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Mexico Protests U.S. Military Incursions into Texas 1873-1877

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68.     [BORDERLANDS]. MEXICO. SECRETARÍA DE ESTADO Y DEL DESPACHO DE RELACIONES EXTERIORES. Correspondencia diplomática relativa a las invasiones del territorio Mexicano por fuerzas de los Estados-Unidos de 1873 á 1877. Mexico: Imprenta de Cumplido, Calle de los Rebeldes número 2, 1878. [1-3] 4-94 pp. 8vo (23.5 x 18 cm), original stitching. Lower blank corners of two leaves wanting, title page slightly browned, old staple holes along left gutter margin. With small LC perforation stamp on title page and small LC release ink stamp on last page, neither affecting text. Very good overall.

     First edition. Palau 62769. Not in Kerr and other standard sources. This pamphlet, compiled by I.L. Villarta, a private citizen acting as interim Mexican commissioner in Washington, D.C., is one in a continuing series of diplomatic exchanges between Mexico and the United States concerning cross-border excursions by both sides into the other’s territory. The most famous manifestations of the controversy were the important reports by the Mexican Comisión de la Pesquisidora and its U.S. counterpart, which lengthily investigated and reported on, in addition to actual Native American raids, such matters as incursions allegedly made by gringos from Texas dressed as Native Americans and reprisal raids by Mexican banditos, primarily into Texas to rustle livestock. Their major report was published in both English and Spanish in 1874-1875 (see Item 67 preceding herein).

     This report deals primarily with incursions by U.S. military forces into Mexico under various pretexts and documents the diplomatic exchanges brought about by each incident. The main U.S. incursions mentioned were those by MacKenzie (1873), Benavides (1874), McNelly (1875), and Shafter (1877). One cross-border raid by a Mexican force is also mentioned, that of Valdés (1877). See Handbook of Texas Online for biographies of Ranald Slidell Mackenzie, William Rufas Shafter, et al.

     Ranald S. MacKenzie’s raid occurred on May 18, when his troops surprised and defeated three Native American villages at Remolino, Coahuila. The details of the Refugio Benavides raid are somewhat less clear. Although Benavides did receive permission to cross into Mexico if necessary, it is not clear that he ever did so, although the permission granted him caused the diplomatic flap discussed here. William Rufus Shafter led three raids into Mexico against Native Americans between 1876 and 1878. Pedro Advíncula Valdés, (a.k.a. Colonel Winker), was a Mexican force all to himself along the border with Texas, and several times crossed the Rio Grande for various reasons. Little is known about McNelly’s raid, except that the text here states that it took place in November, 1875, he was assisted by Captain Randlet, invaded Mexico near Camargo, fought with the locals, and that the whole affair was authorized by Texas Governor Richard Coke. Much detailed information about each action is given.

     Most of the U.S. military men Villarta complains of were famous figures in the taming of the West and the subduing of hostile Native Americans. What makes the report so fascinating, however, is Villarta’s introduction (pp. 3-13), in which he reviews and castigates an entire catalogue of U.S. tricks, lies, deceptions, denials, and other subterfuges intended to avoid responsibility for the attacks, while somehow ensuring that they can continue if the U.S. feels them necessary. While sometimes admitting that the raids were illegal and that orders had been issued to stop them, the U.S. continued them anyway, at times with the apparent connivance of Texas officials. One source of frustration for the Mexican government was the fact that it was willing to round up rustlers and return stolen livestock but that the U.S. would still invade before Mexican justice could act. The tenor and documentation is very much in keeping with the types of information found in the larger Comisión de la Pesquisidora reports (see Item 67 preceding herein), and this pamphlet is an important adjunct to them, and one seldom seen in the market.


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