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Merchants and family business in San Luis Potosí, México : the signs of an economic upsurge, 1820-1846


This dissertation is intended partially to refute studies of peripheral Mexican regions and economies during the first half of the nineteenth century, said to have been characterized by their economic stagnancy, which caused social, political, and economic backwardness or underdevelopment compared with economic growth in the United States and Europe. In this study I explain that the economy of the region of San Luis Potosí, Mexico experienced an economic upsurge despite its peripheral position during the decades of 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s. To demonstrate my hypothesis I analyze different aspects of market and tax collection behavior, as well as the attempts of government and private enterprise to provide the necessary conditions to sustain perceptible rates of economic development. These strategies were focused primarily on bolstering the market for imported goods, stimulating the export of silver, and improving infrastructure along land and water routes. Furthermore, I analyze the effects of an increased consumption of imported goods, which affected the old Spanish and Creole hegemony that had dominated city of San Luis. Their prominence in commerce in the late 1820s was replaced by that of foreigners from different European countries and from the United States who established several wholesale and retail stores in the center of the city during the decades of 1830s and 1840s. As a case study of these processes of modest but steady economic growth, I also study the properties and businesses of the Gordoas a Mexican provincial family dedicated to cattle, agriculture, and mining in the states of San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas; the properties of this family increased in value from the 1820s through 1840s, during a period of time considered by most modern historians to be one of stagnation

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