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Voices from the Goliad Frontier: Municipal Council Minutes:

1821-1835

Voices from the Goliad Frontier 

Winner of the 2008 Clotilde P. Garcia Tejano Book Prize and the 2008 Sons of the Republic of Texas Presidio La Bahia Award. 

 

Voices from the Goliad Frontier: Municipal Council Minutes: 1821-1835, John R. McLean, ed., Malcolm D. McLean, trans., (Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, Texas, 2008). Softcover, 654 pages, 19 b&w illustrations, 33 original manuscript facsimiles, 1 map, name and place glossary, fully-searchable CD of entire text, digital files of all images. ISBN 978-1-929531-08-0. Available from www.smu.edu/swcenter. William P. Clements Center for Soutwestern Studies, SMU. $75.00 + $4.50 shipping. 

 

Voices from the Goliad Frontier

Review

   This work represents an important contribution to researchers of the early history of pre-Republic Texas, making the minutes of the municipal council of the Texas–Mexican community of Goliad readily available for the first time.

   The town of Goliad was only one of two viable Spanish towns when Texans became independent from Spain in 1821. Known as the Presidio of La Bahia until 1829, the town formed around a   military garrison and did not have a formal municipal government until 1812 when the Constitution of 1812 expanded the powers of ayuntamientos  and created representative bodies who made up a town council.

   Early in 1821, the town council of La Bahia began to keep a record of weekly meetings, continuing through autumn of 1835. When it became apparent in late 1835 that the Anglo rebellion against Mexico would become successful, these minutes were “spirited” out of Texas. Since that time, the documents have been held in Mexico City in Mexico’s national archive, the Archivo General de la Nación where they remained, forgotten, until 1998 when historian Malcolm McLean discovered their location and recognized their significance. He then obtained a photocopy from the archive, put the pages in order, and translated the minutes and all accompanying documents. McLean finished that work in March 2003, at age ninety.

   McLean found the minutes mostly complete except for year 1829. His son, John McLean, compiled a list of the town’s activities for that year from other sources, and they are included here. Also added to the book are national and state laws that were not among the surviving papers but which give context to the activities covered in the minutes. The McLeans also included other ancilliary documents in the appendices, including Appendix E which concerns James Long’s invasion of La Bahia in 1821.

   John McLean designed the book, adding a CD appended to the inside cover which contains a fully-searchable PDF of the text, along with all the images used for the translation. Text in the images is searchable as well, rendering it useful for comparison of the translation to the original. Similarly, a facsimile of the Mexican law can be searched, comparing the original with the translation.   The design and addition of searchable digital files truly sets this book apart in its genre.  

   Voices from the Goliad Frontier opens the door for researchers to explore for the first time the story of Goliad told in its own words during the Mexican era. The book is the work of painstaking skill and patience. Malcolm McLean’s translation with John McLean’s editing and book design have created an essential source for scholars that will allow re-evaluation of previous views of the pre-Republic days leading up to Texas independence and affords us insight into this important frontier town’s culture, ethnicity, and community. 

 

One of the most important discoveries in documentary materials for Texas history to be published— Dr. Felix Almaraz, Peter T. Flawn Distinguished University Professor of Borderlands History, University of Texas, San Antonio.  

  

   — Reviewer, Melinda R. Cagle 

 

 

 

Images courtesy of Malcolm and John McLean and Southern Methodist University Press.