PART 3

Emancipation

CHAPTER 9

Societies on the Move

Expanding populations

When two Spanish naval officers, Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa, were ordered by Madrid in 1735 to accompany a French scientific expedition to the kingdom of Quito, they were instructed to gather information on the character and condition of Spain's Pacific coast territories. Their report, written in 1747 on their return after ten years of travel, contained a devastating account of administrative corruption and the ill-treatment of the Indians. But the two men also commented on the enormous wealth, both mineral and agricultural, of the viceroyalty of Peru, and described in their prologue the countries of the Indies as `abundant, rich and flourishing'.' Any mid-eighteenth-century visitor to the great viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru would certainly have been struck, not only by the splendour and obvious wealth of Mexico City and Lima, but also by the evidence of entrepreneurial activity, commercial vitality, and social mobility over large areas of territory.

Underlying the prosperity noted by eighteenth-century visitors to the two viceroyalties was the new-found buoyancy of their mining economies after a difficult seventeenth century.' The recovery of Peruvian production, where the Potosi silver mountain may have accounted for 80 per cent or more of total output in the viceroyalty in the early colonial period,' was slower and more hesitant than that of New Spain. This had the benefit of a larger number of mining centres, highergrade ore, a lower level of taxation by the crown, and lower labour costs. Presented with greater opportunities, the mining entrepreneurs of New Spain and their merchant backers had stronger incentives to take risks than their Peruvian counterparts. As a result, New Spain was to maintain its lead over Peru for the entirety of a century in which total Spanish American bullion production would achieve a fourfold increase, with Peruvian production up by 250 per cent and that of New Spain by 600 per cent.4

Apart from the development of subterranean blasting techniques, this impressive increase in output seems to have owed less to any major technological improvement than to changes in working methods and the employment of labour. The increase in production was a response to the apparently insatiable European demand for American silver, together with a greater availability of mercury from Spain for the process of refining, the opening of new shafts, and the willingness of entrepreneurs to sink their capital into risky but potentially highly lucrative enterprises. The entrepreneurs benefited, too, from the growth of population, which helped to keep wages down - a consideration that was particularly important in the mines of New Spain, always less reliant on forced labour than those of Peru.'

The wealth and activity generated by the eighteenth-century development of their extractive economies - especially of silver rather than gold' - had a pervasive influence across Spain's American territories. The proportion of their population directly engaged in mining activities was not in fact large - perhaps 0.5 per cent of the total labour force in New Spain.7 The numerous men, women and children, however, who flocked to the mining centres had to be clothed and fed, and the mines themselves required a steady stream of tools and supplies, many of which had to be brought long distances over and and difficult terrain.

All this activity could have a dramatic impact on local economies. Landowners who enjoyed relatively easy access to mining communities were given a powerful incentive to increase their production of maize, wheat and livestock in response to the market demand. Nowhere were the consequences more striking than in the Bajio region of northern New Spain, formerly a remote and scantily populated frontier area.' The growing prosperity of the mining region of Guanajuato - the most productive of all the eighteenth-century mining areas of Spanish America - made it a magnet for large numbers of people from central Mexico. By the end of the eighteenth century the city of Guanajuato, with its surrounding villages, had a population of over 55,000. A major beneficiary of this growth was the agricultural region round the nearby town of Leon, traditionally a region with many small proprietary farmers. Some of these took advantage of rising land values to sell out to the great estate-owners, while others succeeded in accumulating enough holdings to become hacienda owners in their own right. In the ownership and use of land, as in the development of the textile workshops of Queretaro, another rapidly growing city in the Bajio, the expansion of urban markets created by the mining boom was a powerful promoter of social and economic change.

The priority placed on the production of silver, however, and its overwhelming preponderance in the export trade, gave silver mining a disproportionate influence over other types of economic activity in the two viceroyalties. Its also tended to concentrate wealth in very few hands, with spectacular fortunes being made, and lost. Elites able to tap in to the various stages of silver extraction and export were avid consumers of luxury goods imported from Europe and from Asia by way of the Philippines trade. The extractive economies of New Spain and Peru were therefore in some respects comparable to the plantation economies of the British Caribbean and the southern mainland colonies, where the concentration of wealth in the hands of a small class of planters encouraged the consumption of foreign luxuries and militated against the expansion of a home market because the mass of the population lived in poverty.9

The analogy, however, is not perfect, since, unlike sugar or tobacco, silver - unless it all went directly for export - was the instrument for monetizing colonial economies, generating new activity in the process as it passed from hand to hand.10 Unfortunately it is impossible to determine the quantity of silver retained in Spanish America instead of being exported, but it may have been as much as half.'1 In addition to the portion held back after minting to meet the requirements of domestic commerce, there was a continuous unauthorized seepage of minted and unminted silver into the local economies. This silver energized the internal trade circuits of Spain's American empire; and although part of it went to the Spanish crown in payment of dues and taxes, or was siphoned off to Europe and Asia for the purchase of imports, enough remained to finance the church building and the urban improvements of the eighteenth century, which gave visitors their impression of opulence and growing prosperity."

Growth and development were visible, too, in the eastern regions of Spanish America, away from the extractive economies of New Spain and Peru, but increasingly locked into the Atlantic economy. Cacao from Venezuela and hides from the La Plata region were being exported to Europe in growing quantities. This in turn brought a new prosperity and population growth to Caracas and to Buenos Aires, which was already benefiting from its position on the silver conduit running from the mines of Peru.13 Yet for all the signs of economic progress and social change in Spanish America over the first half of the eighteenth century, a contemporary visitor returning to both Americas after a prolonged absence would probably have found them less startling than the transformation of British America during the same period.

This was hardly surprising. The British colonies had been settled much later than the Spanish, and several of them were still struggling to become viable communities when the eighteenth century began. New colonies had been settled in the closing decades of the preceding century. The colonization of Carolina began with the founding of Charles Town - uncomfortably close to the Franciscan missions of Spanish Florida - by planters from Barbados in 1670.14 Carolina's northern province, Albermarle County, which had been settled from Virginia, emerged as a distinct entity under the name of North Carolina in 1691. The Delaware counties broke off from the proprietary colony of Pennsylvania, founded in the 1680s, to form a colony of their own in 1702. Georgia, the last of the pre-revolutionary thirteen mainland colonies, would only begin to be settled in the 1730s.

Traditionally, the founding of new colonies in British America had been a response to political, religious or economic pressures in the mother country. But, as the foundation of North Carolina suggested, local American circumstances were now beginning to play an important part in a process hitherto largely governed by metropolitan preoccupations. The most powerful of these local circumstances was land hunger. From the later seventeenth century the population of British America was rising dramatically, and its rapid growth would generate powerful new pressures affecting every aspect of eighteenth-century colonial life. Population increase was partly the consequence of natural growth on a scale that was spectacular by contemporary European standards, and partly of the influx of white immigrants and African slave labour."

Between 1660 and 1780 the total population of the mainland colonies grew annually at a rate of 3 per cent.16 A combined white and black population for all the American colonies of some 145,000 in 1660 and 500,000 in 1710, increased to nearly 2 million by 1760. Of these 2 million, some 646,000 were black, almost half of them working on the Caribbean plantations.'7

Natural increase accounted for anything from two-thirds to three-quarters of this spectacular population growth. The eighteenth-century North American mainland was relatively free of the periodic harvest failures which brought famine to Europe. Fertility rates were high, and infant mortality rates far lower than in Europe. Much of the population, too, enjoyed the benefits of reasonable conditions of peace and security for a good part of the period." There were, however, wide regional variations in the rate and degree of population increase. The average annual rate of growth on the mainland was twice that on the islands. Of the mainland colonies, the Chesapeake settlements outpaced New England's 2.4 per cent, while the Lower South registered 4.3 per cent.19

The statistics of increase were pushed up by immigration, both voluntary and involuntary. It is estimated that some 250,000 men, women and children arrived in the English mainland colonies from overseas between 1690 and 1750. Of these perhaps 140,000 were black slaves, transported either from Africa or from the Caribbean plantations. The reproductive rate of the slave population settled on the mainland was significantly above that in the Caribbean islands, where mortality rates were higher, and the fertility rate lower, for reasons that still have to be fully explained.20

Forced removal to America was not restricted exclusively to blacks. Some 50,000 of the English immigrants to eighteenth-century America were convicts, following the passage of a new law in 1718 providing for their systematic transportation overseas. Most of these involuntary immigrants were shipped in chains to three colonies - Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia - under conditions little better than those aboard the African slave-ships.2' As far as voluntary emigration from England was concerned, this was substantially less in the eighteenth than the seventeenth century. With an expanding economy taking up some of the slack in the population at home, it was now the skilled, rather than the desperate, who were leaving for America. They did so in search of the higher wages and wider opportunities offered by a rapidly expanding market for skilled labour in the colonies. Some skills, however, were in more demand than others. William Moraley, a spendthrift from Newcastle who ran into difficulties at home and took sail for the colonies in 1729 as an indentured servant, was warned - correctly - that watchmaking, in which he had been trained, was `of little Service to the Americans', and that the `useful trades' in the colonies were `Bricklayers, Shoemakers, Barbers, Carpenters, Joiners, Weavers, Bakers, Tanners, and Husbandmen more useful than all the rest 1.22

If English and Welsh immigration was less intense than in the preceding century - under 100,000 in the period 1700-80, as compared with 350,000 in the seventeenth century 23 this was to some extent offset by the growing number of Scots and ScotsIrish immigrants. Somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 Scots-Irish arrived before 1760, and many more would follow in the succeeding decades, driven overseas by population pressure and the lack of employment opportunities at home .21 To these Celtic immigrants were added swelling numbers of immigrants from continental Europe, whose presence added new and variegated pieces to the mosaic of peoples which British American colonial society was in process of becoming. Besides Huguenot refugees fleeing the France of Louis XIV, a tide of Germanspeaking immigrants - more than 100,000 by 1783 - streamed into the country, driven from the Rhineland and other regions of Germany by hardship or political instability, or attracted by glowing reports of the success of the Pennsylvania Quakers in creating space for religious minorities to live their own lives .2-5

The majority of these German immigrants landed in Philadelphia. Some moved onwards, but many remained in Pennsylvania, where they found themselves in what William Moraley described as `the best poor Man's Country in the World', borrowing a phrase that seems already to have been in common usage.26 The Middle and Southern colonies in particular were embarking in the eighteenth century on a dramatic phase of expansion, but everywhere through mainland America the buoyancy of the British Atlantic economy was creating opportunities for a new, and better, life.

There was nothing comparable in the Hispanic world to this massive movement of white immigrants into British North America during the first half of the eighteenth century, not least because of the crown's continuing formal prohibition on non-Spanish immigration, although a number of Irish and other foreign Catholics had been allowed to settle in the Indies during the seventeenth century, and officials showed a growing disposition in the eighteenth to relax the rules. A steady stream of Spaniards, however, continued to migrate, although apparently it flowed less strongly than in earlier times.27 As with British emigration in the eighteenth century, new tributaries were joining this stream. Just as, as in the eighteenth century, the British periphery was producing a growing share of the total number of white immigrants, so too the Spanish periphery was playing a larger part than before. During the seventeenth century increasing numbers of Basques, in particular, had joined the Castilians, Andalusians and Extremadurans who had preponderated in the first century of colonization. Eighteenth-century emigration saw the increased representation of immigrants from the northern regions of the peninsula - not only Basques but also Galicians, Asturians and Castilians from the mountain region of Cantabria - together with Catalans and Valencians, from the east coast of Spain.21

Some at least of this new wave of immigration from the periphery was encouraged and assisted by the Spanish crown. As the borders of Spain's American empire were pushed forward in the eighteenth century to counter the encroaching presence of the English and the French, great open spaces had somehow to be filled. There was little enthusiasm in Spain for migration to these remote outposts of empire, and successive governors of an underpopulated and ill-defended Florida begged Madrid to send them colonists. The crown responded by offering free transportation and other facilities to peasants from Galicia and the Canary Islands. The Galicians, clinging to their small parcels of land at home, were reluctant to be uprooted, but the crown enjoyed greater success with the Canary Islanders, whose tradition of emigration to America reached back to the earliest years of colonization. From the 1670s, as the population of the Canaries approached saturation point, islanders began to emigrate in significant numbers, in particular to Venezuela, with which the islands had maintained their connection since Cumana was conquered in the sixteenth century.29

The Canary Islanders tended to emigrate in family groups, and a number of families were resettled in the 1750s in St Augustine, the principal town of Florida. A small contingent of islanders had earlier been despatched to another distant outpost, San Antonio in Texas. The numbers of these government-sponsored immigrants, however, remained disappointingly few. As so often, Spanish bureaucracy proved the graveyard of good intentions."

Apart from the Spanish crown's policy of excluding the nationals of other European countries, there were good reasons why its transatlantic possessions should have proved less of a magnet to potential emigrants in the eighteenth century than those of the British crown. Although the population of Spain was growing again - from 7.5 million in 1717 to rather over 9 million in 176831 - it would take time to make up for the catastrophic losses of the seventeenth century, and especially those experienced in the realms comprising the Crown of Castile. Growth was stronger on the Spanish periphery than at the centre, and in so far as emigration was a response to population pressure at home, it was in the peripheral regions that the pressure was most likely to be felt.

In spite of new signs of economic vitality in many parts of Spanish America, the opportunities it offered for an immigrant population at this stage of its development are likely to have been less than those awaiting immigrants to the British colonies. As in British America, the import of African slaves - much of it in the hands of British merchants following the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 - ensured a steady supply of labour for the haciendas and plantations. One reckoning of the number of Africans imported into Spain's American dominions between 1651 and 1760 puts the figure as high as 344,000.32 Growing numbers of slaves were needed to provide labour for territories on the fringes of empire, like New Granada, whose combined gold-mining and agricultural economy had become dependent on Africans to supplement a rapidly dwindling Indian population .31 in the cacao-growing province of Caracas in Venezuela black slavery was the predominant form of labour during the boom years which stretched from the 1670s to the 1740s.34 Another outpost of empire, Cuba, had a slave population of some 30,000 to 40,000 by the mid-eighteenth century. The mass importation of slaves into the island only began in the years after the brief British occupation of Havana in 1762, and was a response to the dramatic spread of the sugar plantations as sugar overtook hides and tobacco as Cuba's principal export.35

While the import of black slaves helped to meet local demands for unskilled labour in regions where indigenous labour was non-existent or in short supply, the older-established areas of Spanish settlement on the American mainland were less dependent on external sources of skilled labour than the majority of the British mainland colonies. As in British America, the eighteenth century was an age of population growth, and increasing numbers of Indians, mestizos and free blacks helped to swell an artisan class catering for an urban demand that was expanding, but was still limited by the poverty of all but a small elite.36

In the viceroyalty of New Spain, in particular, the total population showed a marked increase, from some 1.5 million in 1650 to 2.5-3 million a hundred years later - a figure larger than that of the total population of all the British American colonies combined.37 Across Spanish America, however, there were wide regional variations in the rate and extent of growth, just as there were also wide ethnic variations between the increase in the numbers of creoles and mestizos on the one hand, and Indians on the other. The Indian population of Peru, and still more of New Spain, was beginning to recover in the middle or later decades of the seventeenth century from the cataclysm that had overtaken it in the aftermath of conquest and colonization, but the recovery, while strengthening, continued to be fragile. In spite of improved resistance to European diseases, Indians remained vulnerable to waves of epidemics, like the one that ravaged the central Andes in 1719-20 or the typhoid fever that hit central Mexico in 1737. Indian mortality rates - and especially child mortality rates38 - remained significantly higher than those of the white and mestizo population. The recovery, too, would falter in the later eighteenth century in areas where the food supply was unable to keep pace with population increase.39

The creole population was also increasing. In Chile, where the Indian population continued its decline until it constituted under 10 per cent of the total population by the late eighteenth century, the creole community was growing at the rate of 1 per cent a year in the first half of the century, and the pace of growth would accelerate as the century proceeded.40 The figures for creole demographic increase were certainly assisted by the inclusion of those who, although not of pure Spanish descent, managed to pass themselves off as white. The most marked feature of eighteenth-century Spanish American life, however, was the rapid growth of the mixed population of castas.41 Its results were everywhere apparent, although less, for instance, in Chile than in New Granada, whose population by 1780 was 46 per cent mestizo, 20 per cent Indian, 8 per cent black, and 26 per cent `white' (creole and peninsular Spaniard). Creoles, for their part, constituted no more than 9 per cent of the total population of New Spain in the 1740s, although this rose to 18-20 per cent (no doubt including many mestizos) around 1800. In Peru in the 1790s 13 per cent of the population was creole, as against some 76 per cent in Chile.42 New Granada society was consequently more fluid than that of Andean Peru or the heavily settled regions of New Spain, where Indians accounted for 60 per cent or more of the population, and where the two `republics' of Spaniards and Indians continued to enjoy more than a purely nominal existence, at least outside the cities.43 Yet in New Spain and Peru, even if to a lesser extent than in New Granada, the growth of an ethnically mixed population was also changing the character of society and unleashing new forces which would sooner or later undermine traditional distinctions and erode Indian communities that had hitherto preserved a fair measure of integrity and autonomy.

One important consequence of eighteenth-century population growth throughout the Americas was an increase in the size of urban populations in both the British and the Hispanic colonial societies. Estimates suggest that the population of the five leading cities of mainland North America rose in the period 1720 to 1740 from between 29 per cent for Boston to 57 per cent for New York and 94 per cent for Charles Town. While this increase was impressive, these remained very small urban populations when compared with those of some of the major cities of the Spanish American world.44

1742 (to nearest thousand) 16,000 Boston 13,000 Philadelphia 11,000 New York 7,000 Charles Town Newport 6,000 1740s to 1760s (to nearest thousand) 112,000 Mexico City Lima 52,000 Havana 36,000 30,000 Quito 26,000 Cuzco 25,000 Santiago de Chile 19,000 Santa Fe de Bogota 19,000 Caracas 12,000 Buenos Aires

The growth of cities did not in itself mean a progressive urbanization of society. Indeed, as the population grew and spread outwards to cultivate new areas of land, so the proportion of town-dwellers in British America tended to decline. Even on the eve of independence, only 7-8 per cent of the mainland population lived in towns of more than 2,500 inhabitants.45 In Spanish America, too, population growth also seems to have led to a fall in the urban share of the population. With an estimated 13 per cent living in cities of 20,000 inhabitants or more in 1750, however, it was far above the North American percentage, and in line with European levels, although the cities of Spanish America were far more thinly distributed over space than their European counterparts.46

Even in the still relatively small cities of British America, urban growth brought in its train an expanding underclass, whose existence gave rise to mounting civic concern.47 In Boston, where the problem of poverty emerged for the first time on a serious scale during the war of 1690-1713 - a war which created many war widows and fatherless children, and left seamen and carpenters jobless when it ended - a quarter of the population were living below the poverty line in 1740.48 This was a problem with which Spanish American towns had long been familiar. The insurrection in Mexico City in 1692 was an unpleasant reminder of what could happen when a large and ethnically diverse population, living at or below the poverty line in crowded tenement houses and insalubrious conditions, was suddenly confronted with sharp rises in the price of maize and wheat.49

In the Hispanic world there was a well-established tradition of charitable giving, and the founding of convents and hospitals from the early years of settlement offered the possibility of relief for some at least of the poor and homeless. By the late seventeenth century, too, a network of municipal granaries had come into existence across the continent to hold down food prices and respond to sudden shortages. But the 1692 Mexico City riots were an indication that more drastic measures would be needed to tackle the problems of poverty, vagabondage and urban lawlessness, all of which increased as the cities of Spanish America expanded and hovels and shanties multiplied. During the eighteenth century both the imperial administration and municipal governments began to turn away from reliance on indiscriminate charity and move in the direction of more interventionist policies, confining the distribution of alms to the `deserving poor', and setting up institutions to confine the indigent.50

The Protestant world of the North American colonies lacked the institutional safety net of religious foundations and charitable fraternities which offered a measure of relief in Spanish America to the needy and abandoned. Heirs to the ethos of Elizabethan England, the colonists regarded idleness as a major cause of poverty, and carried with them to America the harsh corrective traditions of the Elizabethan poor laws. Indeed, poor law legislation in Massachusetts was even harsher than its English original. Stern measures were taken to set the poor to work, and `warn out' unwanted paupers and exclude undesirable immigrants, especially the Scots-Irish, when shiploads of them began arriving in Boston in the second and third decades of the eighteenth century.5' Yet the colonists also brought with them from their homeland an appreciation that the care of the `impotent poor' was a communal responsibility. They devoted money, in increasing quantities, to poor relief. In Anglican Virginia, in particular, the costs of welfare rose dramatically in the early eighteenth century, and charitable grants and other relief measures placed a growing burden on the parishes.52

While vestrymen and churchwardens struggled to keep pace with the increasing numbers of paupers, especially in the seaport towns, philanthropic associations sprang up to provide additional sources of relief.53 The responses to the problem of poverty in the Spanish and British colonial worlds did not therefore differ as much as their differing religious traditions might suggest. During the eighteenth century there appears to have been a growing convergence of attitudes to a common problem, as Spanish America, better endowed with religious and charitable foundations, moved in the direction of more interventionist and authoritarian measures, while British America, even if initially inclined to impute poverty to individual failings, displayed a growing awareness of the need to supplement restrictive legislation with communal and individual charity.

It seems plausible to assume, however, that poverty was proportionately much more widespread and acute in the teeming urban world of Spain's American territories than in the far smaller coastal towns of the British mainland colonies. There was always the safety valve of an expanding agrarian frontier in the British colonies, offering space and opportunity to indigent immigrants prepared to try their luck. The poor of the overcrowded Spanish colonial cities had fewer possibilities for escaping and making new lives for themselves, in a world where so much land was concentrated in the hands of large lay and ecclesiastical landowners, or was reserved for the use of Indian communities.

The chances of employment in the cities of the Spanish Indies depended on a demand for goods and services which was determined by the spending capacity and tendency to conspicuous consumption of relatively small urban elites. Although fine craftsmanship and the products of skilled labour were always in demand in the viceregal capitals and the great mining centres, the demand was liable to fluctuate with the fluctuations of a mining economy, and life remained precarious for an artisan class that displayed an amazing ethnic diversity. In contrast to British America, where guilds either failed to take root or were few and generally ineffectual in controlling the market,54 craft and trade associations developed early in Spanish America, and exercised considerable control over the regulation of wages and labour and the quality of the finished products. If these guilds, some of which admitted Indians as well as creoles, gave their members status in urban society, they also had the effect of restricting the range of possibilities open to skilled craftsmen who found themselves excluded. Guilds were not intended for mestizos and blacks.55

Yet in this complex Hispanic American society, nothing was ever quite as it seemed, and the urban labour market was frequently less restricted than would appear at first sight. Guilds were less powerful in some towns than others, and even in the older cities, where guilds for the different trades and crafts had commonly sprung up during the sixteenth century, ambitious master artisans found ways of evading guild restrictions. It was open to those who could afford it, whether creole, Indian or free black, to purchase black slaves. Slave labour had the advantage of permitting a greater flexibility of working methods and was not subject to the usual guild restrictions on hours and conditions of employment. As a result, a number of trades, like building, came to depend heavily on their slave labour force.56

Where British America provided numerous opportunities for immigrants with skills in what were described to William Moraley as the `useful trades', immigrants from the Iberian peninsula to the Spanish American viceroyalties were therefore liable to find that their dreams of a better life on the far side of the Atlantic were doomed to disappointment. There was already an ample supply of labour, both free and unfree, in the cities, and immigrants would find themselves competing for employment with creole, African and Indian artisans. Outside the cities, the natural growth of the population was reducing opportunities for securing employment and acquiring land. The Indian communities soon began to experience the impact of this population increase, as growing numbers of outsiders encroached on their communal lands in defiance of the law

The Indians did their best to resist these encroachments and fought back with all the legal weapons at their disposal where they could.57 The legal rights they enjoyed, even if increasingly infringed, continued throughout the eighteenth century to maintain what amounted to internal frontiers in Spanish America. British America, too, had its frontiers, but these were primarily external, and under the pressure of a rapidly expanding settler population they were being relentlessly eroded.

Moving frontiers

As each new generation of settlers outnumbered the generation that preceded it and immigrants swarmed into the mainland colonies of British North America, the frontiers of settlement were constantly being pushed forward in the search for new land. But what constituted a frontier?58 Even in the Europe of the later seventeenth century, the concept of territorial demarcation through precisely defined linear boundaries was not yet fully established.59 Boundary lines in the Americas were correspondingly more obscure. Frontiers, whether between Europeans and Indians or between the colonial settlements of rival European states, were little more than ill-defined zones of interaction and conflict on contested ground.60 The assertions made on paper by mapmakers caught up in the work of imaginary colonization at the behest of European ministers were unlikely to bear much relation to American realities.61 These were determined by the colonists themselves, as they surged outwards from the old areas of settlement until checked by some geographical barrier, or by the presence of unsubmissive Indians or rival Europeans.

The most formidable physical barrier to the westward expansion of the British colonies was the Allegheny Mountains, and it was only in the middle years of the eighteenth century, with the founding in 1747 of the Ohio Company of Virginia, that a serious attempt would be made to embark on projects for the settlement of the vast and unknown regions beyond the Alleghenies.62 This was `Indian Country', and no European colonial society on the North American continent could hope to exercise any form of control over the interior unless it drew on the support and co-operation of powerful groups among the competing Indian peoples who inhabited it.63

The prize had for long been the fur trade of the Great Lakes region. Conflict over the control of this trade had pitted the Iroquois against Algonquian-speaking peoples and the French against the English, with corresponding combinations and permutations of political alliances. During the first half of the eighteenth century the French sought to hem in the English colonies along the Atlantic seaboard, while forming a chain of trading settlements that would link Canada to their newly established colony of Louisiana at the mouth of the Mississippi. In the central decades of the eighteenth century, as the demand for agricultural land among the English colonists became greater than the demand for fur and hides,64 the frontiersmen had to contend not only with the physical barrier of the Alleghenies, but also with the alliance system put in place by the French. Westward expansion from the Middle Colonies could only be achieved by military victory over France and its Indian allies.

Further north, the New Englanders, by crushing the Algonquian Indians in King Philip's War of 1675-6, had won for themselves more room for settlement, although the ending of the war also saw the drawing of firmer boundaries between English and Indian land.65 Conflict continued along the frontier areas until the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, when a temporary equilibrium was established between British America, French America and the Five Nations of an Iroquois Confederacy that had learnt from experience the advantages of neutrality.66 Calmer conditions during the three decades that followed the Treaty of Utrecht allowed New England settlers to flow westward in growing numbers towards the boundary lines. In this, they enjoyed more room for manoeuvre than their fellow colonists in New York. These found their hopes for expansion into the area of the Great Lakes blocked not only by the buffer territory of the Iroquois,67 but also by the unwillingness of the great New York proprietors to sell, rather than lease, portions of their land. The effect of this was to make land settlement and cultivation within the confines of the colony a relatively unattractive proposition for potential yeoman farmers.61

The mass of new migrants - the Germans and the Scots-Irish - therefore tended to concentrate in the Middle and Southern Colonies, pressing westwards in Pennsylvania into Lancaster County and the Susquehanna River Valley, casting covetous eyes on the vast but still inaccessible expanses of the Ohio Country, which were claimed both by Pennsylvania and Virginia,6H and moving south-east from the Shenandoah towards the backcountry of North Carolina. Their arrival meant further displacements of indigenous tribal groupings, whose way of life had already been profoundly disturbed by the spread of English colonial settlements in the Carolinas in the 1670s and 1680s. As the colonists set Indian against Indian, and occupied new swathes of land, so the tensions multiplied. In 1711 the Tuscarora Indians struck back against the colonists of North Carolina; in 1715 it was the turn of the Yamasees of South Carolina. These had been military allies and trading partners of the English, whom they helped supply with the 50,000 or so deerskins that were now being exported to England each year.70 Their grievance was less over the occupation of their land than over the behaviour of the Carolina traders on their expeditions into the interior, where they carried off Indian poultry and pigs, exploited Indian carriers, and traded illegally in Indian slaves. In their exasperation the Yamasees launched a series of attacks on their former allies, and in the war that followed it looked for a moment as if the colony faced extinction. The eventual defeat and expulsion of the Yamasees opened up more land for settler occupation.

The displacement and destruction of Indian tribal groupings generated an enormous volatility in the interior of the continent, precipitating mergers and alliances of enemies as well as friends, as the indigenous peoples struggled to hold on to their lands and hunting grounds in the face of growing European encroachment. Like the settler societies that had intruded upon them, the native American societies, too, were societies on the move. They responded to the dangers that faced them in different ways. The Iroquois resorted to diplomacy. They had negotiated the confederation of the Covenant Chain with the English colonists in 1677, and they played skilfully on Anglo-French rivalry to sustain their own territorial interests and extend their influence or hegemony over other Indian peoples in the West and the South (fig. 35).71 Other groups resettled well away from the intruders, or, like the remnants of the defeated Yamasees of South Carolina, changed sides. A generation earlier, the Yamasees had allied with the English to wipe out the Spanish mission province of Guale - `Wallie' to the English72 - on the Georgian coast. Now they moved south into Florida to seek the protection of their former Spanish enemies.73

The upheavals created by European imperial rivalries and internal colonial pressures were not confined to the North American continent. Frontiers with the Indians grew up in South America wherever pacification or military conquest failed. The earliest and most obvious of these was the military frontier in southern Chile along the river Biobio, designed to keep the Araucanian Indians at bay. In the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries another Indian frontier emerged, this time in the Rio de la Plata region. Once horses crossed to the other side of the Andes in the late seventeenth century, mounted Pampas Indians, attracted by the livestock, became a serious threat to the growing number of stock-raising settlements, forcing the Spaniards to take defensive measures.74

But in this region, and up much of the eastern side of the continent, the Spaniards also had European rivals to worry about. In an attempt to demarcate the respective spheres of interest of the crowns of Spain and Portugal, the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494 had allotted to Spain all lands and islands in the Atlantic falling to the west of a line running 370 degrees west of the Cape Verde Islands, while those to the east of it went to Portugal. The land of `Brazil' found by Pedro Alvares Cabral in 1500 thus fell automatically within Portugal's area of jurisdiction. Juridically speaking, the straight line drawn on a map made the frontier of Brazil the most clear-cut frontier in all the Americas, but nobody in the seventeenth or early eighteenth century had any accurate idea of where in practice Portuguese territory ended and the Spanish viceroyalty of Peru began.

Although Portugal's overseas possessions legally kept their separate identities in the sixty years following the union of the crowns in 1580, the eastwards expansion of settlers from Peru and the westwards expansion of Portuguese and mixedrace colonists from the coastal settlements into the Brazilian interior brought convergence as well as conflict. By the mid-seventeenth century there would be many Castilian names among the inhabitants of Sao Paulo.75 But the frontier was also the setting for violent confrontation. As the Spanish Jesuits advanced their mission settlements eastwards from Asuncion, armed gangs of bandeirantes from Sao Paulo raided deep into mission territory to seize slaves for work on the landed estates of the Sao Paulo region and the sugar plantations of Pernambuco and Bahia. By the time Portugal recovered its independence in 1640 the Spanish crown had been forced to abandon its traditional Indian policy and consent to the arming of the Guarani Indians living in the Jesuit missions so that they would be in a position to defend themselves. By then, however, the Guaira missions, with their 10,000 remaining Indians, had been driven to relocate to a safer region east of the River Uruguay.76

The ruthless depredations perpetrated by the Paulista bandeirantes checked the process of Spanish expansion from Asuncion, clearing the way for eventual occupation of the disputed territory by settlers from Brazil. The Spaniards, for their part, founded Montevideo, at the mouth of the River Plate, in 1714, as a base from which to extend their control over the hinterland and check the southward expansion of the Portuguese." In the following decades the Spanish-Portuguese frontier remained a still undefined and shifting zone of conflict and commercial interchange, with a shrinking indigenous population caught in the middle.

Some peoples, like the Pampas Indians of the Rio de la Plata region, were more effective than others at keeping the Europeans at bay. When the Jesuits sought to complete their ring of missions round Portuguese territory by establishing themselves on the Upper Orinoco, they were compelled to withdraw after their missions were attacked and destroyed by Guayana Caribs in 1684. Along with other religious orders they moved back again into the Orinoco region in the 1730s. This time the forward movement of the missions was backed up by a support system of Spanish civil settlements and a line of fortifications. But even then their situation remained precarious in the face of an alliance between the Caribs and the Dutch, who had begun settling in Guayana in the later seventeenth century. The Caribs, like the Iroquois, had learnt to play the European game .71

At the Treaty of Madrid of 1750 Spanish and Portuguese ministers and mapmakers made an effort to define Brazil's borders all the way from the Orinoco basin in the north to the ranching region of the Banda Oriental, the eastern edge of the Rio de la Plata estuary, in the extreme south-east. Except where concessions were mutually agreed, each party was to retain possession of territory already occupied. This effectively relegated the line drawn at Tordesillas to the realm of myth. Instead of a geometrical abstraction, natural boundaries were now sought wherever possible. These followed the contours of the Brazilian river system, as politicians turned to geography rather than astronomy to determine frontier lines.

The treaty, however, which involved the exchange of considerable areas of land between the two crowns, proved ephemeral. It was welcomed neither on the Portuguese side, nor by the Jesuits and their Guarani charges, who rebelled against the transfer. It was also premature, in the sense that the new line ignored a vast central and northern belt of territory inhabited solely by Amazon tribes. With Portuguese and Spanish settlements still far away, this was a territory that Brazil would start to colonize and incorporate only in the nineteenth century.79 In those areas along the new frontier where Spanish and Portuguese settlements were in striking distance of each other, the frontier line itself remained little more than a vague point of reference, and the borderlands continued to be what they had always been, a law unto themselves, regulated, in so far as they were regulated at all, by the prospects of commercial advantage, a mutuality of interests, and the power of the gun.

Where frontier areas were tamed along this great Brazilian border, this tended to be a consequence of the activities of the religious orders, which effectively created new frontiers, as they penetrated into regions as yet unsettled by Europeans, and then imposed upon them their own brand of Christian peace. It was a method of colonization also employed by the French, but alien to the ways of a British colonial world that had no religious orders and all too few ministers willing to dedicate their lives to the conversion of the Indians. Its extensive use by the Spaniards, not only on the borders of Brazil, but also in pushing forward the boundaries of Hispanic culture into the far north of Mexico and Florida, gave the borderlands of Spain's empire in America a dynamic distinct from that of the British American borderlands.

The mission frontier system developed by the Spaniards - initially by the Franciscans, but increasingly during the seventeenth century by the Jesuits, who began moving into areas, like Arizona and the western coastal regions of North America, that the Franciscans had not reached - was a form of cultural activism intended to transform the indigenous peoples on the fringes of Spain's empire, and bring them into the orbit of Spanish civilization. While there were disagreements both between and within the religious orders as to the desirability or necessity of turning Indians into Spanish speakers,80 their aim was to acculturate them to accept Spanish Christianity and Spanish norms of civility. Where possible, the initial approach was that of more or less subtle persuasion,S1 but the end result, which involved the relocation of Indian converts into new settlements or reducciones, was to turn their world upside down. Drastic changes to that world had already been occurring as a result of contacts, either at first or second hand, with European intruders into indigenous territory. The coming of the missions, however, effectively meant a system of forced acculturation designed to bring them within the frontiers of an alien Spanish world.

The friars and the Jesuits were the advance agents of a Spanish frontier policy that sought to be a policy of inclusion, absorbing and assimilating the indigenous population, in contrast to the frontier policy of exclusion that had become the norm among the British colonies to the north.82 But the policy of inclusion had its limitations and its failures, of which the Chilean frontier with the Araucanian Indians along the river Biobio was for long the most glaring example.83 After failing lamentably to subdue the Araucanians in their wars of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the Spaniards found themselves compelled in the middle of the seventeenth century to reinforce their defensive system of frontier garrisons. The costs of maintaining a standing army of some 1,500 men were high, and the soldiers' pay, as in all Spanish presidios, was pitifully inadequate. They therefore supplemented it by a brisk trade in Indian captives. These could legally be enslaved since the Araucanian war was deemed to meet the criteria of a `just war', and this lucrative traffic provided every inducement to perpetuate the conflict. It was only in 1683 that the crown ceased to authorize the enslavement of the Araucanians, but it would take more than a decree from Madrid to stamp out such a well-established practice in one of the remotest outposts of Spain's global empire.

Yet increasingly the Araucanian war became a phantom war, as trading and personal contacts across the frontier multiplied. Simultaneously, conflict was being reduced by alternative methods of pacification. The missions played their part, although the process of Christianization proved frustratingly slow, not least because it was hard for the religious to disassociate themselves from the activities of the military. More effective in reducing tension was the development from the mid-seventeenth century of regular `parliaments' between the Spanish authorities and the Araucanians, comparable to the discussions that William Penn held with the Pennsylvania Indians in his pursuit of an enlightened Indian policy. These could lead to the signing of formal treaties between the two parties.84 But more than the missions, or regular discussions between Spanish officials and Indian caciques, it was the evolution of forms of coexistence based on mutual need which gradually tamed the Chilean border zone. Not war but trade and mestizaje would finally subdue the people whose heroic defence of their homeland had so moved European readers of Alonso de Ercilla's sixteenth-century epic La Araucana.

In spite of periodic raids by Dutch and other foreign vessels on the Pacific coast of South America, there was little to suggest that Spain's attempt to bring the Araucanians within the confines of their empire would be seriously compromised by the activities of Spain's European enemies. In this respect the Chilean frontier differed both from the Spanish-Portuguese frontier in Brazil and from the borderlands of northern New Spain, although there was always a lurking fear of enemy intervention in support of the Indians even in the remote Pacific coastal regions, and in the middle years of the seventeenth century some 20 per cent of the revenues of the Lima treasury were having to be allocated for coastal defence.85

The defence of northern New Spain was to become by the end of the seventeenth century a growing preoccupation for Mexican viceroys and the ministers in Madrid. The northwards advance of New Spain had been a hesitant and often faltering process ever since the creation of the vast new province of Nueva Vizcaya in 1563.86 In 1598 Juan de Ofiate, leading an expedition from the new province, took possession of the Pueblo Indian territory of New Mexico in the name of the King of Spain, and went on to find the mouth of the Colorado River at the head of the Gulf of California. The settlements that sprang up in New Mexico were hundreds of miles from those of Nueva Vizcaya, and unlike Nueva Vizcaya, where silver mines were discovered, the far northern borderlands seemed to have little to offer potential Spanish settlers. The Pueblo Indians, living in their scattered villages, were not easily brought under control, while the rugged and desert landscape of the American Southwest was uncongenial territory, difficult to reach either from Nueva Vizcaya or New Mexico. For much of the seventeenth century, therefore, New Spain's northern borders remained only lightly populated by settlers, a frontier territory of missions and military outposts. Slowly, however, the Hispanic population of New Mexico, with its capital at Santa Fe, began to grow, and agricultural and ranching settlements started to spread.87

Each new advance of the northern frontier, however faltering, brought the Spaniards into closer proximity to hostile Indian peoples, like the Apaches, whose mastery of the horse would convert them into formidable adversaries.88 The extension of the frontier regions also increased the possibilities of eventual confrontation with the settlements of European rivals, like those of the French at the mouth of the Mississippi and the English in the Carolinas.

Like New Mexico, Florida was another isolated outpost of empire, consisting of little more than the presidio or garrison town of St Augustine and the Guale missions. In the later years of the seventeenth century both these frontier provinces came close to being obliterated. Carolina settlers, supported by nonmission Indians who had been alienated by Spanish labour demands, were on the offensive in Florida from 1680 onwards, and forced the Franciscans to abandon their Guale missions. They failed, however, to capture St Augustine, which was strongly enough fortified to beat off the attacks by land and sea launched by Governor James Moore of Carolina in 1702.89 In New Mexico in 1680, four years after the ending of King Philip's War in Massachusetts, the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico launched a concerted attack on the Spaniards. Already suffering from the loss of herds and crops through the effects of drought and the raids of Navajos and Apaches, they turned on a settler population only some 3,000 strong, which had continually oppressed them with labour demands. Their rebellion, too, was the cry of protest of a people whose way of life was being eroded by Spanish attempts to impose new cultural practices and religious beliefs.90 Here as elsewhere along the margins of Spain's empire in America, the missions were just as likely to be part of the problem as of its solution.

The Pueblo rebellion, when it came, took the Spaniards by surprise. Santa Fe was surrounded and destroyed, and the surviving Hispanic population of New Mexico was driven back to El Paso. The whole northern frontier caught fire as the rebellion spread beyond Pueblo country to engulf other Indian peoples under Spanish rule. Spain and New Spain alike lacked the people and the resources to establish well-defended frontiers along the borderlands of empire.

Yet strategically the northern frontier was too important to be abandoned for long. Indian raids deep into the viceroyalty were a standing danger to the mining camps of Nueva Vizcaya, while the presence of the English and the French in the region posed a growing threat. Silver fleets making their homeward journey from the Caribbean through the Bahama Channel had to sail uncomfortably close to English settlements in the Carolinas.91 As for the French in the Gulf of Mexico, there was the prospect that one day they would be strong enough to seize the silver mines of northern New Spain, although the danger receded when a Bourbon monarch ascended the Spanish throne. The French and the English, too, had access to a wider range of European goods than the Spaniards for trading with the Indians, and could turn this to advantage when seeking Indian allies.

The requirements of defence, therefore, at least as much as the need to acquire more land for agriculture and ranching and the urge to win more converts for the faith, pushed Spain to strengthen and extend its North American borders at the turn of the new century. In the 1690s a campaign began to reoccupy New Mexico. Little by little a shrinking Pueblo population was worn down, until eventually an accommodation was reached, and relative calm at last descended on the Pueblo-Spanish borderland .12

In the 1690s, too, Spain embarked on sporadic efforts to forestall the French in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1691 the viceroy of New Spain appointed the first governor of the province of Texas, where a Franciscan mission had just been founded to evangelize the Indians.93 Seven years later the Spaniards built a small fort at Pensacola in West Florida, but Pensacola Bay proved no substitute for the mouth of the Mississippi as a base from which to control the river system that led to the interior. While the emerging French colony of Louisiana drove a wedge between New Spain and Florida, the expanding French presence in the region also threatened Texas, with its fragile Spanish missions. In 1716 the viceroy was sufficiently alarmed by the threat to despatch a small military expedition to reoccupy East Texas. With this expedition the permanent Spanish occupation of Texas began. A new outlying province was added to Spain's extended empire of the Indies - a thinly settled province of garrisons, missions, and struggling settlements vulnerable to attack by the Apaches. But the beginnings of cattle ranching around San Antonio at least hinted at the possibility of less bleak times to come.94

Florida, Texas and the other outposts that straggled along the northern borders of the viceroyalty of New Spain were, and remained, the orphans of Spain's empire in America. Madrid accepted them only reluctantly, and ignored them as far as it could. The tripartite struggle between England, France and Spain for the domination of the vast area of territory that lay to the south and south-east of the North American continent made their acquisition and defence an unpleasant necessity. They represented a constant and unwelcome drain on resources, and they were also unattractive to emigrants, who preferred to make for the more settled regions of New Spain and Peru.

The occasional importation of Canary Islanders to populate the frontier regions had little impact when compared with that made by the influx into British America of the Scots-Irish, who were encouraged by the colonial authorities to settle the frontier areas on the assumption that their experiences in Ulster had uniquely equipped them to deal with barbarous frontier tribes. Writing in 1720 about the grant two years earlier to Scots-Irish settlers of a tract of land in Chester County, where they founded the border township of Donegal, the provincial secretary of Pennsylvania explained that, in view of apprehensions about the Indians, he `thought it might be provident to plant a settlement of such men as those who formerly had so bravely defended Londonderry and Enniskillen as a frontier against any disturbance'.95 His use of the word `frontier' was itself suggestive. In this region of encounter between European and non-European a defensive barrier made up of doughty fighters was regarded as a prerequisite for successful settlement. The Indians, however, were not Irish, in spite of traditional assumptions to the contrary,96 and `defence' was all too liable to be a euphemism for the most naked forms of offence.

The British American borderlands, unlike the Spanish, were constantly being replenished by fresh streams of immigrants, many of them brutal in their disregard for the Indians and their rights, but most of them ready and willing to employ their energy and skills in clearing the ground and `improving' the land. Such people were in short supply on the northern frontiers of Spain's empire in America. As a result, the Hispanic frontier territories found it hard to generate the kind of economic activity that would create self-sustaining wealth, unless - as in the missions or the mining camps - they had a docile Indian labour force at their command.

The lot of the governors of such outposts, therefore, was not a happy one. Dependent on remittances of money that arrived only irregularly from the New Spain treasury and were in any event inadequate, the governors of eighteenthcentury Florida - all of them military men, who lacked experience of government and could call on none of the administrative support systems enjoyed by the viceroys of New Spain and Peru - were expected to fight off attacks by the English and the French, strengthen the defences, maintain the missions and the clergy, and turn this outpost of empire into a going concern. Not surprisingly the colony languished, staggering from crisis to crisis, and surviving, if barely, with the help of small permanent garrisons, sporadic injections of defence subsidies, and illicit trade.97

There was an obvious contrast, therefore, between these Spanish northern borderlands, envisaged primarily as buffer zones against European rivals and hostile Indians, and the border regions of the British mainland colonies which were pushing forward in response to the pressure of colonists hungry for land or anxious to extend their trading contacts with the Indian peoples of the American interior. Yet for the British, too, strategic requirements became an increasingly important consideration in the forward movement of the frontiers, as they looked to ways of responding to the growing threat posed by France's empire in America. The founding of the new colony of Georgia on the southern flank of South Carolina in the 1730s may have been inspired by the philanthropic ideals of James Oglethorpe and his friends, but it also met an urgent strategic need by creating a buffer against the expansionist tendencies of the French and Spanish settlements.98

London, however, was as reluctant as Madrid to take on long-term military commitments in outlying frontier regions.99 The imperial authorities therefore left it to the individual colonies to settle their border arrangements as best they could. Some, like New York and Pennsylvania, resorted to diplomacy to remain on good terms with the Indians. Others made attempts to improve their military capability. As it became necessary for larger numbers of soldiers to travel greater distances, the colonial militias began to be supplemented by volunteer forces, paid and provisioned by colonial assemblies. Advancing frontiers called for extended means of protection.'°°

Irrespective of the different motivations, military, economic, demographic and religious, that were driving frontiers forward - motivations that varied within the colonial empires themselves, as well as between them - those of British and Spanish America possessed certain common characteristics. Even where protected by a string of forts and garrisons, like the arc of Spanish forts running from the top of the Gulf of California across southern Arizona and on to El Paso and San Antonio,101 the frontiers were not boundary lines but porous border regions - lands neither fully settled by, nor integrated into, the colonial European societies that aspired to possess them, nor as yet wholly abandoned by their indigenous inhabitants. As such, they were zones of contact, conflict and interaction on the periphery of empire, where the requirements of survival on both sides found expression in violence and brutality, but also in co-operation and mutual accommodation.

As far as the Indians were concerned, these frontiers were first and foremost frontiers of disease. Wherever the Europeans - sometimes perhaps even a single lone trader - came into contact with an Indian population hitherto protected by a degree of isolation, the ravages of disease were all too prone to follow The Pueblo Indians of New Mexico may have numbered some 80,000 when the Spaniards reached the banks of the Rio Grande in 1598. By 1679 their numbers were down to an estimated 17,000, and fourteen years later to 14,000, following the revolt. 102 A million Indians may have been living east of the Mississippi on the eve of the English settlement of North America. By the end of the colonial period only 150,000 were left. A sudden lethal attack of smallpox or influenza could wipe out an entire people. Alternatively, recurring bouts of epidemics over two or three generations could lead to a similar disaster, played out in slow motion.103 With their tightly packed concentrations of converts, the Spanish missions were breeding-grounds for disease,104 and warfare completed the work that epidemics left undone. Not surprisingly, `the Indians generally choose to withdraw, as white people draw near them', as an English official remarked in 1755.10'

Consequently, the frontier regions were often regions of withdrawal and retreat, and not only for Indians desperate to escape the scourge of European-born diseases. The settlers, too, might be forced to pull back in the face of Indian attacks, as in New England during King Philip's War, or in the Spanish mission provinces of Guale and East Texas. The advance of the European frontier may have been inexorable, but it was never irreversible. Yet even as frontiers, whether British or Spanish, shifted to and fro, new human relationships were all the time being forged, as a consequence of coercion, mutual necessity, or a combination of the two.

Coercion was obviously at its highest in areas with a military presence, like New Mexico. Here Spanish soldiers, who were in effect soldier-settlers, were dominant figures in an evolving and highly stratified society, consisting of missionaries, a sparse settler population living in three or four towns and a number of farming villages, and large numbers of subjugated Pueblo Indians. The `Kingdom of New Mexico', as it was officially styled, possessed a small landowning nobility of fifteen to twenty families, some of them descended from the conquistadores and settlers of the late sixteenth century. Priding themselves on their Spanish ancestry, which was much less pure than they liked to boast, they lorded it over a population of mestizo landed peasants, and the so-called genizaros - janissaries. These were either detribalized Indians taken in `just wars' and pressed into domestic and military service, or captive Indians acquired from other tribes. New Mexico's was a rough, callous and highly status-conscious society of conquerors and conquered, dependent for its survival on coerced Indian labour, and constantly oscillating between barter and warfare with the surrounding Indian peoples.106

But it was also a society in which whites and Indians, even if nominally in the ranks of the excluded, found themselves in daily contact, and in which such Spanish blood as existed was being constantly diluted as a consequence of marriage and concubinage, so that by the end of the seventeenth century almost the entire population was racially mixed.107 In New Mexico, as in all the borderlands of empire in the Americas, exploitation and interdependence threw together peoples of very different background and traditions to create a world, if not necessarily of shared blood, at least of shared experience. A fort protecting the Spanish or English `frontier' might be a symbol of oppression to some and of protection to others, but at the same time it was likely to be a meetingpoint for the exchange of goods and services and for human intercourse. In this way, each party learnt something of the customs and characteristics of the other, and began adapting to new contacts and conditions, and to an environment that itself was being transformed as it was brought within the ambiguous category of `frontier' territory.

Propinquity and mutual need served as an encouragement to move towards a `middle ground' in which the actions and behaviour of both parties would become mutually comprehensible. 10' Some trod this middle ground with greater ease than others - traders, for instance, who were liable to take an Indian `wife'; interpreters, whether European or Indian, who had learnt the other's language; men and women who had once been captives, and had acquired some understanding of the ways of an alien society during the years of their captivity.109 Trade was among the strongest of inducements to search out a middle ground; and trade, which came to occupy a central place in the lives of the Indian societies of North America as they were drawn into contact with Europeans, became a prime instrument for securing the Indian alliances that were indispensable for the Europeans as they fought among themselves for hegemony. Colonial officials, therefore, in pursuit of such alliances were also liable to become denizens of the middle ground, like the trader and army contractor William Johnson (1715-74), who negotiated with the Six Nations on behalf of New York, took a Mohawk common-law wife, and in 1755 was appointed superintendent of Northern Indian affairs. 110

The middle ground, however, was treacherous territory, where a false step could prove fatal. Violence, after all, was a permanent fact of life over large stretches of the borderlands of empire. The individualism that featured so prominently in Frederick Jackson Turner's vision of the frontier and its impact on the evolution of the United States was therefore tempered by a powerful urge towards mutual assistance and co-operation among European settlers who were seeking to carve out new lives for themselves in the isolation of an unfamiliar and frequently intimidating environment.11' Many settlers must have seen themselves living, in the words of William Byrd in 1690, at `the end of the world', although not many of them did so in the relative comfort of a Virginia plantation."- In Pennsylvania and the Appalachian borderlands, home was more likely to be a cabin of roughhewn logs, the type of housing favoured by Scandinavian and German settlers in the region, and later adopted by the Scots-Irish immigrants."' Not surprisingly, these settlers handed together for help. Almost within earshot of their settlements and clearings lay `Indian Country', whose inhabitants they contemplated with a mixture of unease, contempt and fear. How many of them, like the Massachusetts minister, Stephen Williams, taken captive as a child, must have passed restless nights filled with `disquieting dreams, about Indians'?14

If all frontiers in America shared certain common features, they were also very different. William Byrd's frontier in Virginia was not that of Stephen Williams in Massachusetts, and neither was it the frontier of New Mexico or Brazil. While their very remoteness from the major centres of settlement made them laws unto themselves, this does not mean to say that they shared a common lawlessness. Garrisons and missions imposed their own forms of discipline. There was, too, the communal discipline that was all too often needed for survival, and a selfdiscipline that might be instilled by religion or prompted by the desire to maintain standards of gentility in regions that looked out over a `barbarian' world. At the same time, there was a widespread perception in the more settled parts of the colonies that it was the dregs of humanity who moved into the frontier regions, ,the Scum of the Earth, and Refuse of Mankind', as the settlers of the Carolina Backcountry were described by a contemporary 115 Scots-Irish immigrants were regarded in Pennsylvania as turbulent and disorderly people, squatting on land to which they had no legal right, and `hard neighbours to the Indians'."6 Many of these frontiersmen lived in conditions of abject poverty. As happened in Spanish New Mexico or in those parts of North America where the land speculators were the first to arrive, a frontier region could just as easily be a setting for the most acute inequality as for the equality later hailed as the defining characteristic of frontier life.'17

Over time, the ethos of the settled regions of the colonial world in America was more likely to impress itself on the borderlands than was the ethos of the borderlands to impress itself on the heartlands of colonial societies. This became all the more true as colonies were consolidated, elites emerged, and eighteenth-century European concepts of refinement spread to the Americas. By the middle of the eighteenth century country stores were making European commodities available even in remote frontier areas of North America.11' The very fact that frontiers were advancing into territory formerly occupied by heathen and `barbarians' itself represented a gain for European notions of civility.

The contrast between these claimed or reclaimed regions and the `Indian Country' lying beyond them was, to white settlers, both obvious and painful, and created a genre of literature which was to enjoy vast popularity in British North America - the narratives of captivity among the Indians. While accounts of the Indian wars, like Increase Mather's A Brief History of the War with the Indians in New England (1676), could always be assured of a wide readership,'" their popularity would be eclipsed by that of personal narratives recounting the experiences of those who had been held prisoner by the Indians. The number of such captives ran into the thousands - 750 are recorded as having been taken by Indians to French Canada alone between 1677 and 1750.12220 Many captives were in due course redeemed, but others never returned, either because they died in captivity, or, more alarmingly, because they had assumed the life-style of their captors, and, for one reason or another, were unwilling to abandon it. These were the `White Indians', many of them taken captive as children, and so successfully assimilated into Indian societies that they forgot their European ways and even their native tongue.''

To white settlers imbued with fears of cultural degeneration brought about by contact with the Indian122 it was deeply disturbing that their own kith and kin should go so far as to choose barbarism over civilization. Yet this appeared to be happening with unnerving frequency as men, women and children were taken captive during the French and Indian wars of the later seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. For Puritan New England in particular, voluntary defections to the Indians raised fundamental questions about the character and the efficacy of the errand into the wilderness of their forebears and themselves. 12' To some extent they found their answer in captivity narratives - morality tales, evoking in vivid detail the dangers and ambiguities of a frontier existence, offering solemn warnings, and providing the spiritual consolation that came from seeing the dangers overcome.

Captives might well face torture and death, but they also faced the more subtle danger represented by the temptation of turning their backs on a Christian way of life. The most popular and famous of all the captivity narratives was The Soveraignty and Goodness of God, Mary Rowlandson's graphic account of her life among the Indians.124 Running through three editions in Massachusetts and another in London in 1682, the year of its publication, it conveyed an appropriately inspiring message of how the grace of God enabled a lone but pious woman in the clutches of `atheisticall proud, wild, cruel, barbarous, bruitish (in one word diabolical) creatures', to survive the many adversities and dangers that beset her. Many other such accounts would follow, containing elevating stories of redeemed captives to set against the distressing news that some, like Eunice Williams (renamed A'ongote by her Mohawk captors), obstinately chose to remain unredeemed.125

In 1673, nine years before the publication of The Soveraignty and Goodness of God, a Chilean soldier, Francisco Nunez de Pineda y Bascufian, put the final touches to a manuscript recounting his six months' captivity among the Araucanian Indians over forty years earlier. Entitled `Happy Captivity' - Cautiverio feliz - it would not find its way into print for another two centuries. It was not only in its publishing history that it differed from Mary Rowlandson's account. The two writers responded in very different ways to the ordeal of their captivity.126

The differences cannot simply be put down to the differences between the Nipmuck Indians and the Araucanians. Both writers, indeed, depicted the Indians as cruel, and Nunez de Pineda had to watch while his captors `sacrificed' one of his companions and devoured his heart. But where Mary Rowlandson misses no opportunity to express her revulsion for her captors' way of life, Nunez de Pineda gives every impression of bonding with the people into whose hands he had fallen. He would sup with them `with great pleasure', and was treated as if he were the cacique's adopted son, a status that could have been his for the asking. The temptation to remain among his captors was clearly strong, and it was with regret that he eventually parted from them and returned to `Christian country' and his elderly father. 127 For all the cruelty of the Indians, they were - unlike the Spaniards - men of their word, true descendants of the noble and heroic people portrayed a century earlier in Alonso de Ercilla's epic poem, La Araucana. Happy the captive of such a race!

Mary Rowlandson, too, was well treated by her captors, not one of whom `ever offered me the least abuse or unchastity to me, in word or action' .121 The Algonquians, like the Araucanians, were keen to adopt captives to replenish their numbers, and Rowlandson, like Nunez, could easily have done what many others of her compatriots did in a similar situation, and remained. But if ever the temptation to do so came upon her, she went to enormous pains to conceal the fact, and was keen to express her revulsion for the way of life of the `diabolical' Indians, and her nostalgia for the English world she had lost. Hers was an unhappy captivity, although at the same time a truly redeeming experience, in that her afflictions made her wonderfully aware of the overwhelming power of God.

It was on the point of religion that the Calvinist Rowlandson and the Catholic Nunez, so different in their responses to life among the Indians, were most closely united, at least when it came to addressing themselves to their readers. To emphasize his spiritual steadfastness when among the heathen, Nunez makes much play of how he resisted the temptation to sleep with the women offered him by his hosts, and how he seized such opportunities as he could to teach his captors Christian prayers. At the end, both the redeemed captives joined in offering up thanks to God for their safe return. But if one of them on returning left the frontier wide open, the other did her best to ensure that it remained tight shut.

`Happy Captivity' - for so long unpublished - represents the captivity literature that Spanish America otherwise lacks, with the exception of the famous sixteenth-century narrative, Los naufragios, by Nunez Cabeza de Vaca.129 One reason for this may be that until the eighteenth century there were few places on the fringes of Spain's empire of the Indies, other than Chile, where it is possible to speak of military borderlines and a more or less permanent state of `war'. As the eighteenth century proceeded, the situation would change, and the number of captives would increase as the frontiers of the empire were pushed forward into hostile country. The accounts of their sufferings, however, were to be found in petitions to the monarch rather than, as in British America, in narratives that made their way into print.l3o

The unwillingness of Spaniards who had been taken prisoner to go public with an account of their experiences may well reflect a feeling of shame at the sheer fact of captivity among `barbarous' Indians. A stigma was now attached to them, although Nunez de Pineda went some way to expunging it by presenting his captors in a favourable light, especially when their behaviour was set against that of corrupt and self-serving royal officials sent out from Madrid. In the circumstances, it was not surprising that his manuscript had to wait two centuries before seeing the light of day. The authorities were unlikely to license publication of any work that would draw attention to failings and deficiencies in a great imperial enterprise whose rationale was to bring Christianity to pagan peoples and incorporate them into a civilized Hispanic polity. Readers, both in Spain and the Indies, may well have shared these inhibitions. It was unpleasant to be reminded of the barbarians still at the gates. For readers in Britain and colonial America, on the other hand, captivity narratives like that of Mary Rowlandson served a useful didactic purpose, reminding them of the need for fortitude in the face of adversity, and the wonderful workings of Providence.

The different responses to the ordeal of captivity among the Indians, however, are also likely to reflect different attitudes to `the frontier' in the two colonial societies. The northern borderlands of New Spain were remote and thinly populated regions, far removed from the densely settled heartland of Mexico, and neither before nor after the coming of independence did they carry the kind of emotional charge associated with `the frontier' in the minds of British colonists, for whom it conjured up visions of hard labour and heroic enterprise in hostile Indian territory. The psychological frontiers separating the colonial societies from `Indian country' were also less sharply drawn in Spanish than in British America, and the deep concerns about the temptations of `Indianization' that so troubled English settlers were apparently not shared by Spanish settlers, many of whom already had Indian blood in their veins. The elite of New Mexico might be concerned to preserve the already suspect purity of their blood-lines, and uphold their status by ostentatiously sporting Spanish dress,13' but mestizaje nevertheless proceeded more or less unchecked. Secure in their value-systems and beliefs, the settlers on the borderlands, while boasting of their Spanish descent, could allow themselves some latitude in the way they lived their daily lives.

The colonists of British North America, and especially those of Puritan New England, where the Indian wars were most intense and prolonged, seem to have been less well equipped to deal with the psychological consequences of life on the borders of `Indian country'. The Indian had been demonized for too long, and ambiguities are hard to accept in a world where mental polarization is the order of the day. In the face of the insecurities generated by defections to the way of life of the enemy, the narratives of redeemed captives offered some assurance of the ultimate triumph of religion and civility.

Yet the creation and expansion of new frontiers in the Middle and Southern Colonies, and the acquaintance of growing numbers of settlers with the life on the borderlands, gradually began to prompt a change of attitude.132 There was to be an increasing sense of affinity with the American landscape, no longer as much of a `wilderness' as it had originally seemed. With this came the beginnings of a reassessment of the Indian, as his way of life, apparently so well attuned to American nature, came to be better known and understood. The eighteenth century was rediscovering `natural man' in the forests of America, Indians who possessed the primitive virtues of an uncorrupted people. The Iroquois, as described by Cadwallader Colden in his History of the Five Indian Nations (1727), were like the early Romans in their devotion to the ideals of republican liberty. `Indeed', he wrote, `I think our Indians have outdone the Romans' - a comparison already made in the sixteenth century, and also to the advantage of the Indians, in Ercilla's La Araucana.133

In this mid-eighteenth-century world of changing sensibilities, the frontier was becoming broad enough to accommodate two ideal types - Indians still uncorrupted by the vices that civilization brought in its train, and settlers who were not ,the Scum of the Earth', but upright and hard-working farmers, living close to God and nature as they cleared spaces in the forests and met the challenge of the wild. The two races inhabited a bountiful land of rugged beauty, a land whose savagery would in due course be tamed by the honest toil of a people no longer European but `American', at one with an American environment they had made their own. The myth of the frontier was in process of creation.

Colonial Spanish America, it seems, could do without this particular myth. There was less urgency than in British America to bring under cultivation the often arid land on the borders of empire, and hence less need for the heroic pioneer. A mythology, too, already existed - a mythology woven from the memories of conquest, and in which the conquered as well as the conquerors came to participate, as they re-enacted on festival days the battles of Moors and Christians, or of Christianized Indians against the `barbarian' Chichimecas of the northern frontier of New Spain. 114 The English settlers, by contrast, had no conquest to celebrate. Nor could they very convincingly celebrate that massive winning of Indian souls for the faith, which to the creoles of Spanish America conferred upon their patrias a special place in God's providential plan.13'

While it was true that Puritan New England, too, could lay claim to a special place in God's providential plan, the vision had lost some of its cogency by the eighteenth century, and in any event was not immediately and obviously applicable to colonies which had been founded at different times from New England, and under very different auspices. The captivity narrative might serve to reanimate the vision, but in a society subjected to strong new secularizing influences and being peopled by immigrants from many different lands, the mythology of the frontier could help to extend the range of imaginative possibilities by creating the collective image of a pioneering society on the move.

Yet if the `backcountry', as the North American borderlands were coming to be called, symbolized the future for thousands of colonists, its existence also posed a multitude of problems for the more settled territories of the Atlantic seaboard. There was the increasingly urgent problem of how best to defend these outlying regions at a time when border relations between settlers and Indians were being subsumed in the great struggle between the rival European powers for the control of a continent. There was also the fundamental question of the nature of the relationship between the populations of the maritime regions, proud of their increasing refinement and civility, and the hordes of backcountry farmers and squatters, regarded by many inhabitants of the eastern seaboard as beyond the pale. Independent-minded people, with a taste for liberty, these backcountry dwellers would not take easily to discipline or any form of institutional control. 116 This was a problem that would face all the mainland colonies to a greater or lesser degree, and its solution was made no easier by the fact that, under the pressure of immigration and population expansion, so many of them were themselves in a state of flux.

Slave and free

If the increase in population affected all the British American mainland, its impact was most strongly felt in the Middle and Southern Colonies, where immigration, whether voluntary or involuntary, was strongest. It was not only a matter of numbers, but also of growing ethnic, religious and racial diversity, as more and more immigrants streamed - or were shipped - into the country, changing the face of society wherever they appeared. By the middle of the eighteenth century a heterogeneous British America was in the making, although its heterogeneity was different from that of Spanish America, where the survival and slow recovery of substantial Indian populations had created an astonishing racial mosaic of white, red and black, and every shade in between.

In the British-controlled areas of North America the drastic diminution of the indigenous inhabitants meant that the red had in many parts dwindled to the point of invisibility. The black, on the other hand, was daily becoming more prominent. Among the whites, colonists of English origin were now liable to find themselves in a minority, swamped by Scots-Irish and continental Europeans. By 1760 settlers of English origin would constitute no more than 45 per cent of all the residents of New York, and only some 30 per cent of those of Pennsylvania. 137 `Unless', wrote an alarmed Benjamin Franklin in 1753 of the German immigrants flooding into Pennsylvania, `the stream of importation could be turned from this to other colonies ... they will soon outnumber us, that all the advantages we have, will in my opinion, be not able to preserve our language, and even our government will become precarious.""

Although the arrival of so many non-English whites, many of them without a knowledge of the language, created obvious problems of assimilation for the receiving societies, these could not compare in magnitude with the lastingly divisive issues raised by the growth of the black population, most of it enslaved. By 1740 Africans and Afro-Americans constituted 28.3 per cent of the population of the Upper South, and 46.5 per cent of that of the Lower South. In the Middle Colonies and New England the percentages were 7.5 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively.139 From as early as the second decade of the eighteenth century Virginia's slave population was beginning to grow from natural increase - the first time this had happened in any New World slave population - and during the 1740s American-born blacks in the Chesapeake colonies came to outnumber those imported from Africa, allowing slave-owners to replenish their labour force from their own stock.140 With the growth of an African population that had no memory of Africa, black, as well as white, society was undergoing a decisive transformation.

Both in the Chesapeake region, and in North and South Carolina, societies based on chattel bondage were in the making. The only exception in the Lower South was the new colony of Georgia, whose trustees held out against the introduction of slavery until 1751, the year in which they surrendered the colony to the crown.141 The model for these slave societies, which Georgia would join after 1751, was provided by the British West Indies islands, with their forced plantation labour. These in turn had found their model in the sugar-producing slave plantations of Portuguese Brazil.142 If the plantation societies resembled each other, however, in depending on forced labour by a work-force whose members were no more than chattels to be exploited and disposed of at the whim of their masters, the effect of differing ecologies, demographic patterns, and social and cultural attitudes was to create significant differences between them. In the West Indies, where, in the 1740s, 88 per cent of the population was black '141 there was likely to be a different dynamic, both between white and black societies and within them, from that to be found in a mainland region in which some 70 per cent of the population was still of European descent.144

On the North American mainland the differing characteristics of the Chesapeake region and the southern Lowcountry led to marked divergences in the development of their slave societies and of society as a whole.145 The tobacco culture of Virginia and Maryland146 created a rhythm of work and patterns of labour organization different from those to be found in South Carolina, where the discovery in the late seventeenth century of the potential of the wetlands for rice production set in motion an economic revolution. Once rice was established as the colony's staple crop, its production and export from Charles Town became the predominant preoccupation of the emerging planter class (fig. 36).

Labour in the Carolina rice fields was intensive, and the length of the growing season of rice as compared with that of the tobacco plant left little or no time for the pursuit of other activities, and the consequent diversification of labour, as in Virginia. Tobacco in the Chesapeake could be cultivated by a planter working on his own, or with only one or two slaves to help him, whereas profitable rice production required large plantations with labour forces at least thirty strong. More slaves, therefore, lived on large plantations in Carolina than in Virginia. As a result, personal relationships with masters were liable to be less close than in Virginia, where the great planters developed patriarchal attitudes to the slaves born and bred on their estates; and the constant need for slaves newly imported from Africa to replenish a black population less healthy and less fertile than that of Virginia made it more difficult for Carolina slaves to develop the kinship and community ties that were gradually being woven by their counterparts in the Chesapeake.

Yet if, as seems likely, Carolina slaves were treated with greater brutality than those of Virginia, the relative proximity of Spanish territory meant that Carolinian slave-owners still needed to take care that they did not drive their slaves to desperation. In 1693 black fugitives from Carolina who managed to reach St Augustine were offered their freedom by the Spanish crown on condition that they converted to Catholicism. From then onwards Carolina's growing black slave population glimpsed a beacon of hope shining away to the south.147 Following two abortive revolts, many Carolina slaves joined the Yamasee Indians in 1715 in their war against the English settlers, and during the 1720s and 1730s increasing numbers of runaways made their escape to Florida. These included Portuguese-speaking slaves from the central African Christian monarchy of Kongo. In 1738 the governor of Florida gave them permission to establish an autonomous black Catholic settlement, Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, two miles north of St Augustine. As news of the foundation of Mose spread through the South Carolina plantations, groups of slaves broke loose and tried to make for Florida, among them a group of Angolans who revolted near Stono in 1739. After killing more than twenty whites most of them were themselves killed as they headed south for Mose.

For all the degradation and horrors of life on the Carolina plantations, the very size of the plantations meant that the slaves lived in a world that was overwhelmingly black, and in which they were able to preserve customs and traditions they had brought from Africa (fig. 37). Unlike the often absentee West Indian planters, their masters maintained a direct personal interest in their plantations, and they were less inclined than the Virginia planters to break up slave families by selling surplus slaves, or giving them away. There were opportunities, too, to escape from rural servitude. The planters' desire to escape the malaria season on their plantations by spending much of the year in the handsome mansions they built for themselves in Charles Town led to the emergence of a class of urban slaves in domestic service. Like the black slaves to be found in Mexico City and Lima, many of them became skilled carpenters, cabinet-makers and silversmiths, and their accumulated earnings allowed them, like their Spanish American counterparts, to enjoy a fair level of prosperity, copying the life-styles and clothing fashions of the white elite.148

The lines of racial division, however, remained brutally sharp in these southern colonies, and the number of free blacks was small in comparison with those to be found in the viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru. Eighteenth-century New Spain had the largest free population of African descent in the Americas, and although it was subject to specific restrictions and obligations it enjoyed a recognized status within the casta system. One consequence of this was that, since the early seventeenth century, Mexican free blacks had been allowed to form their own militia units. The survival of these units until the later eighteenth century not only provided them with valuable corporate privileges but also tended to reinforce their sense of racial identity"' In Virginia, by contrast, gun ownership for free blacks was banned after Bacon's rebellion, although it was only in 1723 that the colony's legislature formally prevented them from joining the militias."" There was a world of difference between arming a black population that constituted under a tenth of the total population, and one that ranged from a quarter to a half.

`It appears absolutely necessary to get a sufficient Number of white Persons into this Province,' asserted a committee of the South Carolina Assembly in 1739, as it proposed legislation to compel large landowners to import and maintain white soldiers in proportion to the acreage that they held."' In societies where blacks constituted such a large portion of the total population, the spectre of slave rebellion haunted the whites. It also worked, however, to generate among them a sense of solidarity that helped in the Chesapeake region to bridge the social divide between the great planters on the one hand and the middling planters, small landowners and tenant-farmers on the other.

Yet although white and black stood in sharp contradistinction to each other, they were also connected by an intricate web of visible and invisible ties. For all the depth of the divide between the status of master and that of slave, they were bound together in a relationship from which neither could escape. Slavery and freedom coexisted in close symbiosis, with liberty itself becoming the most precious of commodities in a society based on servitude. 1'2

If this led the planter elite of Virginia to develop a political culture with liberty at its heart, it also encouraged the slaves to make the most of every chink and crack in the carapace of constriction that contained their lives. They held fast to ancestral rituals and practices that linked them to a world that whites could not enter; they fostered, as best they could, the new bonds of kinship and community that the circumstances of their lives had allowed them to establish; and they exploited the needs and the weaknesses of the white society around them in order to gain access to some of the opportunities and advantages which that society had to offer. In doing so they reached out to a world that had become dependent on their services, shaping that world even as it, in turn, shaped their own.

As the eighteenth century progressed, this mutual interaction of black and white, stronger in some parts than others of the Chesapeake and the Lower South, led to the construction of a new world of shared experiences and shared patterns of behaviour.153 Just as, in post-conquest Mexico, the presence of indigenous servants in conquistador households came to exercise a deep influence on the life-styles of subsequent generation S,154 so the presence of black nursemaids and domestic servants produced a comparable process of acculturation in the planter households of Virginia. `I have none but negroes to tend my children - nor can I get anyone else - ,' wrote the Virginian planter, Landon Carter, in his diary for 1757, `and they use [accustom] their own children to such loads of Gross food that they are not judges when a child not so used to be exposed to different weathers - and not so inured to exercise - comes to eat. They let them [Carter's children] press their appetites as their own children did and thus they are constantly sick.'155

Yet the often close personal relationships could not bridge the vast gap dividing master from slave, nor do much to mitigate the brutality and sheer savagery that constituted the daily fare of plantation slaves. 116 Dissatisfied with the work of the men deputed to thresh the oats, Landon Carter, who prided himself on his paternalist concern for the slaves on his Sabine Hall plantation, noted in his diary, as if it were a simple matter of routine, `They have been severely whipd day by day. 1117 Sexual exploitation of women slaves, too, was a commonplace of plantation life, although there is no evidence that Carter himself indulged in this. Casual sex and long-term sexual relationships between planters and slaves were taken for granted in the great houses and on the plantations, although Lowcountry planters seem to have been more willing than their Chesapeake counterparts to recognize and provide for their mulatto children, even if they remained generally unwilling to free them.158 No distinctive mulatto caste developed here, as it did in the corporate society of Spanish America and, to a lesser extent, in the British Caribbean. Instead, the mulattoes were simply absorbed into the slave population.

While the eighteenth-century plantation complex shaped slave and white society in the Chesapeake and the Lower South in ways that were to set a permanent imprint on the entire region, slavery was also becoming more common in the north, in response to the fluctuating labour requirements of an eastern seaboard caught up in the rapidly expanding Atlantic economy.159 Even New England, whose population was expanding faster than the capacity of the land to offer productive employment, looked to unfree labour in the form of black slaves or indentured servants to meet the deficit in its labour needs. Boston's slave population rose from 300 to 400 in 1710 to over 1,300 in 1742; by 1750, blacks constituted a tenth of the population of Rhode Island, where Newport was emerging as a major centre of the shipbuilding industry.160

The port towns of the Middle Colonies were still more reliant than those of New England on unfree labour. By 1746, 21 per cent of the population of the city of New York consisted of black slaves, and weekly slave auctions were held at various points in the city.161 Philadelphia, too, had a sizeable black population. Here, as in other seaboard cities, the upper ranks of society acquired blacks as household servants. At the same time, slavery was also spreading to the countryside.

Yet there were also potential constraints, both voluntary and natural, on the growth of slavery in this central region. A wave of slave unrest, accompanied by arson, moved up the eastern seaboard, hitting New York in 1741, and creating a general sense of unease. This could only encourage a preference for white labour, free or indentured, although the ultimate decision was likely to turn on its availability and relative cost. There was, too, a diffused, if still weak, anti-slavery sentiment in some parts of white society, and during the 1750s Philadelphia Quakers began to campaign actively against slave ownership. Practical considerations also came into play. In spite of the growth of rural slavery in the Middle Colonies, the absence of a labour-intensive staple crop - sugar, tobacco or rice - militated against the development of the kind of plantation economies that institutionalized black slavery in the West Indies and the southern colonies. Perhaps most important of all, the sheer flood of white immigrants, coupled with natural population increase on a remarkable scale, meant that, even if localized shortfalls in times of economic boom created a temporary demand for imported labour, the upward surge of population proved sufficient to respond to ordinary needs and was even beginning to create a labour surplus.162

A similar phenomenon was visible in those parts of the Spanish American mainland where, by the mid-eighteenth century, the irregular recovery of the Indian population and the rapid growth of a racially mixed population was tilting the balance in favour of a home-grown `free' labour force. This was happening, for instance, in the obrajes, or textile workshops, the nearest the Spanish American colonial economy came to possessing a factory system. These workshops, employing anything from twenty to 200 workers apiece, and operating either in, or on the outskirts of, cities and towns, were a response to the clothing requirements of a population which could not afford the high prices of textiles imported from Europe. Dependent on Indian labour when they were first set up in the sixteenth century, the obrajes of New Spain subsequently resorted to African slave labour to supplement a diminishing indigenous labour force. In the eighteenth century, however, they turned increasingly to Indian or mixed-race workers, who were forced to labour in conditions that made them little better off than slaves. 163

All the societies of the Americas had in fact to weigh the relative costs of African slaves and of the alternative sources of labour available. The calculation had to include not only the price demanded at the auction block by slave-traders and merchants, as set against that of free labour or other forms of unfree labour currently on offer, but also the estimated profitability, reliability and productivity of slaves over the term of their lives when compared with the alternatives. It also had to take into account the type of occupation for which they were required. An African slave might be better than an Indian for overseeing workers on a Mexican hacienda, but unsuited for labour in the mines.

On this basis, the terms of the equation seem to have swung against the acquisition of black slave labour over significant areas of the Spanish American mainland during the eighteenth century. This was certainly true of New Spain, where the slave population, which stood at 35,000 in the mid-seventeenth century,164 had dwindled to no more than 10,000 in a population of almost 6 million by the last years of the eighteenth. A high rate of manumission, which is likely to have been influenced by assessments of profitability at least as much as by religious considerations, helped to swell Mexico's already large free black population, and with it the domestic - and multi-ethnic - pool of free labour. On the other hand, demand for African labour remained high in the coastal regions of Peru, and, to a lesser extent, on the cacao plantations of Venezuela. Both had African populations of around 90,000 at the end of the eighteenth century, of whom 40,000 in Peru and 64,000 in Venezuela were slaves. 161

There were therefore wide variations in the pattern of slave-holding - variations that reveal potential limits to the institutionalization of chattel bondage, although it still remained unclear in the middle decades of the century, both in British and Iberian America, how strong the demarcation lines would be between slave and free societies, and where those lines would eventually be drawn. Slavery is too easily equated with the presence of plantation economies, and urban slavery remains an underrated and understudied phenomenon.166 In the event, in spite of the extensive use of slaves in the cities of the British Atlantic seaboard, and the spread of slavery to rural New York and Pennsylvania, the Middle and Northern Colonies of North America would not follow the path taken by the Caribbean islands, the Southern Colonies and Brazil. After a period of prevarication the mid-Atlantic colonies, with their rapidly expanding white populations and their very varied employment needs, opted for a wage-labour system that proved cheaper than bound labour. Rural New England, for its part, remained firmly wedded to its system of family labour supplemented by hired help. 167

While all the colonies along the North American seaboard responded to the growth of population and the opportunities arising from the rapid expansion of the British Atlantic economy by increasing their total output,168 the extent of the social and political dislocation created by economic development and demographic change varied from place to place and region to region. In general, the Northern and Southern Colonies displayed greater stability than the mid-Atlantic Colonies, which struggled over the middle decades of the century to find an equilibrium. 169

Between 1720 and 1750 the total white and black population of New England rose from around 170,000 to 360,000, largely through natural increase rather than as the result of immigration, but it experienced much less of an economic transformation than the other mainland regions. 170 It already possessed a closely integrated commercial economy, based on farming, fishing, and trade in animal and timber products. Although the buoyancy of the Atlantic economy benefited New England's ship construction and its coastal and carrying trades, the region's growth was held back by its inability to increase the agricultural output of the stony New England soil sufficiently to keep pace with the growth of population.

New England's currency troubles threw into sharp relief the economic problems confronting the region. Its permanently adverse balance of trade with Britain meant a constant drain of specie, which colonial legislatures attempted to offset by an over-enthusiastic printing of paper notes. The crisis came to a head in Massachusetts in the years around 1740, when an acute shortfall in the monetary supply led to the revival of a scheme for backing the issue of paper currency through a privately funded Land Bank. The proposal, which led to the new Land Bank releasing bills without first securing legislative approval, set off a bitter debate in a society in which the traditional values of the common weal had long been locked in battle with the self-interested and acquisitive instincts of an increasingly commercialized society 171

The tensions generated by the region's economic difficulties were felt most acutely in the teeming port city of Boston, which was particularly vulnerable to the fluctuations produced by the wartime expansion of 1739 to 1748 and the postwar depression that followed. Political and social unrest was compounded by the wave of religious revivalism, later to be known as the Great Awakening, that swept through the Northern Colonies in the mid-1730s and early 1740s, challenging traditional authority and bringing to the massed audiences of George Whitefield and his fellow revivalist preachers the exciting message of the primacy of individual choice." Yet in spite of sporadic manifestations of unrest in the streets of Boston and some lively pamphleteering, Massachusetts in the middle years of the century retained a high degree of stability. New England's communal traditions were firmly based, town meetings and regular elections provided an opportunity for the organized expression of dissent, and the well-entrenched image of the `godly ruler' helped maintain a measure of deference to the region's governing elite. 13

The Southern Colonies, too, enjoyed a high degree of stability, although this would come to be challenged, particularly in South Carolina, as new tides of immigrants moved inland to settle the backcountry. The stability here, however, derived from the successful dominance by the planter elite of a hierarchical society with slavery at its base. In Virginia, where perhaps 70 per cent of adult free males qualified for the franchise, the elite took its responsibilities seriously, and was careful to court electors when election time approached. There were obvious tensions in this patriarchal world, but they were successfully contained.'74 In South Carolina, which became a royal colony in 1720, the relatively new elite of planters and merchants was anxious to prove, not least to itself, its worthiness to be accepted as a virtuous ruling class on the model of Whig England. With its social and political power firmly concentrated in Charles Town, the elite maintained an authority which became increasingly ragged the further away from the coastal region the frontiers of settlement moved. 175

It was in the Middle Colonies - New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania - that the achievement of political order and social stability proved most elusive. This was the region of the North American mainland that displayed the greatest ethnic and religious diversity. New immigrants, Germans, Scots and Scots-Irish, jostled with older-established populations, not only the English, but also the Dutch in the Hudson Valley and Scandinavians around the Delaware. Some of the new immigrant communities, especially the Huguenot French, blended easily with the surrounding population, but others did not.

Ethnic or national antagonisms were compounded by religious animosity. Feuding between Quakers, Presbyterians, Anglicans and the newer evangelical sects had a profound impact on the struggle for power and influence in both New York and Pennsylvania. 176 There were also sharp clashes between the Dutch Reformed Church and the Church of England. The English and the Dutch had long had a strained relationship, reaching back to the English conquest of New Netherland in 1664 and before. The continuous pressure on the Dutch of New York to accept the anglicization of their culture was intensified by the founding of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in 1701 and the development of a more aggressive Anglicanism. Dutch children were taught the Anglican catechism in the Society's schools, and Anglican missionaries worked hard to win converts from the Dutch Reformed Church. A letter from Lord Cornbury, as governor of New York, points to the collusion between church and state in the promotion of anglicization. `This', he wrote, asking for a minister to be sent to Albany County, `will be a means to make the growing Generation English men. 1177

In the aftermath of Leisler's rebellion '171 many lower-class Dutch left New York City and Long Island for the Hudson Valley and northern New Jersey, where they clung to a religious and cultural tradition that was eventually absorbed by the pietism of the Moravian immigrants and the enthusiasm of the revivalist sects. Yet in spite of the departure of this disaffected sector of the Dutch population from New York, the traditional antagonism between the Dutch and English communities continued to colour New York city politics. By mid-century, however, the campaign for anglicization had largely succeeded. Especially at the elite level, Dutch culture had conceded defeat.179

For all its disruptive effects, and the factional politics to which it so often gave rise, pluralism also created an environment conducive to the generation of new ideas and new forms of political organization. 180 The sheer attempt to impose order on potential anarchy forced members of the elite to bid for popular support in a highly competitive political and religious arena. Over the first half of the century, the persistent erosion of the authority of the royal governors of New York by the assembly" meant that provincial and city politics were conducted within an increasingly autonomous framework. In order to seize power, or buttress their position, rival New York families, like the Mortises and the Philipses, turned to artisans, shopkeepers and labourers to provide them with electoral support. On the model of contemporary British politics, they engaged in heated political warfare through the medium of pamphlets and the press, and developed during the 1730s party platforms and incipient party organization in their efforts to mobilize on their behalf a volatile and unpredictable urban electorate. 112 The Quakers of Philadelphia were faced with the same necessity if they were to hold on to power, and turned especially to the new German immigrants to secure additional political support as they found themselves being outnumbered by adherents of other faiths.183

By grouping the disparate units of a fragmented urban society under the banner of a cause, the resort to such tactics had its own stabilizing effects. The `Quaker party' succeeded in dominating Pennsylvania's political life from the late 1730s to the mid-1750s, and in the same period New York's politics were dominated by the Anglican-based DeLancey coalition, which reached out to leaders of the Dutch Reformed Church. Stability, however, was not the same as stagnation. In couching their appeals to the electorate in terms of the people's rights, the elite were unleashing a force which they might one day find themselves unable to control.

The message of political liberty was reinforced by the message of religious liberty carried through the Middle Colonies by the revivalist movements of the Great Awakening. Some of these were inspired by German pietism, others by the activities of the Baptists, and others by the movement for renewal within Calvinism itself, at a moment when Calvinist immigrants from Scotland, Ireland and continental Europe were flocking into Pennsylvania. In an already competitive religious environment, evangelical revivalism, with its insistence on the conversion experience and the achievement of personal salvation, sharpened the edge of competition between the churches, while also generating schisms within churches of the same faith. Enthusiasm was a heady experience, and the thousands who turned out in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in 1739-40 to hear the rousing sermons of George Whitefield were caught up in a movement that may have risen and fallen like the waves of the sea, but which changed many individual lives and had a lasting impact on colonial society as a whole.

Given the diversity of religion, politics and society in colonial British America, the effects of this revivalist movement were as varied and contradictory as its origins, and could as easily strengthen as weaken the authority of the churches. 114 At heart, however, the revivalism represented a return to the radical tradition within the Protestant Reformation, with its egalitarian and democratizing tendencies.185 This was a tradition calculated to appeal to the small farmers, shopkeepers, artisans and labourers who were trying to carve out new lives for themselves in America, and resented the dominance of wealthy urban elites and powerful country landowners, like the great barons owning estates along the Hudson River. As the course of the Protestant Reformation in Germany two centuries earlier had already demonstrated '116 demands for political liberty and social equality are liable to flourish in a radical religious environment.

The original settlers from England had brought with them a powerful conviction of their `right' to English liberties - a conviction contested in vain by judge Joseph Dudley in that dangerous year 1687 when he asserted that `they must not think the privileges of Englishmen would follow them to the end of the world. 1187 As new waves of immigrants arrived, carrying with them little or no feeling of allegiance to the British crown, the God-given rights of Englishmen were permeated, and ultimately transcended, by a conviction that rights were God's gift to humanity as a whole - the right to religious choice, personal freedom, social justice, and happiness on earth. The immigrants, and the communities they joined, shared the conviction that they were endowed with the right to make what they could of their own lives, untrammelled by authority. It was a conviction that linked Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia, with his message of self-improvement, hard work and personal responsibility, to the urban artisan, the Pennsylvania farmer and the backcountry settler. While the pursuit of individual liberty and the wish for independence could represent divisive forces in a society already splintered into a multitude of ethnicities and faiths, they were also capable, if the situation required it, of generating mutual association and solidarity in support of a common cause.

The inherent sense of liberty permeating the mainland colonies in the mideighteenth century stopped short of the rapidly increasing black population on North American soil. Freedom and servitude, it seems, were doomed to walk hand in hand. Yet for all their shortcomings - the sharpening racial divisions, the growing social inequalities, and the strident acquisitiveness of people on the make - the societies of mid-century British America possessed a political vitality and a religious effervescence that differentiated them from the Spanish American societies to the south. Racially, these societies might be more mixed, but religiously and politically they tended towards the monochrome. While the first half of the eighteenth century saw accelerating movement - demographic, social and economic - throughout the hemisphere, the sheer diversity of peoples, creeds and traditions that distinguished the mainland societies of British America suggested that here, more than anywhere, change was in the air.

If you find an error please notify us in the comments. Thank you!