The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

Book Reviews

Stout's descriptions of the various expeditions launched by American adven-
turers seeking land, power, and in many cases territorial sovereignty portray the
amateurism of most of the self-commissioned generalissimos who led these ef-
forts. Among the failed plans discussed are the 1852 expedition of Gaston
Raousset-Boulbon, the 1865 scheme of William McKendree Gwin to join force
with Maximilian, and the 1890 plot launched in San Diego's venerable and still-
standing San Coronado Hotel to seize Baja California. Had not people died as a
result of these ill-founded efforts, many of these schemes would have qualified as
scripts for an opera bouffe.
As Stout points out, much of the filibustering took place with the acquies-
cence of the U.S. government. Time and time again, various administrations in
Washington allowed violations of U.S. neutrality laws to take place. In placing
this history in context, Stout offers a controversial and interesting symmetry.
He contends that just as nineteenth-century Mexicans believed that the Ameri-
cans failed to address threats to Mexican sovereignty originating north of the
Rio Grande, present-day norteamericanos accuse Mexico of inadequate respond-
ing to challenges posed to the United States by the flow of illegal traffic in mi-
grants and drugs. This analogy remains questionable in at least one regard.
Those Mexicans who enter American territory without authorization routinely
receive employment from U.S. citizens willing and often eager to hire them.
Simply put, an economic relationship between mutually consenting parties is
not analogous to one in which Americans crossed that same frontier with
weapons for the purpose of dismembering Mexico's territory.
Despite this asymmetry, Stout's concise conclusion to a brief and well-re-
searched book provides a trenchant observation: "The border problems today,
however, are for Mexico somewhat similar to what they were for the U.S. in the
past. While the border is more populated now, there remain thousands of miles
of scarcely populated or deserted trans-border territory that cannot be policed
either by the Mexican forces or those of the U.S." (p. 107). He is correct. In
spite of centuries of settlement, of the creation of trail and then railroads and
then superhighways and air terminals, the frontier remains, perhaps eternally, a
frontier.
University of Houston Irving Levinson
Translating Property: The Maxwell Land Grant and the Conflict over Land in the Amen-
can West, i84o-i9oo. By Maria E. Montoya. (Berkeley: University of Califor-
nia Press, 2002. Pp. ix+299. Illustrations, acknowledgments, introduction,
notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-520-22744-1. $50.oo, cloth.)
This well-crafted study details the history of the 1.7-million-acre Maxwell Land
Grant in southern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico over the past 16o
years. Developed from her dissertation, Montoya's book analyzes the issue of
Mexican land claims, the debate over rightful land use and ownership, and the
violence that ensued from the conflicting claims to the property. Montoya finds

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed July 10, 2014.