National Identity on a Shifting Border: Texas and New Mexico in the Age of Transition, 1821-1848

by Andres Resendez
National Identity on a Shifting Border: Texas and New Mexico in the Age of Transition, 1821-1848
Andres Resendez
The Journal of American History
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National Identity on a Shifting Border: Texas and New Mexico in the Age of Transition, 1821-1848

AndrCs ResCndez


Traditionally, we have told the story of how nations emerged as a triumphant tale of domination exerted by a determined center over reluctant peripheries and by persua- sive officials over skeptical masses. The literature depicts state formation and nation building as originating from the core outward and from top to bottom. Sitting at the apex of all political and social organizations, the state has been granted the leading role. After all, it was the state that built the infrastructure linking the center to all corners of the nation, increasing the network of communications within a terri- tory and thus helping integrate a national market. Under the auspices of the state, a nationalist ideology was fashioned and disseminated to all prospective citizens. And it was the state bureaucracy, employing novel means of communication such as mass education, that perpetuated the nation unto subsequent generations. Whether accounts spotlight institutions or identities, the underlying theme is cen- tralization: The national state wins out over lesser political organizations and poten- tial challengers, and the people divest themselves of previous ethnic or local loyalties as the nation becomes their overriding identity.'

This core-periphery, top-down model has recently come under criticism. In par- ticular, E. J. Hobsbawm has made a crucial methodological point: Although nations tend to be promoted from above, they nevertheless have to be analyzed and under- stood from below, "in terms of the assumptions, hopes, needs, longings and interests of ordinary people, which are not necessarily national and still less nationalist." Peo- ple's perceptions (and not nationalist propaganda) constitute the most critical yard- stick against which we can measure the success of attempts at national construction. Historians and theorists have been understandably concerned with state-sponsored nationalist discourse, but they have been less adept at explaining why this discourse

Andris ResCndez is assistant professor in the department of history at the University of California at Davis. I thank Robert Johnston, Jaana Remes, and David Thelen for their thoughtful comments and suggestions for this article.

I For the most forceful formulation of this view, see John Breuilly, Nationalism and the State (Chicago, 1982), 1-2. See also Anthony D. Smith, Nationalldentity (Reno, 1991), 59-61.

The Journal of American History September 1999

was adopted by local communities and non-elite groups. A spate of new monographs shows that, rather than a simple imposition from the center and from above, both state formation and nation building have been two-way processes, involving dialogues and negotiations between nationalist-minded, centralizing officials, on the one hand, and local and regional communities and ethnic groups, on the other.2

An approach that pays attention to both state designs and responses from local communities is badly needed to rethink the story of how Mexico's Far North became the American Southwest. This episode has long been explained through a sweeping narrative, that of American expansionism. Undoubtedly, expansionism was a power- ful 'mood' that prevailed in the United States throughout the first half of the nine- teenth century. But expansionism has been used in the historiography as a catchall, explain-all concept to describe the social psychology of early Americans, to elucidate the relations between American settlers and Native Americans, and to provide a rationale for the policy pursued by the United States toward the SpanishIMexican

possession^.^ The dramatic territorial exchanges of this era have been presented almost as logical outcomes of that irresistible ideology; they thus require no further explanation. Worse still, by emphasizing how Anglo-Americans expanded their domain, we have left unexamined how other peoples reacted to this offensive, often confining non-Anglo-Americans to the role of passive victims as they watched their homelands being taken away4

Yet when we look closely at this process, we obtain a starkly different image. Expan- sionism, at least on Mexico's northern frontier, meant first and foremost economic penetration that afforded local Hispanic and Native American elites the opportunity to profit. This circumstance led those local elites consciously to shift their allegiances to accommodate their interests, even in the face of opposition from other members of their own ethnic groups. Economic expansion provided the medium in which cross- cultural alliances were forged along Mexico's northern frontier. Rather than idle play- ers, local elites were active agents who made choices of far-reaching consequences.

E. J. Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality (Cambridge, Eng., 1990),

10. See Peter Sahlins, Boundaries: The Making of France and Spain in the Pyrenees (Berkeley, 1989), 8-9. On Mex- ico, see David A. Brading, The Origins of Mexican Nationalism (Cambridge, Eng., 1985); Peter F. Guardino, Peasants, Politics, and the Formation of Mexico; National State: Guerrero, 1800-1857 (Stanford, 1996); Florencia E. Mallon, Peasant and Nation: The Making of Postcolonial Mexico and Peru (Berkeley, 1995); Florencia E. Mallon, "Peasants and State Formation in Nineteenth-Century Mexico: Morelos, 1848- 1858," Political Power and Social Theory, 7 (1988), 1-54; Alan Knight, "Peasants into Patriots: Thoughts on the Making of the Mexican Nation," Mexican StudieslEstudios Mexicanos, 10 (Winter 1994), 135-61; and Guy Thomson, "Bulwarks of Patriotic Lib- eralism: The National Guard, Philharmonic Corps, and Patriotic Juntas in Mexico, 1847-88," /ournu1 of Latin American Studies, 22 (Feb. 1990), 3 1-68.

3The Manifest Destiny explanation has been popular among both Mexican and American historians. See Albert K. Weinberg, Manzj5st Destiny: A Study of Nationalist Expansionism in American History (Baltimore, 1935); Frederick Merk, Manifest Destiny and Mission in American History: A Reinterpretation (New York, 1963); and David M. Pletcher, The Diplomacy of Annexation: Texas, Oregon, and the Mexican War (Columbia, Mo., 1973). Pletcher's book constitutes the most authoritative recent study of the war. Among works by Mexican historians, see, for example, Gast6n Garcia Cantli, Las invasiones norteamericanas en MJxico (The American invasions of Mexico) (Mexico Ciry, 1971). For a critique of Manifest Destiny as a cause of the Texas Revolution, see Andreas V. Reichstein, Rise of the Lone Star: The Making of Texas (College Station, 1989), 197-202.

40n historiographical one-sidedness, see David J. Weber, Myth and the History of the Hirpanic Southwest (Albuquerque, 1987), 94-95.

Just as we have tended to oversimplify the United States' drive for Mexico's terri- tory, we have assumed that the northern frontier provinces were unproblematically a part of Mexico, as if national identity had emerged full-blown right after Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821. Recent investigations have started to shed light on conflicts between the provinces and the national government or, more pre- cisely, between local and national elites. Municipal and state authorities resisted the intervention of the national government on several fronts, from elections of local officials to the regulation of economy or the organization of the mi1itary.j In its most basic form, this tension between local and national elites acquired a clear nationalist dimension. In the fractious political environment of early-nineteenth- century Mexico, national leaders began to equate local and regional autonomy with territorial disintegration of the country and, accordingly, started to brand some power brokers in the Far North as separatists.

We need to recast the story of Mexico's northern frontier, paying attention to how the Mexican and the American national projects collided there and how conflicts played out at the local level. Did different provinces experience the change of sover- eignty in the same manner? Did different social groups among Hispanics understand their loyalties and national attachments in the same way? Did Native Americans play the same role in California, New Mexico, and Texas as these provinces were being incorporated into the United States? Instead of a simple tale of domination in which a handful of resourceful Anglohericans managed to conquer an enormous terri- tory, we have to unearth a far richer story of cross-cultural and cross-class alliances and counteralliances, each side struggling to define and shape whatever nation was emerging in its locality. In the following pages I attempt to trace some of the strug- gles over the nation, focusing on the cases of Texas and New Mexi~o.~

My conten- tion is that communities in these two provinces were caught between two opposing forces. On the one hand, a web of local and regional economic interests increasingly tied Texas and New Mexico to the economy of the United States, thus affecting the livelihood and ultimately the loyalty of key social groups within the Hispanic, Anglo-American, and Native American communities. On the other

'Recent work has shown considerable regional autonomy in the colonial period, in spite of efforts to curb it. See Horst Pietschmann, "Protoliberalismo, reformas borb6nicas y revoluci6n: La Nueva Espafia en el ultimo ter- cio del siglo XVIII" (Protoliberalism, Bourbon reforms, and revolution: New Spain in the last third of the eigh- teenth century), in Interpretaciones delsiglo WIII mexicano: El impact0 de las reeformas borbdnicas (Interpretations of the Mexican eighteenth century: The impact of the Bourbon reforms), ed. Josefina Zoraida VBzquez (~Mexico City, 1991), 27-66; and Brian R. Hamnett, "Factores regionales en la desintegraci6n del regimen colonial en la Nueva Espafia: El federalism0 de 1823-24" (Regional factors in the disintegration of the colonial regime in New Spain: The federalism of 1823-24), in Problemas de laeformacidn del estado y de la nacidn en Hispanoamiricrr (Problems in the formation of state and nation in Hispanic America), ed. Inge Buisson et al. (Bonn, 1984), 305-17. Although the church and the military have been customarily viewed as the twin pillars of centralism in early ~Mex- ico, recent work has emphasized that those nvo corporations supported federalist as well as centralist movements and sometimes did not participate. See Josefina Zoraida VBzquez, "Iglesia, ejircito y centralismon (Church, army, and centralism), Hiitorirr Mexicanrr, 39 (July-Sept. 1989), 205-34.

"Because of lack of population, Texas was joined to neighboring Coahuila in 1824 to form the gigantic state of Coahuila and Texas. This arrangement continued until Texas seceded from Mexico in 1836. New Mexico was administered as a territory during the Mexican period. This meant that while Coahuila and Texas was allowed to promulgate its own state constitution and elect its own governors, New Mexico was under the tutelage of the national government and territorial governors were appointed.

Mexico in the 1820s. In 1824, the old provinces of Coahuila and Texas were united as
the enormous state of Coahuila and Texas, which enjoyed considerable
autonomy In contrast, New Mexico was considered a territory
under the tutelage of national authorities. The lifting of
trade barriers in the early republican period greatly
ex~andedcommerce between those Mexican
political units and the United States.
Map by Karen Alcorn.

hand, the Mexican government responded to this challenge by fashioning a defen- sive, antiforeign, patriotic rhetoric and by fostering rituals aimed at creating a sense of nationhood.7

Struggling for the Hearts and Minds

In the aftermath of independence, Mexico's political leadership, a clique of indepen- dence heroes and ardent nationalists, became fully aware of the difficulties of bring- ing the northern frontier into the national fold. They did not delude themselves about the fact that the enormous arc of provinces from Texas to Alta California was exposed to the designs of other nations and most alarmingly to those of the United States. They also knew that the northern frontier society was committed to deeply entrenched regional attachments, las patrias chicas. The people of the frontier gave primacy to their cherished identities as tejanos, nuevomexicanos, or calfornios, and understandably viewed with a certain skepticism newer and more abstract appella- tions such as mexicano/a.*And finally, the heterogeneity of frontier society made the task of forging the nation there quite daunting. In Texas, for instance, the part of the popu!ation that was called "Mexican" was a tiny minority, amounting to some 2,000 inhabitants mostly concentrated in the San Antonio-Goliad region. In comparison, the Texas Indian population was larger, far more diverse, and dominant in a greater geographic area. Similarly, the Anglo-American immigrants who came to Texas in waves during the 1820s and early 1830s ended up outnumbering Mexican Texans ten to one on the eve of the Texas Revolution of 1835-1836. New Mexico's demog- raphy was more favorable to the construction of the Mexican nation, but there was considerable heterogeneity. The Hispanic population amounted to close to 30,000 inhabitants. Yet Hispanics coexisted with the 10,000 Pueblo Indians living in twenty settlements who maintained significant autonomy. Moreover, Hispanics and Pueblo Indians were surrounded by nomadic groups that were generically called barbarous, gentile, or errant nations, including the powerful Comanche confederation, the Navajo, and the Apache. Although nomadic Indians were not generally considered Mexican citizens, they nevertheless, as contemporaries put it, formed part of "the extended Mexican family'' whose members could one day become citizens if they

'For a fuller development of this argument, including discussion of patronage from the Mexican center to the Far North, see AndrPs ResPndez, "Caught between Profits and Rituals: National Contestation in Texas and New Mexico, 1821-1848" (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1997). To be sure, there were profits coming from the south and rituals from the north. But since the Mexican government was formally in pos- session of these territories, it had the means to deliver Mexicanist rhetoric and rituals more efficiently than other governments.

~y tejanos, nuevomexicanos, and californios, I refer to the Spanish-speaking populations of Texas, New Mex- ico, and California respectively. These terms will not be italicized hereafter. On the emergence of local identities in San Antonio, see Gerald E. Poyo and Gilberto M. Hinojosa, eds., Tejano Origins in Eighteenth-Century San Anto- nio (Austin, 1991); Jesus F. de la Teja, San Antonio de Bdxar: A Communiy on New Spaini Northern Frontier (Albuquerque, 1995), esp. chap. 7; Jes6s F. de la Teja and John Wheat, "BPxar: Profile of a Tejano Community, 1820-

1832," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 89 (July 1985), 7-34; and Timothy M. Matovina, Tejano Religion and Ethniciy: San Antonio, 1821-1860 (Austin, 1995). On how municipal governmenr encouraged local identities, see Gilbert R. Cruz, Let There Be Towns: Spanish Municipal Origins in the American Southwest, 1610-1810 (College Station, 1988), esp. 127-70.

were to abandon their wandering ways, pledge allegiance to the Mexican govern- ment, and convert to Catholi~ism.~

Thus many of Mexico's early leaders at the national, provincial, and local levels attempted to impose uniformity and nationalist devotion along the northern fron- tier. One vehicle to create national awareness was the printed word. Newspapers, journals, gazettes, and random manifestos proliferated throughout the northern frontier during the first half of the nineteenth century. The impetus behind the majority of those-often fleeting-publications was political bickering, but regard- less of their political orientation, editors and writers always cloaked themselves in the nationalist mantle. Benedict Anderson has argued that in postcolonial Latin America such printed material "created an imagined community among a specific assemblage of fellow-readers," and he thus assigns "the decisive historic role" of cre- ating the nation in Latin America to Creole functionaries and provincial Creole journalists. Although the printed word undoubtedly helped foster a sense of nation- hood in Texas and New Mexico, it is hard to contend that such publications played a decisive role, for very few people knew how to read and write. Even if we assume that the contents of the publications were spread by word of mouth beyond the actual readers, the number was nonetheless rather small. Geographic dispersion and cultural disparities added insurmountable barriers. Pueblo and nomadic Indians, for instance, simply could not participate in this virtual community of readers and writers, while Anglo-American colonists in Texas and New Mexico had their own publications where the symbology of the Mexican nation was greatly diluted, if it appeared at all, or where a different and incompatible national project was promoted.1°

Primary education became a more deliberate vehicle to bolster national loyalties. In Texas and New Mexico an educational crusade flourished between 1827 and 1834. Public schools "of first letters" opened their gates in San Antonio, Goliad, and Nacogdoches in the late 1820s. In New Mexico, public schools were established in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Santa Cruz de la Cafiada as well as in the pueblos of Zia, Jimez, and Zufii. Once inside the classroom, there was no ambiguity about the school's twofold purpose, stated in articles 6 and 7 of the statutes issued by New Mexico's territorial assembly: "to observe the Christian doctrine within school, to teach the principal mysteries of our holy Catholic faith, devotion and respect toward the sacred images of Christ and his holy Mother . . . and to instill in pupils the love

' Demographic data for Texas is from Juan Nepomuceno Almonte, Informe secveto sobve la presente situacidn de Zxas (Secret report on the present conditions of Texas) 118341, ed. Celia Gurierrez Ibarra (Mexico City, 1987), 20, 26, 31; and David J. Weber, The Mexica~z Frontier, 1821-1846: The American Southwest under Mexico (Albuquerque, 1982), 159-62, 166-67. For New Mexico's demography see Lansig Bloom, "New Mexico under Mexican Administration, 1821 -1846," Old Santa Fe, 1 (July 1913), 27-30. The phrase "extended Mexican fam- ily" reveals how officials understood the relation of indigenous societies to Mexico: see Juan Nepomuceno Almonre to Manuel Armijo, Nov. 12, 1839, Mexican Archives ofNew Mexico (microfilm, 43 reels, State of New Mexico Records Center, 1970), reel 26, p. 135.

''Since 1835 New Mexicans had had newspapers such as El Cvephculo de /a Libertad (Sanra Fe) and La Era&! (Sanra Fe). In Texas no Spanish-language newspapers were printed under Mexican rule, but Texans received publicsrions from Coahuila, Tamaulipas, and New Orleans, where A. Santangelo, an Italian expatriate and supporter of Mexican federalism, published Coweo Athntico. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Refictions on the Origzn andSpveadofNationalism (London, 1983), 61 -65.

that they must profess toward the fatherland, giving them ample illustration of our federal system and the liberality of our government so they will grow up to become valuable citizens." However, the educational crusade was short-lived. By 1834 most public schools in Texas and New Mexico operated very precariously oi had closed down. Scarce funds were frequently diverted toward more immediate concerns such as fighting Indians or paying the troops their back wages."

For the vast majority of the frontier inhabitants, neither the print media nor the schools went very far in promoting a sense of nationhood. For ;hem, the most per- vasive and perhaps the only indications of the existence of the Mexican nation were rituals and symbols. Officials in Texas and New Mexico introduced an endless suc- cession of reminders of the nation: flags, coins, elections, commemorations of the birthdays and deaths of independence heroes. The crowns that had hitherto embel- lished public buildings and carriages during colonial times were mercilessly erased, and the word "imperial" was systematically replaced by "national." Emblems planned to the last detail and always boasting the eagle standing on a prickly pear devouring a serpent-symbolizing the foundation of the Aztec empire-sprung up even in the smallest and most remote villages.12

Nationalizing rituals were first deployed in the nation's capital and quickly became an important weapon in the hands of skillful politicians such as Agustin de Iturbide, Antonio L6pez de Santa Anna, and Maximilian of Habsburg-to name just the three most notorious-who showed a knack for ritualism and excruciating ceremony and pomp. From Mexico City the ritualistic onslaught was projected across the entire national domain. Even before the end of Spanish domination in 182 1, the Mexican provisional governing junta was prompt to announce that the insurgent army would enter the capital in a triumphal parade to be celebrated on September 27 and exhorted all towns and villages that had not already sworn inde- pendence to do so on that day. The junta provided meticulous instructions to state and local authorities as to how the ceremonies should be conducted. Both New Mexico and Texas submitted to the mysterious new rituals, even though New Mex- ico did so belatedly. Gov. Agustin Melgares reported that the people of Santa Fe celebrated with what he ironically described as "inexplicable joy" in a program that included, among other features, an Indian dance, an allegorical parade with chil- dren dressed as angels and a little girl as the Virgin, and a patriotic performance in which three leading citizens (an alderman, the vicar general, and the military chaplain) played the parts of the three guarantees upon which the Mexican nation had just been brokered: independence, Catholicism, and unity.13

l1 The legislative body in New Mexico changed names: diputacidn provincial, 1822- 1824; diputacidn territo- rial, 1824- 1837; junta de'pautamental, 1837-1843; asamblea departamental, 1843-1846. School statutes, Santa Fe, Nov. 4, 1827, Mexican Archives of New Mexico, reel 7, frames 3-5. See Josefina Zoraida Vizquez, Nacionalismoy educacidn en Mhxico (Nationalism and education in Mexico) (Mexico City, 1975).

l2 For instance, each state militia had to carry a banner with designs and colors carefully planned. Decree on militias, Aug. 3, 1823, Mexican Archives of New Mexico, reel 2, frame 78.

13Provi~ionalGoverning Junta to Governor of New Mexico, Oct. 6, 1821, ibid., reel 1, frames 171-74; Gaceta Imperial de MPxico (Mexico City), March 23, 1822. This document has been translated and annotated: David J. Weber, "An Unforgettable Day: Facundo Melgares on Independence," New Mexico Historical Review, 48 (Jan. 1973), 27-44.

It is exceedingly difficult to ascertain how people felt about these ceremonies. Melgares somewhat sardonically remarked that it was his hope that those "exteriori- ties" revealed genuine support for "our holy cause." Indeed, it is likely that such newfound patriotism was at least partly a fabrication of zealous local and state offi- cials desirous of showing their constituencies in a good light to their superiors. But regardless of private feelings, Independence Day celebrations in Texas and New Mexico quickly became elaborate and ritualized affairs organized by patriotic com- mittees that labored for months every year to reach all segments of society. All of this required substantial outlays of money by leading citizens, who were thus able to show how solvent and patriotic they were. Repetition and anticipation became pow- erful conduits. From the enthusiasm displayed in San Antonio for the festivities of September 16, 1835, one would not have suspected that Texas was in the throes of a major rebellion. In addition to the usual tolling bells, pyrotechnic fires, and cannon shots, a mass with 72 Deum, and the party and dance de rigueur, a gas-filled globe was released from the main plaza to commemorate Mexico's deliverance from Spain. Even more enthusiastic was the Independence Day celebration of 1844 in Santa Fe, which lasted six entire days, including three days of bullfights.14

Like the Independence Day celebrations, other civic ceremonies functioned as important means to instill patriotic sentiments in the checkered frontier population. One by-product of the political instability that engulfed Mexico during its first decades as an independent nation was the large number of political ceremonies and commemorations mandated throughout the national domain. A partial list would include Iturbide's coronation as emperor in 1822, the allegiance ceremony to the 1824 constitution, the celebration of the defeat of the Spanish reconquest attempt of 1829, the allegiance ceremony to the 1835 constitution, the interment of Itur- bide's ashes in Mexico City's cathedral in 1838, and the allegiance ceremony to the 1844 constitution.'5 Moreover, local and state officials improvised ceremonies when- ever they saw the need. For instance, Col. JosC de las Piedras, military commander of the heavily Anglo-American district of Nacogdoches in Texas, decided to make local residents swear allegiance to the state constitution and to reacquaint them with the national constitution of 1824. One morning in 1827, under the threat of expulsion from the state if they failed to show up, Colonel Piedras gathered all settlers of Ayish

'Wn rituals in Mexico's history, see William H. Beezley, Cheryl English Martin, and William E. French, eds., Rituals of Rule, Rituals of Resistance: Public Celebrations and Popular Culture in Mexico (Wilmington, 1994),xiii

xxii. For the American case, see David Waldstreicher, In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism, 1776-1820 (Chapel Hill, 1997);and Len Travers, Celebrating the Fourth: Independence Day and the Rites of Nationalism in the Early Republic (Amherst, 1997).On patriotic rituals in Mexico City, see Michael Coste- loe, "The Junta Patri6tica and the Celebration of Independence in Mexico City, 1825-1855," Mexican Studies/ Estudios Mexicanos, 13 (Winter 1997), 21-53. Minutes of the patriotic commitree for the celebration of Inde- pendence Day, San Antonio, Aug. 16-22, 1835, BPxar Archives (microfilm, 172 reels, University of Texas Archives Microfilm Publication, 1967-1971), reel 166, frames 363-65; Minutes of the patriotic commitree for the celebration of Independence Day, Santa Fe, July-Sept., 1844, Mexican Archives of New Mexico, reel 37, frames 564-649. On the political uses of the bullfight in Spain, see Adrian Shubert, At Five in the Afternoon: A Social History of Spanish Bzd&'ghting, 1700-1900 (New York, forthcoming), 274-325.

li New Mexico dutifully celebrated all of these occasions. Texas did not take part in the last two since it was an independent nation by then.

Bayou, Sabinas, and Tajanb. Since the overwhelming majority could not speak Span- ish and hence would not be able to utter the customary oath, Colonel Piedras had each settler sign a leaf of paper that contained an assertory oath in English. In his report Colonel Piedras noted that the public spirit did not seem entirely appropriate, "their coolness and apathy indicates to me that this act was not to their liking."16


Staged civic celebrations were bolstered by everyday ceremonies meant to heighten people's national loyalties. These included simple rituals such as that for taking legal possession of land, in which grantees were required to shout, "Long live the presi- dent and the Mexican nation" before they could become legitimate owners. Com-


mon religious events were ideal for this purpose. Priests expounded on the nation in daily sermons and at marriages, baptisms, and other ceremonies. Indeed, Catholi- cism and Mexicanness became tightly intertwined. Religion was an expedient way to distinguish between Mexicans and, say, Indians (that is, "pagans") or Protestant Anglo-Americans, and the terms cristiano and mexicano were frequently used inter- cha&eably. In concrete policy terms this meant that all Native or hnglo-~mericans wishing to become Mexican citizens had to convert to Catholicism. Religious and patriotic symbols were frequently juxtaposed. For example, in his Independence Day sermon of 1832, Father Antonio JosC Martinez of Taos compared Miguel Hidalgo, the hero of independence, to no less a figure than Jesus Christ. According to the priest, both figures preached their doctrines to the people courageously and both died at the hands of their enemies: "behold here the mysterious resemblance which gives reason enough evidence to compare Hidalgo to Jesus: the former saved the human race, the latter saved the American people, the continent of Anbhuac." It is true that this identification of faith and citizenship came increasingly under strain as the power of the Catholic Church was challenged by liberal leaders, especially at midcentury. But in the Far North, Catholicism remained the very gateway to citi- zenship throughout the Mexican period."

Notwithstanding these attempts at national construction, sweeping economic changes tended to foil such efforts, imposing capricious cross-national alliances and intranational cleavages and in general making the logic of the market-free trade, free movement of peoples, unencumbered exploitation of natural resources-prevail over the designs of nationalist officials. Mexico's national leaders generally supported the pursuit of capitalist development in the northern frontier, but toward the 1830s, as they became more wary of real or imagined secessionist tendencies in the North, they attempted to regulate the region's integration with the economy of the United States and put obstacles in the way of increasing Anglo-American immi- gration. However, in so doing national officials met with decided resistance from local and regional Hispanic and Indian elites as well as Anglo-American newcomers

l6 Col. Jose de las Piedras to Gen. Anastasia Bustamante, Dec. 10, 1827, item 2, folder 673, box 40, Herbert E. Bolton Papers (Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley).

"Malcolm Ebright, "New Mexican Land Grants: The Legal Background," in Land, Water, and Cz~lture: New Perspectives on Hispanic Land Grants, ed. Charles L. Briggs and John R. Van Ness (Albuquerque, 1987), 54; for the sermon by Martinez, see Santiago Valdez, BiografZa del Reverend0 Padre Antonio JosP Martinez (Biography of Rev- erend Father Antonio Jose Martinez) (Taos, 1877), 54-56.

The Journal of American History September 1999

who had interests revolving around commerce and land and depended on laissez- faire policies for their well-being.

Initially, commerce provided the impetus for change. The Spanish colonies in America were long barred from trading with the United States and European coun- tries other than Spain, and although the Bourbon monarchs did away with some trade regulations in the 1760s and 1770s, freedom of commerce outside the empire came only after independence from Spain. Trade liberalization had a particularly strong impact on Mexico's northern provinces as they were tantalizingly close to the United States, which was rapidly becoming one of the most dynamic trading areas in the world. In New Mexico the beginning of a new commercial era can be dated with precision. The people of Santa Fe were still digesting the news of separation from Spain in mid-November 1821 when word spread of an approaching caravan of Missouri merchants. This time New Mexico's governor allowed the Anglo merchants to trade with the locals unmolested. It was the beginning of the Santa Fe Trail, which within a few years became the most important trading route between the United States and northern Mexico. The caravans from Missouri kept coming every year and turned into sizable capital ventures moved by hundreds of wagons and pro- tected by military escorts. In 1822 the value of the merchandise imported into New Mexico was estimated at fifteen thousand dollars, two years later that figure had dou- bled, and by 1826 it had doubled again. The merchandise brought to Santa Fe in 1843 was worth close to half a million dollars, a thirtyfold increase since independence.18 Texas replicated what had happened in New Mexico as it fell into the commercial orbit of New Orleans. In 1822 Father Refugio de la Garza, the first representative of Texas to the Constituent Congress in Mexico City, was instructed to secure for his province freedom of commerce with the United States. Within a year the skillful priest had prodded an oblivious congress into exempting Texans from paying any import duties for a period of seven years, thus creating a trading rush of far-reaching consequences. l9

Commerce brought a new set of social relations and interests to these provinces. In New Mexico the Santa Fe Trail was at first monopolized by an exclusive group of Anglo-American traffickers and a few Frenchmen who had preceded them. They controlled the bulk of the profits and wielded commensurate political influence. But New Mexico's traditional Hispanic elite soon made the transition from land-based and sheep-raising enterprises to commercial ventures. Manuel Armijo, three times governor of New Mexico, was the most striking example. He rapidly found a way to profit from the Santa Fe Trail, as the crafty governor began to sell foreign goods to other parts of northern Mexico where he had previously sold only sheep.20 He was

On the Santa Fe Trail, see Max L. Moorhead, New Mexico? Royal Road (Norman, 1958), 55 -15 1. For the data, see Lansig Bloom, "New Mexico under Mexican Administration," Old Santa Fe, 2 (Oct. 1914), 121.

'91nstructions to Deputy Refugio de la Garza, Jan. 30, 1822, pp. 8-17, file 190, box 2q297, Nacogdoches Archives Transcripts (Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas, Austin); and Refugio de la Garza to ayuntamiento of San Antonio, April 30, Aug. 8, 1822, Bdxar Archives, reel 71, frames 494-96, reel 72, frames 455-57. For the decree of freedom of commerce, see Jose Antonio Saucedo to Juan Martin de Veramendi, April 13, 1825, ibid., roll 80, frames 548-49.

20Manuel Alvarez to Secretary of State, July 1, 1843, Despatches from United States Consuls in Santa Fe, 1830-

1846 (microfilm: roll M 199), Records of the Department of State, RG 59 (National Archives, Washington, D.C.).

hardly alone. Such families as the Chdvez, Ortiz, Otero, and Perea became successful international merchants in their own right. By 1843, nuevomexicano merchants accounted for a full 45 percent of New Mexico's total exports and 22 percent of all shipments of foreign goods going into Mexico's interi~r.~'

Texas went through a similar transition. By 1826 Anglo-Americans dominated the trading business in San Antonio and Goliad, introducing merchandise at various times of the year. But as in New Mexico, it did not take long before entrepreneurial native sons staged a return to the commercial arena. Indeed by the early 1830s Anglo- American merchants squarely competed against a powerful tejano clique. These men had developed extensive trading networks comparable to those of their Anglo counter- parts, webs stretching from New Orleans suppliers to Texas customs officers and store owners. This tejano group became a formidable power to reckon

Although relations between Anglo and Hispanic merchants in both Texas and New Mexico were sometimes contentious, the two groups generally got along well and often forged profitable and long-lasting partnerships. In many respects the two groups of merchants were complementary. While Anglo-Americans could make introductions and pave the way for their Hispanic counterparts with suppliers in Missouri and Louisiana, Hispanic traders could reciprocate, helping their Anglo- American colleagues deal with Mexican customs officers and other authorities. The two groups were forced to travel together and to extend credit to one another. Many Anglo-American merchants married into nuevomexicano and tejano fa mi lie^.^' Above all, the merchants, regardless of ethnicity, were keenly opposed to outside meddling that threatened to interrupt the flow of profits coming from the north.

The emergence of a trading economy in Texas and New Mexico stimulated land deals, which provided yet another network of common interests. In Coahuila and Texas, state officials contracted with private developers or empresarioswhose task was to settle at least one hundred families and to establish self-sustaining colonies in exchange for land. The majority of both empresarios and colonists turned out to be Anglo-American. The empresario system completely changed the face of Texas. In the 18 10s Texas had been an undeveloped province with enormous baldios (vacant

Z1 The data on nuevomexicano merchants' trade is derived from statistical analysis of customs receipts, or guias, for 1843, the most complete yearly set available. Data and analysis in computer-readable form are available from the author on request. In the 1840s Anglo-American merchants often complained that the trade was falling into the hands of Mexicans. See Mark L. Gardner, ed., Brothers on the Santa Fe and Chihuahua Pails: Edward James Glasgow and William Henry Glargow, 1846-1848 (Niwot, 1993), 200n12. On the Chdvez clan in the Santa Fe trade, see Marc Simmons, The Little Lion of the Southwest: A Life ofManuelAntonio Chaves (Chicago, 1973), 64-

67. See also Daniel Tyler, "Anglo-American Penetration of the Southwest: The View from New Mexico," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 75 (Jan. 1972), 325-38. Notes to the San Antonio census, San Antonio, July 31, 1826, pp. 41-43, file 197A, box 2q298, Nacogdoches Archives Transcripts; and Jose Maria Sdnchez, Viaje a Texas en 1828-1829 (A journey to Texas in 1828-1829) (Mexico City, 1939), 29.

22 Philip Dimitt Collection (Barker Texas History Center).

23 On interethnic marriages, see Jane Dysart, "Mexican Women in San Antonio, 1830-1860: The Assimila- tion Process," Western Historical Quarterly, 7 (Oct. 1976), 365-75; Janet Lecompte, "The Independent Women of Hispanic New Mexico, 1821-1846," ibid., 12 (Jan. 1981), 20-37; Rebecca McDowell Craver, The Impact of Intimacy: Mexican-Anglo Intermarriage in New Mexico, 1821-1846 (El Paso, 1982); and Ram6n Gutierrez, When Jesur Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away: Marriage, Sexuality, and I'ower in New Mexico, 1500-1846 (Stanford, 1991), 271-97. Compadrazgo (ties established by godparenthood) was often used to promote trading partner- ships. See Sandra Jaramillo, "Bound by Family," unpublished paper, 1994 (in Andres Risendez's possession).

lands) visited only by occasional Indian groups, hunters, and adventurous Texans. Within a few years, most of the land was parceled out among numerous settlers who showed claims under the authority of overlapping empresario contracts and other land development schemes. State officials in Coahuila and Texas created a powerful patronage system on the basis of land di~tribution.~~

In secretive deliberations, state legislators and the governor conferred princely land grants, approved colonization enterprises, granted exclusive rights to navigate Texas rivers, and made profitable appointments for customs and land officials. From these transactions emerged a web of economic as well as political alliances that ran from state officials to empresarios, land commissioners, and colonists themselves, including widely diverse groups from tejano landowners to Anglo-American developers and speculators to Indian allies such as the Cherokees, who also secured a grant.

New Mexico went through a similar, if less studied, land drive. Prosperous mer- chants, both nuevomexicano and Anglo-American, sought to invest some of their profits in New Mexico's traditional economic activity, sheep raising, which in turn fueled demand for land. On the one hand, this pressure led to an increasing encroachment on communal lands that had been granted to Pueblo Indians by the Spanish Crown. Since the 1820s, choice Pueblo lands had become contested by non-Indians, a trend that was felt with greatest force toward the end of the Mexican peri0d.~5 On the other hand, New Mexico's authorities began to grant enormous tracts of land to Anglo-American developers alone or in partnership with nuevomex- icanos. With the approval of the departmental assembly, in 1844, Gov. Manuel Armijo granted a petition for approximately 1,700,000 acres by Carlos (Charles) Beu- bien, a merchant from the Taos area, and Guadalupe Miranda, Armijo's own secretary of government. In 1843 Governor Armijo had given his approval for two other enor- mous grants, one for 4,000,000 acres and the other one for close to 1,000,000 acres, on behalf of Anglo-Ameri~ans.~"~ in Texas, these transactions naturally bound the grantees to New Mexican officials and created a network of interests that would be

24Mary Virginia Henderson, "Minor Empresario Contracts for the Colonization of Texas, 1825-1834," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 31 (April 1928), 295-324; Reichstein, Rise of the Lone Star; Malcolm D. McLean, Papers Concerning Robertson; Colony in Texas (16 vols., Fort Worth and Arlington, 1974-1990); Vito Alessio Robles, Coahuikz y Texas desde kz consumacidn de la independencia basta el tratado de paz de Guadalupe Hidalgo (Coahuila and Texas from independence to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo) (2 vols., Mexico City, 1945). Important work on this subject remains unpublished, for instance, Ricki S. Janicek, "The Development of Early Mexican Land Policy: Coahuila and Texas, 1810-1825" (Ph.D. diss., Tulane University, 1985); and Ricki S. Janicek, "The Politics of Land: Mexico and Texas, 1823-1836," paper presented at the meeting of the Texas State Historical Association, Austin, Feb. 1996 (in Rksendez's possession).

25 G. Emlen Hall and David J. Weber, "Mexican Liberals and the Pueblo Indians, 1821-1829," New Mexico HistoricalReview,59 (Jan. 1984), 5-32; G. Emlen Hall, "The Pueblo Granr Labyrinth," in Land, Water, and Cul- ture, ed. Briggs and Van Ness, 67-138. For specific cases, see G. Emlen Hall, Four Leagues of Pecos (Albuquerque, 1984); and Myra Ellen Jenkins, "Taos Pueblo and Its Neighbors, 1540-1847," New Mexico Historical Review, 41 (April 1966), 85-1 14.

'Wn December 9, 1843, Governor Armijo approved a grant for Cornelio Vigil, alcalde of Taos, and Ceran St. Vrain, a Santa Fe trader. A few weeks later, Armijo approved a grant of close to 1,000,000 acres to Beubien's son Narciso and Stephen L. Lee, an Anglo-American distiller of Taos. This grant became known as the Sangre de Cristo. See Harold H. Dunham, "New Mexican Land Grants with Special Reference to the Title Papers of the Maxwell Granr," New Mexico Historical Review, 30 (Jan. 1955), 1-22. See also Malcolm Ebright, Land Grants and Lawsuits in Northern New Mexico (Albuquerque, 1994), 27.

critical when war between Mexico and the United States broke out and the depart- ment of New Mexico tottered between the two countries. Indeed, most of the Anglo-American and nuevomexicano land grantees, as well as some disgruntled Pueblo Indian leaders, played key roles in the dramatic sovereignty struggles of New Mexico in 1846- 1848.

Commercial and land transactions hindered the consolidation of the Mexican nation in Texas and New Mexico. This occurred not so much because there were cozy partnerships between local authorities and foreign businessmen as because the prosperity of those provinces hinged on the continuation and accretion of economic ties with the United States. Prominent tejanos and nuevomexicanos, with their Anglo-American partners, staked their future on the development of those provinces along federalist lines, which meant unrestricted trade with the United States, increasing immigration of Anglo-Americans, and flexible land policies that insured property rights for foreigners and recent arrivals. Given the demographic and economic imbalance between Hispanics and Anglos, this policy would even- tually result in an overwhelming preponderance of Anglo-Americans along the frontier. On the eve of the Texas Revolution, northeastern Texas was largely inhab- ited by Anglo colonists who had prospered in a thriving cotton and cattle economy. In the years immediately before the Mexican-American War, northern New Mexico was falling inexorably into the hands sf wealthy Anglo-American merchants and some of their nuevomexicano partners.

These developments did not go unnoticed in centralist circles, and they eventu- ally elicited a strong nationalist reaction. Lucas Alamin, the minister of the interior, was the most adamant and influential voice of this political backlash. In 1830 he observed that

instead of sending conquering armies, [North Americans] have recourse to other means . . . they begin by introducing themselves in a territory that they desire and establish colonies and trading routes. Then they demand rights that would be impossible to sustain in any serious discussion, and basing their claims on histori- cal facts that nobody admits . . . little by little these extravagant ideas, out of repe- tition, become sound proofs of ownership.

Such nationalist rhetoric was quickly appropriated in Texas and New Mexico and injected into local disputes. Citizens who felt displaced by outsiders repeatedly resorted to patriotic rhetoric to strengthen their claims. For instance, many tejanos of Goliad became very receptive to centralist harangues that emphasized patriotism because the community had a long-standing land dispute with the foreign-born empresario Green DeWitt. In fact, Carlos de la Garza, a Goliad resident, became the most conspicuous centralist tejano leader during the entire Texas Revolution. Like- wise the Mexican military in San Antonio was able to raise two companies of "vol- unteers for the Nation" who remained loyal to the centralist government. Nationalist rhetoric was similarly appropriated and deployed in New Mexico to settle local and regional political scores, often masking pecuniary disputes, but also for ideological reasons. For instance, in a letter to the bishop of Durango in 1845, Father Antonio JosC Martinez of Taos stated his opposition in religious terms: "The changeover to the United States will mean the introduction of diverse religious sects that are toler- ated in that country according to their Constitution; but given what little I know by the grace of God, and my determination, I am ready to resist with all my strength the propagation of these sects." In sum, patriotic rhetoric became a potent cement binding local, regional, and national political groups who often pursued different immediate objectives but were all united under the same banner: to preserve the ter- ritorial integrity of Me~ico.~'

Rebellion, War, and National Identity

The Texas Revolution would set the terms of the national identity struggles in Mex- ico's Far North in the decades to follow. Most traditional histories either trace the revolt of 1835-1836 to cultural or ethnic incompatibility between Mexicans and Americans or adopt a sweeping Manifest Destiny explanation, casting the revolution as merely a step in the westward drive of Anglo-Americans into Spanish Ameri~a.~~ Yet a growing interest in Mexican Texans has shown that the revolution was not car- ried out exclusively by dissatisfied Anglo colonists but that tejanos as well were actively involved. Indeed, the initial momentum to organize state militias and resist the central government's authority, even if that entailed using force, originated in Coahuila and the San Antonio-Goliad region, not in the Anglo colonies. Indians also played a crucial part in this story. Historians have begun to elucidate the tangle of alliances and counteralliances between Indians and revolutionists. Inevitably, with the addition of new protagonists, the story has lost some of its past simplicity. As David Weber has pointed out, the Texas Revolution was not a clear-cut ethnic or racial rebellion "pitting all Anglos against all Mexicans, all white against all non-white"; it was an unwieldy coalition of Anglo-American colonists, tejanos, and Indian tribes fighting against the national government and its local and regional allies.29

The origins of the Texas Revolution have to be traced back to the clash between

27Luca~Alaman to Gen. Manuel Mier y Terin, Feb. 13, 1830, p. 4, folder 673, box 40, Bolton Papers. On centralism in Goliad, see ha Caroline Castillo Crimm, "Finding Their Ways," in Tejano Journey, 1770-1860, ed. Gerald E. Poyo (Austin, 1996), 119-20; Andres Tijerina, "Under the Mexican Flag," ibid., 44-46; hdres Tije- rina, Ejanos and Zxas under the Mexican Fhg, 1821-1836 (College Station, 1994), 123-24; and Paul D. Lack, The Texas Revolutionary Experience: A Political and Social History, 1835-1836 (College Station, 1992), 163. On the San Antonio volunteers, see ibid., 165-66. Antonio Jose Martinez to Jose Antonio Laureano de Zubiria, Sept. 2, 1845, in Valdez, Biografa del Reverendo Padre Antonio Jose Martinez, 42. Martinez had apparently changed his opinion, for in his youth he had supported freedom of religion in Mexico. (bid., 14.

28 See, for example, Eugene C. Barker, Mexico and Exas, 1821-1835 (New York, 1965);Samuel H. Lowrie, Culture Conjict in Texas, 1821-1836 (New York, 1932);and William C. Binkley, The Exas Revolution (Baton Rouge, 1952).For a sample of the historiography on Manifest Destiny, see n. 3, above.

"Lack, Texas Revolutionary Experience, 156-207; Jesus F. de la Teja, ed., A Revolution Remembered: The Mem- oirs and Selected Correspondence of Juan N. Seguin (Austin, 1991);and Tijerina, Tejanos and Texas under the Mexi- can Flag, 137-44. On Indians in the Texas Revolution, see Dianna Everett, The Exas Cherokees: A People between Two Fires, 1819-1840 (Norman, 1990);and Mary Whatley Clarke, Chief Bowles and the Exas Cherokees (Norman, 1971).Weber, Myth and the History of the Hispanic Southwest, 144. Ethnicity did play a crucial part in the conflict, especially once the rebellion started. For ethnic and racial thinking, see James E. Crisp, "Anglo-Texan Attitudes toward the Mexican, 1821-1845" (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1976);and Arnoldo De Leon, They Called Them Greasers: Anglo Attitudes toward Mexicans in Texas, 1821-1900 (Austin, 1983).

regional and national elites in Mexico, especially as their struggle affected the network of interests that had flourished in Texas in the 1820s. Those who advocated autonomy for the states and defended local interests against national encroachment-a heterogeneous group that came to be known as "radical liberals" or "federalists"-began to chafe after the offensive launched by their "centralist" opponents in the early 1 830se3O The short-lived administration of Anastasio Bustamante in 1830- 1832 moved pre- cisely in that centralizing direction. He established a ring of military garrisons in Texas, opened customs houses to regulate and tax commerce with the United States, and sought to reduce the preponderance of Anglo-Americans in Texas by promoting Mexican and European colonization and forbidding any further immigration from the United States. The nationalist offensive abated for a few months when another federalist administration gained power in Mexico City, but the offensive was resumed in 1834- 1836. The pattern was identical. The national government insti- tuted reforms that threatened to alter the fundamental economic and political rela- tions prevalent in Coahuila and Texas. Only this second time, the draka would play itself out until Texas seceded from Me~ico.~'

Having said this, however, we should avoid another form of historical reduc- tionism-following contemporary rhetoric-that described the Texas Revolution as a quest for freedom against military despotism from Mexico's heartland. First, the nationalist rhetoric employed by centralists commanded enormous popular support, especially given the truly scandalous speculation and the rapid Americanization of Texas. Even within Coahuila and Texas a vocal antifederalist faction responded enthusiastically to the patriotic harangues to regain Texas for Mexico. Second, feder- alists and revolutionists in Texas-whether Anglo, tejano, or Indian-may all have been fighting under the collective banner of "freedom," but "freedom" was often linked to self-interest. Assigning economic motives to participants in the revolution has not been popular among past generations of historians, and yet evidence of the importance of pecuniary interests is widespread and impressive. Malcolm D. McLean and Andreas V. Reichstein have singled out land speculation as a powerful incentive for revolution. Mercantile interests that arose in the 1820s and early 1830s have not been closely analyzed, even though much of the discontent leading up to the revolution revolved around tariff collection. Both Anglo-American and tejano merchants objected to the establishment of customs houses, and both remained gen- erally supportive of the revolution even as secession from Mexico became perma-

?OAs a political system, "centralism" was not instituted until 1835, but the label had been in use since the late 1820s. On the rise of centralism, see Reynaldo Sordo, Elcongreso en laprimera repziblica centralista (Congress dur- ing the first centralist republic) (Mexico City, 1993). On the centralist regime, see Michael I? Costeloe, The Cen- tral Republic in Mexico, 1835-1846 Hombres de Bien in the Age of Santa Anna (Cambridge, Eng., 1993). The case of Texas was hotly debated in Mexico City. See Nettie Lee Benson, "Texas As Viewed from Mexico, 1820- 1834," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 90 (Jan. 1987), 219-91.

jlSee Law of April 6, 1830, translated in McLean, Papers Concerning Robertson? Colony in Texas, 111, 494-99. See also "Representaci6n dirijida por el ilustre Ayuntamiento de la ciudad de Bixar a1 honorable Congreso del Estado" (Representation sent by the illustrious municipality of the city of Bkxar [San Antonio] to the honorable state congress), edited and translated, in Tvoubles in Texas, 1832:A Zjano Viewpointfrom Sun Antonio, ed. David J. Weber and Conchita Hassell Winn (Austin, 1983), 58. On the federalists' policies toward Coahuila and Texas, see Robles, Coahuilay Texas, I, 483-97.

nent. Undoubtedly, in the course of the fighting, ethnic and racial tensions surfaced, but initially Texans made a revolution to protect their freedoms, their beliefs, and their interests; in the process they took the momentous decision to create a new nation.32

Ten years after the Texas Revolution, in the summer of 1846, Col. Stephen W. Kearny found himself marching along the Santa Fe Trail, commanding a small army, with instructions from the United States government to take possession of New Mexico. War had begun between Mexico and the United States. On August 18, about two thousand weary and dusty American soldiers marched unopposed into Santa Fe. Their commander formally took possession of the territory of New Mex- ico. The Army of the West had conquered New Mexico "without the firing of a shot or the shedding of a single drop of blood," according to a contemporary description that historians have repeated ever since. Yet five months later, an anti-American rebellion broke out in the northern and western districts of New Mexico. The upris- ing eventually claimed the lives of the recently appointed American of New Mexico, several other Anglo-American residents, and at least two nuevomexi- can0 "collaborationists." The two episodes, the unopposed march of American troops into Santa Fe and the Taos rebellion, marked the two ends of the pendulum swing in the sovereignty struggles unfolding in New Mexico.33 The war created an environment in which local political grievances, economic interests, and evolving identities played themselves out throughout Mexico's Far North against the back- drop of an impending invasion and possible annexation to the United States. It is tempting to interpret the war squarely as a conflict between two clearly defined nations, and it is easy to understand the ensuing territorial exchange as solely a mili- tary outcome. And yet, from the perspective of the border society-rather than that of Mexico City or Washington, D.C.-what we find is an army of invasion negoti- ating with local and regional actors whose loyalties did not always conform to simple national lines.

Much in the attitudes of leading nuevomexicanos toward Kearny's Army of the West in the summer of 1846 has to be traced back to a network of interests that had developed among key nuevomexicano officials and Anglo-American merchants and residents during the 1840s. Some days before the arrival of the Army of the West, Manuel Alvarez, the Spanish-born consul of the United States in Santa Fe, tried to persuade Governor Armijo not to resist. Alvarez found Armijo "vacillating to the

j2 Reichstein, Rise of the Lone Star, 181 -202; McLean, Papers Concerning Robertson? Colony in Texas, esp. XIII, 71-124. As David Montejano put it, how Mexico's Far North became the American West "would be incompre- hensible without merchants and lawyers." David Montejano, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 18361986 (Austin, 1987), 15. On trade in Mexican Texas, see Weber, Mexican Frontier, 3381134; and Barker, Mexico and Texas, 107-8. On tejano merchants during the revolution, see AndrCs ResCndez, "Traitor Merchants? Tejano Merchants in the Texas Revolution," paper presented at the meeting of the Texas State Historical Association, Austin, Feb. 1996 (in Resindez's possession).

jiReport of Stephen W. Kearny quoted in E. Bennett Burton, "The Taos Rebellion," Old Santa Fe, 1 (Oct. 1913), 176. For narratives, see Howard R. Lamar, The Fau Southwest, 1846-1912: A Territouial History (New Haven, 1966); and three classics: Ralph Emerson Twitchell, The Military Occupation of New Mexico, 1846-1851 (Denver, 1909); Ralph Emerson Twitchell, The Leading Facts of New Mexican History (2 vols., Cedar Rapids, 191 1-1912); and Hubert H. Bancroft, History of Arizona and New illexico, 1530-1888 (San Francisco, 1889). Michael McNierney, ed., Taos 1847: The Revolt in Contemporary Accounts (Boulder, 1980).

last" and utterly undecided. Although the consul admitted that he could not per- suade the governor to turn over the Department of New Mexico to the Americans, he asserted that he had had more success with "other officers" and Armiio's "confi- dential advisers." Santiago (James W) Magoffin, a seasoned merchant of the Santa Fe Trail who had been commissioned by President James K. Polk to use his con- nections to win the northern provinces over to the American side, reported that prior to Kearny's arrival he had met many of the "rich" and the militia officers of New Mexico and, with only one exception, had found that they would be per- fectly satisfied if the area became a territory of the United States. Magoffin told nuevomexicano officers that they would be happy under the star-spangled banner because their property would be respected, their houses would rise in value, and the political system would change for the better. Robert B. McAfee, another mer- chant, sarcastically summed up this phenomenon for President Polk: "Touch their money and you reach their hearts. Make it their interest to have peace and we will soon have it."34

The events that followed are not entirely clear. The governor began preparations to face the American army of occupation at a formidable pass called el Can'dn, fifteen miles east of Santa Fe. Yet two days before the showdown would have occurred, Governor Armijo took the momentous decision to disband the volunteers he had summoned. With seventy soldiers the governor retreated to Chihuahua, thus clear- ing the path of the invading army.35

McAfee may have been accurate in describing the outlook of the privileged few whose interests depended on the Santa Fe Trail, but displaced elites and commoners thought otherwise. In the aftermath of the American takeover, significant discontent surfaced throughout New Mexico. The Pueblo Indians of Taos, for instance, resented the encroachment of Anglo-American and Mexican merchants on their land. Aided by the influential parish priest of Taos, JosC Antonio Martinez, Pueblo Indians had denounced the Miranda-Beubien land grant, claiming that it included communal lands that belonged to the Taos Pueblo and were used for hunting buffalo. They managed to persuade nuevomexicano officials to suspend the grant in 1844, but only temporarily. After the American occupation, Pueblo Indians feared that land encroachment would proceed more ra~idly.3~

New Mexico's Catholic establishment also fiercely opposed annexation to the

34Alvarez to James Buchanan, Sept. 4, 1846 (roll M 199), Despatches from United States Consuls in Santa Fe. On the Spanish-born consul, see Thomas E. Chivez, Manuel Alvarez, 1794-1856, A Southwestern Biography (Niwot, 1990). J. W. Magoffin to W L. Marcy, Aug. 26, 1846, Magoffin Papers, Twitchell Collection (New Mex- ico State Records Center and Archives); Testimony of Lt. Manuel Garcia de Lara, Proceedings against Armijo, Mexico City, March 1847 (microfilm: file 2588, roll 11) Archivo Hist6rico de la Defensa Nacional (Bancroft Library). A fuller collection of the original documents is in the Archivo Hist6rico de la Defensa Nacional, Secre- taria de la Defensa Nacional, Mexico City. Robert B. McAfee to James K. Polk, June 22, 1847, Magoffin Papers.

35 Many nuevomexicanos spoke about outright treason and claimed thar Armijo had sold the department for 25,000 pesos. See Proceedings against Armijo (file 2588, roll 1 1), Archivo Hist6rico de la Defensa Nacional, Ban- croft Library. On Armijo's options and constraints at thar juncture, see Daniel Tyler, "Governor Armijo's Moment of Truth,"jouvnal of the West, 11 (April 1972), 307-16.

j6 Surveyor General Report (microfilm: 15, reel 14), frames 141 -80, Land Grant Records (New Mexico State Records Center and Archives).

United States. Even before the military occupation of New Mexico, Father Martinez had been the most outspoken critic of Armijo's administration for "caving in" to the Americans and had delivered a series of sermons "arousing the people to a deter- mined resistance." He warned his congregation of impending disasters and told them of his nightmares about the national government disposing of New Mexico. As the embattled priest interpreted New Mexico's situation with some hyperbole, a mob of "heretics were ready on its confines to overrun this unfortunate land." Father Martinez's patriotic ihetoric drew on a wellspring of religious symbology and Pueblo Indian mythology.37

The most telling example of this merger of patriotism, religion, and ancient mythology is found in a mysterious document that appeared in Jtmez, Sari, Juan, and probably other pueblos as well. The document was dated May 25, 1846, barely ten days after the United States declared war on Mexico. It was the story of Montezuma "to be told to the Pueblos of the great province of New Mexico, so that they understand that they are and shall be recognized as part of Monte- zuma's nation to whom they are to render full obedience." The legend is convo-


luted, but even a cursory examination provides insights into how myths were used to create identity.38

The story begins as Montezuma was divinely conceived from a nut eaten by a maiden. Montezuma grew up in the town of Teguayo, a pueblo of New Mexico, until the old Indian governor died. On that day the most powerful men gathered to appoint a new leader but could not agree, so, to have some fun, they chose pitiful Montezuma. But Montezuma soon astonished everyone with prodigies and mira- cles, and his fame spread throughout the pueblos, whose people regarded him as a great leader. One day God appeared to Montezuma and told him that an eagle would lead him on a long journey. Thus Montezuma and his followers walked for several days following the course of the eagle until they came up to a valley where there was a lake with an island in the middle. There the eagle descended to devour a serpent while standing on a prickly pear. That was the sign that Montezuma was awaiting. And in that place he founded a new empire, the Aztec empire, which was also the origin of Mexico City.39

The legend of Montezuma is the story of a hero long known in Pueblo myths, Pose-yemo, blended with the life story of Jesus Christ and the foundational myth of the Aztec empire. The legend clearly intended to appeal to Pueblo Indians by casting them, not as subjugated people, but as the divine founders of the Mexican nation. The legend also created a bridge between Hispanics and Pueblos. It became well

j7Alvarez to Buchanan, Feb. 9, 1846 (roll M 199), Despatches from United States Consuls in Santa Fe, 1830- 1846. For a warning against interpreting Martinez as simply a staunch Mexican nationalist, see Angtlico Chavez, But Time and Chance: The Story of Padve Mavtinez of Taos (Santa Fe, 1981), 81-87. Charles Bent to Alvarez, Feb. 26, 1846, file 74, Read Collection (New Mexico State Records Center and Archives).

j8 "Historia de Monrezuma," May 25, 1846, folder 788, box 2q240, Bandelier Transcripts (Barker Texas His- tory Center). On the sources, see Charles H. Lange, Carroll L. Riley, and Elizabeth M. Lange, The Southwestern Journals ofAdolph I! Bandelier (4 vols., Albuquerque, 1984), IV, 513-17. See also Twitchell, Leading Facts of New Mexican History, I, 401-3.

i"Historia de Monrezuma."

known among the Pueblos before the 1847 rebellion and remained a powerful myth long after that episode.*O

As to the exact role that the Montezuma legend played in the Pueblos' participation in the 1847 revolt, we know very little. Unfortunately, once the rebellion was put down, the Pueblo leaders were summarily tried, declared guilty of treason to the United States, and hanged without anyone recording their depositions. And yet the participation of Pueblo Indians in the Taos rebellion shows how Native Americans became key players in the struggles over national identity in the Southwest. It underscores the wellspring of myths and symbols brought forth by the contacts between various groups in this area, and it shows how these myths and symbols were merged and combined with one another, creating new and unexpected national meaning.


The conflicts that rocked Mexico's northern frontier in the first half of the nineteenth century, including the Texas Revolution and the Taos rebellion, were ultimately strug- gles over sovereignty and identity. These events cannot be reduced to ethnic conflicts between Hispanics, Native Americans, and Anglo-Americans. The surprising decision of tejano merchants to support the Anglo-American drive to secede from Mexico in 1835-1836 or the Pueblo Indians' intention to restore Mexico's sovereignty over New Mexico in 1847 seem to defy common sense because their loyalties did not conform to previous ethnic solidarities. For this reason those events well illustrate how much national identity depended on economic arrangements as well as an imagery able to speak to the needs and longings of diverse peoples.

The Mexican government, having inherited the Spanish imperial bureaucracy and its political-religious mental world, attempted to forge a Mexican identity in the northern frontier by developing patronage lines leading from the center to the remote provinces by using the overlapping administrative structures of church, mili- tary, and civil government; by promoting civic and religious rituals derived chiefly from the independence struggle; and by fashioning-often unwittingly-a defensive, antiforeign, nationalist rhetoric that was appropriated by border communities and political groups to advance their own interests and agendas. Yet, this nationalist project went against the grain of a network of economic, social, and political cross- cultural alliances brought about by the prodigious economic development of the frontier region and its growing integration into the economy of the United States.

Adopting the perspective of the people living in these border provinces, we can recast the sovereignty struggles as a vast project to organize society. The decision to become Mexican or American or Texan was not only a question of placing or imag- ining oneself within one collectivity; most critically, it involved choices about the

'O Jose Miguel Vigil and Pedro Jose Medina interview by William G. Ritch, n.p., Dec. 4, 1877, Ritch Collec- tion, roll 8 (New Mexico State Records Center and Archives, Santa Fe). For the later role of Montezuma in New Mexico, see Ram6n A. Gutiirrez, Xztlrin, Montezuma, and New Mexico: The Political Uses of American Indian Mythology," in Aztlan: Essays on the Chicano Homeland, ed. Rodolfo A. Anaya and Francisco Lomeli (Albuquer- que, 1989), 172-90.

organization of the economy, the contours of the political system, and religious and moral values. And in making all of those critical choices, different social groups, classes, and ethnicities that coexisted in Mexico's Far North had different and often conflicting ideas. Tejanos, federalists, indigenous communities, nuevomexicanos, centralists, merchants, empresarios, Anglo-Americans, and common people attempted to shape the nation to their own wishes and their best interests. In this frontier world where interests, political ideology, and national allegiances were inextricably inter- twined, the deployment of Mexicanist rhetoric-or its absence-became another weapon in their everyday life struggles. The nation did not emerge full-blown right after emancipation from Spain in 1821, nor was it purposefully constructed accord- ing to blueprint laid out by the "Mexican founding fathers," it was simply a by- product of complicated alliances and counteralliances contingent on a set of local arrangements in constant flux.

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