— Copyright Dorothy Sloan 2013 —
Another opinion on Manifest Destiny
“Gentleman, our death sentence is set before us in this dire Treaty.”
431. [MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR]. [TREATY OF GUADALUPE HIDALGO]. REJÓN, Manuel Crecencio. Observaciones del diputado saliente Manuel Crecencio Rejon, contra los Tratados de Paz, Firmados en la Ciudad De Guadalupe El 2 Del Proximo Pasado Febrero, Precedidas de la Parte Histórica relativa a la Cuestion Originaria. Queretaro: Imprenta de J. M. Lara, c. del Chirimoyo n. 15, 1848. [1-3] 4-62,  pp. 8vo, original buff printed wrappers. Small piece of upper spine wanting, otherwise very fine. Ink ownership inscription of the Cabildo of Puebla on verso of front wrapper and author’s signed ink inscription to them on verso. Author’s statement on penultimate page dated in type, Queretaro, April 17, 1848. Rare.
First edition. Eberstadt, Texas: 162:850. Garrett & Goodwin, The Mexican-American War, p. 98: “Critical of the provisions of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.” Howell, California 50:166. Howes R186(“b”). Sabin 69161 & 56444. Tutorow 4139.
This is a reasoned diatribe against the treaty that cost Mexico nearly half her territory. As is often the case, Rejón traces the causes of the Mexican-American War back to the troubles and revolt in Texas and lays the reason for the war to U.S. scheming to acquire the territory. Even with Texas basically free, he rails against the idea that her southern border should be the Rio Grande and also imputes this territorial ambition to the scheming Texans. He also declares in the strongest terms that this treaty will be the death of Mexico. He argues that nothing will stop Yankees and thousands of emigrants from overwhelming Mexico itself. He saves particular condemnation for those who recommend the treaty, calling them delusional: “Señores, es nuestra sentencia de muerte se nos propone en esos funestos tratados, y me admira que haya habido mejicanos que los hubiesen negociado, suscrito y considerado como un bien para nuestro desgraciado pais. Esta sola circunstancia me consterna y me hace desesperar de la vida de la republica” (p. 34). Finally, he objects to the way in which the treaty was negotiated and ratified, raising several technical and legal objections to the manner in which it was done. Despite a measure of restraint and elegance, this is a bitter piece of writing.
Rejon (1799-1849) had a tumultuous and colorful career as a Mexican political figure, being either jailed or exiled several times for his beliefs and actions or because the wrong person was in power. He held numerous offices during his lifetime, including being a congressional delegate several times, serving as Ministro de Relaciones Interiores y Exteriores, and being Mexico’s ambassador to South America. Rejón’s greatest contribution that caused him to be compared to Thomas Jefferson, Alexis de Tocqueville, and other liberal thinkers, was his introduction into the Mexican legal system the concept of the writ of amparo, the legal procedure aimed at protecting human rights. Rejón first initiated this concept in the drafting of the Constitution of Yucatan in 1840, but it was only with the 1857 constitution of Mexico that a procedure for protecting human rights was fully adopted in Mexico. This achievement has been described as “the most important procedural mechanism in the Mexican legal system. Mexican amparo procedure has a much broader scope and field of application than the Anglo-Saxon writ of habeas corpus, from which the idea of procedure may have originated. The Mexican amparo protects men not only from illegal arrest but also against violation of any human rights. It is also a remedy to the encroachments of the Federal authorities on the jurisdiction of the states, or vice versa” (Neri Javier Colmenares, “The Writ of Amparo: A Comparative Review,” paper delivered at the historic Founding Congress of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, November 15, 2007). From Mexico, the concept of amparo spread in one form or other into Central and parts of South America.
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