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

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

superficiality of his understanding of the conflicting interpretations. He also
needlessly repeats arguments and information throughout his book without
adding depth or clarity to his analysis. Finally, his overriding theme-that the is-
sue of race has been more important than class conflict in shaping southern pol-
itics-only belabors the obvious.
University of Texas at Arlington EVAN ANDERS
The Last Voyage of El Nuevo Constante. By Charles E. Pearson and Paul E. Hoffman.
(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1995. Pp. xi+245. Preface,
bibliography, index. ISBN 0-8071-1918-o. $29.95.)
In early September 1766 a hurricane swept through the Gulf of Mexico with
serious consequences for Gulf shipping, coastal exploration, and settlement.
Torrential rains in the storm's wake cut short Diego Ortiz Parrilla's reconnais-
sance of the Texas coast, limiting his effort to Padre Island. Wind and water de-
stroyed buildings of Presidio de San Agustin and Mission Nuestra Seiiora de la
Luz on the lower Trinity River and forced their move to higher ground. Out in
the Gulf, the hurricane struck the New Spain fleet in midpassage from Veracruz
to Havana, scattering ships and inflicting heavy losses. Two merchant vessels
were driven upon the northern Gulf shore.
One of the two ships, Coraz6n deJesis y Santa Birbara, probably ran aground
near Bolivar Peninsula, east of Galveston Bay. The other, Nuevo Constante, stuck
in soft mud off the western Louisiana coast. There she lay entombed for 213
years. Her story, from the time the English-built ship entered the Spanish mer-
chant fleet until her rediscovery and archeological salvage, is the subject of this
study by Charles Pearson and Paul Hoffman. It comprises a chapter in the dra-
ma of colonial navigation and shipwrecks in the New World, at last being unfold-
ed through the combined efforts of historians and nautical archeologists.
That drama's most notable episode so far emerged from a prodigious re-
search effort fostered by the State of Texas, focusing on three treasure-laden
Spanish ships wrecked on Padre Island in 1554. A new chapter will come from
the 1995 discovery of the French ship Belle, lost on Matagorda Peninsula in
1686.
Identification of Nuevo Constante's submerged hulk, once it was found, was rel-
atively easy. The ship had given its name to nearby coastal features (first noted as
"Bayu Constante," now Big and Little Constance lakes and bayous). Hoffman,
through skillful research in the Archive of the Indies in Seville, has brought
forth in extensive detail the various facets of Nuevo Constante's life and death as a
Spanish merchantman: sailing preparations, cargo lading, and personnel; the
final, storm-tossed voyage; the immediate rescue and salvage operation. To these
data is added information from the study of artifacts and remains of the ship's
hull by archeologists under Pearson's supervision. The result, by the author's
just claim, is "important new information about merchant ships of [this] period
engaged in the commerce between Old and New Spain" (p. 225). Amplified by

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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 September 19, 2014.