Susan Shelby Magoffin was the first or among the first white American or non-Indian women to cross the Santa Fe Trail. She traveled as the young and new bride of a successful trader, Samuel Magoffin, who had established business with the Mexicans before he married Susan. Their journey from Independence, Missouri to Chihuahua, Mexico was their honeymoon. On the way, Susan recorded her experiences, perceptions and insights in a diary, which reflected the conditions of her time through her perception. She described that independence existed there along with much free uncontaminated air that fired the mind, feelings and every thought with purity. She was later quoted as calling it a disastrous celebration of that freedom.
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She traveled in a rockaway carriage under the meticulous care of her husband, a maid named Jane and a physician, Dr. Masere, who attended to her first pregnancy. Some viewed Susan as traveling in comfort and style, unlike her sisters in the rough Oregon trail. But the carriage was far from comfortable. In fact, it symbolized a landscape that proved quite bleak and harsh for human use — its wheels patched and mended, its broken top reinforced only by studs made of used lumber, and the shiny black pain made dull by wind-drive sand. Susan recorded such harshness and bleakness in the small and large events of their journey, such as her travails of pregnancy and the premature birth and death of her firstborn.
Susan described the freedom of the outdoors — the uncontaminated air that filled and purified the mind, the feelings and the thoughts — and the ways of the slaves they encountered on the way. She was taken ill for a week after delivery but was amazed by the resilience and strength of an Indian woman slave who gave birth to a healthy and strong infant with a minimum of fuss. The woman slave got up half an hour after childbirth, carried a bundle to Arkansas, cut a hole on the ice for water and washed herself and her sturdy newborn. In contrast, Susan was a pampered white woman, supposed to be wiser and more knowledgeable, but instead, lost her first child and languished in poor health. While the Mexicans and the Cheyenne, Utes and Navajo natives and slaved lived in the full radiance and sustenance of the outdoors, she stayed in a dark and cold room at the Bent’s Fort in La Junta, Colorado, sick and distressed not only over the loss of her first child but also for the family she left. She was the only white woman in that vast space of thousands of miles and the situation required of her more than self-sufficiency and self-reliance. It demanded the sheer will to survive and the guts few could muster. It must be remembered that the Santa Fe Trail was a commercial trade, not an immigrant, route, hence its arduousness and inclement conditions.
After Spain granted independence to Mexico in 1821, William Becknell brought trade goods to Santa Fe. Before then, trading with the United States was illegal and traders who arrived in Santa Fe were arrested and jailed. Becknell’s move paid off and others imitated him, among them Samuel Magoffin, in hundreds of wagon trails of goods crossing the trail every year. The Magoffins’ wagon was one of the 75 or 80 that encamped for the night of July 3, 1846 at Pawnee Rock. The following morning, Susan carved her name on Pawnee Rock, with hundreds already impressed on it, while Samuel kept watch for Indian attackers as he held guns and pistols. Susan was so scared of Indians that she trembled.
With the other wagons ahead of them, the driver of the Magoffins hurriedly overtook them to Ash Creek. Failing to observe the precaution of dismounting and walking down, their wagon was thrown off the edge of the cliff and crashed to pieces, but leaving the passengers almost completely un-injured. Susan had to be carried to the shade of a tree, where her face and hands were rubbed with whisky to bring her to herself. Instead, she was welcomed the events as an occasion that tested her husband’s oversight and devotion. She pictured the scene as a perfect mess of people, books, bottles, guns, pistols, baskets, bags, boxes and other things.
Susas was the first American woman to see New Mexico and she recorded her surprise at the lack of formality in the dresses of the women she met and found there. She also remarked at their openness, freedom of movement and courage. She observed that the New Mexican women differed from American women in a way, which reflected their respective societies. Married American women enjoyed few legal rights. Property and wages she earned belonged to their husbands. New Mexican women, in comparison, kept their property, wages and even their maiden names, as the custom of original Spanish settlers. She noted that New Mexican women, unlike American women, were not subject to men.
Manifest Destiny was the inspiration posed by drumbeaters of the 19th century before the American people to make annexations of territories their conscious aim. The phrase meant that the United States was destined to stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. It was a popular belief wherein the will of God intended the United States expand its natural limits beyond its geographical location. This led to the acquisition of Mexican territory after the Mexican War in 1846 to 1847, the conflict with Great Britain over the Oregon boundaries and the purchase of Alaska in 1867. In addition to that belief in manifest destiny, the Monroe Doctrine and the slavery issue drove large numbers of American settlers in the Mexican territory, the setting of Susan Shelby Magoffin’s accounts. People of the 19th century confronted hunger and population pressure and sought for answers westward and away from their settled homes in the Atlantic, where Susan’s family lived. The vigor of new independence gave them a sense of an unalienable right and power from God to conquer and occupy the territory between the two oceans. It was the driving force that brought the Magoffins to join the large caravan of other wagons. Manifest Destiny was viewed not only as the consequence of the aggressive nationalism of a young and weak nation but also of a myth. Their population was growing so fast that they believed the existing American territory could no longer hold and feed the swelling population.
At the time, there were large stretches of thinly populated or uninhabited land, occupied by Indians and Spanish-Mexican colonists. Americans of the 19th century held the same view as the European colonizers who believed that native inhabitants must make way for them and move out: the land was rightfully theirs. Claiming or winning it was their mark of intrinsic superiority to the natives. As Americans moved into the West, the Indians also moved deeper and farther into the inner parts of the continent, until they reached Mexico. There they settled in huge numbers in the 1820s, with the first Anglo settlers becoming Mexican citizens and Roman Catholic. But the U.S. government did not favor this change of loyalty and took measures to assert control over the territories.
In 1824, President James Monroe also pledged U.S. protection for Latin American republics just granted independence through his famous doctrine, popularly known as the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine denied European powers the right to intervene in American affairs or to establish new colonies in the Western Hemisphere. President Monroe assured Latin Americans that the United States would henceforth defend their freedom. In the 1840s, nearing the time of the journey of the Magoffins to Santa Fe, England negotiated an armistice between Texas and Mexico, indicating England’s intention of placing Texas under its protection. The U.S., at the same time, wanted to buy Texas in 1827 and considered England’s similar intent as a violation of the Monroe Doctrine and, more importantly, as a threat to the security of the U.S.
But the strongest motivation of the U.S. In acquiring the new territory was the issue of slavery. In early 19th century, the U.S. was divided between the free-labor North that disfavored slavery and the South with a slave economy. The U.S. Constitution gave the slaves states the right to 3/5 of their slaves in determining the extent of their representation to Washington, hence, dominating the House of Representatives. With equal representations between the slave and the free states, they both wanted to increase their political power by increasing the number of new states the Union could conquer.
Mexican Texas soon became the center of attention and controversy, Texas was annexed, but, through short wars, the first decisive U.S. victory was California by the naval force of Commodore John Sloat in early July 1846. American forces claimed San Diego and Los Angeles and 500 to 600 California leaders fled to Mexico. American forces marched to the capital city, Santa Fe, waged a short and bloodless war and occupied it with little resistance. Santa Fe was quiet at the time, with only the sound of marching heard at the time. The new Mexicans could have welcomed the American forces for promise of protection they offered against the Texans. But only few of them quietly received the arriving American troops and the suspicion was that resistance was silenced by Governor Manuel Armijo who was said to have been paid by an American agent to turn New Mexico over peacefully. In any case, a military government under General Kearny was set up in Santa Fe and promised to honor the civil and religious rights of the New Mexicans. He kept his word but peace did not last long. Susan Shelby Magoffin recorded her observation of the leadership and behavior of General Kearny in her diary and the strain he put on the natives, who at first, reacted with apathy. The natives’ patience, however, ran out and they staged a revolt at Taos in January 1847, believed to have been instigated by Father Jose Antonio Martinez, who was later suspended and then excommunicated. The rebels killed the Americans and Mexicans who sided with the Americans. The first American civil governor, Charles Brent, perished in that bloody revolt. But a rich Mexican, Donaciano Vigil, was appointed to the position and he quickly put an end to the revolt. At this point, New Mexico was clearly and firmly in American hands. In the meantime, war brought much economic hardship and political disorder to Mexico and the United States itself wanted to end conflicts, as they proved to a heavier drain than their intent to conquer. This was the background of the impressions recorded by Susan in her diary.
2) Indian-White relationships might have begun in 1492 when Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic Ocean, landed, claimed lands in the name of Spain and established the “Right of Discovery.” Bloody and destructive invasions of Mexico and Central America occurred in less than 50 years. These invasions had different impacts on the colonized and separated regions of North America. In many cases, invasions by Spanish conquistadores were cruel, while those of early English colonizers were cooperative. Just the same, the fate of the natives was subjected to the biological and cultural superiority of the colonizers. For one thing, the indigenous tribes of North America had different and separate diseases and immunities from those of European colonizers. Hence, crossing paths was biologically catastrophic for both sides. Only a few of these indigenous tribes managed to survive the long-term environmental consequences brought about by overpopulation and the use of land introduced by these European conquerors. More importantly, the Americans wanted the land for themselves and denied the native Indians any claim to traditional occupancy.
The first Europeans to reach the land that would be the United States were Spanish adventurers based in their Mexican territory, New Spain. They heard news about bountiful wealth in the 7 cities of Cibola, such as the discovery of silver at the Zacatecas in 1548. Fray Marcos de Niza, followed by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and Pedro de Tova went to New Mexico and Arizona. Instead of the expected huge wealth, they found the descendants of the Anasazi and Freemont tribes in localized villages called pueblos. The tribes were endowed with the remarkable capability of comfortably thriving in an arid and fragile land. How Coronado assailed the lands was typical of the way of all other conquistadores of the time. He conquered the southernmost pueblo of the Zuni, Hawikuh. When the Tiwa tribe of northern Rio Grande resisted his demand for food and blankets, he destroyed the pueblos of Arenal and Moho and also burned those who remained at stake. No further expeditions were undertaken in search of wealth after the return of Coronado to New Spain in 1541. In 1573, Spain passed royal ordinances, which restricted the extension of Spanish settlements and imposed the appropriate treatment for indigenous people. It outlawed the harsh or brutal treatment of native Americans, such as that of Cortes, Vasquez de Coronado, and de Soto.
From that time, Catholic priests took over the Spanish expansion job in the Americas by putting up missions to Christianize the natives. Spanish Catholic priests would form a mission community, then soldiers would follow and be assigned to military camps, called presidios to support and protect the missions. Following the soldiers were civilian settlements to produce and provide food, clothing and other goods for the presidios and the missions. The 1573 Ordinances for New Discovery and Settlement and the 1681 recompilation of the laws of the Indies strictly regulated the formation of new communities in the Americas. The Catholic Church and the support militia became the chief or main agents for the policy change or set of ordinances.
Early in the 16th century, Europeans took comfort and pleasure from their religion, which they supported with much time, energy and other resources. Religious guilds and confraternities banded together to hear Mass and take care of poorer members. The frenzy reached its peak at this time. The church had the support of the communities in holding processions, festivals and plays throughout the year in honor of Christ, his mother Mary and the saints. The people actively participated in these rites and events. Christians held the teaching of the Catholic Church that they could acquire both temporal favor and eternal salvation through the sacrament of penance. This required sincere confession of sins at least once a year and the performance of the penance imposed to erase the guilt created by sin. Un-repented sins in this life must be atoned for in purgatory before the soul can proceed to heaven. The Church offered indulgences to quiet down apprehensions of suffering in purgatory through authorized documents by the Pope, requiring the performance of certain good works or the purchase of something for people or their deceased relatives and friends. Indulgences were demanded by Catholics to shorten their stay and punishment in purgatory. These indulgences were often in the form of visits at shrines, where the relics of saints could be found. Nobles, rich people and royalties have been known to pay huge sums for Masses for the release of suffering souls in purgatory. In 1518, Frederick of Saxony, Martin Luther’s protector, was able to collect 17,443 relics, including milk from the Virgin Mary and some parts of Jesus’ swaddling clothes. Simply gazing at these relics remitted 127,799 years and 116 days of suffering in purgatory. Frederick was believed to have employed 63 priests to say Mass for his soul in 1520. Critics of the Catholic Church were unable to significantly affect the daily lives of Christian believers until the appearance of Martin Luther, who discredit the Catholic system of beliefs and practices. Martin Luther was an ordained Augustinian priest who took his duties as a monk seriously. In the process, he discovered that the cycle of penance increased rather than destroyed the fear of damnation and saw that forgiveness of sin comes only from faith, not as the Church taught from a combination of faith and good works. He also found that only belief in Christ as the Son of God saves man and that ability to believe comes from God as well. His forceful view demanded a dramatic and radical change in the role of the clergy in society whom the Pope ordained with special powers not possessed by the layman. The sacrament of penance empowered the priest in absorbing them of guilt and enabling them to go to heaven.
The first Europeans who reached the land in 1540 found native groups of Pueblo tribes that still exist today, like the Hopi, Zuni, Acoma and Laguna. The portion previously occupied by hunters and gatherers was taken over by the Apache, Navajo, Ute and Paiute native tribes. The Navajos and the Apaches were linguistically based in Alaska and could have migrated to the Southwest around the time of Columbus. These Indian tribes were said to have brought the sinew-backed bow with them. This bow could shoot farther and more accurately than the weapons used by the Pueblo Indians and so were used by them to attack the Pueblo villages.
Since the issuance of the ordinances by the Spanish Crown, few non-Iberian settled in Spanish America. The Spanish Crown allowed a total of 150,000 licencias needed for legal migration from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Certainly, pueblo life was altered upon contact with Amerindians who migrated into the Southwest. Apaches and Navajos established themselves in the area, partly by domesticating horses that sheep that had wandered and escaped from European settlements. Fearing enslavement in the Spanish-controlled areas, these tribes themselves raided the Pueblo natives, who in turn, depended on the protection offered by Spanish missions. More Spanish missions came in and accompanied by the military and traders in the 16th century in what is now Florida and surrounding areas. St. Augustine was the center of these missions, where the population grew from a few hundred to more than a thousand in the succeeding century. Slaves escaping from English colonists drew to Florida where Spaniards offered them refuge but converted them to Catholicism. Spanish migration into Florida proceeded until 1763 when Spain ceded it to England and obtained French Louisiana. The Amerindian population in Florida and surrounding areas soon and rapidly declined from a million at the time of the first Spanish settlement to less than 100,000 by 1618, according to anthropologist Henry Dobyns. Another anthropologist, Douglas Ubelaker reported that there were approximately 114,000 Amerindians in the Gulf states in the early 16th century and much fewer in the beginning of the 18th. The missionaries of the early 18th centuries reported only a few hundred Amerindians in the missions close to Saint Augustine and Pensacola.
While Spanish settlers aimed at conquering, converting and assimilating native peoples, the Amerindians resisted this intent by both violent and peaceful means. When Amerindians adopted the use of Spanish tools, foods and animals like horses, they resisted Christianity. The result was usually a mold or mingling of Christian and native religious elements, something like a folk blending. In places where Spanish power was not too strong, Christianity had little foothold. By the middle of the 17th century, Spanish priests realized that conversion to Christianity among the Amerindians did not eliminate traditional religions. These priests saw how the tribes continued to dance their traditional masked kachina rituals, offer prayer sticks, cook ritual corn meal, and perform purification rites. Spanish friars violently attacked these practices and banned kachina dances in 1661 as idolatry. Masks, feathers and other ritual tools were burned and the natives that used them were accused of witchcraft. The friars began to lose faith in converting the natives and the missions were secularized in the second half of the 18th century. The natives responded by maintaining their inherent religions in stealth while practicing or observing the folk mold of Catholicism.
3) Spanish conquerors of the Americas were adorned with titles of nobility and provided special privileges for their contributions and participation in the expansion efforts of the Spanish Crown. A person’s nature, age, and other circumstance and conditions comprised his or her social status. Words like calidad and nobleza pertained to a person the law considered privileged or exemplary. Calidad referred to the overall social worth of a person in a given community and this includes his or her age, sex, place of residence, race, ethnicity, legitimacy or illegitimacy, civil status, occupation, religion or a combination of these. Calidad was an individual evaluation in relation to rights and privileges. On the other hand, those who conquered and defended new territories were rewarded with titles to the land and with nobility. Honor-status was the standard of social standing. Honor was first of all the value judgment of a person’s social personality, but honor became a right to be proud of, others had to acknowledge it, ultimately by brute force.
Muslims and Jews who lived in territories conquered by Spain were compelled to be converted to Christianity. They differed from old Christians, like the Spaniards, from whom honor and distinction originated. Puebloans and genizarios were the new Christian converts while the Spaniards were the old Christians. Spanish soldiers who conquered New Mexico in 1598 subdued the Pueblo Indians and were rewarded with aristocratic titles called hidalgos. Indian encomienda could be inherited by two succeeding generations. That legal right to Indian tribute largely determined the wealth and status in colonial New Mexico. Every Indian household paid the tribute and their encomendero collected it twice a year in May and in October during harvest, mostly of corn.
Honor in the Spanish New Mexican society of the time got validated when some Indians behaved dishonorably and became infamous. The conquerors were honorable because they were Christians, Spaniards, civilized and white, while the conquered Indians were dishonored and dishonorable because they were unbelievers of the Christian religion, Amerindians, uncivilized and dark-skinned. its meaning from the presence and dishonor of Indian slaves in the New Mexican society.
In time, all detribalized Indians living in Spanish towns came to be known as genizaro or criado. At times, friars who baptized an Indian registered him or her as redeemed or adopted. This suggested that friars wanted a somewhat-filial relationship to be established with the Indian slaves.
Slavery was illegal but tolerated in New Mexico. Governor Velez Cachupin, however, suggested in 1752 that these captive tribes could be instructed and converted into the Faith to recognize the divine precepts, so that they could be saved for the honor and glory of God. Genizaro slaves were detribalized Indians, mostly descendants of the Apaches and Navajos, who were subdued and reduced to domestic servility. They lived in Spanish households and Spanish towns. The Spanish Crown was said to have tolerated illegal slavery in New Mexico in the hope and for the sake of civilizing these Indian slaves. As fray Atanasio said in 1776, the genizaros were the Spaniards’ prisoners of war and ransomed from among pagans and emancipated to work out their salvation. The criado, on the other hand, was a slave or servant in a Spanish household. He or she was a poor and stigmatized person.
In 1762, social evaluation changed basis from calidad to race, then the criterion in marriage. Between 1760 and 1846, people were identified as either espanol or indio. There evolved mulattos, or racial mixture of any kind, such as Spaniards with Moors, Blacks and Indians, between Frenchmen and Indians, or between a Black and a white person. In New Mexico, a mulatto was a person of mixed Spanish and Indian parentage. Fray Prada of Abiquiu, in 1802, referred to his parishioners as indios mulattos. The descendants of Spaniards and Indians were called mestizos or mulattos. Children of interracial unions were ranked according to the degree of mixing between the races. Races were categorized into espanol, mestizo and mulatto, often used with descriptions of physical color, such as blanco, pardi and prieto. Skin color was the basic element in the racial system on which honor, status and prestige were determined. The fairer or whiter the skin, the greater the claim to honor and prestige received.
What the Spanish conquerors found in quest of vast riches in the southwest was a society with a culture altogether different from theirs. In that society, women not only tended to the home and children and but were also literally responsible for the home. They did not only build, repair and maintain the home but also owned it. A husband lived with his wife’s family until she got and lived at her own home. Pueblo men were mainly responsible for hunting and growing crops, while women prepared the preserved the game and agricultural products. Pueblo women were dexterous in decorating woven cloth and creating clothing and blankets. To the shock of the priests and their superiors, the women were unfettered by the social mores imposed by the Catholic Church. Many of them practiced polygamy and did not regard virginity or fidelity as a virtue.
Next to feeding, sexual intercourse was the Pueblo women’s major cultural activity. Sexuality empowered them. They could give their body to men without obligational ties but expected something in return, such as blankets, meat, salt or hides. When a man enjoyed a woman’s body without giving her something in return, he became indebted to her some way. Through food and hospitality through sexual intercourse, Pueblo maintained communal peace. Their bodies incorporated everyone into households.
Berdaches, though, reduced the female role. Men controlled all the aspects of human life, while the women had charge only over half of creation. A historian posed that some cultures, like the Keres, recognized that feminine qualities encompassed masculine qualities and other characteristics beyond the masculine. If a man wanted to enhance his status, he must have the ability to transcend the limits of masculinity. If he wanted to cultivate feminine qualities or aspects, he had to go beyond masculinity. Keres theology held that creation did happen through copulation. Thought Woman and her dormant sisters were there in the beginning when Thought Woman thought creation into life.
Sanctity and sex were closely related in the Pueblo society and it was not unusual for men and women to give their bodies to those they considered holy so that they could partake of their supernatural power. Pueblo women pacified the passion of the ferocious Spanish katsina through sexual intercourse with the intent of transforming and taming the malevolence of strange gods. When Spanish soldiers were interrogated in 1601 for abusing Pueblo women, the soldiers did not admit any faults but spoke about the intense lust of Pueblo women. Spanish soldiers would normally boast of sexual triumphs but those interrogated soldiers could only scratch their heads in confusion as to what happened between them and those native women.
If Franciscan friars succumbed to sins of the flesh with Pueblo women, much of the blame can be attributed to the latter. Failure to observe chastity or continence was less likely the fault of the Franciscan friars, considering that they tended to a society that glorified sexuality and whose women offered their body to those they considered holy and in view of the dogma of the mystical union between God and the friars, which some perceived as having sexual connotations.
4) Before the end of the 18th century, the Creoles — Spaniards born in the new world — began to resent the rule of Spanish officers and monopolies and disapproved of the political and economic reforms installed by Spain in modernizing the new colony. The Creoles also wanted to take over the Spanish monarchy and opposed the Spanish oppression of the Indian people. Liberal ideas from the U.S. And France also stimulated them. With the support of the Indians and the mestizos, the Creoles began a revolution in 1810, urging independence similar to that of America few decades earlier. In the early hours of September 16, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Creole and Catholic priest, ordered the arrest of Spaniards living in his village, Dolores in Guanajuato. He rang the bell for the people to come to Mass and when they gathered, he called them to rise against Spain. His famous cry was “El Grito” and has been re-enacted throughout Mexico in the evening of September 15 every year. What he told the people remained debatable. Some believed that he cried out, “Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe” or “Death to the Gachupines!”
The independence movement began with Napoleon III who proclaimed his brother Bonapart as King of Spain. Motivated and inspired by intellectuals opposed to the rule of King Joseph, the Creoles moved the military to renounce allegiance to Spain. Those in the army who refused to cooperate were on the way to arrest the insurgent Creoles, such as the Catholic priest Hidalgo. He was later captured and executed by the Spaniards before Mexico was granted independence.
Before the start of hostilities that led to the Mexican war of independence in 1810, Texas was part of the Spanish colony of New Spain and belonged to Mexico as part of the state of Coahuila y Tejas until the outbreak of the Texas Revolution. The people of Rio Grande and South Texas had a long, bitter and tumultuous history of movements for independence against the perceived dictatorial and unconstitutional decisions and policies of the central Mexican government. The first declaration of independence for modern Texas was made by both Anglo-Texan settlers and the local Tejanos in Goliad on December 20, 1835. The Texas Declaration of Independence was enacted at on March 2, 1836, which created the Republic of Texas.
Four days later, the Battle of the Alamo was waged for two weeks and ended with the victory of Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana over almost 200 Texans who defended the small mission. The battle cry of the Texas Revolution was “Remember the Alamo.” On April 21, 1836, the Battle of San Jacinto was fought near the present-day’s city of Houston, during which all of 1,600 soldiers under General Santa Anna perished or were captured by General Sam Houston’s army of 800 Texans. These culminated in the independence of Texas from Mexico. Houston became the president of the Republic for two terms (1836-1838 and 1841-1844 and later the governor of the state of Texas from 1859 to 1861.
The first Congress of the Republic of Texas was convened at Columbia in October 1836. Stephen F. Austin, the Father of Texas, served for two months as secretary of state of the new republic and then died in December 1836. In that year, the capitals of Texas moved from one place to another five times: Washington-on-the-Brazos, Harrisburg, Galveston, Velasco and Columbia before Houston fixed the capital to Houston in 1837. It was transferred to Austin in 1839. Two internal factions were then in constant friction. One was the nationalist party, led by Mirabeau B. Lamar, which favored the continued independence of Texas, the removal of native Americans, and the expansion of Texas into the Pacific Ocean. The other faction, led by Sam Houston, advocated the annexation of Texas to the United States and peaceful coexistence with Native Americans. The Bonnie Blue Flag was the first flag of this republic, later replaced by the official Lone Star Flag. It received official and diplomatic recognition from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the Republic of Yucatan. On February 28, 1845, the U.S. Congress passed a bill authorizing the U.S. To annex the Republic, President John Tyler signed the bill and, on October 13 the same year, a majority of voters approved its proposed constitution. The U.S. Congress accepted the voters’ decision and Texas became a U.S. state when its annexation took effect.
A major motivating factor in annexing Texas to the Union was financial. The Texas government at that time had incurred large debts, which the U.S. government agreed to handle upon annexation. The consequence was the ceding of a large portion of the territory of Texas — Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Wyoming — to the federal government.
5) The first Bourbon king of Spain was crowned at the beginning of the 18th century in 1707. He and his successors decided on structural changes in Spain’s government and economy and to centralize all power under his monarchy. These changes were mainly in terms of the defense of the colonies and the reorganization of their respective economies. Under the rule of Bourbon Charles III from 1759-88, higher taxes and more direct military control were introduced to modernize Mexico. These were attempted through the reorganization of New Spain into 12 intendencias, each governed by an intendente and under a commandant general in Mexico City. The commandant general would be independent of the viceroy and report directly to the king.
Economic reforms instituted by the Bourbon monarchs directly addressed the mining and trade industries in those colonies. Miners were given fueros and permitted to organize themselves into guilds. Commerce was liberalized to allow more Spanish ports to trade with these colonies, thereby eliminating the former monopoly of merchants of the Spanish port of Cadiz.
These political and economic reforms changed the character of New Spain by changing the structures of the governments and economies. These reforms stimulated and renewed the migration of Spaniards to the colonies to accept the newly created government and military posts. They attracted independent merchants who, along with prosperous miners, played critical roles in the success of the Bourbon reforms. Unfortunately, the reforms also encouraged the growth of illegal commerce.
Inspired by a French model, the reforms represented the Bourbon kings’ attempts to completely alter the then existing political and economic structures of Spain and to completely renovate Spanish national life. They were begun by Philip V and reached their peak under Charles III. Early ones introduced state-owned textile factories and invited foreign technical experts to Spain. They addressed the modernization of agriculture, hastening ship building and the facilitation of regional and national economic integration and development. However, they did not get near to touching the real problems of Spain, which were the horrendous poverty in the rural sector, feudal labor, backward agriculture, and the huge influence and wealth of the Catholic Church. Because of these, Spain did not really have the backing of a real investment capital to invest in industries. Hence, it remained an almost invisible middle class and third-rate power when compared with Great Britain, Holland or France at the time.
The reforms instituted by the Bourbon monarchs did not provide for greater self-government to colonists or leading them to trade more freely with non-Spanish countries. The Bourbons simply managed to centralize colonial administration in making it run more efficiently. Their commercial reforms were meant to stop smuggling and contraband trade, which reached peak levels for decades, and to strengthen exclusive trade between Spain and its colonies. In other words, Spain was only re-conquering the colonies, which benefited and belonged to it economically.
On the positive side, the Bourbon Reforms revitalized economic activity in Spanish America, although it remained unclear whether the resurgence of economic activity was the result of the resuscitated economic health then occurring in Western Europe. Nonetheless, agricultural and pastoral and mining production increased in Spanish America. Sugar, indigo, cacao, tobacco hides and other staples increased sharply because of the corresponding increase in European demand for them as well as the impact of the Bourbon reforms. After 1779, coffee was the major export from Cuba and Venezuela and population recovery further led to the rise of demand for the production of foods. Church tithes also increased by 40% in agricultural production between 1779 and 1789.#
1. Gutierrez, Ramon A. When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away. Stanford University Press, 199
2. Magoffin, Susan Shelby. Down the Santa Fe Trail and Into Mexico, 1846-1847. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982