1831 November 11
Territorial Government of New Mexico
The Presbyter Priest Don Antonio José Martínez, a present member of the Territorial Deputation1 that Your Excellency2 forms in this Territory of Santa Fe, New Mexico, motivated by the sentiments that characterize each and every citizen in support of their Country to break the veils of pusillanimity in order to propose some project that you might deem beneficial: I stand before Your Excellency with the following thoughts whose principal content, subject to your esteemed deliberation, and whose end result is subject to the requirements of style so that it might be sent to the Sovereign Congress should Your Excellency judge it to be convenient; or that it be given another fate, or it may be returned to the author in case it is reported to be of no use whatsoever.
It is the idea then that in the one year that I have had the honor of investiture as Territorial Deputy [and] with the various issues it has considered, which I am sure have been dealt with by Your Excellency, and with the importance that this has been given; I figure that this Territorial Deputation in the manner that it exists without powers, be they legislative, executive or judicial, is useless to the Territory and prejudicial to the citizens that comprise it, and principally to those delegates who are from places outside of the capital of Santa Fe. Subsequently, it is they [Deputation] who could be suspended, since it could be substituted quite well by the respective town councils, and Your Excellency could thus complete the relationship between the councils and the Honorable Political Superior in the sessions that are convened. I shall give you the proof:
I presently have, and as part of a formal action [recorded] in the respective book of The Lordship of Your Excellency, that in the last year of ’30, in the month of November, during which those sessions were held giving possession to and taking oaths from the Honorable Delegates, I have the knowledge, I repeat, that during that first time I asked for information about what attributes and powers Your Excellency uses in order to function, and with what criteria. Well, you should have knowledge of this by virtue of [the power you had to appoint me to] the position that I accepted. As a consequence of that newly contracted obligation and to fulfill the duties, I was given a notebook in manuscript [form] so that I might see its contents, which I have done and learned all about this notebook. It was created by the previous Deputation and remitted by Your Excellency to the Sovereign Congress requesting approval, which, at that time was not given, nor has it been given as of this date. It [the notebook] only dealt with preparing the order and the composure with which one should participate in the sessions: such as how to request permission to speak in order to propose tentative projects, etc. But [this notebook] not once advised about which powers and attributions pertained to Your Excellency. In the following session I returned the aforementioned notebook telling Your Excellency that I was informed of its contents, but that it did not contain the subject of my principal request. For the second time I asked for knowledge about of this, to which I was told, by Mr. Abreú, as I remember correctly, that the ruling that I solicited did not exist and that analogous to this, there was only what was contained in a certain Supreme Decree with which I should become familiar so that it would make an impression upon me. Of such I have not seen, even up to now; but without seeing it, I judge that by the similarity of its clauses in the introduction and proposition of this discourse it would not determine the attributions nor confer the powers of which I speak. If it does do it, I ask that they be placed on view and be compared with the principal points that have been touched upon here in order to see if they are commensurate with what should be done and [thus] result in being useful to the Territory.
As a constituent member recognized by Your Excellency and based on what has been experienced in the year cited and from the various points that have been touched upon in my observation, I hereby only include the following:
To see that the schools that are being well cared for by teachers and by paying them and providing for supplies in accordance with the amount of competent children [under their tutelage]. This can be subject to the inspection of the respective Councils, such as is being done by the corresponding relationships with the Honorable Political Chief [Governor] of the Territory. The same can [also] occur with regard to the valid lands that might be suitable to grant for possession, and those that might be denied. It is important to Your Excellency that this should not occur, if only by [paying] attention to the detailed reports that are made by the respective Councils and awaiting only [your] approval. Or by saying that based upon said reports, the same could be accomplished by the Honorable Chief [Governor]. In the same cases and because of the relationships that they [Ayuntamientos] have with the Sovereign Congress and our Delegate in that high sovereign position with regard to represent the necessities that also exist. All these might be determined by the same Councils and by the Honorable Chief, because it appears that lesser initiatives might not receive the attention made in this manner, as has been taught to us by our experience for such a long time up to the present, and by proceeding in this manner, nothing is ever achieved. [Initiatives] strengthened by expositions and placed in such a lively and effective aspect, would fully instruct whatever there is to be considered and learned. Moreover, in terms of numbers 1, 2, and 3 (above), our Deputation is useless as long as attributions and powers are not determined in order to fulfill what is relevant to them.
Also, it is quite clear that the citizens who have the duty of serving as Territorial Delegates might be placed in harms way in the carrying out of their duties. They have to submit themselves to attend the regular sessions and in doing so they leave behind their homes, their occupations, and their businesses, and are ordered to [provide] for its [the Deputation’s] sustenance and maintenance. Placing themselves in danger are those [delegates] whose homes are quite distant to the Capital of Santa Fe where these sessions take place. They [delegates], at their own expense, have to travel by cavalry and by escort, many times under danger such as those that surround us in the territory. [This], along with the burden of also sustaining themselves, all without any recompense of a salary that is not even considered average, which might help in some way with the expenses and tasks that are encountered. These are detriments and in their entirety should be taken into consideration. As loyal patriots we would definitely support with pleasure, are those that give Your Excellency the powers and attributions that would result in benefit and usefulness to the territory and that these wrongs in which we find ourselves be remedied. [We do this] without participation in the joy of our freedom and sovereignty in the [same] plan that is possessed by other states and territories of our great Mexican Republic3: such is the miserable condition to which we, the citizens of this territory, are condemned.
I know that Your Excellency is aware that it is peculiar that a legislative power without laws to fix the interior government is proof of the necessity that exists in the territory. Come, look at those other states and territories that have been properly established in Mexico with comparison as to how those here might be with respect to the [national] climate, adapting to customs, etc. And because of this reason, there have been so many impediments, that they now find themselves stranded and without the fruits of any of the effects of prosperity. Your Excellency sees this with much sorrow and even more so, feels compassion. Why don’t you provide a remedy? Because you don’t have powers [to do so].
I know that Your Excellency knows of all the incalculable wrongdoings that our territory has undergone through the administration of justice, having to appeal all the way to Mexico and the consequence of that being the many offenses that have been committed by some judges; removing the property rights of those whom possess it, endangering the parties in their claims against Mexico. Or, on the contrary, that which happens to many judges who rule correctly and in doing so [they] suffer recriminations and false reports by the guilty party who does not conform [to the judgment], as is proper, and who devalue the constituted authority. Neither one or the other can be vindicated at such an immense distance by documents exposed as fraudulent or witnesses who can’t give them their proper qualification, and with other consequences. Your Excellency sees this with utmost sorrow and even more so, feels compassion. Why don’t you provide a remedy? Because you don’t have powers [to do so].
Your Excellency knows that this territory borders the innumerable barbaric nations that oppose the [Mexican] populations within the banks of the Río del Norte. With a small number of inhabitants that includes nine thousand families within a distance of one hundred leagues, more or less, solely a company of soldiers who number one hundred men stationed in Santa Fe guards them. Being that all of our settlements on the frontier are separated [by distance], their Indian enemies invade them from all sides; the citizens can only realize protection at their own cost.4 Above all else, they defend their stipends, which are used for the burden of taxes, loans, etc. in a [greater] proportion [compared] to the citizens in the other States that do not provide such services. Your Excellency sees this with utmost sorrow and even more so, feels compassion. Why don’t you provide a remedy? Because you don’t have the powers [to do so].
Your Excellency is aware that in the maritime ports of our Republic in which it is feared one or two ships from the Spanish Army might disembark and in other points where [hostile] parties are formed, or other gangs of wrongdoers, there exist numerous permanent troops who consume millions of dollars annually from the National Treasury to contain them. Our territory is [the] key [to the] frontier of the Republic and always fights against its enemies as is stated by the owners of haciendas within the same [territory], and even [protects them] in the trips that are made out of necessity. Hardly ever, and with much insufficiency is there payment to the referred troop for what they are worth annually, and said troop is not able to carry out its orders. [This] in itself is not useful if solely to protect only one dangerous place, relying on doing so with the majority of the citizens who serve at their [own] cost. Your Excellency sees this with utmost sorrow and even more so, feels compassion. Why don’t you provide a remedy? Because you don’t have the powers [to do so].
Your Excellency is aware that of the indigenous nations that surround our territory, although one or another might be peaceful, the others are war-like. These same nations that are peaceful also cause much harm and commit harassment, undercover or disguised, as those [other nations] who have no other allegiance except to create much fear, and in so doing recognize an advantage and they are now war-like. Also, they do not farm, nor graze cattle, or tend to flock, nor do they subject themselves to doing any kind of artisan work, but only live willingly and through what they are able to extort with their weapons and pillages. There are so many in numbers, even to the point where they might take over the frontier. There are more than 40,000 armed and disciplined warriors, although diverse, without the [same] danger of having to protect their families. That is how the children of this territory live, in continuous fear of dying, and by implication that they themselves are the soldiers that must fight more than said [number of] pagans [who] have united in their conspiracy against us. Your Excellency sees this with utmost sorrow and even more so, feels compassion. Why don’t you provide a remedy? Because you don’t have the powers [to do so].
It is important for Your Excellency to consider that in the midst of many other petitions that have been directed from the territory to the Sovereign Congress such as those with attention to the referred enemies, that troops might be placed here: [and] that because of other respects, encouragement, [and] consideration a bishopric would follow, and the creation other posts, none of which have been realized. There has also been an exposition intended for the payment of tithes (first fruits), approved and sent with proper content to Your Excellency so efficiently supported by evidence found in Holy Scripture, canonical rights, maxims by Holy Fathers versed in cannon law, theologians, and by natural reasons [all] which should result in a consequence as clear as the light at high noon so that the tariffs might be banned out of consideration to the particular circumstances of the same territory. And that all that provisions that come in are from tithes, which alone provide sufficient emolument to the Parish Priests as the only benefit and anything to the contrary would be of great danger. Your Excellency sees this with utmost sorrow and even more so, feels compassion. Why don’t you provide a remedy? Because you don’t have the powers [to do it].
And finally, Your Excellency is aware that all of the employees of the Republic in the congresses and deputations enjoy a salary during their assignments according to general law founded on those fundamental principles: that a worker is worthy of compensation and that no one should have to plead for their stipends, and that there should be an accounting of their retribution. But notwithstanding all this, and to the contrary, those employees of this Most Honorable Deputation of our Territory are singled out for serving in the same manner as those who serve the armies [militias] in the same [territory] without enjoying a small salary, aside from the one-hundred soldiers referred to above, because their delegates take this responsibility as advisors. Even though there is a salary allotted to Your Lordship, who discharges the tedious tasks of having to write all that is pertinent to Your Excellency, there are not any funds designated with which to pay the caretakers, and the same “luck ” [as the militias] applies to them as well. Your Excellency, you see all this with the utmost sorrow and you sympathize with it as well. So, why don’t you do something to remedy this? Because you do not have the powers [to do so].
In conclusion, and in order to not further bother Your Excellency’s consideration [of these matters], and referring to all that has been shown to you [thus far], I say: that being able to fulfill the very limited objectives [of the Deputation], the attributions as well as the powers held by Your Excellency can now be expanded through the respective Councils [Ayuntamientos] with their corresponding relationships to the Honorable Political Chief [i.e Governor]. And realizing that the enumerated objectives in an aforementioned paragraph which would result in the benefit the Territory, [they] are not within Your Excellency’s sphere of power, seeming demonstrable that this Most Honorable Deputation is useless to the territory in such a manner. Also, without being able to enjoy a salary, pleased as the loyal patriots that they nonetheless are, it is harmful to the citizens who comprise and serve it. [All] is done in full service to our fellow citizens and in honor of the Public Good if [only] the attributions and powers that are lacking were available. I am requesting of Your Excellency, as I did in the beginning, that should you find it convenient to give these results the direction of style and intellect, this should be done. I have not animated my discourse with respect to me as an individual, but toward the principal objective of my theme, by being convinced that it is, and should be, done in the manner that I have elaborated here.
City of Santa Fe,
1 The New Mexico Territorial Deputation was established in 1822 and consisted of seven members who attended sessions at their own expense.
2 The Exposition is addressed to Governor José Antonio Chávez, who served as the president of the deputation, and was read at the November 11, 1831 session. The delegates voted to approve and send it to Congress. David J. Weber, English translation of the introduction to El Gobierno Territorial de Nuevo México – La Exposición del Padre Martínez de 1831. San Diego State University. 1974 pages 1-2.
3 Ibid. Weber – pp 5-6. New Mexico was one of five territories created by Mexico in 1824, along with Alta California, Baja California, Colima, and Tlaxcala. Lacking up-to-date legislation regarding its responsibilities, the New Mexico Deputation followed procedures established in the Spanish Constitution of 1812 and a Spanish Decree of June 23, 1813, which gave the Governor ultimate authority and left the Diptación as an advisory body.
4 “The main burden of defending New Mexico from the Indians had always been borne by the militia, not by the presidial soldiers. The militia was mostly poor farmers and Pueblo Indians, serving under their own officers and at their own expense, providing their own guns (more often bows and arrows, clubs, and lances) and their own horses or mules. The share of the spoils they received in battle was inadequate compensation for their losses and damage done to crops and flocks in their absence. Some men were ruined in a single campaign, trading their family’s clothing for ammunition or selling their children into peonage in order to perform military duty. ” Janet Lecompte, Rebellion in Rio Arriba, 1837, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM, 1985, page 10.