CHAPTER X:Arrival In Santa Fé


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First Sight of Santa Fé.—Fonda.—Home-sick.—Rev. L. Smith.—Warm Welcome.—Toilet.—Secretary of Territory.—Governor Meriwether.—His Adventures.—Prisoner in Santa Fé.—Discharge.—Trip to Rendezvous.—Winter Quarters.—Strange Indians.—Great Medicine.—The Indians see him.—Fright.—Encounter with Indians.—Prison fell down.—Sworn into Office.—Mr. Cardenas.—Mrs. Wilson.—Indian Outrages.—How Indians should be governed.—Meeting of Legislature.—Log-rolling, etc.—Organization of the Houses.—The two Houses in Session.—Former political Condition, etc.

The first sight of Santa Fé is by no means prepossessing. Viewed from the adjacent hills as you descend into the valley, whence it falls the first time under your glance, it has more the appearance of a colony of brickkilns than a collection of human habitations. You see stretching before you, on both sides of the little river of the same name, a cluster of flat-rooted mud houses, which, in the distance, you can hardly distinguish from the earth itself. But a traveler just off the Plains generally leaves the wire-edge of his fastidiousness behind, and feels rejoiced at the prospect of finding quarters even in a mud house, which he soon pronounces quite a comfortable affair; so true it is, ‘‘
How many things by season seasoned are,
To their right praise and true perfection.
’’

The wagons drove in front of the fonda, and the passengers, with bag and baggage, were turned over to the custody of "mine host," who stood at his threshold, in the best possible humor, to receive us. 'Tis true, the establishment was not of the first order—hardly equal to the "Astor" or "St. Nicholas"—but, withal, it seemed an admirable change to us who, for nearly a month, had been exposed to the discomforts of the Plains. We had hardly been shown to our rooms before dinner was announced, when we were conducted to the dining-room, where we found a table spread with all the necessaries and some of the luxuries of life. I can speak for myself, and say that I did full justice to the repast, and in good earnest broke the fast that half rations had imposed upon us the latter part of the way.


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FORT THORN.


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On being set down, "a stranger in a strange land," I do not deny that I had the feeling common to all in a similar situation, and for a time that heart-malady called home-sickness made a lodgment in an unoccupied corner of my heart. To a greater or less degree, this feeling will seize upon all comers from the United States when they place foot in Santa Fé for the first time. The whole aspect of things is so entirely different from what they have been accustomed to: a foreign language salutes their ears; a strange race of men gape at them without a particle of sympathy, and the mud city, with its dirty streets and no less dirty population—all presents such an uninviting picture to the stranger, that, in spite of all he can do, he will feel a little "down in the mouth." But reaching this place under the circumstances, after a trip of nearly a thousand miles across an inhospitable and almost barren region, has a tendency to remove many of the unfavorable impressions a traveler receives upon his first arrival. The change from constant exposure and danger to comparative comfort and security is so sudden, and, withal, so much to one's mind, that it begets a favorable opinion of this modern Timbuctoo, and in a short time he finds himself reasonably well reconciled to his new home. But if it was not for


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the circumstances under which the traveler first enters Santa Fé, he would be tempted to leave again in disgust ere the sound of his footfall had died away in the streets.

As good fortune would have it—and it is always good fortune to know somebody in a strange place—I had an old friend in Santa Fé in the person of the Rev. Louis Smith, stationed there as a Baptist missionary. He had been sent out by the Baptist Board of Home Missions nearly three years before, and during this time he had been laboring faithfully in this new field, but with little success. The tares seemed to choke down all the wheat that was disposed to spring up under the new and improved culture, and thus far he and the other husbandmen who had labored in the field had scarce been able to gather a single sheaf into the garner. As soon after dinner as possible, I wended my way to the house of Mr. Smith, all unshaven and unshorn, hoping to be able to announce my own arrival. In this dilapidated condition, I presented myself at his threshold and knocked for admittance. A servant answered the summons, and in a moment I was in the presence of Mrs. Smith, her husband not being in at the time. At first she could hardly realize that the person who stood before her was a genuine old friend instead of some apparition who had dropped down from—she knew not whence. But it took but little trouble to satisfy her upon this point, when she gave me a welcome to her house and home that was full of meaning, and which went in a straight line to the heart, driving away at once all the legions of home-sickness that had dared to gather there. Her greeting was far from being of the modern school of salutation, so stiff and formal as to fairly drive the milk of human kindness from one's bosom, for such new-fangled notions had not yet penetrated into that distant region. While we were seated, chatting of the


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days of "old lang syne," her husband came in, who received me no less kindly and warm-heartedly, and which fully came up to that beautiful faith he professes and makes his daily walk and practice. He extended his welcome fully to meet the requirements of Christian hospitality, and invited my companion and myself to partake of his bed and board until we should be able to arrange our own quarters. This was something tangible and real, the substance instead of the shadow, and like sensible persons, and without the least circumlocution, we availed ourselves of the kind offer.

The first and most urgent duty, after the greetings and a few moments' conversation with my old friends, was that of getting rid of the dust of travel, and appearing once more in civilized habiliments, for which purpose we wended our way back to the fonda. After roughing it so long upon the Plains, it is no easy task to make one's toilet, as every gentleman knows who has taken off a crop of beard that has ripened and gone to seed. With a due degree of perseverance, this duty was finally accomplished, and your humble servant was once more metamorphosed into a respectable-looking individual. The whole performance was much more a matter of necessity than pleasure, as every one is aware who has been obliged to undergo the same operation. We now removed ourselves and baggage to the hospitable house of Mr. Smith, where we made our home for the present.

In the afternoon Mr. Smith chaperoned me out into the town to see the sights and make the acquaintance of some of the good people. On our way up the street we halted at the counting-room of the Honorable W. S. Messerve, the Secretary of the Territory, to whom I was introduced. At that time Mr. Messerve was a leading merchant in Santa Fé, where he had been established in business for some years, and made a large fortune. He


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is a Massachusetts man by birth, but spent many years in Mexico. He is a man of fine talents, and possesses a fund of wit and humor that never becomes exhausted. In comparing notes, we found we had met before, and by mutual consent dated our first acquaintance back to the month of June, 1847, during the war with Mexico, when we encountered each other upon the banks of the River San Juan. Crossing the Plaza, we wended our way to the government palace, where I was presented to his excellency, David Meriwether, Governor of the Territory, by whom I was received with all the kindness and frankness to be looked for in a Kentuckian. Governor Meriwether is a Virginian by birth, but, with his father's family, removed to Kentucky in 1805, since which time he has made that state his permanent home. He was appointed Governor of New Mexico by President Pierce in 1853, and entered upon the discharge of his duties in August of the same year. It is not my intention to write a biography of this gentleman, but I can not refrain from giving a few of the incidents of his early life, which, coupled as they are with adventure, can not be otherwise than interesting to the reader.

Having the desire of adventure so common to the youth of our country, in the year 1818 he entered the American Fur Company, and in their employ spent three years in hunting and trapping upon the plains and waters of the Far West. His life was a continued scene of adventure and hardship, in which practical school he finished his education and graduated for the pursuits of life. In the year 1819 he was sent with a party of Pawnee Indians to endeavor to open a trade with New Mexico, in order to exchange their furs and other goods for bullion, and to obtain permission to hunt and trap upon the streams. They had advanced as far west as the Canadian fork of the River Arkansas, when they were at


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tacked by a party of Mexican troops, most of the Indians killed, and himself and negro boy made prisoners. They were conducted to Santa Fé, about a hundred and twenty miles farther west, the then capital of the province, and brought before the Spanish governor, by whom he was accused of being a spy of the United States, and was thrown into prison. At that time there was some difficulty between our government and that of Spain in reference to the Floridas, and the authorities looked upon Americans with great jealousy. He was repeatedly brought before the governor and closely questioned as to his motives in coming into the country, with the design, as it appeared, of entrapping him into some hostile admission, in the absence of any evidence against him. The only medium of communication was a Catholic priest who spoke French, which language young Meriwether partly understood. He was confined in a filthy prison adjoining the palace, while the negro boy was secured in some other part of the town. He was kept in confinement about a month, when one day he was sent for by the governor, who told him that the difficulties between the United States and Spain were adjusted, and that he had permission to return home.

To be thus turned loose upon the world at the approach of winter, in a strange land, and separated a thousand miles from the nearest American settlement, was being placed in a worse condition than while in prison. When arrested, he and his servant were both well armed, and mounted upon fine horses, but their captors had stripped them of every thing but the clothes upon their bodies. Young Meriwether sought an interview with the governor, and represented to him their condition: that to be driven into the mountains without any arms to kill game was certain death, and he had better kill them at once and shorten their misery. This appeal had some


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effect; and although their own property was not restored to them, he gave each one a mule, an old gun, and a few charges of powder and lead. They were not permitted to leave the country by the same route they had entered it, but were sent by the way of Don Fernandez de Taos in charge of a corporal and two men. The escort accompanied them some little distance above that place, when they suddenly left them and returned to Santa Fé.

Our adventures were now in no very enviable position. The weather was cold, the mountains covered with snow, and they found themselves turned adrift in an unknown country. They had many hundred miles of inhospitable plains and mountains to traverse, and had two almost useless guns and a small supply of ammunition to kill game and defend themselves from hostile Indians. But there was no time to be lost in contemplating their unfortunate situation. Before taken prisoner, he had appointed a place of rendezvous, where such of the Indians as might be able to make their escape were directed to go and await his coming. He now took a direction for that point, as well as he was able to do without a guide or a knowledge of the country, being guided by the sun during the day and the stars at night—killing game as they went, at the risk of bringing hostile Indians upon them by the report of their guns. After traveling several days across the mountains that lie on the eastern confines of New Mexico, in constant fear of being attacked, and suffering from the cold, they reached the place of rendezvous, and found three Pawnee Indians waiting for them. The meeting was a pleasant one to all parties, and they remained there a few days making the necessary preparations for the continuance of their journey. They resolved to seek some good location upon the head-waters of the Arkansas, where they would remain until spring, and then return to the settlements.


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They took up the line of march from the rendezvous, and, after traveling in a northerly direction for several days, they came to a cave, upon the head-waters of the Arkansas, that promised to answer their purpose of a winter residence. It was a large cavern in the side of a hill, and the rocks from above projected over somewhat in the shape of a portico. They set to work, and made the place as comfortable as possible. They divided it into two compartments by suspending before the entrance to the rear a buffalo robe, and they placed poles against the projecting ledge, which, covering with brush and dried grass, made another comfortable room. In the inner room they stored all their most valuable articles, and the outer served them as a place to build their fire and do their cooking. They killed their mules, which, with the buffaloes they occasionally shot, kept them in a supply of meat. Their greatest fear was in being discovered by hostile Indians, and they took constant precaution to prevent their whereabouts being known. Time hung heavily upon their hands, as they were afraid to venture away from the mouth of the cave unless they were compelled to do so in search of food. Among other expedients to kill time, young Meriwether amused himself in fashioning a stone to resemble a man's face, and upon which he stretched a piece of skin. When the skin was dried, he took it off, cut holes for the eyes, nose, and mouth, and thus had a respectable-looking mask. When finished, he laid it away in the cave, without imagining the valuable service it would be able to render him before the winter was past.

One day nine strange Indians came to the cave, whom they suspected very strongly of some hostile intentions, and were therefore uneasy while they remained. They were anxious to look at every thing in and about the premises, and, after having seen all there was in the outer


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apartment, one of them desired to know what there was behind the curtain. It was very desirable to preserve the inner part of the cave from the eyes of the strangers, and, as they were not able to do so by force, they had to resort to stratagem. Young Meriwether now bethought him of his mask, and, feeling certain that he would be able to make it serve him a good purpose in the emergency, replied to the inquiry of the Indians that they kept their Great Medicine behind the curtain. This excited the curiosity of the visitors the more, and they demanded to see him right away, as they wanted to know whether he looked like their medicine-man. He endeavored to satisfy their curiosity in various ways, but nothing would do but a sight of him. Finally, he told the Indians that he would go in and consult the Great Medicine, and if he should be willing to be seen by strangers, he would return and admit them. Once behind the screen, he arranged his plans to give the Indians a good fright. He fixed the skin mask upon the point of a rock, and, putting a lighted candle within it, returned to the outer apartment. He told them that if they should see fire and smoke coming out of his eyes, nose, and mouth, it was a sure sign that the Great Medicine was very angry, and they must look out for themselves. They were to be admitted one at a time. The skin screen was carefully drawn aside to let one in, who entered; but, seeing the fire and smoke streaming out of the holes in the mask, he took for granted that the Great Spirit was in a towering rage, and about to devour the whole of them, and therefore took to his heels, yelling like a demon, followed by all his companions. Thus they rid themselves of these ugly visitors, and probably this little stroke of ingenuity was the means of saving their lives. They were afraid, however, that the Indians might return with others to see the white man's medicine, and


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to whom the harmless mask might not appear so terrific, and therefore resolved to break up their camp and seek a more secure location. They took up their march that evening through deep snow, with their packs upon their backs, and traveled all night and the next day before they halted to encamp. Before they laid down to sleep, the mask, with a candle inside, was placed on the point of a high rock, so that, in case the strange Indians should follow upon their trail, they would first be saluted by the Great Medicine they so much feared. Thence they continued their journey, and reached a trading-post in safety, at which they spent the remainder of the winter.

After this adventure the governor and a party of trappers had a-more serious encounter with some Indians of the Plains. Upon one occasion, when returning from a trapping expedition loaded with packs of furs, they espied in the distance a number of mounted Indians coming toward them. He and his men made for a grove of timber near at hand, where they tied their animals, and, taking off their packs, formed with them a kind of breastwork, in order to make a good defense if it should become necessary. These arrangements being made, and the little garrison having received instructions to hold the camp at every hazard, Meriwether, with a few horsemen, set out to meet the Indians. Both parties approached at full speed, the respective leaders being some distance in advance of their men. The Indian chief came up with his lance at a rest, while Meriwether rode tomahawk in hand; and when within proper distance, the former made a lunge with his lance, which the latter struck down with his hatchet, but not with sufficient force to prevent it piercing his thigh and giving him a severe wound. The shock jostled the Indian, and, before he could recover his position, the negro boy rode up to him, and, with a single stroke of his hatchet on the head, killed


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him. The chief having fallen, the other Indians turned and fled. As soon as Meriwether was wounded he fainted and fell to the ground, from loss of blood, and when he came to he found himself lying beside his dead foe. The trappers resumed their march in a few days, and reached their trading-post without further molestation. For this gallant act of the negro boy in saving the life of his master he was set free as soon as they returned to Kentucky.

When Governor M. was a prisoner in Santa Fé, he was confined in a room at the west end of the palace; and the same evening he arrived there to assume the executive duties of the Territory, the roof of the room fell in. This the people, with their superstitious notions, interpreted into a favorable omen. It is worthy of note to say, in conclusion, that he who was a poor and unknown boy, and a prisoner in a foreign land, should, in the course of years, return with the power of the United States at his back to rule over the same people who had held him in captivity, and to administer laws in the very building in which he had been confined. Such incidents are not unfrequent in the vicissitudes that mark the life of the public men of our country.

I was sworn into office on Monday, the 28th instant, and held myself in readiness to look after the interests of the government, if perchance it should have any need of my services. My predecessor had taken his leave before my arrival, and upon entering on the duties of the office of United States Attorney I found neither books nor papers to take charge of, and, before I was done with it, was satisfied that it was about as barren of emoluments. It is a sinecure barring the riding the circuit, and consists in the name, which sounds well, and a commission bearing the signature of the President, and the great seal of the United States attached.


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A few days after I arrived I made the acquaintance of the Rev. Benigno Cardenas, formerly a Catholic priest in the Territory, but within a few years a proselyte to Protestantism. He is a man of learning and abilities, and at one time occupied a high position in the Church. He now belongs to the Methodist denomination, and is laboring in the southern part of the Territory, where he has gathered a small flock. Some years ago he became involved in a religious difficulty with Bishop Zubiria, who, for a real or pretended cause, suspended him from the discharge of his spiritual functions, and placed him beyond the pale of the Church. Feeling that justice had not been done him in the decision of the bishop, Mr. Cardenas was determined to seek redress from the supreme head of the Church, and for that purpose he made a pilgrimage to Rome, and laid his complaint before the Pope. After his case had undergone the necessary examination by the pontiff and his advisers, he was reinstated in the Church, and was furnished with the necessary documentary evidence to establish the fact upon his return home. He exhibited proof of his justification when he returned, but declined to enter the Church again, because, in the mean time, his religious views had undergone a change. His object in going to Rome was to recover his standing in his own Church before asking to be received into another, which being established, he immediately renounced the faith of his fathers, and began to teach the more liberal doctrine of Protestantism.1


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About this time there arrived in Santa Fé an American woman, Mrs. Jane Adeline Wilson, lately rescued from the Camanche Indians, with whom she had been captive about one month. She was taken some distance to the east of El Paso, Texas, on her return to her friends from an unsuccessful attempt to go to California with her husband and father-in-law. She succeeded in making her escape, and after wandering about the Plains for some time, was found by a party of Mexican traders, who brought her into the settlements. She mainly owed her safety to a Pueblo Indian of the village of San Yldefonso, whose conduct was such as to entitle him to all praise. She was young, modest in appearance and conduct, and quite intelligent. She remained in Santa Fé until the next spring, when she was sent to her friends.

The narrative of her sufferings, written down at the time from her own lips, made one of the most affecting recitals I have ever read, and the fortitude she displayed, for one of her tender years, under so many trying circumstances, was quite sublime. Imagine a young and delicate female for the period of about a month in the hands of one of the most savage of our North American tribes of Indians, and compelled to submit to the most cruel treatment ever inflicted upon a human being. They made her their absolute slave; and, not satisfied with compelling her to perform the most menial offices, they would cruelly beat her if her overtasked strength failed her. And then, at other times, as if to make her degradation more complete and her sufferings more acute, they would set upon her a human fiend of her own sex, who delighted in tormenting her with a refined cruelty that can not be surpassed. Conceive a woman placed upon the back of a wild mule without saddle or bridle, and because she can not manage the restive beast, to have her head stamped into the ground by an infernal savage;


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behold her almost naked, marching under a burning sun, over mountains and across prairies, amid briers and thorns which tear her flesh at every step; and then, after she had eluded her fiendish captors and made her escape, we see her wandering alone for many days without food and without shelter, every moment in danger of being recaptured, with the wolves following her footsteps when she ventured to a spring to drink, and scratching around her place of concealment at night. Let the reader call to mind these bodily sufferings, and add to them the terrible anguish of mind she must have endured, and yet but a faint idea of the hardships she was compelled to undergo can be imagined. For a strong man to bear up under such trials seems almost incredible; but when we know the sufferer was a young and tender female, and about to become a mother, her escape seems miraculous indeed.

Such outrages are of much too frequent occurrence in the distant land of New Mexico. But a few pages back the reader will call to mind the case of poor Mrs. White, who was taken in a somewhat similar manner; but she was not so fortunate as to make her escape, and both herself and child suffered death at their hands. She was treated with equal cruelty, no doubt, but the grave has closed over her sufferings, and they must remain unknown to the world. When Governor Meriwether was on his way to New Mexico, two young Spanish girls made their escape from the Kiowah Indians and joined the train he was traveling with, whom he afterward forwarded to their homes in Chihuahua, whence they had been stolen nearly two years before. They made their escape in the following manner: One day they were sent out by the Indians to herd the animals, when, on ascending a hill, they espied in the distance an American train winding across the prairies just west of the Arkansas. They immediately


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mounted horses and started for the wagons. Before they reached the train they turned the animals loose and drove them back, and continued their way to the camp on foot, where they arrived soon after dark. They reported themselves to Mr. M'Carty, the conductor of the train, and from whom they received the kindest treatment. The next day some thirty or forty Indians overtook the train and demanded the girls, but Mr. M'Carty denied all knowledge of them, having previously concealed them in the wagons so they could not be seen. The Indians seemed determined not to give them up, and even made an attempt to search the wagons, when the teamsters took down their arms and showed fight. One old squaw, whose slave one of the girls had been, was in the act of getting into a wagon, when Mr. M'Carty laid her sprawling with a stroke from the butt end of his whip. The following day the train of General Garland was overtaken, and the rescued captives delivered to the governor.

They related about the same account of suffering as that narrated by Mrs. Wilson. They mentioned an American woman with a small child whom they had seen in captivity, and who was obliged to submit to the same kind of inhuman treatment. They said that one day, while traveling, one of the Indians seized the child, threw it up into the air, and caught it upon the point of his lance as it came down. The rest of the band amused themselves in the same manner, and thus they passed the child around among them upon their lance-heads until the dead body was pierced like a sieve. Yet, with such abundance of evidence before our eyes of the savage cruelty of these Western Indians, there is a class of people in the United States whose hearts are constantly overflowing with sympathy for these inhuman fiends. This mawkish feeling of pity for the "poor Indian" has existed long enough, and it is quite time the people should


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come to view them in their proper light. They are the Ishmaelites of the Plains, whose hands are turned against every white man, woman, and child, and they should be chastised in the severest manner instead of receiving pity from their crack-brained sympathizers. The government at Washington has been a little remiss in chastising them for their numerous outrages, and they have learned to despise instead of fear our power. The only mode of governing these savages is by fear of punishment—the "moral suasion" of powder and lead, as their flinty hearts are not capable of appreciating kinder treatment. At this time there are hundreds of captives among the Indians of the Plains and those that inhabit the mountains of New Mexico, principally women and children. They make slaves of the former, and train the latter for warriors. Now and then a captive escapes, but the great majority spend a lifetime with them, and drag out a most miserable existence.

Monday, December the fifth, was the day fixed by law for the meeting of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory, and for a week before that time the members had been coming in from the various counties, and arranging themselves in quarters for the session. Those who were candidates for office in either House and their friends began the system of electioneering so prevalent in other sections of the Union; and the few days that intervened between the arrival of the members and the meeting of the Assembly were spent in wire-pulling, log-rolling, and all the other strategic movements known in modern politics. Juntas were held in the four quarters of the city of the Holy Faith, and the merits of the various candidates for place in the two honorable bodies were discussed and canvassed with as much apparent gravity as though the fate of the Republic depended upon the selection they should make. It was early determined that


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the weal of the Territory would be eternally sapped should a single Whig obtain place in either branch of the august assemblage about to convene; and it was therefore resolved, pro bono publico, that none of that kidney should be allowed to lap up a drop of the pap that was likely to drop from the Democratic table. This once resolved upon, the patriots breathed deeper and freer, and unanimously pronounced the country saved.

In the second place, it was a matter quite difficult to determine who should be the lucky Democratic aspirants. As is usual, each member had his man, and some of them half a score, who must be served—good loyal Democrats they were—with their success was closely allied the future well-being of the party—at least they all said so, and some of them ought to be believed. Not only did men urge the claims of respective candidates, but the various sections of the Territory made demands that must be satisfied, and that without delay. Rio Ariba (the country up the river) laid claim to the lion's share in the distribution of patronage, because this region professed to be the strongest in the Democratic faith. At this the Rio Abajo (the country down the river) bristled up wonderfully, and was quite shocked at the exorbitant demands of the Rio Aribaites. Thus the contest waxed and waned, and the whole middle region of the continent appeared to be immeasurably interested in the decision of these important questions. As neither party would give ground an inch—what bravery was there!—it was finally concluded that, in the scramble for place, there should be a "free fight," with the full understanding that not a single Whig should be allowed to poke his nose within the sanctuary of either House in an official shape; this was Democratic ground entirely, and these political "heathens" had no business to be intruding therein.

The eventful morning of the fifth—a day big with the


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fate of many a new aspirant after legislative honors—at length dawned, and slowly the time of meeting drew nigh. At the hour of 10 A.M. the American flag was run up on the staff in the middle of the Plaza, and at the same time the two branches of the Legislative Assembly came together in their respective chambers in the government palace. They were temporarily organized by the election of pro tem. chairmen, when the members presented their credentials, and were afterward duly sworn in by the Honorable John S. Watts, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the Territory, and took their seats. In the afternoon they proceeded to an election of officers, and completed a permanent organization of the two houses. Each chamber selected an American as speaker, and the balance of the offices were equally divided between the two races.

The following day the members of the two Houses assembled in the Hall of Representatives to listen to the reading of the governor's message. A joint committee proceeded to the executive chamber, and escorted his excellency to the hall of the House, where he was received by the members rising and saluting him as he entered. When silence was restored, the governor read the message in English, after which the chief clerk read it in Spanish. It was a plain and business-like document, and contained many suggestions of vital interest to the Territory.

The spectacle here presented, in the fourth session of the Legislative Assembly of New Mexico, was rather pleasing, and furnished food for some interesting reflections. This was a new people in the art and mystery of legislation, who, in a great measure, had yet to learn their duties in the modus operandi of making laws. Before the country came into the possession of the United States the people were ruled with a rod of iron, without


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government and laws except in the shape of arbitrary decrees that emanated from a single individual. They possessed no political rights in our sense of the word, and were governed more like a flock of sheep than men. The so-called parent government at the city of Mexico had a semblance of written laws and political institutions for the control of the states and provinces; but, when the same came to be reduced to practical operation, they were generally confined to the breast of the fortunate individual who chanced to fill the executive chair for the time being. For many years General Manuel Armijo governed New Mexico pretty much in accordance with his own individual predilections; he was the Legislature as well as the executive—the judge and jury in all cases whatsoever—and united the whole government within himself. The form was certainly extremely simple, and, while he administered it, equally forcible. The people were robbed of their earnings under this one-man system, and were also kept in ignorance and superstition, because in such condition they made more willing slaves.

Under the circumstances, it is not strange, then, that when they first came to enjoy the privileges of freemen, and began to make laws for themselves, they should feel to a degree embarrassed, and find themselves lacking that kind of knowledge essentially necessary for the discharge of these high functions. But, for beginners in the science of legislation, these representatives cut quite a respectable figure, and played their part with considerable credit to themselves and their constituents. They conducted the business of the two Houses with decorum and regularity, and at times it occurred to me that the dignity with which their proceedings were marked might with great propriety be held up as an example to Congress. The business is transacted in the Spanish language, and each House is entitled to an interpreter and


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translator for the convenience of those who are not conversant with both languages. In their discussions they appeal to the Constitution and laws of the United States as their political landmarks, and in all their proceedings manifested a disposition to keep within proper limits and be loyal to the federal government. There is one feature seen in either house that strikes a stranger as exceedingly modern and out of place, which is the smoking of the members during business hours. They sit in their seats and puff away at their cigarritos while the House is in session with as much nonchalance as though they were in the Plaza. The practice is looked upon as a personal privilege, and, since all indulge, no notice is taken of it.


Notes

1. Since the above was written, Mr. Cardenas has dissolved his connection with the Methodist denomination, and made application to be received back again into the Catholic Church. The ceremony of reception into the Church, and a recantation of his Protestant heresies, took place at Albuquerque the 24th day of February, 1856. He was compelled to submit to the humiliation of receiving lashes upon the back, covered only with his shirt, which were laid on by the hands of the Vicario. After this he was fully pardoned and restored to the communion.

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