The Mexican Hacienda
Haciendas were developed as profit-making, economic enterprises linked to regional or international markets. The owner of an hacienda was termed an hacendado. Although the hacienda is not directly linked to the early grants of Indian labor, the encomienda, many Spanish holders of encomiendas did acquire land or develop enterprises
Photos by DAVID DE QUEVEDO
where they had access to that forced labor. Even though the private landed estates that comprised most haciendas did not have a direct tie to the encomienda, they are nonetheless linked. Encomenderos were in a position to retain their prominence economically via the hacienda. Since the encomienda was a grant from the crown holders were dependent on the crown for its continuation. As the crown moved to eliminate the encomienda with its labor supply, Spaniards consolidated private landholdings and recruited free labor on a permanent or casual basis. The long term trend then was the creation of the hacienda as secure private property, which survived the colonial period and into the twentieth century. Estates were integrated into a market-based economy aimed at the Hispanic sector and cultivated crops such as sugar, wheat, fruits and vegetables and produced animal products such as meat, wool, leather, and tallow
Haciendas originated in Spanish land grants, made to many conquistadors and crown officials, but many ordinary Spaniards could also petition for land grants from the crown. The system is considered to have started in present-day Mexico, when the Spanish Crown granted to Hernán Cortés the title of Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca in 1529. It gave him a tract of land that included all of the present state of Morelos. Cortés was also granted encomiendas, that gave him access to a vast pool of indigenous labor.