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Juan Duran de Miranda

Captain Don Juan Durán de Miranda served twice as governor of New Mexico. His first term was from 1664 to 1665, just about a year; and his second lasted from 1671 to 1675. Information concerning him and his activities are very meager.

By Grace Meredith

Twentieth and Twenty-third Governor of New Mexico

First Term: 1664‑1665

Second Term: 1671‑1675

 WPA Biography Project

Captain Don Juan Durán de Miranda served twice as governor of New Mexico. His first term was from 1664 to 1665, just about a year; and his second lasted from 1671 to 1675. Information concerning him and his activities are very meager.

The most important influence during the seventeenth century in New Mexico was the Church. Of course, there was some power and authority vested in the town council of Santa Fe as well, for although it was frequently controlled by the governor in office, there are many instances where it most effectively and drastically resisted both the governor and his policies.

Governor Miranda during his first term was deprived of office. He was arrested. He was imprisoned in the Casa de Cabildo (jail) in Santa Fe; and more than that, he was subjected to what was termed "an iniquitous residencia."

This residencia was essentially Spanish, and it is of interest to know that its principles were doubtless inherited from the Romans. Its most serious fault was that it endeavored to punish offenders and evils— whereas, it should have sought to be the instrument by which to prevent them. The Spanish authorities tried to make it adaptable to a vast and far‑flung colonial empire, but not by any stretch of the imagination, could it be called successful.

Miranda left New Mexico in 1665, and it is assumed that in some satisfactory manner his accounts were eventually adjusted, because in 1671 he was back in Santa Fe, having been appointed governor of New Mexico for a second term.

With its devastating effect upon the morals of the Spaniards, as well as upon the Indians, the controversy and bitterness between the Church and State in New Mexico, smouldered during these years.

The Franciscans had done their best to stamp out every vestige of the old Indian ceremonials and dances, and when in secret the Indians practised their religion as they undoubtedly did, if they were caught, as was more or less frequently the case, severe punishment was meted out. Not only the Pueblo Indians, but the increasing raids by the Apaches on both missions and pueblos, were the cause of grave concern.

On October 7th, 1672, one of the Zuni towns, Hawaikuh, was destroyed. This was about eighteen miles southwest of our present day Zuni; and during the raid, Padre Pedro do Ayala was killed. Six of the pueblos farther east were also destroyed by raids of the Apaches. They also surprised the pueblo of Senecu on January 23rd, 1675, and killed Fray Alonzo Gil de Avila and 80 many of the inhabitants of all ages and both sexes, that the very few survivors fled in terror to Socorro, and Senecu was never again inhabited.

Previous to this time, there had been a far‑reaching and more or less disastrous change in the administration of the all‑important Mission Supply Service, the service so essential to the general welfare of the province.

With the Royal alms paid him in 1674, Fray Francisco de Ayeta, the procurator‑general at this time, purchased wagons and mules for the account of the Franciscan Order, and transported the usual supplies for the missions.

A few words regarding Fray Ayeta are in order: he was one of the most outstanding men in seventeenth century New Mexico, ranking with Perea, Bishop Manso, Posada and others. His greatest service to the province was during 1680 and thereabouts, which will be stated later; and after his New Mexican experiences, he was appointed to important offices in Franciscan administration in Mexico.

When Ayeta arrived in New Mexico in 1675, he found the province in rather desperate straits. The struggle for supremacy in authority between the civil and ecclesiastical jurisdictions had weakened and undermined the entire provincial government; and in consequence, all of the Indians, both the Pueblos and the nomadic tribes such as Apaches and Navajos, held a growing and bitter contempt for Spanish rule. To make matters worse, the Mansso Administration of the Mission Supply Service had, to say the least, lessened its efficiency. As long as the Missions could make the strong appeal to the Indians by furnishing food and other things on occasion, the Indians maintained a certain sort of loyalty to the Church, but the moment this was no longer possible or was decreased, they grew day by day, more and more restless and rebellious.

Such were the grave and menacing conditions in New Mexico, when Miranda departed in 1675 for Mexico City, and a new governor had been appointed for the province.

References:

New Mexico Historical Review for October 1930.

New Mexico Historical Review for April 1935.

Southwestern State Historical Quarterly for January 1918. TexasState Historical Association Austin, Texas.

New Mexico, by George Wharton James, The Page Company, Boston 1920.

History of Arizona and New Mexicoby Hubert Howe Bancroft, The History Company, San Francisco 1930.

The Coming of the White Man by Herbert Ingram Priestley, The Macmillan Company, New York 1929.

Leading Facts of New Mexico History by Ralph Emerson Twitchell, Esq. The Torch Press, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1911.