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Timeline of Enslaved Chinese

From the Manilla Galleon Period to the Coolie Trade Era

“The Manila galleons, or naos de China (China ships), transported Asian products and individuals to Acapulco and other Mexican ports for approximately 250 years” (Slack, 35). The “ethnic Chinese” were primarily from the “fortified port of Cavite” (Slack, 38)

“The Manila slave market changed in the late seventeenth century with the complete abolition of indigenous slavery and the end of the Moro Wars. Starting in 1679, the Spanish crown finally enforced the ban on Indian slaves, so that even the slaves of native chiefs were slowly freed” (Seijas, 71)

Start of the Trans-Pacific Slave Trade (journey from the Philippines to Mexico catalyzed by Miguel López de Legazpi (Seijas, 32) from 1564-1565 (Slack, 35)

“Don Martín Enríquez de Almanza, the viceroy of New Spain, order[s] the return of fifteen slaves who had recently arrived from the Philippines” (Seijas, 33)

January 18th, 1636
“Barbershop Controversy” where viceroy Marqués de Caderita “order[s] Asian barbers to be banished from the Plaza Mayor, and that no more than 12 chino barbershops licensed by the government [are] permitted outside the walls of Mexico City” (Slack, 45). “Most likely that the chino barbers in question [are] either Chinese or Chinese mestizos” (Slack, 45)

“Government create[s] a new position empowered to stop the movement of Chinese barbers” (Slack, 46)

“68 percent (250)” of the crew “La Santissima Trinidad” “hail[s] from the port of Cavite alone” (Slack, 39)

Mid to late 18th century: Casta Paintings

Great Britain ends slave trade in empire (López, 15)

British ship “Fortitude” sails to Trinidad carrying 200 Chinese from Maco, Penang, [and] Calcutta (López, 15)

“Several hundred Chinese [are] recruited to grow tea in the Royal Botanical Garden in Rio de Janeiro. But the experiment in labor and cultivation prove[s] to be a failure, derailing plans to make tea a major commodity in Portuguese Brazil” (López, 16)

12 Chinese from “Fortitude” remain on the island (López, 16)

Spain signs treaties to end trade (López, 15)

“Planters in the British colonies push for Asian laborers, specifically East Indians and Chinese, as a replacement for African slaves on sugar plantations” (López, 16)
“Since the 1830s a small number of Chinese, most likely from Manila, ha[ve] established a presence in domestic service and horticulture in Cuba” (López, 21)

Spain signs treaties to end trade (López, 15)

January 1847
“Two ships loaded with Chinese disembark from the port of Amoy as the beginning of an experiment to import contracted laborers for Cuban sugar plantations.” (López, 22)

June 12 1847
“The English ship Duke of Argyle arrive[s] with 365 Chinese; 35 had died at sea” (López, 22)

June 3 1847
“Spanish ship Oquendo docked with 206 Chinese; six had died on a journey of 131 days” (López, 22)

“[British] block[s] Spanish ships from entering Chinese ports and eventually cease[s] their own transport of Chinese coolies to Cuba” (López, 22)


A total of fifteen expeditions with 4,300 coolies arrived in Havana. (López, 22)

“With the resumption of the coolie trade in 1853 came a new set of regulations in 1854, supposedly intended to correct some of the abuses of the system as practiced.” (López, 37)

August 1858
A Chinese named Chang Heng but known as Braulio, f[alls] asleep in the mine while waiting for the balance to lift him to the surface. He f[alls] into the funnel where the copper was deposited, becoming literally entombed in the mineral, and his body [is] not discovered until the next morning by two other Chinese” (López, 34)

Britain and France occupy Canton (López, 25)


“Spain issue[s] new regulations. A key clause reverse[s] the prohibition on recontracting, thereby sanctioning what ha[s] become a common practice.” (López, 38)

“By 1860, all Chinese coolies were forced to re-sign contracts at the conclusion of their original eight-year labor term or leave the island” (Guterl, 217)

”Half of the recorded suicides on the island [are] Chinese, 173 out of a total of 346.” (López, 39)

Spain and China sign Treaty of Tianjin (“permits subjects of the Qing emperor to work in Cuba”) (López, 24)

“The Treaty of Nanjing end[s] the first Opium War (1839-1842) permitti[ing] British subjects to reside and trade in the five port cities of Canton (Guangzhou), Fuzhou, Amoy (Xiamen), Ningbo, and Shanghai and grant[s] Britain the island of Hong Kong" (López, 25)

“Due to slave and Chinese coolie imports, Cuba produce[s] 42 percent of the world’s sugar supply” (López, 18)

1849 to 1874: 92,000 Chinese arrived in Peru (López, 22)

1847-1874: 125,000 Chinese arrived in Cuba from 1847 to 1874 (López, 22)

1860s and 1870s Chinese were highly visible throughout the island, especially in Matanzas (López, 28)

“The Comisión Central de Colonización record 58,400 Chinese on the island, of whom 34,408 (59 percent of the total) [are] still under contract” (López, 44)

“The coolie trade [does] not come to an end until 1874.” (López, 45)

March 18 1874
Cuban newspapers announce the arrival of Chen Lanbin in Havana from New Orleans. His delegation launch[es] their investigation into Chinese indentured labor in Cuba over the course of the next six weeks” (López, 48)

November 1877
Spain and China sign a formal treaty that terminate[s] the coolie traffic and limit[s] future recruitment of Chinese laborers” (López, 50)

1880 to 1885: 1,885 Chinese returned back to China mainland (López, 45)

The last shipload of Chinese arrive[s] in the British West Indies in 1884 (López, 16)

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