Bound for Santa Fe: The Road to New Mexico and the American Conquest, 1806-1848

The Virginia Quarterly Review, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

Bound for Santa Fe: The Road to New Mexico and the American Conquest, 1806-1848


Bound for Santa Fe: The Road to New Mexico and the American Conquest, 1806-1848, by Stephen G. Hyslop.

Hyslop examines the cultural interaction among Americans, Indians, and Mexicans in New Mexico and along the Santa Fe Trail, from Zebulon Pike's trip in 1806 through the end of the Mexican War in 1848. He does this in three separate parts, the first two concentrating on the historical and geographical background to the Santa Fe trade, and the last on the American conquest of New Mexico. Hyslop's main aim is to "portray the venture as the travelers experienced it," and he succeeds admirably at this task. One lesson learned on the trail was that moderation and accomodation with Indians and New Mexicans lent itself to prosperous trading and peaceful travel far more than did arrogance and violence. The "American exchange with Mexico" blurred cultural and territorial lines, as Americans sought compromise with the Pueblos and Mexicans in an effort to succeed at trade or earn a livelihood in New Mexico. Even so, a great many Americans still "expressed puzzlement and exasperation" at the culture they encountered in New Mexico. More than any other event, the war altered the old strategy of accomodation, as Americans came to view the absorption of New Mexico into the Union as a part of Providential design. …

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