Independence and Abolition in Tierra Firme, 1810–20: War, Slavery, and Republicanism

Saturday, January 8, 2022: 8:30 AM
Grand Ballroom D (Sheraton New Orleans)
Marcela Echeverri, Yale University
This paper is about the first decade of the independence war in Tierra Firme (New Granada and Venezuela), focusing on the military and political processes that were linked to abolition experiments in the region. During the decade of the 1810s, territorial jurisdictions fragmented into multiple local governments such as Antioquia, Cartagena, and Caracas, and each of these created legislation to abolish the slave trade and slavery between 1809 and 1815. The early constitutions and laws of those federal governments were foundational to Gran Colombia, which, although formed as a centralist state that opposed federalism, upheld abolition as a republican goal after 1821. The paper studies the nature of this early abolition as a process both contingent and deeply rooted in social struggles and republican ideas about citizenship, by putting in dialogue (1) the debates that shaped abolition in the press and the legislative sphere around race and labor with (2) the evidence of the participation of slaves in the army as a parallel element of this regional transformation. It also discusses the relationship between abolition and ideas about indigenous citizenship in New Granada and Venezuela.
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