Page:A Study of Mexico.djvu/60

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A STUDY OF MEXICO.

authorities it is estimated considerably higher, and as even approximating 12,000,000. Of the whole number, whatever it may be, fully nine tenths are believed to be located upon the high or table lands, and only one tenth on the lowlands of the east and west coasts.

So much, then, for Mexico, considered geographically or in respect to its natural conditions. Let us next, as a means of better comprehending its present condition, briefly consider its historical, social, and political experiences.

The authentic history of Mexico practically commences with its conquest and occupation by the Spaniards under Cortes in 1521. The general idea is, that the people whom the Spaniards found in Mexico had attained to a degree of civilization that raised them far above the level of the average Indians of North America, more especially in all that pertained to government, architecture, agriculture, manufactures, and the useful arts, and the production and accumulation of property. For all this there is certainly but very little foundation; and the fascinating narrations of Prescott, which have done so much to make what is popularly considered "Mexican history," as well as the Spanish chronicles from which Prescott drew his so-called historic data, are, in the opinion of the writer, and with the exception of the military record of the