The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002 Page: 539
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In the first of four chapters devoted to the economy of late colonial New
Mexico, Frank carries his analysis through the 1770s, when the economy was
based largely on trade between Plains Indians and inhabitants of New Mexico.
This "first eighteenth-century trade economy" was undermined in the 177o0s by
the raids of nomadic Plains Indians and Apache groups and a smallpox epi-
demic that scourged much of northern Mexico in the early 178os. In Chapter
Two, Frank examines the efforts of Bourbon officials to foster the develop-
ment of the economy of northern Mexico and their success in establishing
peace on the southern Great Plains through treaties and alliances with the
Indians whose raiding had hemmed in settlers and prevented vecinos from
trading with important regional centers to the south, such as Chihuahua.
Frank then turns in Chapter Three to the persistent obstacles to economic
development that afflicted late colonial New Mexico: a lack of specie in the
region, the inadequate supply of the presidios, and the inability of merchants
in New Mexico to establish networks of trade with the regions of Texas,
Sonora, and Alta California.
Despite these obstacles, as Frank shows in Chapter Four, the economy of New
Mexico boomed during the last decades of the colonial period. The smallpox
epidemic of the early 178o0s not only eliminated many of the Indians who had
raided the province, but it created a vecino majority in New Mexico where
none had existed before. Furthermore, warfare and disease led to a concentra-
tion of property in the hands of surviving vecinos. These vecinos, who were the
beneficiaries of others' misfortunes, built an export-based economy-what
Frank terms a "second eighteenth-century trade economy"-by producing sur-
pluses of belts, textiles, and sheep, which they marketed in Chihuahua just as
most of northern New Spain was entering a period of drought and famine. In
illuminating how New Mexico finally became integrated into the larger econo-
my of the northern Borderlands, Frank displays his knowledge of the scholar-
ship of the economy of northern colonial Mexico, and it is clear that this book
is as much a contribution to the economic history of colonial Mexico as it is to
the history of the Spanish Borderlands.
If Frank's scholarly interests resided solely in the realm of economic history,
he could have concluded with his discussion of the second eighteenth-century
trade economy. However, the great strength of this book is Frank's successful
effort to relate economic development in late colonial New Mexico with the cul-
tural awakenings of the vecinos. To his credit, Frank finds evidence of the veci-
nos' cultural emergence in unlikely sources: the proliferation and creation of
santos (the carved wooden images that vecinos created or commissioned for
their religious devotion) and the furniture that increasingly adorned vecino
homes. As Frank shows, the emergence of a distinct and self-conscious vecino
culture also had its underside: it was accompanied by a hardening of racial and
class boundaries and an increasing exploitation and marginaliztion of the
Readers familiar with the harsh policies of the soldiers, settlers, and missionar-
ies who came to New Spain at the outset of the colonial period may not recognize
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/m1/583/: accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.