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  Borderland Raids

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69.     [BORDERLANDS]. UNITED STATES. CONGRESS. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo—Indian Incursions. April 24, 1850. Laid upon the table. Mr. Howard, from the Committee on Indian Affairs, made the following Report: The Committee on Indian Affairs, to whom was referred the resolution of the House of the 6th of February, instructing them to inquire into the propriety of providing by law to carry out the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, for restraining the Indian tribes within the United States from committing depredations in Mexico, and, further, to prevent Indian hostilities on the frontiers of Texas, have considered that subject, and submit the following report. [Washington, 1850]. 31st Congress, 1st Session, House of Representatives, Report 280. [1] 2-3 [1, blank] pp. 8vo (24.7 x 15.5 cm). Slight darkening to edges and along fold line, otherwise very fine.

     First edition. After reviewing the stipulations of article 11 of the treaty, the committee considers certain measures to meet the country’s obligations. The committee notes that the treaty requires the U.S. to pass laws and to take measures to prevent Native American incursions into Mexico, to punish the perpetrators, assist in the return of Mexican captives, and use caution in resettling tribes so that they are not forced into Mexico as a result. The committee concludes, however, that despite the treaty obligations, the U.S. has thus far failed in its obligations, thereby exposing the government to Mexican claims.

     The portrait painted of the Borderlands is a chaotic one. The committee posits that so long as the Native Americans can live by raiding they will never adopt a settled way of life. It is also admitted that they are fierce, cunning opponents, who are excellent horsemen, strike hard and fast, and are elusive. The report states, “The State of Texas has suffered enormously from these depredations” to the tune of 204 persons killed, wounded, or carried into captivity, in addition to others unaccounted for. Monetary damages total over $100,000 in Texas alone.

     In addition to problems in Texas, the committee also refers to the “present wretched condition of our military defenses in New Mexico,” where raiders routinely attack and murder traders on the Missouri-Santa Fe and San Antonio-El Paso trails. In a prescient prediction, the committee observes, “It is also well understood that as soon as the spring opens, these two great thoroughfares will be thronged with emigrants to California,” an accurate assessment of the Gold Rush migration. Finally, they conclude that suppressing the raiders will encourage Anglo settlement that will ultimately stabilize the frontier.

     The committee sees only a military solution to the problem. Reasoning that infantry is basically useless, except for guard duty, against a fleet, mounted enemy, the committee proposes that western defenses be increased by “another regiment of cavalry,” who should be well armed with rifles and six-shooters. About this time and in the following decades, the U.S. greatly increased troop strength in the area and began building a series of forts to protect the West. In Texas, for example, Congress authorized in 1848 a series of forts between the Rio Grande and the Red River. More and more similar measures were adopted and put into place as the U.S. sought to pacify the Native Americans in response to the growing numbers of emigrants headed west. Such measures hardly mollified relations with Mexico, however, and even as late as 1874, both sides were still investigating and debating Native American depredations along the Texas border with Mexico. The committee was correct in its prediction that only settlement would quell the problem.


Sold. Hammer: $150.00; Price Realized: $180.00

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