The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 21, July 1917 - April, 1918 Page: 254
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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
whether he had executed his duties faithfully, and it served to
clear him if he were proved honest, giving him a clean certificate
of recommendation. It proceeded on the principle that he was
guilty until proved honest. If he were shown to be guilty of
breach of trust, official misconduct or dishonesty, he was appre-
hended, degraded and punished, supposedly according to, his
It is the purpose of this paper to illustrate the general features
of the residencia, in the Spanish colonies by concrete cases drawn
from the history of the Philippines. An exhaustive review of the
subject, illustrating or discussing residencias in all the colonies
of the Spanish empire, would be quite beside the point. It is
assumed that conditions in the Philippines were sufficiently char-
acteristic of all the colonies of the Spanish colonial empire to
make this study of general illustrative value. The same laws
were applied there and the same practices followed there as else-
where. The laws, of the Indies were equally in force there, and
appeals from the Philippines were entertained in the Council of
the Indies as from all other colonies.
It is important to, note not only that an investigation was con-
ducted at the close of the official term, but that one, might be
held at any time during the period of service. The term plesquisa
was applied to that form of investigation which was carried on
by a special investigator or pesquisidor, who. was sent when seri-
ous charges were made against the conduct of an official, and be-
fore his term had expired. The distinguishing feature of the
pesquisa, as prescribed by the laws, was secrecy, but as an actual
fact few if any were carried out secretly. On receipt of charges
2Bourne, in his Historical Introduction (Blair and Robertson, I, 51-52),
characterizes the residencia as follows: "It was an institution peculiar
in modern times to the Spanish colonial system. It was designed to pro-
vide a method by which officials could be held to strict accountability
for all acts during their terms of office. . . . To, allow a contest in
the court involving the Governor's powers during his term of office would
be subversive of his authority. 'He was then to be kept in bounds by
realizing that a day of judgment was impending, when every one, even
the poorest Indian, might in perfect security bring forward his accusa-
tion. In the Philippines the residencia for a Governor lasted six months
and was .conducted by his successor, and all the charges made were for-
warded to Spain. . . . The Italian traveler Gemelli Careri, who
visited Manila in 1696, characterizes the Governor's residencia as a
'dreadful trial,' the strain of which would sometimes 'break their hearts.'"
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 21, July 1917 - April, 1918, periodical, 1918; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101073/m1/260/: accessed June 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.