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Not in Streeter—Napoleon’s Spies & Provocateurs in Texas in 1810

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536.     [TEXAS & NAPOLEONIC SPIES]. SPAIN. SOVEREIGN (Ferdinand VII). El Rey Don Fernando Séptimo. [caption title] [Madrid, 1810]. [4] pp. (final verso blank). Folio (30.6 x 21.7 cm), laid paper with watermark. Creased where formerly folded, old stab holes in gutter margin, light waterstaining at upper margins barely affecting text, two small stains on first leaf, overall light age toning. Accomplished in manuscript on p. [3]: “Dada en la Rl isla de León a veinte y cinco de Abril de mil ochocientos y diez. =Yo El Rey=Por el Consejo de Regencia=Xavier de Castaños Presidente=Por mandato de S.M.=Manual Anto Gómez=tres rubricas=Es copia fiel de su original; asi lo Certifico. Juan de Palacio” [printed portions in italics]. Overall, a good copy of a rare survival. Not found in online catalogues of the University of Texas at Austin, MELVYL (University of California libraries), or Yale.

     First edition. Cf. Streeter 673 for the Mexico City partial reprinting from this original text. This decree, signed April 25, 1810, reflects the growing fear concerning Napoleon’s intentions towards Spain and her colonies, which, while justified, bordered on paranoia. In it, Mexican officials are warned specifically about Napoleon’s spies and provocateurs, who, upon entering Mexico from the U.S. by way of Texas, intend to disrupt or otherwise damage Mexico. Rules for having Spanish passports are to be strictly enforced. The law allows local authorities to take drastic action directly without referring the case to Madrid first; they may even execute suspected spies on their own authority. In the years prior to this decree, Napoleon did, indeed, attempt to send some thoroughly dangerous and persuasive spies into Mexico, so these suspicions and actions would seem well founded. The entire story of these attempts is discussed by Castañeda in Our Catholic Heritage in Texas, Vol. V, pp. 337-399, in which he writes, “As the year 1809 drew to a close, fear of American and French aggression was on the increase again” (p. 397). Other concerns quickly arose the same year with Hidalgo’s revolt from the mother country on September 15.


Sold. Hammer: $2,200.00; Price Realized: $2,640.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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