Friday, August 29, 2014

Colonial Mexico in the Continental United States: Where was Colonial Mexico?

Map of the Viceroyalty of New Spain (click to enlarge)
In colonial times, the Spanish controlled vast territories in the New World, extending from North America to South America and other areas in-between. During the colonial period the country that we now call Mexico was included in the territories that made up the Viceroyalty of New Spain.  The Spanish called the area that today is central and southern Mexico "New Spain" and since the Viceroyalty's capital was in Mexico City, the entire territory was also referred to as Mexico.  After its independence from Spain in 1821, it became known exclusively as Mexico.   New Spain and later Mexico, included vast areas that are within what is now the continental United States. These included parts of  Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Texas.    

New Mexico, a northern territory meant to serve as a buffer zone protecting the silver-rich northern areas of New Spain/Mexico from Indian incursion, remained a part of Mexico until 1858.  Texas was a part of New Spain and then Mexico from 1690-1836. Parts of Texas still retain a strong Mexican character and in the area around of San Antonio, there remains a chain of restored colonial-era Roman Catholic mission churches that are now a National Park. 

In future posts I  will be writing more about New Mexico,  which retains a very strong hispanic identity and the Spanish Missions of Texas.  In these areas, and others in the U.S.,  the boundary between Mexico and the United States remains lightly drawn.   

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