Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2002 Issue

To Whom Was This Sacrifice Useful?: The Texas Revolution and the Narrative of Jose Enrique de la Pena?

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By AE Staff

Originally a physical exhibit in conjunction with the Center for American History-sponsored conference "Eyewitness to the Texas Revolution: José Enrique de la Peña and His Narrative" in April 2000, “To Whom Was This Sacrifice Useful?: The Texas Revolution and the Narrative of José Enrique de la Peña” has become an online exhibition www.cah.utexas.edu/exhibits/Pena with seven web pages of digitized images of original archival documents, battle maps, portraits, broadsides, diaries, and photographs from the period of the Texas Revolution in 1836. Central to this exhibition are excerpts and images of the diary of Lt. Col. José Enrique de la Peña, an officer in the Mexican army under Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna. Lt. Col. Peña’s account of the battle of the Alamo has shed new light on the both the conflict itself and the execution of Davy Crockett, causing controversy since its English translation was first published over 25 years ago.

In the introduction to the exhibition Dr. Don Carleton, Director of the Center for American History, discusses how the Center came to hold the 680-page manuscript:

In the early 1970s, San Antonio businessman John Peace acquired the Peña manuscript in Mexico, then housed it on loan at the University of Texas at San Antonio. In 1998, members of the Peace family withdrew the manuscript with the intention to sell it. Texas businessmen Thomas Hicks and Charles Tate purchased the manuscript in a highly publicized auction in California, then donated it to the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin in December, 1998. (Introduction)

The controversial document, alleging that Davy Crockett was captured and executed after the battle by the Mexican Army rather than dying in the fight with his comrades, brought so many allegations that it was a forgery that the diary was subjected to extensive paper and ink tests. Peña’s diary was authenticated in May of 2000 by David B. Gracy II, Governor Bill Daniel Professor of Archival Enterprise at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Texas, and an expert on forged documents.

Despite the ongoing debate surrounding the narrative, the exhibit takes a neutral stance on the Davy Crockett question. Most of the exhibit items chosen illustrate several passages of Peña’s narrative including his thoughts on Santa Anna, the “Texas colonists’ rebellion” and other observations on Mexico and Texas. For example, the signature page of the Secret Treaty of Velasco (May 14, 1836) promising General Santa Anna “immediate freedom with certain qualifications” (page 7) is paired with the following excerpt from the Peña diary: “Never has General Santa Anna performed a more contemptible deed among the many that he has committed during his political career than in selling out his country by relinquishing Texas' delightful territory . . .”. (Ibid)

Exhibit items are from the Center for American History’s extensive Texas history collections with additional items from the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center both at the University of Texas at Austin. The exhibit was curated by Lynn Bell and John Wheat with the online version designed by Justin Saffell. Both the exhibit and image index are available in Spanish. This online exhibit would appeal to anyone interested in Texas history, forgeries, the history of Mexico and Mexicans in the United States, and of course, to Davy Crockett.

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Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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