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The Beginnings of the Republic of the Rio Grande

142. [REPUBLIC OF THE RIO GRANDE]. TAMAULIPAS. PREFECTO DEL DISTRITO CENTRAL. (Ramón de Cárdenas). El Ciudadano Ramón de Cárdenas, Prefecto del Distrito Central del Departamento de Tamaulipas, á los habitantes del mismo.... Compatriotas! La revolucion que estalló el año pasado en las villas del Norte de Tamaulipas, invocando la restitucion del sistema federal concluyó á las orillas de Lampazos y en uno de los pueblos de Coahuila.... se presentan de nuevo en las villas acaudillando una fuerza compusta de aventureros tejanos, de indios de varias tríbus y de megicanos que ne merecen ya este nombre.... [Announcement decrying and condemning Texans and others who have invaded Mexico and defeated a group of fatigued Mexican troops]. [Dated and signed in print]: Monterey 7 de Noviembre de 1839 | José María de Ortega. Broadside on laid paper, 31 x 21.5 cm. Creased where formerly folded, otherwise very good.

     First edition. Streeter 945.2 (locating only the CtY copy). “Ortega denounces the Federalists as a mixed force of Texans, Indians and traitors, belittles their victory at Alcantro, and warns that unless the citizens unite to resist them they will end up like their compatriots in Texas who are treated worse than slaves” (Streeter). This furious denunciation is set against the background of the invasion of Mexico by so-called Federalist Antonio Canales Rosillo (1802-1852), who as governor of Tamaulipas in fact raised a force of Texans, Indians, Mexican deserters, adventurers, and others to invade Mexico in a purported attempt to restore Federalism according to the 1824 Mexican Constitution. Although an enemy of Centralist Santa-Anna, Canales was a mercurial man whose motives may have ranged all the way from true patriotism to the desire to loot and raid and to the wish to become President of his own separate country, the Republic of the Rio Grande.

     The particular action referred to here took place near Alcantra Creek, where Centralist General Francisco González Pavón was forced to surrender because he had no water for his troops, and is usually known as the Battle of Alcantra (October 3-4, 1839). His command had been basically decimated in an action the previous day by a group of Canales’ troops made up heavily of Texans and their recruits led by Texans Samuel W. Jordan and Reuben Ross. Ortega here raises the specter that some parts of Mexico will become subject to Texas rule, which he declares will result in “nuestra infamia se transmita de generación en generación.”

     After initial military successes, one of which is denounced here and was basically accomplished by Texans, Canales joined with others of like mind to proclaim the Republic of the Rio Grande, a vast new country that included parts of Texas, Coahuila, Tamaulipas, New Mexico, Nuevo León, Zacatecas, Chihuahua, and Durango, and of which Canales was made military chief after its formation in January, 1840. No doubt military successes such as this one emboldened all the rebels, no matter what their ultimate motives. Their luck was not to hold, however, and Canales was defeated decisively in March, 1840, forcing the government to flee into Texas, thereby giving Texas all at once two separate governments within its borders that Mexico considered illegal.

     Although Canales was allowed to drum up support for his idea while exiled in Texas and although the movement did have other limited military successes under Jordan, the Republic was finally negotiated away in late 1840. As was sometimes the case in the twilight world of shifting Mexican loyalties, once defeated he was actually promoted by his old antagonist and turned against his former allies in Texas. He was instrumental in defeating the Texans at Mier (see Item No. 141) and fought against the U.S. in the Mexican-American War. Cf. Handbook of Texas Online: Republic of the Rio Grande. ($750-1,500)

Sold. Hammer: $3,600.00; Price Realized: $4,230.00

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