Dystopian View of the Guazacoalcos Colony

Unsophisticated Copy in Original Wrappers & with a Superb Map

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55. BRISSOT DE WARVILLE, Anacharsis. Voyage au Guazacoalcos aux Antilles et aux États-Unis, par. M.A. Brissot. Paris: Arthus Bertrand, Éditeur, Libraire de la Société de Géographie, 23, rue Hautefeuille, 1837. [1] 2-16 (ads), [4], [i] ii-iv, [1] 2-390 pp., engraved vignette of shipwreck on title page, 2 lithograph plates (frontispiece and plate between pp. 132 and 133), folded lithograph map (see below). 8vo (22 x 14.5 cm), original pale green printed wrappers in original glassine. Uncut, as issued. A superb, unsophisticated copy. Rare in commerce. No copies at auction in over thirty years.


Isthme de Tehuantepec dans lequel se trouve la Concession faite en 1828 par le Gouvernement de la République du Méxique a M.M. Laisné de Villevêque Questeur de la Chambre des Députés, et Gordon. N.p., n.d. Uncolored lithograph map. Neat line to neat line: 42.5 x 26.5 cm; overall sheet size: 45 x 29.6 cm. Symbols indicate towns, villages, agricultural establishments, habitants (Indians and creoles), and roads. A beautifully executed detailed map of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region. Not in Bornholdt, Cuatro Siglos de Expresiones Geográficas del Istmo Centroamericano. The map is listed in Mapoteca colombiana (Méjico) p. 43, #94, but it is cited as appearing in Abel Victorino Brandin's L'Amérique espagnole en 1830: Coup-d'oeil sur sa situation actuelle, et reflexions sur la reconnaissance et la future pacification de ses nouveaux etats par Louis-Philippe Ier (Paris: Les Marchands de nouveautés, 1830). However, no map seems to have appeared in that work.

     First edition. Monaghan 291 (Chapters 2, 19, 20, and 21 devoted to U.S.). Palau 35969. Sabin 8040. The author was the son of J.P. Brissot de Warville, one of the more influential French commentators on the eighteenth-century United States. The author visited Mexico (primarily Tehuantepec and Southern Mexico), the West Indies (Haiti, Jamaica, etc.), and the United States (New Orleans, New York; not in Howes). He made this trip partially to inspect a proposed colony in Guazacoalcos, an area southeast of Veracruz shown on the folded map. He includes material on slavery, which, like his father, he abhorred.

     Brissot’s principal purpose, however, was to debunk the Guazacoalcos colony in Veracruz state, which he proclaims to be nothing but a field of broken dreams for all who ventured there. His first glimpse of the area, for example, reveals the beached wrecks of the Amérique and the Hercule, the ships for the first and second expeditions, respectively. He exclaims: “Quel début pour une colonie naissante!” He quickly discovers that the organizers have fled and that the site is abandoned.

     Unlike his father, he is not so keen on the mania to emigrate to the New World and wrote this work as a warning to Europeans contemplating such a move. Mexico and the West Indies fail to impress him in a good way. He is quite favorably impressed with New York City, however, and states that Frenchmen with certain skills and training can live quite successfully there.

The Mexican colony was the brainchild of Gabriel Jacques Laisné de Villévêque (1766-1851), a prominent French politician to whom the Mexican government gave a large land grant in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The enterprise was a complete failure. Brissot reveals that he nearly joined the first group of emigrants. The enterprise was roundly denounced by Charles Dubouchet, a survivor of the first expedition, in his Le Guazacoalco colonie...les horreurs dévoilées de cette colonie (Paris, 1830).


Auction 23 Abstracts

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