The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991

Southwestern Hzstorical Quarterly

Cruz's main theme is that the municipality is one of the cornerstone
institutions of the Mexican frontier, and his avowed purpose is to
stimulate interest in the municipal history of the Spanish Southwest. In
effect, he tries to do for the Spanish town in Let There Be Towns what
Max L. Moorhead did for the Spanish frontier fort in The Preszdio: Bas-
tion of the Spanzsh Borderlands (University of Oklahoma Press, 1975) and
what Herbert E. Bolton did for the Spanish missionary effort in "The
Mission as a Frontier Institution in the Spanish American Colonies"
(Amerzcan Historical Review, XXIII [Oct., 1917], 42-61).
Cruz's subject, however, is neither new (see, for example, Oakah
Jones, Los Paisanos: Spanish Settlers on the Northern Frontier of New Spain
[University of Oklahoma Press, 1979]), nor is it very effectively pre-
sented. While the author provides good narrative histories of the indi-
vidual foundings, the thematic portions of the work are lacking in both
depth and breadth. For instance, chapter 7, which intends to discuss
civilian-settler life on the frontier, deals almost exclusively with Texas,
San Antonio in particular, and focuses on two events-construction of
the parish church and the celebration of Ferdinand VI's succession to
the Spanish throne. These episodes fill up the chapter's sections "The
Open Town Meeting" and "Social Amenities in the Borderlands" re-
spectively. A similar imbalance in coverage is found in chapter 8, which
focuses on the administrative and judicial functions of town government.
Perhaps the most problematic aspect of Let There Be Towns is the au-
thor's insistence on portraying the municipality as an autonomous en-
tity. Cruz only once discusses local political divisiveness to any extent
(p. 102) and even then attributes the friction merely to a difference of
opinion over location of Laredo's town site. Such a perspective misses
the point that town government was an instrument of local interests
pursuing common and individual objectives. Identifying and explain-
ing conflict within the community, particularly as expressed in cabildo
politics, is essential to understanding the role of the community both
within its local environment and as a part of the Spanish empire.
Texas General Land Office JESOS F. DE LA TEJA
Latinos and the Political System. Edited by F. Chris Garcia. (Notre Dame,
Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988. Pp. x+501. Preface,
introduction, tables, notes, conclusion. $29.95.)
This is a collection of twenty-eight essays that explore the signifi-
cance of a growing segment of the population in both local and na-
tional politics. Addressing the three major Latino groups in the United
States-Mexican American, Cuban, and Puerto Rican-and using the
systems approach, the editor selected essays to reflect history and de-


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 25, 2016.

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