Appendix E
The Sierra Gorda and New Santander, 1740–1760
The years from 1740 to 1760 saw an energetic thrust northward from Querétaro
through the Sierra Gorda and along the Gulf lowlands to the Río Grande Val-
ley. The lands from the Río Pánuco to the Nueces were constituted as a new
Colony of New Santander. The entire enterprise was led by don José de Escan-
dón, a Spanish immigrant who had made a fortune in trade and textile produc-
tion and claimed military command at Querétaro. Regions that had remained
enclaves of indigenous independence after the Chichimeca wars of the six-
teenth century now were settled in a rapid thrust that combined military rule,
a mission presence, and commercial goals in new ways intended to promote
the silver economy and accelerate Atlantic capitalism.
Two surveys provide revealing portraits of the process. In 1743 Escandón re-
ported on the state of missions, military forces, and indigenous peoples in the
Sierra Gorda, just after an expedition in which he had bolstered the military
presence and just before he engineered the replacement of many established
missionaries with newcomers more subject to his military rule and commer-
cial interests. Then don Agustín López de la Cámara Alta, a lieutenant colonel
and engineer in the Spanish military sent to survey the state of settlement and
development in New Santander, wrote a detailed account of his visit in 1757,
less than a decade into the development of the new colony. This appendix
offers tabular summaries of key aspects of their reports, to sustain the analy-
sis in the last section of chapter 3.
In his survey Escandón focused on military forces, the affiliations of mis-
sionary clergy, and the population of indigenous nations. It is clear that mili-
tary forces far exceeded the missionary presence, and that native peoples frag-
mented into many small groups.
Escandón’s thrust into the Sierra Gorda militarized settlements and mis-
sions long in place and long contested. His later drive into the Gulf lowlands
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