Fellow's Talk

"To cease and yield the continual pretensions of the French:" The Spanish Establishment of Monte Cristi as a Free Port, 1750-1763

An eighteenth-century hand colored, engraved image of a ship unloading cargo and men from a boat, surrounded by other ships and backgrounded by a fortification, dwellings, churches, and a harbor.

Our speaker for this week is Grant Kleiser, a History PhD candidate at Columbia University whose dissertation focuses on the emergence and effects of free ports in the French, British, and Spanish Caribbean from 1750-1784.

This presentation will detail Kleiser's investigation into Spain's decision to establish a "free port" (a place where foreign merchants were welcome to trade in under low customs duties) in the 1750s. Few scholars have focused on the Spanish perspective regarding this free port and have yet to analyze Spain's motivations and political-economic/geo-strategic calculations. Using Spanish, English, and French records from the JCB and elsewhere, the reasons why Spain made this move in Monte Cristi and the reasons why it did not do the same elsewhere in its empire will be explored.