Frontier Naturalist: Jean Louis Berlandier and the Exploration of Northern Mexico and Texas

Frontier Naturalist: Jean Louis Berlandier and the Exploration of Northern Mexico and Texas

by Russell M. Lawson


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This is a true story of discovery and discoverers in what was the northern frontier region of Mexico in the years before the Mexican War. In 1826, when the story begins, the region was claimed by both Mexico and the United States. Neither country knew much about the lands crossed by such rivers as the Guadalupe, Brazos, Nueces, Trinity, and Rio Grande. Jean Louis Berlandier, a French naturalist, was part of a team sent out by the Mexican Boundary Commission to explore the area. His role was to collect specimens of flora and fauna and to record detailed observations of the landscapes and peoples through which the exploring party traveled. His observations, including sketches and paintings of plants, landmarks, and American Indians, were the first compendium of scientific observations of the region to be collected and eventually published.

Here, historian Russell Lawson tells the story of this multinational expedition, using Berlandier's copious records as a way of conveying his view of the natural environment. Lawson's narrative allows us to peer over Berlandier's shoulder as he traveled and recorded his experiences. Berlandier and Lawson show us an America that no longer exists.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780826352170
Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
Publication date: 11/01/2012
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Russell M. Lawson, professor of history at Bacone College, is the author of several other books on exploration, most recently The Land Between the Rivers: Thomas Nuttall’s Ascent of the Arkansas, 1819. He lives in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Abbreviations xi

Introduction xiii

Chapter 1 Savant of Matamoros 1

Chapter 2 Lock of the Rhône 17

Chapter 3 Río Pánuco 29

Chapter 4 The Arms of God 49

Chapter 5 River of the Comanches 79

Chapter 6 Father of Waters 99

Chapter 7 Waters of the High Sierra 121

Chapter 8 Río Bravo del Norte 155

Chapter 9 River of Death 181

Appendix 1 Fauna and Flora Named for Jean Louis Berlandier 203

Appendix 2 Chronology of the Journeys of Jean Louis Berlandier 207

Notes 213

Sources Consulted 231

Index 241

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