The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002

Book Reviews

divided the land to settle the issue. Another good overview is that of Josefina
Zoraida Visquez, who gives the Mexican viewpoint on the events leading up to
the U.S.-Mexican War, the negotiation of the treaty, and its subsequent impact
on the Mexican nation.
In his article, Mark Stegmaier investigates the effect of the treaty on the long-
running New Mexico-Texas border dispute (Texas claimed all land on the east
bank of the Rio Grande, including Santa Fe). He traces how the controversy
eventually reached the U.S. Congress and became a key part of the congression-
al debates over territorial issues. Tempers flared and threats to use the army to
black Texas claims inflamed the southern contingent. Using the congressional
records, Stegmaier convincingly argues that this issue became a crucial element
in the Compromise of 1850; without resolution this dispute could have been the
spark that set off the Civil War.
The other essays in the collection are case studies. John Grassham examines the
personalities involved in the boundary commission and the decisions made on the
ground as they discovered that the Disturnell map, upon which the treaty was
based, was in error (among other mistakes, El Paso was mislocated). He especially
looks at the politics of the American commission and its eccentric head, John
Bartlett. Malcolm Ebright uses two cases, those of the Baca and Embudo grants, to
study how New Mexico land claims were handled under the treaty. He argues that
some illegitimate claims were accepted while valid claims were rejected, resulting
in the loss of communal land-use rights. Deena Gonzalez places a human face on
the Mexican widows and children who were caught up in the transfer of sovereign-
ty and, through thorough analysis of wills and legal documents, finds that their
social and economic standing declined throughout the nineteenth century.
The symposium from which these essays were drawn was held to educate the
community not only about the little-known war, but also about how the treaty was
concluded, boundaries drawn, and subsequent disputes settled. These published
essays do the same for the reader who is interested in gaining an understanding
of the long-term implications of the treaty that transferred 40 percent of
Mexico's territory to the United States.
Nashville, Tennessee KIMBERLY BREUER
The Final Frontiers, I880-I930: Settling the Southern Bottomlands. By John Solomon
Otto. (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. Pp. 208. Preface, appen-
dix, notes, sources, index. ISBN 0-313-28963-8. $59.95, cloth.)
The Final Frontiers, part of Greenwood Press's Contributions in American
History series, offers an environmental, an economic, and a social history of the
lower Mississippi River Valley. By focusing on the deltas of Mississippi, Louisiana,
Arkansas, and Missouri, Otto traces the settlement of the "last frontier." The
story is one of triumph over hardship that required the determination of the set-
tlers and the aid of local, state, and federal governments.
Before 1880, the lower Mississippi River Valley was sparsely populated.
Environmental hazards, such as swamps, floods, and dense vegetation, as well as

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/. Accessed April 19, 2015.