First published in Paris in 1834, Journey to the United States of America / Viaje a los Estados Unidos del Norte América, by Lorenzo de Zavala, is an elegantly written travel narrative that maps de Zavala’s journey through the United States during his exile from Mexico in 1830. Embracing U.S., Texas, and Mexican history; early ethnography; geography; and political philosophy, de Zavala outlines the cultural and political institutions of Jacksonian America and post-independence Mexico. de Zavala’s commentary rivals Alex de Tocqueville’s classic travel narrative, Democracy in America, which was published in Paris one year after de Zavala’s.
The narrative presents the first account of U.S. political culture from a Mexican point of view and constructs the first comparative political and historical framework for the relationship between Mexico and the United States.
In passionate prose, de Zavala argues for the incorporation of the true democratic ideals of the enlightenment in the fledgling Republic of Texas. He hoped Texas would meld the best of both Mexican and American cultures. de Zavala believed that if his colleagues who helped frame the Texas Constitution understood the complexities of democracy and the ideals that their state could achieve through a liberal, federal government that gave equal rights to all of its constituents: Native Americans, Mexicans, Euro-Americans, and free African Americans.
The original text is accompanied by eight pages of maps and historical photos, John-Michael Rivera’s critical introduction, and an English translation based upon Wallace Woolsey’s deft translation, expanded and revised for the purposes of this volume.