This book makes available English translations of several interesting documents. First and most important is the Reglamento, e instrucción para los presidios que se han de formar en la linea de frontera de la Nueva España, promulgated in 1772 for government of the newly-formed Provincias Internas. This basic document detailing military procedures, deployment of troops, and organization of the defensive perimeter of the presidial forces on the northern frontier of New Spain is an excellent expression of Hispanic colonial policy as it had developed in the almost three centuries of New World experience.

Second document presented is a speech by Carlos Carrillo, Alta California’s representative to the Mexican Chamber of Deputies. It is an impassioned plea for establishment of adequate administration of justice in his home area of California, reflecting in considerable measure the rudimentary conditions of Mexican control over their most northwesterly territory. Carrillo called for a fifteen point plan of legal administration, with particular emphasis on methods of appeal from courts of first instance.

The final document is a decree by the enigmatic Mexican President, Antonio López de Santa Anna, issued in 1834 and establishing circuit tribunals and district courts in all states and territories of the Republic of Mexico. It consists of 74 articles and details many items of the nature and authority of the judiciary. There is no evidence that this decree was an outgrowth of Carrillo’s earlier speech, but it seems to have met many of the needs as that California representative had previously outlined them.

Only one of these three documents concerns California solely, though by implication or indirectly all bear on the judicial administration of California, thereby making the title of the work both misleading and unsatisfactory. This non-deseriptive title, lack of index or footnotes, and the affectation of British spelling of words such as labour, vigour, valour, honour, etc., are the only points at which one might object to this well-translated, beautifully printed, and handsomely presented work. Perhaps we should be satisfied that there are three good sources for North American history made available in competent English.

Included are two maps, one a representation of the location of frontier presidios and the other an adaptation of Nicolás Lafora’s map of the northern area of New Spain, drawn in 1771. The latter is very useful. Also included are two appendices in the form of additional brief documentation on judicial matters.