The Last Overthrow of Santa-Anna

Superb Mexican Lithography-Portraits, Battles, Plans

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224. [LÓPEZ DE SANTA-ANNA, ANTONIO]. [PORTILLA, Anselmo de la (attributed)]. Historia de la Revolución de México contra la dictadura del General Santa-Anna. 1853-1855. Mexico: Imprenta de Vicente García Torres, Calle de Cordobanes numero 5, 1856. [4], [i] ii-v [1, blank], [1] 2-288, [2], 289-335 [1, blank] [i-iii] iv-clviii (appendix), [12, index] pp., 12 uncolored lithograph portraits (Tomas Moreno, Juan José de la Garza, Santiago Vidaurri, et al.) some attributed to Decaen; 2 folded lithograph battle scenes (Ocotlan and Puebla) both by Decaen; 2 folded lithograph battle maps: [1] Batalla de S. Isidro ó de Ocotlan dada el 8 de Marzo de 1856 (by Salazar, with military positions colored in outline); [2] Carta de la Ciudad y sitio de Puebla...por José J. Alvarez, en Marzo de 1856...y copiada por...J. N. Villegas (by Decaen, main city in full color, battle positions outlined in color); 2 inserted folded leaves of charts and one leaf (Batalla de Ocotlan. Esplicación de la lamina,” after p. 288 and included in collation). 8vo (23.3 x 16.2 cm), original embossed purple cloth, spine gilt lettered and decorated (skillfully recased, new blue marbled endpapers). Spine faded, slight shelf wear, corners bumped. Title page with minor hole not touching text. Text with mild uniform browning due to the paper on which it was printed, slight offsetting, plates and maps fine (a few short tears with no losses). Overall very good. With 1915 purple ink stamp of Felipe Elias Guillen on p. [i]. Very rare. Only one copy in American Book Prices Current in thirty-three years.

            First edition. Palau 129763. Sabin 38612 & 76734. Not mentioned by Enrique González Pedrero in his works on Santa-Anna. This work is a history of the last overthrow of Santa-Anna, during his eleventh term in office. Excellent period lithography. Mathes (Mexico on Stone) has information on Decaen, García Torres, and Salazar. The book is sometimes attributed to José María Lafragua, but the University of Texas at Austin (Benson Library) copy has author’s presentation to Comonfort, signed by Anselmo de la Portilla.

            The author’s prologue conveys his difficulties in writing history so close to the events described and his difficulties in being impartial. Although he is no friend of Santa-Anna, he also admits that there were more than enough atrocities and horrors on both sides to go around. The author does attempt to provide documentation for some of the events described, although he also cites Classical works and even Chateaubriand. The first chapter quickly establishes Santa-Anna’s failings and outlines many of his dictatorial practices, such as his secret police, persecutions, and broken promises, although he grudgingly admits that conditions were such that a dictatorship was probably necessary—just not this one: “A fines de 1853, el gobierno de Santa-Anna habia rasgado ya sus títulos de legitimidad” (p. 15). The history rapidly progresses by Chapter 3 to the Plan de Ayutla (proclaimed March 1, 1854), and the revolution is soon after in full hue and cry. Thus, plot after plot, counter-plot after counter-plot, and numerous battles unfold through the text until Iganacio Comonfort’s ultimate triumph in Chapter 11: “Y el hombre que haga esto, despues de haber salvado al pueblo del despotismo, á la libertad de sí misma, y á su patria de la reacción, será un hombre lleno de gloria en los annales de México” p. 335). The book ends with forty-one documents published as an appendix, reprinting letters, dispatches, and decrees. The portraits and battle plans are excellent documentation of the people and events that transpired, as well as handsome examples of Mexican lithography.

            Portilla (1816-1879) moved from his native Spain to Mexico in 1840, where he established himself in business and began to write and promote Spanish-Mexican relations. He went to New York in 1858, where he remained until 1862. He was an important Mexican historian. Sabin’s attribution to J.M. Lafragua is discredited.


Auction 23 Abstracts

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