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Exceedingly Rare New Orleans Imprint
U.S. Troops Dispatched to West Florida & Kemper Filibuster

135. [NEW ORLEANS IMPRINT]. Postillon del Mensagero Luisianés. Nueva Orleans, Lunes 22 de Julio 1811. [New Orleans: Joaquín de Lisa and José Antonio Boniquet, 1811]. Folio broadside in three columns, 41.5 x 31.3 cm. Creased where formerly folded, a few light stains, otherwise fine.

     First edition of an exceedingly rare New Orleans imprint with important content relating to dispatch of U.S. troops to quell uprising in West Florida and the Kemper brother filibusters (who would soon move their operations to Texas). Not in American Imprints, Jumonville, MacCurdy, Medina (Notas bibliográficas referente a las primeras producciones de la imprenta en algunas ciudades de la América Española...1764-1822), etc. This issue is believed to be unique.

     A few scattered imprints related to the newspaper El Mensagero Luisianés are recorded, such as the epochal broadside of December 11, 1810 (Postillon del Mensagero Luisianés del Martes 11 de Diciembre de 1810. By the President of the United States of America. A Proclamation...), in which President Madison announces U.S. claim to the areas of the Louisiana Purchase which Spain disputed (the Library of Congress has a photostat, and the Archivo General de Indias in Seville holds what appears to be the only surviving copy of that imprint). Raymond R. MacCurdy (“A Tentative Bibliography of the Spanish-Language Press in Louisiana, 1808-1871, The Americas, Vol. 10, No. 3, January, 1954, pp. 307-329) conjectures that the first issues of El Mensagero Luisianés appeared in 1809, but none from that year are extant. He locates two surviving issues from 1810 (October 13 and December 11) and two from 1811 (March 15 and March 23). MacCurdy lists the above mentioned separately issued broadside relating to the Louisiana Purchase claim, which like the present imprint is preceded by the added word “Postillon” (indicating an extra put out in haste as a forerunner to the regular newspaper issue).

     MacCurdy observes that Spanish-language imprints from New Orleans during the period of Spanish domination are very meager. Most official communications were printed in French because more French-speaking citizens lived in the Spanish-dominated colony. McMurtrie discovered only thirteen such imprints (Early Printing in New Orleans, 1764-1820 and Louisiana Imprints, 1768-1810). As for Spanish-language imprints after the Louisiana Purchase, MacCurdy remarks: “The subsequent record of printing activity in the Spanish language is much more sketchy.” MacCurdy (“History and Bibliography of Spanish-Language Newspapers and Magazines in Louisiana, 1808-1949,” University of New Mexico Publications in Language and Literature, No. 8, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1951) states that the first Spanish-language newspaper printed in New Orleans was El Misisipí, which appeared in 1808 and was published by a North American. That newspaper and El Mensagero Luisianés “were intended for the Spanish reader and...adopted a policy of ardent support for the motherland in its struggle against the French invader. El Mensagero Luisianés also lashed out fiercely against the ‘renegades’ of Baton Rouge, who in 1810 attempted to break with Spain, since they thought that the motherland could no longer protect them.”

     The present imprint reproduces three documents reprinted from Baltimore’s Federal Republican. The first is a resolution from the U.S. Senate concerning disorders in West Florida and allowing troops to be dispatched to protect U.S. interests there. The second is a December 2, 1810, letter from Governor Vicente Folch to Colonel M’Kee, reviewing certain border disorders and military measures to stop them. The third is a December 2, 1810, letter from Folch to Smith also concerning the disorders and mentioning the role of Reuben Kemper in them.

     On October 27, 1810, President Madison had ordered Governor William C. C. Claiborne to extend the jurisdiction of the U.S. into Spanish territories that had apparently been conceded to the U.S. by the Louisiana Purchase but over which the country had forborne to exercise jurisdiction. The present document is a continuation of that struggle, except that the U.S. is urged to help preserve Spanish authority over some of the disputed borderland areas, especially Baton Rouge and Mobile, because the Spanish themselves are unable to preserve order. Folch’s second letter specifically complains of U.S. adventurer and rogue Reuben Kemper (1770-1826), who, with his brothers Nathan and Samuel (see Handbook of Texas Online: Samuel Kemper) in 1804 had attempted to capture Baton Rouge and in 1810 attempted to capture Mobile. Even though unsuccessful, the rebels raised the flag of their newly founded Lone Star State in sight of Mobile on the opposite side of the river. Although arrested after the attempt on Mobile, Kemper was later released and participated in the Battle of New Orleans and the Gutiérrez-Magee Expedition, an early filibustering expedition against Spanish Texas (Handbook of Texas Online: Gutiérrez-Magee Expedition). Vicente Folche at the time was Spanish governor of West Louisiana; his jurisdiction extended from Mobile to Baton Rouge. By 1809 he had given up on any pretensions that Spain could hold the territory he governed and practically invited the U.S. to take it over.

     An ad at the end of the third column states that the printers have for sale a book entitled El Don Quixote Moderno, y Sancho Panza de Antaño, recently imported from Spain. Printer José Antonio Boniquet was a free-wheeling old New Orleans character, who got into hot water when he established a lottery-gambling enterprise and obtained hosted dances for free blacks and mulattos, known as tricolor balls (precursor to quadroon balls). ($2,500-5,000)

Sold. Hammer: $6,000.00; Price Realized: $7,050.00

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