The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992 Page: 264
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Southwestern Historzcal Quarterly
winds between Mexican nationalists and peninsular-born Spaniards in the
years immediately following independence, Alvarez departed for Havana,
Cuba. Through the assistance of fellow countrymen in consular offices, he ob-
tained an American passport that permitted him to enter the United States.
Choosing to enter through the port of New York, Alvarez soon migrated west
to the border state of Missouri. Again, through a fortuitous contact with a
Spanish-surnamed resident in St. Louis, who introduced him to a few of the
leading participants in the lucrative fur trade (American, French, and His-
panic), Don Manuel decided to migrate even farther west to be closer to the
source of the product.
Upon arriving in New Mexico in the autumn of 1824, Alvarez made Santa Fe
the center of his business transactions, which gradually became multifacted.
Based on his earlier, albeit brief, residency in the post-independence period,
Don Manuel applied for Mexican citizenship to secure a definite advantage in
his trading activities, a request that authorities denied because of the U.S..pass-
port in his possession. That rejection, combined with an inherent gift for turn-
ing a profit in almost every negotiation, convinced the young Spanish imni-
grant (.just barely thirty years old) to shift the locus of his presence in Mexico in
favor of an American perspective. With masterful aplomb and without proper
seals of office, Alvarez assumed and discharged duties of a U.S. diplomatic
agent. Frequently intertwining his business interests with consular obligations,
Don Manuel criss-crossed the political arena in Santa Fe, interacting confi-
dently with factions that advocated statehood versus those that proposed terri-
torinal status for New Mexico following the end of the U.S.-Mexican War of
1846-1848. In between public affairs, he invested wisely in land, sheep, mer-
chandising, freighting, and gold bullion, all of which, in varying degrees,
earned for him financial security and credit in Missouri, New York, London,
Notwithstanding the author's dedication to his subject, and the broad range
of his research in diversified archival depositories, Manuel Alvarez throughout
most of the book remained in a twilight setting, almost devoid of emotion that
to a Spaniard (even one from the northern wetlands of Iberia) is a requisite of
life. The entire fault cannot be attributed to ChAvez, for seemingly he managed
to squeeze every fact and nuance from the available documents. Naturally sym-
pathetic to Alvarei and his activities in New Mexico, the author glossed over
several major events involving Texas's connection with the Land of Enchant-
ment. Not once, for example, did lie cite any of the essays on the Texan-Santa
Fe expedition published in the SouthweSte ii Hi lol Quan t/e ly. The data gleaned
from these other sources undoubtedly would have strengthened ChAvez' under-
standing and appreciation of the long shadow Texas cast upon New Mexico's
history before the American Compromise of 1850.
Overall, Manuel Alvaez: A Southwe es, n Biogiaphy is a sound contribution to
an ever-expanding bibliography of the borderlands. Even with the book's
minor shortcomings, Thomas ChAvez resumed Manuel Alvarei, nascent diplo-
mat, from dreadful obscurity.
Unzversi y of Texas at San Antouo
FLt IX D. ALMARAZ, JR.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992, periodical, 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/m1/310/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.