While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


James W. Daddysman

QUINTERO, JOSÉ AGUSTÍN (1829–1885). José Agustín Quintero, attorney, journalist, and diplomat (incorrectly listed as "Juan" in The War of the Rebellion: The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies), was born in Havana, Cuba, on May 6, 1829, to Antonio and Anna (Woodville) Quintero. He also worked as an archivist, newspaper editor, diplomat, and confidential Confederate agent for President Jefferson Davis in Brownsville, Matamoros, and Monterrey, where he played a significant role in establishing the Matamoros trade. He was a precocious child and was sent to the United States to complete his education; he is said to have attended Harvard, although there is no official record of his enrollment there. During his stay at Cambridge Quintero allegedly became friends with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Ralph Waldo Emerson. He returned to Cuba around 1848 to enter law practice, but he became involved in the movement for Cuban independence that centered around Narciso López and was court-martialed and sentenced to death. But he escaped from Castle Moro and fled to Texas. In 1856 he became editor of the San Antonio Spanish-language newspaper El Ranchero (see SPANISH-LANGUAGE NEWSPAPERS) and Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.

Quintero traveled widely throughout Texas and northern Mexico and gained a familiarity with the ways and customs of the people on both sides of the border. He became friends with Mirabeau B. Lamar and assisted in the study of Spanish manuscripts now included in the Lamar papers. In 1857 he served as assistant clerk of the Texas House of Representatives. He met Governor Santiago Vidaurri of the state of Nuevo León y Coahuila in 1859 during the governor's brief, self-imposed exile in Austin. Their friendship was maintained by sporadic correspondence until the outbreak of the Civil War brought them into a close and valuable working relationship for the Confederacy. Quintero lived briefly in New Orleans, where he was admitted to the bar, but soon moved north as a journalist. With the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the Quitman Guards of Texas. After his company was sent to Virginia, he was assigned to the diplomatic corps, and President Jefferson Davis appointed him confidential agent of the Confederate government in Mexico.

Quintero quickly demonstrated the shrewdness, insight, and tenacity necessary to achieve diplomatic success. Largely as a result of his efforts, the Matamoros trade was opened up for Texas and the Trans-Mississippi Department. After the federals captured Brownsville in November 1863, Quintero crossed the river to Matamoros and continued his work. He spent considerable time in Monterrey, where he maintained diplomatic relations with Governor Vidaurri. Under his careful eye more than 320,000 bales of cotton (about one-fifth of all Confederate cotton exports) were slipped past the Union blockade at the mouth of the Rio Grande and exchanged for valuable war materials in England and Europe. After the end of the war Quintero accepted a position with the Galveston News, but soon moved to New Orleans, where he practiced law and wrote for the New Orleans Daily Picayune. He married Eliza F. Bournos, and they had four children. Quintero served as New Orleans consul for Belgium and Costa Rica, and at the time of his death around September 8, 1885, he was editor of the Picayune.

Gerardo Castellanos García, Panorama histórico; ensayo de cronología cubana, desde 1492 hasta 1933 (Havana: Ucar, García, 1934). James W. Daddysman, The Matamoros Trade: Confederate Commerce, Diplomacy, and Intrigue (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1984). New Orleans Daily Picayune, September 8, 1885. Ronnie C. Tyler, Santiago Vidaurri and the Southern Confederacy (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1973).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, James W. Daddysman, "QUINTERO, JOSE AGUSTIN," accessed May 25, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fqu05.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...