The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970 Page: 563
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a few whose ambition had no limits the founding of an empire west
of the Mississippi seemed to be within the realm of possibility. The
Spanish had too much land to govern and not enough men to garrison
or oversee their domains. Moreover, most Americans did not consider
the Spaniard a formidable opponent. So the broad prairies of Texas
were fertile ground. Philip Nolan mapped and charted the area while
hunting wild horses; Peter Ellis Bean, young and adventurous, looked
for an excuse to explore new vistas; and General James Wilkinson
intrigued for glory and possibly a kingdom in Texas. In the end, how-
ever, all three realized similar fates; they became men without countries.
In weaving together short biographical sketches of these adventurers,
Eddie Weems, formerly an associate editor of the University of Texas
Press and presently a professor of English at Baylor University, has
highlighted certain aspects of each character and has shown the cir-
cumstanes which thwarted the aspirations of each. While Wilkinson
accepted money from the Spanish in the 1780's and 1790's and then
allied himself with Aaron Burr in some grandiose scheme of empire,
he was sending Nolan into Texas presumably for wild horses. When
their activities eventually created suspicion, Wilkinson had to defend
himself in impeachment and court martial proceedings and Nolan
received a Spanish rifle ball in the head. In turn, Peter Ellis Bean,
who was a member of the ill-fated Nolan expedition in 18o , suffered
Spanish imprisonment for nine years before the Hidalgo revolt freed
him. Later, as a colonel in the Mexican army, he had divided loyalties
when conflict arose with the Texans. All three filibusterers "were
typical of men of their times," Weems asserted, loyal (but mainly to
themselves), often considered "slippery," definitely courageous, and
"men of action." They became involved in schemes outside the terri-
torial limits of the United States; therefore, all three were "tragic
figures," Weems concluded, "because they were, for whatever reason,
actually without a country."
For the serious student of history Men Without Countries reveals
nothing new; however, it does have merit. Besides writing lucidly and
extremely well, Weems has organized his material into an interesting
story. He has achieved the objective of most historians, that of making
his subject not only readable but enjoyable.
Texas Christian University
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970, periodical, 1970; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117147/m1/609/: accessed November 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.