Mexico: Impresa por Leandro J. Valdes, 1844. 2nd edition, corrected and enlarged. N.B. Sabin lists only the 4th and subsequent editions, cf Sabin 26466. , IV,  - 184 pp. Head- tailpieces. 2 plates. Numerous intratextual figures. Tables. 8vo. 8-1/4" x 5-1/2". Period full contemporary green & brown mottled Mexican calf, gilt-decorated spine with black gilt-lettered title label. General wear to binding, which has a bit of splay to the boards. Age-toning to paper, with a tide line to right margin for the first dozen leaves or so. Overall, Very Good. Item #48866
The new Mexican Constitution of 1836, uniting Baja and Alta California to form one department, was very unpopular in the northern provinces of Alta California. Later that year, by means of a revolt, Juan Bautista Alvarado replaced Nicolas Gutierez, becoming the first Californio (California born) Governor of Alta California. His position became official in 1839 when a new constitution was approved. The 1839 constitution addressed the vague and poorly observed land laws of the 1824 federalist constitution and the 1836 constitution of the Seven Laws.
This work, a compilation of formulas and regulations regarding surveys of boundaries, water rights, etc., examines the total body of land law from the earliest years of Spanish occupation of America up to the Mexican colonization laws. Contains material on California [not in Cowan]; Texas colonization laws 1824, 1828, 1834, and 1837 (not mentioned by Streeter) and is the first extensive treatise to address the land surveys, water rights, boundaries and related matters, providing formulas, regulations and laws pertaining to colonization, land grants and said surveying.
Following the publication of this work, until American occupation, all land grants, pueblos, landings and harbors adhered to the doctrines set forth in its pages. It was absolutely essential reading for anyone applying for a Mexican Land Grant whether a settler, rancher of speculator. The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the war with Mexico, insured that the occupiers would respect all Mexican land titles as granted under the laws stipulated in this volume. The American government adhered to the terms of the treaty until 1851, when, at the urging of U. S. settlers and squatters, H. H. Halleck issued a report in their favor, thereby creating a storm of litigation lasting in some cases, decades. Henry Halleck was one of the principal authors of the California State Constitution drafted in 1849. Having received several awards for meritorious service during the Mexican war he became an advisor to Commodore Shubrick, then military governor of California and later to General Bennet Riley. He was regarded as on of the most intelligent men in the state. Land speculation in and around San Francisco before and during the gold rush placed him amongst the wealthiest men in the west. Why would it surprise anyone that his report would favor squatters and speculators over the rights of the original grantees?
This volume from the Library of Jose Maria Covarrubias, with his ownership signature to the bottom margin of the title page.
Covarrubias, a Frenchman who was granted Mexican citizenship, came to California in 1834 with the Hijar and Padres Colony as a school teacher. In addition to teaching Cavarrubias held several key government posts in Monterey and Santa Barbara, including Alcalde of Santa Barbara, 1843-44. Ever suspicious of American activities in the department he often uses his influence in demanding their arrests. In 1843 he was granted a 26,000 acre Rancho in the Santa Inez Valley. His adobe home of 50 years still stands in Santa Barbara. In 1849 Covarrubias was invited to Monterey as a member of the California Constitutional Convention. He served as a California representative from 1849-1862. In 1850, for $10,000.00 he purchases Catalina Island.
This a rare and important autograph of California pioneer, and conveys additional gravitas to the provenance of this work that significantly influenced mid-19th C. property distribution in California, et al.