Internal commerce in a colonial economy: Rio de Janeiro and its hinterland, 1790-1822

Brown, Larissa Virginia, Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia
Taylor, William B., Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia

The colonial Brazilian economy has often been viewed as strictly divided between export and subsistence sectors. This study demonstrates that the internal trade network focused on the city of Rio de Janeiro in the last decades before Brazilian independence was the connecting tissue of a single economy which was dominated by the export sector. Rio de Janeiro was the largest center of consumption and the major export-import entrepot in the southern half of Brazil, a metropolis within Brazil and a peripheral port within the world economy as a whole.

The expansion of a set of overlapping and increasingly specialized hinterlands trading with Rio de Janeiro resulted from the renewal and diversification of export agriculture at the end of the eighteenth century and growth in the city's population, especially after the arrival in 1808 of the Portuguese royal family and some 15,000 refugees fleeing the French invaders of Portugal. With their arrival, Brazilian ports were opened to foreign trade, and a new official ideology of economic liberalism conquered the upper echelons of government after centuries of an economic regime based on privileges and monopolies.

The study focuses on the institutional framework of imperial economic policy and urban provisioning policy which channeled, controlled and regulated internal exchanges; the trade relationships between Rio de Janeiro and its various hinterlands; and the nature of the merchant community active in internal trade and the mechanisms of that trade.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF file via OCR.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) -- Commerce -- History
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