The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967 Page: 344
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
reader with its poses and conventionalities which obscure the
truths it could have revealed.
We learn from Robert Cotner's excellent introduction to this
minor classic that the author was Jane Maria McManus Storms
Cazneau, a handsome, ambitious, intelligent woman from upper
New York State who first came to Texas in 1833, learned Spanish,
played a part in the negotiations leading up to and concluding
the Mexican War, and identified herself with Latin America and
the Caribbean area until her death by drowning in a storm off
Cape Hatteras in 1878. She was a writer of no, mean skill in the
florid journalistic tradition of her day, and even now her pages
can be read with much interest, but her real talent and instinct
was for international intrigue. Senator Thomas Hart Benton
called her a "female" with a "masculine stomach for war and pol-
itics." A little Quaker girl who knew her in 1833 in Matagorda,
Texas, described her as "a woman adventuress." Above all, how-
ever, she was a warm-hearted human being who loved nature and
her country and felt deeply the woes of others.
Eagle Pass covers the period 1850-1852 when she and her second
husband took up land and settled on the Mexican border near
Fort Duncan. They had the first glass windows and panel doors
in the entire region, but civilization in other forms was slow in
coming their way. Comanches were a threat. Thieves and bandits
were always with them. And the Mexican customs of peonage and
debt-slavery endangered their Mexican friends and servants. A
less romantic writer would have admitted that life was hard and
lonely at Eagle Pass in 1852, but Jane Cazneau had her eye on
the future when the Rio Grande would be a highway for ships,
the vast mineral resources of the continent would be brought into
production, and the contagious example of American drive and
ingenuity would transform the lives of Latins and Indians. She
always believed that the United States should annex as much as
possible of Latin America for the good of the Latin Americans.
Her book is about half autobiography and half propaganda.
The autobiography is hampered by her failure to make a sys-
tematic record, her Lady Bountiful pose and her assumption that
Mexicans and Negroes are "untaught and unreflecting children,"
her flights of style, her slanting of narrative to fit her theories and
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967, periodical, 1967; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101199/m1/362/: accessed February 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.