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El Nuevo Bernal Díaz del Castillo

“Undoubtedly one of the best contemporary accounts of the Mexican War”

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392.     [MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR]. BUSTAMANTE, Carlos María de. El nuevo Bernal Díaz del Castillo ó sea historia de la invasión de los anglo-americanos en México. Escrita por el Licenciado Carlos María de Bustamante, Diputado al Congreso general por seis veces, comenzando por el de Chilpancingo, individuo del Supremo Poder Conservador, y Auditor de guerra cesante. Tomo Primero [Tomo Segundo]. Mexico: Imprenta de Vicente García Torres, en el ex-convento del Espíritu Santo, [1847]. Vol. I: [2], [1-3] 4-162, [2, index]; Vol. II: [1-3] 4-235 [1, blank], [4, index] pp., lithograph frontispiece portrait of author: El Lic. Carlos María de Bustamante, defensor de los derechos de su Patria, ultrajados por la conducta que guardó el general Santa-Anna en la defensa que los buenos Mexicanos de confiaron de su Independencia y Libertad, y que han sido hollados de la manera mas oprobiosa para una Nación augusta, soberana é independiente [signed in portrait: Lit. de Salazar]. 2 vols. in one, 8vo (24 x 15 cm), contemporary half red straight-grain Mexican sheep over purple and black marbled boards, gilt-lettered spine. Moderate shelf wear, corners bumped, a trace of foxing to the portrait, hinges open but holding, text with light uniform browning, overall a very good copy. Scarce.

     First edition. Garrett & Goodwin, The Mexican-American War p. 12. Haferkorn, p. 11. Howes B1047. Palau 37738. Raines, p. 38. Sabin 9584. Tutorow 3269: “Bustamante was a general during the Mexican War. This is undoubtedly one of the best contemporary accounts of the Mexican War.”

     Bustamante (1774-1848), prolific historian and avid antiquary, was politically active from an early age, participated in many of the major events of Mexican history during the first half of the nineteenth century, and was personally acquainted with Hidalgo, Morelos, Allende, Santa-Anna, Iturbide, and many others. In 1796 he took up the study of law and participated in the successful attempts to secure independence from Spain. In 1823 the First Congress of Anáhuac approved the Act of Independence written by Bustamante. Repeatedly imprisoned and banished, he was nevertheless appointed to important positions in the government. Bustamante is a leading figure in the history of Mexican letters and historical writing. Like Fernández de Lizardi, Bustamante strove to create an indigenous literary medium, a goal sometimes fraught with inconsistencies. Bustamante’s language was Spanish, but his viewpoint was anti-Spanish. Bustamante favored Mexican Independence long before the notion could be broached and perceived the Spanish Conquest as usurpation of his native country. Despite these contradictions, Bustamante’s writings contributed to the forging of a collective identity among Mexicans.

     This work is one of the best contemporary accounts of the North American Invasion from the Other Side. The first volume gives the background to the war, while the second volume focuses on the internal politics of Mexico during the war. The work is most noted for the author’s famous scathing attack on the politics and policies of Santa-Anna which led to the loss of more than one-half of Mexico’s territory. Written before the formal hostilities had even ended, Bustamante blames Santa-Anna for his treachery and ineptness in losing the war. He asserts that the U.S. was guilty of aggression against Mexico because of annexing Texas and gives the Mexican side of the Texan Santa Fe expedition.

     Dipping into the book to give an idea of Bustamante’s barbed, frank, gossipy, elegant style, he describes the occupation of Puebla during the Mexican-American War (translation into English):

The neighborhood showed no sign of alteration. Besides the clothing stores, which were closed, the entire city looked as it always does, and no one would have known that it was awaiting the arrival of an enemy army. Curiosity to see the Yankees outweighed the very natural momentary alarm, and the rabble were on all the street corners and nearly all the balconies were filed with the curious. Even I fell prey to curiosity, and breaking with my intention to stay inside I went out to meet our new lords.

What disillusion I felt, and everyone felt, when instead of the centaurs we expected, I saw coming toward me a hundred or so men decrepit in appearance, dressed in poorly made and ill-fitting uniforms. Many of them were in shirtsleeves, armed with swords, carbines and common pistols, and their horses, though sturdy, were dull and ungainly like all of their breeding, poorly ridden and harnessed only with a packsaddle and a plain bridle without any sort of adornment. So as not to offend, I’ll say only that for every ten men in good shape one could point to several who were skinny, rachitic, and even crippled… None of this is exaggerated….

Bustamante was a general during the Mexican-American War, and his biographers claim that the news of the North American Invasion probably hastened his death in 1848.


Sold. Hammer: $1,600.00; Price Realized: $1,920.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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