The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 201
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Josi Bernardo Guti~rrez de Lara
resent, and what powers did he possess to act on its behalf? He could have
scarcely imagined his future role as caudillo at this point. While he in-
tended to return to his native country with assistance from the United
States, his mission was open-ended and bound to be shaped by circum-
stances beyond his immediate control. He would assert himself more
boldly as he sensed the possibility of building a republican alliance across
Gutierrez had his first significant diplomatic exchange on September
23, i811, with John Sibley, U.S Indian agent, stationed in the frontier
community of Natchitoches. Both men relied upon an interpreter, con-
sidering their lack of understanding of the other's language. Sibley, who
was strongly anti-Spanish in viewpoint, was predisposed to view the insur-
gency as a unified revolutionary movement. One Anglo-American in-
formant had told him in late November 1810 that the war in New Spain
pitted "Native Americans" [i.e, creoles] fighting en masse against "Euro-
peans" in order to achieve "Compleat [sic] independence from all the
world on republican principles." In reality, this intelligence was quite mis-
taken. The Hidalgo Revolt alienated more creoles than it attracted. More-
over, the idea of a Mexican republic was still in its formative stages. Re-
publicanism broadly implied a national government devoted to the
public good, but it did not yet mean the open repudiation of monarchy as
Sibley assumed. After conversing with Gutierrez and his associate, Col.
Jos6 Menchaca, Sibley relayed grossly exaggerated estimates to Washing-
ton about the military strength of the Mexican "Republican or Revolu-
tionary party." He also furnished Gutierrez with a favorable letter of in-
troduction to William Eustis, secretary of war.'5
Gutierrez built upon his initial diplomatic foray, partly through the tac-
it support of William C. C. Claiborne, governor of Orleans Territory. Feel-
" Gutlrrez to the Mexican Congress, LamarPapers, I, 8 Gutlrrez's position differed from that
of previous Mexican emissaries, who had broad plenipotentiary powers, but who had failed to
reach the United States. See Hamill, Hzdalgo Revolt, 186-187, o205-207. In his later writings,
Gutirrez seems to have exaggerated the degree of authority that he held when he first entered
the United States. He referred to himself as a heutenant colonel m 181 1, not as Commander-m-
Chief of the Northern [Mexican] States as he claimed m 1827 See Gutierrez to Tomas Monrroi
[James Monroe], Sept. 27, 1811, in Dispatches from the Umted States Consuls in Mexico City (Na-
tional Archives), microfilm, Mf79.3 (DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University). Gutierrez
used the inflated title in his Breve Apologia, 7.
1"John Sibley to Wilhliam Eustis, Nov. 30, 1810o, in Julia Kathryn Garrett (ed.), "Doctor John Sib-
ley and the Louisiana-Texas Frontier, 18o03-1814," SHQ 48 (July, 1944), 69 (1st quotation),
Hamill, The Hzdalgo Revolt, 170-175. See the proclamation issued by MarianoJimenez on Dec. 14,
181o in favor of our Republic ("nuestra Repiblica") and a just polity ("una buena Policia"), min
Juan E. Hernindez y Divalos, Colecczdn de documentos para la hsstona de la guerra de mndependencia de
Mixaco de z8o8 a 1821 (6 vols.; 1877-1882; reprint, Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus, 1968), II,
300-301. Sibley to William Eustis, Sept. 24, Oct. 14, 1811, in Garrett (ed.), "Dr.John Sibley," SHQ
49 (Jan., 1946), 401 (2nd quotation), 402. Sibley wrote on Sept. 24 that General Ignacio L6pez
Ray6n had 200,000 men under his command. Ray6n's army never remotely approached this size.
See Alamin, Hzstona de MOezco, II, 260-272, 359, 452.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/253/: accessed October 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.