People and Places in Colonial Venezuela
by John V. Lombardi.
Dedication: For John Lombardi and Janice P. Lombardi
|This book marks the beginning of what promises to be a
long-term inquiry into the number, distribution, and characteristics of
Venezuela's people during the century of transition, 1750-1850. During
those years, Spain's outpost colony in Tierra Firme became a mature
colonial society, developed a major metropolitan city, led the South
American independence movement, and created a republican government
fully integrated into the North Atlantic commercial system. These
activities have long drawn the attention of scholars with a wide range
of interests, and historians --Venezuelan and foreign-- have examined
many aspects of these events. But before this work can be brought
together into any satisfactory synthesis, we must have available some
reliable estimates of Venezuela's human resources; we must know who
lived where and when. How, for example, can the catastrophic impact of
the Venezuelan wars for independence be evaluated without a secure
knowledge of the changes they caused in the region's population base?
Clearly, our ability to offer reasonable hypotheses about the dynamic
processes of Venezuela's past has been severely limited by the absence
of systematic surveys of the area's population.
This volume presents a first approximation of such a survey, through a hypothetical reconstruction of Venezuela's population landscape at a given point in time. It presents a new body of data on the people and places of late colonial Venezuela, and begins the task of analyzing and describing the characteristics of the people residing in the area. Venezuela has a remarkable collection of population data, but practically none of it is useable as it comes from the archives. It must be coded, processed, identified, compared, and evaluated before it can help us to write population history. By limiting the scope of this work to the Bishopric of Caracas--that is the parishes reporting to the Bishop and then Archbishop of Caracas between 1771 and 1838--it has been possible to use the largest body of internally consistent data. The resulting profile of Venezuela's people can serve as a standard for the evaluation and analysis of the less consistent data available for earlier and later time periods. The remaining data, less extensive in geographic and temporal coverage, will be organized, verified, and added to the population file in subsequent volumes. The hypotheses presented here can then be reevaluated, new estimates and corrections made, and more reliable adjustments proposed.
Part I of this volume contains three types of analysis. The first two chapters seek to establish the limits of the inquiry begun here. Chapter 1 outlines the principal features of the physical landscape and sketches the geo-political formation of the area we call Venezuela. Chapter 2 surveys the population records available for the country in the period under study, evaluates their utility and accuracy, and sets priorities for their exploitation. This chapter also defines the subset of population records used in this volume.
The next two chapters trace the broad features of the population landscape of the Bishopric in two dimensions during the critical decade 1800-1809. First, in Chapter 3, the parishes of the Bishopric are analyzed in terms of structure, size, and regional distribution, which provides a starting point for an analysis of Venezuela's urban network. Second, Chapter 4 explores some of the characteristics of the Bishopric's population at the close of the colonial period: race, sex, marriage, and children are explored in the detail and specificity permitted by the data. Here, too, a series of preliminary hypotheses emerge as starting points for future work.
The final section, Chapter 5, examines the consequences of the wars for independence on one of Venezuela's important cities, San Carlos de Austria. Although some questions cannot be satisfactorily answered because of limitations in the data, the story of a city's response to the war suggests a host of fascinating hypotheses for investigation. All of these chapters are illustrated by series of figures--graphs, tables, plots--and carry in Appendix A a sizeable complement of descriptive tables.
Part II consists of reference material based on the subset of data described in Chapter 2 as Type III format data. The tables display the data from ecclesiastical censuses in a parish-by-parish format, with a number of simple combinations and calculations included to increase their utility. A machine-readable version of this file will be made available at the conclusion of the project, but many historians will find Part II adequate for their needs, especially if access to computers and computer technicians is difficult or inconvenient.
Foreign words and phrases have been italicized only the first time they appear in the book. All percentages reported have been rounded and therefore may not always add up to 100.0%.
Because this book mentions a large number of places, some system for finding and identifying them had to be devised. That has been accomplished through Appendix B and the Index to Parts I and II. Apendix B contains a series of lists of parish names. Readers interested in the location of any particular town or concerned about the version of a town's name used here would consult the name lists and location maps in Appendix B. All place names appearing in the text and notes, on the maps, and in the introductions to the Appendices and to Part II, are indexed. Place names appearing in alphabetized lists such as those in Appendix B and in the Tables in Part II are not indexed. All alphabetizing is done by the English alphabet; thus the Spanish letters ll and rr are alphabetized as separate rather than as single letters. The n is treated as an n.
Throughout this work, I have made every effort to avoid the technical scholasticism that so tempts the practitioner of what has been called quantitative history. My own interest in these numbers comes from a fascination with the dynamics of Venezuelan social history and from a conviction that our analysis of these phenomena must begin with an understanding of the basic elements of the historical process: man and his material world. If the work reported on here informs demographers or sociologists, I will be delighted, though it was prepared for historians who share my interest and enthusiasm for the past.
* * *
Like most large projects, this book could only have been completed with the advice and assistance of a large number of people and institutions.
Work on the data for this volume began in Caracas in 1967, when Trent M. Brady surveyed the extensive collection of census records in the Archivo Arquidiocesano, while working on a study of miscegenation in colonialVenezuela. At that time, Brady and I agreed to collaborate on the work of collection and analysis. I microfilmed the data collection during the spring of 1967.
With the financial support of the Graduate School Research Committee, University of Wisconsin, Brady had the microfilm run onto Xerox sheets. Then Cathryn L. Lombardi and I spent parts of 1967-68 and 1968-69 coding and checking the data for the first pass through the census file. Brady prepared the basic list of parishes and parish locations. With the continued support of the University of Wisconsin, Brady arranged for the Social Systems Research Institute at Madison to punch and verify the coded data. During this first phase of the research, we received excellent advice from Eduard Glasser, Assistant Director of the Social Systems Research Institute, Madison, and Karl E. Tauber of the University of Wisconsin. Due to the press of other commitments, Trent Brady effectively withdrew from active participation in the project. However, without Brady's energetic and resourceful promotion of this enterprise in its early stages, this volume would never have been possible.
During this first stage of the project, Brady received substantial support from the University of Wisconsin and from the Canada Council, while I benefited from the aid of Indiana University's Office of Research and Advanced Studies and Latin American Studies Program. In Caracas, the support of the Fundación John Boulton and the Fundación Creole made the microfilm operation possible.
At the Fourth Congress of the International Economic History Association (Bloomington, Indiana, 1968), we received especially valuable comments and suggestions on a preliminary description of the project. I especially want to thank Woodrow W. Borah and Sherburne F. Cook for their advice and encouragement at that time.
David W. Davies (Claremont, California) initiated me into the mysteries of computer programming and showed me that no historian need feel inadequate when confronted with the simpleminded complexity of the computer.
While the present volume builds on the work mentioned above and could never have been completed without that preliminary effort, the data and analysis included here have been reworked from the original data file. Cathryn Lombardi and I recoded the entire data file from the microfilm and Xerox, in order to correct errors and misinterpretations made during the first pass through the file. I prepared the text in Part I, along with its supporting material in the Appendices, during the academic year 1974-75, thanks in part to a sabbatical leave from Indiana University. The material in Part II was worked up from the recoded data file during 1974-75, and processed at the Indiana University Marshal H. Wrubel Computing Center. I am greatly indebted to the staff of the WCC for their patience and technical assistance.
The preparation of this book was greatly facilitated by the support of the Mid-West Universities Consortium for International Activities (MUCIA). Under the joint direction of Professor Germán Carrera Damas (CENDES--Universidad Central de Venezuela) and myself, the project "Formation, Structure, and Dynamics of a Primate City: A Case Study of Caracas (1560-1960)", involving participants from Venezuela and the MUCIA universities, has been working on a variety of topics related to the history of Caracas as a central city. Because the notion of a central, primate, city requires a context and a scale of comparison to give it meaning, this book is designed to provide the setting within which the primacy of Caracas can be evaluated. The project, funded for the period 1974-1976, will produce a series of monographs on the city of Caracas. This is the first contribution to that series.
Throughout this project, I have been the grateful recipient of excellent advice from a variety of colleagues here and in Venezuela.
At every stage in this work Pedro Grases (Sociedad Bolivariana de Venezuela) and Manuel Pérez Vila (Fundación John Boulton) offered me their full support, their excellent advice, and their generous hospitality. In similar fashion the custodians of a variety of archives and institutions in Caracas made every effort to facilitate my work: Fray Cesareo de Armellada at the Archivo Arquidiocesano de Caracas, Mario Briceño Perozo at the Archivo General de la Nación, Carlos Felice Cardot at the Academia Nacional de la Historia, Cosme Romero at the Dirección de Cartografíía Nacional (Ministerio de Obras Públicas), and George Hall at the Fundación Creole.
From the beginning of this project I have counted on the expert counsel, enthusiastic encouragement, and firm friendship of Germán Carrera Damas (Universidad Central de Venezuela). I have also received valuable advice from José Antonio De Armas Chitty (Universidad Central de Venezuela).
A number of colleagues at Indiana University read this book in manuscript, made valuable suggestions for improvement, or helped in other ways. My thanks go to James R. Scobie, George I. Stolnitz, Paul R. Lucas, Edwin R. Coover, George M. Wilson, Robert E. Quirk, and Martin Ridge. Kathy Waldron helped with the parish name file. I would like to thank the staff of the Indiana University Press for their excellent advice and assistance, and the staff of the Marshall H. Wrubel Computing Center, of whom Jean Nakhnikian and John Gerth were especially helpful. Roberta E. Adams prepared the text for processing, checked the notes, and in general made the production of this book possible.
I am also most grateful for the comments I received from colleagues at other institutions: John L. Phelan and Peter H. Smith at the University of Wisconsin, Dauril Alden at the University of Washington, Woodrow W. Borah at the University of California, David W. Davies in Claremont, California, Stanley J. Stein at Princeton University, Mary Lombardi in Davis, California, and James A. Hanson at Brown University. The illustrations are by Elisabeth S. Moe, to whom I am most grateful for the excellent renderings of some characteristic eighteenth-century scenes.
All of the maps, bar graphs, and figures are the work of Cathryn L. Lombardi. She is also responsible for much of the coding and verification of the population file. Without her support, encouragement, and understanding, the book would never have been completed.
To all of these individuals and institutions, and to countless others not specifically mentioned here whose contributions have been nevertheless important, I acknowledge a sizeable debt for making this book possible and for improving the final version.