[Archive of Papers Discussing the Inheritance of a Cuban Coffee Plantation and Its Slaves During the Mid-19th Century]

[Paris; Madrid; Havana and various other places in Cuba: 1853-1859]. Twenty-eight manuscript documents totaling [106]pp. Minor wear. Accomplished in a variety of mostly legible scripts; in French and Spanish. Old folds and few short separations. Minor wear and dust soiling. Very good. Item #3584

A series of approximately thirty manuscript documents and letters regarding the estate of the Marquesa de Casa-Calvo and the Cardenas family's inheritance of a Cuban coffee plantation, the Cafetal las Delicias, and several other properties on the island during the 1850s. The primary beneficiaries of the estate were her two sons, Gabriel and Miguel Cardenas y Cardenas, the latter being the Marquis del Campo Florido and major landowner in colonial Cuba. However, the inheritance was complicated enough to involve several other members of the Cardenas family and at least one inheritor in France, François Gonzalve Merlin (the son of Bonapartist General Christophe Merlin), who held an interest by marriage or by the marriage of his father.

The papers present here comprise legal briefs, estate documents, correspondence, and inventories arising from the international dispute over the will of the Marquesa. In particular, the division of property between the Cardenas brothers, the sons of the Marquesa, and Merlin needed to be resolved. Of primary and critical interest among the documents are the inclusion of detailed lists of slaves that are a part of the inheritable estate. The Cafetal las Delicias, a coffee plantation east of Cienfuegos, used the labor of nearly fifty enslaved men and women who are repeatedly discussed and debated throughout the documents. Several lists are included amongst the papers that give the slaves' names, origins, and ages. Often there are notes that describe particular jobs or positions on the plantation and which remark on the health and ability of particular individuals. The lists in most cases also ascribe value to individuals, to various subgroups, and to the population as a whole, and include proposals on how to disperse this monetary value amongst the inheritors. The collection therefore represents not only a fascinating vignette of international absentee ownership of agriculture in colonial Latin America, but also an important snapshot of slavery on an otherwise little-known coffee plantation in central Cuba during the mid-19th century. An excellent manuscript group, with much value for research in several fields.

Price: $7,500.00