Plaza Books recently printed their List 34. Plaza focuses on Latin America, Central America in particular. This time, the selection is even more focused, being almost entirely centered on Mexico. Naturally, many of the works are also related to that large neighbor to the north. Mexico spent several centuries under the control of Spain, a few under the French, and the rest of the time eying warily the moves of the giant to the north. It hasn't been easy, and Mexico produced its share of home-grown tyrants as well, but all of the travails have certainly not made for a dull history. Here are some of the items pertaining to that history now offered by Plaza Books.
Item 2 is a broadside from the Viceroy of New Spain, Francisco de la Cueva, the 19th Duke of Alburquerque, to the Governor of New Mexico, dated August 8, 1710. In it, the Viceroy requests funds to support their fleet, which Plaza points out, was “not of much concern in Santa Fe.” Nonetheless, the Viceroy explains all the benefits to New Spain of its fleet, such as promoting commerce, safety, and defending the faith. We do not know how many, if any, funds New Mexico sent to support this endeavor. The largest city in New Mexico (now, not then) was named after this Duke, though somewhere along the way, the first “r” in the name “Alburquerque” was lost. Priced at $1,750.
Americans have always seen opportunity in Mexico. In some instances, they simply wanted seize the land. The Mexican War, Gadsden Purchase, and Texas Revolution left many Mexicans a bit wary of their neighbor's intent. In other cases, Americans looked to settle or exploit the land, but at least within the bounds of recognizing Mexican sovereignty. Item 14 is an example of the latter form of seeking Mexican land: Border States of Mexico: Sonora, Chihuahua and Durango... A complete description of the best regions for the settler, miner and the advance guard of American civilization. Author Leonidas Hamilton of San Francisco believed there were great opportunities for Americans to invest in Mexico, particularly its northern states. Hamilton, an attorney, was particularly familiar with Mexican mining law. Offered is a second edition from 1881, same year as the first. $600.
Item 34 is from a man who attempted to seize northern Mexico without regard to that nation's sovereignty. William Walker mounted an invasion from California in 1853, hoping to take over the state of Sonora and Baja California. He expected support for his mission from those who believed in American expansion, along with southerners who wanted to see the expansion of slavery. He was able to briefly seize Baja California, and declared slavery legal, but Mexico responded with greater force than Walker anticipated. He was pushed back across the border. However, Walker was not deterred, and a few years later, made another attempt to seize land in Central America, this time targeting Nicaragua. Amazingly, he was successful, gaining control of that nation in 1856. He legalized slavery, but antagonized business interests in America. Late that year, a coalition of Central American neighbors forced him to retreat back to America. Again, Walker was undaunted. He made another attempt at Nicaragua, only to be intercepted by the British and sent home. It was then that he wrote this book, The War in Nicaragua. It was published in 1860, the year Walker made his third assault on Nicaragua, only to again be intercepted by the British. This time, they turned him over to the Hondurans, who promptly executed Walker. $950.