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Jeremy Bentham’s Spanish American Utopia

L’utopie hispano-américaine de Jeremy Bentham
Annie L. Cot

Résumés

Cet article s’intéresse aux utopies que Bentham a construites pour l'Amérique latine, des projets qui pour la plupart sont restés à l’état d’ébauche, mais qui ont néanmoins inspiré les élites dirigeantes qui ont à leur tour œuvré à la mise en place de nouveaux régimes républicains. De plus, ces projets témoignent de l’intérêt de Bentham pour ces régions dont les régimes politiques se convertissaient aux idées démocratiques.

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Notes de la rédaction

From: Annie L. Cot, Jeremy Bentham’s Spanish American Utopia, in Jose Luis Cardoso, Maria Cristina Marcuzzo, Maria Eugenia Romero Sotelo, eds. Economic Development and Global Crisis - The Latin American Economy in Historical Perspective (London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 34-52. Reproduced by permission of Taylor & Francis Group.

Notes de l’auteur

I wish to thank Philip Schofield, Marco Guidi, Andrés Alvarez and an anonymous referee for their comments on a previous version of this article. Some materials of this chapter will be used in my contribution to Pierre Dockès’ Festschrift. All remaining errors are, of course, of my own and sole responsibility.

Texte intégral

Sus obras le dan el titulo glorioso de legislador del mundo.(José Cecilio del Valle to Jeremy Bentham)

I have paid my tribute of enthusiasm to Mr. Bentham and I hope Mr. Bentham will adopt me as one of his disciples, as, in consequence of being initiated in his doctrines, I have defended liberty, till it has been made the sovereign rule of Colombia. I shall not repeat the motives of gratitude which animate me, towards the Geometrician of Legislation. (Simón Bolívar to Jeremy Bentham)

Ha muchos años que Bentham es conocido, citado, copiado y venerado por varios escritores nacionales, a un desde el tiempo de la dominación española y de la infame inquisición. En la mayor parte de las librerías, en manos de todos los juristas está el discurso sobre los delitos y las penas escrito por don Marcos Gutiérrez, y puesto al fin del primer tomo de su Práctica criminal de España; allí se cita con elogio a Bentham, se adoptan y se explican sus doctrinas […]. Desde los ominosos tiempos del antiguo gobierno, los tratados de legislación de Bentham hacían ya el objeto de los estudios y de las meditaciones secretas de los Camilo Torres, los Camachos, los Pombos y de otros ilustres mártires y primeros fundadores de la independencia; sus doctrinas se insertaban en La Bagatela, que daba el general Nariño en la primera época de la República; los mejores senadores y representantes lo citan frecuentemente con respeto y admiración en los salones del Congreso; varias leyes han sido formadas conforme a sus principios; ¿cuáles, finalmente, el patriota, el literato colombiano que no procure adquirir y estudiar a Bentham? (Vicente Azuero Plata, Enseñanza de principios de legislación por Bentham)

Introduction

  • 1 Bentham died in London on 6 June 1832.
  • 2 "Ya cesó de ser […] el defensor celoso de nuestra independencia, el que demonstró el interés que te (...)

131 August 1832: when the news of Bentham’s death arrived in Guatemala,1 José del Valle requested all Congress members of the Central American Republic to dress in black as a sign of mourning. The next day, he delivered a eulogy to the Congress where he spoke of Bentham as “the zealous defender of our independence, he who demonstrated the interest of the metropole in emancipating their colonies, he who wrote enlightening works so that we would learn to calculate the good and the bad before becoming legislators”.2

  • 3 Bentham’s application to immigrate to Mexico was officially motivated by health reasons. The respon (...)
  • 4 Bolívar arrived in London in 1810 as one of the commissioners sent by the Junta de Caracas – togeth (...)
  • 5 According to Theodora McKinnan, Bentham’s University College manuscripts contain about 80 sheets of (...)
  • 6 This project failed after Miranda was arrested in Venezuela.

2By this date, Bentham had gained more notoriety in Latin America than any other European thinker. Since 1789, he had provided detailed analysis of the colonial system, asking most European governments, including Spain and Portugal, to abandon their distant possessions. In 1808, he had written to Lord Holland to ask assistance in gaining Spain’s permission to immigrate to Mexico where he was to serve in Aaron Burr’s chimerical “Mexican Empire” – Bentham as legislator, Burr as emperor.3 In 1802, he met Francisco de Miranda in London, who was to introduce him to Simón Bolívar in 1810.4 From then on, he wrote several projects advising legal reforms for Venezuela,5 where he even planned to spend some time as a legislator for the future independent nation.6

  • 7 Bentham called upon Spain in many ways: in 1820 he proposed the adoption of the Pannomion to the n (...)
  • 8 Bentham had been introduced to a Spanish translator by William Effingham Lawrence, a friend of John (...)
  • 9 Legislador del mundo (see “Jeremy Bentham, Legislator of the World”, in J. Bentham, “Legislator of (...)
  • 10 After many years of friendly correspondence between the two men, Bolivia adopted in March 1828 a mu (...)

3In the 1820s, when the new countries emerged as autonomous nations, Bentham engaged into an intense intellectual and political activity towards the entire Latin American continent. In 1821 and 1822, after the restoration of the liberal constitution in Spain and the reinstatement of the Cortes, he wrote a series of open letters to the Spanish people on the evils of colonization.7 He sent a copy of the “Codification Proposal” (which had just been printed8) to Bernardino Rivadavia in Buenos Aires, to José de San Martin, the Protector of Peru, and to Jean-Pierre Boyer, the president of Haiti. He invented new laws for the press and offered plans for educational reform. He sent copies of his works to Francis Hall, an Englishman who had been recruited for Bolívar’s army in Colombia by John Devereux, with a recommendation to build Panopticon prisons in Colombia. He received letters from Simón Bolívar, where he was called “the Preceptor of Legislators”, and others from José del Valle calling him “the Legislator of the world”.9 His Theory of Legislation was used as a textbook in Gran Colombia. Through the diffusion of the Dumont edition of some of his other work in French, he was widely read and passionately discussed throughout Spanish America.10 On a request from José del Valle, he drew up a plan for the Civil Code in Guatemala. He influenced the regulation of parliament in Buenos Aires. He sketched a plan for an interoceanic canal to link the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans through lands bordered by Mexico and Colombia. Finally, until the end of his life, he kept up a dense correspondence with many South American intellectuals and proceres: Simón Bolívar, Francisco de Miranda, Bernardino Rivadavia, Francisco de Paula Santander, José del Valle, José Tiburcio Echevarría, Vicente Azuero, Bernardo O’Higgins, Andrés Bello, José Maria del Barrio.

4Throughout this tireless activity, Bentham adopted two points of view: on the one hand, the point of view of an expert – an expert in economics, in trade, in politics, in law, in architecture; on the other hand, the point of view of a reformer, who considered these new territories as utopias: u-topos, dreamed territories with, as yet, no real existence, and where new governments could be installed and legislation drawn up according to the principle of the greatest happiness of the greatest number.

5Bentham’s attitude toward the new independent nations in South America is thus a good mirror of his positions on colonies in general. Janus bifrons: one face tirelessly advocating a detailed critique of the evils of colonial possessions; the other face defending a reformist dream, where the new nations were far away enough so that all reforms could be invented, sketched, imagined, whether they were or not to be realized.

Colonization: “a folly grafted on a folly”11

  • 11 “Colonization is or at least was a folly grafted on a folly” (J. Bentham, Method and Leading Featur (...)
  • 12 A number of elements of the first part of this text rely on a previous article published in the To (...)
  • 13 see D. Winch, Classical Political Economy and Colonies (London, G. Bell and Sons for the London Sch (...)

6“Liberty! Equality! Property! Emancipation! Independence!”, “Emancipate your colonies!”, “Emancipation Spanish”, “Rid yourselves of Ultramaria!”: for more than 30 years, Bentham successively exhorted the members of the National Convention of France, the British and Portuguese governments, or the Spanish Cortes to abandon their colonies.12 Not, of course, without a “recurring ambiguity”, noted by Donald Winch,13 but with a strong analytical and political plea, which was already polished in the 1820s, when he began to write his letters to the Spanish people warning them against the evils of “the old colonial system”.

  • 14 J. Bentham, Defence of Usury. Shewing the Impolicy of the Present Legal Restraints on the Terms of (...)

7The vast corpus of texts devoted by Bentham to the question of colonies can be divided into three major groups. Among Bentham’s very first writings, the colonial question appears in his Principles of International Law, written between 1786 and 1789; in the postscript (which was to stay unpublished) to the second edition of Defence of Usury, whose sections 2 and 3 respectively deal with: the “Developments of the principle ‘no more trade than capital’, or ‘capital limits trade’”, and the “Practical consequences of the principle ‘no more trade than capital’ with respect to colonial government, economy and peace”;14 in the fragment Colonies and Navy; in his letters to Mirabeau and Benjamin Franklin, and in his letters to the French National Convention, Jeremy Bentham to the National Convention of France.

  • 15 Through the intervention of Gallois, who acted at that time as secretary for Talleyrand.
  • 16 Like often, this text was preceded by preparatory documents: Colonies and Navy and Pacification and (...)
  • 17 The pamphlet was republished in 1830, under its original form, with the exception of a curious post (...)

8The most vigorous among this first set of texts is probably the call he addresses to the French revolutionaries:15 Emancipate your colonies!16 Harshly anticolonialist, the pamphlet was first written in 1789, as one of Bentham’s open letters to Mirabeau. It was later expanded and published in 1793 as a leaflet addressed to the members of the French National Convention advocating them to get rid of the French distant possessions, and was afterwards widely circulated, both in France and in England.17

  • 18 In those years, Bentham considered that there could be unemployed capital and excess labour in Euro (...)

9Bentham’s economic texts form a second group of his writings on the colonial question: Manual of Political Economy (1793–1795), Institute of Political Economy (1801–1804), and Defence of a Maximum (1801). All contain arguments in favour of emancipation, although all also contain considerations on the demographic necessity of colonies, or on the possible civilizing benefits of colonization for these far away territories.18

  • 19 Jeremy Bentham uses the terms “Ultramaria” and “Ultramarines” from 1820 on: before that, he used th (...)

10The third set is addressed to the Spanish Cortes, asking them to get rid of their Ultramarian possessions – Ultramar being the name of the South American possessions in the language of the new Spanish constitution.19 “Emancipation Preface”, written in 1818; “J.B. to Spain: Emancipate Your Colonies”; “Emancipation Spanish” and “Summary of Emancipate Your Colonies”, all written in 1820; Observations on the Restrictive and Prohibitory Commercial System; especially with a reference to the Decree of the Spanish Cortes of July 1820; and, at last, the set of letters to the Spanish people gathered together in 1821 and 1822 as Rid Yourselves of Ultramaria; being the advice of Jeremy Bentham, as given in a series of letters to the Spanish people. The letters are clearly addressed to the Spanish people and not to the government – they all begin by an imperious “Spaniards!”

  • 20 Bentham, Rid Yourselves of Ultramaria, Letter 6, in Bentham, Colonies, Commerce and Constitutional (...)

Spaniards! I have shewn you that to you the subject many, not only the claim to the dominion, but the dominion itself, would, if possessed, be in every necessary way […] detrimental.20

  • 21 Bentham, Rid Yourselves of Ultramaria, Letter 16: 128.

Spaniards! […] You will cleanse yourselves of this foulest of all political and moral leprosis. You will become clean; and to your being so, not so much as a dip into the river will be requisite. Happily, so it is – that, in your Peninsula, no man either buys Slaves or keeps Slaves.21

  • 22 Bentham, Rid Yourselves of Ultramaria, Letter 1: 23; emphasis in the original text.

Spaniards! […] In every point of view, not only the claim to the dominion is – but the dominion itself, supposing it in your possession and entire, would be – to you the people – to you the greatest number – the source of unmixt evil: of evil, in all manners of shapes; of evil, in a pecuniary shape; of evil in the anti-constitutional shape; of evil, in the shape of national insecurity against foreign aggression.22

11An evil in national insecurity and an evil in a pecuniary shape: the next sections will review some of Bentham’s arguments along these two lines of arguments.

“Have you so soon forgot the school in which you served your apprenticeship to freedom?”

  • 23 See Jeremy Bentham Constitutional Code: book 1, ch. 6, note 30, 109 (in Bentham, Works, vol. 9, p. (...)

12Among the many reasons why Bentham thought that distant possessions undermined the greatest happiness of the greatest number both in the metropole and the colonies, he argued that colonies encouraged unnecessary growth of the army – though leaving the metropole vulnerable; that they drained national resources, that they jeopardize the national security of the metropole, that they could not be profitable without being oppressive and that this oppression was likely to provoke a “civil war”.23

13This national insecurity could be provoked either by international wars or by civil wars. Both, for Bentham, would have the effect of disturbing the social order and undermining economic prosperity. Thus, both would threaten the utilitarian purpose of ensuring the greatest happiness of the greatest number.

14The diplomatic and military dangers associated with colonies are clearly described in a footnote of Colonies and Navy:

  • 24 J. Bentham, Colonies and Navy [a Fragment] (1790), in J. Bentham, Jeremy Bentham’s Economic Writing (...)

Distant dependencies increase the chances of war: 1. By increasing the number of possible subjects of dispute. 2. By the natural obscurity of title in case of new settlements or discoveries. 3. By the particular obscurity of the evidence resulting from the distance […]; 4. By men caring less about wars when the scene is remote, than when it is nearer home.24

15Some 30 years later, addressing the Spanish Cortes, Bentham flags another risk: the risk of a contagious social explosion if the colonies are not set free pacifically.

  • 25 J. Bentham Rid Yourselves of Ultramaria. Being the Advice of Jeremy Bentham as Given in a Series of (...)

With such real, such ample, such universally-applying cause of discontent, pervading the whole of Spanish America, – with such cause of discontent, and at the same time such unprecedented and uncontrollable means of expressing and propagating it, think whether it could be long, ere, through the several stages of disaffection and disobedience, the discontent would have ripened into revolt.25

  • 26 See A. L. Cot, “Jeremy Bentham between Liberalism and Authoritarianism: the French mirror”, in S.T. (...)

16Another of Bentham’s early advocacies against colonization is about the Declaration of Rights – a rather surprising theme for an author who spent so much time fighting against the very idea of natural rights, which he liked to describe as “nonsense upon stilts”.26 But a lawyer is always a prisoner of the “fictions” of those he tries to convince, and, in order to convince the French revolutionaries, he addresses their ethics.

  • 27 Bentham, Emancipate your Colonies!, pp. 291–292. “My fellow citizens” refers to the fact that the L (...)

You abhor tyranny: You abhor it in the lump not less than in detail: You abhor the subjection of one nation to another: You call it slavery. You gave sentence in the case of Britain against her colonies. Have you so soon forgot that sentence? Have you so soon forgot the school in which you served your apprenticeship to freedom? […] What is become of the rights of men? Are you the only men who have rights? Alas, my fellow citizens, have you two measures?27

17These “rights of men” concern both the population of the colonies in general and the slaves. Regarding the colonists, Bentham considered that it was impossible to govern subjects thousands of miles away whose interests and concerns Europeans could not properly know and share. He thus claimed his support of self-government and independence, instead of the present state of dominance by elites from the “parent countries”.

  • 28 A fight he had been long fighting for: see his positions on homosexuality or women’s rights (L. Cam (...)

18Bentham also considered that the colonial question was also, and fundamentally, a question about slavery and human rights.28 His advocacy here had already been coined by Raynal, Diderot, Paley, Condorcet – or, long before the Enlightenment, in 1615, by Francisco de Vitoria’s De Indis: one of the reasons to emancipate colonies is that slavery is consubstantial to the colonial system.

  • 29 Bentham, Emancipate your Colonies!, p. 310.

Keep the sugar islands, it is impossible for you to do right: – let go the negroes, you have no sugar, and the reason for keeping these colonies is at end; keep the negroes, you trample upon the declaration of rights, and act in the teeth of principles.29

19Thus, if colonies and slavery are so closely linked, the freedom of colonies is an ethical imperative.

  • 30 Bentham, Emancipate your Colonies!, pp. 312–313. In the chapter on slavery of his writings on Spani (...)

If hatred is your ruling passion, and the gratification of it your first objective, you will still grasp your colonies. If the happiness of mankind is your object, and the declaration of rights your guide, you will set them free.30

20Apart from these affairs of ethics and political passions, and Bentham knew that he would be as convincing, if not more, by also addressing the metropole’s ‘pecuniary’ interests.

Economic “mischiefs”

21Hence the second constituent of Bentham’s rationale on colonies: more analytical, more detailed, concerned both with the “art” and with the “science” of political economy. Thus, Bentham advocates that colonies were together financially unsound and inefficient; that they carried an enormous amount of expenses; that they exacted revenues from the “subject many” for the benefit of the “ruling few”; that they induced taxes on the poor of the metropole for the benefit of the wealthy colonists.

An “unprofitable dominion”

Since the French Revolution, Bentham had claimed that the economic costs of acquiring, holding and defending colonies largely exceeded the profits accumulated from their ownership. War is everywhere around you, he tells in substance to the French Revolutionaries in 1789, and you cannot afford to protect your colonies.

  • 31 Bentham, Emancipate your Colonies!, p. 297.

The expense of the peace establishment, you may know […]. But the expense of defence in time of war, you do not know, nor ever can know. It is no less than the expense of a navy, capable of overawing that of Britain.31

  • 32 Bentham Method and Leading Features of an Institute of Political Economy, p. 353.
  • 33 Bentham Method and Leading Features of an Institute of Political Economy, p. 353.

22And this cost is only one of the many costs of distant possessions: initial expenses linked to the foundation of a colony, government expenses, and military expenses for the “maintenance of conquest of distant dependencies”.32 Bentham sums this up in his Institute of Political Economy: “[The] foundation of a colony is an introductory expence; government of it a continual standing expence; war for the defence of it an occasional one”.33

  • 34 ‘Emancipation Spanish’, in Bentham, Colonies, Commerce and Constitutional Law, p. 225

23The same warning is addressed to Spain 30 years later, when Bentham asks the Cortes to balance what “those burdensome dependencies” colonies cost to the Spanish government to “the utmost quantity of money that could be extracted from the people under the notion of maintaining this unprofitable dominion”.34

  • 35 Short Views of the Economy for the USE of the French Nation but not UNAPPLICABLE to the English (th (...)
  • 36 Bentham, Short Views of Economy for the Use of the French Nation, p. 199.
  • 37 Bentham, Short Views of Economy for the Use of the French Nation, p. 200; emphasis in the original (...)

24The argument is simple: colonial possessions do not produce any profit for the metropole, on the contrary – an idea expressed as early as 1789, in his Short Views of Economy.35 Addressing “the French Nation”, Bentham claimed that “no […] colony has ever produced or will or ought to produce a penny of clear revenue to the parent state”.36 This for four major reasons. 1. “The private property of the inhabitants of the French Colonies belong no more to the profit side of the account with relation to France than the property of the inhabitants of Great Britain”. 2. “The profit to be derived from Colonies as markets has nothing to do with the profit derivable from them as possessions”. 3. “The only profit to France consists in the produce of the taxes imposed upon the trade between the Colonies and France”.37 4. The colonies are a permanent source of corruption for their metropole.

  • 38 Bentham, Short Views of Economy for the Use of the French Nation, p. 200.

25Not that there are no benefits for a few, but at the expense, for the nation as a whole, of misallocated resources, taxes on the poor, social disequilibria, high corruption and raised prices. In a word: “Distant possessions are mischievous: 1. As a source of expence. 2. As a source of corruption. 3. As a source of complication, absorbing time necessary to keep down abuse”.38

A “cluster of aristocratic abominations”

26Bentham believed that an open “commerce” would make nations prosperous and bring peace – and that the possession of colonies was enemy of such an open commerce. Among many reasons, the monopoly of colonial trade, described not only as an “aristocratic abomination”, but also as a “cluster of aristocratic abominations”.

27The list of these abominations is given in Emancipate Your Colonies!

  • 39 J. Bentham, Manual of Political Economy (1793–1795), in J. Bentham, Jeremy Bentham’s Economic Writi (...)

Abomination the 1st. Liberty, property and equality violated on the part of a large class of citizens (the colonists) by preventing them from carrying their goods to the markets which it is supposed would be most advantageous to them […]. Abomination 2d. One part of a nation (the people of France) taxed to raise money to maintain by force the restraints so imposed upon another part of the nation, the colonists. Abomination 3d. The poor, who after all are unable to buy sugar, the poor in France, taxed in order to pay the rich for eating it.39

28In other terms, rich citizens and poor citizens would equally support the weight of colonies, whereas the benefits of colonies would only go to the rich.

  • 40 see P. Schwartz and C. Rodriguez Braun, “Bentham on Spanish Protectionism”, Utilitas, 4 (1992), pp. (...)

29Regarding Spain, Bentham argued that the battery of new customs tariffs and other restrictions on colonial trade passed in 1820 by the Cortes, which imposed heavy duties on some goods and prohibition on others, reduced the exchanges rather than increasing them and led to a misallocation of resources that lowered the average income in the metropole.40 Hence this new list of various ‘mischiefs’ associated with the “old colonial system” of tariffs, prohibitions, and preferences.

Mischief 1st. Mischief by dearer commodities forced upon Your Countrymen in place of cheaper ones. Sufferers, all those by whom, antecedently to the prohibition, the cheaper ones are consumed or otherwise used. Number of the sufferers, the whole population of the country, with the exception of such as were by poverty disabled of being purchasers.

Mischief 2. Mischief by commodities of inferior quality, forcibly substituted to commodities of superior quality. Sufferers as above […].

  • 41 The manuscript is reproduced by Philip Schofield in his “Editorial Introduction” to Bentham, Coloni (...)

Mischief 3. Mischief by cessation or diminution of the demand for home-produced commodities, such as, before the prohibition, were taken by the foreigners in exchange for the commodities now prohibited. Sufferers, those who, antecedently to the prohibition, were engaged in the production of the commodities so taken in exchange.41

  • 42 Bentham, Rid Yourselves of Ultramaria, in J. Bentham, Colonies, Commerce and Constitutional Law, se (...)

30This opposition between the beneficiaries and the ‘sufferers’ is supplemented by a list of “the ruling few” who, in Spain, were the direct beneficiaries of colonialism. The list includes: the King, his court and the “Grandees”; government ministers; the higher ranks of the army and navy; members of the judiciary and the clergy who took posts in the colonies or in connection with them; members of the Cortes in receipt of patronage; “merchants, manufacturers, and artisans” involved in trades that benefited from tariffs and other “prohibitory, restrictive, or other anti-commercial regulations” on colonial trade; “political writers or orators expecting emolument or reputation by advocating the claim of dominion over Ultramaria”; everyone in Ultramaria who benefited from the colonial connection; and all those who could expect future benefits from the colonies.42

  • 43 Bentham, Method and Leading Features of an Institute of Political Economy, p. 353.
  • 44 Bentham, Method and Leading Features of an Institute of Political Economy, p. 353.

31This system involved a transfer of income from the many poor of the metropole to the few rich of the colonies. If there is an increase of wealth, “the increase is for the colonists – to the individual occupiers of the fresh land, not to the mother country”.43 The reason is simple: “Taxes they at first can not pay, and afterwards will not pay”.44

32These are matters of “art” (and of politics), not of “science”. On a theoretical level, Bentham opposes a simple principle to any form of colonial economy: no more trade than capital.

“No more trade than capital”

  • 45 A. Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), reprinted in R.H. (...)
  • 46 A monopoly that contravenes the doctrine of absolute advantage in international trade (see A. L. Co (...)

33The principle “no more trade than capital” is borrowed from the Wealth of Nations, where Smith discusses it in book IV.45 But Smith and Bentham use it in radically diverging ways. For Smith, there is a logical order between trade – “truck, barter, exchange” – and wealth. And it is in the name of this logical order that Smith both rejects the monopoly character of colonial trade,46 and holds the idea that colonies contribute to the metropole’s wealth by giving them new markets. By raising profits in manufacturing for export and in foreign and colonial trade, ‘mercantilist’ restrictions would divert capital from domestic industry and thus harm the domestic economy.

34Bentham takes over Smith’s argument, but insists on the idea that the nation’s output is not determined by the extent of the market, but by the extent of its capital resources: thus, an artificial diversion of capital towards colonial trade implies a reduction of capital in another sector of the economy. But there lies the major divergence between Bentham and Smith on the analysis of the economic foundations of a colonial system.

35Bentham argues in favour of a different logical order between trade, capital and wealth. For him, it is the capital, and not the market, that comes first in the causality chain of explanation of the “wealth of nations”.

  • 47 Bentham, Emancipate your Colonies!, pp. 298–299; emphasis in the original text.

I wish to tell you a great and important, though too much neglected truth, he writes in Emancipate your Colonies. TRADE IS THE CHILD OF CAPITAL. In proportion to the quantity of capital a country has at its disposal, will, in every country, be the quantity of trade […]. Yes – it is quantity of capital, not extent of trade, that determines the quantity of trade. Open a new market, you do not, unless by accident, or for the moment, diminish the sum of trade.47

36The theme is central to Bentham’s economic theory. It is the quantity of capital, and not the extent of the market, which limits the possibility of commerce and industry in a nation.

  • 48 Bentham, Emancipate your Colonies!, pp. 298.

While you have no more capital employed in trade than you have, all the power on earth cannot give you more trade, while you have no more capital employed in trade than you have, all the power upon earth cannot prevent you having the trade you have. It may take one shape or another shape; it may give you more foreign goods to consume; or more home goods; it may give you more of one sort of goods or more of another; but the quantity and value of the goods of all sorts it gives you, will always be the same, without any difference which it is possible to ascertain or worth while to think about.48

37All these arguments will feed the plea addressed to the “Spaniards!”. But once the fight for independence was won, the expert position was supplemented with utopia.

“The geometrician of legislation”

38To this economic expertise, Bentham added legislative projects for the new independent nations. From 1808 on, when independence begun to be under discussion in Latin America, he took an intense interest in the creation of new constitutional codes, new forms of economic organization and economic development aimed at Ultramaria.

39In 1811, while he projected to travel to Venezuela, he wrote to a cousin of his:

  • 49 Bentham to Mr. Mulford, 1 November 1810, in Bentham, Works, vol. 10, p. 458.

If I go thither it will be to do a little business in the way of my trade, to draw up a body of laws for the people there […]. The good which I could do for mankind if I were in the House of Commons or even if I were minister, is inconsiderable in comparison with that which I may hope to do if I go there; for having, by the ignorant and domineering Spaniards, been purposely kept in ignorance, they have the merit of being sensible of it, and disposed to receive instruction from England in general, and from your humble servant in particular. Whatever I give them for laws, they will be prepared to receive as oracles.49

40Bentham’s advice spread over the continent, inventing new governments, new legislations, new constitutional codes, new forms of economic organization, and new methods of economic development for the former Spanish Ultramaria. “Sir, could you have conceived, that the name of the Preceptor of Legislators is never pronounced in these savage regions of America, without veneration, nor without gratitude?”, wrote Simón Bolívar in 1822.

  • 50 Simón Bolívar to Jeremy Bentham, 27 September 1822, in Bentham’s UCL manuscripts, x, 7, quoted in M (...)

I am moreover particularly indebted to you, for the direct communication, without any particular merit of my own, of a part of those sacred truths, which you have scattered over the Earth to fecundate the moral world. I have paid my tribute of enthusiasm to Mr. Bentham and I hope Mr. Bentham will adopt me as one of his disciples, as, in consequence of being initiated in his doctrines, I have defended liberty, till it has been made the sovereign rule of Colombia – I shall not repeat the motives of gratitude which animate me, towards the Geometrician of Legislation; but I cannot forbear entreating that his light may be permitted to search even here.50

41Thus, aside from his economic discussion of the costs and “mischiefs” of the colonial possessions for Spain, Bentham envisioned Latin America as a blank page, where new laws, new codes, new systems of education, new freedom of speech, new forms of government, could be invented according to the principle of the greatest happiness for the greatest number.

42The Panopticon project had stayed unbuilt: the young Spanish American independent nations were to be his new utopia.

43U-topos: a process without a place, a process to be invented merely out of theoretical principles. This was how Bentham envisioned these new countries: as a utopia in the strict sense of the term, as an extra-ordinary chance for constructing an entire society on the sole basis of utilitarian principles.

44“Your work gives you the glorious title of legislator of the world”. These words of José Cecilio del Valle give a clue to Bentham’s relationship to the new elites of Mexico, Gran Colombia or Argentina. Since 1808, long before the independence movement of Spanish America was visible in Europe, Bentham took an immense interest in Spanish America.

45Aside from his two attempts to immigrate to America – to Mexico in 1808, to Venezuela in 1811 –, Bentham would address to his Spanish American correspondents a heavy number of propositions, advices, and codes. He sent both the English version and the Spanish translation of his Codification Proposal Addressed […] to All Nations Professing Liberal Opinions to Francis Hall, once colonel in Bolívar’s army and now settled in Caracas, where he had led a short journalistic career. He met Rivadavia in London in 1818 (Bernardino de la Trinidad González Rivadavia y Rivadavia), engaged a regular correspondence with him between 1818 and 1825, sent him proposals and ideas when he engaged into politics, and followed up the correspondence when Rivadavia became the first president of Argentina.

46After having left London, Rivadavia wrote Bentham a long letter, explaining how he had applied his various advices in Argentina:

Sir, – I sincerely regret not having had the pleasure of seeing you, when I called at your house previous to my leaving London, in order to bid you farewell […]. Since the last moment that I had the honour to pass with you (now more than eighteen months ago), I have never ceased to meditate on your principles of legislation; and on my return here, I have experienced very great satisfaction in seeing the deep root which they have taken, and the ardour of my fellow-citizens to adopt them. You will observe, Sir, that the annexed regulation of our chamber of deputies, which I had the honour to propose to it, and which it has sanctioned in one of its sittings, is entirely founded on the incontestable and striking truths contained in your work upon the tactics of legislative assemblies; and in the chair of civil law that I have instituted, they profess the eternal principles so learnedly demonstrated in your course of legislation (published by Mr. Dumont,) a work destined to cause civilization to march with gigantic strides amongst those states that are happy enough to appreciate it.

  • 51 The letter was written in French: Rivadavia to Bentham, Buenos Aires, 26 August 1822 (French origin (...)

You will confer upon me the most sensible pleasure, in your reply to this, […] by giving me your advice respecting this same regulation of the chamber, and to point out to me the changes, additions, or modifications, which you may think proper to make in it. The philanthropy which animates you, induces me to hope my expectations will not seem importunate, and also that you will read with interest the particulars of the amelioration of a nation, who glory in having, through my exertions, received the impulse from your sage precepts. You will also perceive that I have applied myself to reform the ancient abuses of all kinds found in our administration, and to prevent the establishing of others, to give to the sittings of the chamber of representatives the dignity which becomes [sic] them; to favour the establishment of a national bank upon a solid basis; to retrench (after having allowed them a solid indemnity) those civilians and military who incumber uselessly the State; to protect individual property; to cause to be executed all public work of acknowledged utility; to protect commerce, the sciences and the arts; to promulgate a law sanctioned by the chamber, which reduces very materially the custom-house duties; to promote equally an ecclesiastical reform, which is very needful and which I hope to accomplish: in one word to make all the advantageous alterations for which the hope of your approbation has given me the strength to undertake, and will enable me to execute.51

  • 52 See Jonathan Harris (“Bernardino Rivadavia and Benthamite ‘Discipleship’”, Latin American Research (...)

47Rivadavia did bring about some of the reforms he mentioned in this letter: he produced a rule book for the Argentine parliament based on Bentham’s Tactique des assemblées legislatives (1816); he created a national bank in Buenos Aires; he substituted direct taxes to custom duties; he limited the power of the church by handing out to the lay Sociedad de Beneficia the control over hospitals, orphanages, and other charities. And he did create a chair in civil law at the University of Buenos Aires, where Bentham’s Traités de législation civile et pénale (1802) were taught.52

  • 53 The text was published in January 1811, in the tenth issue of El Español. See Bentham to Blanco Whi (...)
  • 54 The law was proposed by Vicente Azuero, convinced utilitarian and then president of the Congress (s (...)

48Other examples could be given. In 1810, Francisco de Miranda asked Bentham to write an article on the freedom of press for his London review, El Colombiano. Although Miranda had already left London for Caracas when the text was finished, Bentham decided to have it translated and published by José María Blanco White in his monthly magazine El Español.53 The paper was later reprinted in Santafé de Bogotà (in December 1811), in Antonio Nariño’s journal La Bagatela, and from then on, widely read and discussed throughout Spanish America. In 1821, the Congress of Colombia adopted the first law on the freedom of press54 directly designed from Bentham’s thesis and propositions.

  • 55 On 8 November 1825.
  • 56 On 12 March 1826. The debate was later described as “the Benthamite quarrel” (la querella benthami (...)
  • 57 see A. de Avila Martel, “The influence of Bentham in the teaching of penal law in Chile”, Revista d (...)

49In 1825, four years later, Francisco de Paula Santander, then vice-president of Gran Colombia adopted a decree, ordering that the principles of legislation be taught to all law students, from Bentham’s Tratados de legislación.55 The decision raised strong oppositions and protests from conservatives and clerics, and Bolívar abolished the decree in March 1828.56 It was later reinstated in all the colegios and universities of Chile, Colombia and New Granada in 1835, when Santander became president of New Granada. Similarly to Rivadavia in Argentina, Andrés Bello introduced in Chile, in 1829, the teaching of Bentham’s Traités de legislation civile et pénale in the newly founded Colegio de Santiago.57

Conclusion

  • 58 The text was addressed to many of Bentham’s correspondents, but was not printed until John Bowring (...)

50Yet, Bentham’s expertise and projects for the South American nations were not limited to economics or legislation. In 1822, he became interested in the already discussed possibility of building an interoceanic canal through Panama. He drafted a project and wrote a document entitled “Proposals for the Junctions of Two Seas – the Atlantic and the Pacific, by means of a Joint Stock Company to Be Styled the Junctiana Company”.58

51The canal would not be included in the domain of a single state: Bentham’s project held that the two borders of the lands bordering Junctiana would be to Mexico on its north side and to Colombia on its south side. Using Pinkerton’s atlas, he decided that the canal would link the Atlantic Ocean to the San Juan River, then to Lake Nicaragua and on to the Pacific by way of León River. The Joint Stock Company in charge of building the canal would be financed by British investors, and to ensure the investors that their investments would not be jeopardized by the instability to which the South American nations “so recently emancipated from so bad a form of government” could be exposed, the United States were to take the company and the canal under their protection and to annex it as an additional state, thus creating a new state within the “Anglo-American United States”.

  • 59 Bentham’s UCL manuscripts, fol. 106: 266–267; quoted in M. Williford, “Utilitarian design for the N (...)

The company’s revenues would come both from the tolls, which all ships using the canal would pay on an equal basis, and from the sales and rents of the lands owned by the company. The obligations of the company would be to pay for the building of the canal and of its fortifications, to pay for the expenses of its operation, to pay a given sum to the local governments, and to pay indemnification to all individuals who previously owned the land, including the Indians. At last, the project should reject any form of slavery, or discourage any boat carrying slaves to use the waterway. “No slavery, in any shape, to be allowed. Should any vessel, with any slaves on board, obtain admittance into the territory, every such slave, upon his entrance within the territory, is to be free”.59

52Bentham described the Junctiana project as an “inexpressibly useful and supremely glorious idea” and discussed it with Rivadavia, with José Tiburcio Echevarría, a Colombian diplomat, with Santander, then vice-president of Gran Colombia, with Richard Rush, a North American diplomat, and, after July 1823, when Central America ceased to be a part of Mexico, with José Maria del Barrio, from Guatemala, who had come to London in the hope of obtaining a recognition for his new state. He also sent the project to Miranda and to Bolívar. But, like so many others of his dreams, Junctiana stayed at the stage of a project. Examples could be multiplied. Like the Panopticon, his “haunted house”, the Latin American colonies, whether they were still under dominion or whether they had been emancipated, did draw the projected space of both Jeremy Bentham’s multiple “expert” projects and of some of his lifetime utopias.For more than 50 years, Bentham continuously tangled up expert advices and utopian dreams for Spanish America. Whether these advices were performative, i.e. followed by political decisions, or not, is not the central point: throughout these projects, throughout the specific position he had invented and adopted, Bentham was shaping a new, modern, role for intellectuals, economists, or legislators.

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Notes

1 Bentham died in London on 6 June 1832.

2 "Ya cesó de ser […] el defensor celoso de nuestra independencia, el que demonstró el interés que tenían las metrópolis en la emancipación de las colonias, el que escribió obras luminosas para que aprendesemos a calcular bienes y males antes de ser legisladores". 
( Valle, J. del, "Elogio de Bentham", in J. Valladares Rodríguez (ed.) El pensamiento económico de José del Valle (Tegucigalpa, Publicaciones del Banco Central de Honduras, 1958), p. 133, quoted by J. Harris, “An English utilitarian looks at Spanish–American independence: Jeremy Bentham’s Rid Yourselves of Ultramaria”, Americas, 53 (1996), pp. 217–233, at p. 217)

3 Bentham’s application to immigrate to Mexico was officially motivated by health reasons. The response came directly from Gaspar de Jovellanos, who advised Bentham that the circumstances and the times were not right for him to find tranquility in Mexico.

4 Bolívar arrived in London in 1810 as one of the commissioners sent by the Junta de Caracas – together with Andrés Bello and Luis López Méndez – to ask the British government to support the struggle of the Venezuelans against Napoléon. It was in London, that Francisco de Miranda introduced him to Bentham.

5 According to Theodora McKinnan, Bentham’s University College manuscripts contain about 80 sheets of material on Venezuela, dated August and September 1810. They include some material marked “for General Miranda’s expedition”, a paper headed “Carracas: Necessity for an all-comprehensive Code”, and a project for a law on the liberty of the press (T. McKinnan, “Jeremy Bentham and the Colombian Liberators”, Americas, 34 (1978), pp. 460–475, at p. 461). Bentham’s project to immigrate to Venezuela is also mentioned in a letter to his cousin Mulford, dated 1 November 1810 (J. Bentham The Works of Jeremy Bentham, Published under the Superintendence of his Executer, John Bowring (Edinburgh, Tait, 1838–1843; repr. New York, Russel and Russel, 1971), vol. 10, p. 458): see infra, fourth section.

6 This project failed after Miranda was arrested in Venezuela.

7 Bentham called upon Spain in many ways: in 1820 he proposed the adoption of the Pannomion to the new Spanish government (see J. Bentham Panopticon versus New South Wales: or, the Panopticon Penitentiary System, and the Penal Colonization System, Compared. In a Letter Addressed to the Right Honourable Lord Pelham (1803–1804), in J. Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, Published under the Superintendence of his Executer, John Bowring (Edinburgh, Tait, 1838–1843; repr. New York, Russel and Russel, 1971), vol. 3.). The project was refused, but, though the Spanish translation of the Traités de législation (J. Bentham, Théorie des peines et des récompenses rédigée en français, d’après les manuscrits, par M.E. Dumont de Genève (London, Vogel et Schulze, 1811)), his work soon became widely influential among Spanish scholars.

8 Bentham had been introduced to a Spanish translator by William Effingham Lawrence, a friend of John Bowring’s. Codification Proposal Addressed […] to All Nations Professing Liberal Opinions was published in Spanish in London, in 1822, as Propuesta de Codigo dirigida por Jeremias Bentham a todas las naciones que profesan opiniones liberales.

9 Legislador del mundo (see “Jeremy Bentham, Legislator of the World”, in J. Bentham, “Legislator of the World”: Writings on Codification, Law, and Education, P. Schofield and J. Harris (eds) The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1998), pp. xi and xxxiv).

10 After many years of friendly correspondence between the two men, Bolivia adopted in March 1828 a much discussed decree forbidding the teaching of Bentham’s treatises in the colegios and universities of Gran Colombia.

11 “Colonization is or at least was a folly grafted on a folly” (J. Bentham, Method and Leading Features of an Institute of Political Economy (Including Finance) Considered not only as a Science but as an Art (1801–1804), in J. Bentham, Jeremy Bentham’s Economic Writings. Critical Edition, Based on his Printed Work and Unpublished Manuscripts by Werner Stark (London, George Allen and Unwin for the Royal Economic Society, 1952), vol. 3, p. 353).

12 A number of elements of the first part of this text rely on a previous article published in the Tocqueville Review (A. L. Cot, “Between expertise and utopia: Jeremy Bentham and the colonial question”, Tocqueville Review, 32 (2011), pp. 67–88).

13 see D. Winch, Classical Political Economy and Colonies (London, G. Bell and Sons for the London School of Economics and Political Science, 1965); and D. Winch, “Bentham on colonies and empire”, Utilitas, 9 (1997), pp. 147–154. On three occasions, Bentham stood clearly in favour of colonial possessions: in 1775, when he collaborated to the writing of a pamphlet of his friend John Lind against the will of emancipation of North American; after the French Revolution, when his sympathies went for a while to the Tories; and at the very end of his life, in August 1831, when the son of a common friend of Francis Place and James Mill, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, convinced him of the necessity to establish a new settlement colony in Australia.

14 J. Bentham, Defence of Usury. Shewing the Impolicy of the Present Legal Restraints on the Terms of Pecuniary Bargains, in a Series of Letters to a Friend. To which is Added a Letter to Adam Smith, Esqu. on the Discouragements Opposed by the Above Restraints to the Progress of Inventive Industry (1787), in J. Bentham, Jeremy Bentham’s Economic Writings. Critical Edition, Based on his Printed Work and Unpublished Manuscripts by Werner Stark (London, George Allen and Unwin for the Royal Economic Society, 1952), vol. 1, pp. 201–202 and 202–204.

15 Through the intervention of Gallois, who acted at that time as secretary for Talleyrand.

16 Like often, this text was preceded by preparatory documents: Colonies and Navy and Pacification and Emancipation. Colonies and Navy (1790), later published by Werner Stark in Jeremy Bentham’s Economic Writings (1952); or Pacification and Emancipation (circa 1786) (UCL Manuscripts, Box XXV: 26–49; partly quoted in Winch, Classical Political Economy and Colonies, pp. 26–38).

17 The pamphlet was republished in 1830, under its original form, with the exception of a curious postscript, where Bentham declares that, as a British and Irish citizen, he is in favour of these theses, but as a citizen of the British Empire, he is willing to adopt reverse theses (J. Bentham, Emancipate your Colonies!, Addressed to the National Convention of France, anno 1793. Shewing the USELESSNESS and Mischievousness of Distant Dependencies to an European State (1793, published in 1830), in J. Bentham, Rights, Representation, and Reform: Nonsense upon Stilts and other Writings on the French Revolution, ed. P. Schofield, C. Pease-Watkin and C. Blamires, Collected Works (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 2002), p. 418).

18 In those years, Bentham considered that there could be unemployed capital and excess labour in Europe and defended the idea of settlement colonies.

19 Jeremy Bentham uses the terms “Ultramaria” and “Ultramarines” from 1820 on: before that, he used the word “Creolia” and “Creoles” or “Creolians” for the inhabitants of the Spanish colonies (see P. Schofield, “Editorial introduction” (1995), in J. Bentham, Colonies, Commerce and Constitutional Law: Rid Yourselves of Ultramaria and Other Writings on Spain and Spanish America, P. Schofield (ed.) Collected Works (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1995), p. xxi).

20 Bentham, Rid Yourselves of Ultramaria, Letter 6, in Bentham, Colonies, Commerce and Constitutional Law, p. 74; emphasis in the original text.

21 Bentham, Rid Yourselves of Ultramaria, Letter 16: 128.

22 Bentham, Rid Yourselves of Ultramaria, Letter 1: 23; emphasis in the original text.

23 See Jeremy Bentham Constitutional Code: book 1, ch. 6, note 30, 109 (in Bentham, Works, vol. 9, p. 33).

24 J. Bentham, Colonies and Navy [a Fragment] (1790), in J. Bentham, Jeremy Bentham’s Economic Writings. Critical Edition, Based on his Printed Work and Unpublished Manuscripts by Werner Stark (London, George Allen and Unwin for the Royal Economic Society, 1952), vol. 22, p. 11.

25 J. Bentham Rid Yourselves of Ultramaria. Being the Advice of Jeremy Bentham as Given in a Series of Letters to the Spanish People (1821–1822), in Bentham, Colonies, Commerce and Constitutional Law, p. 156.

26 See A. L. Cot, “Jeremy Bentham between Liberalism and Authoritarianism: the French mirror”, in S.T. Lowry (ed.) Perspectives on the History of Economic Thought (London, Edgar Elgar, 1992), tome VIII; and A. L. Cot, Utilitarisme, libéralisme économique et libéralisme politique: Jeremy Bentham et la boîte de Pandore des droits naturels", Œconomia (Économies et Sociétés, série PE), 18 (1993), pp. 48–84.

27 Bentham, Emancipate your Colonies!, pp. 291–292. “My fellow citizens” refers to the fact that the Legislative Assembly had made Jeremy Bentham Citizen of France in August 1792.

28 A fight he had been long fighting for: see his positions on homosexuality or women’s rights (L. Campos Boralevi, Bentham and the Oppressed (Berlin, Walter de Gruyter, 1984); A. L. Cot, “’Let there be no distinction between the sexes’: Jeremy Bentham on the status of Women”, in R. Dimand and C. Nyland (eds) The Status of Women in Classical Economic Thought (Cheltenham, Edgar Elgar, 2003)).

29 Bentham, Emancipate your Colonies!, p. 310.

30 Bentham, Emancipate your Colonies!, pp. 312–313. In the chapter on slavery of his writings on Spanish colonies, Bentham distinguishes between abolishing the slave trade and abolishing slave holding. Slave trade is depicted as ‘this foulest of all political and moral leprosis’ and abolishing it would only require a negative act of abolition, as no compensation should be paid to the slave traders. Slave holding was a more complicated matter. Its abolition would require that another social and economic system be put in its place, providing subsistence and security for the newly freed slaves and not leaving them in a worse position than before in relation to their former masters. Lea Campos Boralevi remarks that Bentham’s position on slavery did often change throughout the years, according to the various political fights he was involved into (see Campos Boralevi, Bentham and the Oppressed, 142–164).

31 Bentham, Emancipate your Colonies!, p. 297.

32 Bentham Method and Leading Features of an Institute of Political Economy, p. 353.

33 Bentham Method and Leading Features of an Institute of Political Economy, p. 353.

34 ‘Emancipation Spanish’, in Bentham, Colonies, Commerce and Constitutional Law, p. 225

35 Short Views of the Economy for the USE of the French Nation but not UNAPPLICABLE to the English (the manuscript was published in J. Bentham Rights, Representation, and Reform, pp. 193–203).

36 Bentham, Short Views of Economy for the Use of the French Nation, p. 199.

37 Bentham, Short Views of Economy for the Use of the French Nation, p. 200; emphasis in the original text.

38 Bentham, Short Views of Economy for the Use of the French Nation, p. 200.

39 J. Bentham, Manual of Political Economy (1793–1795), in J. Bentham, Jeremy Bentham’s Economic Writings. Critical Edition, Based on his Printed Work and Unpublished Manuscripts by Werner Stark (London, George Allen and Unwin for the Royal Economic Society, 1952), vol. 1, p. 299.

40 see P. Schwartz and C. Rodriguez Braun, “Bentham on Spanish Protectionism”, Utilitas, 4 (1992), pp. 121–132..

41 The manuscript is reproduced by Philip Schofield in his “Editorial Introduction” to Bentham, Colonies, Commerce and Constitutional Law, pp. xliii–xliv).

42 Bentham, Rid Yourselves of Ultramaria, in J. Bentham, Colonies, Commerce and Constitutional Law, sect. 1.2 “Interests concerned”, pp. 38–39.

43 Bentham, Method and Leading Features of an Institute of Political Economy, p. 353.

44 Bentham, Method and Leading Features of an Institute of Political Economy, p. 353.

45 A. Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), reprinted in R.H. Campbell and A.S. Skinner (general eds.), W.B. Todd (textual edn), 2 vols (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1976).

46 A monopoly that contravenes the doctrine of absolute advantage in international trade (see A. L. Cot, "Une utopie utilitariste: Jeremy Bentham et les colonies", in F. Démier and D. Diatkine (eds) "Le libéralisme à l’épreuve", Cahiers d’économie politique. Histoire de la pensée et théories, 27–28 (1996), pp. 193–210).

47 Bentham, Emancipate your Colonies!, pp. 298–299; emphasis in the original text.

48 Bentham, Emancipate your Colonies!, pp. 298.

49 Bentham to Mr. Mulford, 1 November 1810, in Bentham, Works, vol. 10, p. 458.

50 Simón Bolívar to Jeremy Bentham, 27 September 1822, in Bentham’s UCL manuscripts, x, 7, quoted in McKennan, McKennan, “Jeremy Bentham and the Colombian Liberators”, p. 471.

51 The letter was written in French: Rivadavia to Bentham, Buenos Aires, 26 August 1822 (French original and English translation in Bentham, Works, vol. 4, pp. 592–593).

52 See Jonathan Harris (“Bernardino Rivadavia and Benthamite ‘Discipleship’”, Latin American Research Review, 33 (1998), pp. 129–149, at p. 136), who is, however, like Dinwiddy, Rosen or Lynch before him, extremely cautious on the existence of a direct “influence” or “discipleship” of Bentham’s on the totality of Rivadavia’s political decisions.

53 The text was published in January 1811, in the tenth issue of El Español. See Bentham to Blanco White, 25 October 1810 (Bentham, Works, vol. 10, p. 456). El Español was published monthly from 1810 until 1814 in London; it was forbidden in Spain and circulated widely among the Spanish American émigrés. Blanco White, a friend of Dumont de Genève and an enthusiastic adept of Bentham’s, published many articles on his work, including, in April 1814, his own translation of Dumont’s French version of the Principes politiques et économiques sur les colonies.

54 The law was proposed by Vicente Azuero, convinced utilitarian and then president of the Congress (see V. Azuero, Documentos sobre el Doctor Vicente Azuero, Biblioteca de Historia Nacional, vol. 71 (Bogotà, Imprenta Nacional, 1944)). It was adopted on 14 September 1821, and signed by Francisco de Paula Santander on 17 September. A few days earlier, on 5 September, a law had already been adopted on the freedom of postal charges for the newspapers.

55 On 8 November 1825.

56 On 12 March 1826. The debate was later described as “the Benthamite quarrel” (la querella benthamista), or “Colombia’s battle over Bentham” (see, among others, A. Rojas, "La Batalla de Bentham en Colombia", Revista de Historia de América, 29 (1950), pp. 37–66).

57 see A. de Avila Martel, “The influence of Bentham in the teaching of penal law in Chile”, Revista de Estudios Histórico-Juridícos, 5 (1980), pp. 257–265.

58 The text was addressed to many of Bentham’s correspondents, but was not printed until John Bowring included it in his edition of Bentham’s Works (1838–1843).

59 Bentham’s UCL manuscripts, fol. 106: 266–267; quoted in M. Williford, “Utilitarian design for the New World. Bentham’s plan for a Nicaraguan canal”, Americas, 27 (1970), pp. 75–85, at p. 78.

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Annie L. Cot, « Jeremy Bentham’s Spanish American Utopia  », Revue d’études benthamiennes [En ligne], 17 | 2020, mis en ligne le 30 septembre 2020, consulté le 02 décembre 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/etudes-benthamiennes/7427 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/etudes-benthamiennes.7427

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Annie L. Cot

Université Panthéon-Sorbonne

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