The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993 Page: 449
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for more discussion of Pueblo culture. But what elevates The Last Conquistador
a cut above many popular histories is Simmons's ability to place Ofiate within
sixteenth-century Spanish society. He weaves into his narrative information on
how Spanish history and culture affected Ofiate, the importance of family in
Spanish society, and how the encomienda system worked, along with details on
warfare, farming, and religion. Even better, Simmons details the experience of"
these first American settlers who, a decade before English colonists arrived,
trekked a thousand miles and brought Hispanic society and culture to the
Texas A&M University DAVID LA VERE
Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. By Matilda Charlotte (Jesse) Fraser Houstoun.
Edited by Marilyn McAdams Sibley. (Austin: W. Thomas Taylor, 1991. Pp.
xviii + 274. Introduction, black-and-white photographs, illustrations, notes,
bibliography, index. $47.50.)
Travel accounts, a traditional staple for historians of nineteenth-century
America, have never fallen into general disrepute because the outsiders' eyes
have often yielded a sharper focus and occasionally a unique vision. The editor
of this volume has previously established the significance of this genre in Texas
historiography. Nevertheless, many well-known works have become inacces-
sible-Houstoun's book has not been reprinted since 1845-making this new
edition welcome for libraries, scholars, and general readers.
The aristocratic woman who recorded her impressions of the Caribbean,
New Orleans, and Texas in 1842 and 1843 published more of a travel memoir
than a diary. The result sacrifices the raw directness common in other trave-
logues in favor of superior literary qualities. Further, the author rarely rubbed
elbows with the masses. Her visit in Texas exceeded three months, all in Gal-
veston except for a brief journey to the town of Houston, and is detailed in
about one-third of the book. The interests of her sportsman husband provided
abundant observations of flora and fauna.
The author also recorded some interesting impressions of society. The Tex-
ans she described fit de Tocqueville's views of the American character: they
were civil and good willed but "impatient" (p. 93), somehow simultaneously
enterprising and indolent, irreligious and violent but largely not guilty of their
common depiction as rogues or criminals. She also wrote defensively of Texas's
relations with Mexico.
Her views on slavery and race were curiously inconsistent and have been
given attention by the editor. Houstoun's attitudes had been shaped by a family
relationship with William Wilberforce, but in Jamaica and Barbados she de-
cided that slavery had rarely been "oppressive" and decried the "sickly senti-
mentalities" (p. 31) of the abolitionists. In New Orleans the bondsmen seemed
cheerful, and she began "to think that the slaves themselves were not quite so
much to be pitied" (p. 126). Houstoun found the institution harsh only in
Cuba. Revtardine, Texas, she came to the remarkable conclusion that the law
protected the r)hvsical well-beint and families of the slaves and wrote that "evil.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993, periodical, 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/m1/507/?rotate=90: accessed October 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.