The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Twenty Episodes in the Life of Pancho Villa is a valuable book and is
recommended to historians, as well as to the general reader, for historians,
too, are subject to the distortions of myth and legend. These excellent essays
may reinforce their previous judgment or may cause a re-evaluation of this
important figure of the Mexican Revolution.
Purdue University WILLIAM COLLINS
History of the Red River Controversy: The Western Boundary of the Lou-
isiana Purchase. By C. A. Welborn. (Quanah, Texas: Nortex Press,
1973. Pp. 107. Notes, illustrations, maps. $4.95.)
From the time of the Louisiana Purchase agreement in I803, which failed
to define adequately the boundaries of the acquisition, to the settlement of
questions in the 192os between the states of Texas and Oklahoma over the
correct channel of the Red River, the history of the western boundary of
the purchase was replete with diplomatic and legal difficulties. In this vol-
ume, Claude A. Welborn presents a monograph on the difficulties as they,
in turn, involved Spain and the United States, Mexico and the United
States, Texas and the United States, and Texas and Oklahoma.
The first controversy, with Spain, was settled after nearly two decades
when the Adams-Ofiis Treaty of 1819 provided for a boundary between
the Louisiana Territory and New Spain. The line was to proceed north from
the Gulf of Mexico on the west bank of the Sabine River to the thirty-
second parallel, and due north from that point to the Red River. The treaty
stated that the line would then follow "the course of the Rio Roxo [Red
River] westward, to the degree of longitude one hundred west from London
... then crossing the said Red River, and running thence, by a line due
north, to the River Arkansas" (p. 12). The boundary would continue along
the south bank of the Arkansas to its source, "in latitude forty-two degrees
north" (p. 12), and on this parallel to the Pacific Ocean.
At first the treaty seemed clear, but as time passed problems of interpre-
tation arose. Where, for example, was the "course" of the Red River? The
main channel shifted and often flowed in two or more streams, particularly
in its upper reaches. Also, above the ninety-ninth meridian, was the main
channel the Prairie Dog Fork or the North Fork of the river? In addition,
where was the I ooth meridian? The sources of the Red River were not
determined until the 185os and surveys of the meridian were generally
unacceptable to one or more of the parties to the dispute at any given time.
Welborn concentrates on the efforts to resolve these questions, efforts
which culminated in U.S. Supreme Court actions declaring the Prairie Dog

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117149/. Accessed December 18, 2014.