Spanish Texas, 1519-1821

By Donald E. Chipman | Go to book overview

SIX
The Permanent Occupation of Texas, 1714-1722

THE APPEARANCE OF LOUIS JUCHEREAU DE ST. DENIS AND HIS forbidden merchandise at San Juan Bautista del Río Grande touched off a series of events that led to the permanent occupation of Texas. Once again Spain, as in the late 1680s and early 1690s, reacted defensively when confronted with foreign influence in the future Lone Star State. Whereas the search for La Salle had launched an almost chimerical manhunt, there was no denying the reality of the self-assured and flamboyant St. Denis. Aware of the viceroy's interdict against the entry of foreign merchandise or traders into New Spain, Commandant Diego Ramón had little choice but to arrest St. Denis and confiscate his goods. He forwarded to Mexico City St. Denis's papers and Father Francisco Hidalgo's letter to the French governor of Louisiana. While Ramón awaited instructions from the viceroy, he "incarcerated" St. Denis in his home. This pleasant arrangement accorded the Frenchman an opportunity to gain favor with Ramón's family and win a promise of marriage from the commandant's beautiful granddaughter, Manuela Sánchez. 1 St. Denis was subsequently sent under guard to the capital, where he charmed the viceroy and won his freedom. Indeed, he was appointed as commissary officer and guide for the expedition that would reestablish Spanish missions in East Texas. This chapter details the extraordinary role of St. Denis, the work of resolute friars and conscientious military captains, and the contributions of pioneer civilian settlers--all of whom helped lay the enduring foundations of Spanish Texas.

WHILE TEXAS WAS UNOCCUPIED BY SPANIARDS FOR MORE than two decades ( 1694-1715), it was not entirely forgotten nor unvisited. It especially remained on the mind of Father Francisco Hidalgo, who made unfinished work among the Tejas Indians a consuming passion. After his sojourn in Texas, Father Hidalgo labored in small villages near

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