Citizens of Tucson to General John Garland, Tucson, September 10, 1855. Adjutant General’s Office Letters Received, National Archives Record Group 94, Entry 12, file # P-400-1855.
We’re stumped: we can’t construct a decent typescript — as we hope we did for the Tubac petition and the letters — because we lack the literacy in nineteenth-century Spanish to accurately translate the above document. Citation is from the National Archives, where Arthur B. House Jr. provided us a paper facsimile copy.
Maybe some clever scholar/teacher will find it, and challenge her students to translate and transcribe it as a class project. The blunt reality of data can be alarming, but history is real people living real lives. The document contains scores of Spanish names that students may recognize, as many are now quite familiar in southern Arizona and a large part of northern Sonora, six generations later. Many are descendants. And by the way, what does it say? The 31% of Arizona’s population who are Hispanic, or 20% of the national population, may be interested, if not the public at large. Maybe the situation calls for some diversity and inclusion.
Letters in English supporting the 1855 Tucson public safety petition from Emory, Pinkston, and Goerlitz, recommending the Gila River Pima’s army as well as the Tohono O’odham as allies, can be read and downloaded at BajaArizonaHistory.org.
Within thirty months of the Tucson petition, nascent homesteads in Sonoita Valley and Fort Buchanan itself were collapsing. Apache raiding was driving off settlers, and the fort’s resources were constantly challenged. The Penningtons retreated to a compound of bunkers they built near some walnut trees on the road to Santa Cruz, and defended it through weapons ports. Contractors hadn’t been able to convert their labor — and the gamma grass they’d cut for the army — into compensation. Their frustration rings through the petition.
Citizens of Arizona Territory. Memorial and Petition to Congress. Record Group 46. National Archives. Sacks Collection of the American West shared their copy: FM MSS 155, Box 91, folder 26. Arizona Historical Foundation.
Less than fifteen months after their appeal to Congress, the farms and ranches of the Santa Cruz and Sonoita Valleys, and a mescal distillery above Sonoita, suffered an anti-Hispanic attack from a gang of California fugitives and aspiring ‘filibusters’. When an American crew boss at Reventon Ranch disciplined and humiliated his Hispanic employees severely, it set off a series of reprisal assaults, murders, and thefts. Having failed to conquer Sonora, the California filibusters took to murdering brown people in the Santa Cruz and Sonoita Valleys.
The flight of as many as a hundred migrant laborers back to Mexico brought mining operations to a halt. With diminishing resources to defend their supplies and materiel, and government contractors walking away, provisioning Fort Buchanan became difficult for months.
I[saac] V[an] D[uzer] Reeve. Letter to J. D. Wilkins, Acting Assistant Adjutant General. Fort Buchanan, New Mexico, May 20, 1859. National Archives Record Group 98, Records of the War Department. U.S. Army Commands. Letters Received, Department of New Mexico. Box 12, R 22-1859.
The documents are from the National Archives, and are in the public domain.