In July 1703, Gutierrez passes away. With his patron gone, Enriquez found dealing with San Juan’s high society to be a bother. People who tolerated Enriquez when the governor was alive wanted little to do with him now. Also during this time, Puerto Rico went through several governors. It helped that Miguel Enriquez had little intent to make friends and was able to continue growing his economic empire.
This doesn’t mean he didn’t go out of his way to forge alliances when convenient. When one governor was sworn in he attempted to cozy up to him by paying for his travel to San Juan. Even though this new governor died not long after taking office and wasn’t as rich as the privateer predicted, Enriquez covered the funeral costs. He also allowed the family to move in with him.
One of this governor’s sons—Laureano Perez del Arroyo—became an enemy of Enriquez. As a matter of fact, most of Governor Gutierrez’s enemies became Enriquez’s by association and he was a fast rising mulatto.
THE INTRIGUE AND INFLUENCE OF MIGUEL ENRIQUEZ
The privateer’s successes against the enemies of Spain caught the eye of King Phillip V. He also amassed quite a bit of wealth early on as he was able to do his work with two ships and constantly replaced those damaged or captured—and many were captured. Enriquez operated around Puerto Rico, Havana, Jamaica, Santo Domingo, and Curacao, areas where sea trade and piracy were buzzing.
He also pursued slaving during this time and provided Puerto Rico with a steady flow of slaves. In addition to this avenue, Enriquez gained the contract to keep the island stocked with weapons and food. This means he was never without work, always had money, and was accumulating influence.
Knowing his worth to the Spanish Crown, Enriquez requested to be promoted to Captain of the Sea and War. This would give him control of a military company in a major Spanish colony—something the War Board of the Indies did not want. They felt at best he could be Captain of Sea. Given his performance, it was decided that it would be best to keep him in service to the crown.
Enriquez apparently knew that opinions and voting would go this way. He handled his own press among local circles and made sure anything that got back to the Spanish government painted him favorably. It also helps that for five years prior to his promotion he had loaned money to the Puerto Rico. He continued to do this after getting his promotion in July 1710 and had given the island almost 11,500 pieces of eight from 1708 to 1712.
San Juan high society didn’t care for the upward mobility of one Miguel Enriquez. He was subject to many slings to reputation but still had pull with the Spanish crown. Being a mulatto, he was constantly snubbed and looked down upon. His achievements would also be the target of attempted theft.
Governor Danio tried to gain recognition from the king for tasks carried out by Enriquez. In talking with his Council of the Indies, it was decided that Enriquez would be awarded the Medalla de la Real Effigie. This award would mark him as a Caballero of Spain and a Don. He was knighted in March 1712 and the target on him was painted even larger.
He was knighted in March 1712 and the target on him was painted even larger.