Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/150

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Travellers and Explorers, 1846 1900

western boundary at the Nueces River exactly where the Mexicans declared it must be.

The ambitious Texans, however, were not of his mind. They wanted territory and they understood that far beyond the world of intervening desert unknown to them flowed the Rio Grande del Norte, whose valley was productive and for some two centuries had been cultivated by a Spanish population with the attractive city of Santa Fé a trade centre worth owning. The story of The Spanish Conquest of New Mexico (1869) by W. W. H. Davis and El Gringo, or New Mexico and her People (1857) by the same author, who spent some years in the region, show that the Spaniards in entering and building up New Mexico had no thought of the Texans that were to be. Samuel Cozzens in The Marvellous Country or Three Years in Arizona and New Mexico (1873) gives more of the story, with modern additions, and Historical Sketches of New Mexico (1883) by ex-Governor L. Bradford Prince, who still lives in Santa Fé, is another important volume on this subject.

Although the Rio Grande settlements and the capital city of Santa Fé were so far from the outermost fringe of Texan life that the Texans actually knew little about them, these had fixed their minds on extending Texas to the Rio Grande, and to the Rio Grande it must go. Therefore they decided to march across the unknown and formally annex the old-time towns and villages, whose inhabitants were supposed to be eager to become Texans. A grand caravan accordingly was organized, partly military, partly mercantile, to proceed to the conquest. The expedition moved off into the wilderness with far rosier expectations than facts warranted. Disaster was not long in falling upon the party, and worse disaster awaited their straggling remnant at the hands of the tyrannical, cruel, and unruly governor of New Mexico, Armijo.

Probably the most interesting and valuable book on this phase of Texan enterprise, and withal one having considerable literary charm, is The Narrative of the Texan Santa Fe Expedition (1844) by George Wilkins Kendall. Kendall was one of the survivors. He was finally released from the wretched prison in Mexico into which he was cast with others who had not succumbed to the desert, or to the brutality of Armijo, at the request of the United States Minister, Waddy Thompson,