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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 35, July 1931 - April, 1932

Book Reviews and Notices

Pichardo's Treatise on the Limits of Louisiana and Texas. Edited
and annotated by Charles Wilson Hackett. (The University
of Texas Press, Austin. Vol. I, Pp. xx, 630. $6.50.)
Some historians have had scant patience with the discussion of
legal and historical "niceties" concerning the inclusion of Texas in
the Louisiana Purchase, taking the position that Napoleon cer-
tainly intended to claim Texas and that he therefore sold it to the
United States. The late Professor Channing was one of these.
He said: "Napoleon sold us Louisiana, and we became possessed
of Louisiana, simply and solely because he held the Spanish
monarchy by the throat. Whatever he meant to take possession
of under the name of Louisiana, he intended to hand over to us
and handed over to us." But most of us are unwilling, fortunately,
to dismiss the question so summarily. Ownership and occupation
prior to 1763 seem a fairer basis for determining the question
than Napoleon's intention in 1802. If France did not own and
occupy Texas before 1763, it did not cede the territory to Spain;
if Spain did not receive it from France, it did not recede it; and
France, in consequence, did not sell it to the United States. No
one who reads Pichardo's monumental brief can doubt that Spain
and not France owned Texas in 1763 and thereafter.
Pichardo's work grew out of the contention of President Jefferson
and other American statesmen that the United States acquired title
to Texas in the Louisiana Purchase. In 1805 a royal order of
Charles II instructed the Viceroy of New Spain (Mexico) to
appoint a suitable person to compile original documents and an
argument to prove Spain's possession and occupation of Texas to
the exclusion of any valid French claim--through which alone the
United States could acquire title. The viceroy's choice fell upon
Father Melchor de Talamantes. After working some eighteen
months Father Talamantes was removed from his office and in his
stead Father Josh Antonio Pichardo was appointed to continue
the task.
Pichardo appropriately inaugurates his investigation with the
query: "What then, did France cede to Spain [in 1763], and
what is it that the latter receded to France [in 1800] ? This is
the point of the controversy. Spain could not, nor should she,


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 35, July 1931 - April, 1932. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 4, 2016.

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