The Spanish Southwest from Plaza Books
By Michael Stillman
We have just received our first catalogue from Plaza Books, of Santa Rosa, California. This is List 15, or books about the Spanish Southwest. This covers the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, as well as the country of Mexico. Of course, many of these titles predate, or pertain to times preceding those states becoming part of the U.S.A. In the second quarter of the 19th century, national upheaval turned much of these territories from Spanish colonies, to part of Mexico, to American territories, and eventually states. But, once upon a time, the Southwest belonged to Spain. Here are a few of the titles about this area that Plaza Books has to offer.
Items 6 and 7 are copies of the surveyor's report on the U.S.-Mexican boundary survey which took place after the Mexican War. In the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the War, Mexico ceded its claims to the aforementioned states, as well as part of Utah and Colorado. President Taylor appointed New York bookseller (yes, bookseller) John Bartlett to conduct a survey. The results are in his Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua, Connected with the United States and Mexican Boundary Commission, During the Years 1850, '51, '52 and '53. Ironically, most of the Commission's work would quickly become obsolete, as much of the border they surveyed was moved south a few years later with the Gadsden Purchase. Nevertheless, Bartlett leaves us with an outstanding picture of the area as it was shortly after it became a part of America. Then, he headed back east to become John Carter Brown's first librarian. Two versions of this book were published simultaneously in 1854. Item 6 is the version with the two volumes in one (nothing is missing in this version), and is priced at $2,350, while item 7 is the version in separate volumes, and is priced at $2,850.
For those who collect the Mexican War, item 55 is a Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress at the Commencement of the First Session of the Thirtieth Congress... This is the two-volume, 1847 senate edition (one of 2,000 copies) with data on that war. Included are 14 folding maps, some in color, along with reports from commanders and others, statistical records, and battle plans. It is an essential piece to this rather forgotten, but territorial important war that was the nation's last unifying event before it slid toward its devastating internal war. Ironically, the question of slavery and how it would relate to these new territories, converted this acquisition of new land into a divisive issue, one which would further push the nation toward civil war. $2,500.
A substantial portion of the U.S.-Mexican border (all of Texas) is formed by the Rio Grande. This great river flows from Colorado through the center of New Mexico, and then along the Texas-Mexico border. Most of it is through arid country where its water is as welcome as it is unusual. Item 40 is a 1954 first edition of the Pulitzer Prize for history winning Great River: the Rio Grande in North American History, by Paul Horgan. Volume 1 covers the earlier days, of pre-Columbian Indians and the Spanish, while volume 2 relates the period when the river was framed by the U.S. and Mexico. It is likely the best history of this area ever written. $55.