Today in History: September 21
New Mexico's Colonial Past
On September 21, 1595, Don Juan de Oñate's petition and contract for the conquest of New Mexico was presented to Luís de Velasco, the viceroy of Nueva Vizcaya. Already a wealthy and prominent man, he sought to turn the Indians' wealth into his own and had requested the assignment after hearing rumors about golden cities in the vicinity. Oñate was granted the commission and set about recruiting men for his expedition.
After many delays, Oñate finally began the expedition in 1598 with approximately 200 men, accompanied by their families and servants. The expedition crossed the Rio Grande at El Paso and split up into smaller groups to search for treasure. Some of his men wanted to return to Spain, but Oñate squashed potential deserters by executing several who had attempted to leave. He used brutal force against the Ácoma Indians, who had rebelled and killed several of Oñate’s men. Retribution and the severity of Oñate’s actions after reconquering the pueblo terrified other pueblos and the Spanish priests complained that the Indians distrusted the Spanish—making their conversion difficult.
In 1601, Oñate set out to find the legendary golden city of Quivera. After years of failure, he returned to find much of his colony deserted. Although his colonization methods were horrific, Oñate is credited with establishing a colony in New Mexico and exploring the geography of the region.
In 1607, Oñate resigned as governor. He was tried and sentenced in 1614 for his cruel actions and ineptitude in ruling the colony. Oñate was fined, banished from New Mexico in perpetuity, and exiled for four years from Mexico City and its vicinity; he also lost his titles as governor and captain general of New Mexico. He appealed his convictions several times after his banishment from Mexico City had elapsed. Evidence of a pardon, likely granted between 1622 and 1624, is inconclusive.
By encouraging further European settlement, efforts led to the founding of Santa Fe in 1610—America's oldest capital city. Congress established the Territory of New Mexico in 1848 at the conclusion of the Mexican War. On January 6, 1912, New Mexico became the forty-seventh state.
Learn more about New Mexico in American Memory:
- The Today in History Archive has numerous items on New Mexico's history including José Manuel Gallegos, the organization of Arizona territory, and the 1853 Gadsden Purchase.
- Search on New Mexico in American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 to find out more about life in nineteenth and early twentieth-century New Mexico.
- Photographs of the state are available in America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA/OWI, ca. 1935-1945. Browse the State and Countries Index.
- Additional photographs of New Mexico can be found in these collections:
- History of the American West, 1860-1920: Photographs from the Collections of the Denver Public Library
- American Environmental Photographs, 1891-1936: Images from the University of Chicago Library
- Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991
- Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920
- The Northern Great Plains, 1880-1920: Photographs from the Fred Hultstrand and F. A. Pazandak Photograph Collections
- A Guide to the Mexican War links to a wide variety of material associated with the Mexican War (1846-48), including manuscripts, maps, broadsides, pictures, sheet music, books, and government documents available throughout the Library of Congress Web site. In addition, it provides links to external Web sites focusing on the Mexican War and a bibliography containing selections for both general and younger readers.
- Parallel Histories: Spain, the United States, and the American Frontier is a bilingual, multi-format English-Spanish digital library site that explores the history, geography, and culture of Spain and the interactions between Spain and the United States from the fifteenth century to the present. The presentation has a section, "Juan de Oñate and the Founding of New Mexico."
Don't You Want a Paper, Dearie?
Read It Through and Through
Tales of War and Tales of Money
Things That People Do
The nation's first daily newspaper, the Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser, began publication on September 21, 1784. The New England Courant, the first independent American newspaper was published by Benjamin Franklin's older brother in 1721. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, 37 independent newspapers kept the colonists informed. The press contributed to the war effort by publishing broadsides, relaying information, chronicling the war, and sustaining community life.
The Press As Revolutionary Force
This edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette was printed by David Hall and Benjamin Franklin without date, number, masthead, or imprint at Philadelphia. The week before, the publishers announced suspension of the Gazette in opposition to Stamp Act provisions requiring newspapers be printed on imported, stamped paper. A week latter this sheet appeared. Lacking the characteristic appearance of a newspaper, the November 7, 1765 edition satisfied subscribers while protecting the firm from legal repercussions.
During the 1780s and 1790s, citizens increasingly turned to the press to monitor political changes of the early national period. In response, several city newspapers began daily publication. Ratification of the United States Constitution, for example, was keenly debated in the press. Passage of the First Amendment guaranteed freedom of the press and ensured newspapers would remain an important medium of political debate.
"'Papers, evening papers'
was the urchin's
Until well into the nineteenth century, most Americans continued to get their news from country weeklies. As a boy Edward A. Barney, editor of the Canaan Reporter, recalled "having a few dailies to peddle around, but there was nothing like a general circulation for them. What news people got in the country they read once a week from their local papers…World events didn't interest them much; anyway they were contented to bide the coming of the weekly to learn about them." The Spanish-American War created the first real market for daily newspapers among residents of small town New Hampshire. "There was outside news the country folk couldn't wait a week for," he explained.
Learn more about the role of the press in American society and culture:
- Search the collection American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 on newspaper to find items like "J.R. Glenn," an interview with the publisher of the African-American newspaper The Charlotte Post. "Newsboys" reveals the ins and outs of hawking newspapers.
- Locate additional pictures. Search across the American Memory pictorial collections on newspaper or journalist. Items retrieved will include a Civil War era photo of a newspaper vendor, a daguerreotype of the New York Tribune staff, and a portrait of Tribune founder and editor Horace Greeley.
- Votes for Women: Selections from the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection, 1848-1921 is a rich source of newspaper accounts of historical interest. The Record of the Leslie Suffrage Commission describes the life and experiences of newspaper publisher and suffragist Miriam Leslie.
- Visit Women Come to the Front, which highlights the experience of women journalists during World War II and is one of many Library of Congress online exhibitions.