In his dictionary of commerce, Savary des Bruslons writes that: “The West Indies, a Spanish colony, cannot do without merchandise and products manufactured in Europe” (Savary des Bruslons, I, Etat général du commerce, 1723).
The Encyclopédie of Diderot and d’Alembert describes Mexico City, capital of New Spain and the largest city in the New World, as being extremely rich in commerce as it was supplied in the north by approximately twenty large ships filled with merchandise from Christendom that landed each year at Vera Cruz (Encyclopédie, vol. 10).
In spite of strict regulations, trade with Spanish America, theoretically reserved exclusively for the Spanish, was nonetheless supplied by other European countries, especially by the French, English and Dutch. This commerce was, in fact, one of the richest and most profitable of European businesses. All the merchandises for Spain and for Spanish America were transported by French, English and Dutch vessels, as well as those of a few other Northern European countries (Savary, I, p. 237).