The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

humanitarian individualism, and constant criticism from antislavery forces in the
North. Slave jurisprudence never escaped entirely the "humanness" of the slave.
In concluding, Morris argues that by 186o the tension between the legal
needs of liberal capitalism and the impossibility of seeing the slave only as prop-
erty had created significant pressure for an internal transformation of the Pecu-
liar Institution. Southerners "were responding to the external criticisms and the
internal inconsistencies and doubts. The differences among judges were evi-
dence of a social order under severe stress. It was precisely because they were
adapting the laws of slavery, or considering modifications and ameliorations,
that it is possible to see some movement toward changing chattel slavery into
some other form of dependent labor" (p. 442). If this had happened, Morris
suggests, the carnage of the Civil War would have been unnecessary.
Thus, although Morris is careful to point out that it is by no means certain if
and how a transformation of slavery would have taken place, a brilliant study of
the law of southern slavery appears in the end to offer a way to dust off the old
"needless war" interpretation of events from 1861 to 1865. This is indeed
provocative.
University of North Texas RANDOLPH B. CAMPBELL
Texas, New Mexico & the Compromise of 1850: Boundary Dispute & Sectional Cnszs. By
Mark J. Stegmaier. (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1996. Pp.
xii+436. Maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-87338-529-2.
$39.00, cloth.)
Tracing the origin of the Texas-New Mexico boundary dispute to the contest
between Spain and France in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, MarkJ.
Stegmaier meticulously examines the evolving claims that spanned more than
150 years until culminating with the Compromise of 185o. Although France's
claim to all lands east of the Rio Grande was tenuous, President Jefferson seized
upon it with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The Adams-Onis Treaty sixteen
years later abandoned the U.S. claim, and, with Mexico's independence from
Spain in 1821, Texas became established as a Mexican province.
During the period of Texas independence, Texans claimed all lands north
and east of the Rio Grande to the river's source. The ill-fated Texan Santa Fe Ex-
pedition in 1841 was an abortive attempt to establish sovereignty in the claimed
territory. When Texas was admitted to statehood in 1846, President Polk, adopt-
ing the Texas claim that the Rio Grande was the boundary with Mexico, sent
General Taylor south from Corpus Christi thus beginning the Mexican War. Af-
ter the conquest of New Mexico and the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hi-
dalgo, only the western boundary of Texas remained to be resolved.
It is from this point that the story becomes fascinating and complex. Polk or-
dered military authorities in New Mexico to cooperate with Texas emissaries.
However, Polk's successor, President Zachary Taylor, strongly opposed awarding
New Mexico east of the Rio Grande to Texas. With the issue embroiled in the
slavery controversy, northern freesoilers and abolitionists were determined to

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/. Accessed July 10, 2014.