i never planned To wriTe This Book. When I began I
thought I had an opportunity to offer a new analysis of popular
participation in the decade of insurgency that reshaped life in the Bajío
after 1810. Thanks to detailed records of the life and business dealings
of don José Sánchez Espinosa from 1780 to 1827, and of production and
labor relations at La Griega and Puerto de Nieto between 1811 and 1827,
I expected to bring new understanding to the wars that led to Mexican
independence and the struggles that shaped the new nation. But as I
learned more about the world of entrepreneurship that made Sánchez
Espinosa powerful before 1810, and about the lives, work, and cultural
conversations of the families living at the two estate communities, I
began to see a society more capitalist than I had imagined deep in the
interior of New Spain. That conclusion led to this analysis of the Bajío
and Spanish North America before 1810. A second volume will focus on
the decade of insurrection and its transforming consequences.
As the project became larger and more ambitious my dependence on
colleagues and other scholars became greater. My debts are vast.
At the University of Texas, Austin, James Lockhart initiated me into
the challenges of research on colonial Latin America and introduced
me to many of its sources. He taught me to do social history. We have
not always agreed on approaches or conclusions, but I could not have
undertaken this project without mobilizing everything he taught me.
The late Nettie Lee Benson urged me to appreciate Mexican politics in
the independence era; she brought me to nineteenth- century authors
and nineteenth- century sources. Scholars of Mexico are returning to
questions she raised decades ago. The anthropologist Richard Adams
introduced me to social theory and encouraged me to study the big
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