Superb Presentation Copy, with Exceptional Maps

Among the Rarest Borderlands Reports: Colonias Militares de Sierra Gorda

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49. [BORDERLANDS]. MEXICO. SECRETARIO DE ESTADO (Manuel Robles y Pezuela). Memoria del Secretario de Estado y del Despacho de Guerra y Marina, leida en la Camara de Diputados los dias 30 y 31 de enero, y en la de Senadores en 13 de febrero de 1852. Mexico: Imprenta de Vicente G[arcía] Torres, 1852. [1-3] 4-118, [2], 1- 57 [1, blank] pp., 3 folded tables (included in pagination), 2 folding lithograph maps (see below) 8vo (27.5 x 17.6 cm), original black embossed grained cloth extra gilt presentation binding with martial symbols, glossy yellow endpapers. Endpapers slightly discolored, front endpapers and first two leaves lightly chipped at bottom, pp. 23/24 with temoigne, pp. 43/44 wrinkled at lower right corner, large folded map with two small tears at text block (not affecting text or neat line). Overall, very fine, the maps superb. Signed presentation in ink on front free endpaper from author to Manuel Enriques. Among the key Borderland reports, this rarity is one of the few that concerns the time between the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Treaty of Mesilla.


Cuadro que comprehende la situacion Geográfica y Topográfica de las colonias militares de Sierra Gorda; [lower right below neat line] Lito de Salazar Palma No 4; [center left, two tables of details about Sta. Rosa and S. Ciro] Notas; [center right, table of details about La Purisima] Notas; [map key below preceding] Esplicaciones . Neat line to neat line: 52 x 71 cm; overall sheet size: 62.5 x 89.5 cm. Composed of seven separate maps, clockwise from upper left depicting Santa Rosa de Uraga (general area), Sierra Gorda (general area), Purisima de Arista (general area), San Ciro de Albercas (general area), Purisima de Arista (town plan), Santa Rosa Uraga (town plan), and San Ciro de Albercas (town plan). The area shown on the general map is Mexico in the vicinity of Guanajuato, Querétaro, and San Luis Potosí. Each town plan shows city blocks, squares, and named streets. The keys give vital statistics, such as date of founding, number of inhabitants, number of soldiers, and annual farming yields. A beautiful, detailed map showing settlements in this area of central Mexico.

Carta de la Frontera del Norte de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos;[lower left below neat line] Litog. de Salazar; [At left, key indicating cities, haciendas, presidios, boundaries, colonies, etc.] Explicacion. Neat line to neat line: 16.7 x 55.5 cm; overall sheet size 26.5 x 62 cm. Detailed map with hand outline coloring in red showing the border states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Chihuahua, and Sonora as defined by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, including roads and watercourses (i.e., from Brownsville to San Diego). Some sites on the U.S. side (e.g., Laredo, Fort Brown, Brownsville, Ringgold Barracks, etc.) are also shown.

     First edition. Eberstadt 127:49 (this copy). Howes R381: “Includes material on the boundary between Mexico and the United States, the Gadsden Purchase Territory, etc.” Palau 160989. See also Jorge Chávez Cháves, “Los apaches y la frontera del norte, siglo XIX” in Cuidad Juárez, Visiones Históricas de la Frontera, Vol. I, Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, 2010, pp. 44 et seq. The author concludes that Mexico was never able to integrate successfully its Apache population into the fabric of the country.

     An important report written only a few years after the Mexican-American War had necessitated enormous shifts in Mexican policies but before the Gadsden Purchase forced an even greater shift. The picture laid out here is one of violence and confusion from both within and without. After covering several internal problems caused by rebellious individuals within the republic, Robles also discusses Joseph Morehead’s filibustering expedition into Baja California (pp. 17-18). Tehuantepec was also threatened by foreigners in the guise of colonists. Rebellions and insurrections broke out on the Borderlands around Matamoros. Many of those troubles forced the government to reform the military arrangements it had in place along the Rio Grande, as outlined here, to prevent incursions from Texas into the country by Native Americans.

     The section entitled “Colonias militares de la frontera” (pp. 35-58) outlines the atrocities suffered by the borderland states and the government’s efforts to prevent them. An important section of the report is devoted to the “Colonias militares de Sierra-Gorda” (pp. 58-62), which are shown on the large, folded map, and which were intended to pacify a troubled area. The remainder of the report concerns more general matters such as military organization and judicial matters. The appendices include an important December 31, 1851, report by Manuel María de Sandoval that specifically discusses the settlements of several Native American tribes in borderland areas. Many of the charts printed at the end concern the armed forces. The last, “Numero 25. Estado general de los buques nacionales al servicio de guerra en el Seno Mexicano,” is especially telling. Reduced by both the Texas Revolution and the Mexican-American War, Mexico had only five warships at its disposal, and only one of them was a steamship. All told, they mounted a mere nineteen cannon.

     In addition to the importance of the text, the physical composition of the book is harmonious and elegant. Regarding the excellent, precise maps in this volume, Dicc. Porrúa states that lithographer Hipólito Salazar (1820?-1887) is considered “el patriarca de la litografía en México.” See also Mathes, Mexico on Stone, p. 62 (in registry), numerous references in text. Writer-publisher Vicente García Torres (1811-1894) is best known for his periodical El Monitor Republicano, a liberal journal that landed its author in jail (Dicc. Porrúa). The typographical borders on some of the tables are interesting and intricate examples of art of printing. The presentation binding is an exceptional example of Mexican bibliopegy.

     A very rare, informative report of the period between the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Treaty of La Mesilla.


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