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Alvarez de Toledo y Dubois, José

Summary and Keywords

José Alvarez de Toledo y Dubois (1779–1858) was either a freedom-fighter turned traitor to the cause of Mexican independence or a spy for the Spanish empire at a time of intense competition among European powers and the early American Republic for dominance over northern New Spain and what would become Texas. In the course of his assimilation or appropriation of liberal discourse and his inciting rebellions, he became a pioneer in the use of the printing press to generate propaganda to recruit troops and financing in advance of military action. His various proclamations and pamphlets exhorted New Spain and other Spanish colonies in America to separate from the motherland and establish republics; a more lasting contribution, however, may have been his being partially responsible for the introduction of the first printing press and publication of the first newspaper in Texas during the early 19th century,

Keywords: José, Alvarez de Toledo, printing history, Texas history, Mexican history, independence movements, William Shaler, Masons

One of the most perplexing and debated figures in the struggle for Mexican independence from Spain was José Alvarez de Toledo y Dubois (1779–1858), a Cuban-born Creole whose liberal ideas were tempered in the Cortes, or parliament, of Spain when Napoleon had conquered the country, except for parts of the extreme southern peninsula. His ideas were also influenced by secret societies in Cadiz, London, and Philadelphia and the writings of the founding fathers of the American republic. More than his actions and writings as a filibuster, revolutionary, and ultimately a traitor, he may be considered an early representative of hybridity, of border culture, and liminality, for he transcended nationhood when nations were just emerging and he had profound transactions with and challenged the imperial authority of France, Britain, and Spain, while taking advantage of and later countering US expansionist enterprises. He fought and wrote for the founding of independent republics in Spanish America, the creation of a pan-American confederation as well as the end of the French occupation of the Iberian Peninsula and its colonies. His texts are also antecedents of the literature of Spanish American exile in the United States. He is a perplexing and misunderstood figure because, apparently, at one time or another he betrayed all of these nations and emerging nationalities.

Alvarez de Toledo was a prolific and eloquent speech-maker, writer, and propagandist. In his dealings with government and military figures in the United States, he always presented himself as a freedom fighter planning for or engaging in revolutionizing Spanish America and the Caribbean. Despite his liberal persona, however, he was the target of suspicions and open attacks as a spy and/or self-serving mercenary in the employ of one or more of the major powers vying for control of Mexico, Texas, and the entire Gulf Coast; these included England, France, Spain, and the United States. While most of his career in North America apparently developed as a filibuster for the United States, under President James Madison’s leadership, his final actions there seem to indicate that he was a double agent for Spain. To his credit, Alvarez de Toledo was responsible for bringing the first printing press to embattled Texas and publishing its first newspaper, La Gaceta de Texas, re-baptized El Mexicano in its second issue; his pamphleteering, issuing of manifestoes and filibustering was also the first call for Cuban independence and was indirectly responsible for the first independent republic of Texas.1

Origins of a Revolutionary Career

As tangled as was the web of intrigue being spun among the major colonial powers in North America and the Caribbean in the first decade of the 19th century, Alvarez de Toledo’s actions were even more complex and labyrinthine in his pursuit for military distinction. Born in Cuba to Spanish peninsular parents of noble lineage, Alvarez de Toledo was educated in Spain, rose to the rank of lieutenant in the Spanish royal navy and battled against Napoleon’s intervention in Spain, during which time he developed relationships with the English, who were then allied with the Spaniards against the French; he actually commanded La Tigre as part of British naval squadron.2 While joining the other representatives from the Spanish colonies in the Americas in pressing for more rights and autonomy, Alvarez de Toledo became frustrated by the Cortes’s rejection of liberal reforms on behalf of those colonies. A leader of the Spanish American protest, Alvarez de Toledo was accused of engaging in a plot with the English. The catalyst for his persecution by authorities and subsequent flight, evidently, was his sending a report to his constituents in Santo Domingo on his disaffection with the Cortes and the alternative of independence from Spain; the report was intercepted and later published in the United States and circulated in the Caribbean.3 On June 25, 1811, with the assistance of the American consul in Cádiz and the Masonic-inspired Caballeros Racionales, he fled from Spain in fear for his life. Before he left, however, the Spanish American delegation authorized him to revolutionize the northern provinces of Mexico and set up a government.4 Alvarez de Toledo arrived in London, where he participated in a chapter of the Caballeros Racionales, and then proceeded to Philadelphia, where in September the local chapter of Caballeros succeeded in putting him into contact with resident revolutionaries, such as Mariano Picornell.5

In Philadelphia, Toledo engaged in written polemics, publishing manifestoes and letters in newspapers, such as the Aurora.6 In his clear English-language prose (translated by unnamed third parties), Alvarez de Toledo revealed himself to be a liberal propagandizing the two causes of liberation: Spain shucking off Napoleon’s yoke and the independence for the Spanish American colonies:

. . . . I am moved by the fate of Spain; and that I suffer with her in her mortal agony, oppressed by her foreign enemies and assassinated by that atrocious and barbarous Cádiz government, which ceases not to hasten her ruin. Above all, I desire the liberty and absolute independence of all the continent and islands of the hemisphere of Colon; I am an American, and with joy pour out my blood to contribute to this happy and glorious regeneration. These are the sentiments of my soul, and the great ideas which fill my imagination.7

As a Spanish American colonial activist for US-inspired, liberal republicanism, he succeeded in winning the attention of American politicians and was soon on his way to Washington, DC, to meet with Secretary of State James Monroe and President James Madison, who discussed with him the possibility of freeing the Spanish Antilles and Mexico from Spain and forming a confederation with the United States.8 In Washington, he met another freedom fighter, José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara, a blacksmith who had made his way to Washington from the Rio Grande Valley in pursuit of American support for the revolutionary movement in Texas. The US government and American businessmen encouraged and to some extent funded both men to conduct diverse filibustering activities.9 However, Alvarez de Toledo’s initial charge was to meet up with a US representative in Havana, William Shaler, and revolutionize Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo. It seems, nevertheless, that Spanish Ambassador Luis de Onís got wind of the mission and had authorities lying in wait for Alvarez de Toledo, which caused him to change his plans and to later meet up with Shaler in New Orleans and become his partner in revolutionizing Texas.10

A Precursor of Exile Print Culture

Through his proclamations, manifestoes, letters to editors and pamphlets, Alvarez de Toledo was one of the first Spanish Americans to establish a print culture of exile while actively providing a written ideology for the Spanish American colonies on which to base their independence movements. As would befit a guest in the birthplace of the American republic, in his first publications Alvarez de Toledo took as models the writings of the US founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution. On December 10, 1811, he published in Philadelphia the 83-page Manifiesto ó satisfacción pundonorosa, a todos los buenos españoles europeos y todos los pueblos de América, por un diputado de las cortes reunidas en Cadiz.11 In it he anticipates many authors of Hispanic exilic literature over the next two centuries in justifying his defection from the homeland and his taking refuge in the United States. In doing this he shifts his identity from Spaniard to that of an “Americano,” meaning a man of the Americas—which he also did in his letter to the Aurora, cited above. But beyond his positioning his text thusly, Manifiesto, as Dykstra illustrates, is already a hybrid text written in Spanish but based on the English-language print culture of the early American republic as practiced in Philadelphia; in addition to republican ideals, it is also inspired in the concept of the self-made man especially represented by Benjamin Franklin.12 Alvarez de Toledo was anxious to create himself through writing and through military action. In his typically fiery rhetoric in the oral style of a political harangue, his Hispanic culture is evident, however, as well as his class pride as an educated gentleman in inciting his fellow Spanish Americans to rebellion:13

Sixteen million inhabitants occupying this delicious Continent are never represented in the eyes of the Government and Rulers in Europe, except as a horde of miserable slaves who must blindly obey whatever they are ordered to, and in profound silence kiss those same chains that they have dragged since the time of Cortez and Pizarro.14

In these pages he documents the abuses of the Cortes in rejecting the colonial representatives’ list of desired reforms, including Article VIII (38), that all citizens regardless of their Creole or Iberian birth, Indian or Mestizo ethnicity, should have equality of opportunity, to use today’s concept. But this reasonable list was ignored and set aside by the Cortes, a fact which leads Alvarez de Toledo to accuse the Peninsular Spaniards of treating the colonials like “bestias” (beasts) and to condemn the citizens of Santo Domingo to “esclavitud y miseria etrena” (slavery and eternal misery) and subject them to “leyes con estúpida insensibilidad” (stupidly insensitive laws [53–54]). Thus disillusioned, he explains, he wrote the ill-fated letter that would be intercepted and result in his persecution. In fear for his life, he also used Manifiesto to take leave of his Spanish American colleagues in the Cortes and affirm his refuge in the United States:

The time had come for me to separate myself from you in order to evade the most atrocious of persecutions; and my last goodbye to that unfortunate land was interrupted the emotional pathos of tenderness and pain. The memory of the good [Peninsular Spaniards] will always be engraved in my soul with affection and respect; and that of the bad ones will serve me always as a lesson and a scandal (74).15

In other parts of the Manifiesto, the political strategy that would later lead Alvarez de Toledo to play off one empire’s interests against the others’ is patent, where he stated that the opportune moment was at hand for the Spanish American independence movement to take advantage of the rivalry between France and Britain, as they competed with each other for world domination (35). And also embedded in the Manifiesto is a true manifesto that actually was a separate document that on various occasions he had printed as a broadside and distributed to northern New Spain and particularly to the resident population of Texas for revolt against Spain. In general, this part of the document is an explicit call to all Spanish Americans to rise up in rebellion for their independence, basing their mission on the rights of man and language similar to the United States declaration of independence:16

Americans, you who inhabit the Isles and the immense continent conquered by the Ancient Spanish Empire: hear my words exhaled over the bountiful and peaceful shores of the Delaware River, exalted by the saintly love of humanity and the generous zeal for our Fatherland. Work to make happy the peoples of the New World, that it become the admiration and sweet envy of the prideful and tyrannized Europe. . . . It is incumbent upon us to sacrifice it all for the general good; and on the most purest and solid of bases construct an America that will be an immortal and admirable work for all future ages. . . . In the Constitution of the United States you can find beautiful things: select the good and avoid what may be deadly for America some day (74–75).17

The heart of Alvarez de Toledo’s embedded manifesto is a passionate and inspiring call to the Spanish Americans to assume their responsibility for greatness:

[Spanish] Americans: the world has placed its eyes on you; after three centuries of enslavement and ignominy, you will ascend to a sublime rank among the enlightened nations, and join the place of Glory and the majestic power of ancient Europe. You have much to accomplish, but greatness is not achieved without great sacrifice, and without unalterable, generous and superior constancy in the face of reversals and the twists of Fortune. Speed to the call of the omnipotent and august Right Hand of Providence, and remember that liberty is the most precious of all possessions; for you can never do to too much to achieve it (76).18

He ends his call as a Cuban who foresees the impending freedom of his homeland, like that of the entire hemisphere:

Oh sweet presentiments of liberty for my Homeland! If they become reality, I shall die full of joy, even if spilling all of my heart’s blood to defend her rights and to terrify her enemies. This is my heart’s desire; and hopefully this will also be desired by all of my borthers on the Isle of Cuba, and throughout the vast extension of the American hemisphere (79).19

A second edition of the Manifiesto was issued in Charleston in 1812 by an attacker using the pseudonym of Terso Machuca (loosely translated as “Clean Hit” or “Clean Blow” or “On Target”). Machuca identifies José Alvarez de Toledo as “el marte-filósofo de Delaware,” that is, “the warrior philosopher of Delaware.” Machuca changed the title page from Alvarez’s original with its long subtitle identifying his qualifications; instead, Machuca identified Alvarez as “&a &a &a”; that is “et cetera” to indicate the over-blown, self-congratulatory nature of Alvarez’s presentation. The satirist then added contestatory footnotes in Spanish to the text, laughingly calling Alvarez “the Spanish Achilles”, the “Martyr of Liberty” (59) and remarking, tongue-in-cheek, “What a man! What extraordinary talents!” (24), “. . . . he’ll be immortalized in the pages of History” (27) because of his “Quixotic adventures” (36) [all my translations].20 The satirist even went so far as to create a dramatic monolog spoken by Alvarez’s father, in which the senior bemoaned the ruin his son’s treachery had visited upon his family (28). One of the main themes of the anonymous deconstruction of Alvarez’s “infamatorio manifiesto” was to demonstrate that Alvarez was a bold-faced self-promoter and liar, as well as a coward for publishing his accusations so far away from Spain and in the safety of the United States (55). Machuca not only was referring to this document, the Manifiesto o satisfacción . . ., but also to the article Alvarez had published in Philadelphia’s Aurora (84). On Alvarez’s exile, the commentator stated, “La España se regocija de la separación del hijo espurio de la Patria; lo considera como un miembro ulcerado y pestífero” (67): “Spain is overjoyed by its separation from this spurious son of the Fatherland, considering him like an ulcerated and pestiferous limb.” Machuca’s last note to Alvarez’s text is a long apology for the Cortes, comparing its fair and just deliberations to those of the United States Congress and the British Parliament.

Alvarez de Toledo entered into another polemic, writing on February 12, 1812, his pamphlet, Contestación á la carta del Indio Patriota, written to answer a Platonic dialog anonymously published as a gloss on Alvarez’s Manifiesto. Entitled, Diálogo sobre la independencia de la América Española entre un entusiasta liberal y un filósofo rancio (Philadelphia: Palmer, 1812), in the dialog, a wise old “rancid philosopher” challenges the pie-in-the-sky idealism of a young liberal who has read Alvarez’s Manifiesto. The philosopher argues that an independent Spanish America will be easy prey for the French, British, and/or nascent American empires, and that the rebels are ambitious ingrates who have abandoned Spain in her hour of greatest need. He goes on to win over his young interlocutor, basically countering Alvarez’s arguments with the same language as Terso Machuca, adding the charge that would stay with Alvarez to this day: “Los que os predican la revolución no llevan otro objeto que el de hacer su fortuna en medio de las convulsiones y el transcurso político de vuestra constitución y gobierno” [“Those who preach revolution have no other objective than to make a fortune in the middle of convulsions and the political developments in your constitution and government.”]21 In his Contestación, Alvarez countered not only the Indio Patriota but also Terso Machuca’s footnotes, basically by name-calling (especially page 43) and imputing their sanity (22), by countering almost footnote by footnote Machuca’s attack, and finally by attacking Machuca’s grammar and style, quoting some fourteen examples from Machuca’s notes.

Mexican Independence

Before leaving for his adventures in Louisiana and Texas, Alvarez de Toledo had part of the embedded call in his Manifiesto reprinted in 1811 as a fiery broadside, Mexicanos, llegado es el tiempo señalado por la Providencia para que sacudáis el yugo bárbaro. . . , calling for Mexican independence, based on the tyranny of the Cortes. Here, the Cuban creole Alvarez appealed to emergent Mexican nationalism:22

Mexicans: the time signaled by Providence has arrived for you to shuck off the barbarous and insulting yoke that the most insolent of despotisms has ignominiously forced upon you for some three hundred years. Now that the Cadiz government has obliged you to continue dragging the same chains used by the kings of Spain to imprison you, those kings who had no authority over you except what you allowed them in governing you. . . . I advise you, oh illustrious children of the famous Montezuma, do not sheath your swords until you have established order and gained complete freedom for your country.23

It may seem unlikely that Alvarez de Toledo, or anyone else, for that matter, would be issuing manifestos to Mexicans from as far away as Philadelphia. Nevertheless, this was precisely the time when Alvarez de Toledo was conspiring with José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara; there is documentation to show that Gutiérrez de Lara actually took copies of the manifesto with him to distribute during his invasion of Texas with a force made up mainly of Anglo-American mercenaries and adventurers.24 There is also evidence to suggest that Alvarez de Toledo penned another pamphlet, El Amigo de los hombres (The Friend of Man), printed in Philadelphia by Blocquerst in 1812, that was distributed by Gutiérrez de Lara and his forces.25 El amigo de los hombres seems to be a re-draft of the call for independence, quoted above, as part of Alvarez’s Manifiesto.

When Alvarez finally followed his co-conspirator Gutiérrez de Lara to Texas, he recruited to join him a Philadelphia printer, Aaron Mowry, and another pamphleteer, the Venezuelan freedom-fighter Mariano Picornell, conscious of the need to create the propaganda that would win hearts and minds to the cause of independence. While Gutiérrez was actually successful in expelling the Spanish forces from Texas, Alvarez de Toledo, Shaler and other American filibusters despaired at Gutiérrez de Lara’s poorly drafted constitution, announcing his independence not only of Spain but also of the United States.26 Alvarez de Toledo and Shaler, thus, plotted to wrest the newly founded Texas Republic from his grasp and institute a government more favorable to the interests of their sponsor, the United States of America. Now thoroughly disenchanted with Alvarez de Toledo, Gutiérrez de Lara even accused the Cuban creole of hiring assassins to kill him.27 It was in part out of this effort that Alvarez de Toledo and Shaler published in 1813 Texas’ first newspaper, La Gaceta de Texas, re-baptized El Mexicano in its second number.28 The Gaceta was type-set in Nacogdoches, Texas, at what is known today as the Old Spanish Fort, or the Old Stone Fort, but Alvarez de Toledo and Shaler had to retreat to Natchitoches before they could print it. The content of both issues of the newspaper proclaimed the benefits of independence but also directly attacked Gutiérrez de Lara and promised that US support was forthcoming for the liberation and protection of an independent Texas. Alvarez de Toledo went to San Antonio and took over the leadership of the movement, actually winning a battle, but ultimately going down in defeat because of the infighting and factionalism of what was previously Gutiérrez de Lara’s army; this was the end of the briefly independent Texas, aspiring to be a state in the recently proclaimed Mexican Republic.29 Alvarez de Toledo and Shaler, with a 500 pesos reward on their heads dead or alive, subsequently took refuge in Louisiana; the Cuban continued raising funds and armies to renew the invasion, which was never realized under his command. While in New Orleans, Alvarez de Toledo also issued new proclamations in an effort to once again recruit an army to invade Mexico, this time further south through Tampico.30 In 1814, he was arrested for violating the US Neutrality Act, but there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him and he was freed.31 It was during this time that the José María Morelos-led independence forces actually named Alvarez de Toledo mariscal (a low ranking general) of the Northern Army and later, in 1815, elevated him to full general. In New Orleans, Alvarez de Toledo purchased a ship, the Petit Milan, and was successful in delivering armaments to the rebels via Boquilla de Piedra for operations in Oaxaca and elsewhere.32 In his role of Mexican representative to the American government and business interests, Alvarez de Toledo counseled the Mexican Congress to issue a declaration of independence and direct it to all the nations of the world, to explain and advertise the causes for their rebellion; in 1815, the Congress actually published such a document, the “Pururán Manifesto.” He also advised the Congress to name an ambassador and other representatives to the United States and to send as much money as possible, given that in the United States “nada hay difícil cuando hay dinero, al paso de que cuando éste falta nada se consigue” [“nothing is difficult when there is money; but when there is none, nothing can be gotten”]. The newly named Ambassador José Manuel de Herrera brought with him a copy of the Mexican Constitution, drafted at Apatzingán, and had thousands of copies of that constitution printed and distributed in the United States.

Ferdinand VII returned to Spain and resumed his rule in 1814. This somewhat took the wind out the sails of some of the independence movements that had used ridding the Peninsula of Napoleon as partial rationale for their rebellion—as did Alvarez de Toledo. When José María Morelos was captured and executed on December 22, 1815, and the independence movement in New Spain was financially strapped, Alvarez de Toledo made a shocking decision. In 1816, he contacted Ambassador Onís and prepared to make amends with the Spanish crown and deliver intelligence about the revolution to the Spanish authorities. Harris Gaylord Warren concludes that, “Toledo was first a traitor to Ferdinand VII and then to the Mexican insurgents. He served one master always, and that one was José Alvarez de Toledo.”33

Unaware of Alvarez de Toledo’s betrayal, two other revolutionary leaders, Francisco Xavier de Mina and José Servando Teresa de Mier, left London and sought to hook up with Alvarez de Toledo either in Philadelphia or New Orleans. In Philadelphia and Washington, DC, Alvarez de Toledo did all in his power to stymie their progress and, in fact, was successful in interrupting their fund raising and recruitment of an army, but ultimately Mina prevailed and sailed off to the Gulf to revolutionize the Internal Provinces through Soto la Marina.


By 1816, Alvarez de Toledo was engaged in a bizarre plot that Ambassador Onís had hatched to incite the British to attack the American republic. The United States had slowly but surely been eroding Spanish dominance along the Gulf Coast by supporting filibusters and rebellions and later establishing relations with parts of the break-away Spanish colony. From New Orleans and later Washington, Alvarez was promoting plans to invade Florida and plant the Mexican flag there, at which point Spain would sell Florida to the British—an offer Alvarez de Toledo representing Spain in London would actually tender in person. It was in 1816 that Alvarez’s talent as a propagandist once again swung into full force: He published a letter in the Lousiana Courier (April 27, 1816) and elsewhere warning of a plot hatched by Britain to take over not only Florida, but also Cuba, or at least the port of Havana:

The question brought forth by Spain relating to West Florida, did not originate in the cabinet of Ferdinand; its source springs from a higher and deeper authority; it may be traced to the councils and policy of Great Britain. That Spain had ceded her rights to the Floridas to Great Britain, no doubt exists in my mind, and that the great maritime port of Havanna may likewise be required and ceded to England, is highly probable.

England in the possession of the Floridas and the port of Havanna, would hold in her hand the keys of the commerce of the Mississippi and the Mexican Gulph, and would be ready in case of necessity or policy to take the empire of Mexico into her safekeeping. All this and more may be attempted in this age of political miracles.

If the girdle that was that was proposed at Ghent to encircle this country, could not be accomplished, that is no reason why Great Britain will hesitate now to plant her scepter in the vicinage of the United States.34

Alvarez de Toledo closes his inflammatory letter with his patented appeal to nationalism, this time to United States citizens:

Americans be on your guard. Be assured that the coalition of legitimates of Europe are disposed for a crusade against whatever people or country that have hoisted the banner of liberty.

Mexico free and independent, and allied to the United States by interest and gratitude as well as by the laws of nature, would be of more importance to the human race and the civilized world than any event that has occurred since the 4th of July, 1776.

The complex plot, basically a hoax planned by Onís and Alvarez de Toledo, was a quixotic plan to prepare a path for the Spanish to re-conquer Louisiana while enjoying British protection against United States filibustering in Texas and Mexico.35 At least a few parties were drawn in: Joseph B. Lockey sustains that it was Alvarez de Toledo and Francisco Xavier Mina who inspired Sir Gregor McGregor to seize Amelia Island off the Florida coast; it was all part of the plan to start a war in which “England and other European power, or powers, would be brought to the side of Spain.”36 Needless to say, the Alvarez de Toledo-Mina invasion never took place; Mina instead headed to Mexico with ships purchased in the United States. Alvarez de Toledo was silent, seemingly not involved. Did this whole bogus affair place pressure on the US government to possibly hasten its timetable for accessioning Florida? Lockey asserts that a number of subsequent US invasions of Florida territories were the direct result of Alvarez de Toledo’s machinations.37

On July 1, 1816, José Alvarez de Toledo y Dubois wrote a letter to Father Antonio de Sedelia requesting that he serve as a messenger to Ambassador Onís and the Spanish crown. In it, he proposed his reintegration into the good graces of the king and his plan to defect from the Spanish American revolutionary effort; as part of the arrangement, Alvarez de Toledo offered not only to render service to the crown but also to report important intelligence on the revolutionaries and their movements.38 By the end of 1816, news of Alvarez de Toledo’s defection from the revolutionary cause was made public in a letter from the Governor and Captain General of Havana to Onís that was intercepted and published in Baltimore’s The Country Courier on December 9, 1816.39 Another letter in 1818 written by Ambassador Onís, in which he reviewed for King Ferdinand VII the whole history of José Alvarez de Toledo y Dubois and the reasons for his re-allegiance to the throne, was intercepted by a rebel corsair, and the contents of the letter were published in the Baltimore Patriot.40 His cover blown, after the Florida affair Alvarez de Toledo went into hiding to escape from an order of execution issued by the Spanish American rebels; he hid for a fortnight in Onís’s home and had no choice but to return to Spain. For all the inside information he reported about the independence movements and the parties involved in filibustering, Alvarez de Toledo was rewarded with an ambassadorship to Naples.41 As mentioned above, Mina raised forces and financing in the United States and, following Alvarez’s example, brought Baltimore printer Samuel Bangs and his printing press along with his expeditionary forces to northern Mexico.42 Bangs later became a resident printer in various towns of a free northern Mexico and later the first resident printer in Texas, where he issued in Galveston some of the first newspapers.43


Throughout all of Alvarez de Toledo’s machinations, there were repeated accusations made of his being a spy and collaborator, either in the employ of the Spanish, the French, the English, the Americans, or all of them at once, his seeking personal profit from the highest bidder. While meetings with ambassador Onís, as well as with French agents and American politicians and businessmen, have been documented, Alvarez’s closest ties seem to have been to US interests, and he even fought in Andrew Jackson’s army against the British in the Battle of New Orleans. It was, in fact, to combat some of these accusations that Alvarez de Toledo penned and published some of his book, pamphlets, and letters to the editor, which may be seen as some of the first Hispanic texts in the United States to emerge from the borders or margins of nations intersecting, overlapping and/or challenging each other, texts composed by an author who at different times and for diverse audiences positioned himself as one or more of the following nationalities: Spanish, Spanish American, Cuban, Mexican, US American (at least in spirit and rhetoric, and possibly employ).

Further Reading

Alvarez de Toledo y Dubois, José. Manifiesto o satisfacciones pundonorosas a todos los buenos españoles europeos, y a todos pueblos de la América, por un diputado de las Cortes reunidas en Cádiz. Philadelphia: s.n., 1811.Find this resource:

    Alvarez de Toledo y Dubois, José. Contestación á la carta del Indio Patriota, con algunas reflexiones sobre el diálogo entre el Entusiasta Liberal, y el Filósofo Rancio—y sobre las notas anonymas con que ha salido reimpreso el Manifiesto de dn. José Alvarez de Toledo. Philadelphia: Imprenta de Blocquerst, 1812.Find this resource:

      Alvarez de Toledo y Dubois, José. Objeciones satisfactorias del mundo imparcial al folleto dado a luz por el marte-filósofo de Delaware Don José Alvarez de Toledo . . . . reimpreso, con notas explanatories. Charleston: s.n., 1812.Find this resource:

        Alvarez de Toledo y Dubois, José. “DON JOSE ALVAREZ DE TOLEDO.” The National Register, a Weekly Paper, Containing a Series of the Important Public Documents, and the Proceedings of Congress; Statistical Tables, Reports and Essays, Original and Selected, upon Agriculture, Manufactures, Commerce, and Finance (1816, April 27) (TRUNCATED).Find this resource:

          Alvarez de Toledo y Dubois, José. Justificación de D. José Alvarez de Toledo. Reprinted in C. M. Trelles, Discursos leídos . . .Find this resource:

            Bailyn, Bernard. Pamphlets of the American Revolution 1750–1776, vol. 1. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965.Find this resource:

              Bowman, Charles H., Jr. “Vicente Pazos and the Aelia Island Affair. 1817.” The Florida Historical Quarterly 53, no. 3 (1975): 273–295.Find this resource:

                Brickhouse, Anna. Transamerican Literary Relations and the Nineteenth-Century Public Sphere. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2004.Find this resource:

                  Copia de la exposición que los Diputados de la provincia de Guipúzcoa y encargados de las de Alava y Vizcaya Manuel María de Araguren y Manuel de Tellería, dirigen a S. M. Cma. enviándole, con su decreto marginal, la Exposición hecha a la Regencia de España sobre la poca confianza que merecían en el país vascongado, D. Vicente Quesada y D. José Alvarez de Toledo. Tolosa, 28 marzo 1823; oficio de remisión a Balmaseda. Tolosa, 29 marzo 1823, y dos minutas casi iguales, dirigidas por Balmaseda al Ministro y Secretario de Estados. Biblioteca Nacional de España. Inventario general de manuscritos. Microfilm 09275. Section VII, 14.Find this resource:

                    Coscio, Elizabeth. The Dramatic Political Allegories of the Spanish Exile Félix Mexía Published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1826: Refugees from the Inquisition. New York: Mellen, 2006.Find this resource:

                      Dykstra, Kristin. “On the Betrayal of Nations: José Alvarez de Toledo’s Philadelphia Manifesto (1811) and Justification (1816).” The New Centennial Review 4, no. 1 (2004): 267–305.Find this resource:

                        Garret, Kathleen. “The First Constitution of Texas, April 17, 1813.” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 40, no. 4 (1937): 290–308.Find this resource:

                          Gutiérrez-Witt, Laura. “Cultural Continuity in the Face of Change: Hispanic Printers.” Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage, vol. 2, 260–278. Houston: Arte Público Press, 1996.Find this resource:

                            Guzmán, R. J. “Una Sociedad Secreta en Londres al Servicio de la Independencia Hispanoamericana.” Boletín del Archivo General de la Nación 2ª 8, nos. 1–2 (1967): 114–115.Find this resource:

                              Kanellos, Nicolás. “Hispanic Intellectuals Publishing in the Nineteenth-Century United Status: From Political Tracts in Support of Independence to Commercial Publishing Ventures.” Hispania 88, no. 4 (2005): 687–692.Find this resource:

                                Kanellos, Nicolás. “José Alvarez de Toledo y Dubois and the Origins of Hispanic Publishing.” Early American Literature 42, no. 2 (2007): 83–100.Find this resource:

                                  Lazo, Rodrigo. Writing to Cuba: Filibustering and Cuban Exiles in the United States. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005.Find this resource:

                                    Lockey, Joseph B. “The Florida Intrigues of José Alvarez de Toledo.” The Florida Historical Society Quarterly 12 (1934): 145–178.Find this resource:

                                      Miquel i Vergés, José María. Diccionario de insurgentes. Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, 1969.Find this resource:

                                        Rieu Millán, Marie-Laure. “Fray Servando de Mier en Londres y Miguel Ramos de Arispe en Cádiz (su actividad política y propagandística según una carta inédita de Mier, 1812).” Suplemento de Anuario de Estudios americanos 46, no. 2 (1989): 55–73.Find this resource:

                                          Riva Palacio López, Antonio. Pliegos de la diplomacia insugente. Eds. Estela Guadalupe Jiménez Codinach and María Teresa Franco Gonález. México City: Senado de la República, 1987.Find this resource:

                                            Rodríguez, O., and Jaime, E. The Emergence of Spanish America—Vicente Rocafuerte and Spanish Americanism, 1808–1832. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975.Find this resource:

                                              Spell, Lota M. Pioneer Printer: Samuel Bangs in Mexico and Texas. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963.Find this resource:

                                                Trelles, Carlos M. y Govén. Un precursor de la independencia de Cuba: Don José Alvarez de Toledo. Havana: Academia de la Historia de Cuba, 1926.Find this resource:

                                                  Warren, Harris Gaylord. The Sword Was Their Passport: A History of American Filibustering in the Mexican Revolution. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1943.Find this resource:

                                                    Wells, Elizabeth H. “Diary of José Gutiérrez de Lara.” American Historical Review 34 (1928–1929): 55–77, 281–294.Find this resource:


                                                      (3.) It was appended to both the Philadelphia (1811) and the Charleston (1812) editions of his Manifiesto ó satisfacción pundonorosa, a todos los buenos españoles europeos y todos los pueblos de América, por un diputado de las cortes reunidas en Cadiz, to be studied later in this article.

                                                      (4.) Warren, The Sword Was Their Passport, 12.

                                                      (5.) Warren, The Sword Was Their Passport, 11.

                                                      (6.) The Spaniard (Mallorcan) Mariano Picornell had led a rebellion against the throne in Spain in attempts to found a republic there. Later, in exile, he became involved in the movements for Spanish American independence and had published translations of The Rights of Man and the US Constitution. See Antonio Riva Palacio López, et al., Pliegos de la diplomacia insugente (Mexico City: Senado de la República, 1987), 490–491. Including a translation of his report to Santo Domingo. See “José Alvarez de Toledo to the Council of the City of Santo Domingo, October 2, 1811,” Aurora, December 17, 1811.

                                                      (7.) Quoted in Wells, Elizabeth H., “Diary of José Gutiérrez de Lara,” 75.

                                                      (8.) Warren, The Sword Was Their Passport, 13.

                                                      (9.) According to a J. M. Miquel I. Vergés, Diccionario…, 261–262, Monroe counseled Gutiérrez to draft a constitution based on the US Constitution and planned to incorporate a free Texas into the American Union, an offer which incensed Gutiérrez and led him to leave Washington without many of the resources he had hoped to garner. This independent attitude of Gutiérrez later led Alvarez and US agent William Shaler to plot against him and depose him from the leadership of the movement.

                                                      (10.) The most important sources attempting to disentangle and document Alvarez de Toledo’s motives and movements are: Kristin Dykstra, “On the Betrayal of Nations”; Riva Palacio, Pliegos de la diplomacia insugente; Carlos M. Trelles, Un precursor de la independencia de Cuba: Don José Alvarez de Toledo (Havana: Academia de la Historia de Cuba, 1926); and Warren, The Sword Was Their Passport.

                                                      (11.) Printed in Philadelphia without a printer’s name in the edition. Likewise, the Charleston reprint in 1812 did not identify a printer.

                                                      (12.) Dykstra, “On the Betrayal,” 272.

                                                      (13.) What Warren has slighted as a “tirade” (The Sword Was Their Passport, 25).

                                                      (14.) This and the following are my translation: “Diez y seis millones de habitantes que ocupan este delicioso Continente, no se representan jamás á los ojos del Gobierno y Mandatarios de Europa, sino como una horda de esclavos miserables que deben obedecer ciegamente á todo lo que se les mande, y besar en profundo silencio las duras cadenas que arrastran desde los tiempos de Cortés y Pizarro,” José Alvarez de Toledo y Dubois, Manifiesto (Philadelphia: s.n., 1811), 49. (Subsequent citations are found in text.)

                                                      (15.) “Llegó el momento en que debí separarme de vosotros para evitar la persecución más atroz; y mi ultimo á Dios á ese suelo desgraciado, fue interrumpido por las emociones patéticas de la ternura y del dolor. La memoria del los buenos estará siempre gravada en mi alma con afectuosa estimación y respeto; y la de los malos me servirá en todos tiempos de lección y de escándalo” (p. 49).

                                                      (16.) Trelles credits this document as being the first to call for Cuban independence from Spain. Trelles further declares that the distribution of the Manifiesto was widespread in the Americas and that, in fact, the Spanish government had declared it subversive and had prohibited its entrance into the island, which accounts for its absence from archives in Cuba to this day (Un precursor, 16). However, the Manifiesto itself was ostensibly addressed to the inhabitants of Santo Domingo, it being the author’s desire to render an account to the people he had been elected to represent.

                                                      (17.) “Americanos, los que habitáis las islas y el inmenso continente que sometió a su Imperio la Antigua España: oid mis voces que se exhalan sobre las fecundas y pacíficas riberas del hermoso Delaware, exaltadas por hacer felices a los Pueblos del Nuevo Mundo, y por ser la admiración y la dulce envidia de la orgullosa y tiranizada Europa. . . . Es preciso sacrificarlo todo al bien general; y sobre las bases más puras y sólidas construir la obra que debe hacer inmortal y admirable a la América en las edades venideras. . . . En la Constitución de los Estados Unidos podéis encontrar bellas cosas: elegid lo bueno, y evitado lo que puede ser funesto a la América en algún día.”

                                                      (18.) “Americanos: el mundo ha fixado la vista sobre vosotros; después de tres siglos de esclavitud y de ignominia, vais a ocupar un rango sublime entre las naciones cultas, y á sobrepujar la Gloria y el poder magestuoso de la antígua Europa. Mucho tenéis que hacer, mas no se obtienen grandes cosas sin grandes sacrificios, y sin una constancia inalterable, generosa, y superior á los reveses y a los halagos de la fortuna. Corred a donde os llama la Diestra omnipotente y augusta de la Providencia; y acordaos de que la libertad es el mas precioso de todos los bienes; que nunca será mucho lo que se haga por ella.”

                                                      (19.) “¡Oh dulces presentimientos de libertad de mi Patria! Si os realizáis, moriré lleno de gozo, aunque sea vertiendo toda mi sangre para defender sus derechos, y aterrar á sus enemigos. Estos son los votos de mi corazón; y oxalá, que sean también los de todos mis hermanos en la Isla de Cuba, y en la vasta extensión del hemisferio Americano.”

                                                      (21.) Anonymous, Diálogo sobre la independencia de la América Española entre un entusiasta liberal y un filósofo rancio (Philadelphia: Palmer, 1812), 17.

                                                      (22.) Here as in his pamphlets, Alvarez de Toledo employed a rhetorical style redolent of oratory and public address, thus confirming what Gustafson in her book Eloquence Is Power has seen as the need to lend authority to the written/printed word during these times of emergent nationalism.

                                                      (23.) “MEXICANOS: llegado es el tiempo señalado por la Providencia para que sacudáis el yugo bárbaro, y afrentoso, con que por el espacio de casi 300 años os oprimió ignominiosamente el despotismo insolente. Ahora quiere el Gobierno de Cádiz obligaros a que continuéis arrastrando las mismas cadenas, con que is aprisionaron los Reyes de España, los cuales no tenían sobre vosotros más autoridad, que la que vosotros mismos les prestasteis para ser por ella gobernados. . . . Yo os consejo, ilustres hijos de Moctesuma, que no envainéis vuestras espadas hasta no haber reestablecido el orden, y dado entera libertad a vuestro país.”

                                                      (24.) In fact, the copy of the document held at the Yale University library is signed by hand by José Bernardo Gutiérrez; Alvarez de Toledo’s initials (J.A.T.), however, are printed at the end of the document, signifying authorship. Also see Warren, The Sword Was Their Passport, 25, substantiates. Also see Kathleen Garret, “The First Constitution of Texas, April 17, 1813,” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 40, no. 4 (1937): 290.

                                                      (25.) In fact, a courier was caught in Nacogdoches with copies of the pamphlet. See Garret, “The First Constitution of Texas,” 295–296.

                                                      (26.) José Servando Teresa de Mier believed it to be a good constitution, as he declared in the first history of the revolutions. See his Historia de la revolución de Nueva España (London: Imprenta de G. Glindon, 1813), 711. See Garret, “The First Constitution of Texas,” 207.

                                                      (27.) See Wells, “Diary of José Gutiérrez de Lara,” 59. This was a far cry from Gutiérrez de Lara’s initial appraisal of Alvarez de Toledo: “. . . he is a man of great talents, and passionately devoted to the cause of the liberty of Mexico: up to the present time he has worked much to this end; his merit therein is great and [he is] worthy of recompense and advancement in the cause, at the hands of that nation. The discourses of that gentleman are admirably great and just” (Wells, “Diary of José Gutiérrez de Lara,” 76).

                                                      (28.) With the exception of New Orleans, which had a Spanish government press, Spain did not allow the printing press into its northern provinces in North America, perhaps because of its potential for use by filibusters and revolutionaries. In fact, the press was heavily censored in New Spain. Licenses to publish in the Spanish colonies had to be obtained directly from the Spanish crown, and materials were subject to review by both state and religious authorities. In 1810, the Spanish Cortes created the Junta Suprema de Censura (Supreme Censorship Commission) and in 1820 the Cortes passed the Ley de Imprenta (Printing Law), which severely restricted printing and publishing. It was not until 1834, under the Mexican Republic, that New Mexico and California received the printing press. These were possibly the same newspaper with a title change, according to Laura Gutiérrez-Witt, “Cultural Continuity in the Face of Change: Hispanic Printers,” Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage, vol. 2 (Houston: Arte Público Press, 1996), 278. It is noteworthy that the second issue of this newspaper appealed to nascent Mexican nationalism in its title, repeating what Alvarez had done in his manifesto.

                                                      (29.) Joseph B. Lockey negates the assertion by various historians and commentators that Alvarez de Toledo lost the battle on purpose, countering that intrigues by officers loyal to Gutiérrez de Lara, desertions, and internal dissentions caused his army to arrive too late to effect a winning strategy at the battle of Medina. See Lockey, “The Florida Intrigues of José Alvarez de Toledo,” The Florida Historical Society Quarterly 12 (1934): 71.

                                                      (30.) Riva Palacio, Pliegos de la diplomacia insugente, 485.

                                                      (31.) Lockey, “The Florida Intrigues,” 159.

                                                      (32.) Warren, The Sword Was Their Passport, 128.

                                                      (33.) Warren, The Sword Was Their Passport, 138.

                                                      (34.) “DON JOSE ALVAREZ DE TOLEDO.” The National Register, a Weekly Paper (April 27, 1816).

                                                      (35.) See Lockey, “The Florida Intrigues,” 169–170.

                                                      (37.) Lockey, “The Florida Intrigues,” 163, 168, and 176.

                                                      (38.) Article 8—no title. (December 09, 1816). The Country Courier (1816–1817), 2, 20. doi.124141857?accountid=7107.

                                                      (39.) See Article 8 above. In the same file there is a letter from Luis Alvarez de Toledo, José’s father, beseeching his son to follow through on his offer to the crown.

                                                      (40.) Riva Palacio, Pliegos de la diplomacia insugente, 326.

                                                      (41.) Nevertheless, accusations of spying and treachery dogged Alvarez de Toledo even in Spain after his reintegration. See the manuscript in the National Library of Spain, microfilm 09275, section VII, 14 entitled “Copia de la exposición que los Diputados de la provincia de Guipúzcoa y encargados de las de Alava y Vizcaya. . . .”

                                                      (42.) In fact, it seems that Alvarez involved Mina in his Florida plot. See Lockey, “The Florida Intrigues,” 175–178.

                                                      (43.) See Lota M. Spell, Pioneer Printer: Samuel Bangs in Mexico and Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963) for complete details on Mina’s and Bangs’s trajectory as well as for facsimiles of their publications.