Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-v

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Illustrations

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p. ix

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Preface

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pp. xi-xii

Though the Salt War was, at bottom, a struggle over conflicting economic and political rights, it was permeated from first to last by strong feelings of racial and ethnic bias, even hatred. Anglos regularly used epithets and slurs to describe Mexicans and Mexican Americans. Anti-Anglo terms such as "gringo" surface only occasionally because we do not have the insurgent party's firsthand accounts. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

...My friend Peter Brand introduced me to the Salt War and served as a sounding board for many of my theories. For that gift I will always be thankful. In And Die in the West, Paula Mitchell Marks pointed the way to narrating how complex personal, political, economic, and social forces could lead to lawlessness and violence along the U.S.- Mexico border. ...

The "Salt Warriors"

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pp. xv-xvi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-5

In the mid-nineteenth century, the east-west route along the base of Texas' Guadalupe Mountains brought American explorers to glistening white salt lakes. Not everyone who approached comprehended the view. To Boundary Commissioner John Russell Bartlett, "The plain . . . was interspersed with what looked like silvery and tranquil lakes, glittering in the sun, seeming, as it were, to tempt the weary traveler to their brink. ...

Part One - Community

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Prologue - Salt Roads

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pp. 9-16

The train of salt-laden ox carts (carretas) made its way along the final miles back to San Elizario, moving only as fast as the slowest animal. Perhaps eighty men drove, rode, and walked alongside the sixteen carts, pulled by sixty yoke of oxen and loaded down with the weight of eight hundred bushels of salt.1 ...

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1 "This country is destined to become of importance."

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pp. 17-26

Paleo Indians first arrived in what is now El Paso County perhaps ten thousand years ago. Spaniards began colonizing the area in 1598. Americans who stayed and took local wives began arriving in the 1820s. By the 1870s, perhaps fourteen thousand people lived in the various communities at or near the Pass of the North, including nearly four thousand on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande. ...

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2 The inhabitants rallied their fighting men."

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pp. 27-32

In The Magnificent Seven, John Sturges's translation of Akiro Kurasawa's Seven Samurai to the Western film genre, peaceful Mexican farmers rise up to save their village from a small army of bandits. Roused from instinctive and comfortable docility, they hire professional gunmen from north of the border who teach them which end of a gun to shoot and how to find their courage. ...

Part Two - Corruption

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3 "Salt lakes on the brain"

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pp. 35-44

When the Confederate army abandoned El Paso, W. W. Mills, the leading prewar Unionist, returned as U.S. customs collector for New Mexico and Trans-Pecos Texas. By controlling the Customs House, Mills was in a position to grant or withhold favors to local merchants. With the army's support and El Paso's commerce and capital subject to his pressure...

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4 "What chance is there for reform?"

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pp. 45-56

The fatal shootings of two politicians and the attempted murder of a third marked the opening salvos in El Paso's era of politics by assassination. The bloody morning served notice that the rewards of political success needed to be weighed carefully against the risks. ...

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5 "Relieve us from the insolent oppression of those men."

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pp. 57-68

Charles Henry Howard "considered it his duty to convert El Paso County to the true faith, or Democratic party." He was born on February 3, 1842, in Virginia, the son of William Henry, a physician, and Sarah Catherine (DuVal) Howard. The family moved to Texas in the 1850s, eventually settling in Lavaca County. The family's prominence is indicated by the wartime and postwar associations of several Howard children with eminent Texans.1 ...

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6 "Both were alike ambitious, and alike unscrupulous."

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pp. 69-76

The year 1873 began well enough for the little community of Franklin, which incorporated as El Paso, Texas, on May 17. Saloon owner Ben Dowell was elected mayor. Enterprising El Pasoans such as Blacker, French, Hague, and Joseph Magoffin put aside political differences to form the El Paso Real Estate Trust and Immigration Company. ...

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7 "Leave this county within ten days."

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pp. 77-85

On February 15, 1876, the new Texas State Constitution was overwhelmingly ratified by popular vote. Elections were held the same day. The campaign marked yet another political realignment. Nearly everyone was a Democrat now, though rivals attacked one another as being a "carpet-bagger" or "the worst of [Governor] Davis' gang." ...

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8 "My men are all frontiersmen."

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pp. 86-98

While El Paso's politicians and capitalists concentrated on schemes of riches and ruination, other men contended with a land of lawlessness and barbarity that lay in all directions beyond the Pass. Men such as Price Cooper, Gregorio Garcia, Francisco Barela, and Jim McDaniels were attracted to the harsh country beyond the Rio Grande by the possibilities of monetary reward, community defense, or personal independence. ...

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9 "Invasion of our territory should no longer be endured."

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pp. 99-106

The El Paso Salt War did not happen in a vacuum. Tensions between Mexico and the United States were already high in 1877. Relations between Mexico and the Anglo- dominated state of Texas were beyond bad. The Texian rebellion, Alamo, Goliad, and San Jacinto had been succeeded by decades of border violence committed by both sides. ...

Part Three - Chaos

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10 "Our county is in open insurrection."

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pp. 109-118

Despite the drought, 1877 was a profitable year for some local merchants. Charles Ellis expanded his operations in September, buying John Campbell's large flouring mill and reportedly "doing a smashing business milling and merchandizing." John Atkinson was likewise "doing a good business," and so was El Paso merchant Don Ysmael Ochoa. ...

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11 "That never satisfied greed in man."

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pp. 119-125

News of the riotous overthrow of county government spread beyond Texas and New Mexico as far as New York and San Francisco. Politicians, generals, and the press argued about its meaning. Was it purely a local matter, something for the sheriff and district court to handle? Was the army needed to put down insurrection? Was the nation headed for a second Mexican-American war? ...

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12 "I feel like killing until I am killed."

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pp. 126-137

In the early afternoon of Wednesday, October 10, Cardis entered the store of S. Schutz & Brother, to have bookkeeper Adolph Krakauer prepare a letter. He seated himself in a rocking chair near the back of the store, with his back to the front entrance. The letter, addressed to "Friend Cipriano [Alderete]," contained the legislator's plan to correct the "erroneous and exaggerated reports" sent by Howard and Kerber to the governor. ...

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13 "Twenty good men"

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pp. 138-150

The state's chief executive had decided to act. Governor Hubbard and Adjutant General Steele had discussed sending a company of Texas Rangers to El Paso as early as October 8, two days before the death of Cardis. Steele, whose regiment had been bloodied by Paseños in 1862, should have pressed for the dispatch of state troops to the scene at once. ...

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14 "We do not care what happens after we even the score."

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pp. 151-158

The new Texas Rangers went to work immediately. On November 14, Miguel Garcia carried a dispatch from San Elizario to Franklin. Riding along the Mexican side, he overtook another traveler, Juan Montez. From him, Garcia learned that men were at the dam, watching for Howard, "on the lookout for to kill him." ...

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15 "Now is the time."

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pp. 159-176

A visitor to San Elizario standing in the gazebo in the center of the town's serene placita can look in all directions and see signs of progress and decay, of spiritual needs and community ambition. Looking past the edges of the park, our viewer sees in turn a church, a museum, a community center, and a playground. ...

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16 "Howard they wanted; nothing else, nothing less."

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pp. 177-187

On Friday, Gov. Richard Hubbard formally requested federal intervention: "The Mexican force being too strong to be expelled by the Texan troops, and it being impossible to raise a civil posse from the citizens, who are nearly all of Mexican blood and sympathy, and having no reinforcement within 700 miles, I ask the aid of such United States troops as may be nearest to the scene of action to repel this invasion of our territory."1

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17 "I heard my men had surrendered."

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pp. 188-201

Despite the wonders of the telegraph, no one outside San Elizario had an accurate picture of what was taking place on the firing lines. The county lawman and army officer whose job it was to inform their state and federal superiors transmitted daily reports at such variance with one another as to describe two different crises. Interested citizens who sent private messages added to the confusion. ...

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18 "Half crazy from our troubles."

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pp. 202-211

News of mob rioting and murder in Texas swept across the nation. Reporting largely reflected a newspaper's politics. In describing the "fusillade" of Howard, Atkinson, and McBride, Galveston News editor Alfred H. Belo published the "Texas view" of affairs: "No braver Texans than they have been sacrificed through the cruelty and treachery of the Mexican race in the forty years they have waged open or disguised war upon Texas." ...

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19 "I will drive the scoundrels ahead of me like sheep."

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pp. 212-226

Hatch had planned to wait until eight more companies arrived from Forts Bayard and Stanton, but the "many lawless characters" plundering San Elizario worried him. At daybreak on December 22, he marched for San Elizario with fifty-four mounted troopers and one howitzer. ...

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20 "I wish they would clear out of here."

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pp. 227-240

Christmas brought little joy to the residents of la Isla. Scores of family and neighbors had been killed or wounded in the previous eleven days. Women had been violated. The fields had not been worked for weeks. Hundreds had fled to Mexico, creating armed camps south of the border; those remaining faced destitution. ...

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21 "Little if any crop will be planted this season."

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pp. 241-249

By early January, Colonel Hatch was ready to return to his wider responsibilities in Santa Fe. He departed with the thanks of El Paso's leading politicians and merchants. Political opponents and feuding store owners forgot their quarrels long enough to joined in a "testimony of good will," ...

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22 "Fearing that their statements might be published"

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pp. 250-257

Governor Hubbard had delayed naming his representative on President Hayes's Board of Inquiry while the commission's scope of investigation and its financing were ironed out. When Washington refused to pay for Hubbard's man, the governor entertained the idea of withdrawing from participation. ...

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23 "The general state of the county is not improving much."

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pp. 258-273

The Hayes administration might close its books on the Salt War, but for Texans, Anglo and Paseño alike, uncertainty and complications remained. Angry men kept tensions high, their emotions barring the road to resolution. If estimates of the insurgent force were correct, over two hundred men were still on the Mexican side of the river. Some had families with them...

Part Four - Coda

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24 "With the Alamo and Goliad"

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pp. 277-286

The El Paso Salt War was definitely over. With Charles Kerber's electoral defeat by Benito Gonzales, no longer did El Paso have a sheriff bent on exacting revenge. The insurgent prisoners' escape left no one for the courts to punish. Loose ends remained. ...

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25 "My enemies are all dead."

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pp. 287-294

When the railhead came to El Paso, Texas, many of the county's men of power, those who stood to benefit most from this day, were already gone: Mills and Kerber, gone from their offices; Fountain, Zabriskie, Newcomb, and Kinney, gone from Texas; Cardis and Howard, gone from this earth. Salcido, Granillo, Barela, and others who resisted injustice were now exiled and in no position to exert la Isla's influence on the county's future. ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 295-297

On June 9, 1923, the El Paso Herald ran a feature article on "ancient San Elizario . . . a place where people lived in the quiet way of the Mexican aristocracy of half a century ago [and] now a mere spectre of what it once was." The article spoke of "High adobe walls . . . crumbling away; odd old gates that . . . have been nailed shut to keep them from falling from their rusty hinges." ...

Notes

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pp. 299-338

Bibliography

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pp. 339-347

Index

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pp. 349-360