Calculating Costs and Profits across the Board
All of this economic information served the fundamental purpose of the visita. The reason that the monarch had sent Gálvez to New Spain was to increase the Crown’s understanding of political and economic functioning throughout modern-day Mexico. In order to make new rules that would improve their productivity, the Crown--via its representative, the Visitador-- needed to accumulate data. These tables helped Gálvez to first become familiar with local conditions, and then to issue reforms to increase efficiency.
Since the start of the visita, the key to fostering those goals of productivity and efficiency had been Gálvez’s wide-spanning efforts. He not only looked into the major industries of precious metal mining or treasury management, but he also investigated local governance and many of the other smaller elements of colonial political and economic rule.
For example, within the span of a year, Gálvez carried out inspections of both pulque production and gold and silver mining. Pulque was an alcoholic drink native to New Spain. It was popular, and a mainstay of local economies. However, in the hierarchy of concerns for the Crown, it did not approach the level of concern that the monarchs held for precious metals. Nevertheless, the Visitador treated both industries with precision, investigating the amounts produced year by year.
Gálvez also worked with local officials to create a table on the gunpowder industry. As this item illustrates, these documents prioritized royal profits. Towards the bottom of the table, the author designated a row for the amount of profit produced “for Your Majesty” from the most recent calculation, which was almost 200,000 pesos.
The correo, or mail system, was another area that Gálvez looked into. Sending letters and packages incurred costs, and the Crown would have been interested in those expenses. However, royal authorities also had a vested interest in understanding the value of the mailed items themselves. This document provided a breakdown of the economics of the mailing industry. Once again, the author noted regional differences between parts of New Spain, such as Mexico City and Veracruz.
As Gálvez finished up his visita, he continued collecting and creating more documents similar to the ones featured above. He had been in contact with the king during his seven years as Visitador, although the distance made communications slow and irregular. However, the monarch expected Gálvez to end his term by compiling all of the useful information he had learned about New Spain into a summary report. The visita officially ended in 1771, and the former Visitador returned to Spain soon after. With all of the documents he had acquired over his time in office, he finished his summary report and submitted it to the royal court.
His experience in New Spain had given him a highly valuable perspective into the inner workings of colonial rule. The monarch promoted Gálvez to the position of Secretary of State for the Indies (the Americas). It was one of the top-ranking posts in the royal advisory circle. In that capacity, he was able to apply what he learned in New Spain in order to reform other parts of the Spanish Americas.