The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955 Page: 474
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
finished it was filled with goods. Living expenses were from one
dollar to three dollars per day in specie,6 and wages were from
five to seven dollars per day in silver." Bagdad, a small town
directly on the Gulf at the mouth of the river, grew from a few
board shanties to a full-fledged town.?
This influx of foreigners was catered to by the accoutrements
of most boom towns-brothels, gambling houses, and innumer-
able saloons." By late 1864, the English-speaking population was
so great that an English language newspaper was printed for its
benefit, the Matamoros Morning Call." Outward evidences of the
unplanned growth could not be denied. There were scarcely any
sidewalks, no gas works; the streets were not graded and ordi-
narily had an average depth of eighteen inches of mud. The
town was built around a plaza of from eight to nine acres which
was surrounded by an iron fence, had seats in several places, and
a "miserable attempt" at a flower garden in the center. There
was likewise no waterworks and peons hauled silty water from
the river for two dollars per forty gallon barrel.10
The causes of this mushroom growth of Matamoros are to be
found in the blockade imposed by the Federal government, on
April 19 and 27, 1861, on all Southern ports,"1 for the purpose
of closing off the Confederacy from every possibility of importing
or exporting both materials of war and supplies essential to
peaceful pursuits.12 This blockade forced the Confederacy to
seek some means of exporting her most valuable asset, cotton.
Geography furnished a quasi-legal answer. Article VII of the
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848 had specified that the Rio
Grande should be "free and common to the vessels and citizens
of both countries."'" Since a bar at the mouth of the river pre-
5New York Herald, January 9, 1865.
6New Orleans Times, June 1, 1865.
7New York Herald, January 9, 1865.
sNew Orleans Times, June 1, 1865.
9New Orleans Daily True Delta, December 16, 1864.
loNew Orleans Times, March 3, 1865.
11For the text of Lincoln's proclamations of blockade, see Carlton Savage, Policy
of the United States toward Maritime Commerce in War (2 vols.; Washington,
1934), I, 415-416, 420.
12A. T. Mahan, The Gulf and Inland Waters [The Navy in the Civil War]
(New York, 1898), 40.
1sHunter Miller (ed.), Treaties and Other International Acts of the United
States of America (8 vols.; Washington, 1937), V, 216-217.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955, periodical, 1955; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101158/m1/567/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.