Texas and the Changing International Scene, 1762-1783
NEAR THE END OF THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR ( 1754-1763), France by diplomatic agreement transferred the Louisiana Territory to Spain, its Bourbon ally since early 1762. The cession encompassed a vast expanse of rich lands that lay west of the Mississippi River, but it was an acquisition viewed with mixed emotions by Spanish officials. On the one hand, they recognized that Texas had been transformed from a buffer province against French expansion to an interior one; on the other, they knew that Louisiana had been a drain on the French treasury and that it would be no less burdensome for them. In reality, the Spanish had little choice but to accept the French offer. Rejecting Louisiana would soon bring aggressive Englishmen to the borders of Texas and New Mexico. Spaniards saw the threat of Anglo influence and control over the northern Indian nations as unacceptably dangerous, and they worried about the security of silver mines on the frontier of New Spain. In response to the radically changed international scene, brought about by the Treaty of Paris (1763) and the removal of French possessions on the North American continent, Spain felt obliged to institute wide-sweeping reforms and energetic measures to protect its American empire, then challenged only by the English. Spain was fortunate to have Charles III ( 1759-1788), arguably the best monarch in the long history of that nation, holding the reins of power. The new dictates of foreign policy mandated by Charles would have a profound political and religious impact on northern Mexico and the Spanish Southwest. This chapter discusses the implementation of those changes, especially as they affected the lives of Spaniards and Indians in Texas.
IN THE EARLY YEARS OF HIS REIGN, CHARLES III, WORRIED BY the faltering position of France in the French and Indian War, abandoned the policy of peace that had been followed by his half-brother, Ferdi