Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Recollections of a Tejano Life: Antonio Menchaca in Texas History

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Recollections of a Tejano Life: Antonio Menchaca in Texas History

Article excerpt

Recollections of a Tejano Life: Antonio Menchaca in Texas History. Edited by Timothy Matovina and Jesus F. de la Teja. With the collaboration of Justin Poche. Jack and Doris Smothers Series in Texas History, Life, and Culture. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2013. Pp. x, 190. Paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-4773-0217-0; cloth, $55.00, ISBN 978-0-292-74865-1.)

Jose Antonio Menchaca (1800-1879), a native of San Antonio, served as an officer in the forces of the Republic of Texas and remained politically active in his hometown after the Civil War. During his lifetime, Menchaca dictated two sets of memoirs that contained compelling firsthand accounts of the Texas War of Independence and its aftermath. The first narrative appeared in print during the early twentieth century, but his second account remained unpublished until its inclusion in this book. Timothy Matovina, Jesus F. de la Teja, and Justin Poche have painstakingly reassembled these documents into an engaging description of nineteenth-century Texas from the perspective of a significant Tejano leader.

The editors faced daunting challenges in this project. As the original document of Menchaca's first narrative is now lost, they drew from two published copies that contain significant textual variances. Menchaca's second memoir survives but has missing passages, and its scribe's biases shaped the development of the manuscript. As a consequence, the editors include extensive footnotes that corroborate Menchaca's accounts with additional sources where omissions, discrepancies, and factual errors appear. At times, the editors also note when major statements have no additional supporting evidence. For instance, Menchaca provided a gripping account of his interview with Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, which reportedly took place after the Mexican general's capture after the battle of San Jacinto. …

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