The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 24, July 1920 - April, 1921 Page: 19
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Question of Texan Jurisdiction in New Mexico, 1848-50 19
the civil jurisdiction of the territory of New Mexico, and aid her
officials in the execution of their duties until such time as Texas
should assume civil jurisdiction, or until the boundary between
Texas and New Mexico should be finally settled.65
It seems incredible that Munroe could not have had access to Sec-
retary Crawford's letter enjoining strict neutrality, but this letter
to Van Ho-orne indicates a complete lack of knowledge that such
instructions had ever been issued to the department under his com-
mand. In answer to his letter to the adjutant general, he was
curtly informed that "The jurisdiction over the soil east of,the
Rio Grande, claimed by Texas and New Mexico, cannot be settled
by this department. The commanding officer must refer to and
abide by instructions previously given on this subject."'6 This
letter and one from Munroe to the War Department, enclosing a
copy of his instructions to Van Horne,67 seem to have passed each
other somewhere between Santa F6 and Washington, and the re-
ceipt of the latter by the department officials brought prompt
action in the form of a caustic letter to Munroe, which virtually
amounted to a reprimand for "manifestly assuming to decide the
question of the territorial jurisdiction of Texas," and informing
him that "it is deemed necessary distinctly to repeat, for your
guidance on this occasion, what the department has often stated,
that the executive has no power to adjust and settle the question
of territorial limits involved in this case."68
A glance at the dates of the letters in this set of correspondence
will reveal the lack of promptness on the part of the government
agents of this period, as well as some of the handicaps to which
the officers in the remote outposts were subjected. Van Horne's
letter to Munroe, asking for instructions, was written from the
El Paso district, September 23, 1849. It was not forwarded from
Santa F6 to the War Department until November 21, while it was
not until December 28 that Munroe wrote his answer to Van
Horne, and still another week passed before he sent a copy of this
letter to Washington. In the meantime, until the arrival of Mun-
roe's second letter, action was equally slow in Washington, for the
answer to the letter of November 21 is dated February 15, 1850,
'Munroe to Van Horne, December 28, 1849, in Ibid., 4-5.
"Jones to Munroe, February 15, 1850, in Ibid., 3-4.
"Munroe to Jones, January 3, 1850, in Ibid., 4.
"Jones to Munroe, March 8, 1850, in Ibid., 5-6.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 24, July 1920 - April, 1921, periodical, 1921; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101078/m1/25/: accessed November 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.