The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992

Book Reviews

The Columbian Quincentenary has drawn the world's attention to the Amer-
icas, particularly the part that boasts a continuing Hispanic presence. Not only
has Latin America come in for close historical scrutiny, so has that part of
North America often referred to as the Spanish Borderlands. Maria Esther
Dominguez's San Antonio, Tejas, en la epoca colonial, published by an institute
created to help commemorate the encounter of the Old and New worlds, is an
effort to inform a European audience of one aspect of Spain's legacy in the
United States. Viewed from this perspective some of its failings can be forgiven
if not overlooked.
Dominguez's attempt to integrate civil, military, missionary, and indepen-
dent-Indian groups into a single tapestry is admirable though not successful.
Although the book is meant as a work of synthesis, the author only achieves a
descriptive catalog of characteristics for each group. By dividing the work the-
matically and establishing a single set of characteristics for each group,
Dominguez neglects the settlement's dynamism and instead offers a static view
of San Antonio that misrepresents its historical evolution. The book's structure,
a first part devoting separate chapters to each component group (Indians, mis-
sionaries, military, and civilians), and a second pal t discussing interrelation-
ships, leads to much needless repetition and a lack of focus.
Dominguez relies almost entirely on secondary works for both source mate-
rial and for the contents of the numerous tables and maps that fill the book.
She shows a little lack of judgment in weighing the relative merits of the mate-
rial she uses. Examples of errors in treatment abound: Jose de Toledo and Jose
Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara are both represented as Spanish governors (p. 107);
she presents D)omingo Ram6n, Philip Nolan, and Moses Austin, among others,
as residents of San Antonio (pp. 146-149); and, she relates, not until circa
1770 did non-Canary Islanders begin to acquire property and establish ranches
(p. 158). Apart from all this, there is a disturbing number of typographical mis-
takes, including misleading transposition of numbers in dates. The effect is to
make the work seem rushed and inconsequential.
As ani introduction to the subject for the general Spanish-language reader,
Sarn Antonio, Teja might serve a useful purpose, but the informed reader will
find nothing new, either in the facts presented or the interpretation.
Texas Getneal Land Offue Jrsus F. DE LA IEJA
Manuel Alvamez, 1794-1856. A SouIthwestem Biogmphy. By Thomas E. Chavez.
(Niot: Uiiversity Press of Colorado, 199o. Pp. x+243. Acknowledgments,
introduction, maps, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $24.95.)
An enterprising, resourceful Spanish immigrant in the borderlands, Manuel
Alvarez encountered a curious blend of frustration and fortune in the trouble-
some transition from Hispanic colonial rule, through Mexican sovereignty, to
American military conquest of New Mexico. Born in 1794, in the mountain vil-
lage of Abelgas in the Province of Le6n in northern Spain, Alvarez emigrated
to Mexico in the benchmark year of 1821 just before insurgent forces tri-
umphed in their struggle for independence. Caught in the emotional cross-


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 29, 2016.

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