“I go to the frontier to pursue bandits”

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48. [BORDERLANDS]. MEXICO. SECRETARÍA DE RELACIONES EXTERIORES. Memoranda y notas relativas cambiadas entre el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y el Ministerio Plenipotenciario de los Estados-Unidos. Mexico: Imprenta del Gobierno, 1877. [1-3] 4-45 [1, blank] pp. (text in English and Spanish). 8vo (20.1 x 13 cm), original green printed wrappers, stitched. Upper wrapper moderately stained, lower wrapper with small hole not touching image, library call sticker on lower spine. Light water staining in lower blank margin and upper outer corner, overall light age-toning, occasional underlining, overall good. Contemporary ink note on upper wrapper, “Paso de la frontera en la persecución de bandidos” (“I go to the frontier to pursue bandits”).

     First edition. Not in standard sources. This bilingual edition sets out the complaints of the U.S. against Mexico in the long-running dispute between Mexico and the United States concerning cross-border raids resulting in the loss of life and property. The chronic social and political unrest that existed along the Mexican northern borderlands had long been a source of controversy. Charges were traded back and forth that Texans dressed as Native Americans were plundering Mexican settlements and that raiders from Mexico were stealing large numbers of cattle from Texas ranches. These problems grew so severe that they resulted in official accusations exchanged between the two governments, as is the case here.

     An example of U.S. complaints is the murder of seventeen U.S. citizens in Texas by “Indians from Mexico.” William Rufus “Pecos Bill” Shafter is cited, with his terse recommendation to the commission: “The only way to put a stop to the raids is to follow up the delinquents into Mexico [and] attack them in their lairs.” The U.S. representative warns Mexico that this recommendation “will be taken into serious consideration...if the Mexican authorities are unable or unwilling to check the depredations” (p. 4). Apparently the U.S. took Shafter’s advice. “Shafter’s most renowned feat in West Texas was the Llano Estacado campaign of 1875. Combining two companies of his Twenty-fourth Infantry with parts of the Twenty-fifth United States Infantry and Tenth United States Cavalry [Black enlisted men] and a company of Seminole Indian scouts, Shafter drove his men more than 2,500 miles from June to December. Often exhausted and short of water, the troops made three crossings of the Llano Estacado and swept the plains clear of Indians. Shafter’s campaign also proved the plains habitable and paved the way for white settlement of the region. Between 1876 and the end of 1878 Shafter led three separate campaigns into Mexico against Indians” Handbook of Texas Online (William Rufus Shafter).

     Ironically, the problems covered here were eventually resolved by the gradual spread of law and order in Texas itself, which reduced cattle rustling, and by the eventual conquering by the U.S. of its own Native American population. Within in these age-toned, flimsy, stained pages is valuable documentation of the U.S. and Mexico and their approaches to the ever-agitated Border.


Sold. Hammer: $300.00; Price Realized: $367.50.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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