Mexican Works Offered by Plaza Books
Plaza Books recently printed their List 34. Plaza focuses on Latin America, Central America in particular. This time, the selection is even more focused, being almost entirely centered on Mexico. Naturally, many of the works are also related to that large neighbor to the north. Mexico spent several centuries under the control of Spain, a few under the French, and the rest of the time eying warily the moves of the giant to the north. It hasn't been easy, and Mexico produced its share of home-grown tyrants as well, but all of the travails have certainly not made for a dull history. Here are some of the items pertaining to that history now offered by Plaza Books.
Item 2 is a broadside from the Viceroy of New Spain, Francisco de la Cueva, the 19th Duke of Alburquerque, to the Governor of New Mexico, dated August 8, 1710. In it, the Viceroy requests funds to support their fleet, which Plaza points out, was “not of much concern in Santa Fe.” Nonetheless, the Viceroy explains all the benefits to New Spain of its fleet, such as promoting commerce, safety, and defending the faith. We do not know how many, if any, funds New Mexico sent to support this endeavor. The largest city in New Mexico (now, not then) was named after this Duke, though somewhere along the way, the first “r” in the name “Alburquerque” was lost. Priced at $1,750.
Americans have always seen opportunity in Mexico. In some instances, they simply wanted seize the land. The Mexican War, Gadsden Purchase, and Texas Revolution left many Mexicans a bit wary of their neighbor's intent. In other cases, Americans looked to settle or exploit the land, but at least within the bounds of recognizing Mexican sovereignty. Item 14 is an example of the latter form of seeking Mexican land: Border States of Mexico: Sonora, Chihuahua and Durango... A complete description of the best regions for the settler, miner and the advance guard of American civilization. Author Leonidas Hamilton of San Francisco believed there were great opportunities for Americans to invest in Mexico, particularly its northern states. Hamilton, an attorney, was particularly familiar with Mexican mining law. Offered is a second edition from 1881, same year as the first. $600.
Item 34 is from a man who attempted to seize northern Mexico without regard to that nation's sovereignty. William Walker mounted an invasion from California in 1853, hoping to take over the state of Sonora and Baja California. He expected support for his mission from those who believed in American expansion, along with southerners who wanted to see the expansion of slavery. He was able to briefly seize Baja California, and declared slavery legal, but Mexico responded with greater force than Walker anticipated. He was pushed back across the border. However, Walker was not deterred, and a few years later, made another attempt to seize land in Central America, this time targeting Nicaragua. Amazingly, he was successful, gaining control of that nation in 1856. He legalized slavery, but antagonized business interests in America. Late that year, a coalition of Central American neighbors forced him to retreat back to America. Again, Walker was undaunted. He made another attempt at Nicaragua, only to be intercepted by the British and sent home. It was then that he wrote this book, The War in Nicaragua. It was published in 1860, the year Walker made his third assault on Nicaragua, only to again be intercepted by the British. This time, they turned him over to the Hondurans, who promptly executed Walker. $950.
Mexican Works Offered by Plaza Books
Mexican President Porfirio Diaz.
Item 3 is a March 12, 1840 manuscript copy of a broadside decree issued a month earlier. It came from Juan Almonte, Mexican Secretary of War, and it provided for military decorations for soldiers who distinguished themselves during the Texas Revolution and the Pastry War. Almonte had fought during the Texas Revolution, being present at the Alamo. As for the Pastry War, that was a blockade of Mexico perpetrated by France, as they demanded a French baker in Mexico City receive recompense for damaged property from Mexico. That was resolved when Mexico was forced to accede to French demands, but France would intervene more seriously when it set up a puppet government under Emperor Maximilian in the 1860s. Ironically, the conniving Almonte would support the French as he sought personal power. When Maximilian was overthrown, Almonte was forced to flee to Europe, never to return. $1,750.
If you always wanted a large portrait of Porfirio Diaz to hang over the mantle but didn't know where to find one, you are in luck. Item 26 is a 23” x 14” poster of El Presidente circa 1900. Diaz ruled Mexico, mostly as its president, from 1876-1911. He was elected in 1876 as Mexicans looked for someone to restore order and bring economic prosperity to the land. He certainly achieved the first, and to a decent extent the latter, but as the years went on, he became more dictatorial and willing to use whatever force necessary to retain power. Toward the end of his regime, he promised to restore democracy, but instead used electoral fraud to retain power. Diaz wore out his welcome, and in 1911, was overthrown in a rebellion, and like Juan Almonte, fled to Europe, where he remained the rest of his days. $550.
Plaza Books may be reached at 707-217-9229 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is www.plazabooks.com.