Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Worthless New Mexican History!

The "southern" United States culture has always had a tradition of embellishment which goes beyond the ordinary.  They love the art of the "yarn" and never let a few facts get in the way of a good story. This goes to their historical observations and writings.

Early visitors from the United States to New Mexico were almost exclusively from the United States South, especially the "Show Me State" of Missouri. This has had a very detrimental effect on New Mexican history written by the first folks from the United States who wrote about New Mexico and New Mexicans. Documents contemporary to the period are at fault as are documents and narratives written later about someone by other than the persons being depicted in the narrative.

Reference the book "Uncle Dick Wooten" written by Howard L Conrad published originally by W.E. Dibble & CO. of Chicago, IL in 1890. The quotes attributed to Uncle Dick below are from there;

"I have observed in reading our frontier literature, that the tendency has been to exegerate and overdraw everything, and the effect of this has been, to give the Eastern public a wrong idea of the conditions which existed in this country (New Mexico and the early West), and the character of the men who found their way into these savage wilds in search of wealth and adventure."

Uncle Dick, as he was called, was to be later discredited by several other authors for some of the statements he made in the book referenced above.

Another reference to this embellishment comes from the book "When the Texans Came, Missing Records from The Civil War in the Southwest 1861 - 1862" written by John P. Wilson and published  in 2001 by the University of New Mexico press. Here it quotes from:

The Civil War history published as "War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies" is also known as Official Records or OR. 

Lt. Colonel Robert Scott who supervised the historical project until his death in 1887 commented that "The experience of this office has demonstrated the utter unreliability of recollections of the war."

What are we to think of the historical narratives written about New Mexico and New Mexicans by some of the first folks who arrived here from the Unites States that were so unkind with their assessments of New Mexicans or what was happening in New Mexico in the period in question?

The prejudice and outright racist views that most of the early  visitors to New Mexico from the United States held is well known and well documented. This does not change the fact that this is where most folks get their information and where most folks establish their "first impressions".

That my friends is the problem......

The history books that have been written post 1970's are different and closer to the truth. I am talking here of legitimate history books, not the cowboy history some folks are still cranking out.