Race, Expansion, and Slavery in Eagle Pass,
WILLIAM T. KERRIGAN*
IN THE FALL OF 1852 GEORGE P. PUTNAM &C CO. PUBLISHED A BOOK
titled Eagle Pass, or Life on the Border by Cora Montgomery. The book,
written pseudonymously by Jane Cazneau, chronicled her two-year expe-
rience living in the new border settlement of Eagle Pass, Texas, between
1850 and 1852. Cazneau copied the format of much of the popular trav-
el literature of the time; Eagle Pass was essentially a series of sketches and
essays lovingly describing her new home in a frontier settlement.
Cazneau painted a picture of Eagle Pass as a primitive but peaceful set-
tlement, occupied by an industrious, ethnically diverse, and steadily
growing population. As a historical document, Eagle Pass provides a
great deal of valuable information about life on the U.S.-Mexican bor-
der in the first years after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. But it also
reveals much about Cazneau's understanding of the American nation,
and her views on race, slavery, and expansion in the decade before the
Civil War, views she shared with other members of the popular romantic
nationalist group Young America.
Both Jane Cazneau and her publisher, George Palmer Putnam, were
identified with the Young America movement, which had as its objectives
the promotion of a national literature; territorial expansion northward,
southward, and westward; support for republican revolutions in Europe;
and an array of reforms like homesteading, which they believed would
advance American interests and accelerate the dispersion of American insti-
tutions.' By temperament Young Americans were uncautious; by sentiment,
* William T. Kerrigan is an assistant professor of history at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio.
He received his doctorate in history from the University of Michigan. He wishes to thank Margaret
Hacker, J. Mills Thornton, Bradford Perkins, Martin Herschock, Kevin Thornton, Dave Woodard,
Peter Kastor, Linda Hudson, and the anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions.
'Putnam was the most nationalistic young publisher in New York. He supported the passage of
an international copyright law when conventional wisdom among American publishers suggest-
ed it was not in their interest, because he believed it would foster American authorship. As a
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/. Accessed July 24, 2014.