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After Sibley had been for about two months in New Mexico he submitted to Governor Narbona a report of his work and a map showing the route. Besides the facts contained in the report to Poinsett, this told of the treaties made with the Indian tribes within the United States and of the intention of the United States government to establish a military post on the Arkansas river for the protection of the route against Indian attacks, and suggested that the lawless Indians within the Mexican borders could be easily restrained by the establishment of two similar posts between the Arkansas and the mountains, for which suitable sites could be found. He added that he could not for a moment doubt that the government of Mexico would not only sanction the establishment of the contemplated road but would also take effective measures to secure it from the depredations of Indian tribes within its jurisdiction.32 On the next day after he had received Sibley's report Governor Narbona forwarded it to the government at Mexico asking that the proper instructions be sent to him for dealing with the situation.33
On January 18, 1826, shortly after receiving Sibley's letter of November 12, Poinsett handed it to the secretary for foreign relations. At the same time he communicated to the government the content of Clay's note of September 24, 1825, expressing the regret of
32 Sibley to Narbona, Santa Fé, January 5, 1826, MS., Relaciones Exteriores.
33 Narbona to Secretario, Santa Fé, 6 de enero de 1826, MS., Relaciones Exteriores.
the government of the United States at learning of the reluctance of the Mexican government to cooperate in opening the road, and saying that it was intended for purely commercial purposes and would have no effect whatever on the location of the boundary. To defer marking out the road, Poinsett added, and thereby deny to the merchants the benefit of it until a future arrangement could be made to which it had no necessary relation did not seem politic or advisable. conclusion Poinsett declared: "As the commissioners on the part of the United States are on the spot, I cannot reject the hope that this government will revise its former decision on this subject and, if it does not aid the efforts of the commissioners of the United States, will at least permit them to accomplish the object of their appointment and complete the demarkation of this road from the frontier of New Mexico to the city of Santa Fé." In writing to Clay on the same day Poinsett said that the President of Mexico had submitted to the Congress the question of opening the road, and had promised to endeavor to obtain an early decision. But the deliberations of that body, Poinsett added, were interminable. However as soon as a decision should be reached he would communicate it to the United States commissioner then waiting at Santa Fé.35
Three months more passed without a decision. Fi
34 Poinsett to Camacho, January 18, 1826, MS., Relaciones Exteriores.
35 Poinsett to Clay, January 18, 1826, MS., Department of State, Despatches from Mexico, I.
nally on April 17, 1826, Poinsett wrote to the secretary for foreign relations saying that he was compelled again to bring to the latter's notice the matter of the opening of the road. He said that the commissioner of the United States, after waiting for several months at Santa Fé for an answer from the Mexican government, was about to return to the state of Missouri. "It would be a subject of regret," he added, "that the expense of making the journey to Santa Fé with surveyors and the necessary instruments should have been incurred in vain; and I beg Your Excellency to solicit the consent of His Excellency, the President of the United Mexican States, to the survey and marking out of the western section of the proposed road from Santa Fé to Missouri by Mr. Sibley on his return homeward."36
A little less than a month later, on May 13, 1826, the Mexican government wrote to Governor Narbona of New Mexico saying that in view of a note from the plenipotentiary of the United States the President of Mexico had decided to authorize Narbona to permit Mr. Sibley to survey the western part of the road. The work was to be limited, however, to the survey alone. He was not to cut down trees or erect marks along the route.3 On the same day, Poinsett was informed of the orders which had been sent to the authorities at Santa Fé. He was told that for the pres
36 Poinsett to Secretary for Foreign Relations, April 17, 1826, MS., Relaciones Exteriores.
37 Secretario to Gobernador del Nuevo Mexico, 13 de mayo de 1826, MS., Relaciones Exteriores.
ent it was impossible for the Mexican government to send an agent to cooperate with Mr. Sibley in the survey. 38 When these orders reached Santa Fé, Governor Narbona transmitted them on June 14 to Mr. Sibley, who acknowledged them five days later, saying that he would determine what he should do, in view of the very restricted permission, as soon as his colleagues, who were expected soon, should arrive.39
The writer does not have at hand certain proof of just what was done by the commission on the return. But it seems that the restricted instructions were obeyed to the letter, that the route was surveyed from the neighborhood of Santa Fé to the border on the Arkansas, but that no monuments were erected.40
38 Camacho to Poinsett, 13 de mayo de 1826, MS., Relaciones Exteriores. An English translation of this note is in MS., Department of State, Despatches from Mexico, I, enclosed with Poinsett to Clay, May 17, 1826.
39 Sibley to Narbona, Taos, June 19, 1826, MS., Relaciones Exteriores. He acknowledges Narbona's note of June 14, communicating the permission. Narbona to Secretario, 30 de junio de 1826, transmitted Sibley's reply to the government at Mexico.
40 Broadhead, in Missouri Historical Review, IV, 315, says: 'During 1826 the commissioners obtained authority from the Mexican government to examine routes in their territory; and a survey was begun at Fernando de Taos and ran to connect with the survey of the year before. . . . A map of the survey was placed in the office of the War Department at Washington City and was seen there only a few years ago." This article then goes on to describe two maps made by J. C. Brown, the surveyor employed by the commission, showing the route from Fort Osage to Santa Fé, and a third map showing the route from the United States boundary to Santa Fé. One of the first two, Broadhead says, is dated October 27, 1827, and bears
When Clay received Poinsett's report concerning the authorization which had been sent to Santa Fé for Sibley's return survey, he said: "The restricted permission given in regard to the proposed road from Missouri into the territories of the United Mexican States does not seem likely to be productive of much good."41
From this time, the middle of 1826, until the early part of 1830, with which date this study closes, very little mention is made in diplomatic communications concerning the Santa Fé road or the Santa Fé trade. In April, 1827, Poinsett wrote to Clay concerning a claim against the Mexican government which he had been asked to present for losses to merchants of the United States occasioned by an attack of Comanche an endorsement by Colonel John I. Abert of the corps of engineers in 1844 saying that it is the original plat of the survey. He continues: "A manuscript atlas in the hand writing of Geo. C. Sibley shows route from boundary of Missouri to Fernando de Taos with notes and directions for travelers."
Bancroft, History of Arizona and New Mexico, 334, says: 'The road was never marked by mounds beyond the Arkansas, and only in part to that river," citing Gregg and Prince as authority. He says also: "It does not appear, however, that the traders ever made use of the road as surveyed, preferring to follow the earlier trail."
The Eighteenth Biennial Report of the Kansas State Historical Society for 1911-1912, pp. 107-125, contains a valuable "Report of a Committee Appointed to prepare a correct Map of the Old Santa Fé Trail across the State of Kansas." To this is appended the map and the "Field Notes" of J. C. Brown, the surveyor, cited in footnote 29, above.
41 Clay to Poinsett, June 23, 1826, MS., Department of State, Instructions, XI.