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

Book Reviews

of self-governance enabling an effective application of laws on the rustic fron-
tier. It thus demonstrated an interplay of royal will and popular sensibilities. Sel-
dom forgotten by members of the Council of the Indies, audiencia and cabildo as
well as gobernadores and alcaldes mayores, was that access to justice (derecho) re-
mained deeply imprinted in the minds of all citizens of the empire, particularly
the letrados. Cutter notes that the sumaria, plenario, and ultimately the sentencia
constitute a judicial procedure with which one has to reckon if other aspects of
Spanish colonial life are to be assessed truly. In an age when social and demo-
graphic history remains paramount, these commendable volumes are refresh-
ing. Legal history is not always easy to write or read. Yet legislation creates the
order of our daily lives, no less so now than centuries ago.
Glendale Community College and Arizona State University West GILBERT R CRUZ
Changing Tides: Twilight and Dawn in the Spanish Sea, I763-z 803. By Robert Wed-
dle. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1995. Pp. xv+352. Bibli-
ography, index. ISBN o-890o96-661-3. $49.50.)
The final installment in Robert Weddle's Gulf of Mexico trilogy, Changing
Tzdes returns to the broader sweep of the initial volume, Spanish Sea (1985),
while continuing to pay considerable attention to the political rivalries intro-
duced in the middle volume, The French Thorn (1991). As in the earlier books,
Weddle does a masterful job of storytelling. His command of cartographic, navi-
gational, and marine terminology and practices make for a confident narrative
style and his knowledge of the region under discussion makes for realistic de-
scription.
The stories in Changing Tides are very different from those in the earlier works.
Much of the exploration in the latter part of the eighteenth century was con-
ducted by individuals employed by their respective governments (Spain, France,
England, and, at the very end, the United States) to chart and describe the gulf
littoral rather than actually settle it. Although most of these surveys produced
plans for settlement or for strategic defenses from Tampa Bay to the Yucatin
coast, competing interests and changing sovereignties prevented their execu-
tion. (Between 1763 and 1803, for example, Louisiana changed hands three
times.) Considering the number, scope, and geographic extent of these numer-
ous expeditions, Weddle does a very good job of keeping the reader from get-
ting as lost as were some of the explorers. The sections on the Briton George
Gauld and the Spaniard Jos6 de Evia are particularly enlightening on the obsta-
cles and constraints on marine expeditions.
Just as the character of the expeditions changed, so Weddle's treatment of the
history is different in Changing Tides from what it was in the earlier volumes.
More concerned with the actual process of exploration, the book gives consider-
ably less attention than the previous works to an overall synthesis of cartographic
history, as, for instance, the last two chapters of The French Thorn. Changing Tides
is also a more disjointed book. Weddle mentions advances in marine technology
on occasion, but with the exception of the chronometer he does not elaborate

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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 July 11, 2014.