Poster commemorating the first century of the Slavery Abolition in Puerto Rico

Poster commemorating the first century of the Slavery Abolition in Puerto Rico

As the numbers of the indigenous peoples declined in the 16th century in Puerto Rico, they were replaced by black slaves. In 1513, the Spanish authorities authorized the traffic in black slaves in their colonies, and in 1530, 200 were introduced into Puerto Rico. Between that date and 1553, approximately 1,500 African slaves were brought to Puerto Rico. Between 1553 and 1765, very little is known about the slave trade in Puerto Rico. In spite of the continuous flow of slaves, the black population never reached such high proportions as in other colonies in the New World. According to the first official census of Puerto Rico, the total population came to 44,833 persons, of whom 5,037 were slaves. In 1846, the slave population reached its maximum of 51,265 persons (Table 1).

Table 1

Population of Puerto Rico, By color and civil status, 1765-1897

Year

Free Population

Slaves

Total Population

Total

White

Colored

1765

39,769n/dn/d5,03744,833

1777

62,618

30,70931,9097,592

70,210

1787

95,45946,75648,703

11,260

103,051

1794

109,633n/dn/d17,500

127,133

1800

n/dn/dn/dn/d

155,426

1802

149,85978,28171,57813,333163,192
1812165,46885,66279,80617,536

183,014

1815

n/dn/dn/dn/d220,892

1820

208,892

102,432106,46021,730

230,622

1827270,798150,311120,48731,784

302,672

1830

289,598162,311127,28734,240325,838
1846391,874216,083175,79151,265

443,139

1860

541,443300,406241,03741,738583,181

1877

731,648411,712319,936

731,648

1887798,565474,933323,632

798,565

1897885,819570,187315,632

894,302

(Adapted by Jorge Duany)

Original source

José L. Vázquez, “El crecimiento poblacional de Puerto Rico: 1493 al presente,” Revista de Ciencias Sociales 12, no. 1 (1968): 5-22.

Author: José L Vázquez Calzada
Published: September 16, 2014.

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