Monday, January 16, 2017

Toledo and the Idealists

When Gutiérrez and Toledo were in Philadelphia in 1811, they found a community as enthusiastic for the venture of liberating Spanish America as the one Gutiérrez had found on the frontier, but for different reasons. Philadelphia was a hotbed of Latin American dissidents who thrived in its cosmopolitan atmosphere, breathed in the Spirit of ’76 and gravitated to its large collection of publishing houses. A new generation of post-independence printers, inspired by the ever-present memory of Benjamin Franklin, competed vigorously for business in the intellectual capital of the American Republic. Spanish exiles seeking to enter the business of propaganda embraced them to publish their works, and the printers in turn embraced the idea of spreading liberty to the provinces of New Spain. [1] After Gutiérrez departed for Texas, leaving Toledo behind, the latter began to build a following among these men, collecting his own mini-filibuster that included three printers, Samuel Alden, Aaron Mower, Goodwin Brown Cotton. All would follow Toledo to Texas. It was Mower who set the type for the Gaceta de Tejas, Toledo’s propaganda newspaper, the first and only edition of which praised Mower for having “abandoned all of his interests, and tranquility…in order to come to offer his services to the Mexican patriots.” Cotton, who assisted him, is almost certainly the same man who later returned to Texas in 1829 and publish the Texas Gazette at San Felipe de Austin.[2]
Toledo’s Philly filibuster was assisted in its growth by a fellow resident of the boarding house the Cuban lived in, Vermont native Ira Allen, an American independence pioneer and brother of Ethan Allen, who saw great opportunities for trade between America and potentially independent Spanish-American Republics.[3] Among the enthusiastic supporters who gravitated to Toledo were two young lawyers, Nathaniel Cogswell and Henry Adams Bullard.  Bullard was born in 1788 in Pepperell, Massachusetts.  He attended Harvard, where he graduated at age nineteen with both the bachelor’s and master’s degrees, staying on and working at the university for two years after graduating to pay his expenses. Relocating to Philadelphia, he began studying the law. Bullard circulated in elite circles, becoming acquainted with Matthew Tilghman, a former member of the Continental Congress, and young George Dallas (later vice president).[4] He had a passion for languages; having studied French at Harvard, he wanted to learn others. A memorial written at the time of his death indicates this interest as one of the key reasons he chose vibrant, cosmopolitan Philadelphia over Puritan Boston to start his career, noting that while he pursued his legal studies, he “acquired the Spanish, Italian and German, all of which he critically understood and appreciated.”[5]
Bullard’s interest in Spanish revolutionary activity may have begun before he arrived in Philadelphia. He is listed in several sources as the probable author of a history of the Venezuelan revolution published in Boston in 1808. If so, he likely wrote the account from the notes of an American who fought alongside Francisco Miranda.[6] In Philadelphia, Bullard practiced his Spanish while circulating among the colonial exiles. A biography at the time of his death, written by a friend, V.H. Ivy, noted that Bullard, a youth of common origins, circulated among the most elite men of the city:
We now find him, at that most critical period of his life, a young man of vigorous mind, with a liberal education…full of the high hopes and aspirations which the fame and example of such men would excite; and yet, without influential relations and friends to give him the first impulse, without which so many of the noblest and best so frequently fall into despair. About this time Mexico was in revolution against Spain…He was fascinated with the splendid pictures painted by the imaginative mind of the Spanish revolutionary soldier [Toledo]. Can we wonder what was his course?[7]

And so the 24-year-old Bullard, just having passed the bar, abandoned a potentially lucrative legal career to accompany Toledo to the revolution, signing up as an aide and military secretary.[8] He, along with Toledo’s printers, a long-time revolutionary from South America named Juan Pincornel and several Frenchmen (including a chef) formed an entourage that began to grow as Toledo moved west towards Texas. When Gutiérrez jealously demanded Toledo stay out of Texas, Bullard made his way to San Antonio as Toledo’s de-facto spy. He helped persuade Shaler to switch commanders, writing with unbridled criticism that Gutiérrez should be replaced because he did little in San Antonio beyond “lolling on his sofa and catching flies.”[9] Bullard survived the Battle of Medina and fled back to the U.S. The defeat would leave him “destitute and worn down with fatigue and sickness” in Louisiana, unable to return home. He turned back to the legal profession and soon found dramatic success, owing to his fluency in Spanish and French, which brought him into high demand in Louisiana.[10] He was appointed a district judge in 1822, elected to Congress in 1831, appointed to the Louisiana Supreme Court, served as Louisiana Secretary of State, and taught as a law professor at the Law School of Louisiana (today’s Tulane University Law School).[11]
The post-expedition Bullard’s erudite personality comes through via his voluminous library, which was cataloged after his death and offered for sale, the titles preserved in court records. He had great interest in foreign cultures and their systems of law, though he believed America’s democratic legal tradition superior. He was a profound believer in natural law theory, and his library “revealed him to be both a practical man and a scholarly one.”[12] Bullard also served as president of the Historical Society of Louisiana, and in a speech to the organization on January 13, 1836, he told the members their purpose: “Each generation, as it passes away, is under obligations to its successors to furnish them those authentic materials for which alone its true character can be known to posterity.”[13]  Although Bullard never penned any works under his own name on the Gutiérrez-Magee Expedition, he is the author of an unsigned 1836 article in the North American Review. The piece, published shortly after the Battle of San Jacinto, is part history lesson, part current affairs for its readers. It shows Bullard to be well-read in Mexican history, and despite 25 years residence in the South, and at the time a sitting justice on the Louisiana Supreme Court, still possessing a New England bias against slavery.[14] In the article, Bullard denies any government inclination to “take possession of the country as soon as it should have been wrested from the dominion of Spain,” though he does note Shaler’s presence as an agent for the government observing and assisting the rebellion. As for the filibusters themselves, Bullard gives as the prime motive the disputed boundary of the Louisiana Purchase:
At that time, the American people and government were wearied with the protracted negotiation with Spain, its interminable delays, and the evident reluctance of the cabinet of Madrid, to do justice to the United States; and there was a strong disposition among the people to seize upon that part of the territory which was still in dispute.[15]

Bullard, driven by youthful idealism in 1812, was considerably less idealistic by 1836. He expressed skepticism of whether Mexicans could ever understand democracy as the Americans did, writing “The great mass of the population of Mexico were absolutely ignorant of the simplest elements of popular self-government,” a condition he blamed on the legacy of Spanish authority. In the January, 1836 speech, he laid out a vision of history in which Spain’s colonization is depicted as brutal and oppressive compared to the English and French models.[16]
Another source of Bullard’s character comes from a historical novel written about the Gutiérrez-Magee Expedition. Francis Berrian; or, The Mexican Patriot, was a novel by Timothy Flint, a friend of Bullard’s who used the latter’s remembrances as told to him as his prime source for the expedition and patterned his swashbuckling lead character on the young Bullard. The novel, written in 1823, is historically confused and was generally panned as horrible by the press of the time, but provides detailed insights into how the filibusters – or at least Bullard, speaking through Flint – wanted their motivations to be interpreted. As James Weldon Long writes of the book, “If we read Berrian as a prototypical filibuster, then Flint’s novel registers as a representative national narrative conveying an exceptionalist vision of the United States and its position in the Age of Revolutions.”[17]  While one must avoid conclusions based on a work of fiction, the close connection between Bullard and Flint – and corresponding information in Bullard’s background – makes the work relevant to Bullard’s viewpoint – at least the viewpoint he held in the years after the expedition.
In the novel, Berrian, the hero/lawyer claims of his fellow filibusters, “Their avowed object was to aid the Patriot natives in communicating to this oppressed and beautiful country, the entire freedom of their own.” These, the author contends, are “gallant and high-minded men.” He contrasts them with “self-denominated patriots,” of one of whom he writes, “it was difficult to ascertain which element preponderated in him, revenge, or a love of liberty, cupidity and ambition, or a desire to liberate his country.”[18] The latter is a reference to a fictional character clearly based on Gutiérrez, and exposes the strong bias to be expected from Bullard, a committed partisan of Toledo.
Just as Bullard exhibited a bias in his speech, Flint shows a conceit of the Spanish as inherently hostile to liberty. They are “instinctive enemies to every form of republican government...[are] contemplating with horror and disgust the development of republican principles.” Long notes, “As ‘the Mexican Patriot,’ Berrian remains indelibly a U.S. citizen, devoted to the nation’s foundational principles, a characterization that literalizes the cultural assumption that the American Revolution was in fact a global rebellion against tyranny that could spread its influence to any oppressed group.”[19] This second-hand portrayal completes a picture of Bullard as an idealist who at once loves Spanish culture, language, and people – or at least the cosmopolitan variants he found in Philadelphia – but who ultimately maintains a paternalistic view of the Spanish struggle for liberty.
While Bullard was paving the way for Toledo in Texas, another member of the Philadelphia filibusters had broken with his mentor and sought to stop him at all costs. He was another New England-born lawyer named Nathaniel Cogswell. Born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1773, he graduated at nineteen from Dartmouth. He read law under Ebenezer Smith, who had the impressive distinction of serving in the Massachusetts militia for the entire duration of the Revolutionary War.[20]  Like many of the expedition participants, Cogswell idealized founding generation leaders like Smith. After opening his own legal practice and relocating to the town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1805, Cogswell quickly established himself in the community and in 1808 was selected to give the Fourth of July oration to the city’s “republican citizens.” He began with a tribute to revolutionary soldiers who endured “with undaunted fortitude and patience, the numerous privations and hardships which they were doomed to suffer.”[21] Their model, however, should not be forgotten by his generation. Turning to the crowd before him, he noted that many veterans were still there who had become “old and grey in the cause of freedom.” Others, he told his fellows of his generation “are just entering upon the theater of action.” Cogswell led his listeners through a detailed history of republics, contrasting them with the persecutions and bondage of monarchies. He followed with a spirited lauding of Washington and “the great and good” Jefferson. He praised the “enlightened, independent, and virtuous yeomanry,” who were the heart of the nation, and added that, “so long as they retain and own the soil which they cultivate, so long are our liberties on a sure, a certain, and immovable foundation.”[22] America, Cogswell told his audience, was “The first and only independent nation on the fourth quarter of the globe.”[23]
Within three years, Cogswell would join the effort to add a second independent nation in that quarter. Making his way to Philadelphia, he fell into company with Toledo, at first embracing the would-be-revolutionary. While his revolutionary ardor never waned, he quickly fell out with Toledo, whom he began to suspect of being a double agent of Spain. Cogswell, in turn, was accused by Toledo and his acolytes, including Bullard, as having committed theft or some other petty crime, but that hardly explains the lengths to which he went to stop Toledo. After the latter left for Texas, Cogswell set out on a personal mission to stop the Cuban, who in fact already had approached the Spanish ambassador with an offer to betray the revolution, although the Spanish had rejected him and Toledo seems to have stayed true to the revolutionary cause. Cogswell wrote to Gutiérrez on Dec. 12, 1812, informing him of his suspicions. If Gutiérrez allowed Toledo to come to Texas, Cogswell wrote, he would “rue it in tears of blood.”[24] Cogswell felt so passionately about the danger from Toledo that he traveled to Natchitoches and lay out the case against Toledo before Shaler, who dismissed the idea of a conspiracy and treated the lawyer as a scoundrel. Cogswell, of course, was vindicated by events, but he would die of disease shortly before Medina and therefore never knew it.

[1] Brown, 39.
[2] Kathryn Garrett, “The First Newspaper of Texas: ‘Gaceta de Texas’,” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 40, no. 3 (Jan., 1937): 201; Ike Moore, “The Earliest Printing and First Newspaper in Texas,” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 39, no. 2 (Oct., 1935): 97. Mower is alternatively spelled as Moore in some sources.
[3] Ibid., 209.
[4] B.F. French, “Memoir of Hon. Henry A. Bullard, LL.D., president of the Louisiana Historical Society, and late judge of Supreme Court of Louisiana,” in Historical Collections of Louisiana...Compiled with Historical and Biographical Notes (New York: B.F. French, 1851), 6.
[5] C. Little and James Brown, ed. “American Obituary for 1851” in The American Almanac and Repository of Useful Knowledge, 1852 (Cambridge: Metcalf and Company, 1852), 334.
[6] Pierce Welch Gaines, ed. Political Works of Concealed Authorship During the Administrations of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson (New Haven: Yale University Library, 1959), 116. The book, which two sources have attributed to Bullard, is the History of Don Francisco de Miranda’s Attempt to Effect a Revolution in South America. The account claims to be a series of letters by a “Gentleman who was an officer under that General, to his friend in the United States.” The book was published anonymously in its first printing, then in later printings attributed to a James Biggs, who is unknown. Bullard could not possibly have gone to Venezuela personally.
[7] V.H. Ivy, “The Late Henry A. Bullard,” In Debow’s Southern and Western Review 12 (1852): 51-52.
[8] Little and Brown, 334.
[9] William Shaler to James Monroe, 14 July 1813, Founders Online, National Archives [Source: The Papers of James Madison, Presidential Series, vol. 6, 8 February–24 October 1813, ed. Angela Kreider, et all. (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008), 439–440.
[10] Ivy, 52.
[11] U.S. Congress, “Biographical Dictionary of Congress,” (accessed March 13, 2016).
[12] Robert Feikema Karachuk, “A Workman’s Tools: The Law Library of Henry Adams Bullard,” The American Journal of Legal History 42, No. 2 (Apr., 1998): 188.
[13] Henry Adams Bullard, “A discourse delivered before the Historical Society of Louisiana” (speech, New Orleans, LA, January 13, 1836.), in North American Review Vol 43 (Cambridge: Folsom, Wells, and Thurston, 1836): 281.
[14] “Mexico and Texas” North American Review Vol 43 (Cambridge: Folsom, Wells, and Thurston, 1836). While the published article does not have an attributed author, the original draft of the document is attributed to Bullard. Notably, Bullard’s comments negative to slavery were redacted by the publishers before printing. Bullard was a Whig, but found respect in Southern society despite his views. Ivy’s editors state in their biography that “Neither Mr. Ivy nor ourselves agree with the political tenets held by Judge Bullard; but find nothing in that to militate against our high appreciation of his learning, his talents, and his constant and unwavering services to the state.” Ivy, 50.
[15] Henry Adams Bullard, “Mexico and Texas” [Original Manuscript] North American Review Papers, 1831-1843. Houghton Library, Harvard University.
[16] Henry Adams Bullard, “A discourse delivered before the Historical Society of Louisiana.”
[17] James Weldon Long, “Revolutionary Republics: U.S. National Narratives and the Independence of Latin America, 1810–1846” (Ph.D. diss., Louisiana State University, 2011), 13.
[18]Long, 88.
[19]Ibid., 93.
[20] Everett S. Stackpole and Lucien Thompson, History of the Town of Durham New Hampshire, Vol. 1 (Unknown), 279.  (accessed July 20, 2016).
[21] Nathaniel Cogswell, An Oration Delivered before the Republican Citizens of Newburyport in the Rev. John Giles’ Meetinghouse on the Fourth of July, 1808 (Newburyport: W. and J. Gilman, 1808), 8.
[22] Cogswell, 19.
[23] Ibid., 4.
[24] “Colonel Nathaniel Cogswell to Generals Gutiérrez and Magee, Pittsburgh, December 29, 1812, quoted in Garrett, 212.

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