Mexican and Southwest Items from Plaza Books
By Michael Stillman
Plaza Books of Santa Rosa, California, has issued List 22, a collection of Latin American works, primarily Mexican. For those who collect Mexicana, and particularly items related to her many revolutions, this catalogue offers some unusual and important items. However, there are also many items which pertain to the United States, particularly the American Southwest which was once part of Mexico. Here, naturally, you will find pieces within the very popular collecting field of Texiana. Texas was far longer a part of New Spain than of the United States, so antiquarian works on Mexico are a natural starting point for a Texas collection. Along with books, there are several broadsides in this catalogue, most of which have survived in very few copies. Here are some examples.
Item 4 is a broadside proclamation by Commandant General Gaspar Antonio Lopez dated July 20, 1822. Independence had only been declared the previous year, with Iturbide coming to power just two months prior. It announces the procedures, and the very lax standard of proof needed to imprison any Spaniards remaining in Mexico suspected of breaking the law. Priced at $1,200.
Item 9 is a proclamation from Miguel Barragan, dated January 13, 1836, establishing commands and headquarters in the north, notably Texas. Barragan was interim President of Mexico at the time while Santa Anna relinquished the title so he could pursue rebellious Texans. All went well for Santa Anna two months later at the Alamo, but he suffered a humiliating defeat a short time after at San Jacinto. $1,750.
Item 40 is a most interesting and generous decree, published by Mexican authorities in the afterglow of their victory at the Alamo, but before the San Jacinto defeat. It provides for permanent banishment from the land for certain rebellious Texans, instead of the proscribed death penalty. If they surrendered within 15 days, they would be shipped out, at a time and place of Santa Anna's choosing. However, the pardoning of the death penalty did not apply to officials of the Texas government or other leaders of the rebellion. Of course, events would quickly overtake this proclamation with the defeat of Santa Anna a week after the date of this proclamation, April 14, 1836. $2,400.
Santa Anna's terrible defeat at San Jacinto led to disruption of the Mexican army, as many soldiers took to deserting. On April 14, 1838, item 41 was issued. This is a decree providing an amnesty for all deserters up to the rank of sergeant who returned to their posts. Those who did not would be forced to re-enlist for a term of eight years, to be served on the northern border with Texas. $1,250.
Here is one more proclamation. Item 21, dated January 18, 1845, reaffirms Mexican claims to lands in the Southwest on the eve of the Mexican War. These lands included California, New Mexico, and, naturally, Texas. $400.