The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 80, July 1976 - April, 1977

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

abandonment of East Texas, reform in the administration of the pre-
sidios, and a new Indian policy based on alliances with the Comanches
were all manifestations of Spain's new policy thrust. Probably the most
important innovation, aside from the Reglamento of 1772, was the open-
ing of legal commerce with Louisiana. Especially significant were the first
cattle drives to satisfy a beef-hungry market, and to portend what would
become a major Texas industry a century later. The period of economic
prosperity, induced by the sweeping reforms, was short-lived due partially
to the secularization of the missions, to the decadence of the Spanish
bureaucracy of that period, and to the decision of officials to stop the cattle
trade with Louisiana. Thus after a brief renaissance at the time of the
American Revolution, Texas slid gently into a quiet pastoral existence and
dozed until stirred by her destiny.
The book is attractively produced with bold, easily read type. Unfortu-
nately, the maps inserted between chapters to highlight the text are so
dark as to be almost illegible. Yet overall, Texas In 1776 is a balanced,
finely crafted book, and is an excellent delineation of the forces shaping
events in Texas during those pivotal years.
Eagle Pass, Texas BEN E. PINGENOT
Cortes. By William Weber Johnson. (Boston: Little, Brown and Com-
pany, i975. Pp. xi+238. Bibliographic essay, index. $8.95.)
This biography should be recommended primarily for its style. The
author demonstrates his journalistic training in writing a smooth, concise
account of the conquest of Mexico and its controversial protagonist, Hernin
Cortes. The encapsulation of events has a programmatic effect linking each
stage of the Cortesian odyssey to a geopolitical experience. Aimed at a
general readership, the book relies heavily on Cortes's letters and the Diaz
del Castillo chronicle. The pursuit of historical veracity becomes miscreant
with an ambiguous explanation of royal policy regarding the Indians and
the incorrect identification of the second viceroy of New Spain.
Spain and the Caribbean in the era of imperial expansion provide the
background for the opportunities awaiting the individual bent on self-
enrichment. Cortes's fateful relationship with Diego Velazquez, the gover-
nor of Cuba, unifies a series of crucial challenges to the captain's leader-
ship. The inland march to Mexico sees the action compressed into the
familiar details-omens and intrigue, steel against obsidian; while the in-
terpretation of Cortes's uses of power remains peripheral to the epic narra-
tive. The Spanish viewpoint prevails in the description of the siege of


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 80, July 1976 - April, 1977. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed March 3, 2015.