CHAPTER IV:Historical Sketch Of New Mexico—Concluded


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Result of Rebellion of 1680.—Interval of Peace.—War with Camanches.—Conspiracy of 1814. —Nabajos killed at Jemez.—Expulsion Law.—Revolution of 1837.—The Cause of it.—Plan of Rebels.—Authorities defeated.—Death of Governor Perez.—Cruel Conduct of Indians.—Rebel Governor.—General Armijo.—General Kearney marches for New Mexico.—Country conquered.—Revolution of 1847.—The Leaders and their Plans.—First Conspiracy discovered.—The People taking up Arms.—Revolution put down.—Territory organized.—Organic Law.—Mexican Courts.—Baston de Justicia.—Fueros.—Will New Mexico become a Slave State?—History of State Government in New Mexico.

The result of the Indian rebellion of 1680 taught the Spanish government a useful lesson, and which it had the good sense to profit by. It became evident that the natives must be treated with greater leniency, which course was finally adopted when the authorities saw there was no other alternative. Although they were, as formerly, compelled to embrace the Catholic religion, yet in other respects the yoke of the conqueror was rendered more easy; they were better secured in their social rights, the grants of land were confirmed to the pueblos, and they were not compelled to undergo the same severe labor in the mines as before. But while this state of things had a tendency to neutralize their hostility, it by no means rendered them entirely contended with the Spaniards as masters.

After the re-establishment of the Spanish power in New Mexico, a period of nearly a hundred and fifty years rolled away without any serious disturbance between


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the two races. Now and then the murmurs of an approaching storm were heard in the distance, but by good management on the part of the government the troubled waters were quieted from time to time, and the apparent friendly relations were not disturbed.

While peace was maintained with the Pueblo Indians, there was hostility between the Spaniards and some of the wild tribes living in and around the territory almost up to the time the country fell into the hands of the Americans. Among others, the Camanches, one of the most warlike and numerous of the neighboring tribes, kept up a desperate war upon the country from the reconquest of Diego de Bargas up to near the close of the eighteenth century. During this time several severe battles were fought between them, among which may be mentioned the action of Green Horn, about the middle of the last century, and that of El Rito Don Carlos, which took place in 1783. The last and most desperate action was fought at Rabbit Ear in 1785. The Camanches were on their return from an expedition against the village of Tomé, in Valencia county, and had met in grand council for the purpose of having a war-dance over the scalps they had taken. They had also obtained a large amount of booty, and made prisoners two sisters of the name of Pino. The territorial troops, numbering two hundred and fifty men, commanded by Lieutenant Guerrero, made an attack upon the Indians while they were assembled in council. The Camanches kept up the fight for three hours, when they were forced to retire, with the loss of a large number in killed and wounded, with all their spoils, the captives, and their animals. The Indians drew off to a short distance and held a council of war, after which they renewed the fight, when they retook their own horses and compelled the troops to retreat. The loss of the Camanches in these two actions


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was so great that they sued for peace soon after, when a treaty was made with them, which they have kept up to the present time, with the exception of an occasional slight depredation.

In the year 1814, a rebellion against the authority of Don Alberto Maynes, then governor of the province, was put on foot by Corporal Antonio Armijo and Dionicio Valdez. The conspiracy was discovered before they had time to arrange and establish well all their plans, and they were arrested, tried, and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment at Ensinillas (known as the Trias farm, twenty-five miles northwest of Chihuahua).

In 1815, a soldier of the name of Cora stole a few articles from the public store-house at Santa Fé, then under the charge of the paymaster of the place, Lieutenant Don Valentino Moreno. He was arrested, tried, and sentenced to be shot, and, notwithstanding some of the most influential persons of the province interceded in his behalf, the sentence was carried into execution. This is given as an evidence of the iron rule that prevailed in those days in the country. No influence was able to shield the culprit from the punishment that had been awarded him, but the law, with all its rigor, was carried into effect; and even this species of tyranny was not wholly without a good influence upon the population of the country.

In the year 1820, a most cruel and brutal outrage was perpetrated upon a party of Nabajo Indians in the village of Jemez. They had been hostile, but at this time they came in for the purpose of making peace. After their arrival, having been received in a friendly manner by the inhabitants, the corporation of the village, headed by one Juan Antonio Baca, the alcalde, assembled in council and resolved to put them to death. For this purpose the people were collected, who fell upon the defenseless


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Indians and killed them with clubs. A complaint of the outrage was made to the government, and the ring-leaders were arrested and brought to trial; but the case was kept in court until 1824 without any decision being made upon it, when the parties were set at liberty. Ten years after, in 1834, these same men fell by the hands of the Nabajos, by which it almost appears that Divine Providence inflicted upon these murderers the punishment the authorities of the country had failed to mete out to them.

In 1826, while a large number of Utah and Jicarilla Apache Indians were assembled in the town of Don Fernandez de Taos, a Camanche warrior and two boys of the same tribe came into the Ranchos, a village within about three miles. When the Utahs and Apaches heard of the arrival of the latter, they demanded them of the authorities in order to put them to death. Upon this becoming known to the inhabitants, they opposed their being given up, and insisted upon their being protected. The Indians were very angry at the people because they opposed the surrender of the Camanche and boys, and told them that unless they were given up to them they would take them by force. This alarmed the alcalde, Juan Antonio Martines, and he resolved to surrender the warrior to appease the wrath of the savages; and to make his conduct more dastardly, he caused the gun of the Camanche to be discharged and loaded with dirt, thus depriving him of the means of self-defense. He was then turned over to his enemies, who fell upon him with great fury; he defended himself as well as he could with his bow and arrows, but was soon overpowered by numbers and put to death.

In order to rid the country of all native-born Spaniards, the Mexican Congress, in the year 1828, passed what is known as the Expulsion Law, which expelled


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all of this class of persons from the republic. There were at that time several Franciscan friars residing in the territory, who were subject to this decree, but two of them, Alvino and Castro, were excepted and permitted to remain, in consequence of their great age, and by paying each the sum of five hundred dollars. The motive was rather that of avarice than charity, and the officers in power violated the general laws of the country for the sake of money. This arrangement was brought about by the agency of a priest named Leyva, who obtained the money from the two friars, which is said to have gone into the pockets of Don Francisco Sarasino, then acting governor, and who is now living in the Rio Abajo, and Santiago Abreu, the chief justice of the territory. At that time anarchy and misrule prevailed throughout the country, and avarice had such a strong hold upon the officials that money would buy off almost any delinquent. In the case of the expulsion, the other Spaniards had not enough money to satisfy the demands of the authorities, and therefore the law was carried out against them to the very letter.

The next and only serious disturbance that has taken place in New Mexico since the revolution of 1680 was the rebellion of 1837, which for a time was crowned with complete success, and promised an entire change in the administration of the country. The rebellion broke out in August of that year, and resulted in the murder of Governor Perez and his executive officers. A combination of circumstances, among which is included the intrigue of a party in the territory who desired to ride into power regardless of the means, led to the outbreak. The first cause of discontent was created in 1835 by Santa Ana sending into the country a new governor, named Perez, a creature of his own, which caused great dissatisfaction among the people, as they had been accustomed


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to be ruled over by native governors. No open opposition was manifested, but the change of rulers gave the designing demagogues a pretext to prepare the minds of the people for what followed. The following year an event happened which gave a new stimulant to the leaders of the discontented spirits.

In the year 1836, the disbursing officers of the territory were charged with peculation, and were arrested and brought to trial. At that time there was a district court in the territory composed of Judges Nafere, Santiago Abreu, and Juan Estevan Pino, before which the case was brought for hearing; but Nafere and Abreu, being both accused as accomplices, were not permitted to sit upon the trial, and Pino alone composed the court. The disbursing officers were found guilty, but before sentence was passed upon them the case was removed from the court by Governor Perez. This arbitrary act caused great dissatisfaction throughout the territory, and greatly increased the opposition to the administration. During the suspension of the principal disbursing officer, his duties were discharged by General Manuel Armijo, and when the former was restored to his office, the latter returned to his residence in Albuquerque, but was full of discontent. He was much pleased with the office the short time that he held it, and he determined to possess himself of it again, if possible. He first attempted to get it by intrigue and bribery, but, failing in this, he changed his plans, which resulted favorably, being materially aided by circumstances which produced terrible consequences. He took into his confidence Juan Estevan Pino and Juan Rafael Ortiz, declared enemies to the administration, and who had the influence of wealth and standing in the territory. They took advantage of a favorable event which happened about this time, and which was the means of giving success to their operations.


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In 1837 the Congress of Mexico passed a general tax law, which made it the duty of the governor to carry it into effect in New Mexico. As soon as this was known, the opposition took strong ground against it, and denounced it in the most violent terms. They represented the measure in the most objectionable manner possible, and, among other obnoxious features they said it contained was that of compelling husbands to pay a tax for the privilege of sleeping with their own wives; and they exhorted the people not to submit to such an unjust law. This appeal to a people who had never been accustomed to a tax of any kind, and too ignorant to inquire into the truth of the matter, served to arouse them to the highest pitch of exasperation against the government. The leaders dispatched secret agents into all parts of the country to excite the populace and induce them to resist the law, while they themselves matured their plans for the rebellion. The people of the northern part of the territory were the most active in their opposition, and the leaders had the promise of large assistance from the Pueblo Indians of that section. About the same time, the prefect of the northern district caused an alcalde to be imprisoned for some real or pretended misdemeanor in office by order of the governor. This brought matters to a crisis; the alcalde was released by a mob, and the Indians and other malcontents flew to arms.

The revolutionary movement began about the first of August, and extended through several of the northern pueblos, and differed from all previous outbreaks in that it had the countenance and support of the disaffected portion of the Mexican population. The rebels made the village of La Cañada, twenty-five miles north of Santa Fé, the centre of their operations, where they placed on foot their active measures. Among the Indian villages


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which took part in the revolution were San Yldefonso, Rancho, Jacoma, Pojuaque, Cuyo, Monque, and Nambé. On the third day of August a large number of the malcontents assembled in La Cañada in order to organize their means of resistance, when they adopted the following as their "plan" of government, and which they caused to be published to the people.

‘‘

Viva, God and the nation, and the faith of Jesus Christ; for the principal points which we defend are the following:

1st. To be with God and the nation, and the faith of Jesus Christ.
2d. To defend our country until we spill every drop of our blood in order to obtain the victory we have in view.
3d. Not to admit the departmental 'plan.'
4th. Not to admit any tax.
5th. Not to admit the disorder desired by those who are attempting to procure it. God and the nation.1

Encampment.

Santa Cruz de la Cañada, August 3d, 1837 f.

’’

When news of these proceedings reached Santa Fé, the authorities were in great alarm, and took immediate steps to quell the insurrection. The governor called upon the alcaldes to assemble the militia, but few of them showed any disposition to turn out. Among those who took up arms to sustain the government were the warriors of the pueblos of Santa Domingo and San Juan, the latter of which, it will be remembered, remained faithful to the Spaniards in the general rebellion of 1680.

The governor hastily collected all his disposable


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troops, and at their head marched from Santa Fé, on the seventh of August, to meet the enemy assembled at La Cañada. They encamped that night at Pojuaque, and the next day they encountered the rebels upon the mesa of San Yldefonso. When the government troops came in presence of the enemy, nearly all deserted to them, and the few that remained faithful to the governor were obliged to turn and flee with him. He returned to Santa Fé, where he arrived between two and three o'clock the same afternoon. He remained in the capital until ten o'clock the same night, when he left, with a few trusty followers, for the Rio Abajo. When the Indians had put the troops to flight, and saw the day was their own, they sent instructions to all the villages through which the fugitives would be obliged to pass to apprehend and put them to death, while they took up the march toward Santa Fé. That night the governor, in his flight, slept at the Alamo, and on the following day, the ninth, his farther retreat was stopped by some of the pueblos in the valley of the Del Norte. His party being routed, they separated and fled in different directions, each one bent upon saving himself. He returned toward Santa Fé on foot for greater security, having sent his saddle-horse forward by one of his followers. He reached the house of Don Salvador Martinez (one league below the town, on the road to Albuquerque), where he took refuge, and where the Indians, who were following upon his trail, overtook and killed him before sundown.

While the pulse of life was yet beating in his body they cut off his head, which they carried in triumph to the camp of the rebels, which was now established near La Capilla de nuestra Senora del Rosario (about five hundred yards west of the Plaza of Santa Fé). The same day the Indians captured and killed Don Jesus Maria Alaria, secretary of state, whom they took in his own


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house, stripped, and then lanced him to death; Don Ramon Abreu; Don Mariano Abreu; Lieutenant Hurtado and two soldiers, Escoto and Ortega. Don Santiago Abreu, former governor of the territory, was taken the same day near Los Cerillos, and carried to the pueblo of Santa Domingo, where he was kept in the stocks that night, and was killed the next day in the most cruel manner; they cut off his members one at a time, and shook them in his face, taunting him the while with the offenses of which he stood accused. The head of the governor was used as a foot-ball, and kicked around the camp of the rebels; and all the bodies of the slain were left exposed where they fell until some Christian hand gave them burial. Thus perished the most obnoxious and influential supporters of the administration, and for the time being all opposition to the rebellion was at an end.

On the tenth instant the rebel force entered and took possession of Santa Fé, when they repaired to the parish church and offered up thanks for the victory they had achieved. The same day they elected one of the boldest of their number, a Taos Indian named José Gonzales, governor, who was duly installed into office, and began the administration of public affairs. The property of the murdered officials was confiscated and distributed among the rebels, and of the effects of the late Governor Perez a large portion fell to the share of Gonzales. The same afternoon the insurgents left town and returned to their villages, the new governor and a few of his most confidential friends remaining. A general assembly, composed of the alcaldes and other leading men of the counties, was now called, which convened in the palace in Santa Fé on the twenty-seventh day of August, and proceeded to deliberate upon the condition of the country. One of their first legislative acts was the confirmation of


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the confiscation of the property of the late officials who had been killed, and which left some of their families destitute in the world.

At this stage of the proceedings General Armijo stepped forth upon the theatre of action, to play out the part he had commenced, and for which purpose he had to resort to more intrigue and bad faith. Having thus far contributed to the success of the rebellion, he now changed his tactics, and in order to secure for himself the supreme power of the country, which he had aimed at from the first, he projected a counter-revolution in the Rio Abajo, and marched to Santa Fé with a considerable body of troops. When Gonzales received information of the approach of the troops from below, he left the capital and retired to Rio Ariba, where there was still a considerable body of the rebels under arms in La Cañada and the neighboring pueblos. No sooner had Armijo reached Santa Fé than he glided into the vacant chair of state, and assumed the control of the government, causing himself to be proclaimed Comandante General of the province. He immediately dispatched a courier to the supreme government at the city of Mexico with an account of affairs, not forgetting to rate his own services at their full value. For the part he played and the treachery he exhibited to his co-conspirators he was subsequently confirmed in the office he had seized upon, which he maintained for eight years, ruling the country with a rod of iron.

In the mean time, the supreme government of Mexico took proper steps effectively to crush the rebellion. A re-enforcement of troops, numbering four hundred men, were sent up from Chihuahua and Zacatecas, who reached Santa Fé the beginning of the year 1838. The rebels, meanwhile, had been kept in a state of comparative peace by the authorities, under the pretext of desiring


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to treat with them, but the moment the new troops arrived, open hostilities were proclaimed against them. The whole force, under the command of General Armijo, marched against the rebels at La Cañada in the month of January, where they had again assembled in considerable numbers, when a battle ensued, which resulted in the entire defeat and route of the latter. The chief Gonzales and some of the other leading men of the rebellion fell into the hands of the authorities. General Armijo now played out the last act in this bloody drama. Having the supreme power in his own hands, he concluded to put out of the way those of his confederates whom he could not reward, and therefore ordered a court-martial for the trial of many of the persons who had aided him with money and arms, and had been instrumental in placing him at the head of affairs. This court sentenced to death Desiderio Montoya, Antonio Abed Montoya, the Alcalde Esquebel, and the late governor José Gonzales, and Armijo is said to have caused many others to be privately assassinated. He was much censured for his cruelty toward the Montoyas and Gonzales. Many persons of influence exerted themselves to procure a remittance of the sentence, but Armijo was deaf to every appeal on behalf of his former confederates. The only answer he made to these intercessions was, that the court had found them guilty, and that he had no authority to pardon them. They were shot within two hundred yards of the Plaza of Santa Fé, on the north side, in from the garita.

These briefly-narrated facts form the leading historical events of the country from the first explorations by the Spaniards down to the year 1846, when it was taken possession of by the United States troops, since which time it has formed a portion of our Union.

Soon after war was declared against Mexico in May,


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1846, the government of the United States determined to organize an expedition for the conquest of the province of New Mexico. The troops, to be called the "Army of the West," were to assemble on the frontier of Missouri, and to be placed under the command of Colonel Stephen W. Kearney, of the first regiment of dragoons. A requisition was made upon Missouri for volunteers to compose this expedition, who were ordered to rendezvous at Fort Leavenworth, on the right bank of the Missouri River, twenty-two miles above the mouth of the Kansas. The citizens turned out with great promptitude, and in about a month the number called for were assembled at the fort, and being organized preparatory to the march. The whole force consisted of sixteen hundred and fifty-eight men, and sixteen pieces of cannon, being mainly composed of mounted volunteers.

The troops took up the line of march for Santa Fé on the sixteenth day of June. Their course lay across the almost boundless plains that stretch westward to the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, a distance of nearly a thousand miles. The little army was about fifty days making the march, and, on the eighteenth of August, they entered and took possession of Santa Fé without opposition. The enemy had assembled, in some considerable force, a few miles from the city to resist our troops, but they fled on their near approach without firing a shot, and the conquest was a bloodless one. Kearney took possession of the country in the name of the United States, and issued a proclamation to the people, assuring them that they would be protected in their persons, property, and religion, and that henceforth they would be considered American citizens. He immediately organized a form of territorial government, had a code of laws drafted to suit the wants of the people, and appointed suitable persons, Americans and Mexicans, to administer


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the same. Many of the inhabitants took the oath of allegiance, swearing to support the Constitution of the United States. Thus was a complete change made in the institutions of the country, and the people passed from the old to a new order of things without the shedding of a drop of blood.

Notwithstanding the people had apparently submitted with good grace to the rule of the Americans, and appeared to be well satisfied with the condition of things, there was much discontent among a portion of the population, who resolved not to give up the country without a struggle. These were principally of the wealthy class, with the addition of a few unquiet spirits, who saw their dreams of ambition dashed to the ground should the Americans retain possession of the country, and incorporate it permanently into the Union. These discontented ones soon began to mature their plans of rebellion, and, like Catiline and his co-conspirators, held meetings in retired places at the dead hour of night to plot the expulsion of their conquerors. The two leading spirits in the enterprise were Tomas Ortiz and Diego Archuleta, men of talent and enterprise, and of great ambition, whom gambling and intemperance had rendered desperate. They had the countenance and support of Manuel Chavez, Miguel E. Pino, Nicolas Pino, Pablo Dominguez, and Tomas Baca of Peña Blanca, all men of influence. A number of the priests joined in the conspiracy, and some even preached rebellion in the pulpit. The two who took the lead were the Vicar Juan Félipe Ortiz and Padre José Manuel Gallegos. Priest Ortiz, upon pretense of going to the town of Jolla, in Rio Ariba, in order to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, visited the upper country to excite the people to rebellion. The same day that he left Santa Fé, Priest Gallegos arrived in town from Albuquerque, by agreement


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with the co-conspirators, to arrange their operations. Every thing was conducted with the most profound secrecy, and only a few of the leading men were made acquainted with their plans. The secret was not to be intrusted to a woman for fear it would be divulged.

The first meeting was held on the twelfth of December, 1846, and the nineteenth of the same month was fixed upon as the time of rising, which was to be general all over the Territory. All the Americans were to be either killed or driven from the country, as also those Mexicans who had accepted office under General Kearney. This accomplished, they were to seize upon the government and establish themselves in power. To each of the ringleaders a distinct duty was assigned, and they mutually pledged themselves upon the cross. So confident were they of success that they had even named the chief officers of the new government, among whom Tomas Ortiz was fixed upon for governor, and Archuleta to be the commandant general. The master spirits went into different sections of the country to stir up the people to resistance. Every thing looked propitious, and promised success to the enterprise.

A final meeting was held in Santa Fé on the evening of the eighteenth to arrange the plan of attack upon the garrison, but not finding their organization complete, they agreed to postpone the time of taking up arms until Christmas eve. This was considered a more fitting time to make the attempt, inasmuch as it would be a season of amusement, when the soldiers would be generally off their guard, scattered about the town unarmed, and could be easily overcome. The following was the plan of attack as agreed upon, and as sworn to before the court upon the trial of some of the conspirators: ‘‘On Saturday evening, the nineteenth of December, all were to assemble with their men at the parish church.


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Having divided themselves into several parties, they were to sally forth, some to seize the pieces of artillery, others to go to the quarters of the colonel, and others to the palace of the governor (if he should be there), and if not, to send an order to Taos to seize him, because he would give them the most trouble. This act was also agreed upon by all. The sound of the church bell was to be the signal for the assault by the forces concealed in the church, and those which Diego Archuleta should have brought near the city; midnight was the time agreed upon, when all were to enter the Plaza at the same moment, seize the pieces, and point them into the streets.’’

The conspiracy was discovered in time to place the troops upon their guard, and prevent it being carried into effect at the time agreed upon. Three days before the time of rising, Augustin Duran informed Governor Bent of the plan of rebellion, who immediately caused several of the leaders to be arrested.2 The conspirators, being aware that their movements had been made known to the Americans, made no attempt at outbreak, and, for the time being, the rebellion was suppressed.

The discovery had only smothered, not quenched the revolutionary spirit, and a new and more extended conspiracy was almost immediately placed on foot. Religious fanaticism was made use of to excite the people against the Americans, and they were called upon to arm themselves in defense of their holy faith, their homes, and their country. Some of the Pueblo Indians were enlisted in the cause, which added greatly to its strength. Great secrecy was observed, and no suspicion was entertained that another outbreak was so near at hand.


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The time fixed upon was the nineteenth day of January, 1847, when the people took up arms in various parts of the country. Governor Bent, supposing that the rebellion was quelled, left Santa Fé for his home at Don Fernandez de Taos, where he arrived about the middle of the month. A large body of the rebels, composed mainly of Pueblo Indians, and incited to the act by Priest Martinez and others, attacked his residence, and murdered him and several others in cold blood. The same day seven Americans were attacked at the Arroyo Hondo, who, after defending themselves for two days, were most cruelly butchered. Four were killed at the Moro, and two on the Rio Colorado. A large rebel force had assembled at La Cañada for the purpose of advancing upon Santa Fé, but General Price, being aware of their movements, marched against them with four hundred men and four pieces of mountain howitzers. He attacked them on the afternoon of the twenty-fourth, and routed them with the loss of near a hundred men. They retreated toward Taos, closely followed by our troops. They made a stand at El Embudo, where they were again defeated with loss. They continued their retreat to Taos, followed by the Americans, who arrived there on the third day of February. They found the Mexicans and Indians strongly fortified in the pueblo of the latter, the main body having intrenched themselves in the church. An attack was made upon them the next morning, and the action continued all day with great fierceness and considerable loss. The following morning they capitulated, and surrendered the place into the hands of the Americans. In these actions the enemy lost some three hundred killed and wounded, while our loss was about sixty.

The rebels were equally unsuccessful in other parts of the country. Captain Hendley, who was stationed on the Rio Pecos in command of the grazing parties, as


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soon as he heard of the insurrection, took possession of Las Vegas, where the enemy were beginning to collect. Here he soon assembled about two hundred and fifty men, and prepared to operate against the rebels. Learning that the Mexicans were in considerable force at the Moro, he marched for that place on the twenty-second instant with eighty men. He arrived there on the twenty-fourth, and found the enemy some two hundred strong, and prepared to defend the town. He attacked them with gallantry, and was already in possession of part of the town, when a considerable body of the Mexicans threw themselves into an old fort, from which they could not be dislodged without artillery, and our troops were obliged to retire, with the loss of one killed (Captain Hendley) and three wounded. The loss of the enemy was about forty. On the first day of February the Moro was again attacked by Captain Morin, the enemy defeated, and the village destroyed.

The success of the American arms quelled the rebellion and restored the country to a state of peace. Most of the leaders fled and could not be captured. Ortiz and Archuleta succeeded in reaching the city of Mexico, where they remained until the close of the war. Montoya, one of the chiefs of the conspiracy, was tried by a court-martial, convicted, and on the seventh of February he was executed in presence of the army. He styled himself the Santa Ana of the North, and was a man of influence. At Taos fourteen were tried for the murder of Governor Bent, convicted, and executed. Several others were convicted of treason and sentenced to be hung, but were pardoned by the President upon the ground that, as actual war was existing between the two governments, a Mexican citizen could not commit treason against the United States.

New Mexico was made a portion of the American Union by the treaty of Guadalupe de Hidalgo, and a territorial government was erected over it by the Act of Congress, approved September 9th, 1850. The first Legislative Assembly was convened in Santa Fé in June of the next year, when the different departments of the new government were organized and put into operation. This act of Congress, known as the Organic Law, is the fundamental law of the Territory, and stands in the place of a Constitution in the respective states of the Union. All the political power conferred upon the people is derived from this source, and it is quoted both in the halls of legislation and in the courts of justice as the ultima thule beyond which they can not go. It provides, among other things, for the appointment by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, of a governor for the Territory, who shall hold his office for four years, unless sooner removed. He is ex officio superintendent of Indian affairs, and is also the commander-in-chief of the militia. He has an absolute veto on all laws passed by the Legislative Assembly, and is empowered to grant pardons for offenses against the laws of the Territory, and reprieves for offenses against the laws of the United States until the pleasure of the President can be made known. His annual salary is three thousand dollars.


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PUEBLO OF TAOS.—NORTH PUEBLO.


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There is also a secretary of state for the Territory, appointed in the same manner, and for the same length of time as the governor. His general duties are about the same as those that pertain to that office in the respective states, with the addition of some others that belong exclusively to the territories. By virtue of his office he is made the disbursing agent of the United States for the Territory, as far as the money annually appropriated by Congress for legislative expenses is concerned. The amount thus appropriated is twenty thousand dollars,


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for which he gives bond, with approved securities, to the United States. His accounts are rendered twice a year to the Treasury Department, where they are carefully examined, and all payments stopped against him that are not "proper and reasonable in amount." The secretary alone is responsible for the expenditure of this fund, and neither the Legislature nor the governor has the least control over it. In case of the death, removal, or necessary absence of the governor from the Territory, the duties of the executive and superintendency of Indian affairs devolve upon the secretary, but without the additional pay of these two offices. His salary is two thousand dollars annually, together with fees of office.

The second branch of the territorial government provided for in the Organic Law—the law-making power—is vested in the governor and the Legislative Assembly, the latter consisting of the Council and House of Representatives. The Council consists of thirteen members, and the House of Representatives of twenty-six; the former being elected for two years, and the latter annually. The qualification of voters, as prescribed in the Organic Law for the first election, embraces all free white male inhabitants above the age of twenty-one years who were residents of the Territory at the time of the passage of the act, but the Legislature subsequently fixed the time of residence at one year.

The judicial power of the Territory is vested in a Supreme Court, District and Probate Courts, and justices of the peace, the jurisdiction of which tribunals, both original and appellate, is limited by law. Justices of the peace have no jurisdiction where the title to land comes in question, nor where the amount in controversy exceeds one hundred dollars. Appeals and writs of error are allowed from the District to the Supreme Court of the Territory, and from the latter to the Supreme Court


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of the United States. The organization of the Probate and Justices' Courts is by virtue of statutory provision, and their more particular powers and jurisdiction will be hereafter mentioned. To the United States Courts belong a marshal and a district attorney, who have the same tenure of office as the judges, during the pleasure of the President. The marshall fills an important and laborious office, and the compensation is but a mere pittance for the services rendered. The United States pay all the expenses of the District Court for the first six days of each term, and the marshal, as the disbursing officer, handles the money; but if the court should continue longer than six days at any one term, the jurors receive no pay for their services, as the Territory has never made any provision for that purpose. The district attorney is the representative of the United States in all matters in which the general government is a party in interest, and in all criminal offenses against the laws of Congress he conducts the "pleas of the Crown." The office is not worth the having. His time is occupied between five and six months in the year in making the circuit of the Territory, attending upon the United States Courts, during which time he is obliged to travel about two thousand miles, crossing high mountains, barren plains, and fording rivers. For all his labor and time the government allows him the liberal salary of two hundred and fifty dollars annually, together with fees of office, which will amount to some six or eight hundred more.

The jurisdiction of the Probate Court, as well as that of the alcaldes, or justices of the peace, is conferred by statute, except in the two instances already referred to, in connection with the latter tribunal, as being contained in the Organic Law. The judge of probate, known as the prefect, is elected for two years, and holds six terms of his court annually. He has original jurisdiction in


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all cases of the probate of wills, and settlement of accounts of administrators and guardians; and, in general, the same duties pertain to him as belong to the offices of surrogate or register of wills, and clerk of the Orphans' Court in the States of the Union. He has also a supervision over the public roads of the country, and the control of vagrants and others who have no visible means of support, whom he has authority to have arrested and tried, and, if convicted, to bind them out to labor upon public works. He can try appeals from alcaldes where the amount in controversy is over fifty dollars; and appeals are taken from the judgment of the prefect to the District Court. Each county in the Territory is entitled to one prefect.

The alcaldes are elected annually in the respective counties, each precinct being entitled to one. The civil jurisdiction is substantially the same as that which usually belongs to justices of the peace, but the criminal jurisdiction is more extensive. They have cognizance of all larcenies, except the stealing of horses, asses, hogs, and goats, where the goods stolen do not exceed one hundred dollars in value; of the offense of buying, receiving, or aiding in the concealment of stolen goods within the same amount; and also of all assaults, assaults and batteries, and breaches of the peace. These several offenses are tried before a jury in the alcalde's court, and, upon conviction, he has the power to punish by fine and imprisonment; but the accused has the right to appeal to the District Court. A sheriff is elected in each county for two years, who is also ex officio collector of taxes. There are likewise an auditor of public accounts, treasurer, and attorney general for the Territory, all of whom are appointed for the term of two years by the governor, by and with the advice of the Legislative Council.


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The administration of justice in New Mexico, before the country fell into the hands of the Americans, was rude and uncertain, and the people had very little security for their persons and property. The system of government they were made subject to was, in all its bearings, a miserable tyranny; and in the various changes that took place in the central government no relief was given to this and other provinces. On the establishment of the republic, New Mexico was erected into a separate province, and was allowed a political organization that made some little pretension to a regular government, but the pretension was about all. The chief executive officer was called gefe politico—political chief; and a kind of Legislature was allowed—a poor affair at best—known as the Diputacion Provincial. When the central system was adopted, the names of the respective branches of the government were changed, but their power remained about the same as before. A governor was appointed by the President of Mexico for the term of eight years, and the legislative power was vested in a kind of executive council called the Junta Departamental. The powers of this body were very limited, and, in fact, they were no more than the creatures of the governor, who was the lord and master of the whole department. He imitated the early kings of England, and whenever he saw the members were disposed to become troublesome, he would "prorogue" the Junta and send them to their homes, the country, for the time being, having no further need of their services. In this easy manner he got rid of those who might have become unwelcome advisers.

The only tribunal of justice was the alcalde's court, none of whom were ever accused of knowing any thing about law. Under certain restrictions, appeals were carried up to the Supreme Court in the city of Mexico; but the distance was two thousand miles, and the expense so


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great that few could afford it. The practice before the alcalde in these days was exceedingly primitive, and whenever justice was obtained it was quickly meted out. A man, with his cause of complaint, went in person before that officer, and made a plain statement of the action, when the alcalde directed the complainant to bring the defendant before him. When the parties appeared, the alcalde allowed each one to give his own version of the case, and occasionally examined witnesses sworn upon a cross made by crossing the finger and thumb. Sometimes the matter in dispute was left to the decision of third persons, but a trial by jury was unknown. The decision of the alcalde was seldom made up according to the merits of the case, and much too frequently the judgment was purchased with money.

When the defendant failed to appear at the verbal summons of the plaintiff, the alcalde dispatched after him the regular process of the court. This was a large cane, dignified with the name of baston de justicia, or staff of justice, which was held in much more dread than a modern warrant. If he did not respond to the mandate of the cane, he was considered in contempt of court, and was sure to be punished accordingly. The jurisdiction of the alcalde was very limited, and certain persons were beyond the pale of himself and his cane. These were called fueros. According to the Spanish ecclesiastical law, no member of priesthood, of the rank of curate and upward, could be made to appear before a civil tribunal, but they were alone to be judged by their peers—the clergy. The military were also exempt from trial before a civil tribunal, which extended to both officers and men. These exemptions maintained privileged classes in the community, which proved a dead weight against any advance toward freedom.

The mode of punishment was fine and imprisonment;


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but it was not always meted out in proportion to the offense, nor inflicted with a view to avenge the outraged law or reform the criminal. In a case of debt, the debtor was not sent to jail if the creditor was willing to accept his services to work out the amount of the judgment; by which means he was saved from prison, but for the time being was plunged into a state of servitude. He worked for a fixed sum, some five or six dollars per month, and was supplied with the necessary goods from his employer's store. His wages were not sufficient to support himself and family, and enable him to discharge his former indebtedness, and therefore the customs and laws of the country reduced him to a state of peonage, and the unfortunate debtor found himself a slave for life. This same system is continued in the modern servitude known as peonism, of which I will take occasion to say more in a subsequent chapter.

The second section of the Organic Law provides that whenever New Mexico shall be received into the Union as a state, she may be admitted with or without slavery, as her Constitution may prescribe at the time of admission. This is fair and just, and allows the people to determine for themselves what shall be the nature of their domestic institutions, and, moreover, is in accordance with the principles of our government. In spite of the fears of the abolitionists, and others who wish to prescribe the institutions the territories shall have at the time of their admission into the Union, there is every probability of New Mexico becoming a free state. The whole matter has been more wisely regulated by Nature than can be ordered by man. The greater portion of the country is not adapted to slave labor, which would be found too unprofitable to warrant its introduction. The main branch of agriculture which the Territory at present supports—and the same must be the case in future—is grazing. In


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the northern and middle section the climate is too cold for the growth of any crops that would yield a profitable return to slave labor. A greater barrier than climate is the cheapness of peon labor, which is less expensive to the proprietor; and even in the southern parts, where more tropical productions could be raised, their labor would fully supply the place of the negro. A peon can perform as much work, and can be hired for about what it will cost to clothe and feed a negro, with the further advantage of the master having no capital invested in him, which he must lose at the death of the slave. The present labor of the country is so much cheaper than any that could be introduced, that a person would hardly be justifiable in risking his capital in slaves with so little prospect of profitable return. The peons have been trained to the management of flocks and herds, and are much better adapted to this pursuit than the negro could possibly become; and there is no other employment which would yield so much profit to the master for the labor of the slave. Hence, for these reasons, the climate, cheapness of the present labor, and the nature of the productions, will all have a tendency to exclude slave labor, and particularly so when it can be employed with so much greater profit elsewhere in the cultivation of hemp, tobacco, cotton, rice, and sugar. At the same time, the people have no particular dislike to the institution of negro slavery, and I do not believe they would hesitate to introduce it, if found to be necessary to their agricultural prosperity. But if it should be introduced, my opinion is that the institution would never flourish with any degree of vigor, and that in a few years it would gradually die out, as in the northern states of the Union.

I will conclude this chapter by giving a brief account of the efforts made in New Mexico, at the close of the war, to obtain either a state or territorial government for


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that province, some portion of which forms an unwritten page in the history of the times. A movement of the kind was first induced by the letter of the Hon. Thomas H. Benton to the people of California and New Mexico, advising them to found governments for themselves without waiting for the action of Congress. In the fall of 1848, William Z. Angney, Esq., a lawyer of very considerable talent, and late a captain in the army, commanding a battalion of volunteers, returned from Missouri full of the idea set forth in Mr. Benton's letter, and endeavored to induce the people of New Mexico to follow the course he recommended. Colonel Washington, then the civil and military governor of the province, finding that an excitement was growing up upon the subject, issued a proclamation, dated the 23d of November, 1848, commanding the inhabitants to abstain from "participating in or being movers of seditious meetings;" after which public meetings ceased for a time, and all things went on quietly. In December of the same year, a convention, composed of delegates from all parts of the Territory, assembled in Santa Fé, and memorialized Congress for a territorial government, but none was granted during that session. The memorial was bitterly attacked in the Senate, because of the provisions it contained in reference to slavery, which was probably the reason it was not acted upon.

New Mexico not having a representative in Washington to look after the interest of the country, the people resolved to send an agent there for that purpose. A movement to this effect was put on foot in May, 1849, which resulted in Hugh N. Smith, Esq., being sent to the federal capital to watch over the affairs of the Territory, his expenses being borne by an association of private individuals. This movement begat an opposition on the part of certain gentlemen, who coveted the position for


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one of their own number, and they took immediate steps to counteract it. Those mainly instrumental in the matter were Major R. H. Weightman, late a paymaster in the army, and Mr. Angney, before mentioned, who stirred up the public mind, and held several meetings in Santa Fé upon the subject. Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Beall, the then military commandant in the absence of Colonel Washington, issued a proclamation for the election of delegates to a convention to assemble in Santa Fé in September, 1849, for the purpose of adopting a plan for a territorial government, and to elect a delegate to Congress to urge its adoption. A satisfactory plan was agreed upon, and Hugh N. Smith, Esq., was elected as delegate, who went to Washington, and remained nearly the whole session, but was refused his seat by a majority of four votes.

In the mean time the country became greatly agitated as to the terms upon which California and New Mexico should be admitted into the Union, the slavery question having been thrown in as a bone of contention. Texas also began to assert her claim anew to all that part of New Mexico east of the Rio del Norte; and to carry out this purpose, that state sent Spruce M. Baird, Esq., under the appointment of judge, into the Territory, to erect all that portion of the country into the county of Santa Fé, and to extend the jurisdiction of the laws of Texas over it. The people of New Mexico being averse to Texas rule, they disregarded this assumed jurisdiction, and refused obedience thereto; and the mission of Mr. Baird being barren of consequences, he returned again to Texas. Early in the spring of 1850, Texas sent a commissioner, Robert S. Neighbors, Esq., into New Mexico, with instructions to divide the country east of the Rio del Norte into several counties of that state, and to hold elections in them for county officers. Upon the mission


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of Mr. Neighbors being known, it was loudly denounced in public meetings throughout the Territory, and a very strong opposition was raised against him and the objects he had in view. He issued a proclamation fixing time and places for an election, but nobody went to the polls, and the matter fell to the ground.

About this time two opposite parties sprang up in New Mexico, one being in favor of a state, and the other a territorial government, which engendered a deal of excitement and ill feeling. Several large public meetings were held by the respective parties in Santa Fé. The state party took sides with Mr. Neighbors, while the territorial party, composed of the mass of the people, were opposed to the dismemberment of the Territory by Texas. At one of these meetings the excitement ran so high that it almost led to bloodshed. The agitation of the question of a state government originated with the then national administration. President Taylor and his cabinet desired to avoid the responsibility of acting upon the slavery question, which would be required of them if Congress should establish governments for the new territory acquired under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo from Mexico. Hence the desire, on their part, to induce the people of California and New Mexico to form governments for themselves, and, in so doing, to settle the vexed question, so far as they were concerned, in their own way. In the spring of 1849, James S. Calhoun, Esq., went to New Mexico, under an appointment as Indian agent, but upon his arrival he declared that he had secret instructions from the government at Washington to induce the people to form a state government.

For a time the plan of a state government received but little support, but in the course of the summer and fall an excitement was raised upon the subject, and both parties, state and territorial, published addresses to the people;


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the former being headed by Messrs. Calhoun, Alvarez, and Pillans, and the latter by St. Vrain, Houghton, Beaubien, and others. The matter continued to be discussed without much effect in favor of the state organization until the spring of 1850, when Colonel George A. M'Call arrived in Santa Fé from the States, upon a like mission as Calhoun. He informed the people that no territorial government would be granted by Congress, and that President Taylor was determined that New Mexico should be erected into a state government, in order to settle the question of slavery, and also that of boundary with Texas. The delegate in Congress, Mr. Smith, wrote home to the same effect; and things appeared very much as though the general government had left the people of the Territory to shift for themselves.

In view of the present condition of political affairs—Congress neglecting to organize a territorial government on the one hand, and Texas threatening to dismember the country on the other, with the presence of military rule daily becoming obnoxious to the people—the territorial party at last yielded their preference, and joined in the advocacy of a state government. Accordingly, resolutions to that effect were adopted at a meeting held in the city of Santa Fé on the 20th of April, 1850, and also requesting Colonel John Monroe, the civil and military governor, to issue a proclamation calling upon the people to elect delegates to a convention to be convened on the 15th of May following at that place. The delegates, elected in pursuance of the proclamation, assembled in convention on the day therein mentioned, and remained in session for ten days, during which time they adopted, with great unanimity, a Constitution, which had been drafted by Joab Houghton and M.F. Tuley, Esquires. It assimilated, in its general features, to the Constitutions of the new states of the Union; and, among other things, contained a clause prohibiting slavery, in order to meet the


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views of the Mexican population. The Constitution was adopted on the 20th of June with little, if any opposition, and, at the same time, state officers were elected. The Legislature assembled on the 1st of July of the same year at Santa Fé, when they elected two senators in Congress, Francis A. Cunningham and Richard H. Weightman.

At the state election Henry Connelly was elected governor, and Manuel Alvarez lieutenant governor. Dr. Connelly being absent in the States, Mr. Alvarez was acting governor for the time being, who, backed by the Legislature then in session and the newly-elected officials, attempted at once to put the state government into full operation without awaiting its adoption and approval. This movement caused a lengthy and quite angry correspondence between Mr. Alvarez and Colonel Monroe, who forbade any assumption of civil power by the new officials. Among other things, the Legislature provided for the election of county officers, which Acting Governor Alvarez attempted to carry into effect by issuing writs of election, which Colonel Monroe also forbade by proclamation to the people, in which he declared all such elections null and void. In consequence of this opposition on the part of the military authority, the elections were not held, and matters moved on for some months the same as before the state organization was effected.

In the mean time Mr. Weightman, one of the senators elect, went to Washington to present the Constitution of New Mexico, ask for her admittance into the Union, and claim his seat. Upon his arrival, he found that the Compromise Bill of 1850, in which was included the act organizing a territorial government for New Mexico, had just passed Congress, and which at once took precedence of the state organization. The new territorial government went into operation the 3d of March, 1851, Mr. Calhoun being sworn in as governor. Thus originated, and ceased to exist, the state government of New Mexico.


Notes

1. The above "plan" is a true translation from an original manuscript copy in Spanish in possession of the author.

2. It is said by some that the conspiracy was divulged by a mulatto girl. She is alleged to have been the wife of one of the conspirators, and gradually drew from him their plan of operation, which she communicated to General Price in season to prevent the outbreak.

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