Hemispheric Connections: Trade Networks between Rio de la Plata and the United States, 1780–1815

Friday, January 3, 2014: 8:50 AM
Thurgood Marshall Ballroom South (Marriott Wardman Park)
Fabricio Prado, College of William and Mary
In the last decades of the 18th century, the Spanish empire experienced a series of crises that, among other processes, led to a significant increase in trans-imperial trade.  Historians have examined the significance of British and Portuguese commercial penetration in Spanish American markets during the last decades of colonial rule; however, the role and significance of trade between Spanish colonies and the newlyindependent United States have received scarce attention in the historical literature. This paper examines the trans-imperial networks connecting the Spanish colonies in Rio de la Plata with the United States during the late 18th and early 19th century. Based on ship manifests, notary records, newspapers,and merchants’ correspondence, this paper argues that since the last decades of the 18th century Rio de la Plata – US commercial interactions were not only significant in terms of volume of trade, but also played a crucial role in shaping the circulation of information. The political dynamics of this trans-Atlantic space during the Age of Revolution were more complex than previous historiography has suggested.