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The Spanish Real Consulado corresponds generally to the Anglo board of trade or chamber of commerce. It was an official government tribunal and dated back to medieval navigation and trade in the Mediterranean. There was a branch of the Real Consulado at the port of Vera Cruz in New Spain.

Spain's financial difficulties at the turn of the eighteenth century forced a rigorous evaluation of the worth of such colonial outposts as Spanish Sonora. Charles IV ordered this evaluation for all of Spanish America on June 21, 1802. On April 18, 1804, the Vera Cruz branch of the Real Consulado sent out a questionnaire to be filled out by all of the Spanish settlements of New Spain. In the north, the questionnaire was first sent to Nemesio Salcedo, commander general of the northern provinces in Chihuahua City. On May 15 he relayed it to Alejo Garcia Conde, governor and fiscal intendant of Spanish Sonora at Arizpe. The governor spent the early summer making copies of the questionnaire and sending them to the local areas, including Tubac and Tucson. On August I, 1804, Tubac reported. The author of the report was Manuel de León, second ensign of the Tubac presidio. He appears later in the documentary as captain of the Tucson pre-

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sidio following Mexican Independence. Three days later, August 4, 1804, Tucson reported. The author was the famed captain of the presidio, José de Zúñiga, who knew Tucson and the area well, having lived there some ten years. He had personally witnessed the last years of construction of the San Xavier mission church, described at great length in the report, and was a close friend of Father Juan Bautista Llorens, who completed the construction. The questionnaire contained ten sections: geography, public works, military, revenue, commerce, agriculture, stockraising, industry, occupations and general observations. The material culture and details of daily life of Spanish settlers in Arizona come through with amazing clarity.

August 1, 1804.


The presidio of Tubac lies in the northern reaches of the province of Spanish Sonora. The last outpost of the province, the presidio of San Agustín del Tucsón, is only forty miles to the north of us. Our eastern limit borders on the land of the untamed Apache, and our western patrols occasionally reach the Gulf of California, some 175 miles away, across the unconquered land of the Papago.

Our population is very small, based on the authorized strength of this presidio, eighty-four men, two officers, and two regular sergeants. Aside from the military, there are eight families of Spanish settlers and twenty Indian families from tribes that have permission to live away from the missions. This population is settled within five square miles. Apart from the presidio, there is only one other village, San José de Tumacácori, a mission for the Pima Indians three miles south of here.

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Our river is the Santa Cruz, which takes its name from the Santa Cruz presidio at its headwaters, forty miles to the southeast of us.23 Only in the rainy seasons does it enjoy a steady flow. During the rest of the year, it sinks into the sand in many places. Another, which we call Sonoita River, takes its name from the abandoned Pima mission of the same name. It flows steadily for the first fifteen miles of its westward course, but sinks beneath the sand seven to eight miles before joining the Santa Cruz. This confluence provides water for Tumacácori and Tubac and collects in the marsh lands around San Xavier del Bac in great abundance.

Our district has no seaport and no salt beds. There are no marble quarries, no gold or quicksilver mines. There are silver mines in the area, but they are not worked. There are lime pits at some distance, but I do not know if they are ever mined.


We have no organized taxes or funds for public works. Roads are kept open between presidios and settlements and leading down toward the center of the province. We roughly calculate the distance to Vera Cruz as 1800 miles.


Apart from the authorized strength of this presidio, there is no militia of infantry or cavalry, and recruiting is carried on only for the presidio.


Sales tax, personal tax [tributo], tobacco tax, the royal twenty percent of gold and silver, and other sources of government revenue are unknown here. Nor is money spent on the administration of such fiscal activities.

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We have no stores. Merchandise from Spain must be bought in Arizpe, the capital. Both military and settlers journey there for this purpose. We have no access to merchandise from Asia and China. We buy no wax or cocoa and receive no products directly from Vera Cruz, Acapulco, or San Blas, nor do we possess any smuggled goods.


The Tubac district reaps an annual corn harvest of 600 bushels, evaluated at 1200 pesos. Our annual wheat harvest of 1000 bushels is worth 2000 pesos. We raise no cotton, tobacco, barley, sugar, sarsaparilla, cacao, vanilla, or indigo. The only dyewood that grows here gives a yellow dye. The best lumber produced in the region is pine.


Cattle raising in the Tubac district stands now at 1000 head, evaluated at 3000 pesos, three pesos a head. We have 5000 head of sheep, evaluated at 1875 pesos, three reales a head. We have 600 horses, evaluated at 4800 pesos, eight pesos a head. We have 200 mules, evaluated at 4000 pesos, twenty pesos a head, and fifteen burros, evaluated at ninety pesos, six pesos a head. Also, there are 300 head of goats, evaluated at seventy-five pesos, three reales a head.


Animal slaughtering is a private occupation, not a commercial or an industrial one here. Woolweaving has produced some 600 blankets, selling at a little over five pesos apiece. Over 1000 yards of coarse serge has been woven, selling at about half a peso per yard. Cotton, silk, and lace are not woven here, nor are fancy ribbons. There is no production of saltpetre or gunpowder. No brandy,

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whiskey, or tequila is distilled. The only chinaware made is the pottery produced by the poor from clay. No glass is manufactured.


Everyone, of course, farms and tends his livestock. The only other occupation would be, in spare time, to look for gold in the streams and canyons nearby. Obviously, we have no seamen or fishermen.


August 4, 1 804.


The soldiers, settlers, and Indians of Tucson live in an area less than two miles square. Their total population comes to 1015. Tucson's jurisdiction includes the Indian village of San Xavier del Bac, ten miles away, the Indian village at Tucson, and the presidio with its settlers and retired troops.

The rivers of the region include the Santa Catalina [Rillito], five miles from the presidio, which arises from a hot spring and enjoys a steady flow for ten miles in a northwesterly direction, but only in the rainy seasons. It is thirty-three feet wide near its headwaters. Our major river, however, is the Santa María Suamca, which arises ninety-five miles to the southeast from a spring near the presidio of Santa Cruz.24 From its origin it flows past the Santa Cruz presidio, the abandoned ranches of Divisaderos, Santa Barbara, San Luis, and Buenavista, as well

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as the abandoned missions of Guevavi and Calabazas, the Pima mission at Tumacácori, and the Tubac presidio. When rainfall is only average or below, it flows above ground to a point some five miles north of Tubac and goes underground all the way to San Xavier del Bac. Only during years of exceptionally heavy rainfall does it water the flat land between Tubac and San Xavier.

We have no gold, silver, iron, lead, tin, quicksilver, copper mines, or marble quarries. Twenty-five miles from this presidio is an outcropping of lime which supplies us with all we need and whenever we need it for construction. We have no salt beds.


Our major roads connect Tucson with San Xavier and Tubac. We have other trails which we use only for stockraising and chasing Apaches. No bridges have been built. We have no hostelries or inns.

The only public work here that is truly worthy of this report is the church at San Xavier del Bac, ten miles from this presidio. Other missions here in the north should really be called chapels, but San Xavier is truly a church. It is ninety-nine feet long, twenty-two feet wide in the nave, sixty feet wide at the transept, which forms two side chapels. The entire structure is of fired brick and lime mortar. The ceiling is a series of domes. The interior is adorned with thirty-eight full-figure statues, plus three "frame" statues dressed in cloth garments, and innumerable angels and seraphim. The facade is quite ornate, boasting two towers, one of which is unfinished. The atrium in front extends out twenty-seven and a half feet. To the left of the atrium is a cemetery, with a domed chapel at the far end surrounded by a fired brick and lime-

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plaster wall, measuring eighty-two and a half feet in circumference. A conservative estimate of the expense incurred to date in the construction of all that has been mentioned, plus the sacristy, the baptistry, and other rooms, all of which are domed, would be 40,000 pesos. The reason for this ornate church at this last outpost of the frontier is not only to congregate the Christian Pimas of the San Xavier village, but also to attract by its loveliness the unconverted Papagos and Gila Pimas beyond the frontier. I have thought it worth while to describe it in such detail because of the wonder that such an elaborate building could be constructed at all out here on the farthest frontier. Because of the consequent hazard involved, the salaries of the artisans had to be doubled.


We have no formal militia of cavalry or infantry, but the settlers here really do the same job. They are quite accustomed to using their own firearms and horses to help us defend the presidio and pursue the fleeing Apaches when we are short of troops. In fact, they are obliged to do so to hold title to land anywhere within five miles of the presidio. Their farmlands and the lots for their homes are given to them only under this condition, by order of the Royal Regulation of Presidios. In return for this military service, they are also exempt from personal taxes to the government and to the church and are entitled to the spiritual ministrations of the chaplain without the financial obligation to support a parish.

Two barracks are attached to this presidio, one for the resident garrison and another to house the troops here on detachment from other presidios. As to recruiting activities, we have five recruits attached to this company presently.

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We pay no sales tax when we buy here at the presidio. I do not know what sales tax is charged elsewhere. That information is available through José Pérez, the sales tax administrator in Arizpe. We pay no tribute. In tobacco taxes, we have paid out 2210 pesos. We have no gold or silver mines and therefore are not subject to the royal twenty percent. No money is spent on the administration of fiscal activities. The presidio paymaster receives no extra pay for collecting the tobacco tax. The tobacco is sold either in the company store or directly by the paymaster. The paymaster also administers the revenue from the mails. No extra pay is received either by him or by the troops involved in carrying the mail from one military post to the next until it arrives in Arizpe.


The population here spends 5000 pesos a year at the company store on merchandise from Spain and 2500 pesos more for the same purpose with a private merchant. Five hundred pesos are spent annually on merchandise from Asia and China. Three hundred pesos a year are spent on wax and cocoa. Cocoa, however, is replaced here by commercial chocolate, since no cocoa is available. We receive no products directly from Vera Cruz, Acapulco, or San Blas. We have no smuggled goods.


We produce 600 bushels of corn a year, and it sells at two and a half pesos a bushel. Wheat sells at two pesos a bushel, and our area harvests 2800 bushels annually. Beans and other vegetables sell at four and a half pesos a bushel. About 300 bushels are produced annually. Cotton is raised only by the Indians. With it, they weave a

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domestic fabric for their own use. We grow no sugar, tobacco, cacao, vanilla, sarsaparilla, Tabasco pepper, Jalapa purgative, indigo, cochineal, Campeche wood for dyeing, or wood for fine lumber.


We have some 3500 head of cattle, selling at three pesos a head. The sheep sell for half a peso a head, and we now have about 2600. We raise no pork and no goats. The horseherd stands at 1 200 head, including the presidio, the settlers and the two missions. We have 120 mules and thirty burros.


Animal slaughtering accounts for 300 beeves killed each year, including the 130 slaughtered at the expense of the royal treasury to maintain the peaceful Apaches. Two hundred sheep are slaughtered. A dressed beef sells at six pesos, a dressed sheep at one peso.

Soapmaking accounts for 1000 pesos spent annually by this population, including the soap needed to provision the garrison. It is difficult to estimate the quantity involved, since soap is sold here in bars and not by weight. Over half of this soap is made here in Tucson and at San Xavier. The rest is bought in Arizpe.

No brandy, whiskey or tequila is distilled. No gunpowder, chinaware or glass is manufactured.


Four men here operate pack trains; there are no wagon trains. Two hundred are engaged full time in agriculture and stockraising, including the Indians who tend the fields and the livestock of their missions. Twenty men work at the ordinary industrial trades.

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In connection with government revenue, I observed that all connected directly with the presidio are exempt from all personal taxes. Why, then, do the privileged settlers not prosper more than they do? I believe this is their own fault. Since no demands are made on them, they lose all ambition. Even the most rustic Indian will double his efforts as the time approaches when his tribute is due. An artisan or laborer, whose wife is pregnant, will double his earnings to be able to pay for the approaching baptism celebration, or for the funeral celebration if his relative is dying. Since the royal regulations are in their favor, however, I am not saying that these settlers should be taxed.

Why, too, is there not even an attempt at the mechanical arts and trades? At least weaving should be carried on here, when even the coarsest woolen and cotton fabrics must be brought in from New Mexico or all the way from Mexico City. I believe it is for lack of accomplished teachers in these arts and trades. Tucson desperately needs a leather tanner and dresser, a tailor, and a shoemaker. These people could support themselves very comfortably here. Perhaps even more important would be a saddlemaker, who could vary his trade by making cinches, leather jackets, saddlebags, saddlepads, cruppers, pack saddles, gun sheaths, and cartridge belts. With his shop right here in the presidio, he could fashion these items to the exact specifications of his clientele. A professional weaver could do very well for himself by making artistic blankets and serge cloth, as could a hatmaker by fashioning new hats and cleaning and blocking the used ones. These shops would not only offer the soldiers and settlers custom-made articles, but would also serve as schools for apprentices of these same trades.

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I have also observed that there is very fertile land here. Why do the settlers not prosper when even neglected vineyards produce a bumper crop? They hardly allow the grape to mature properly before they are selling it, to say nothing of not experimenting with new vines and cuttings. All of this could be regulated by government control, and prizes could be offered to encourage both quantity and quality.


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Desert Documentary by Kieran McCarty - Chapter 17
Tucson, Arizona: Arizona Historical Society, 1976.

© 1976 The Arizona Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.

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