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Valentin de Foronda: a Philadelphian's Critique of Colonialism

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Abstract:

It may come as a surprise to consider the consul general of Spain, in Philadelphia from 1801 to 1810, a contributor to Spanish American independence. Nevertheless, Valentín de Foronda must be counted among the many Spanish American revolutionaries who used the city as a base of operations in the first decades of the nineteenth century to promote their cause. Foronda’s thoughtful criticism of colonialism – his view as an insider of how Spanish commercial policies had been at the heart of American domination for centuries – is a helpful balance to notions of Spanish Americans in the city as political discontents and military men. Foronda, a Spaniard and commercial representative, contrasts with figures like Francisco de Miranda and José Alvarez de Toledo. His official status and ties to trading houses in Spain and Mexico balance their arguments and help to explain the reach of their ideas.

Foronda’s economic analysis of colonialism, like the critique of the sixteenth-century theologian and historian, F. Bartolomé de Las Casas, which was being promoted in Paris, London and Philadelphia in those years, condemning Spanish mistreatment of native peoples and slavery, helped to provide the theoretical framework for the men who would conduct the independence wars. If the basis for Las Casas’s critique was theology (grounded in morality and classical notions regarding differences among peoples), the grounds for Foronda’s was utility. His economic analysis, overlooked in the focus on their political arguments, is a valuable look at another dimension of the independence movement. Foronda is only one in a line of eighteenth-century Spaniards who, at the government level, were beginning to examine their country’s historical rationale for colonialism. They not only proposed superficial reforms such as tariff adjustments and new arrangements such as stopping the monopoly that Cadiz exercised and loosening the convoy rules that restricted trade. Consequently, a focus on Foronda, and on the Sociedades de Amigos del País whose activities in Spain spilled over into the overseas colonies, opens up a larger awareness of the factors contributing to Spanish American independence.

This study of Foronda derives from a focus on Philadelphia’s Spanish-language printing in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Foronda was a prolific pamphleteer then, using the Philadelphia presses for communicating new scientific findings coming out of Spanish America to Spanish-speaking members of the American Philosophical Society, but also sending his commercial ideas on to readers in Spanish America. This study will concentrate on Foronda’s impact on the thinking of the Mexican novelist and social commentator, José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi. Lizardi cites Foronda three times in his political newspaper, El Pensador Mexicano, published from 1812 through 1814 in Mexico City. The route for the transmission from Philadelphia to Mexico was probably the Basque trader, Gabriel de Iturbe, headquartered in Mexico City whose network extended from Spain throughout the Caribbean and Mexican ports like Veracruz to Anglo America’s east coast. Thus, Philadelphia’s role in relaying outside thinking to Spanish America is made apparent.
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Vogeley, Nancy. "Valentin de Foronda: a Philadelphian's Critique of Colonialism" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hyatt Regency, Albuquerque, New Mexico, <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p245229_index.html>

APA Citation:

Vogeley, N. "Valentin de Foronda: a Philadelphian's Critique of Colonialism" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hyatt Regency, Albuquerque, New Mexico <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p245229_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: It may come as a surprise to consider the consul general of Spain, in Philadelphia from 1801 to 1810, a contributor to Spanish American independence. Nevertheless, Valentín de Foronda must be counted among the many Spanish American revolutionaries who used the city as a base of operations in the first decades of the nineteenth century to promote their cause. Foronda’s thoughtful criticism of colonialism – his view as an insider of how Spanish commercial policies had been at the heart of American domination for centuries – is a helpful balance to notions of Spanish Americans in the city as political discontents and military men. Foronda, a Spaniard and commercial representative, contrasts with figures like Francisco de Miranda and José Alvarez de Toledo. His official status and ties to trading houses in Spain and Mexico balance their arguments and help to explain the reach of their ideas.

Foronda’s economic analysis of colonialism, like the critique of the sixteenth-century theologian and historian, F. Bartolomé de Las Casas, which was being promoted in Paris, London and Philadelphia in those years, condemning Spanish mistreatment of native peoples and slavery, helped to provide the theoretical framework for the men who would conduct the independence wars. If the basis for Las Casas’s critique was theology (grounded in morality and classical notions regarding differences among peoples), the grounds for Foronda’s was utility. His economic analysis, overlooked in the focus on their political arguments, is a valuable look at another dimension of the independence movement. Foronda is only one in a line of eighteenth-century Spaniards who, at the government level, were beginning to examine their country’s historical rationale for colonialism. They not only proposed superficial reforms such as tariff adjustments and new arrangements such as stopping the monopoly that Cadiz exercised and loosening the convoy rules that restricted trade. Consequently, a focus on Foronda, and on the Sociedades de Amigos del País whose activities in Spain spilled over into the overseas colonies, opens up a larger awareness of the factors contributing to Spanish American independence.

This study of Foronda derives from a focus on Philadelphia’s Spanish-language printing in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Foronda was a prolific pamphleteer then, using the Philadelphia presses for communicating new scientific findings coming out of Spanish America to Spanish-speaking members of the American Philosophical Society, but also sending his commercial ideas on to readers in Spanish America. This study will concentrate on Foronda’s impact on the thinking of the Mexican novelist and social commentator, José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi. Lizardi cites Foronda three times in his political newspaper, El Pensador Mexicano, published from 1812 through 1814 in Mexico City. The route for the transmission from Philadelphia to Mexico was probably the Basque trader, Gabriel de Iturbe, headquartered in Mexico City whose network extended from Spain throughout the Caribbean and Mexican ports like Veracruz to Anglo America’s east coast. Thus, Philadelphia’s role in relaying outside thinking to Spanish America is made apparent.


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