"We Never Retreat": Filibustering Expeditions into Spanish Texas, 1812-1822

By Stoltz, Joseph F.,, III | The Journal of Southern History, February 2016 | Go to article overview

"We Never Retreat": Filibustering Expeditions into Spanish Texas, 1812-1822


Stoltz, Joseph F.,, III, The Journal of Southern History


"We Never Retreat": Filibustering Expeditions into Spanish Texas, 1812-1822. By Ed Bradley. Elma Dill Russell Spencer Series in the West and Southwest. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2015. Pp. [xxii], 318. $47.00, ISBN 978-1-62349-257-1.)

Ed Bradley's book "We Never Retreat": Filibustering Expeditions into Spanish Texas, 1812-1822 is a useful survey of Anglo-American expeditions in the often overlooked period immediately before the establishment of a republican government in Mexico. Bradley explores four major filibustering attempts backed by United States citizens into northern Mexico over the course of these ten years. By exploring these expeditions, Bradley hopes to study U.S.-Spanish diplomatic relations, the attitudes of the American populace toward Spain, and the intentions of the U.S. government.

Bradley concludes that the James Madison and James Monroe administrations failed to sufficiently undermine American civilians' attempts to overthrow the Spanish government in Texas, which, he believes, is reflective of an antipathy toward the ever-weakening Spanish empire. However, Bradley does not go so far as to imply an outright conspiracy on the part of the U.S. government. Rather, he contends that both Madison and Monroe chose to limit activities that would have hindered the development of filibustering expeditions in order to give them the space to develop on their own. Bradley also highlights the fact that none of the members of the expeditions he investigated declared their intention to carve out a portion of Mexico for the United States. The leaders stated numerous times that they intended to create republican governments that would exist outside U.S. jurisdiction. Bradley contends that these efforts were notable precursors to the later phenomenon of manifest destiny that sought to annex these lands as U. …

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