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The Politics of Giving in the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata

Donors, Lenders, Subjects, and Citizens

Viviana L. Grieco

Publication Year: 2014

During the eighteenth century, a time of almost constant international warfare, European states had to borrow money to finance their military operations. Servicing public debt demanded the collection of more taxes in a newly efficient manner, resulting in the emergence of what scholars call European “tax states.” This book examines a different kind of state finance, based on voluntary donations rather than taxes.

Relying on Spanish and Argentine archival research, the author analyzes the “gifts” (donativos) that residents of the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata, or colonial Argentina, gave to the Spanish Crown and the city council of Buenos Aires. She examines the cultural, political, constitutional, and legal practices associated with loans and donativos in comparison with the practices of other Atlantic states, emphasizing the quid pro quo offered by the crown in the form of appointments to office and other favors. Examining donors, donations, and expectations, she argues that the Spanish system achieved at the imperial level what the British empire and the French monarchy failed to accomplish.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-x

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pp. 1-12

During the War against the French Convention (1793–1795), the merchants of Buenos Aires offered the crown 100,000 pesos in donativos. Their “loyalty” was amply rewarded as the king subsequently granted them the right to establish a consulado, a...

Part One: Spanish Loans and Donativos: Atlantic Perspectives

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1: States, Representation, and Atlantic Empires in the Eighteenth Century: Donativos and Loans in Their Historical Contexts

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pp. 15-31

During the early modern period, at a time of almost constant international warfare, European states expanded their military and fiscal capacities. In order to meet their financial obligations, the major European powers not only diversified their...

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2: Defining Spanish Loans and Donativos

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pp. 32-54

In the previous chapter, I stated that loans and donativos functioned as bargaining channels through which donors and lenders legitimately accessed the Spanish distribution of income and power in the eighteenth century. In this chapter, I will sustain...

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Part Two: Redistribution of Power and Income at the Viceregal Level

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pp. 55-59

In this section, I analyze donativos and loans collected in the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata at the territorial or viceregal level. The crown requested the financial support of the Rioplatense subjects first during the War against the French Convention...

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3: The Profitable Business of Transferring Revenue, Salaries, and Supplies: Donativos as a Source of Commissions and Private Capitalization

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pp. 60-81

In this chapter I first discuss how donativos collected during the War against the French Convention (1793– 1795) created opportunities for profit for the merchant-bankers involved in the transfer of donativos across the viceregal treasuries. This section is...

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4: Givers and Takers in the Politics of Giving: The 1793–1795 Redistribution Patterns

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pp. 82-120

In addition to the merchant-bankers who collected and transferred donativos across the treasuries (discussed in chapter 3), other powerful individuals and groups found in them opportunities for obtaining political and financial rewards. Despite their contributions...

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5: Donativos and Loans Collected During the Naval Wars Against England (1797–1802)

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pp. 121-164

The Naval Wars against England put Spain under increased financial pressure as the superior English navy interrupted trade and the flow of silver from the Americas. In 1798 the crown restructured its debt and issued the Consolidación decrees. In 1804...

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Part Three: Redistribution of Power and Income at the Municipal Level

During the British Invasions of the Rio de la Plata (1806–1807), the cabildo of Buenos Aires expanded its sources of revenue. The cabildo’s extraordinary revenues included not only donativos but also loans and the enforcement of a new excise tax. The in...

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6: “Dollars of Buenos Aires”

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pp. 166-195

The first section of this chapter discusses the Atlantic and local circumstances that made possible the transformation of the cabildo of Buenos Aires into the legitimate political and fiscal authority in the region. It is followed by an analysis and discussion...

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7: Giving to and Taking from the Cabildo: The Politics of Giving after 1806

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pp. 196-222

On 5 January 1809, Interim Viceroy Santiago de Liniers urged the cabildo of Buenos Aires to come up with 100,000 pesos to pay the troops. This request hardly surprised the city councilmen, as they had been financing the viceroyalty’s military expenses...

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pp. 223-232

On 21 June 1810, the first junta established in Buenos Aires began collecting a new donativo to finance military campaigns against the interior provinces. Since its establishment in the month of May, the authority of the Buenos Aires junta had been challenged...


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pp. 233-236


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pp. 237-284


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pp. 285-298

Back Cover

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pp. BC-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9780826354471
E-ISBN-10: 0826354475
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826354464

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 869735988
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Politics of Giving in the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Loans, Argentine -- Spain -- History -- 18th century.
  • Loans, Argentine -- Spain -- History -- 19th century.
  • Loans -- Political aspects -- Río de la Plata (Viceroyalty).
  • Loans -- Social aspects -- Río de la Plata (Viceroyalty).
  • Moneylenders -- Río de la Plata (Viceroyalty).
  • Finance, Public -- Río de la Plata (Viceroyalty).
  • Argentina -- Politics and government -- 1776-1810.
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