The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996 Page: 119
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PAULA MITCHELL MARKS, Editor
Flags along the Coast: Chartng the Gulf of Mexco, 1519-1759: A Reappraisal. By Jack
Jackson. (Austin: Book Club of Texas, 1995. Pp. xii+225. Preface, notes,
plates, bibliography, index. $200.00 for Book Club of Texas members,
$250.00 for nonmembers.)
Flags along the Coas: Charting the Gulf of Mexico, 1519-I759: A Reappraisal is a
remarkably handsome book based on impeccable scholarship. It is also a labor
of love by one of Texas's most diversely talented historians; and it was published
by the Book Club of Texas under the supervision of Dorothy Sloan of Austin,
longtime patroness and advocate of the state's literati.
The first part of Flags is a "Tale of Two Maps" (p. 3), the first drawn in 1687 by
Juan Enriquez Barroto, Spanish pilot of the Armada de Barlovento (Windward
Fleet), which was charged with protecting Spanish possessions in the Caribbean;
the second, by another pilot, Juan Bisente. These maps (the second an apparent-
ly faithful copy of the first, now missing) altered the course of empire in the Gulf
of Mexico for the Spanish, French, English, and Dutch. The defining moment
was the Spanish search for Rend-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. The first
efforts by sea in 1686-1687 involved Barroto, who almost certainly drew a
detailed map of the coastal rim-the first since 1519 based on actual observa-
tion. That map was copied by Juan Bisente and lost in a celebrated naval engage-
ment in 1697, when the French captured the Spanish admiral Guillermo Morfi's
ship with the Bisente map on board. The map was quickly utilized by Nicolas de
Fer and the two Delisles (Claude and Guillaume), the premier cartographers of
the time. By the early 17oos, French maps for the first time accurately posi-
tioned the Mississippi River in relation to other, better-known Gulf features.
Jackson's most significant contribution in this portion of the book is to provide
the cartographic link to a chain of events that constituted imperial rivalry among
several European nations in the region. To validate his approach, the author has
plumbed the holdings of seventeen archives and libraries on two continents, as
well as a vast corpus of published materials. The notes deserve special mention,
for they are extensive to the point of "at times becoming free-standing essays" (p.
The second portion of the book is much shorter, comprising only twenty-two
pages. It traces the early history of French Louisiana, which initially lacked the
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996, periodical, 1996; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/m1/147/?rotate=90: accessed January 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.