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Auction 14: Americana

Lots 46-48: Mexico & the Texas Revolution

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46. MEXICO (Republic). LAWS (April 14, 1836). Decree of the Congreso general, approved by José Justo Corro, President ad interim, on April 14, 1836, and promulgated the same day by José María Tornel, substituting perpetual banishment for the death penalty in the case of certain Texan prisoners of war, but not members of the government and leaders of the revolution, and fixing in some cases lesser penalties. Dated and signed at end: México 14 de Abril de 1836 Tornel. [With heading]: Secretaria de Guerra y Marina. Sección Central. – Mesa 1a. 2 pp., folio. Old paper repair on p. 2. Left margin rough where removed from bound volume (no losses).

    First edition. Eberstadt, Texas 839. Streeter 876: “This decree was passed in the flush of the victory at the Alamo, applied to those rebellious Texans who surrendered within fifteen days or such greater or lesser time as Santa Anna might fix, and gave Santa Anna the right to fix the times and places of embarkation of those banished. Those not already subject to the death penalty might be punished by ten years imprisonment in interior regions of the Mexican republic, distant at least 70 leagues from the coast and the land frontiers.”

47. MEXICO (Republic). LAWS. [Heading]: Ministerio de Justicia Negocios eclesiásticos Instrucción Pública. [Text commences]: El Exmo. Sr. Presidente de la República se ha servido dirigirme el decreto que sigue: “Antonio López de Santa-Anna....he tenido á bien decretar la siguiente: Ley para el arreglo de la administración de justicia en los tribunales y juzgados del fero común....” [Dated on p. 45]: México, á 16 de Diciembre de 1853, Antonio López de Santa-Anna...El Ministro de Justicia, Negocios Eclesiásticos é Instrucción Pública, [Teodosio] Lares [with Lares’s ink paraph]. 50 pp. Small folio, contemporary plain paper wrappers, original stitching. Top portion of upper wrapper torn away, stitching reinforced with staples, first leaf stained and foxed, occasional light staining to remainder of text. Very rare.

    First printing of the revised judicial code formulated during Santa Anna’s short-lived final centralist dictatorship, which began when he triumphantly entered Mexico City on April 19, 1853. This law was intended to regulate the administration of justice in the courts and tribunals of common jurisdiction. California is still designated as part of Mexico and placed under the jurisdiction of Guadalajara. Not in Palau, Sabin, Sutro, etc. Other editions of this law exist, but this 50-page version is very rare, and possibly a very limited edition for official use only. The document bears the ink paraph of conservative Aguascalientes jurist Teodosio Lares (1806-1870), who served as Ministro de Justicia in Santa Anna’s last presidency and wrote these laws. He was briefly President of Mexico during the chaos of 1863, and joined the Junta de Notables, who offered Maximilian the crown. Maximilian rewarded Lares by appointing him Vicepresidente del Supremo Tribunal de Justicia del Imperio and Consejero de Gobierno. Lares was also a member of the Junta de 35 Notables who refused to accept Maximilian’s abdication.

Spin-Doctoring San Jacinto

48. MEXICO (Republic). PRESIDENTE INTERINO (José Justo Corro). El Presidente interino de la República a los valientes del ejercito mexicano.... [text commences]: ¡Soldados! Uno de los azares tan frecuentes en la guerra ha puesto en poder de los enemigos de la independencia al heroico vencedor de Tampico, al presidente de la república, á vuestro géneral én gefe.... [Another decree below]: El Presidente interino de la República a sus conciudadanos. La Providencia cuyos decretos son inescrutables, ha permitido que una corta parte de nuestro ejército sufriera en Tejas un reves, cuando el resto de las fuerzas mexicanas llegaba y vencia en todas partes.... Guanajuato: Reimpresas en la oficina del C. Ruperto Rocha, dirigida por Miguel Telles Barbosa, 1836. Two announcements printed on recto of one sheet. 1 p., folio broadside. Creased at center where formerly folded, mild foxing along fold and in blank left margins at top and bottom. Pencil notes of Eberstadt at top, and those of Mexican book scout Roberto Valles below. Exceedingly rare and unrecorded. We would not be the least surprised if this is the only copy extant of this momentous broadside.

    This Guanajuato broadside prints two separate decrees relating to the capture and defeat of Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto (see Streeter 884 & 884.1, locating two copies each of the Mexico City printings, but not listing this Guanajuato broadside issue). The first decree (cf. Streeter 884.1) is a classic example of a government attempting to put a good face on the darkest moment of defeat and despair. Blithely ignoring the ignominious defeat of the Mexican army and the capture of Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto, the interim President of Mexico declares that Santa Anna is eager to finish the attack on Texas in a single mighty blow. He explains that Santa Anna had engaged only a small number of his troops against a vast number of Texans (of course, the exact opposite is the truth). The second decree (cf. Streeter 884) is the text of interim President Corro’s first announcement to the Mexican people that the Mexican Army was defeated by the Texans and Santa Anna captured. The President reports that the Mexican army is now blazing with desire to ransom Santa Anna and wreak vengeance on the rebellious Texans. Streeter points out that although this announcement was made to the Mexican populace on May 19, there is documentation proving that as early as May 15 (and probably earlier), the Mexican government was well aware of the debacle on April 21 on the field at San Jacinto, the concluding military event of the Texas Revolution. The defeat reported here documents a momentous event that would affect not only Texas, but also the entire United States, leading directly to the acquisition of about a third of present-day U.S. territory.

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