Every place is a product of the stories we tell about it—stories that do not merely describe but in fact shape geographic, social, and cultural spaces. Lone Star Vistas analyzes travelogues that created the idea of Texas. Focusing on the forty-year period between Mexico’s independence from Spain (1821) and the beginning of the US Civil War, Astrid Haas explores accounts by Anglo-American, Mexican, and German authors—members of the region’s three major settler populations—who recorded their journeys through Texas. They were missionaries, scientists, journalists, emigrants, emigration agents, and military officers and their spouses. They all contributed to the public image of Texas and to debates about the future of the region during a time of political and social transformation. Drawing on sources and scholarship in English, Spanish, and German, Lone Star Vistas is the first comparative study of transnational travel writing on Texas. Haas illuminates continuities and differences across the global encounter with Texas, while also highlighting how individual writers’ particular backgrounds affected their views on nature, white settlement, military engagement, Indigenous resistance, African American slavery, and Christian mission.
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About the Author
Astrid Haas is a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Institute of Black Atlantic Research, University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom. She is author of Stages of Agency: The Contributions of the American Drama to the AIDS Discourse.
Table of Contents
- Part I. Military-Scientific Exploration
- Introduction to Part I
- Chapter 1. Assessing El Norte: Mexican Government Expedition Accounts
- Chapter 2. Charting the Land: Reports of Anglo-American Explorations of Texas
- Part II. Colonization and Settlement
- Introduction to Part II
- Chapter 3. A Place for Southerners: Travelogues and Anglo-American Colonization
- Chapter 4. America’s Italy: Journey Narratives Promoting German Settlement
- Chapter 5. Newcomers’ Plight: Travel Accounts Warning against German Migration
- Part III. Professional Journeys
- Introduction to Part III
- Chapter 6. Missionary Messages: Narratives of Itinerant Religious Labor
- Chapter 7. Reporting from the Regiment: Journey Accounts of US Army Officers’ Wives
- Chapter 8. Professional Pens: Anglo-American Travel Journalism of Texas
- Works Cited
What People are Saying About This
Astrid Haas’s thoroughly researched and richly detailed book is an important contribution to inter-American studies and early borderlands studies. Lone Star Vistas reveals how Texan landscapes and cultures served as a canvas for the projection of a multitude of spatial imaginations created by Mexican, Anglo-American, and German travelers. This well-written study gives deep insight into the ways scientists, the military, settlers, professionals, visitors, and immigrants with different agendas helped shape public knowledge of a region that few people in the antebellum period had a chance to travel to.
Lone Star Vistas is an intellectually sophisticated study that critically examines Anglo-American, Mexican, and German travel writings as discursive colonial constructions of Texas landscapes and cultures. Astrid Haas’s greatest accomplishment is her detailed analysis of how Anglo-Americans constructed, rationalized, and institutionalized a racial ideological hierarchy, by putting in conversation their Manifest Destiny claims to Texas against the German critique of the callous ways American enterprise evolved. Haas also offers a unique analysis of Mexican scientific and military travelogues, which provides new insights into nineteenth-century Mexican scholarship about Texas. Highly recommended.
In the nineteenth century Texas became an important destination for large-scale immigration from both North America and Europe. Europeans, especially, became aware of Texas through a plentitude of published travelogues, emigrant guides, and scientific reports. These are important not only for their historical depictions of Texas but also for what they reveal about the writers of the period and the sensibilities they represented. By focusing on representative commentaries in this thoroughly researched and well-documented study, Astrid Haas has revisited former perspectives on Texas while elucidating important cultural contexts that made Texas appealing as a destination for both European and Anglo immigration.