Pichardo, José Antonio (1748–1812)

By: Carlos E. Castañeda

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: August 4, 2020

José Antonio Pichardo, author of the monumental treatise On the Limits of Louisiana and Texas, was born in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in 1748. He attended the college of San Juan de Letrán, where he later held the chairs of Latin and philosophy. He took religious orders and joined the Oratory of San Felipe Neri in Mexico City, where he served as secretary for twenty-three years. He was chaplain of the Hospital for the Poor, father confessor of the Capuchin nuns, a popular sacred orator, and a scholar of distinction. Out of his meager savings he built a fine collection of 6,000 books and manuscripts. In addition to a thorough knowledge of Greek and Latin, he knew the principal European languages, as shown by the frequent references in his works to French, Italian, English, and Dutch authorities. His fame as a scholar obtained for him in 1808 the appointment as successor to Fray Melchor de Talamantes, who had been commissioned the year before to carry out the royal order of May 20, 1805, for the compilation of all pertinent data concerning the true boundary between Texas and Louisiana. After his predecessor was removed for political reasons, Pichardo worked for four years, "uninterruptedly night and day, without even leaving [his] room," to complete his 3,000-page report and twenty maps. "Father Pichardo has done a monumental work," avers Charles W. Hackett, the translator and editor of the treatise, "of prime importance to the Texas-Louisiana region....His conclusions are sane and correct." Among his other works are Elogio de San Felipe Neri, pronunciado en el día de la bendición solemne de la Nueva Casa de Ejercicios Espirituales de Méjico (Mexico City, 1803), Historia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios de Méjico (unpublished), Vida del glorioso mártir, hijo y patrón de Méjico, el beato Felipe de Jesús (edited by Carlos E. Castañeda, Guadalajara, 1934), and Sermones y varios oposculos (unpublished). The task of writing the border treatise sapped the sexagenarian's strength. His work was enthusiastically praised by the advisors of the viceroy, who granted him a pension of 100 pesos a month for life and recommended his appointment as canon of the Cathedral of Mexico. Before this high honor was conferred, Pichardo, sick with gout and suffering from rheumatism, died, on November 11, 1812, just a few months after the completion of his report. See also SPANISH MAPPING OF TEXAS.

José Antonio Pichardo, Vida y Martirio del Protomártir Mexicano San Felipe de Jesús de las Casas (Guadalajara, Jalisco: Loreto y Dieguez, 1934).

  • Religion
  • Catholic
Time Periods:
  • Spanish Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Carlos E. Castañeda, “Pichardo, José Antonio,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/pichardo-jose-antonio.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 4, 2020

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