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The Spanish Frontier in North America

The Spanish Frontier in North America: The Brief Edition

David J. Weber
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    The Spanish Frontier in North America
    Book Description:

    This compact synthesis of David J. Weber's prize-winning history of colonial Spanish North America vividly tells the story of Spain's three-hundred-year tenure on the continent. From the first Spanish-Indian contact through Spain's gradual retreat, Weber offers a balanced assessment of the impact of each civilization upon the other.

    Praise for the previous edition:

    "I cannot imagine a single book giving a more comprehensive and balanced study of Spain's presence in North America."-Louis Kleber,History Today

    "For readers seeking to understand the larger meaning of the Spanish heritage in North America, Weber's vivid narrative is a must. This is social and cultural history at its best."-Howard R. Lamar, Yale University

    "A superb study."-Choice

    "[A] deeply researched and splendidly conceived and written survey."-Alvin M. Josephy, Jr.,New York Times Book Review

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15621-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. ii-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Spanish Names and Words
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Across the southern rim of the United States, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, aged buildings stand as mute reminders of an earlier Hispanic America that has vanished. On Florida’s Atlantic coast, some seventy miles south of the Georgia border, a great symmetrical stone fortress, the Castillo de San Marcos, still occupies the ground where its bastions once commanded the land and water approaches to Spanish St. Augustine. Founded in 1565, the town of St. Augustine itself is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the continental United States. Farther west, at Pensacola, in the Florida panhandle, the ruins of...

  6. 1 Worlds Apart
    (pp. 13-25)

    Early in the summer of 1540 a group of young Spanish adventurers, mounted on horseback, approached the Zuni village of Hawikku in what is today western New Mexico. Led by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, a thirty-year-old nobleman from the Spanish university town of Salamanca, the Spaniards had traveled for six months to reach this barren and forbidding land of brilliant skies, broad vistas, and sharp-edged red-rock mesas. Coronado had moved ahead of the main body of his army with a small group of mounted men, numbering little more than one hundred. Although it was summer, some of Coronado’s men feared...

  7. 2 First Encounters
    (pp. 26-47)

    From a European perspective, intrepid explorers sailed across the Atlantic to discover a new world. From Native American viewpoints, Europeans came as predators. Both were correct. The western hemisphere had not existed to Europeans until they found it, and it had taken courage and ingenuity to cross the ocean sea. To indigenous peoples, however, it must have seemed inconceivable that Europeans had discovered them or had a right to push into their lands and claim sovereignty over them.

    Whether one understands the first significant encounters between peoples from the two hemispheres as discoveries or as invasions, it is clear that...

  8. 3 Foundations of Empire: Florida and New Mexico
    (pp. 48-68)

    In the afternoon of September 8, 1565, at a sheltered harbor in a land he had seen for the first time on the day of San Agustín, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés stepped ashore from a small boat to take possession of Florida in the name of his king, Felipe II. Before an assembly of his officers and natives from the nearby village of Seloy, Florida’s newestadelantadoknelt to kiss the cross and to establish the municipality of St. Augustine.

    For the previous three days his men had worked unceremoniously to dig defensive trenches around Seloy, a palisaded village of...

  9. 4 Conquistadors of the Spirit
    (pp. 69-89)

    On the feast of the Pentecost, June 3, 1629, a day in which Christians commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit to the twelve apostles of the son of their god, fray Estevan de Perea led a group of thirty road-weary Spanish priests into the tiny, adobe town of Santa Fe. They had come to the end of a dangerous, fifteen-hundred-mile journey, begun nine months before in Mexico City. In New Mexico these holy men planned not only to minister to the fledgling colony that Juan de Oñate had founded in 1598, but to destroy the indigenous religion and replace...

  10. 5 Exploitation, Contention, and Rebellion
    (pp. 90-108)

    In Florida and New Mexico, Spain’s laboriously constructed colonies fell apart with surprising speed. New Mexico’s demise took only a matter of days in 1680. In a display of unity that astonished Spaniards, Pueblos forcibly evicted all Hispanics and sent them retreating down the Rio Grande to El Paso. The mission provinces of Florida disintegrated more slowly. Because the Castillo of San Marcos at St. Augustine held firm, natives did not oust the Spaniards entirely. Nevertheless, between 1680 and 1706 the Florida missions collapsed.

    In both upheavals, attacks by outside forces served as catalysts: drought and Apaches in New Mexico...

  11. 6 Imperial Rivalry and Strategic Expansion: To Texas, the Gulf Coast, and the High Plains
    (pp. 109-129)

    From their base in Carolina, Englishmen had set in motion the forces that nearly destroyed Spanish Florida, but in the late 1600s England was not the only European power to challenge Spain for territory along the southern fringes of North America. In the 1680s, as Carolinians and their Indian allies began to wreak havoc in the missions of Guale and as Pueblos regained autonomy over New Mexico, France established an outpost on the Texas coast. Spanish policy makers correctly regarded the French intruders as a potential threat to Florida, New Mexico, the mines of northern Mexico, and the strategic sea...

  12. 7 Commercial Rivalry, Stagnation, and the Fortunes of War
    (pp. 130-152)

    A scant dozen miles or so from the French post at Natchitoches, Spaniards had built a small fort at Los Adaes to halt French encroachment, weaken French influence among the neighboring tribes, and prevent French traders from using Louisiana as a base for illicit commerce with northern New Spain. Los Adaes fell so far from advancing those goals that Frenchmen, who might have easily destroyed the fort, preferred to see it stand.

    Frenchmen dominated commerce on the Texas–Louisiana frontier, and Spaniards offered no competition. Surrounded by Caddo Indians armed with French weapons and loyal to French traders, unable to...

  13. 8 Indian Raiders and the Reorganization of Frontier Defenses
    (pp. 153-175)

    In March of 1766, the marqués de Rubí rode north from Mexico City to inspect the formal defenses of northern New Spain. A newcomer to the American colonies, Rubí had arrived in New Spain in 1764 as part of a military mission sent by Carlos III to reorganize the defenses of the viceroyalty, a mission prompted by Spain’s defeat in the Seven Years’ War. By seizing the fortified city of Havana, England had revealed the weakness of Spain’s colonial defenses in its American colonies. Should another war break out, England could just as easily land troops at Veracruz and invade...

  14. 9 Forging a Transcontinental Empire: New California to the Floridas
    (pp. 176-198)

    In contrast to the consolidation and accommodation that became the foundation of a cautious new policy toward intractable Indians during the long reign of Carlos III, expansion and high-risk belligerence characterized Spain’s efforts to counter the influence of its European rivals in North America. Initially, at least, this aggressive stance brought positive results. By the time of the death of Carlos III in 1788, Spain had reacquired Florida, planted new settlements on the Pacific from San Diego to San Francisco, and strengthened its claims to the Pacific Northwest coast as far as Alaska.

    Remarkably, the dynamic force behind Spain’s imperial...

  15. 10 Improvisations and Retreats: The Empire Lost
    (pp. 199-220)

    When Vicente Manuel de Zéspedes arrived at St. Augustine to assume the governorship of East Florida in the early summer of 1784, the future seemed bright. The sixty-four-year-old colonel from La Mancha, a veteran of over forty years of military service in the Indies, had lived to see Spain avenge the humiliating losses of the Seven Years’ War. Under the dynamic leadership of Carlos III and his able ministers, Spain had reasserted itself in North America. It had acquired Louisiana in 1762, expanded to New California in 1769, seized the lower Mississippi and the gulf coast in 1779–81, and...

  16. 11 Frontiers and Frontier Peoples Transformed
    (pp. 221-242)

    In 1826, a Pueblo Indian appealed to New Mexico officials to stop non-Indians from acquiring land belonging to his community. On behalf of the “principal citizens of the Pueblo of Pecos,”alcaldeRafael Aguilar reminded Mexican officials that Pueblo Indians enjoyed the rights of “citizens of the new republic of Mexico,” that Spain’s law had guaranteed their ownership of four square leagues of land around their pueblo, and that non-Indians had violated the law by usurping Pecos lands. Aguilar’s petition, written in phonetic Spanish, was one of several formal complaints lodged in the 1820s by Natives of Pecos to protect...

  17. 12 The Spanish Legacy and the Historical Imagination
    (pp. 243-264)

    When Spain’s hegemony over the southern rim of North America ended in 1821, its long tenure left an enduring legacy that extended beyond the tangible transformation of peoples and places. More abstractly, Spain’s legacy also lingered in American historical memory, where it took on a life of its own. By its very nature, the past cannot be fully recaptured or replayed, but it can be partially remembered or reconstructed by individuals or groups who seek meanings in the past that will serve them in the present. The quest for a usable past has produced multiple interpretations of the Spanish experience...

  18. For Further Reading
    (pp. 265-278)
  19. Index
    (pp. 279-298)