X hits on this document





46 / 367

  • -

    18 -

role, did nothing to alter that alienation. And we are not yet done with its conse- quences.

New Spain after 1763 has some suggestive points of similarity with the demise of New France. Havana (and Manila), like Quebec and Montreal, had fallen to British attack. The growth of population and trade during the eighteenth century, in New Spain as in New France, has been impressive. The shock of military defeat precipitated radical changes of colonial policy in both Madrid and Versailles. But whereas the French government abandoned Canada, deciding that its economic and military value could not justify the cost of retaining it, the Spanish government moved in the opposite direction. 28

The Spanish colonies were seen as the key to the revival and moderniza- tion of Spain itself. Accordingly a plan of imperial reform -- similar to that initi- ated in the British empire after 1763, but far more comprehensive -- was set in motion. A major element of Spanish colonial reform was the revival of a virtu- ally defunct colonial military establishment. Defense of the Spanish empire, in particular New Spain, against British attack or encroachment was the chief aim of military reform after 1763; Havana should be made impregnable, especially since Florida had been lost in the peace settlement, and Veracruz, Acapulco, and Campeche -- the keys to Mexican trade and defense -- must be equally strong. The questions, as always, were how to pay for defense, where to find the man- power, and how best to organize it. 29

Two schools of thought on the military reform of New Spain soon emerged. Economically, an army large enough to defend the colony would have to draw on the colonial population; regular regiments from Europe were simply too costly. Moreover, experience had shown that European regulars deteriorated quickly in the American environment; they soon lost their discipline and tactical skills, they married locally and took up non-military occupations, they sickened and died of unaccustomed diseases, they grew old, lazy, and corrupt. Although a small force of European regulars would provide garrisons and a cadre, the bulk of the new army must be found in America. But in drawing on the colonial popu- lation to create a new military structure the Spanish confronted a major diffi- culty. The minority known as creoles -- whites born in the colonies -- ever since the sixteenth century had constituted the main obstacle to effective Spanish con- trol of New Spain. Viceroy after viceroy had succumbed to opposition and se- duction by creoles entrenched in commerce, agriculture, mining, and the church. To reform New Spain demanded that somehow the powerful network of vested creole interests, including the parochial mentality that was a reflection of this network, be broken through. Creole interests and mentality were so strong that the government saw creoles as the only serious internal threat; Indians, Negroes, and other non-whites -- together a vast majority of the population -- were poten- tially dangerous but effectively controlled by the creoles themselves.30 Obvi- ously, a new military structure required creole participation, and yet the arming

Document info
Document views1243
Page views1243
Page last viewedTue Jan 17 13:36:47 UTC 2017