Rare Official Report on Chihuahua in 1857

Including Roundup of Mustangs

Click thumbnails to open zoomable images.

94. CHIHUAHUA (Mexican State). Secretaria de Gobierno (Juan Bautista Escudero). Memoria sobre la Administracion Pública del Estado de Chihuahua, leida al Honorable Congreso Constituyente el dia 21 de Julio de 1857, por El Oficial Mayor Encargado de la Secretaria del Gobierno del mismo Estado C. Juan Bautista Escudero. Chihuahua: Imprenta del Gobierno dirijida por Domingo Lazo, 1857. [18] pp., 1 folded table, title within decorative typographic border. Folio (27.2 x 19.5 cm). Disbound, with evidence of former binding along left edge, title page and some leaves trimmed close on right side with slight loss of border and letters, some leaves becoming loose, folded table has one contemporary ink correction. Overall, very good. A very rare survival.

     First edition. Not in Palau and other standard sources. No copies located on OCLC (in fact, the only Chihuahua imprint listed by OCLC for the year 1857 is the newspaper El Imparcial printed by Carmona, but no copies of it are located). Printer Domingo Lazo was active in the 1850s, printing various newspapers and official reports and notices. Given the conditions in Chihuahua in 1857, it is a wonder that anything at all was printed. President Buchanan in his 1857 State of the Union address remarks of Chihuahua: “A state of anarchy and violence prevails throughout that distant frontier. The laws are a dead letter and life and property wholly insecure.”

     This imprint is one of a series of annual reports that documents the continued progress and problems with this borderland state, its neighbors, and its finances. Finances, of course, come first, and the picture Escudero paints is not pretty; he states that both the state and the nation are not doing well. Despite the difficulties, he especially mentions the importance of maintaining El Paso del Norte as a buffer against the U.S. Although the populace enjoys relative peace and quiet, the constant and brutal raids by Native Americans are disturbing the state greatly. Again hampered by lack of funds, the state does the best it can but even then has to depend on Felix Maceira, a private citizen, to assist financially in the war effort. Charts 8 and 9 document the state’s efforts, listing the number of Native Americans killed (32) or taken prisoner (8) and the finances contributed to the cause. A somewhat but equally disturbing affliction is caused by people’s dying because vaccines have been lost. Rumors and actual unrest arise in Tarahumara Baja, home of Native Americans by that name. Because of various factors and the actions of certain citizens seeking to take advantage of the natives, Escudero calls the area, “Esta desgraciada porcion de nuestra socieded” (p. [9]). Finally, the postal service is destitute and survives only on subsidies.

     Some signs of progress are to be found, however. A new women’s prison has been established. Truly exciting, useful news is to be found in the labors of one Paz Olivias, who has established a gunpowder manufactory, the product of which will prove “útil para la defenza de las poblaciones espuestas a las hostilidades de los barbaros” (p. [9]). The state is also making progress in regulating the control of wild horses and escaped livestock. Finally, despite some ups and downs, the state’s relationship with the U.S. remains satisfactory.

     Escudero (1811-1876) occupied a variety of positions in Chihuahua during his life, including supervising for nearly fifteen years the now crippled state postal service.


Sold. Hammer: $200.00; Price Realized: $245.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

Click thumbnails to open zoomable images.

DSRB Home | e-mail: