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Sorting out the laws after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

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495.     ROCKWELL, John A[rnold]. A Compilation of Spanish and Mexican Law, in Relation to Mines, and Titles to Real Estate, in Force in California, Texas and New Mexico; and in the Territories Acquired under the Louisiana and Florida Treaties, When Annexed to the United States. Volume I [all published]. Containing a Translation of the Mining Ordinances of New Spain—Gamboa’s Mining Ordinances—The Laws in Relation to Mines of Gold, Silver and Quicksilver, Contained in the “Novissima recopilacion,” and the “Recopilacion de las Indias,” and in the Decrees of the Cortes of Spain and of Ferdinand VII, also of the Laws and Decrees of Mexico, on the Subject of Mines, Colonization, and the Right of Foreigners to Hold Real Estate. Also, Extracts from Public Documents, and from the Laws of California, in Relation to Mines and Mineral Lands: Together with a Digest of the Common Law, on the Subject of Mines and Mining. By John A. Rockwell, Counsellor at Law. New York: John S. Voorhies, Law Bookseller and Publisher, 1851. [i-iii] iv-xix [1, blank], [2], [7] 8-663 [1, blank] pp. 8vo (24.5 x 16 cm), original full law sheep, red and black gilt leather labels. Spine varnished and boards worn, hinges reinforced with modern linen tape, text with scattered light foxing, overall good, with a few contemporary ink and pencil marginal annotations. Very rare in commerce (none at auction).

     First edition. Cowan II, pp. 538-539: “Only volume I was published.” Robinson 70:401: “Light reading for the Gold Hunter on his voyage around the Horn.” Sabin 72430. In his preface, Rockwell reviews the primary relevant Spanish and Mexican sources, with information on editions and translations. The work was timely, appearing shortly after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the California Gold Rush. There is special emphasis on mines and mining, tracing the laws back to the early Spanish era to independence and more recent times, followed by pertinent information from the California laws then in force. A digest of common law on mines and mining is included. (See: Arthur S. Aiton, “The First American Mining Code" in Michigan Law Review, Vol. XXIII, No. 2, Dec., 1924, pp. 105-113).

     Also included are treaties and other general documents, such as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (pp. 492-506), Mexican colonization laws from 1823 to 1846 including that of Coahuila y Tejas (pp. 617-652), and a vocabulary of Spanish words with their English meanings (pp. 653-663). This work would also have been useful for those seeking to reconcile Mexican colonial land grants, many of them in fact based on older Spanish land grants, and the new U.S. laws which had gone into effect after the Mexican-American War and created conflicts in many areas, including California, New Mexico, and Texas. Lewis A. Grossman refers to Rockwell’s book in his article “John C. Frémont, Mariposa, and the Collision of Mexican and American Law” (Western Legal History, Vol. VI, 1993, p. 17).

     Politician and jurist John Arnold Rockwell (1803-1861), U.S. Representative from Connecticut, graduated from Yale in 1822, studied law, practiced in Norwich, and served as judge of the county court. Rockwell’s other books and pamphlets provide insight into his concerns: Speech of Mr. Rockwell, of Connecticut on the Oregon Question: Delivered in the House of Representatives, U.S., January 16, 1846; California and New Mexico: Speech of Mr. John A. Rockwell, of Connecticut, in Relation to Slavery in the Territories, Delivered in the House of Representatives of the United States, February 17, 1849; Canal or Railroad between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (1849); States vs. Territories: A True Solution of the Territorial Question. By An Old Line Whig (1860).


Sold. Hammer: $750.00; Price Realized: $900.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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