The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983

Book Reviews
NORMAN D. BROWN, Editor
The Mexican Frontier, 182 -z846: The American Southwest Under
Mexico. By David J. Weber. (Albuquerque: University of New
Mexico Press, 1982. Pp. xxiv+416. Illustrations, maps, bibliogra-
phy, index. $19.95, cloth; $9.95, paper.)
If David J. Weber were a matador, we would reward him with the
ears and the tail for a job well done! He has masterfully synthesized
monographs detailing events in the borderlands, from the time of Mex-
ican independence from Spain in 1821 until the beginning of the Mexi-
can War in 1846, that resulted in the dismemberment of the frontier
states. Not only is there a judicious utilization of previous studies, but
Weber has also amplified earlier findings by mining archival material
to further illuminate certain areas. His felicitous writing style makes
this book a pleasure for both the general public and scholars. The lat-
ter will particularly appreciate the fine footnotes and bibliography.
Beginning with a survey of how independence affected settlements
in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, Weber explains how
the rival political philosophies of centralism and federalism shaped the
course of the new Mexican republic. The abrupt change from a pater-
nal, authoritarian government to an experiment in republican federal-
ism brought chaos to the entire nation, but the frontier suffered even
more confusion over the new policies because of its isolation. The cen-
tral theme of the work is that Mexico City never understood the press-
ing needs of the frontier states and that, because of internal economic
problems and continued political upheavals, the central government
ignored the pleas from the border regions. This neglect enabled Anglo-
Americans to dominate Texas's cotton-growing areas and to control
the Missouri-Santa Fe trade, the economic exploitation of the fur-
trapping areas of the southern Rockies, and a sizeable portion of the
California export-import business.
Weber examines a number of factors that contributed to Mexico's
loss of hegemony in the borderlands. The collapse of the mission sys-
tem as an educational and socializing force to integrate the native In-
dian population was particularly important in California and New

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/. Accessed August 22, 2014.