The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001 Page: 324
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
of the most significant aspects of Anglo involvement in the region during the
nineteenth century, from commerce to international diplomacy.
Born in Kentucky in 1799, Magoffin made his way to New Orleans in the early
182os, lured by the burgeoning Texas trade. After a failed sea voyage landed
him unexpectedly in Mexico, Magoffin established himself there as a merchant,
first in the port city of Matamoros and later in Chihuahua, where he became a
prominent figure in the Chihuahua-Santa Fe exchange, reaping profits from the
area's extensive copper mines. Magoffin's reputation among Anglos in the
region grew considerably when, in 1846, he helped negotiate the "bloodless"
conquest of New Mexico during the Mexican War, although his efforts to deliver
Chihuahua to the United States in a similar fashion failed miserably. Following
the war, Magoffin moved to the Rio Grande, founding "Magoffinsville," which
served as the base for his extensive commercial activities in the Southwest.
Although his efforts to ensure El Paso's future were realized eventually by the
extension of railroads to the town, Magoffin did not live to see it, as construction
was delayed by the Civil War and his support for the Confederacy.
Timmons does an excellent job of recreating Magoffin's life, stitching together
an engaging narrative and, with the help of previously unused sources, casting
new light on Magoffin's time in Mexico. In the process, Timmons explores-if
indirectly-some of the more important historical features of the borderlands:
the nature of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Mexico; interactions
between Anglo and Hispanic elites (seen in Magoffin's business partnership with
Jose Cordero); the permeability of the Rio Grande as an international boundary;
and the pivotal role of economic interests in shaping the development of the
region. To be sure, there remain still other questions that lie beyond the scope
of the book and perhaps the availability of the sources themselves. For instance,
one might wish to learn more about the extent of social conflict occasioned by
Magoffin's ventures in the area (hinted at by Timmons in his discussion of the
"Magoffin Salt War," which stemmed from Magoffin's unsuccessful attempt to
privatize several communally used salt deposits near El Paso), or further reasons
for his support of the Confederacy. In this respect, Timmons's admirable but
concise study suggests several avenues for further research.
Princeton Unzverszty Andrew Graybill
The Caregwvers: El Paso's Medical History, 1898-1998. By Barbara Funkhouser. (El
Paso: Sundance Press, 1999. Pp. 287. Preamble, introduction, appendix,
index. ISBN 0-944551-39-4. $1oo.oo, cloth.)
In 1892, railroad magnate Jay Gould, suffering from tuberculosis, rode a
Pullman car to El Paso in hopes that the climate would improve his health. From
then until 1925, El Paso had twelve different sanitariums offering mostly pallia-
tive care for patients with pulmonary problems. At a time when biotechnology
offered few sure cures for such serious diseases, El Paso evolved as a medical
oasis in the western desert for citizens of two countries. Despite its distinction as
a rough-and-tumble border town with all the attendant vices (and maladies),
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/m1/376/?rotate=90: accessed May 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.