Bearing Arms for His Majesty: The Free-Colored Militia in Colonial Mexico / Edition 1

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This study uses the participation of free-colored men, whether mulatos, pardos, or morenos (i.e., Afro-Spaniards, Afro-Indians, or "pure blacks"), in New Spain's militias as a prism for examining race relations, racial identity, racial categorization, and issues of social mobility for racially stigmatized groups in Colonial Mexico. By 1793, nearly 10 percent of New Spain's population was made up of people who could trace some African ancestry - people subject to more legal disabilities and social discrimination than mestizos, who in turn fell below white creoles, who in turn fell below the Spanish-born, in the stratified and caste-like society of Colonial Spanish America.
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Editorial Reviews

Vinson's study of Mexico's free-colored (i.e. non-slave) militia provides a means for assessing the circumstances of Mexican people of African descent in the 18th and 19th centuries. The book's first half examines the history of the free-colored militia in all regions of Mexico, its internal dynamics, and the status of soldiers compared to their civilian equivalents. The question of militia-based privileges, especially the legal exemption of , and the meaning of race for the militiamen are explored in the book's second half. Vinson teaches Latin American history at Barnard College at Columbia U., New York City. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
"This outstanding work is strikingly original, covering a new, important topic through exhaustive research in a wide variety of archives in Mexico and Spain. Vinson's ability to weave together his significant findings from archival research with commentary on other scholarship is praiseworthy and not commonly achieved." - John E. Kicza, Washington State University

"Complementing Lyle N. McAlister's The "Fuero Militar" in New Spain, 1764-1800 and Christon I. Archer's The Army in Bourbon Mexico, 1760-1810, this volume by Vinson focuses on the participants in the free-colored militia of colonial Mexico. He draws his thorough analysis primarily from exhaustive investigations in Mexican national and regional archives. . . . Detailed tables and appendixes support his quantitative analysis. Upper-division undergraduates and above."—Choice

"Vinson has made an outstanding contribution to our understanding of both the Spanish colonial military and more importantly racial identity in colonial Mexico. . . . The book will be a valuable source for professional historians and students in upper-division courses of study."—History: Reviews of New Books

"Beyond expanding our understanding of colonial defence, Ben Vinson . . . significantly improves our understanding of hegemony, agency, and identity in colonial Mexico. Using a multi-regional approach and focusing his research on the free-coloured . . . militia units, he also sheds new light on the caste/class debate, military/militia dynamics, civilian/military relations, and corporate society and politics . . . .A significant contribution to the literature."—Journal of Latin American Studies

"[A] well-researched and well-written institutional history."—The Journal of Military History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804750240
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/17/2003
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Ben Vinson III is Associate Professor of History at Penn State University.

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Table of Contents

1 Militia Awakenings 7
2 The Contours of Duty: Internal Militia Structure, Finances, and the Officer Corps 46
3 The Contours of Duty: Recruitment, Occupations, and Marriage 85
4 The Loathed Tax 132
5 The Fuero Privilege 173
6 The Meaning of Race 199
Conclusion 221
Appendix 231
Notes 239
Bibliography 283
Index 295
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