Heritage, Volume 8, Number 2, Spring 1990 Page: 13
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Mexico and New Leon, and stated that the
padre would receive five percent of the
total sales. Father Marsillo wrote back that
he would, indeed, write to his friends, but
since it was not appropriate for a friar to
participate in commerce, the correspondence
should be kept secret. But the war
broke out and La Harpe, instead of trading
toward the south, explored the country to
the north of the Red River.
With the east Texas establishments
abandoned, Spain was uneasy and
frightened by the prospect of France taking
over Texas. Moreover, Frenchmen
were friendly with the Indians, trading
them guns for furs. To hold the frontier
abandoned in 1719, the largest Spanish expedition
yet led by the Marquis de Aguayo,
started across Texas in the spring of 1721.
This expedition must have created a spectacle
for it had 500 men, 3,000 horses, 600
head of cattle, 900 sheep, almost 800
mules, 600 of which had loads of clothing,
arms, munitions, and supplies. The fall
before, a dispatch declared the war was
over between the two powers. Aguayo was
to continue with his entrada to restore the
missions, but no more than a defensive war
should be waged and that only if the French
encroached on Spanish territory. The
expedition restored the six east Texas missions,
established a presidio at Los Adaes
near Mission San Miguel on the eastern
most border, reestablished both the presidio
for the protection of Mission C6ncepcion
and one west of there near the Tejas.
When the expedition returned to the
San Antonio River where a presidio and
two missions had already been established,
part of the expedition was sent to Matagorda
Bay to establish both a presidio and
mission. The bay was a crucial area for defense
because it might be claimed by
France since LaSalle's colony had once
been there. On the orders of His Majesty,
the presidio was built squarely atop the site
of the former French village. The diary of
the expedition reported French artifacts
found where trenches were dug for foundations
of the fort; furthermore, the presence
of French artifacts dating to the period of
the French Colony has been confirmed.
The pattern followed by Spain in so many
places in the New World of building atop a
site of an enemy was a symbolic gesture to
show who was boss. This pattern was evident
again in 1755 when Presidio Ahumada
near Galveston Bay was built on top of
the trading post of the captured French
By 1722 Spain was holding the eastern
border of Texas with two presidios, the
coast with one presidio, and the interior
with another one, all having associated
missions. In contrast, France was holding
the adjacent western border with two
military posts, one with a fort, one with a
garrison, and possibly several unofficial
traders' villages. These contrasting
approaches to the frontier have their
foundation in their differing viewpoints
about the native peoples.
It is patent that to hold and control a
province or colony, the native residents
must be controlled. In Spain's missionpresidio-village
system, the method was to
collect the Indians into permanent
settlements at the mission. There they
were to be taught agricultural and industrial
skills and instructed in the Catholic
faith and the Spanish language.Thereby
they would become useful Spanish
subjects. Yet many Indians of Texas were
not sedentary and would not stay in the
missions unless they were cold or hungry.
Even the sedentary Indians of east Texas
preferred their dispersed settlements to
living in large groups in the missions.
Some scholars argue that the conversion
of the Indians to Christianity was a
by-product of the political issue of holding
the frontier. The late Father Engelhardt
believed the Spanish monarchy cared not
one whit for the success of religion except
to promote political schemes. H. E. Bolton,
the historian, argues that the monarchy
was sincere enough, but religious projects
could not be financed unless they served
political ends as well.
Comparing the attitudes of Spain,
France, and England toward the Indians,
historian John TePaske suggests that to
Spain and her padres the Indian represented
a noble savage whose only defect
was his religion and idleness. The English,
he notes, had little concern for the soul of
the Indian, and maintained that "the only
good Indian was a dead Indian."
The French attitude was different
from either the Spanish or English.
Mission work had been practiced in New
France (Canada), but it was less important
in Louisiana. Bienville, writing about
conditions in Louisiana in 1725, recognized
the value of missionaries for the
Indians, not only for their missionary
efforts, but also to report to the post commanders
what was happening among the
Indians, to prevent quarrels between the
traders and the Indians, and to see to it
TOP: Eighteenth century French faience.
ABOVE: Eighteenth century Hispanic majolica.
HERITAGE * SPRING 1990 13
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 8, Number 2, Spring 1990, periodical, Spring 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45428/m1/13/: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.