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Catholic Political Philosophy & Revolutionary Print Culture in 1812 Spanish Texas

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Abstract:

In the spring of 1812, the revolutionary José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara returned to Spanish Texas-Louisiana border after having spent several months in the US attempting to gain support for the independence of Mexico from Spain. But the revolution did not begin with Gutiérrez de Lara’s invasion. Instead, revolution had come in the form of pamphlets, broadsides, and manuscripts. As the Spanish governor of Texas proclaimed, “the type of war they want to engage us in is through the means of seduction.” For two months, then, Gutiérrez de Lara spread revolutionary literature into Texas from his base in Louisiana before marching in with his military forces.

The Spanish Royal commanders had little to say regarding the lofty political ideas that permeated these tracts. What they feared and could not control was the seductive, affective qualities of this political language. As another officer wrote, “These towns, at once naive and prone to deception, easily embrace seduction.” It was for this reason that the Spanish commanders gave little second thought to sending out troops to east Texas, some three-hundred miles northeast of San Antonio, in search of those malevolent political tracts that had converted his subjects into “addicts of the revolution.” And yet, even before expending the little resources and energy that his forces had left—indeed, even before a drop of blood had been shed—the Spanish governor was aware that he had already been routed. The life and minds of his subjects had already been seduced by this new political language of community.

What precisely were these ideas that went along seducing the inhabitants and soldiers? What enticing alternative vision of sovereignty and belonging could these documents offer the inhabitants of Texas, so enticing that they would be willing to reject the order of things and the world of authority they and their ancestors had long known?

Historians have long dismissed these documents as mere “pompous disquisitions” and “tirades” “with superficial knowledge of revolutionary philosophy,” while attributing the more modern, political ideas to the influence of Anglo-Americans. Yet, individuals were willing to sacrifice their lives—many were summarily executed—in order to ensure that the ideas conveyed in these documents made their way into Texas, and thus merit closer attention. The documents provide textual evidence of the world that Spanish Americans sought to bring into being; they offer a concrete vision of new socio-political relations, and utilize quite sophisticated political philosophy.

My presentation will focus on a close reading of this revolutionary literature. I pay close careful attention to the rhetoric in these documents in order to trace the discursive history of the ideas expressed in them. The documents draw on a scholastic Catholic political philosophy, one that had developed during the Catholic Counter-Reformation of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They meld Catholic scholastic philosophy with the language we are definitely much more familiar with, that of Rousseau, Locke, and US republican political thought.
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Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p509864_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Coronado, Raul. "Catholic Political Philosophy & Revolutionary Print Culture in 1812 Spanish Texas" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore, MD, Oct 20, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p509864_index.html>

APA Citation:

Coronado, R. , 2011-10-20 "Catholic Political Philosophy & Revolutionary Print Culture in 1812 Spanish Texas" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore, MD <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p509864_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: In the spring of 1812, the revolutionary José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara returned to Spanish Texas-Louisiana border after having spent several months in the US attempting to gain support for the independence of Mexico from Spain. But the revolution did not begin with Gutiérrez de Lara’s invasion. Instead, revolution had come in the form of pamphlets, broadsides, and manuscripts. As the Spanish governor of Texas proclaimed, “the type of war they want to engage us in is through the means of seduction.” For two months, then, Gutiérrez de Lara spread revolutionary literature into Texas from his base in Louisiana before marching in with his military forces.

The Spanish Royal commanders had little to say regarding the lofty political ideas that permeated these tracts. What they feared and could not control was the seductive, affective qualities of this political language. As another officer wrote, “These towns, at once naive and prone to deception, easily embrace seduction.” It was for this reason that the Spanish commanders gave little second thought to sending out troops to east Texas, some three-hundred miles northeast of San Antonio, in search of those malevolent political tracts that had converted his subjects into “addicts of the revolution.” And yet, even before expending the little resources and energy that his forces had left—indeed, even before a drop of blood had been shed—the Spanish governor was aware that he had already been routed. The life and minds of his subjects had already been seduced by this new political language of community.

What precisely were these ideas that went along seducing the inhabitants and soldiers? What enticing alternative vision of sovereignty and belonging could these documents offer the inhabitants of Texas, so enticing that they would be willing to reject the order of things and the world of authority they and their ancestors had long known?

Historians have long dismissed these documents as mere “pompous disquisitions” and “tirades” “with superficial knowledge of revolutionary philosophy,” while attributing the more modern, political ideas to the influence of Anglo-Americans. Yet, individuals were willing to sacrifice their lives—many were summarily executed—in order to ensure that the ideas conveyed in these documents made their way into Texas, and thus merit closer attention. The documents provide textual evidence of the world that Spanish Americans sought to bring into being; they offer a concrete vision of new socio-political relations, and utilize quite sophisticated political philosophy.

My presentation will focus on a close reading of this revolutionary literature. I pay close careful attention to the rhetoric in these documents in order to trace the discursive history of the ideas expressed in them. The documents draw on a scholastic Catholic political philosophy, one that had developed during the Catholic Counter-Reformation of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They meld Catholic scholastic philosophy with the language we are definitely much more familiar with, that of Rousseau, Locke, and US republican political thought.


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American Regime Principles and the History of Political Philosophy: Is Pre-Hobbesian Catholic Political Thought Relevant to The Declaration of Independence?

Elections, Society, and Cyber-Political Culture: Use of New Technologies During the 2008 Spanish General Election

County-Level Party Voting in Texas Statewide Elections, 2002-2006: Evidence of Political Culture?


 
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