimarrones. In 187 the Spanish government passed the Moret Law, which freedapproximately 1 , slaves. For example, there were many instances offire setting in the cane fields as a means of attracting the militia'sattention in order to steal their weapons (Scarano 17 ).
The black population was primarily located in sugar plantations alongthe southern coast, in places like Mayagьez, Guayama, and Ponce. All that most slaves could do was either submit or attempt escape. Submitting often meant accepting a life of whippings, and even beingphysically branded with a hot iron called carimbo. Just as their counterparts in the rest of the Americas, Puerto Ricanslaves fought against the system.
The forced immigration ofAfricans reached its peak by the 184 s. He believed the land to be rich withgold; soon the local population was enslaved in the endeavor to remove thatgold and send it back to Spain. Because they could not always trust the cimarrones, someslaves that did escape tried to pass themselves off as free workers withinthe large black labor force on the island. Clearly the breeding of mistrust and and fear were insufficienttools for keeping the slaves in line. The law stated that any children born between1868 and 187 were now free and any adult slave over the age of 6 was nowfree.
Likely this is because in a slave named Marcos Xiorroattempted a legendary, but failed, revolt in this area (Scarano 162). Although they neverachieved a grand victory, they did manage many small ones and remained amajor problem for slave owners.
His action was not somuch an act of humanity of mercy as it was self-defense. There isonly incomplete information on the slave trade to Puerto Rico during thistime, but there is evidence that Senegal, Sudan, and Guinea were the majorsources (Scarano 87). Owners wereoften devious in their methods for controlling the slave population. Even though the Lares revolt did not succeed, it didessentially begin the abolition process. The 1845 census shows that therewere 216, 83 whites, 175, free coloreds, and 51,265 slaves in PuertoRico (Scarano 126).
Any slave found guilty of such an offense was executed. In November of the same year, the proclamation was abolished by nextgovernor, Juan de la Pezuela, but the damage had been done and rebellionsand conspiracies continued (Santiago 13-14). The Grito de Lares in 1868, was the first revolt against Spain forindependence. Finally, in 1826 the governor of Puerto Rico, Miguel de la Torre, enacted the first regulation for slave treatment. Landing inPuerto Rico, he claimed it for Spain.