Contemporary Account of the Early Phase of Mexico’s War of Independence

With Some Details on the Borderlands & Texas

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446. [MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE]. UN CIUDADANO DE LA AMÉRICA MERIDIONAL. Resumen histórico de la insurreccion de Nueva España, desde su origen hasta el desembarco del Señor D. Francisco Xavier de Mina. Escrito por un ciudadano de la America meridional, y traducido del Frances por D.M.C. Mexico: M.DCCC.XXI. Primero de la Independencia. Imprenta de D. Mariano de Zúñiga y Ontiveros, calle del Espíritu Santo, 1821. [Colophon] Se vende en la librería de D. Mariano Galvan portal de Agustinos. [1-3] 4-32 pp. 8vo (22 x 15.7 cm), sewn (but disbound). A few scattered original printer’s ink smudges (including on title page), occasional spotting and light stains, overall a good copy, untrimmed.

     First edition? Garritz, Impresos Novohispanos, 1808-1821 #4466. Mathes, “La Imprenta en el Imperio Mexicano 1821-1823”#334 (at press). Palau 262957. Sabin 49187. Sutro, p. 144 (supplement). Not in Medina. Some sources attribute the translation to Miguel Copin as author or translator. Garritz records other works translated by Miguel Copin, e.g., the 1819 Obras selectas para la mejor educación de la juventud (#2950; Medina, Puebla de los Angeles 1679), the 1821 El libro de la Infancia (#4442; Medina, México 12062); etc.

     Supposedly this work was translated from French, as indicated by the title, but no French edition has been identified. On the other hand, such convoluted publication history would seem to be an excellent and secure smokescreen for a pro-Independence tract. Another similar work, by the same translator and printer, is Revolución del reino de Chile, escrita en compendio por un ciudadano de la América meridional y traducida del francés por D.M.C. (Mexico, Imp. de Mario Ontiveras, 1822), about which Medina notes: “El autor de la edición francesa (que no he visto) fue don Antonio José de Irisarri; y la iniciales de la traducción castellana pertenencen a Don Miguel Copin” (Medina,Diccionario de anónimos y seudónimos, Vol. 2, p. 213; for more on Irisarri, father of Chilean journalism who was tried in absentia for high treason and sentenced to death, see Ricardo Donoso’s Antonio José de Irisarri, escritor y diplomático, 1786-1868, Santiago: Facultad de Filosofía y Educación, Universidad de Chile, 1966).

     The imprint contains a contemporary resumé of the Wars of Independence in New Spain from 1810 to 1817 and diplomatic dispatches relating thereto. Clearly, the author favored the insurgents. For example, the text notes that Hidalgo immediately abolished the tribute required of indigenous peoples, a move that proved to be immensely popular, even if perhaps cynically done for effect (see Manuel Ferrer Muñoz, “Igualdad e Indianidad: Una de las paradojas del México Decimonóico” in Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Políticas y Sociales, Vol. XLIV, No. 182-183, May-December, 2001, p. 164).

     The Resumen provides notice of the reverberations of the War of Independence in Coahuila y Tejas (p. 13). On pages 26-27 is an account of the activities of José Álvarez de Toledo y Dubois, politician, propagandist, agent provocateur for United States’ intervention in the war, and short-term commander of Texas forces in revolt against Spain, who assisted José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara in the filibustering expedition that succeeded in establishing a provisional government in San Antonio (see Streeter 1048-1049 & Handbook of Texas Online: José Alvarez de Toledo y Dubois). The work is dedicated to Francisco Javier Mina (1789-1817), Spanish army officer-attorney and insurgent in Mexico: “Al Joven Mina General Español que murio fusilado por sostener la libertad Mexicana. E.T.” Streeter notes that the earliest printing in Texas of which there is definite knowledge is Mina’s proclamation printed on Galveston Island dated February 1817. The present work ends with a synopsis of Mina’s expedition to the Gulf of Mexico, recruitment of more men in the United States, arrival in Matagorda, and Mina’s collaboration with Louis Michel Aury and his corsairs.

     Publisher Mariano Galván Rivera (1781-1876), bookseller, printer, and almanac publisher, had a long, productive career in Mexico, issuing many important publications, such as Férnandez de Lizardi’s El Periquillo Sarniento and Don Quijote, as well as a tsunami of serial publications and pamphlets like the present work. This pamphlet came out at a time when freedom of the press was a new concept in Mexico, resulting in many serious and scandalous works about politics, religion, and other social matters (see item [CENSORSHIP] herein, for instance).


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

Auction 23 Abstracts

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