Spanish Texas, 1519-1821

By Donald E. Chipman; Harriett Denise Joseph | Go to book overview

NINE
The Changing International Scene
and Life in Texas, 1762–1783

Near the end of the French and Indian War (1754–1763), France transferred the Louisiana Territory to Spain, its ally since early 1762. The cession included New Orleans and vast, rich lands that lay west of the Mississippi River, but it was an acquisition viewed with mixed emotions by Spanish officials. They recognized that Texas, since it had been transformed from a frontier to interior province, would be more secure, but they also knew that Louisiana had been a drain on the French treasury and that it would be no less burdensome for them. The Spanish, however, had little choice but to accept the French offer. Had they refused, the territory might well have fallen into the hands of the English, whose colonists would soon approach the borders of Texas and New Mexico. Spaniards also saw the threat of increased Anglo-American influence on the northern Indian nations as unacceptably dangerous.

In response to the radically changed international scene resulting from the 1763 Treaty of Paris, which eliminated all French possessions on the North American continent, Spain felt obliged to institute wide-ranging reforms and energetic measures to protect its empire. To this end, it was Spain’s good fortune that Charles III (1759–1788), one the most capable monarchs in the long history of that nation, held the reins of power. The king’s vision and dictates would have a profound impact on the Spanish Southwest, with repercussions felt throughout Texas.

In the early years of his reign, Charles III, worried by the rapidly deteriorating position of France in the French and Indian War, abandoned the policy of peace that his half-brother Ferdinand VI had followed. In 1761 the Spanish king honored the Bourbon Family Compact, an offensive and defensive alliance signed two years earlier between France and Spain. This signaled

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