The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004 Page: 501
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Ram6n de Murillo's Plan for the Reform
of New Spain's Frontier Defenses
INTRODUCTION AND ANNOTATION BY JESUS F. DE LA TEJA'
TRANSLATION BY JOHN WHEAT*
B Y THE TIME THAT JUAN DE OI~ATE MARCHED INTO NEW MEXICO IN 1598,
Spain's northward expansion from the central valleys of Mexico had
created a vast frontier region stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the
Gulf of California. Increasingly difficult climatic and topographic condi-
tions, more mobile and intractable Indian groups, and a focus on silver
mining as the engine of expansion created a settlement pattern consist-
ing of islands of Spanish settlement surrounded by vast expanses of Indi-
an controlled territory. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the
Spanish Bourbon dynasty inherited not only an immense Indian frontier,
but a new imperial frontier, as French penetration of Spanish territory
from Louisiana forced Spain to occupy Texas.
Throughout the eighteenth century the northern frontier of New
Spain defied Spanish efforts to bring peace, efficiency, and economy to
the administration of the region. Along with two major inspections, those
of Brigadier Pedro de Rivera and the Marques de Rubi, charged with im-
posing order and reducing costs among what was essentially a chaotic and
corrupt agglomeration of presidios and local militias, there were numer-
ous reorganizations of pre-existing jurisdictions and attempts to establish
new ones. None of these efforts proved a viable solution. The Coman-
*Jesis F. de la Teja is professor of history at Texas State University-San Marcos, author of San Antonzo
de Bixar A Communzty on New Spain's Northern Frontier (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press,
1995), and editor of A Revolution Remembered The Memoirs and Selected Correspondence of Juan N. Seguin
(1991, reprint, Austin. Texas State Historical Association, 2oo2).John Wheat is Spanish translator at the
Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin and has translated a number of books
and articles for publication
1In the 198os, during a visit to the Archivo General de Indias, Ron Tyler uncovered Murillo's propos-
al while collecting Texas-themed images. He turned the document over to John Wheat for translation,
but each then forgot about it. In late soo2, while working on images for a textbook, Ron remembered the
Munllo plan and asked if I would be interested in working with it He was then kind enough to key in
John Wheat's impeccable translation, to which I have added the necessary notes. I would like to thank
Ron Tyler for bringing the document to my attention and making valuable suggestions to the introduc-
tion,John Kessell, David Weber, and Lance Blythe for their helpful comments, and Fred Bauman, man-
uscript reference specialist in the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, for confirming the location
of the plan
VOL. CVII, NO. 4 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY APRIL 2004
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004, periodical, 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/m1/579/: accessed August 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.