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AUCTION 20

A Liberal Mexican Exile’s Travels in the United States
with Lithographs, including San Francisco & San Antonio

108. PRIETO, Guillermo. Viaje á los Estados-Unidos por Fidel...(1877). Mexico: Imprenta del Comercio, de Dúblan y Chávez, Calle de Cordobanes número 8, 1877-1878. Vol. I: [2], ix [1 blank], 625 [1 blank], [2 table of contents] pp., 12 lithograph plates; Vol. II: 593 [1 blank], [5 table of contents] [1 blank] pp., 12 lithograph plates; Vol. III: 532, [4 table of contents and plate list] pp., 6 lithograph plates. Total: 30 lithograph plates by Hesiquio Iriarte (city views, plus two portraits, one of which is a frontispiece portrait of the author on tinted ground), a few text engravings. 3 vols., 8vo, contemporary red Mexican sheep over red and black mottled boards, spines lettered in gilt, raised bands, gilt ownership initials “J.M.S.” on spines, goldenrod endpapers. Moderate shelf wear, spinal extremities of Vol. I and foot of Vol. II slightly chipped, some darkening to spines, boards rubbed, intermittent light to moderate waterstaining (primarily affecting only blank margins of text or plates), worming to top blank margins of Vol. III, overall a very good copy of a scarce travel account.

     First edition. Howes P607. Mathes, Mexico on Stone, pp. 41: “Iriarte’s fine work continued in 1878 with Viaje á los Estados-Unidos por Fidel”; 60 (citing the title); 63 (Dúblan y Chávez); 64 (Iriarte). Onís, The U.S. as Seen by Spanish American Writers, pp. 118-120: “[Prieto’s] first impressions...are of particular interest to us because of his strong Spanish point of view, which brings out the contrast between the Spanish and English cultures.” Palau 237011. Only the portion on San Francisco has been translated into English: San Francisco in the Seventies: The City as Viewed by a Mexican Political Exile. Translated and Edited by Edwin S. Morby, published in San Francisco by John Henry Nash in 1938. For the English excerpt, see: Howell 50:1415: “Prieto visited the city at a time when it was adjusting to the uncertainties of the post-Gold Rush period—a decade that has received comparatively little attention from either foreign or domestic observers.” Norris 3106. Rocq 11047.

     Prieto’s lengthy, perceptive descriptions in his travelogue through Reconstruction U.S. are accompanied by many excellent lithographs (not in Peters, America on Stone or California on Stone). Images include New York (State House at Albany, Central Park, Broadway Street, NYC City Hall), Niagara Falls (two views), Washington, D.C. (White House, Capitol Building, various government buildings), Philadelphia (Greenwood Cemetery), San Francisco (bird’s-eye view of San Francisco, Kearny Street, Palace Hotel, Chinese types and temple scene, Cliff House, Woodward Gardens, cable car), view of the Sierras from a railroad car of the Central Pacific, New Orleans (Canal Street, Cathedral on Jackson Plaza, Custom House, Hotel San Carlos), Cincinnati (grand fountain), and Texas (Templo Católico Mexicano. | S. Antonio. [at right below neat line] Lith. H. Iriarte Mexico). This last view is San Fernando Cathedral on the Main Plaza of San Antonio, before its renovation to its present state. This historical structure, the oldest cathedral sanctuary in the United States, played a role in the Battle of the Alamo, and houses a sarcophagus purportedly containing the remains of the Texans who died at the Alamo. Ron Tyler in his forthcoming study of nineteenth-century Texas lithographs lists this plate by an unknown artist and comments that it was based on the print Mexican Catholic Church, San Antonio in M. Whilldin, A Description of Western Texas, Published by the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railway Company, the Sunset Route (Galveston: Printed at the “News” Steam Book & Job Office, 1876).

     Prieto (1818-1897; Dicc. Porrúa), a bright light of liberalism in nineteenth-century Mexico, was a liberal politician, journalist, teacher, dramatist, and poet, who has been called the Walt Whitman of Mexico. He was a prolific writer, with some thirty-five volumes compiled to date. He is considered the grandfather of the literary genre known as “Tradición.” Among his poetic output are an acerbic ode to Slidell and bitter verses on the Texas battles of Resaca de Palma and Palo Alto (Colección de Poesías escogidas publicadas e ineditas.... Mexico: Tipografía de la Oficina Impresora de Estampillas, 1895-1897). His writings on the North American Invasion were by no means limited to poetry. Prieto was a contributor to the rare Apuntes para la historia de la guerra entre México y los Estados-Unidos (Mexico: Tipografia de Manuel Payno, Hijo, 1848), a work so critical of Santa-Anna that the dictator ordered the edition destroyed and its authors imprisoned. On the political front, Prieto was active on the scene for many decades and involved with key political and military players. He promulgated the Reform Laws and intervened to save Benito Juárez from a firing squad. Prieto spent some time in exile in the U.S. during the imperial reign of Maximilian and Carlota (1864-1867) and again in 1877. During his sojourn in San Antonio he is credited with helping to smuggle seven thousand rifles into Mexico for Juárez to use in driving the French out of Mexico.

     In the present work, Prieto attempts to demystify the U.S. for his compatriots. Some scholars have suggested that Prieto’s unusual, enlightened travel account of the U.S. can also be interpreted as part of exiled Mexican liberals' nation-building project. In chapters XXI-XXIV (pp. 461-532) on Texas, Prieto gives an overview of the state’s history, boundary disputes, Austin’s colonization projects, the Texas Revolution, annexation, the Mexican-American War, resources, climate, ethnic diversity, and a lengthy poem “De San Antonio a Piedras Negras,” describing his journey from San Antonio to the Border via Castroville, Orvalde (Uvalde), Blaskville (Batesville), Fort Clark, and Eagle Pass. He recalls his sojourn in San Antonio in 1866 when in exile from Mexico. This work is long overdue for complete translation into English. For more on Prieto, see Malcolm D. McLean, Vida y obra de Guillermo Prieto (Mexico: El Colegio de Mexico, 1960). ($750-1,500)

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