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October 26, 2007

One of the Few Printed Accounts of California in 1824
Soldiers, Native Americans, Mission Revolts

204. MEXICO (Republic). SECRETARIO DE ESTADO Y DEL DESPACHO DE LA GUERRA. Manuel de Mier y Terán. Memoria del Secretario de Estado y del Despacho de la Guerra, presentada a las Camaras en enero de 1825. Mexico: Imprenta del Supremo Gobierno de los Estados-unidos mexicanos, en Palacio, [1825]. [Signed in type at end of text (p. 21)]: México diciembre 20 de 1824, Manuel de Mier y Teran. [2], 21 [1 blank, [2] pp., 1 folded chart. 4to (19.3 x 14 cm), original plain paper wrappers, stitched as issued. Wrappers slightly soiled, otherwise very fine. Rare, locations at UCLA, California State Library, Brown University, and Princeton.

            First edition. Cowan II, p. 428. Howell, California 50:169: “One of the few printed accounts of conditions in California in 1824, used extensively by Bancroft. Teran describes a year of continuous warfare between soldiers and Indians, mission revolts, the precarious position of the Presidios, and the dispatch of a barkentine and troops for their much needed assistance.” Palau 160820. Sutro, p. 450. Bancroft (California, III, pp. 2-3) says that after Alta California became a territory of Mexico, “slight attention was paid to this distant frontier.”

            Mier y Terán reviews the state of Mexican military forces in sweeping terms, generally concluding that although its soldiers are brave and honorable, they are under-equipped and somewhat disorganized. One fault he notes, for example, is that Mexicans’ fondness for their horses had lead to a an overabundance of cavalry forces. The folded chart shows that on December 14, 1824, Mexico had under arms 22,534 regular soldiers and 40,018 militia. In a brief discussion of Native American troubles in the borderlands region, he notes that presidial companies in Chihuahua have been reduced because of increased settlement, which allows average citizens to adequately defend themselves (pp. 16-17). He also highly praises the presidial companies for their behavior during the late civil disturbances and the war of independence. Mier y Terán notes that the companies in this remote area of Mexico constantly fought all enemies, including Native Americans, with inadequate resources and little communication with the main country: “En este año han sido terribles sus fatigas, porque la sublevación de las misiones casí se hizo general, y al frente de los bárbaros se han puesto desertores y bandidos que los han hecho más diestros y feroces....” (p. 20).

            Mier y Terán (1789-1832) served as boundary commissioner to survey the boundary between the U.S. and Mexico in 1827, and his observations on the condition of Texas were incorporated into the Texas Colonization Law of April 6, 1830, which closed Texas to further U.S. emigrants. Eventually named Commandant General of the Eastern Interior Provinces, his efforts to impose law and order on Texas were one of the leading causes of the Texas Revolution. ($500-1,000)

Sold. Hammer: $500.00; Price Realized: $587.50

Auction 21 Abstracts

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