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Latin American perspectives a program of comment and analysis about current Latin American problems and their historical setting. The commentator for these programs is Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Here now is Dr. Gardner. In recent times by which I mean the years of the 19th and 20th centuries the South American state of Ecuador has been a pitiable thing plagued by the status quo outlook of inadequate leaders. It has not been a party to progress plagued by rapacious neighbors. It has lost territory to both Colombia and Peru. Three and a half centuries ago on the other hand Ecuador or as it was then known the kingdom of Quito was a substantial segment of the Spanish Empire. A new focus on the theory and the reality of that portion of the empire is set down in John let it fail in the book the kingdom of Quito in the 17th century bureaucratic politics in the Spanish
Empire. A product of the University of Wisconsin Press Balans book as I shall soon indicate is many things but it is not for two fundamental reasons what the title suggests focused overwhelmingly on the years between 16 15 and 16 36. The study is not so extensive as the phrase 17th century implies. So at once the subject is smaller than the title. However the subtitle bureaucratic politics in the Spanish empire is much too narrow. Failing to do justice for example to the rich social and economic content in the volume but the misnamed book promising too much here and too little there is an interesting one for the serious student of Ecuadorian antecedents. In part because it is a biography of Antonio don't want to go and
in part because it is a case study of Spanish Imperial Government at the level of the audiencia failing study brings detail and intimacy to something that otherwise might be so large in general as to lack the breath of life in the first place. The kingdom of Quito is not to be confused geographically with the modern capital city of Ecuador in colonial years the kingdom of Quito pivoting on the city of the same name included three distinct and dissimilar zones. Unlike Peru and Mexico in which mountainous regions were synonymous with considerable mineral wealth Ecuador or if you prefer the old kingdom of Quito had no substantial mineral wealth in the folds of its many mountains. This fact of life always kindled the related hope that even to the west
on the Pacific coast or to the east where the Andes give way to steaming Amazonian jungles some hidden well was to be found. Accordingly a sizable chapter of colonial Ecuadorian history concerns the repeated but unsuccessful efforts to conquer incorporate and make productive the Pacific Coast region called as maracas in early 17th century years bureaucrat. Antonio de Mora goes hope of conquering as my druggists was part of the larger dream of the important kingdom of Quito which he hoped to detach from Peruvian authority and convert to a separate vice royalty. Of course in Margo's dream turned nightmare. You know who was hoping to be named viceroy in a sense. Morgan's desire to make
much of as Mahrattas and make more of the kingdom of Quito stamp him. One of the earliest advocates of Ecuadorian independence also viewing it more narrowly. His dream was simply the selfish hope of the man who having been a minor official in the Philippines and in Mexico was not about to accept the idea that his present high post in Quito was the ceiling of his political prospects. Even his 17th century years provided no key for Spanish development of the coastal area of present day Ecuador. They also failed to effect the conquest of that third zone. The cinnamon country east of the Andes which had called and consumed Spaniards ever since the days of the possessed rose like it or not then in Margo's years as in those of his predecessors and successors. The zones to east and west
were marginal to that which counted the ballets in the CIA between the two chains of the Andes. The Indians of Quito escaping both the deadly toil of mining and the impact of epidemic disease did not escape incorporation into the economic life of the Spanish Empire. Indeed textile manufacturing became so developed utilizing both wool and cotton that Quito became a sweat shop of South America. So it developed that the central zone of the kingdom of Quito possessed of native population and prime object of fine attention became synonymous with Spanish imperial concern politically economically juridically socially indeed in the sum total of living in the seventeenth century. In a revealing chapter entitled graft historian Faylen offers his readers
a bi focal view of corruption in the generalized institutionalized sense and also specifically as it touched the career of Dr. Morgan when during his service in Quito mortgages conduct of his office was subjected to official investigation. Thirteen of the 73 charges leveled against him dealt with violations of laws designed to promote honest administration one charge namely that he had dealt in contraband goods was as old as his entry into South America because it was charged that he carried forty thousand pesos worth of contraband Chinese soaks with him as he journeyed there to enter upon his official duties. On another count that of cultivating close personal ties with prominent residents within his jurisdiction. It developed that Morgan's house often doubled as a gambling casino.
His wife who presided over these illicit pseudo social gatherings reputedly parlayed the house is taken to some 200000 pesos. Anyone who ever lived in a puritanical eyebrow on hearing of the finger of Senora Batista in the till of a Cuban lottery in recent years might sense lively precedent in the conduct of Senora Morgan in Colonial society and Quito was no exception. The three major social activities of the elite were attending mass making love and playing cards to all three. Dr. Morgan devoted his personal energies indeed Marga developed a personality which simultaneously harbored a militant labor religious nature and unbridled sensual appetites. At the age of 56 he not only launched his career as president of the audiencia
he also entered upon a campaign of feminine conquests the aforementioned investigation of his conduct in office gave rise to the charge that he had lewd relations with much publicized he with many women causing scandal and creating an unfortunate example. The charge stuck and he was fined two thousand dockets for his social indiscretions Faylen reproduces more than one of the old coots love letters. Individuals and their activities in Quito three hundred fifty years ago suggest that neither Mme pompadour nor Peyton Place could contribute anything new at later dates. Remove from Dr. Morgan personally but related to the overall problems of his time and jurisdiction was the relationship of the
church to social instability. Fundamentally the church aimed at and was a contributor to social stability but in specific moments and activities the reverse of could and did arise in Quito many girls from prosperous families entered convents and hence did not help set up and expand the social stability that was predicated on the class of well-to-do Spaniards and creoles in turn. The UN availability of eligible brides of social standing encouraged some young men who otherwise would not have done so well to turn to monastic life while still others led the dissolute lives that degraded the general tone of society. Another theme treated by failing in both the generalized and case study manner is that of justice here
as in the realms of politics economics and society. The ideals of the Spanish colonial system stand in marked contrast to documented reality. That justice was a variable is seen in the statement that in those rare cases to which the death penalty was applied the victim was of Indian or negro descent and seldom of European background. The inquisitorial nature of Spanish justice unfavorable to defendants was also very expensive. To all else tips must be added and the fine line between tip and bribe was often crossed knowingly. A classic affront to law and order and justice is the career of Nicholas Day a lot of spewed a hot tempered ne'er do well member of a prominent Spanish family. His clash at the head of a gang of 30 men with Constable say Jago
in the quiet streets of Rio Bombo one dark December night and 16 26 I could warm the heart and tax the imagination of a jaded Hollywood script writer. It required a decade for this most eligible bachelor and Knight of the order of Santiago to reduce himself to destitution and banishment from all the kingdoms of the new world. In so doing he demonstrated the defects of the Spanish judicial system the exploitation of false testimony poorly guarded prisons ineffective police and the influence of family name. Faylen the book is more than a combination of social and institutional history. It is also comparative history because he freely and frequently carries his reader for purposes of comparison to distant regions to the Caribbean to English colonies in America and
Asia. In the final analysis however the focus always comes back to Antonio in Quito the man who exemplified the vices and virtues the strengths and weaknesses of an administrative system that ruled much of the world three hundred years ago. Mordecai and Tito received their due in John Letty failand book the kingdom of Quito in the 17th century. A recent release of the University of Wisconsin Press. This was a Latin American perspectives with Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Join us for our next program on Dr. Gardner We'll examine another aspect of life in Latin America Latin American perspectives is produced and recorded by station ws IUF Pham at Southern Illinois University and is distributed by the national educational
radio network.
Latin American perspectives
Episode Number
Episode 23 of 39
Producing Organization
WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Latin American Perspectives. This prog.: The Kingdom of Quito in the 17th Century, by John Phalen.
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Producing Organization: WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Producing Organization: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-32-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:13:48
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Chicago: “Latin American perspectives; Episode 23 of 39,” 1968-09-16, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 16, 2024,
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APA: Latin American perspectives; Episode 23 of 39. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from