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Pacto Navío: The Impact of Migration on the Development of the Cuban Rum Trade

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Edited by Anistatia Miller, Wednesday, 30 Nov 2016, 16:57

by Anistatia R. Miller

Recent studies indicate that a strong desire for goods from the homeland by migrants can increase exports by as much as one percent in any region that experiences a migrant influx of at least 10 percent in a given period.[1] One particular study employed data based on exports shipped between 1995 and 2008  from a number of Spanish provinces to the 77 foreign countries in which Spanish migrants have settled  However, this is not an axiom that can be applied to all historical periods or to all trade situations. 

Such is the case of the Cuban rum exports shipped during the nineteenth century. This essay discusses the evolution from the unofficial trade agreements between the crown representatives and privateers that served as the backbone of trade within the Spanish empire, beginning in the sixteenth century, to the unwritten bond that supported export in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries from the Caribbean colonies to the homeland, a Pacto Navío [loosely, a ship’s covenant].[2]

This paradigm was organic, transforming with the introduction of new modes of transportation, new technologies, and burgeoning interest in New World goods that far outweighed the demand for goods from the homeland. But the flow of goods was not entirely attributed to effects of the First and Second Industrial Revolutions. This model has its birth in the trade convoys that sailed from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries from Spain to the Caribbean colonies.

The Voyages of the Merchant Navíos

As quickly as Spanish settlements arose in the New World, trade routes were established, providing goods from the homeland to Caribbean and Central American colonists and returning laden with New World exports that were in high demand throughout Europe. Annual sailings were organised and conducted by privately-owned and -operated merchant navíos [ships] who paid a rate for inclusion in a convoy prior to embarkment. A single government agency, Casa de Contratacíon [House of Trade, a government agency of the Spanish Crown], used the collected rates to provide protection on the open seas: a heavily-armed fleet of large, tri-masted navíos de línea [line ships] which was led by a navío capitano [flagship]. Upon the convoys’ return, the agency collected duty on the imports upon arrival. 

Two distinct convoys—the Flota de Indias and the Tierra Firme Galeones—annually embarked from Sevilla (later from Cadíz) down along the African coast to the Canary Islands to provision before making the transatlantic voyage. As the Flota de Indias collected cargo from Veracruz, Mexico, including silver and goods imported from China by the fleet of galleons that embarked from Spanish-held Manila, the Tierra Firme made its way to Panama and Colombia to collect South American cargo. A rendezvous in Havana concluded the journey before sailing into the Trade Winds that transported both convoys back to Spain.[3]

The variety of vessels and payloads that made up a singular return voyage convoy far outweighed the flour, wine, brandy, and other domestic goods that made their way along with ballast-stones on the outgoing journey.[4] In a review of the cargo manifest for the 1733 convoy led by the nave capitano El Rubi (see table below), it becomes apparent why a fully-armed fleet of galleons was required to defend fifteen merchant navíos with their highly-prized cargo from pirates and privateers during their homeward journey.[5]

Navío [Ship] Name

Owner

Origin

Weight

Cargo

San José de las Animas

José del Duque u Muñoz

Built in England

326.5 tons

Cargo: silver, sugar, chocolate, indigo, cochineal, dyewoods, cocoa, hides, ceramic ware, tobacco, vanilla, and “various types of drugs”

Nuestra Señora del Rosario

Don Luis Lozana

Built in France

205.33 tons

Same as above

Nuestra Señora del Belem y San Antonio de Padua

Don Luis de Herrera (also captain)

Built in England

205.33 tons

Same as above

Nuestra Señora del Rosario, San Antonio y San Vicente Ferrer

Jacinto de Arizon

Built in unknown

unknown

Same as above as well as “tinta” (wine)

Nuestra Señora del Carmen, San Antonio de Padua y las Animas

Don Antonio de Chaves (also captain)

Built in Genoa, Italy

220.9 tons

Same as above but without treasure

Nuestra Señora de los Dolores y Santa Isabel (aka: El Nuevo Londres)

Nicolas Fernández del Castillo

Built in England

296 tons

Same as above

Nuestra Señora del Rosario y Santo Domingo

Tomás de Astiguieta (also captain) and Doña María Teresa de Astiguieta

Built in Spain

522.33 tons

Same as above

Nuestra Señora de los Reyes, San Fernando y San Francsico de Paula

Francisco de Soto y Posada

Built in Genoa, Italy

328 tons

Same as above

San Pedro

Gaspar de Larea Berdugo

Built in Netherlands

287.25 tons

Same as above plus Chinese porcelain from a Manila galleon shipment

San Felipe

Marques de Cañada

Built in England

485.80 tons

Same as above

Nuestra Señora de las Angustias y San Rafael

José Sanchez de Madrid

Built in England

328.5 tons

Same as above

El Gran Poder de Dios y Santa Ana (aka: Aná Agustina)

Francisco Sánchez de Madrid

Built in Hamburg, Germany

181.75 tons

Same as above

San Ignacio

Francisco de Alzaibar

Built in England

292.8 tons

Same as above

San Francisco de Asis

Cristobal de Urquijo

Built in England

264.66 tons

Same as above

San Fernando

unknown

Built in unknown

unknown

unknown

This relationship began in 1566 and ended, in 1790, with its dissolution at the hands of King Charles IV because its profitability had declined, thus heralding the demise of the Spanish empire.[6] But a successor to this unwritten covenant took shape during the next century as multiple waves of migration reshaped industry and trade amongst the Caribbean colonies.

Pax Britannica: A New Era for the World and for Cuba

The fall of Napoleon Bonaparte’s First French Empire (1804-1814) signalled not only the cessation of multiple conflicts throughout Europe. It heralded a period that lasted nearly a century. It was one in which a relatively peaceful political environment opened the doors to economic growth. There was a reconsideration of free markets. And thus, there was the birth of global trade. 

The era saw the First Industrial Revolution (circa 1760-1820) extend its influence beyond its birth in Great Britain to the rest of the developed world. It also witnessed the Second Industrial Revolution (1867-1914) which transformed the face of transportation, communication, and production ranging from the mechanisation of agricultural to the development of new alloys and chemicals as well as improved distillation techniques.

Naturally, the peace was percussed by occasional land wars amongst lesser nations. It also saw a seismic shift in economic and political power that affected the entire world arena. The Treaty of Paris signed, on 30 May 1814, by the Sixth Coalition (which included Austria, Prussia, Russia, Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, and by a number of German states) only established a temporary peace. 

Upon Napoleon’s escape from the island of Alba, the plenipotentiaries of Austria, France, Great Britain, Russia, Prussia, Sweden, Spain, and Portugal signed a declaration on 13 March 1815, “without reserve, their determination of uniting their efforts to secure Europe against any attempt which might threaten to re-plunge it into revolutionary disorders and miseries.”[7] (With the loss of political power during the wars, Spain did not sign the “Final Act” in June 1815, but did accede to negotiations two years later.[8]) The Quadruple Alliance that was signed in 20 November 1815 in Paris by Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia renewed the application of the congress system as method for the advancement of international relations at the time. 

It was this transition that saw the emergence of Great Britain as an empire, as a provocateur of technological advancement, as an economic instigator for the development of world trade, and as the self-appointed enforcer of global maritime activity, who monitored the blockade of international slave trade and orchestrated the end piracy on the open seas. Thus, the era was titled Pax Britannica (1815-1914).

Within this politically fragile climate, new channels of trade emerged not because of official agreements, but thanks to the influence of population migrations from Europe and other Caribbean colonies to the island of Cuba. Sugar, metals, and tropical produce were the commodities that replaced the early shipments of precious metals that were the original currency of trade that were exchanged for flour, wine, and brandy.

First Contact: Early French Migration to Cuba

There were three distinct diasporas of French migrants to Cuba that sprouted an unofficial yet binding relationship even before 1815 when the Second Treaty of Paris was signed. 

The first was the Haitian Revolution on the island of Hispañola’s French-colonised Saint-Domingue, which began with a slave rebellion that was instigated, in 1790, by Vincent Ogé and concluded with the 1801 inauguration of rebel leader François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture as the infant nation’s Governor-General. The revolution resulted in a mass exodus of French sugar planters who had established a profitable sugar industry on what was France’s largest and most profitable colony.[9] 

The population of Cuba almost doubled with this initial wave. The census that was ordered, in 1791, by Governor Luís de las Casas estimated there were about 270,000 adult inhabitants.[10] That figure lurched, in 1804, to 432,080 adults: an increase of 161 percent.[11]

But it wasn’t just French planters and their families who fled to Cuba. While studying agricultural methods in Jamaica, in 1794, the Count of Casa Montalvo persuaded French agricultural specialists who had also escaped Sainte-Domingue and taken refuge in the British Caribbean colony to join him in Cuba.[12] Thus, scientific knowledge and the potential for progress and improvement also found themselves a new home.

The Haitian Revolution had another affect. It not only temporarily stifled the very lucrative slave trade from Africa to the Caribbean colonies. It redirected government interest in Cuba to increase the labour force through the employment of white migrants. The potential for slave upheaval in Cuba had been voiced since the 1740s and the Haitian Revolution made that threat readily apparent and indeed imminent.[13]  Thus, the Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País was established, in part, to encourage the substitution of white workers for African slaves in Cuban labour force.[14] The new governor of Cuba, Don Salvador de Muro y Salazar, in 1799, then granted land parcels along the coast for the settlement of white refugees from Sainte-Domingue at Nipe, Holguín, Sagra de Tánamo, and Mayarí. With the addition of French refugees from Louisiana, who arrived after the sale by France, in 1803, of the Louisiana Territory to the United States, Cuba’s adult white population surged from a pre-1791 figure of 133,559 to 234,000: a 175.3 percent increase in a little over a decade.[15] (It is interesting to note that during this same period, imports of foreign wine rose 312 percent commensurate with French migration from 12,527 barrels in 1797, rising in 1803 to 39,130 barrels.[16])

Just as economic progress and development seemed possible, relationships between Spain and France worsened as war was declared with Napoleon’s 1808 invasion of Spain. The French settlers quickly sold what they could to Cuban friends. Others left everything behind, finding refuge in the local forts because of the mounting and very real fear of personal violence. Pressure to flee increased. And as Louisiana Governor William C.C. Claiborne noted, in 1806, to the US Congress: “…it is understood that many of the unfortunate people lately banished from Cuba will seek asylum in this [Louisiana] Territory, and that, in a few weeks, the French population may receive an addition of several thousand.”[17] Cuba’s official records at the time tally that 8,800 French nationals were officially deported in 1809, most of whom relocated to New Orleans.[18]

The second wave of French migration to Cuba was due in great part to a lieutenant colonel of the Louisiana infantry, who was attached to the general staff that was stationed in Havana. Luis Juan Lorenzo de Clouet y Piettre signed a contract with the Cuban government to obtain land for 40 French migrant families. His intent was to establish a settlement at Bahía de Jagua in southern Cuba.[19] About 845 French émigrés arrived not only from Louisiana but from Sainte-Domingue as well as Bordeaux and other French ports via American points of entry at Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Charleston.[20] The foundation of the city of Cienfuegos is due to this specific exodus. The settlement’s first mayor was Clouet y Piettre himself.[21]

The third diaspora arrived, in 1830, when French-Mexican hostilities arose despite the abdication of King Charles X of France and deposition of the House of Bourbon which opened diplomatic relations between the two countries. (By the end of the decade, France invaded Mexico to collect compensation for French settlers’ property that, in 1828, had been damaged or looted in Mexico City by Mexican forces.) Yet many of these émigrés left a decade later when coffee prices did not yield anticipated profits, returning to southern French, especially to Marseilles.[22]

There was yet another wave of French migration as noted by Paul Butel: “We shouldn’t forget the French merchants from Bordeaux, for example, settled in Cuba frequently after their transit by ports of the Atlantic coast of the United States, such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Charleston.”[23] Aside from Argentina, Cuba was the second most important destination for emigrants who embarked, between 1825 to 1827, from Bordeaux. The island nation held that same position, between 1836 and 1837, while New Orleans became the favourite point for disembarkation.[24]

The Development of the French- and Spanish-Caribbean Rum Trade

These diasporas from Sainte-Domingue, Trinidad, Louisiana, and metropolitan France—especially Bordeaux—at the turn of the eighteenth century spiked an interest in Cuban rum in the minds and palates of these new arrivals.[25] The reasons became readily evident. 

There were radical differences between French rhum and Cuban ron. Rhum agricole was produced from fresh cane juice rather than the molasses used to make the rougher rhum industriale. But at that time there was little chemical knowledge available to determine when fresh cane juice began to rot and thus change character prior to fermentation. The entry of wild yeasts into the process and the length of fermentation had also not yet been studied. There was also resistance to investing in new equipment or research on a commodity that was not readily perceived to be of value to the planters.

On the other hand, Cuban distillers focussed greater emphasis, by the early 1810s, on the ageing of molasses-based aguardiente de caña and the improvement of distillation techniques which together created a new, smoother style of end product called ron. The concept of ageing the rum to improve its character inspired Pedro Diago to store a few small bottles of rum in “mud-glazed pots” and bury them. It was one of the earliest attempts at ageing the spirit. There were some technical difficulties that could not be readily addressed at that point such as how to control bacterial infection of the liquid due to the island’s high humidity level.[26] Later oak barrels, acquired from import shipments of wine, brandy, and flour, were determined to further improve the spirit’s quality .[27] 

A continuous still, designed in 1808 and patented in 1813 by French engineer Jean-Baptiste Cellier-Blumenthal, afforded planters an opportunity to not only increase production volumes but to distill a liquid with a lighter character in a single distillation..[28] With a minor improvement that allowed for slight interruptions in the continuous nature of the distillation stream by engineer Charles Derosne, Blumenthal’s device increased its efficiency by reducing the amount of heat required to achieve optimum output. The continuous still evolved even further with design improvements instigated by Sir Anthony Perrier in 1822, by Robert Stein in 1827, and finally in 1831 by Aeneas Coffey. High-volume, fast-output stills were standard by the 1850s in most Cuban rum distilleries.

Technology was not the only factor that played a role in the development of Cuban rum. German chemist Johann Tobias Lowitz (1757-1804) discovered and recorded, in 1785, that charcoal adsorbed noxious odours from sick people, putrid meats, and rotting vegetables. He also found that the substance was excellent for removing the colour from liquids, particularly crystalline acetic acid.[29]

His experiments resulted in the epiphany that honey could be made into a pure sugar by boiling it with powdered charcoal. Merely shaking corn-based spirit with powdered charcoal removed fusel oils and unpleasant esters, improving the liquor’s aroma and taste. Undesirable colour was quickly whisked away, producing a cleaner form of ethanol. Not willing to stop there, Lowitz tested charcoals made from a variety of woods and recorded which served the best results for the desired purpose.[30]

He accepted a post in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1793, as Professor of Chemistry at the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences. But this did not stifle Lowitz’s obsession with the transformative effects of charcoal. Within three years, he successfully collected pure ethanol by filtering a distillate through hardwood charcoal that was activated to increase its adsorption of undesirable particles and aromas.

Lowitz’s work caught the eye of Antoine-Alexis Cadet De Vaux who, in 1794, detailed his formula for cleaning treacle (aka: molasses) of any unpleasant orders in the publication  Feuille du Cultivateur, which was subsequently reported by other scientific journals such as the 1794 edition of The New Annual Register or General Repository of History, Politics, and Literature for the Year 1794.[31] The process suggested boiling 24 pounds of treacle with 24 pounds of water, and 6 pounds of “thoroughly burnt” charcoal. When the water evaporated, it was noted that: “There is little or no loss by this operation, as twenty-four pounds of treacle give nearly the same quantity of syrup.”[32]

French botanist Benjamin Delessert also applied Lowitz’s charcoal process, in 1805, to the production of sugar from sugar beets to improve its appearance and aroma. Napoléon Bonaparte awarded him a Legion of Honour for his efforts.[33] Next, French chemist Charles Derosne designed a filtration system that employed bone-based, activated charcoal to filter impurities out of cane syrup. His company, founded in 1812, was the first to enlist this device in the manufacture of beet sugar. Derosne partnered with boilermaker Jean-François Cail, in 1836, to build a dedicated factory to produce his inventions.

Unlike like its French and British colonial counterparts, Cuba was an early adopter of Derosne’s filtration system. Cuban sugar planters Joaquín de Arrieta, Wenceslao de Villaurrutia, and Pedro Lefranc Arrieta acted as Derosne’s agents, setting up the first filtration system, in 1841, at La Mella plantation which was owned by Wanceslao de Urrutia. This device streamlined tasks executed normally by slave labourers. Three years later, both Derosne and Cail recognised that the new filtration system needed to be operated by a skilled sugar master. Derosne himself travelled to Cuba to personally train prospective operators.

Thus as Cuban rum improved with the adoption of new equipment and techniques, rhum agricole and rhum industriale faced more criticism than praise by French consumers. Sugar planter, botanist, and engineer Joseph-François Charpentier de Cossigny explained, in 1781, that the ‘disagreeable’ taste of rhums was due to substandard distillation equipment and improper wash settings.[34] He produced a couple of pamphlets that offered suggestions on how to correct this dilemma.[35] But his suggestions were not readily embraced.

Even though Napoleon I had lifted any residual restrictions on rhum imports, by 1803, after years of war and economic instability in France, producers in the French Caribbean colonies of Martinique and Guadeloupe exported very little of the approximately 250,000 gallons of rhum they annually produced. In fact, only 100,000 gallons were exported from Martinique, in 1819, which were mostly consumed in the port towns of Marseilles, Nantes, Le Havre, and Bordeaux.[36]

As a financial incentive and as a tactic to increase colonial revenues, the French government imposed an import tax of 10 francs per hectolitre on rhums and prohibited the importation of rum from competing colonies.[37] Martinique still exported only 56,301 gallons of rhum that year.[38] Despite this initial effort, Martinique sugar planter Pierre Dessalles complained, in 1824, that his rhum sold poorly as it would be “difficult to find anyone paying even 5 francs for tafia.”[39] The number of rhum distilleries in Martinique plummeted to 84 operations, in 1826, or one third the number that had existed in 1786.[40]

A completely different scenario was played out in Cuba. Beginning with the 1739 decree that gave distillers fifteen days to cease operations or face financial and material ruin, Cuban distillation was banned by the Spanish Crown. Even harsher punishments were imposed, in 1754, thus reinforcing the government’s intention to increase wine and spirits exports to the Spanish colonies, thereby eradicating domestic competition.[41] With the British occupation of Havana between 1762 and 1764, prohibition of rum production and consumption was lifted in both Cuba and Puerto Rico.[42] Next, British naval blockades ceased trade between Europe and the Americas during the American Revolution (1765-1783). Open trade amongst French- and Spanish-Caribbean colonies ensued during this same period, stimulating exchanges of distillation knowledge as well as access to other Caribbean rum styles.

With this economic and technical excitation, Cuban rum exports doubled from less than 50,000 gallons per year, in 1778, to more than 100,000 gallons a mere two years later.[43] The Cuandro estadístico de la Simper Fiel Isla de Cuba reported, in 1827, that there were approximately 300 rum distilleries in operation on the island, just as French-Caribbean distilleries when into severe decline.[44]

Despite the opening of trade amongst the French- and Spanish-Caribbean colonies during the following decade, Martinique and Guadeloupe produced an annual average of about 400,000 to 500,000 gallons of rhum which was almost entirely consumed on those islands.[45] Taxation was to blame. To stimulate a failing domestic wine and spirit industry, in 1833, the French government raised the import duty on rhum to 20 francs per hectolitre. Two years later, the government readmitted imports of foreign rum based on a drastically high tax tariff of 200 francs per hectolitre. Because of these severe measures, in 1840, Martinique exported only about 130,000 gallons, while French domestic wine production averaged about 1.1 billion gallons.[46] The tides turned during the next decade.

The Development of Export Trade in Cuba Rum to Europe

European vineyards faced, during the 1850s, a crisis of catastrophic proportions. A species of fungus that was native to the United States known as Oïdium tucker (aka: powdery mildew) decimated vineyards in France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy as well as the island of Madeira.[47] 

The Oïdium or powdery mildew infection probably originated from the introduction of North American grapevines to Europe as viticulturists, horticulturalists, and botanists became increasingly fascinated in the grafting, hybridising, and cultivating vines that would not only improve yield but appeal as wine stock.[48] The experiment triggered tragedy. 

Oïdium was first noticed in England by a Mr. Tucker, a gardener in Margate, who sent a sample to expert botanists for identification and was credited with its discovery. It was then found in France on ornamental grapevines at the Palace of Versailles, in 1846, where gardeners were able to control its spread with a spray of boiled lime and sulphur. But the same treatment could  not be replicated on a large scale. Thus Oïdium spread into vines grown for wine production throughout France to Algeria, Spain, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, Greece, and Turkey.[49]

The source seems to point to the black rot and Oïdium blights triggered throughout the United States due to a climatic shift that only offered three years of dry weather conditions, in 1853, 1858, and 1859, that inhibited the blossoming of infections and infestations of various plant disease.[50] French wine production, by 1854, declined from over 1 billion gallons to only 290 million gallons or less than one-third of its normal output.

Symbols of the Industrial Revolution, steam-powered trains and steam-powered, ocean-going vessels were faulted as being the carriers of this “American disease”. And as Oïdium-resistant American vines were introduced as a method for controlling outbreaks, an aphid known as the phylloxera was inadvertently introduced on the same stock, during the 1860s, once again destroying European vineyards in its wake. It hit especially hard in France.[51] The recovering French wine industry collapsed from 2.2 billion gallons in 1875 to only 618 million gallons in 1889.[52]

Both the Oïdium and phylloxera blights turned the tide on rum trade between the Caribbean and France. To replenish the alcohol supplies lost to Oïdium, in 1854, Napoleon III suspended duties on rhum imports. Thus, the French public acquired a taste for rhum. The country imported, between 1854 and 1857, more than one million gallons of rhum alone.[53] As the Oïdium crisis subsided so did rhum imports, falling to about 200,000 gallons per year.

But as the phylloxera blight swept Europe and once again led to the near ruin of the wine and brandy industry, rhum and rum imports leapt by the 1880s to more than four million gallons. At the height of the phylloxera crisis, in 1896, France imported more than 6.3 million gallons of rhum and rum. Most of the imported product was rhum from Martinique, whose distilleries, shipped about 4.5 million gallons.[54]

As Oïdium reached its peak of devastation, in 1854, two important economic events occurred. Even though Britain served as the global police force that was self-assigned to blockading slave trade since the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act of 1807 was introduced by Parliament, the growing empire also opened its ports to foreign produce, including commodities such as rum that were produced in slave-holding regions. Cuban rum exports jumped that year, averaging nearly three million gallons per annum. To further stimulate a burgeoning global economy, in 1860, Britain equalised foreign rum import duties. This positioned Cuban rum makers on par with their British Caribbean counterparts.[55] The following year, France also reduced import duties on foreign rum to further ease the rapid decline in domestic alcohol supplies.[56]

At this juncture, a number of factors changed the importance and profitability of Cuban rum. First, American sugar syndicates established in Cuba had a positive impact on both sugar and rum production, especially during the inception of the Civil War in the United States (1861-1865). Cuban rum exports reached record levels, by 1864, of more than 4.5 million gallons. Although export statistics are incomplete for the second half of the nineteenth century, it appears that Cuban rum exports remained high during the European phylloxera blight.

Second, the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) may have also contributed to the rise in Cuban exports.[57] Following the military tradition supplying troops with alcohol rations in many European nations during this period, rum instead of brandy was sent to French troops who served in the Crimea.[58]

Third, there is another more poignant reason why rum was added to the list of alcoholic beverages found on café menus throughout France. Annual alcohol consumption in Paris, in 1865 alone, totalled per capita at 59 gallons of wine, 21 gallons of beer, and 3 gallons of spirits per capita.[59] The rise in popularity of the workers’ cafés not only in Paris but everywhere in France, reflected the aspirations of this growing class compounded with the effects of domestic and global economic crises on the overall cost of social drinking.[60] 

This was an era in which wine prices rose to 20-25 centimes per glass as demand far outweighed supply. By comparison, absinthe, rum, kirsch, and other spirits were had for as little as 10 centimes outside of Paris as demand dictated an exponentially increased supply. This afforded the working class a modicum of imagined equality with not only nobility but the hedonistic urban bourgeoisie of the Belle Époque who celebrated café life to the extreme.[61]

The Emergence of New Trade Networks between Cuba and France

So how did the French merchants from Bordeaux—who were mentioned earlier—establish trade networks throughout this period of relative peace and considerable turmoil as the world shifted from the Napoleonic empire to the British empire? Some insights have been disclosed by Sean Perrone in his work on the establishment of trade between Spain and the United States. By examining the records of John Stoughton, who served as the Spanish consul for the district of New England between 1795 and 1820, it is easy to discover the routes that were established during these delicate times between Europe and the Caribbean settlements. As Perrone notes: “Consular services expanded rapidly in the eighteenth century, and, by the turn of the nineteenth century, the growing number of consuls put them in an ideal position to promote the commercial interests of their nations.” The relationships that these consulars established are not cut and dried. Rather they paint a portrait of a network of economic, social, and political linkages that frequently intersected.[62]

It appears that by 1795, Spain had formed a network of consuls and vice-consuls along the eastern seaboard of the United States in Boston, Newport, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, and Savannah. Many of these consular agents were themselves former merchants and were consequently part of a number of “self-organising” mercantile networks. 

John Stoughton was such a merchant and he was also father-in-law to the Spanish chargé d’affaires to the United States José de Jáudenes. The books and letters that Stoughton kept provide primary evidence of his strong ties with governmental and commercial networks as well as his previous trade relationships which served to bridge multiple transatlantic networks with not only Spain, but with other nations who wished to develop trade with Spain’s Caribbean colonies.[63]

A quantitative analysis of his consular correspondence provides a fairly accurate geographical scope of Stoughton’s consular work. (Since 14 percent of his outgoing correspondence was sent without a known address, analysis is based on the remaining 86 percent.)  Of this, 46 percent of his correspondence was distributed within the United States and 19 percent was addressed to Spain or the Spanish Caribbean colonies. A greater majority of his correspondence went to Philadelphia, Havana, and New York with Baltimore following close behind. A further two percent went to England, France, Portugal, and the Netherlands.[64]

Letters of introduction were not the only services rendered. For example, in the autumn of 1816, Stoughton received a request from Spanish merchant Francisco de Paula Moreno de More, asking him to redeem his vessel which had been captured by Latin American privateers and directed to the United States where its stolen cargo was destined to be sold. The consul replied that he had not heard news of the ship in question, but would remain vigilant. Should the vessel arrive in his district (which was Boston) he would do everything in his power to redeem the merchant’s property.[65] 

Reports of piracy and wrecks due to inclement weather along these routes were fairly common and were reported in both national and local news journals. An item that appeared in the 1 November 1823 edition of Niles’ Weekly Register narrated the story of the wreck and rescue of the American ship Warrington at Cayo Verde by Cuba, and the destruction of its cargo “to prevent pirates equipping from the wrecks.”[66] The ship bound from Bordeaux to Havana was fortunate that an American naval squadron was already assigned to work on wrecks in this area.

The following Cuban merchants from Havana were frequently amongst his correspondents: Marques de Casa Calvo, Don Thomas de la Cruz Muñoz, Don Perdro Juan de Erice, Gabriel de Herrera, and Richard M. Madan. The company of Pierre Collique et Co. of Marseilles was also a regular contact.[67]

Other Spanish consuls posted along the American coast included his son Thomas Stoughton of New York, John Leamy of Philadelphia (whose fleet, in 1798, was the first foreign cargo allowed to enter the Rio de la Plata in Argentina), the Oliver family of Baltimore, and Jeremiah Boone, also of Philadelphia.[68]

Although trade amongst the New World colonies emerged as a major profit centre for Cuba during the mid-1770s, trade and trading was so extensive during the nineteenth century that it became “a specialty in itself, generating such great wealth that merchants could, and did join the landed group.”[69]

The number of ships unloading cargo at Havana, by 1800, exceeded 800 vessels, a number that increased in 1828 by 132 percent to 1,057 merchant vessels, excluding a large number of slave ships. Ten years later, that number jumped by 238.8 percent to 2,524; and, in 1852, the 3,617 vessels entered sixteen different Cuban ports—not just Havana, bring the increase to another 143.3 percent. That same year, 3,274 of those ships—or 90.5 percent—sailed away loaded down with Cuban products, including rum.[70] Turnbull reported that, in 1837, 3,450 pipes of rum valued at  $69,010 ($2,306,636.53USD in current value) were exported from the island, while 125,945 arrobas of white wine and 840,306 arrobas of red wine were imported along with brandy, gin,vinegar, oil, and cider worth a total of $1,827,724 ($61,091,073.02USD in current value).[71]

As mentioned earlier, ballast-stones were shipped along with cargo from Europe to Cuba, allowing a ship to sail on an even keel, assuring smooth sailing. Insufficiently ballasted boats tend to excessively tip—or heel—in high winds. But ballast-stones were not the only stabiliser employed. Wine and flour barrels also served as ballast. Built from Limousin and American oak, these barrels were the perfect containers for the shipment and consequent gentle maturation of rum that was loaded for the return voyage.

Transatlantic transport transformed seemingly overnight when, in 1819, the hybrid steam/sailing vessel SS Savannah made its maiden voyage from Savannah, Georgia to Liverpool, England. The first purpose-built steamship make regular crossing was built in England, in 1838, by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The SS Archimedes was a side-wheel paddle steamer that ushered in not only the era of the transatlantic ocean liner, but of efficient commercial overseas transport. France entered the era of commercial steamship transport in 1844 with service from Le Havre to New York; Bordeaux to Martinique; Marseilles to Martinique; and from Martinique to Havana.[72]

According to data recorded in Balanza general del comercio de la isla de Cuba en 1852, the ports of Havana, Cienfuegos, Matanzas, Cárdenas, Trinidad, and Santiago de Cuba were of significant interest to merchants heading to other ports of call on the island.[73]

Commercial Shipping from Cuba, 1852. Outgoing Vessels

Port

Number of departures

Percentage departing from this port

Number of foreign ships

Percentage foreign of all ships

Number of Spanish ships

Percentage Spanish of all ships

Havana

1140

34.8

686

21.0

454

13.9

Cienfuegos

271

8.3

237

7.2

34

1.04

Santiago de Cuba

348

10.6

218

6.7

130

3.97

Matanzas

528

16.1

438

13.4

90

2.7

Cárdenas

382

11.7

375

11.5

7

0.2

Trinidad

170

5.2

113

3.5

57

1.7

Three of these ports, according to this same data, also enjoyed a significant import trade from Spain, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Latin America, and other nations such as France: Havana, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba.[74] It is interesting to note at this point that although French-founded city of Cienfuegos received 43.2 percent of its total imports from Spain, it also received 30.9 percent of its cargo from the United States—the nation that brokered numerous merchants shipments from France via Baltimore and Philadelphia as mentioned earlier. In addition, 7.7 percent of total imports to Cienfuegos came from ports other then the five most significant nations.[75]

The “white gold” known as sugar had evolved from a lucrative profit centre, by the end of the nineteenth century, to a glutted global market. Caribbean colonies and young nations had no other choice for survival than to capitalise on rum production. Although Cuba’s sugar and rum production was temporarily curtailed during both the Ten Years’ War (1868-1878) and the Spanish-American War (1898) as sugar cane fields were set ablaze during the fighting, American interests in these products did not founder. 

As the era of Pax Britannica drew to a close, a new relationship between the Untied States and Cuba was set into motion that steadily grew even through start of the First World War. Trade with France was no longer a viable option, by 1917, when the United States entered the conflict and the guarantees of safe transatlantic shipping declined.

The war had a more positive effect on exports from Martinique to France as the call for rhum rations for troops compensated for the depressed domestic wine and brandy supplies. The spirit was also employed in the preparation of powder explosives. The rather unique trade relationship between Cuba and France came to an end.

Colonialism and imperialism were no longer viable models for the control of trade between or after the wars. Standards for the establishment of profitable imports and exports required agreements structured on more than a hand shake and a gentlemanly understanding amongst independent traders. Unwritten convenants—the pactos navíos—have given way to the current paradigm: domestic exportation incrementally follows migration with the desire for familiar goods while importation maintains its historical stance penalised by enforced taxation and expensive transport costs.

Based on this short study, there is room for further research into the impact that the exportation of spirits and other luxury goods had on other former colonies prior to the end of Pax Britannica as well as any shifts in policy during the post-war years of the twentieth century. Future studies could pose viable questions as to the future of global trade throughout the world.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Barbier, Jacques A and Allan J Kuethe, The North American Role In The Spanish Imperial Economy, 1760-1819, 1st edn (Manchester [Greater Manchester]: Manchester University Press, 1984), pp. 127-133

Beachey, R.W., British West Indies Sugar, 1st edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 1957), p. 74

Beloff, Max, The Age Of Absolutism 1660-1815..., 1st edn (London: Hutchinson University Library, 1964), p. 79

Blérald, Alain Ph, Histoire Économique De La Guadeloupe Et De La Martinique, 1st edn (Paris: Karthala, 1986), pp. 60-61

Butel, P, "Relations Commerciales Entre La France Et Cuba Sous La Restauration", Proceedings Of The International Colloquium Les Français Dans L’Orient Cubain. Bordeaux, 2016, 162

Cadet de Vaux, Antoine-Alexis, "Observations Sur Une Matière Sucrée, Suppléant Le Sucre. Procédes À Employer Pour S’En Servir", Feuille Du Cultivateur, 1794, p. 79

Campoamor, F.G., L Hijo Alegre De La Caña De Azúcar., 1st edn (Havana: Editorial Científico-Técnica, 1981), p. 83

Cervantes-Rodríguez, Ana Margarita, International Migration In Cuba, 1st edn (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010), p. 55

Charpentier de Cossigny, Joseph François, Mémoire Sur La Fabrication Des Eaux-De-Vie De Sucre Et Particulièrement Sur Celle De La Guildive Et Du Tafia, 1st edn (Isle de France: De l'Imprimerie royale, 1781)

Charpentier de Cossigny, Joseph François, Moyens D'amélioration Et De Restauration, 1st edn (Paris: l'Auteur, 1803)

Chez Checo, José, El Ron En La Historia Dominicana, 1st edn (Santo Domingo, R.D.: Centenario de Brugal, 1988), p. 62

Coote, Charles, The History Of Europe, From The Treaty Of Amiens, In 1802, To The Pacification Of Paris, In 1815, 1st edn (London: Printed for F.C. and J. Rivington, 1817), p. 504

Dessalles, Pierre, Elborg Forster, and Robert Forster, Sugar And Slavery, Family And Race, 1st edn (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), p. 66

Dutrône La Couture, Jacq. F, Précis Sur La Canne Et Sur Les Moyens D'en Extraire Le Sel Essentiel, Suivi De Plusieurs Mémoires Sur Le Sucre, Sur Le Vin De Canne, Sur L'indigo, Sur Les Habitations Et Sur L'état Actuel De Saint-Domingue, 1st edn (Paris: Chez Duplain, 1790), pp. 304-316

Gayarré, Charles, History Of Louisiana, Volume 4, 1st edn (New York: W.J. Widdleton, 1885), p. 212

Godwin, W., A. Kippis, and G. Robinson, The New Annual Register, Or General Repository Of History, Politics, And Literature, For The Year 1794, 1st edn (London: Printed for G.G. and J. Robinson, Pater-Noster-Row, 1794), p. 158

Gupta, Ram B and Ayhan Demirbas, Gasoline, Diesel, And Ethanol Biofuels From Grasses And Plants, 1st edn (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 74

Haine, W. Scott, The World Of The Paris Café, 1st edn (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), p. 96

Huetz de Lemps, Alain, Histoire Du Rhum, 1st edn (Paris: Desjonquères, 1997), p. 118

Humboldt, Alexander von, Vera M Kutzinski, and Ottmar Ette, Political Essay On The Island Of Cuba, 1st edn (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), p. 134

Josa, Guy, Les Industries Du Sucre Et Du Rhum À La Martinique (1639-1931), 1st edn (Paris: Impr. les Presses modernes, 45, rue de Maubeuge (ateliers à Reims, Marne), 1931), pp. 127-128

Kervégant, D, Rhums Et Eaux-De-Vie De Canne, 1st edn (Vannes: Editions du Golfe, 1946), p. 485

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Peri, Giovanni and Francisco Requena-Silvente, "The Trade Creation Effect Of Immigrants: Evidence From The Remarkable Case Of Spain", Canadian Journal Of Economics/Revue Canadienne D'économique, 43 (2010), 1433-1459

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[1] Giovanni Peri and Francisco Requena-Silvente, "The Trade Creation Effect Of Immigrants: Evidence From The Remarkable Case Of Spain", Canadian Journal Of Economics/Revue Canadienne D'économique, 43.4 (2010), 1433-1459.

[2] The term “navío” in this instance takes its origins from Galician and Asturian Spanish as well as Portuguese.

[3] Geoffrey J Walker, Spanish Politics And Imperial Trade, 1700-1789, 1st edn (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1979), p. 5.

[4] These ballast-stones were replaced by precious metals and used to pave roads through the Caribbean colonies.

[5] Robert F Marx, Shipwrecks In The Americas, 1st edn (New York: Dover Publications, 1987), pp. 209-212.

[6] Max Beloff, The Age Of Absolutism 1660-1815..., 1st edn (London: Hutchinson University Library, 1964), p. 79.

[7] Charles Coote, The History Of Europe, From The Treaty Of Amiens, In 1802, To The Pacification Of Paris, In 1815, 1st edn (London: Printed for F.C. and J. Rivington, 1817), p. 504.; René Albrecht-Carrié, A Diplomatic History Of Europe Since The Congress Of Vienna, 1st edn (New York: Harper & Row, 1958), pp. 9-22.

[8] Ernest Mason Satow, A Guide To Diplomatic Practice, 1st edn (London [u.a.]: Longmans Green and Co, 1922), p. 81.

[9] Frederick H Smith, Caribbean Rum, 1st edn (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005), pp. 214-215.

[10] William R. Lux, "French Colonization In Cuba, 1791-1809", Americas (Washington, 1944), 29.01 (1972), 57. However, Willis F.Johnson in The History of Cuba, vol II (1920), p 279, notes that this census was possibly inaccurate based on the 1804 assessment made by visiting scientist Baron Humboldt, who estimated the population was closer to 362,000 adults.

[11] Lux, p. 58 

[12] Lux, ibid.

[13] Lux, ibid.

[14] Lux, ibid.

[15] Lux, p. 59

[16] Alexander von Humboldt, Vera M Kutzinski and Ottmar Ette, Political Essay On The Island Of Cuba, 1st edn (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), p. 134.

[17] Charles Gayarré, History Of Louisiana, Volume 4, 1st edn (New York: W.J. Widdleton, 1885), p. 212.

[18] Ana Margarita Cervantes-Rodríguez, International Migration In Cuba, 1st edn (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010), p. 55.

[19] von Humboldt, p. 369.

[20] von Humboldt, ibid.

[21] von Humboldt, ibid.

[22] Cervantes-Rodgriquez, p. 56

[23] P Butel, "Relations Commerciales Entre La France Et Cuba Sous La Restauration", Proceedings Of The International Colloquium Les Français Dans L’Orient Cubain. Bordeaux, 2016, 162.

[24] Butel, ibid.

[25] Smith, p. 215.

[26] F.G. Campoamor, El Hijo Alegre De La Caña De Azúcar., 1st edn (Havana: Editorial Científico-Técnica, 1981), p. 83.

[27] Smith, ibid.

[28] Smith, ibid.; Andrew Ure and Andrew Ure, Recent Improvements In Arts, Manufactures, And Mines, 1st edn (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1844), p. 237.

[29] Carl R Noller, Textbook Of Organic Chemistry, 1st edn (Philadelphia: Saunders, 1951), p. 2.

[30] Ram B Gupta and Ayhan Demirbas, Gasoline, Diesel, And Ethanol Biofuels From Grasses And Plants, 1st edn (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 74.

[31] Antoine-Alexis Cadet de Vaux, "Observations Sur Une Matière Sucrée, Suppléant Le Sucre. Procédes À Employer Pour S’En Servir", Feuille Du Cultivateur, 1794, p. 79.

[32] W. Godwin, A. Kippis and G. Robinson, He New Annual Register, Or General Repository Of History, Politics, And Literature, For The Year 1794, 1st edn (London: Printed for G.G. and J. Robinson, Pater-Noster-Row, 1794), p. 158.

[33] E. Ponce Lopez, "The Beet And Napoleon", Idesia, 29.2 (2011), 151-156.

[34] Joseph François Charpentier de Cossigny, Mémoire Sur La Fabrication Des Eaux-De-Vie De Sucre Et Particulièrement Sur Celle De La Guildive Et Du Tafia, 1st edn (Île de France: De l'Imprimerie royale, 1781). Joseph François Charpentier de Cossigny, Moyens D'amélioration Et De Restauration, 1st edn (Paris: l'Auteur, 1803).

[35] Affiches Américaines, 7 Dec 1786; Charpentier de Cossigny, Mémoire…; Jacq. F Dutrône La Couture, Précis Sur La Canne Et Sur Les Moyens D'en Extraire Le Sel Essentiel, Suivi De Plusieurs Mémoires Sur Le Sucre, Sur Le Vin De Canne, Sur L'indigo, Sur Les Habitations Et Sur L'état Actuel De Saint-Domingue, 1st edn (Paris: Chez Duplain, 1790), pp. 304-316.

[36] D Kervégant, Rhums Et Eaux-De-Vie De Canne, 1st edn (Vannes: Editions du Golfe, 1946), p. 485.

[37] Kervégant, ibid.

[38] Smith, p. 209

[39] Pierre Dessalles, Elborg Forster and Robert Forster, Sugar And Slavery, Family And Race, 1st edn (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), p. 66.

[40] C. Schnakenbourg, "Statistiques Pour L’Histoire De L’Économie De Plantation En Guadeloupe Ett En Martinique (1635-1835)", Bulletin De La Société D’Histoire De La Guadeloupe, 1977, 110.

[41] José Chez Checo, El Ron En La  Historia Dominicana, 1st edn (Santo Domingo, R.D.: Centenario de Brugal, 1988), p. 62.

[42] Chez Checo, pp. 62-63.

[43] Manuel Ramón Moreno Fraginals and C. Belfrage, The Sugarmill, 1st edn (New York [etc.]: Monthly Review Press, 1976).

[44] Campoamor, p. 64

[45] Alain Ph Blérald, Histoire Économique De La Guadeloupe Et De La Martinique, 1st edn (Paris: Karthala, 1986), pp. 60-61; Guy Josa, Les Industries Du Sucre Et Du Rhum À La Martinique (1639-1931), 1st edn (Paris: Impr. les Presses modernes, 45, rue de Maubeuge (ateliers à Reims, Marne), 1931), pp. 127-128.

[46] Alain Huetz de Lemps, Histoire Du Rhum, 1st edn (Paris: Desjonquères, 1997), p. 118; Josa, pp.151-152; Kervégant, pp. 484-485; P. T. H Unwin, Wine And The Vine, 1st edn (London: Routledge, 1996), pp. 282-284

[47] Thomas Pinney, A History Of Wine In America From The Beginnings To Prohibition, 1st edn (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), p. 171.

[48] Harry W Paul, Science, Vine, And Wine In Modern France, 1st edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 18.

[49] Unwin, p. 282.

[50] Pinney, p. 171 ; Kervégant, pp. 24-25, 485; Unwin, pp. 282-284.

[51] Smith, p. 211.

[52] Smith, p. 211.

[53] Kervégant, pp. 24-25, 485

[54] Kervégant, pp. 485-488.

[55] R.W. Beachey, British West Indies Sugar, 1st edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 1957), p. 74.

[56] Kervégant, p. 485.

[57] Huetz de Lemps, p. 119.

[58] Manuel Moreno Fraginals, Frank Moya Pons and Stanley L Engerman, Between Slavery And Free Labor, 1st edn (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985).

[59] W. Scott Haine, The World Of The Paris Café, 1st edn (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), p. 96.

[60] The Long Depression of 1873-1896 which fell across not only France but the world, had been preceded by reparations due to Germany for the Franco-Prussian War (1871-1873)

[61] Haine, p 91

[62] S. Perrone, "Spanish Consuls And Trade Networks Between Spain And The United States, 1795-1820", Bulletin For Spanish And Portuguese Historical Studies, 38.1 (2013), 75.

[63] Perrone, pp. 76-79. 

[64] Perrone, p. 79.

[65] Perrone, p. 90.

[66] "National Courtesies", Niles’ Weekly Register, 1824, p. 141.

[67] Perrone, pp. 93-94.

[68] Jacques A Barbier and Allan J Kuethe, The North American Role In The Spanish Imperial Economy, 1760-1819, 1st edn (Manchester [Greater Manchester]: Manchester University Press, 1984), pp. 127-133.

[69] Franklin W. Knight, "Origins Of Wealth And The Sugar Revolution In Cuba, 1750-1850", The Hispanic American Historical Review, 57.2 (1977), 245.

[70] Knight, p. 246.

[71] D. Turnbull, Cuba, With Notices Of Porto Rico And The Slave Trade [Texto Impreso], 1st edn (London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1840), pp. 113-115. Also note that arroba was a custom unit of weight or volume employed in Spain that equalled 11.5 kg or 25 pounds; pipe was a custom British unit of liquid volume that equalled 477.7 litres.

[72] "Steamboat And Railroad Statistics: Programme Of The French Steamships", The Merchants' Magazine And Commercial Review,, 1844, pp. 98-99.

[73] Knight, p. 246.

[74] Knight, p. 247.

[75] Knight, ibid.

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