The map shows the route of the New Spain fleet and also shows part of the route of the Manila galleon, which traveled between Acapulco, Mexico, and Manila, Philippines. Some of the cargo from Asia was bound for Spain. It was carried by pack animals across Mexico and loaded on ships in Veracruz.
Trade and Travel
During the colonial period, Spanish merchant ships sailed in groups as they carried goods to and from the Americas. One, known as the New Spain fleet, went between Cadiz, Spain, and Veracruz, Mexico. El Nuevo Constante was in that fleet. It began its final voyage from Spain on December 7, 1765. The main cargo was mercury, which was used in Mexico to remove silver from ore. The ship carried 1,334 boxes of mercury, and each one weighed 150 pounds. Also on board were wine, liquor, iron, nails, plow points, vinegar, and a "box of relics from the holy places in Jerusalem," all bound for Mexico.
For the trip from Mexico, 47 individuals and the government of Spain shipped cargo on El Nuevo Constante. The ship carried almost the full range of goods exported from New Spain during this period. The cargo included cowhides, medicinal plants, ceramics, dyes, copper and silver. Archaeologists found many of these on the wreck. A shipping list is available for El Nuevo Constante's voyage from Mexico. It notes the cargo, the person shipping it and the person receiving it in Spain. Sometimes, it describes in detail how the goods were packed.
At first, El Nuevo Constante was loaded with a large amount of precious metals. The cargo included gold and silver coins, silver bars and copper ingots. However, the gold coins, silver bars, and some of the silver coins and copper ingots were shifted to other ships between May and August. When it finally left Veracruz, El Nuevo Constante carried 22,000 pesos in silver coins for the crew's salaries. These coins were
the most valuable cargo on board. Records state that the Spanish recovered all of the silver coins after the shipwreck.
|© 2015 Louisiana Division of Archaeology - click here to return to Discover Archaeology's Interactive Exhibits.|