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October 26, 2007

The First Published Maps of the Boundary between California & Mexico

180. [MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR]. SALAZAR YLARREGUI [i.e., ILARREGUI], José. Datos de los trabajos Astronómicos y Topográficos, dispuestos en forma de diario. Practicados durante el ano de 1849 y principios de 1850 por la Comisión de Límites Mexicana en la línea que divide esta república de la de los Estados-Unidos, por el geómetra de dicha comisión, José Salazar Ylarregui. Edición de la Civilización. Mexico: Imprenta de Juan R. Navarro, Calle de Chiquis número 6, 1850. 123 [1 blank] pp., 2 folded lithograph maps: (1) Plano de la confluencia de los ríos Gila y Colorado y del curso de este último hasta donde lo corta la línea que divide las repúblicas de México y los Estados Unidos en este plano van indicadas todas las operaciones que hizo la comisión mexicana para levantarlo. Copia del que presentó al Sr. Gral. D. Pedro García-Conde, como comisario de dicha comisión el agrimensor de la misma José Salazar Ilarregui año de 1850 [lower right below neat line] Lito. de Salazar. Neat line to neat line: 22.2 x 41.5 cm; (2) Plano de la parte austral del puerto de S. Diego, y del terreno comprendido entre dicha parte, el punto inicial en la costa del Pacífico y la sesta estación hecha en la dirección de la línea que divide las repúblicas de México y de los Estados-Unidos. En este plano van indicadas las operaciones que hizo la comisión mexicana para levantarlo y para determinar con arreglo al tratado de Guadalupe Hidalgo, el punto más austral del referido puerto. Copia del que presentó al Sr. general D. Pedro García Conde, como comisario de dicha comisión, el agrimensor de la misma C. José Salazar Ilarreguí. Año de 1850. [inset upper right] Copia del plano del puerto de S. Diego en la costa septentrional de Californias. Levantado por el segundo piloto de la armada D. Juan de Pantoja en el año de 1782. 8vo (24.5 x 15 cm), later plain paper wrappers, edges sprinkled. Title and first map moderately stained, two tears to left blank margin of title neatly repaired, light scattered browning and foxing. Rare.

            First edition of the earliest printed report, by either Mexico or United States, on the boundary survey after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Bauer Sale 432. Barrett, Baja California 2191. Garrett & Goodwin, The Mexican-American War, pp. 99. Graff 3652. Hill I, p. 265; II:1514. Holliday 971. Howes S47. Palau 286944. Plains & Rockies II:190: “A very rare book, even in Mexico”; III:190; IV:190: “Salazar was a member of the Mexican delegation of the commission appointed to establish the international boundary from the Pacific Ocean to the confluence of the Gila and Colorado Rivers, following the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848.” Streeter Sale 2648: “Salazar’s duties only took him to San Diego and to the confluence of the Gila with the Colorado, so, as the book relates only to the country west of the Rockies, and in fact almost entirely to California, it should not be included in Wagner-Camp. It is however the first detailed printed account of the regions traversed by Salazar, the surveyor for the Mexican border commission.” Robredo-Porrúa 4507. Sabin 75598. Not in Connor & Faulk, Cowan, Haferkorn, Rocq, Sutro, Tutorow.

            Cartographic references: Harlow, Maps of the Pueblo Lands of San Diego 1602-1874 #24 (citing map 2 above); pp. 24-25: “This is the Mexican record of determining the initial point on the Pacific and the direction of the boundary’s extension eastward.” Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #690 & #691; Vol. III, pp. 214-215 (illustrated facing p. 214).

            The work contains narration of day-to-day events in the commission’s work and technical data related to the survey. This report contains the first accurate published descriptions and maps of the area between San Diego and the Colorado River, which are based on the work of the Mexican and United States boundary commission surveys. The report also contains many interesting details of the Mexican commission’s work. For example, Salazar recounts how it happened that despite ordering first quality instruments that were inspected before leaving France, Mexico received inferior equipment instead (pp. 9-10).

            Salazar (1823-1892) was a professional engineer whose appointment to the boundary commission was his first significant assignment. He proved to be one of the more durable members of the entire operation on either side, eventually succeeding Pedro García Conde (1806-1851) as chief commissioner and managing to stay on the survey through the tenure of all four U.S. commissioners. At the end, he was in Washington, D.C., to sign the final maps in 1859. Despite numerous problems, such as inferior instruments and lack of funding, the Mexican commission under both García Conde and Salazar completed important, often overlooked or underappreciated work that contributed to the final boundary solution. Salazar seems to have gotten along well with his U.S. counterparts and on some occasions to have carried the day in determining boundary issues in Mexico’s favor. Later in his career, he also surveyed the boundary between Mexico and Guatemala and ran the first telegraph line in Yucatan. Salazar died in abject poverty.

            In summation, Harry P. Hewitt (“The Mexican Boundary Survey Team: Pedro Garcia Conde in California,” The Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 2 (May, 1990), pp. 171-196 ) states of Salazar and the Mexican boundary commission’s work:

Historical studies of the California section credit the American commission with most of the significant work. The Mexican commission, by contrast, has been largely ignored, or cast as a secondary or auxiliary force to the Americans. This misconception of the Mexican activity pervades the literature of the entire boundary survey and that of the California work.

That the American commission did the important work in the California Survey is a myth, which grew and developed during the hundred and forty years since the Mexican War and perpetuates the singular importance of the Americans’ role. That the myth would develop is typical and understandable, because our perception and knowledge of the efforts to carry out the provisions of the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty were largely established, and in reality created, by the conquering nation. This ethnocentric perception developed, in part, because of the absence of a well researched and articulated Mexican position and because of a paucity of critical Mexican documents. As a result, research has been based solely on primary sources available in United States archival repositories or in the diaries, journals, and letters of Americans who served on the boundary commission.... In short, the Mexican commission accomplished more than Emory and the historians who followed his lead suggest.

For more information on García Conde and his significant cartographic achievements, see Handbook of Texas Online (Pedro García Conde). García Conde died in 1851, in Arizpe, Sonora, from typhus contracted during his rigorous tenure on the frontier. The letter of transmittal on title verso is directed to García Conde, whose lack of interest in the work is mildly complained of therein. The work is ironically dedicated to José María Tornel y Mendivil, author of Tejas y los Estados Unidos de América, en sus relaciones con la República Mexicana (Mexico, 1837), a prescient treatise on the domino theory that the loss of Texas would lead to the dismemberment of Mexican territory (Streeter 932). ($2,000-4,000)

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