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The Mexican provinces that have had, at one time or another, a common boundary with Texas are New Mexico, Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Nuevo Santander, or Tamaulipas. The first three are older than Texas, but Nuevo Santander was organized later. The foundation of the north Mexican states proceeded from west to east. The earliest to appear was Nueva Galicia, lying along the Pacific coast and the Gulf of California; it was soon separated into Sinaloa and Sonora. Then emerged Nueva Vizcaya and New Mexico. Nueva Vizcaya lay east of the Sierra Madre, and covered the western part of the great Mexican plateau. It stretched from southeast to northwest parallel to Nueva Galicia. The southern part of it became, in 1824, the state of Durango, and the northern that of Chihuahua. New Mexico was its northward projection into the upper valley of the Rio Grande, lying on both sides of the river. East of Nueva Vizcaya was formed the province of Nueva Estremadura, or Coahuila; and east of Coahuila—and preceding it in chronological order—that of Nuevo Le6n. Then followed the province of Texas on the northeastern frontier of New Spain, and finally that of Nuevo Santander (Tamaulipas), east of Nuevo Leon and lying along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
No official delimitation of the province of Texas has been discovered dated earlier than the nineteenth century. Indeed, there seems to have been no occasion for jt; there was no expansive energy in the province, and to the northwest, west, and southwest lay vast, unoccupied areas over which it might have spread if it had possessed the strength and had felt the effort to extend its settlements worth making. Only at the sea-coast and on the eastern border, where France, and later the United States, was in possession of Red River, was there any barrier to its free extension, except the wilderness and the Indians.
The testimony as to the original western boundary of the province of Texas is conflicting. Certain officials that should have known have left on record statements to the effect that it was separated from Coahuila by the Medina, a few miles west of Bexar. Among these are the Marques de Aguayo, who was governor of both provinces from 1719 to 1722, the auditor Altamira, who wrote a report on Texas in 1744, and Villa-Senor, the cosmographer of New Spain, who published a general description of that country in 1746.1 The La Fora map of 1767, however, which should be good evidence, shows the boundary of Coahuila farther west than the Medina, but so drawn as to include the valley of the Rio Grande in that province. On this map there is no common boundary between Coahuila and Texas, which are separated by a wide gap of vacant territory not included in any province.
1 See MSS. Memoriasde Nueva Espana, XXVIII., 11; Yoakum, Hist, of Tex., I., 384-389, passim; Villa-Senor, Theatro Americano, II., 330; cf. Cox, in Tex. State Hist. Assoc, Quarterly, VI.,
Nearer the Gulf the western line of Texas seems to have been determined by the formation of the adjacent province of Nuevo Santander, which was organized as the result of the conquest of the country lying along the Gulf coast north of the state of Vera Cruz by the Spanish general Escand6n, during the years 1748-175 5. His work, as planned, was to include the pacifying of the hostile Indians to whom the district had been left until then, and the colonization of their territory. The region of his operations is indicated by a map in the Mexican archives on which is shown spots which he regarded as fit for settlement as well as the settlements actually made. One of the sites marked as favorable is on the west bank of the San Antonio River, but the river itself is represented as the boundary of Texas and Nuevo Santander.1
While the work of Escandon was in progress, and, in fact, as part of it, two settlements were established on the left bank of the Rio Grande by colonists from Coahuila. One was Dolores, founded in 1750 and located ten leagues below the site of the present Laredo; and the other was Laredo itself, settled in 1755.' Eighteenth - century authorities seem to concur in ascribing the jurisdiction over these two settlements to Nuevo Santander.
1 Copied in Prieto, Historia de Tamaulipas, opposite p. 152; cf. a variant copy, in Bancroft, Mexico, III., 337.
•Bolton, "Tienda de Cuervo's Ynspeccion of Laredo, 1757" (Tex. State Hist. Assoc, Quarterly, VI., 187-203).
Nothing has been brought to light to show why the common boundary of Texas and Nuevo Santander retreated from the San Antonio River, where the map showing Escand6n's conquest placed it, to the Nueces. The line is located on the La Fora map between the San Antonio and the Nueces, but official documents of the latter part of the eighteenth century refer to the Nueces as the border.1
By the treaty of San Ildefonso in 1800, Louisiana was transferred from Spain to France. It was the intention of Napoleon, who was then at the head of the French government, to claim Texas as part of the acquisition, and to fix the southwestern boundary at the Rio Grande from its mouth to the thirtieth degree north latitude.2 The sale of Louisiana to the United States left the boundary question to be settled by that nation and Spain. It is, however, interesting to note that in an order by the king of Spain, May 30, 1804,3 dividing the northern provinces of Mexico, which were then known as the Provincias Internas, into two groups, the eastern and the western, and denning their limits, the Rio Grande seems to be treated as the southwestern boundary of Texas. The order enumerates, as belonging to the eastern group of provinces, Texas, Coahuila, the Bolson de Mapimi, and the parts of Nuevo Santander and Nuevo Leon lying between the Rio Grande and the Pilon, which is south of the Rio Grande. The part of Nuevo Santander between the Pilon and the Panuco it was evidently intended to exclude from Texas. If the cduntry between the Nueces and the Rio Grande was included in Nuevo Santander, the part of this province belonging to the eastern group should have been described as between the Nueces and the Pilon. The same order provides for the settlement of Texas by military colonies to begin in the neighborhood of the Rio Grande. The terms of the order, therefore, imply that the Rio Grande was to be treated as the Texas boundary. These facts may have some bearing on the question of the Spanish understanding of the limits of Louisiana as transferred to France by the treaty of San Ildefonso in 1800.
1 Cox, in Tex. State Hist. Assoc, Quarterly, VI., 94, where is quoted the report of Comandante General de Croix, in MS. Expediente sobre Comercio, Archivo General de Mexico, Ramo de Historia, XLIII.
2 See the orders to General Victor, in Adams, United States, II., 6-9; cf. Channing, Jeffersonian System (Am. Nation, XII.), 77-79.
a MSS., Archivo General de Mexico, Ramo de Cedulas Reales, CXCI., 137.
This order was not carried out, and on May 1, 1811, there was issued another of like tenor, and Joaquin de Arredondo was appointed comandante general of the eastern division. In order that there might be no confusion as to the matter of limits, Arredondo secured the approval of the viceroy for a map showing the boundaries of the four provinces