The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996

Book Reviews

lasting legacy" is the founding of San Agustin Presidio, "destined to become the
city of Tucson, Arizona" (p. i), is open to reevaluation in view of O'Conor's
other achievements.
Together with Donald C. Cutter's recent The Defenses of Northern Spain: Hugo
O'Conor's Report to Teodoro de Croix, July 22, 1777 (1994), Santiago's book pro-
vides much needed information on O'Conor's important contributions to New
Spain's northern frontiers. As commandant inspector, he prepared the way for
Groix as commandant general after 1776. The book will be valuable to Spanish
Borderlands historians and especially to Texas readers because of O'Conor's
campaigns and governorship there.
Albuquerque OAKAH L. JONES
San Antonio de Bexar: A Community on New Spain's Northern Frontier. By Jesis F. de
la Teja. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995. Pp. xv+224.
Preface, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN o-8263-1613-1. $37-50.)
This meaty monograph examines eighteenth-century San Antonio from divi-
sive origins to maturation as viable community. Attacking fundamental questions
through painstaking research, de la Teja presents the first realistic portrait of
Spanish San Antonio. Who were the people who migrated to this isolated out-
post and what impelled them? How was the land distributed? How did settlers
construct their dwellings? How did they subsist and, in the long run, prosper a
little? How were they governed? To what extent did the exigencies of their lives
mesh with the Laws of the Indies?
De la Teja establishes that San Antonio was essentially a farming community,
mainly concerned with subsistence, rather than a great ranching frontier. He
discerns as sensible adaptations to local conditions some restraints of production
that outsiders deemed feckless. He traces limited mercantile activity and a mar-
ket network that linked San Antonio to Saltillo and to neighboring presidios.
Cultural continuities loom large in this analysis. Perhaps the most striking pas-
sage in the book is de la Teja's account of San Antonio's annual cycle, derived
from the evidence available for the entire century but couched in terms that
conjure up ancestral cycles painted on medieval walls in Spain (p. 92).
Concomitant with those cycles were communal responsibilities for irrigation and
fences and livestock management-necessary interdependence that fostered
community willy-nilly.
Ultimately, de la Teja believes, "In the process of living, working, fighting,
dying, and celebrating together, the people of San Antonio came to see them-
selves as a single community" (p. 125). Discounting, even as he documents, San
Antonio's notorious factiousness, he argues that their common heritage of tradi-
tional Spanish obligations to family and faith blurred early distinctions between
Isleifos and agregados. The discussion of compadrazgo (pp. 150-152) is especially
cogent. De la Teja concludes that by 18oo most just called themselves vecinos of
B6xar-"insiders," as opposed to late-arriving "outsiders" who sought position in
the community.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/. Accessed December 27, 2014.