Defending the Mexican Name in Texas
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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More than a century after his death in 1894, the legacy of Juan Nepomuceno Cortina remains one of considerable confusion and debate. Through the years, scholars have attempted to place his life into historical context and thereby to understand what motivated him to lead a rebellion. Whether taken as hero or villain, Cortina seems one of those historical...
Chapter One: The Making of a Revolutionary
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Brownsville was strikingly hot and sultry on July 13, 1859--the usual summer condition in South Texas--as Juan Nepomuceno Cortina spurred his pinto horse into the dung- peppered streets of the bustling community. Under indictment in Cameron County for murder and stealing livestock, Cortina came to town heavily armed. Cautiously, he rode to Gabriel Catsel's small restaurant and saloon on the east side of a busy Market Plaza, a place...
Chapter Two: No Night for Mexican Tears
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The decade following the Mexican War brought suffering and sorrow to many Mexican Texans in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and throughout the Lone Star State. In 1849, an outbreak of cholera in Brownsville took more than one hundred lives, mostly those of the poor. The cholera was followed four years later by a terrible yellow fever epidemic that took even more lives. In October 1857,...
Chapter Three: Flocks of Vampires in the Guise of Men
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With a passionate sense of survival and a thundering voice, Cortina realized he had unleashed a rebellion that stirred the conscience of all Tejanos and Mexicanos and challenged the assumption of Anglo Texan supremacy. Encouraged by his military successes, he issued a second pronunciamiento from Rancho del Carmen on November 23, 1859. Similar to the...
Chapter Four: A Frontier in Flames
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Restless and resistless, Cortina returned to the border in early 1861 with a determination to continue his revolution and create a new sense of social justice. Although leading armed men in rebellion against the government had long been a way of life on the Rio Grande, he realized the righteous forces of indignation he had unleashed were different and could not easily be suppressed. Being harshly judged...
Chapter Five: Republic in the Balance
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In fewer than five years, through sheer bravado, cunning determination, and a lot of luck, Juan Cortina had risen from a near illiterate Cameron County ranchero to the pinnacle of power in Tamaulipas. Power had its price, however, and, a few months after proclaiming himself governor, two Frenchmen tried to assassinate him. Although both would-be assassins were...
Chapter Six: Tiger in the Chaparral
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On April 1, 1865, at San Fernando on the coastal plain, some eighty-five miles south of Matamoros, Cortina reasserted his loyalty to Juárez and the Mexican republic.1 Consistently plotting to deliver Matamoros to the Liberals, his heart had never been with the Empire. Besides, he had never been given the money Mejía had promised when he originally gave up...
Chapter Seven: Border Caudillo
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With Cortina at the center of the vortex, the struggle for power in Tamaulipas between the Empire and the republic raged throughout 1866 and into 1867. After occupying Bagdad, the Imperialistas began constructing a "splendid little redoubt" they christened Fort Carlota. On March 23, 1866, however, the Imperial garrison was battered by a storm that swept over the town from the gulf and...
Chapter Eight: Predator War
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Although Cortina would never again return to Texas, he never kept his eyes off the state. Realizing the inability of the U.S. Army and local law enforcement officials to secure the vast reaches of the border, he would once again strike at the landholding elite and the forces of oppression. In the process, the reactionary forces of racism, oppression, and fear that had been simmering since 1859 would again come to the forefront of the history of the...
Chapter Nine: Caudillo Vanquished
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Although no longer in command of the military on the Rio Grande, Cortina remained a general in the army, and he set his sights on obtaining political power in Matamoros. He had always been popular in the city, and, in November 1873, he began campaigning for the office of president of the ayuntamiento, or alcalde. From the beginning, he faced two formidable...
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Every Sunday, for years, María de Jesús López would make her way to the Panteón de Dolores to place fresh flowers on the grave of her husband. But in the decades that followed, many of the realities and events that had shaped and molded Cortina's incredible life were already fading to memory. Despite his grave being only a stone's throw from the immaculate...
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Page Count: 344
Illustrations: 21 b&w photos. 23 line art. 3 maps. Notes.
Publication Year: 2007