In the historiography of Mexican independence, the contribution of Carlos María de Bustamante was great. An active participant in the revolutionary events about which he later wrote, he became a staunch supporter of the cause of independence and a great admirer of its leader, José María Morelos. If Bustamante’s writings are partisan in tone and frequently inaccurate in certain details, if used cautiously and judiciously, they comprise some of the most important sources available for a study of the period. Specialists in the field will therefore welcome these reprints in facsimile of three rare Bustamante publications from the Lafragua Collection of the Biblioteca Nacional de México, printed in this attractive brochure with a scholarly introduction by Licenciado Antonio Martínez Báez.
The first study is Bustamante’s Elogio histórico del General Don José María Morelos y Pavón. Published in 1822, it contained some biographical material which Bustamante did not use in either of the two editions of his celebrated Cuadro histórico de la revolución Mexicana. Though spirited and flamboyant in approach and containing numerous inaccuracies, as Juan Hernández y Dávalos noted when he incorporated it into the sixth volume of his famous documentary collection, the twenty-six page Elogio histórico nevertheless remains as Bustamante’s chief biographical work on the leader he so much admired.
About September 1, 1823, Bustamante published the first number of the periodical El Centzontli, the second study reproduced here. It contained the testimony of Morelos before the Inquisition, beginning on November 23, 1815, extending over a three-day period, and involving twenty-three charges and the replies of the accused. This text, published by Bustamante also in his Cuadro histórico, as well as by Juan Hernández y Dávalos in his Colección, contained numerous errors and omissions, as Martínez Báez has noted in his excellent introductory remarks. Although Henry Charles Lea later made use of a more accurate text of the testimony, a complete text has come to light only recently.
The third reprint is the testimony which Morelos gave at his trial before the viceroy’s military tribunal, published by Bustamante in 1825 under the title Historia militar del General Don José María Morelos. For three days, in answer to twenty-one charges, Morelos recited an extraordinary amount of detail about his revolutionary career with such accuracy that this document is perhaps the most reliable of the three presented.
For hard-pressed college libraries lacking source materials in the area of Mexican independence, this little volume should be extremely helpful.