The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 471
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Mexico. Other works, before and since, have emphasized the better known com-
munities of the Mexican far north (e.g., Zacatecas and Durango) or northwest
(Chihuahua), as well as the remote borderlands of Texas, New Mexico, northern
Sonora, and Alta California. Offut's study, like Cuello's, is intended in part to
make up for a general neglect of colonial Saltillo by North American scholars. In
addition, she demonstrates how vital the town had become by the late eighteenth
century, as a center of cereal and livestock production as well as commerce, serv-
ing a vast hinterland that extended from north central New Spain to the farthest
outposts of Texas.
Offut's work also addresses some hallowed, if controversial, Mexican border-
land stereotypes. Along with Cuello, Oakah Jones, and others, she shows how
multiethnic, economically and socially complex communities such as Saltillo
were more typical of the Mexican north than presidios and mission, and that the
town itself was dominated, both economically and politically, by a fluid elite of
merchants who were also engaged in ranching and agriculture. In a series of de-
tailed studies Offut describes how these merchants-cum-hacendados prospered
to the extent that they successfully diversified their economic interests and re-
sources. They were, in fact, much closer to Charles Harris's entrepreneurial
Sanchez Navarros than the seigneurial lords of the land portrayed by Francois
Chevalier. At the same time, the author notes that most of Saltillo's late colonial
hacendados, including some of its less affluent merchants, rented fields and pas-
tures from the owners of traditional haciendas. In that regard, they resembled
the ranchero smallholders and tenants of the Bajio. Indeed, Offut proposes that
by the late 17oos the Saltillo region "bore a striking resemblance" (p. 8) to the
Bajfo of an earlier period, and that it had become "an economically integrated
region" (p. 180) linked to the larger economy of New Spain, as demonstrated by
the predominant position of its merchants. The focus of her study is the forty-
year period prior to the independence struggle, partly because of the expansion
of Saltillo's market during that period to include Texas and Nuevo Santander,
and partly due to rapid demographic growth in the Saltillo district itself.
In short, Offut depicts Saltillo and its region, by 1810, as on a "trajectory of
consolidation and economic development" (p. 182), one tragically interrupted
by the onset of the imperial crisis of 18o8 and the decade of revolution that fol-
lowed. Her argument is persuasive as far as it goes but overlooks the chronic vio-
lence inflicted upon northern Mexico by Apaches, Comanches, and other
adversaries, which intensified during the last decades of the colonial era.
Offut has used a broad range of relevant secondary and printed primary
sources in the preparation of this monograph. She has also consulted
manuscript materials from the Benson Latin American Collection in the Univer-
sity of Texas at Austin as well as Mexico's Archivo General de la Naci6n and oth-
er repositories. Above all, she has relied upon an impressive selection of sources
from Saltillo's superb municipal archives, especially the wills, estate inventories,
and other personal documents upon which her examination of the town's mer-
cantile families is based.
Southwest Missouri State Unzversity (retired)
DAVID B. ADAMS
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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/m1/539/: accessed May 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.