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The Sociedades Económicas were founded as part of a movement to stimulate the economic and intellectual development of Spain. Many Spaniards recognized that Spain was lagging behind other Europeanstates and sought to diffuse and apply the principles of the Enlightenment. A principal promoter of the Societies' foundation was Pedro Rodríguez de Campomanes, a highly influential statesman and one ofthe most important thinkers in contemporary Spain. Campomanes, on a more practical level, saw that the Societies could stimulate improvements in agriculture, husbandry, industry, the professions andarts. The first was founded in Bergara, Guipúzcoa, in 1765, by the Marquis de Peñaflorida, Xavier María de Munibe e Idiáquez. According to Popescu, "within a few years" the number of EconomicSocieties in Spain had passed 50, and they were present in all major population centers.
[edit] In Spain
In Spain the organizations are credited with some success in sponsoring economic activity,stimulating new industries, and publicizing recent advances in philosophy and science (most of which emanated from England, France and Germany). These organizations were autonomous, although required to belicensed by royal authority, and their fortunes depended on a combination of the dedication of local members, official patronage, and the receptivity of the local community.
[edit] In America
In theAmerican colonies, the Sociedades Económicas were established in Havana (1793), Santiago, Chile, Santa Cruz de Mompox (1784), Bogotá (under the name of "Patriotic Society", 1801) Buenos Aires, Guatemala,Quito, etc. Only one of these American groups, that of Guatemala, is known to have had any significant local influence at the time, and only one of them lasted for a long period of time (that ofHavana exists today). Their mission of promoting local economic development, especially industry, conflicted with the dictates of mercantilism, which held that the colonies should remain dependent on...
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