Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Paul Ganster


Paul Ganster


In 1785, two men came into important government positions in New Spain who had considerable influence on the Indian policies of the Spanish frontier. These men were Bernardo de Galvez and Jacobo Ugarte y Loyola. Both had proven their competence through earlier services to the crown. Galvez had come to the new world while still a relatively young man in 1769. Due to his own accomplishments, and the watchful eye of his uncle, Jose de Galvez, Bernardo advanced rapidly. He first served on the Louisi.ana frontier as a military officer, and in time rose to become governor of that province. In 1779, when Spain declared war on England, Galvez directed the conquest of British posts on the lower Mississippi River and the capture of the Bahamas. On the death of his father, Viceroy Mat!as de Galvez, in 1785, he was sent to Mexico to succeed him as viceroy of New Spain.

Jacobo Ugarte y Loyola had proven himself a capable soldier in wars with Portugal and Italy. In 1769, he had been dispatched to New Spain to serve as military governor of the frontier provinces. In 1776, when the Council of the Indies formed a new frontier policy which separated the regions of Sonora, Coahuila, New Mexico and Texas from the vice royalty of New Spain, Ugarte was appointed military governor of Sonora.

This reorganization of the frontier was due largly to the increased pressure of the Apache raids on the northern settlements. The new region, known as the Frovinaiae IntePnae, was under the direct military rule of Teodoro de Croix. The increased Apache problems were theresults of territorial expansion to the southwest by the Commanches. These two Indian groups were traditional enemies, and as the more powerful Commanches gained ground in the east, the Apaches moved farther into the Spanish domain. The minister of the Indies, Jose de Galvez, was convinced that this threat could only be stopped by a coordinated effort of all the military forces on the frontier, which brought about the realignment of command in the area.

In 1785, at approximately the same time as Bernardo de Galvez became viceroy of New Spain, Jacobo Ugarte was appointed the commander general of the P.rovinaiae Internas. Ugarte, in his position as commander general, had full charge of all military activit ies on the northern frantier and was directly responsible only to Viceroy Galvez. In the fall of 1786, Galvez fell victim of a fever and died. Before his death, however, he outlined a very promising plan to Ugarte for improving the situation on the frontier.

The Galvez policy for dealing with all Indians on the frontier in general, and the Apaches in particular, was perhaps the most important plan ever adopted by the Spanish for control of the Indians of the northern provinces of New Spain. It worked for twenty-four years--from its inception in 1786 until the latter part of 1810, when it collapsed due to lack of use during the Mexican independence movement.

This paper will attempt to assess the reasons for the effectiveness of this policy, its impact upon the Indians--particularly the Apaches-and look at the Spanish military of the late 1700's in the southwest. To understand the need for formation of the Galvez policy it will be necessary to review briefly the history of the Apaches to 1760, the situation of the Spanish on the frontier, initial Spanish Indian policies from 1766 to 1785 and to look in depth at the policy of Bernardo de Galvez.

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