The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1929 - April, 1930

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

AN ANONYMOUS DESCRIPTION OF NEW MEXICO, 18181
EDITED WITH NOTES AND INTRODUCTION
ALFRED B. TIIOMAs
Introduction
Encroachments on her dominions made 1818 a critical year for
Spain in America. Amelia Island itself lay in the hands of the
American government; Jackson held Florida; Long and Humbert
schemed for Texas; O'Fallen and Chambers raised fears for New
Mexico; while filibusters and traders, symbolized by La Fitte him-
self on the Gulf and Downs at Acapulco, harried the coasts and
trade of the empire. Equally subversive, in Spanish eyes, were the
actions of American statesmen who extended aid and comfort to
the rebelling colonies and staggered Onis with demands for a
western boundary to Louisiana. Moreover, early in August of this
year there fell upon sensitive Spanish ears a report of an intruder
who revealed to wondering Americans the helplessness of New
Mexico in Spain's first line of defense. With the eye of a military
man, this explorer portrayed at length the debility of the outpost,
its vulnerable points of entry, its resources and communications,
and the possibility of alliances with the dissatisfied tribes within
the province and with the savage tribes without. Accordingly, the
Notes of this unknown traveller, presented here, add an illumi-
nating detail to the Spanish-American conflict in 1818.
Onis, into whose hands these Notes fell, forwarded them to
Viceroy Venadito on August 3, 1818.2 Without delay, Venadito
ordered Cordero, Commandante-General ad interim, to require
Governor Melgares of New Mexico to fortify the passes named in
the account of the unknown writer. He likewise requested plans
from that official for the defense of other points, an investigation
'The following article presents an aspect of the writer's study of "Spanish
Activities North and East of New Mexico, 1592-1821." The writer is in-
debted to the American Council of Learned Societies for assistance in
securing copies of the documents used here from the archives of Mexico.
1Onis to Venadito, Philadelphia, 3 de Agosto de 1818. Historia, Notas
Diplomatticas, Tomo 1, f. 191. Archivo General, Mexico.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1929 - April, 1930. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101090/. Accessed September 15, 2014.