A City in the Midst of War:
John V. Lombardi
(Original publication 1976, posted in draft form with additions 2000)
In the course of studying the population and urban structure of Venezuela in the late colonial and early national periods, we developed a view of the Bishopric of Caracas seen in a variety of dimensions. Although the data set on which that analysis rests does not offer sufficient depth to permit an extensive analysis of change over time, we can gain a perspective on the process of change by looking closely at one city's response to the dramatic events that closed the colonial era and opened the republican period.. In selecting the urban center for this analysis, I followed a series of rather ad hoc criteria. In general, I avoided those places that have already been the subject of extensive local history. For example, Tucupido, an important urban center on the eastern edge of the Llanos within the Bishopric of Caracas, has been discussed in considerable detail elsewhere. Likewise, I have avoided Caracas, in part because it has been the subject of a host of studies and in part because it is representative of nothing but itself. In order to be able to say something about the movement of a city's or a town's population and to chart the changes that may have occurred in its composition, I needed to choose a place with a reasonably complete series of information and, in addition, a place whose boundaries did not experience drastic changes during the period under study. Finally, I wanted to find an urban center located in a major geographic region of Venezuela. As a result of applying these criteria, I selected the city of San Carlos de Austria. The description offered here must be taken as a first approximation, a summary guide to the further study of the local history of the city and similar places in late colonial and early republican Venezuela. While the urban center selected for examination cannot in any statistical sense be presented as a sample from the universe of places in the Bishopric, nor as typical in any rigorous sense, it is representative of similar places experiencing similar historical conditions. In continuing the study begun here, it should be possible to develop model or typical histories for the various kinds of urban places to be found in Venezuela.
A Llanero City: San Carlos de Austria
Standing on the boundary between the Llanos of Cojedes and the Llanos of Carabobo, San Carlos de Austria qualified as a city according to my criteria, having an average population of 9,545 between the years 1800-1809. This puts it near the top of city parishes in the Bishopric at the end of the colonial period and testifies to San Carlos' prominence as a major distribution point for its region. Here, merchants and stock raisers congregated to take advantage of the fortuitous position of the city astride the trade routes from the cattle hinterland of the Llanos to the Caracas valleys, from the Segovia Highland communities around Barquisimeto, and to Puerto Cabello and the contraband trade areas of the coastline from Puerto Cabello west to Tucacas.
Unlike many other important late-colonial cities, San Carlos originated late in the conquest and colonization of Venezuela. Where major cities such as Barquisimeto came into being during the sixteenth century expansionist wave, San Carlos started out as a missionary outpost in the late seventeenth century. Founded officially by the Capuchins in 1678, San Carlos was designed to provide a Spanish settlement to anchor the growing network of Capuchin missions extending out into the trackless plains.
Under the guidance of the missionaries, the settlement grew rapidly on the trade generated by the development of the Llanos' great cattle herds. By the end of the seventeenth century and the first years of the eighteenth, the town had grown so self-sufficient and so well-established as a Spanish settlement that some Capuchins were prepared to turn the religious administration of the place over to the seculars and withdraw to less well-established missions in other parts of the Llanos. Although some in the Order resisted the effort to secularize the church in San Carlos, the King finally ordered that the transfer of control be made, and in 1720, after almost two decades of dispute, San Carlos became a regular part of the Spanish colonial urban system, administered by civil and secular authorities. (1)
By 1720, then, San Carlos de Austria had emerged as one of the principal places in Venezuela. Travelers commented on its prosperity, and reports on the city from this date through the independence epoch and into the republican period agree that San Carlos was prosperous, populated, and in many ways delightful.
The reasons for this apparent success can be traced to a series of circumstances. Clearly, as mentioned above, the location of the city contributed substantially to its rapid growth. As Spaniards from the plains of Barinas and the Llanos south and west of San Carlos expanded their activities, the city expanded in close step. Not only did San Carlos handle most of the sale and transfer of products destined for internal consumption in the Segovia Highlands and into the valleys of Caracas and even Valencia, but it provided the conduit for products shipped out of the country in legal or illegal trade with Spain and Holland. The enterprising residents of the city grew rich on the sale of hides, tallow, cheese, and cattle on the hoof. They sold large quantities of mules as well, to serve in the extensive transportation industry moving goods between the major cities of the provinces of Venezuela. Of the estimated 3,000 head of cattle sold every year, most went to the Barquisimeto region for beef, while a considerable portion went to the coast, where Dutch contrabandists bought the beef and hides. Although these cattle products and the sale of mules brought the largest part of San Carlos' prosperity, the town accounted for the shipment of a substantial amount of tobacco to the coast as well.
Unfortunately, I have no hard data on the occupations of the residents of this urban center, but the prosperous individuals of the city could clearly be divided into two major groups. First were the merchants whose activities marketing hides, cattle, and mules gave them the income to import a large variety of manufactured products legally through Puerto Cabello and La Guaira-Caracas, or illegally from smugglers along the wide-open coast. The owners of large hatos or stock-raising establishments located throughout the Llanos to the Apure made up the second group. These individuals no doubt lived in San Carlos and established their families there because it was the largest and most substantial urban center with reasonably direct access to their properties. By setting up his principal residence in a city like San Carlos, an enterprising hacendado could maintain his family in the style required by his station in life and in accord with his income. Moreover, I suspect that this pattern of the concentration of the owners of major hatos in the principal llanero centers can be substantiated throughout the region.
Who the people of San Carlos were and where they came from is difficult to determine from the data available in printed sources and the census information, but San Carlos had the reputation of being a center for Isleños, Spaniards from the Canary Islands, a group known for industry, thrift, and entreprenurial talent. If this stereotypical notion is accurate, the Isleños certainly made San Carlos a place to be proud of. In 1780, in recognition of the city's prominent place in the Venezuelan urban network, the King conferred the title of villa on the city. (2)
There are, of course, a number of ways of assessing a city's importance in any given context. With the Venezuelan urban network, the easiest is population size. But frequently the bare number of people involved in a city's life fails to convey a sense of the complexity and prosperity of a place. For example, San Carlos served not only as an important commercial center, but also as the head of a civil jurisdiction and the head of an ecclesiastical jurisdiction. As a result, those ecclesiastics serving the parish counted on a substantial income. The curate, according to Mariano Martí, received an income from all sources in 1781 of more than 1600 pesos, while the sacristán mayor disposed of more than 600 pesos.
If the priest's income helps give a dimension to the town's prosperity, the healthy state of San Carlos' religious institutions provides an even more impressive indicator. Two religious orders maintained a presence in San Carlos during the last decades of the eighteenth century. The Dominicans kept a Hospice administered by two members of the order. This establishment could afford a well-built chapel on their capital of some 27,588 pesos, a capital that must have produced something on the order of 1200 or 1300 pesos a year. When the Mercederians wanted to establish a convent for their order in 1781, they produced pledges of 28,500 pesos of capital, plus the donation of land for the convent in support of their bid.
Religious charity in San Carlos also extended to the founding of cofradías, or brotherhoods, obras pías, and special chapels. The obra pía of the Benditas Animas del Purgatorio, established in San Carlos in 1709, maintained a capital of 5,531 pesos that provided an income of over 260 pesos a year, almost five percent. The other obra pía in town, dedicated to the Inmaculada Concepción de Nuestra Señora, received a capital clear and free of 1,820 pesos and had litigation in process for another 550 pesos. The cofradía of the Santísimo Sacramento, founded early in the town's history, in 1697, was reconfirmed in 1769 and certified by a royal order in 1771. The cofradía administered a capital of 3,850 pesos. Finally, the town also supported a chapel in one of the neighborhoods west of town, dedicated to San Juan Bautista. This small church had a brick floor, always a sign of prosperity, and an endowment of 1500 pesos.
Of course the monument to San Carlos' prosperity and civic pride, the city church, stood in mute testimony to the city's wealth and prominence. In 1781 Martí found the church remarkably well-built, well-maintained, and pleasing to the eye. The church itself must have been an imposing building, extending over 160 feet in length, with a main nave about thirty-three feet wide. The walls were sturdy and built over a yard thick. The church boasted three altars, three large doors, and an excellent roof of tiles. The floor, paved in brick, and the walls, recently whitewashed, all testified to the careful attention San Carlos paid its main church.
Lest this city appear an urban paradise inhabited by prosperous happy people busy with commercial and stock-raising activities and supporting their favorite religious institutions without a hint of unhappiness or strife, some notion of the town's vices might be in order here. Clearly a substantial number of individuals within San Carlos made their living in direct violation of Spanish laws, trading with the Dutch and probably other foreigners frequenting the coasts. While contraband probably caused few San Carlos merchants much remorse, it was an activity contrary to the law and against the prevailing economic and political wisdom of the empire.
We also know from Mariano Martí's account of his visita that the residents of the city were no more immune from the ordinary kinds of sexual misconduct than the rest of the Bishopric's faithful. In the visita, we can read case after case of moral dereliction: married men taking up with unmarried women, fathers cohabiting with daughters, employers taking unfair advantage of employees. In many cases, these crimes against God's laws were complicated by considerations of social propriety. Bad enough that a married man should be keeping someone else's wife as a concubine, but worse yet that he should be white and she black.
These unequal liaisons are always specified in such a way as to indicate that the sin of illicit cohabitation became compounded in evil with the addition of interracial mixture.
To be sure, the reflection of misconduct found in Martí's visita shows only those sins brought to the Bishop's attention during his time in the city. Rarely do we hear of any misconduct not related to sex or failures of the marriage contract. No doubt individuals cheated on prices, lied, stole, and fought. But these must have been regarded as civil transgressions of little interest to the Bishop. Marriage and the sexual relations associated with marriage, however, were always regarded as within the province of Church regulation. Sometimes the Bishop would have to require a man to bring his wife to town from some other city to prevent him from living in sin with other women. In other instances, the Bishop would be asked to coerce a reluctant groom into fulfilling his promises to an all too trusting young woman. Much of the information recorded in the Bishop's books on these themes comes, of course, as the result of gossip. Sometimes, however, the frequency with which a tidbit of malicious gossip turned up in the transcript of the visita indicates that some prominent individual's misconduct was so flagrant and such an affront to the community's standards that a consensus had emerged about his moral culpability. In many of these cases, the Bishop made a determined effort to dissolve the scandalous liaisons. In his efforts to reestablish harmony and tranquility, and eliminate the cause of these scandals, he frequently called on local priests and even the city's civil authorities to guarantee the permanence of the solutions worked out. For all their partiality, the discussion of moral dereliction in the Bishop's books provides a fascinating glimpse into the real lives of real people throughout the Bishopric, and demonstrates unsurprisingly that the residents of San Carlos experienced the same range of human failings as the rest of the inhabitants of the Bishopric. (3)
San Carlos and Independence
The population history of San Carlos during the years 1781-1824 illustrates many of the forces operating on all of Venezuela's parishes throughout these decades. Subjected to the influence of events in Europe and the Caribbean on the price and prospects of her products, Venezuela brought on herself in addition all the dislocations, destruction, and disorganization of the violent and prolonged wars of independence. Because Venezuela began the independence fight as early as any Spanish American colony, and because Venezuelans pursuing Bolivar's dream of a united, independent, and free America felt obligated to liberate all of Spanish South America, that fledgling republic paid a higher price than most of her sister republics for the privilege of managing her own affairs. From 1810 until the final battle at Carabobo in 1823, Venezuela provided men and supplies, and her territory served as a principal battlefield for Bolivar's hemispheric crusade. Below the surface gleam of shining promises, glorious proclamations, and free republics, Venezuela's land displayed the physical scars earned in the cause of Spanish America's independence. Plantations withered or disappeared, and cattle, mules, and horses were swept up and used by the contending armies. Commerce stagnated, civil order weakened and in places disappeared, and people moved from place to place in search of what security and tranquility could be found in those troubled times. Men and women followed the armies from battlefield to battlefield, some as participants, some as supporters, and others in hopes of gaining protection. And the rapid movement of guerrilla bands, highly mobile armies, and expeditionary forces across the land changed the face of many a Venezuelan hamlet, village, town, and city. (4)
San Carlos de Austria was one of those cities. The same conditions that made San Carlos a prosperous place in the late eighteenth century put the city in the center of the independence movement. In the early years of the war, during the unhappy days of Venezuela's First Republic, San Carlos seemed to hold the key to the success or failure of royalist and patriot plans. Fixed at the exchange point between the royalist strongholds of Coro and Maracaibo and the patriot-controlled central mountains and valleys, and, moreover, providing a major gateway to the Llanos, San Carlos felt the brunt of war as strongly as any other place of comparable size during the First Republic. Of course this is not to say that San Carlos provides a typical case history in any statistically meaningful sense. Rather, San Carlos' experience provides a useful example of the kind of impact the war experience had on Venezuelan parishes.
In the years preceding the tumult of revolution, San Carlos' population experienced a series of changes of no great magnitude, responding, we may expect, to improvements in economic conditions or difficulties with trade to Europe and the Caribbean. The trend in the population data for this period before 1810 is clearly upward for all racial groups in the city. There also appears to have been relatively little change in the racial composition of the place, with whites, Indians, pardos, Negroes, and slaves all maintaining their shares of total population. This reasonably tranquil state of affairs could not withstand the catastrophic shock of the independence movement and its accompanying warfare (Figures 5-1 and 5-2).
When the war reached San Carlos in the years 1810-1815, the people in the city and the surrounding areas reacted in a way that transformed the population structure for at least a decade. Two important movements dominated the complex trends occurring in San Carlos at the time. The first was the decline in the population of all racial groups except the pardos after 1810. The second was the dramatic increase in the number of pardos between 1811 and 1812 and the decline to levels slightly above the prewar figures after 1812.
Because of the importance of San Carlos as a center of operations in the defense of Caracas and the central valleys against a royalist reconquest, large numbers of troops, mostly pardo, and their officers, mostly white, gathered in the city to prepare the defense and carry out other military maneuvers against the enemy. Unfortunately for the patriot cause, the First Republic was not destined to persevere, and when the royalist troops took San Carlos in the spring of 1812, the republican cause was lost. In spite of the setback, the patriots returned again, this time in the much-praised Campaña Admirable that swept down from the Colombian and Venezuelan Andes, through the San Carlos gateway, and into Caracas. With Caracas once again in patriot hands in the summer of 1813, the republicans attempted to consolidate their gains.
But, as during the First Republic, the patriots underestimated the strength of their opponents. Exploiting the resentments of the black masses, capable Spanish captains began retaking control of towns and villages along the patriot perimeter. Because the war had become less a movement for political independence than an embryonic social revolution, the fury of a war without quarter and without noncombatants drove people from their homes in search of safe havens in the larger towns and the cities. As the royalist armies closed in on the central portion of Venezuela, San Carlos fell in March of 1814, and fugitives and the retiring patriot armies fell back on Caracas and her immediate environs until the end came in July of the same year. With the fall of Caracas imminent, patriots, refugees, soldiers, and frightened citizens fled the city. Some went the easy way, by sea to the eastern part of Venezuela or the Caribbean islands, some trekked overland to the patriot stronghold in Barcelona, and others undoubtedly drifted out from Caracas to lose themselves in the countryside or find their way back to their homes.
In subsequent years, as the patriots rebuilt their armies and began the reconquest of Venezuela from a base in the Eastern Llanos, the population of San Carlos, like that of other cities, fluctuated in response to the fortunes of war and the state of public order in the region. The city recovered some of its 1810-1815 losses during those years, but by the end of the war the city had not regained its pre-independence strength and indeed seemed fixed on a downward trend. (5)
As a consequence of the wars for independence, San Carlos became an urban center overwhelmingly dominated by pardos, Negroes, and slaves. The wave of pardos arriving with the war left behind a substantial residue, while the outflow of whites failed to substantially reverse itself (Figure 5-3).
If these changes appear easy to comprehend as consequences of the independence movement, some of their component parts require somewhat more complex explanations. While definitive statements about the causes and effects of the population changes reflected in the data may elude us, some hypotheses should prove helpful for further investigation.
The striking increase in San Carlos' black population becomes even more impressive when we recognize that practically all the increase came from the pardos, and that Negroes and slaves actually decreased in number at the same time. We can imagine that with the growing intensity of the war and the rumors of the royalists' willingness to recruit slaves, San Carlos' slave owners may have recalled their valuable property from the cattle hinterland and, with their domestics, moved to a safer spot less exposed to confiscation. We can also imagine slaves running off to join guerrilla bands, enlisting in armies, or escaping into the hills or plains. Such explanations gain some support when we note that the loss of slave population between 1809 and 1815 came primarily from the category of single male slaves and secondarily from single female slaves. Before giving too much emphasis to these phenomena, however, we must consider that single male slaves probably were moved about readily by their masters to take advantage of conditions in other places or to work on estates located in other parishes. For example, there was a similar, though not quite so severe, drop in the unmarried male slave population in the late 1790s as well. The unmarried female slaves, while more mobile than their married counterparts, declined less than their unmarried male brethren, most likely because many women in this group worked as domestics and were not as easily moved about.
Married slaves showed somewhat less movement, although the small number of them in San Carlos makes generalizations risky. Still, we might expect married slaves, people with more settled lives and less propensity to wander, to move less than their single counterparts. But before committing ourselves to any theory on slave mobility, it must be emphasized that the data from San Carlos and other cities show an extraordinary amount of population movement in all categories. Only when we realize that the decline in single male slaves amounted to a reduction of three-quarters can we talk about a married male population decline of two-thirds as being less dramatic because it took place less rapidly than the single male decline.
The reduction in Negro population presents some difficult interpretive problems. From our understanding of Venezuela's racial system, no obvious reason for the precipitous decline in Negro population in all categories after 1810 appears. This problem may be more related to the census taker's perceptions of reality than to actual changes in the Negro population. Because the term Negro may have been on the way out as a valid racial label, it is not hard to envision Negroes enlisting or being drafted into the army and being reclassified in the process as pardos, presumably a promotion in the racial scale. Since racial terminology probably extended to the enlistees' families as well, such an explanation helps clarify the trends in the data. Many Negroes may also have fled to other parishes or into the hills and plains to escape participation in the war. Whatever the reasons, Negroes as an identifiable racial group all but disappeared, falling to less than two percent of the population.
Had we any doubts about the total involvement of Venezuela's population in the wars for independence, a survey of the data should eliminate them. In practically every case examined in detail, men and women, married and single, and children of both sexes, were affected by the wars. When large numbers of single pardo men arrived in town, so did large numbers of single women. When married men left, so did the married women. The armies of independence must have moved with large entourages of women and children. Unfortunately, evidence about the functions and composition of these camp followers is hard to find, but it would not be unusual to discover that the women accompanied their husbands or consorts, serving all the functions of a quartermaster corp and medical service.
If the women did indeed move with their men, they evidenced differing degrees of independence in accordance with their race and civil status, as an inspection of the pattern of population movement in San Carlos by sex and civil status indicates. We can measure the degree to which an increase or decrease in population in the white married males, for example, was accompanied by a corresponding change in the equivalent females. In the case of San Carlos, white married adults appear to have migrated at the same rate for both sexes. Not only can we explain almost all of the change in the number of married women by knowing the number of married men, but we can also show that the increase or decrease of say ten men will be accompanied by an almost equal increase or decrease in the number of women (Figures 5-4 and 5-5). (6)
Several conditions may have combined to make this relatively elegant result appear. By and large, whites in the Bishopric of Caracas tended to marry whites, and thus the relationships we are exploring here are not complicated by the possibility of large numbers of white married males not married to white females. Furthermore, we could assume that substantially more whites than members of other racial categories had the economic resources and personal connections to arrange for their wives to move to other areas when they had to leave town for extended campaigns or when conditions in San Carlos looked hazardous. Even taking these things into account, the symmetry of this relationship is remarkable.
A similar relationship prevails among the single white men and women, although to a markedly lesser degree. By knowing the change in the number of white single men in San Carlos, we would only be able to explain two-thirds of the change in the number of white single women. This result should come as no surprise, since we would not expect single women to be attached to single men to the degree married women were attached to their husbands. Moreover, there are quite a few more single women than single men in San Carlos, further reducing, we might suppose, the influence of the men's action on the women. Even though this discussion focuses on single adults, it is important to keep in mind that these adults include people from seven years of age. Individuals between the ages of seven and fifteen might be expected to move with their parents, and their behavior would respond more to the pressures on the married whites than to those on the unmarried (Figures 5-6 and 5-7).
Before considering the performance of the pardo group in this context, some caveats are in order about the assumptions of this discussion. Although in talking about the movement of white adults, I have considered men the independent variable and women the dependent variable, this is not to imply that the causal connection here is absolutely clear. Quite the contrary may have been the case. The purpose of this exploration of the relationship between the changes in the size of San Carlos' male and female populations is to determine if, and to what degree, men and women moved in or out of San Carlos together. The conclusion that they did move together, that is that when men moved out, women moved out too and in about the same number, does not necessarily imply that the men took the women with them, although that may well have occurred, especially in the case of married women and adults between the ages of seven and fifteen. More probable is the assumption that in many cases both men and women responded to the same circumstances, but independently. This situation would have been most likely with single males and females, least likely with married individuals. If we had some way of measuring those forces and then comparing changes in the male or female population, it might be possible to devise a more elegant theory to explain population movement during the wars for independence. Until such information emerges from researches into the social history of those years, we are restricted to the construction of hypotheses based on the trends evident in the data and in the monographs presently available.
Returning to the consideration of the way women and men migrated together during the independence turmoil, it is helpful to compare the performance of the pardos with that of the whites. To a degree almost equal that of the whites, married pardos, male and female, moved together in and out of San Carlos. For every addition or subtraction of a pardo married woman from the city's population, we can find a corresponding change among the pardo men. It is important to observe that most of the movement of married whites was out of the city, while much of the movement of married pardos was in the opposite direction. Likewise, before placing too much emphasis on the similarities between the movement of whites and pardos, it is necessary to evaluate the timing of these movements. In any case, the one sure conclusion that can be offered at this stage is that married pardo men and women showed no less a likelihood to migrate together than did their white counterparts (Figures 5-8 and 5-9).
When we turn to the single pardos, the situation changes, and the men and women appear to have reacted somewhat differently to the changing circumstances in the San Carlos area. Both men and women came into San Carlos in large numbers in 1810-1812. And both men and women left the city in large numbers before mid-1815. But a significant number of single pardo women stayed on when their male counterparts moved out (Figures 5-10 and 5-11).
Any reasonably imaginative historian can devise a series of hypothetical explanations or alternative stories that fit the data and help clarify the history of Venezuelan independence. One of these stories for San Carlos might go something like this.
Imagine San Carlos de Austria, a prosperous place living on the returns from commerce and a trade based on cattle, hides, beef, mules, and horses, a city of nine to twelve thousand souls serving as the exchange point between the urban centers of the Segovia Highlands and those of the central mountains and valleys, as well as for the less populated plains hinterland. With the coming of independence talk in 1810 and the declaration of independence in 1811, San Carlos, like so many other Venezuelan cities, became caught up in the drama of a political movement whose cost and consequences few people imagined. The city had a representative in Caracas participating in the deliberations of the First Republic, and although San Carlos could certainly be considered a patriot town, its representative demonstrated a reluctance to acquiesce in the caraqueño assumption of leadership, a position relatively common among the representatives of Venezuela's major towns and cities.
San Carlos' strategic location quickly made the city a prime concentration point for the patriot forces operating outward from Caracas in the effort to contain the royalist opposition to independence prevalent in the towns of the Segovia Highlands, and especially in Coro and Maracaibo. Large numbers of troops poured into the city, bringing with them a train of women and children, camp followers who took up residence in the parish of San Carlos for a number of years. This army, recruited and dragooned from among the pardos and Negroes of the central valleys and mountains and the plains around San Carlos, followed its white officers partly out of fear of punishment for insubordination and partly in hopes of acquiring some of the spoils of war. The arrival of this horde of newcomers drastically shifted the balance of San Carlos' racial mixture, for while more whites now lived in the parish, they had been buried in an avalanche of pardos. Because pro-independence and royalist propaganda disturbed the countryside, and because the war disrupted normal activity in the ranches and farms in the surrounding area, many people from smaller towns around San Carlos and from isolated haciendas or hatos in the Llanos came into the city in search of some stability. This refugee group grew rapidly larger as guerrilla bands began raiding from strongholds in the rural areas, threatening life and property in the name of King or country. Official depredations also increased as the patriot armies foraged for the food and supplies necessary to maintain their faltering cause.
After the fall of the First Republic, the ebb and flow of soldiers, hangers-on, and refugees continued through the next years. San Carlos witnessed the famous Campaña Admirable when Bolivar swept through on his way to Caracas, and the city suffered all the ravages of war as the royalists pushed in on Caracas from east, west, and south. As a major entryway into the central region, San Carlos collected her share of refugees, people fleeing the increasingly violent and destructive contending armies. As the patriots drew back towards the center, their armies collected sizeable groups of fugitives, and as each city fell to the royalists, the retreating army carried with it new accretions of the homeless and frightened.
With the collapse of the patriots' second attempt to hold the country, San Carlos, like other Venezuelan cities, remained embattled and damaged, although hardly destroyed. Gone were the soldiers and their officers, gone were substantial portions of the colonial white elite, but in their place remained a considerable number of pardos, especially single women, who chose to remain in the city rather than follow the exodus to Caracas in 1814. As the main theater of the war moved to other parts of Venezuela and the continent, until Bolivar stayed in the city en route to the major triumph at Carabobo in 1821, San Carlos, now a city with its pardo population much increased and its white elite much reduced, began the process of restabilization, although her population still showed a tendency to decline.
Such, then, is one story for the history of San Carlos. It is not, of course, the only one possible, but it does reflect what we know about the wars for independence and the population history of San Carlos. Further research may change details, fill in the gaps, or require us to develop alternative hypotheses, but this version gives us a place to start.
1. This study forms Chapter 5 of John V. Lombardi, People and Places in Colonial Venezuela (Part I--The Population of the Bishopric of Caracas in the Late Colonial Period, Part II--A Workbook in the Historical Demography of Venezuela, the Bishopric of Caracas, 1776-1838), Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976. Parts of this work along with an expanded data set appears online at Parishes of the Bishopric of Caracas, 1771-1838. An appendix to this paper includes the complete set of data for San Carlos between 1781 and 1824. For the foundation date of San Carlos and its role in the Capuchin missionary system, see Father Buenaventura de Carrocera, Misión de los Capuchinos en los Llanos de Caracas, Biblioteca de la Academia Nacional de la Historia, nos. 111-113, 3 vols. (Caracas, 1972), especially Vol. 1, pp. 63-68 and 365-466. On the controversy over releasing San Carlos to the secular ecclesiastical administration, see ibid, Vol. 2, pp. 25-26, 32, 40, 49, 50, and 75.
2. For background information, see Mariano Martí, Documentos relativos a su visita pastoral de la Diócesis de Caracas, 1771-1784, Biblioteca de la Academia Nacional de la Historia, nos. 95-101, 7 vols. (Caracas, 1969), Vol. 2, p. 520, and Vol. 7, pp. 73-83. Also see Guillermo Figuera, ed., Documentos para la historia de la iglesia colonial en Venezuela, Biblioteca de la Academia Nacional de la Historia, nos. 74-75, 2 vols. (Caracas, 1965), especially Vol. 2, pp. 102-103; Agustín Marón, "Relación histórico-geográfica de la provincia de Venezuela," in Antonio Arellano Moreno, comp., Documentos para la historia económica de la época colonial. Viajes e informes, Biblioteca de la Academia Nacional de la Historia, no. 93 (Caracas, 1970), pp. 411-474; Joseph Luis de Cisneros, Descripción exacta de la provincia de Benezuela. Reproducción de las ediciones de Valencia (1764) y Madrid (1912), Biblioteca de Geografía y Historia, Serie Alejandro de Humboldt (Caracas: Editorial Avila Grafica, 1950), pp. 65-66; Pedro José de Olavarriaga, Instrucción general y particular del estado presente de la provincia de Venezuela en los años de 1720 y 1721, Biblioteca de la Academia Nacional de la Historia, no. 76 (Caracas, 1965), p. 262; Giovanni Battista Agostino Codazzi, Obras escogidas, 2 vols. (Caracas: Dirección de Cultura y Bellas Artes, Departamento de Publicaciones, 1961), Vol. 1, pp. 401-402; François de Pons, Viaje a la parte oriental de Tierra Firme en la América Meridional, trans. Enrique Planchart, Colección Histórico-Económica Venezolana, vols. 4-5, 2 vols. (Caracas: Banco Central de Venezuela, 1960), Vol. 1, pp. 72-75 and Vol. 2, pp. 276-277; and Alexander von Humboldt, Viaje a las regiones equinocciales del nuevo continente hecho en 1799, 1800, 1801, 1802, 1803, y 1804, trans. Lisandro Alvarado, Biblioteca Venezolana de Cultura, Colección "Viajes y naturaleza," 2d ed., 5 vols. (Caracas: Ediciones del Ministerio de Educación, 1956), Vol. 2, p. 240, Vol. 3, pp. 167-168, and Vol. 4, p. 50.
3. All the material on San Carlos' religious institutions and moral character comes from Marti, Documentos, Vol. 2, pp. 250-268, and Vol. 6, pp. 82-83. A typical item of gossip runs, in free translation, as follows. "Carlos Villasana, white, married to Paula N., is living in sin with Paula Petrona Ximenes, who is married to Silvestre Mesa, a black or free mulatto. Paula Petrona Ximenes is a mestiza or mulata. The sinful couple lives here in this town, while Silvestre Mesa is off in the countryside. The Vicar, and Lieutenant Codessido, in my presence, have resolved that Paula Petrona Ximenes will be sent to her husband, who is located on the other side of the Apure working as a servant on the ranch of don Carlos Moreno" (Vol. 2, p. 251).
4. The literature on the Venezuelan independence movement is most extensive, since no other period of Venezuelan history has so attracted the interest of historians. The best guide to this information is the article by those indefatigable venezolanistas, Pedro Grases' and Manuel Pérez Vila, "Gran Colombia. Referencias relativas a la bibliografía sobre el periodo emancipador en los países grancolombianos (desde 1949)," Anuario de Estudios Americanos 21(1964), 733-777. The best survey of the movement can be found in John Lynch, The Spanish American Revolutions, 1808-1826 (New York: W. W. Norton, 1973), which also has an excellent bibliography. For the student interested in measuring the impact of the wars for independence on Venezuela's economy, the Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País, Memorias y estudios (1829-1839), Colección Histórico-económica Venezolana, vols. 1-2, 2 vols. (Caracas: Banco Central de Venezuela, 1958) sets the pre-war stage, along with Eduardo Arcila Farias' Comercio entre Venezuela y México en los siglos XVII y XVIII (Mexico: El Colegio de México, 1950). Codazzi's geography in Obras escogidas gives the status of the postwar economy at the point of recovery. For a discussion of Venezuelan agriculture and labor problems before and after the war, see Miguel Izard, "La agricultura venezolana en una época de transición, 1777-1830," Boletín histórico (Caracas) 28(1972), 81-145, and John V. Lombardi and James A. Hanson, "The First Venezuelan Coffee Cycle, 1830-1855," Agricultural History 44(1970), 355-367. For a compilation of statistics on Venezuela's economy, see Miguel Izard, comp., Series estadísticas para la historia de Venezuela (Mérida: Universidad de los Andes, 1970). See also Federico Brito Figueroa, La estructura económica de Venezuela colonial (Caracas: Instituto de Investigaciones, Facultad de Economía, Universidad Central de Venezuela, 1963). Also very helpful is José Rafael Revenga, La hacienda pública en Venezuela, 1828-1830. Misión de ... como ministro de hacienda (Caracas: Banco Central de Venezuela, 1953).
5. For following the troops in and out of San Carlos, the following works, while hardly exhausting the available literature on the wars, proved most useful either for their specificity about San Carlos, or for their illumination of important themes discussed in this chapter. On the First Republic, see Caracciolo Parra Pérez, Historia de la Primera República de Venezuela, Biblioteca de la Academia Nacional de la Historia, nos. 19-20, 2 vols. (Caracas, 1959). Venezuela, Congreso Constituyente 1811-1812, Libro de Actas del Supremo Congreso de Venezuela, 1811-1812, Biblioteca de la Academia Nacional de la Historia, nos. 3-4, 2 vols. (Caracas, 1959) is helpful in understanding the operations of this first Venezuelan government. On the role of Francisco de Miranda in the fall of the First Republic, see Archivo del General Miranda, ed. Vicente Dávila, 24 vols. (Caracas: Editorial Sur-America, 1929-1950), Vol. 24; Francisco de Miranda, Textos sobre la independencia, Biblioteca de la Academia Nacional de la Historia, no. 13 (Caracas, 1959); and William Spence Robertson, La vida de Miranda, trans. Julio E. Payro (Caracas: Banco Industrial de Venezuela, 1967). The dominant figure of Venezuelan independence historiography has always been Simón Bolívar. Although there is no room here for an extensive Bolivarian bibliography, some of the more important items are included below. Two useful biographies are Augusto Mijares, El Libertador, 2d ed. (Caracas: Editorial Arte, 1965) and Gerhard Masur, Simón Bolívar (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1948). The most useful work for this study is by Venezuela's classic bolivarianist, Vicente Lecuna, Crónica razonada de las guerras de Bolívar, 2d ed., 2 vols. (New York: Fundación Vicente Lecuna, 1960). For the definitive edition of Bolívar's writings and letters, see Escritos del Libertador, 10 vols. (Caracas: Sociedad Bolivariana de Venezuela, 1964-). Also helpful is José de Austria, Bosquejo de la historia militar de Venezuela, Biblioteca de la Academia Nacional de la Historia, nos. 29-30, 2 vols. (Caracas, 1960); Colombia, Laws, statutes, etc., Decretos del Libertador, 3 vols. (Caracas: Publicaciones de la Sociedad Bolivariana de Venezuela, 1961); and Feliciano Montenegro y Colón, Historia de Venezuela, Biblioteca de la Academia Nacional de la Historia, nos. 26-27, 2 vols. (Caracas, 1960). On the royalist activities in the Venezuelan independence movement, see Stephen K. Stoan, Pablo Morillo and Venezuela, 1815-1820 (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1974); "Materiales para el estudio de la ideología realista de la independencia," Anuario del Instituto de Antropología e Historia 4-6(1967-1969); and especially Germán Carrera Damas, Boves. Aspectos socio-económicos de su acción histórica, 2d ed., Colección Vigilia, no. 14 (Caracas: Ministerio de Educación, Dirección Técnica, 1968). The disruptive force of the independence movement in terms of the social and economic structure can be traced through the following items. Charles C. Griffin, Los temas sociales y económicos en la época de la independencia (Caracas: Fundación John Boulton and Fundación Eugenio Mendoza, 1962); Materiales para el estudio de la cuestión agraria en Venezuela (1800-1830) (Caracas: Universidad Central de Veuezuela, Consejo de Desarrollo Científico y Humanístico, 1964); John V. Lombardi, The Decline and Abolition of Negro Slavery in Venezuela, 1820-1854 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1971); and James F. King, "A Royalist View of the Colored Castes in the Venezuelan War of Independence," Hispanic American Historical Review 33(1953), 526-537.
Census Data from the Bishopric of Caracas for San Carlos
The complete data
set is available on line at
John V. Lombardi