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

Southwestern Hzstorical Quarterly

became "the boatman apotheosized," in the words of Bernard DeVoto-best il-
lustrate the stereotype of them as "hard-drinking, hard-working, fighting, pro-
miscuous, romantic drifter[s]" (p. 22). This chapter adequately supports Allen's
contentions that the representations of Alligator Horses in popular culture dif-
fer markedly from the lives of their historical counterparts. Nevertheless, Allen
offers no new insights that might explain why these stereotypical boatmen, who
have been receiving scholarly attention for over fifty years now, came to figure
prominently in the nation's self-consciousness.
Allen is on firmer ground in his thorough documentation of the actual work,
pleasures, and character of the men whom the popular imagination trans-
formed into the mythic Alligator Horse. Both the kinds of workers and their
lives underwent radical changes in the steamboat age, beginning in the 182os.
Allen uses the historical Mike Fink as representative of the early common
hands on these boats, men who were "lonely, womanless, alcoholic drifters"
(p. 136). These were frontiersmen, rejecting the increasingly civilized life along
the shore. When flatboating became less dangerous and the time for a round-
trip journey decreased, the workers "were no longer misfits" (p. 171), but farm
boys or family men who wished to return home with increased status and wealth.
Allen uses Abraham Lincoln, who twice went to New Orleans by flatboat, to
illustrate the differences from Fink's day.
The great value of Western Boatmen lies in Allen's reliance on the accounts of
antebellum boatmen themselves, many of which remain unpublished. He has
profitably used the tools of historical scholarship to illuminate the lives of com-
mon people, long obscured by the lore and popular culture inspired by their
exploits.
Loyola Univerzty-New Orleans DAVID C. ESTES
The Mythical Pueblo Rzghts Doctrine: Water Admznitratzon in Hzspanzc New Mexico.
By Daniel Tyler. Introduction by Iris H. W. Engstrand. (El Paso: Texas
Western Press, 1990. Pp. 60o. Introduction, illustrations, notes. $12.00 cloth;
$7.50, paper).
The pueblo rights doctrine is an invention of nineteenth and early twentieth-
century California jurisprudence which held that pueblos established under
Spanish or Mexican colonization plans had a prior and expanding right to
water over all opposing claims. As Iris Engstrand notes in her introductory his-
torical survey of that doctrine, American jurisprudents claimed Spanish prece-
dent without carrying out any supporting historical research whatever.
The pueblo rights doctrine is but one of a number of misconceptions of
Spanish water law that have plagued the jurisprudence of water in the Ameri-
can Southwest. In the last generation, however, historians working as consul-
tants in "Spanish rights" cases have contributed a solid body of research on his-
torical water-use practice in the colonial and Mexican periods in order to
collectively establish what might be termed a "historical doctrine" of Spanish
rights.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/. Accessed November 24, 2014.