Juan Antonio Balthasar, Padre Visitador to the Sonora Frontier, 1744-1745. Two Original Reports
Publisher: Lawton Kennedy
Place: San Francisco
iii+122+ pages with fold out pocket map and fold out map bound in. Royal octavo (9 1/2" x 6 1/4") bound in grey cloth with gilt lettering to spine and pictorial cross and gilt lettering to cover and deckled edges. Memoriam by John Francis Bannon. Arizona Pioneers' Historical Society. Limited to 600 copies. First edition.
The early decades of the eighteenth century saw considerable expansion of Jesuit frontiers in northern Mexico and the addition of a new sector in Baja California. Each new advance increased the problems of communications between the field and headquarters in Mexico City and in that measure severely threatened the efficiency of the mission system. Back in the previous century, in an attempt to bridge the broadening gap between superior and subject, the office of Padre Visitador was adapted to frontier conditions. Reports made by the visitors, such as the two presented here, are among the most enlightening and valuable documents in mission history. They are tenchant digests of on-the-spot observations. Much fascinating material appears in their pages: comments on the problems encountered in the reduction of the northern Indians; evaluations of the potential of untouched heathendom beyond the existing line of advance; analyses of relations, often acrimonious, between the padres and civil authorities; and at times unvarnished comments on the character and conduct of the missionaries themselves. Had it not been for the confiscation of Jesuit archives which followed the expulsion of the Black Robes from Spanish possessions in the 1760's, some of these documents, such as the Second Report of Juan Antonio Blathasar, might never have been divulged. Both of his reports are highly interesting and are here published for the first time. The late Peter Masten Dunne, outstanding authority on early Jesuit mission history in New Spain, has translated and annotated the reports here presented. The documentary material has been excellently prefaced by a series of background chapters on the West Coast missions, the office of padre visitor, biographical information on Balthasar and some of the main personalities figuring in the reports, and a short commentary on the documents themselves, relating them to other pieces of similar character in the Jesuit sources.
Book plate on front paste down, corners bumped. Jacket spine sunned and spine ends chipped, some sunning to extremities, edge wear with some closed tears else a very good copy in like jacket.
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