Spanish Texas, 1519-1821

By Donald E. Chipman | Go to book overview

Introduction

SPAIN'S PRESENCE OFF THE TEXAS GULF COAST BEGAN WITH the voyage of Alonso Alvarez de Pineda in 1519. Its direct influence over significant parts of the present Lone Star State, sporadic until 1716, lasted until 1821, when the flag of Castile and León was lowered for the last time at San Antonio. At varying times, modern Texas was part of four provinces within the vast kingdom of New Spain: the El Paso area was under the jurisdiction of New Mexico; missions founded near the confluence of the Río Conchos and Río Grande (La Junta de los Ríos) were under Nueva Vizcaya; the coastal region from the Nueces River to the Río Grande and thence upstream to Laredo fell under Nuevo Santander after 1749; and Tejas, initially known as the New Kingdom of the Philippines, was briefly ( 1694-1715) under joint jurisdiction with Coahuila. All of these regions receive treatment in this work. Emphasis, however, is on the area that formally constituted the Spanish province of Tejas.

An adequate one-volume synthesis of the Spanish experience in Texas and a treatment of Hispanic legacies enduring beyond 1821 does not exist in any language. Furthermore, throughout the state, college and university courses devoted to Texas history are typically structured as one-semester surveys, with little attention directed to the Spanish colonial era. Apart from the University of Texas at Austin, where Texas history is divided into a three-semester sequence, no institution of higher learning structures its courses in a manner that directs substantial attention to the Spanish period. In writing this book, I would like to help challenge the misguided notion that the colonial period--aside from six restored missions, one reconstructed presidio, and a few other old buildings--is a colorful but largely irrelevant chapter in Texas's past.

That there is a significant history of the Lone Star State beginning three centuries before the coming of Anglo-Americans is an article of faith with

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