Date Awarded


Document Type

Dissertation -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Paul W Mapp


"Spirited Enterprises: Venezuela, the United States, and the Independence of Spanish America, 1789-1823," argues that economic interests caused merchants and politicians in the United States to withhold diplomatic recognition from Spanish America's struggling revolutionary governments after 1810. It demonstrates how traditional interpretations of early U.S.-Latin American relations---based on ideological and diplomatic sources---fail to account for a highly important and influential decade of trans-Atlantic trade between the United States and the Spanish Empire during the tumultuous Age of Revolution.;This dissertation focuses on a case study of the multi-lateral trade and commercial networks that flourished between the United States and the Spanish colonial provinces of Venezuela, especially during and immediately after the crucial era of comercio neutral (neutral trade) between 1797 and 1808. It argues that trade between late-colonial Venezuela. and the United States was a forge of transcultural relations, and explores how commercial networks of traders, government officials, and diplomats influenced the decisions of policymakers in both regions.;U.S. merchants and traders helped sustain Spanish imperial commercial networks in Venezuela and the Spanish Caribbean. Shipping foodstuffs, arms, re-exported European manufactures, and slaves to the Spanish colonies were profitable enterprises for neutral U.S. traders. Through private negotiations and even Spanish-government contracts, partnerships between Venezuelan and U.S. merchants provided the shipping tonnage and merchandise that Spanish officials and colonial elites needed most to maintain their rule and to fend off the challenges of economic and environmental crises, slave conspiracies, and revolutionary plots before 1810.;Using period newspapers and books, mercantile correspondence, Spanish imperial archives, and the colonial records of the Caracas City Council, Consulado, and Venezuelan Intendancy, this dissertation highlights the enterprises of those who profited from sustaining the Spanish Empire in its frail and debilitated state. Whether they had prospered from or merely survived the commercial revolutions that shook the Atlantic World after 1789, all merchants and traders calculated the economic consequences of South American independence and encouraged their contemporaries to do so too.



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