Early promises of manumission (1505)

Early promises of manumission (1505)
By 1505 the King of Spain was planning to send more enslaved Blacks to La Española, hoping they would work the mines under a promise of future manumission
ESPAÑA. MINISTERIO DE CULTURA, Archivo General de Indias,


“que en quanto al embiar /
los cien sclavos [sic] negros /
pareçe bien /


r A lo que dezis que se enbie mas esclavos negros, paresçeme que/
es bien y avn tengo determinado de enbiar asta çient escla /
vos negros para que estos cojan oro para mi e con cada diez de e/
llos ande vna persona de recabdo que aya alguna parte del oro /
que se hallare, e que se pro meta a los esclavos que sy trabajaren /
bien que los hahorraran [sic] en cierto tienpo e de esta manera creo /
que podran apr ovechar; deveys proveer esos que alla esta /
para que trabajen en cojer oro de esta manera para ver como lo/
hacen e avisadme de ello” /


that as to sending the one hundred Blacks it seems fine


r As to what you say that more Black slaves be sent, it seems to me that it is fine and I have even
determined to send up to one hundred Black slaves for them to collect gold for me, and with every ten of
them must go a security person who should have some part of the gold that is found and that the slaves
should be promised that if they were to work well that they will be freed within certain time; and that way
I think that they will be profitable; you should provide those that are there so that they work in collecting
gold in this manner so as to see how they do it, and keep me informed about it

Palace of the local Royal Tribunal of Hispaniola

Governors’ Palace inner yard


This document confirms that by September 1505: 1) there were an undetermined number of Black slaves already working in La Española; 2) the colonial governor of La Española, Nicolás de Ovando, in a prior communication, had requested more Black slaves to be allowed into the colony; 3) the King wanted a certain number of slaves in the colony to be allocated to the gold mining efforts; 4) the King had decided to send in an additional one hundred Black slaves with the specific purpose of collecting gold for the Crown in the island’s mines; 5) the King ordered that a guard be assigned to accompany every ten slaves working in the mines and that the guard’s salary be deducted from the gold found; and 6) the King wanted these mine slaves to be offered future manumission in exchange for an undetermined number of years of work as a mechanism to encourage their productivity in the mining labor.