Commentary No. 010
Date: 1505, May 10
Theme: The Spanish Crown acknowledges receiving a request for two bellows for smithies and for twenty enslaved blacks from La Española’s colonial governor Nicolás de Ovando, and orders officials of the Casa de la Contratación to send the said items in the first available vessels
Source: PARES, Portal de Archivos Españoles—Archivo General de Indias, INDIFERENTE, 418, L.1, F. 130V-131R-2- Imagen Núm: 2/2
Those involved in the gold mining enterprise being launched by the Spanish colonizers by mid September 1505 in La Española felt the need of a good deal of the tools and techniques they had been familiar with in the mining work done in the Old World, and in this letter to the officials of Casa de la Contratación de las Indias the Spanish monarchs acknowledge having received request from the colonists of La Española for a variety of tools and materials.
Interestingly, the monarchs also refer in the document to having received requests from colonial governor Nicolás de Ovando for “twenty black slaves to work in our constructions,” which shows that enslaved blacks, aside from whatever numbers were being forced to work in the mines, were already being used as well in building works that were considered by the monarchs as very close to their colonizing efforts. Similarly shown in other documents (Manuscript No. 012), it also confirms that by then governor Ovando had abandoned his initial fears about the problems caused by the enslaved blacks that would run away once arriving in La Española.
The Crown responded to both requests by ordering via this document that the tools, materials and enslave blacks be sent to La Española as soon as possible.