Dorothy Sloan -- Books

Copyright 2000- by Dorothy Sloan-Rare Books Inc. for all materials on this site. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.


October 26, 2007

Signed by the Father of Mexican Federalism
Regarding the Last Dominican Missionary in California

223. RAMOS ARIZPE, [José] Miguel. Letter signed, to an unnamed church official, probably at the Iglesia de Santo Domingo in Mexico City, regarding missionary Fray Gabriel González, assigned to go to California, but on whose progress no intelligence has been received. Mexico, February 14, 1827. One page (on four-page folder), laid paper with watermark (Bento Picardo), with printed heading at upper left: Ministerio de Justicia y Negocios Eclesiasticos Sección. Creased where formerly folded, otherwise fine, signed “R. Arizpe” and with paraph.

            The names of Crockett, Travis, Bowie, et al. will be forever immortalized in Texas history and the subject of an endless stream of popular texts. Yet, the contributions of many great Mexicans whose words and actions truly made an impact on Texas history are all but forgotten today. One of these men is the signer of the present letter. Ramos Arizpe was a tireless promoter of Texas colonization and is known as the “Father of Mexican Federalism,” the political concept that induced many Anglos to emigrate and one of the principles on which the Texans based their quest for independence when Santa-Anna changed the rules and made Mexico centralist. Ramos Arizpe is only briefly mentioned in the Handbook of Texas Online, in the article on “Tejano Politics”:

Either as an independent province or as one of four provinces comprising the Eastern Interior Provinces after 1772, under colonial rule Texas continuously had its own political executive, governor, or jefe político, a status denied it during the Mexican period. Through the intervention of Miguel Ramos Arizpe, delegate of the Eastern Interior Provinces to the Cortes at Cádiz, this body in 1820 changed the longstanding tradition of denying foreigners the right to settle in New Spain. This move was followed that same year by a petition to the Cortes from Texas governor Antonio María Martínez and the Bexar ayuntamiento requesting a colonization project, which was enacted. The policy changes had lasting consequences. During the wars for independence Mexico had lost 10 percent of its population and perhaps half its labor force. Mexico, a nation of 6,200,000 stretching from Oregon to Guatemala, was unable to populate Texas with its own colonists. Thus the intended immigrants to Texas were norteamericanos. Although the Anglo-American immigration policy was initially launched as a defense against American expansionism, succeeding events brought this standing threat to reality.

            Appleton’s Cyclopedia includes Ramos Arizpe in its biographies of famous Americans:

RAMOS ARIZPE, Miguel: Mexican statesman, born in San Nicolas (now Ramos Arizpe), Coahuila, 15 February, 1775; died in Mexico, 28 April, 1843. He studied in the Seminary of Monterrey and the College of Guadalajara, where he was graduated in law, and began to practice his profession, but later he entered the church, and was ordained in 1803 by the bishop of Monterrey, who made him his chaplain. Soon he was appointed professor of civil and canonical law in the Seminary of Monterrey, and afterward he became vicar-general and ecclesiastical judge of several parishes in Tamaulipas. In 1807 he returned to Guadalajara, and was graduated as doctor in theology and canonical law, and made a canon of the cathedral. He was elected in September, 1810, deputy to the Cortes of Cádiz, took his seat in March, 1811, and labored to prepare for the independence of his country; but when the constitution was abrogated by the returning king in 1814, and Ramos refused honors that were offered him to renounce his principles, he was imprisoned. When the constitution was re-established in 1820, he regained his liberty, took his seat again in the Cortes, and was appointed in 1821 precentor of the cathedral of Mexico. In the next year he returned to his country, was elected to the constituent congress, and formed part of the commission that modelled the Federal constitution of 1824. In November, 1825, he was called by President Guadalupe Victoria to his cabinet as secretary of justice and ecclesiastical affairs, which place he occupied till March, 1828. In 1830 he was sent as minister to Chile, and on his return in 1831 he was appointed dean of the cathedral of Mexico. When President Manuel Gómez Pedraza took charge of the executive in December, 1832, he made Ramos Arizpe secretary of justice, which portfolio he also held under Valentín Gómez Farias till August, 1833. In 1841 he was a member of the government council, and in 1842 he was deputy to the constituent congress, which was dissolved by President Nicolas Bravo. He was afterward a member of the junta de notables, but failing health forced him to retire, and soon afterward he died.

            Ramos Arizpe wrote this letter in his capacity as Secretary of Justice and Ecclesiastical Affairs under President Vicente Guerrero. The content relates to concerns expressed in the Memoria del Ministerio de Justicia y Negocios Eclesiásticos of 1832 in this catalogue (see Item 201) about the tendency of some missionaries to set off to distant missions but somehow never arrive. Gabriel González, the missionary discussed in the letter, actually did arrive at his post in Baja California, where the Church of Todos Santos was his main mission. González presided over the almost total decline of missions in the area, an event brought on by widespread disease and lack of population. He was present at the U.S. invasion of the peninsula during the Mexican-American War and supposedly entertained the Marines while secretly urging Mexican partisans to attack them. (See: Richard W. Amero, “The Mexican War in Baja California” in The Journal of San Diego History, 1984), Vol. 30, No. 2). Curiously, the baptismal register of San José del Cabo indicates that he baptized his own grandchildren. He was the last Dominican priest in the area, where he died. (See: Peter Gerhard, “Gabriel Gonzilez, last Dominican in Baja California” in Pacific Historical Review 22, 1953, pp. 123-127). ($500-1,000)

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

Auction 21 Abstracts

Click images or links labeled Enlarge to enlarge. Links labeled Zoom open zoomable images.

Auction 21 | DSRB Home | e-mail: