Capt. B. B. Paddock was one of the most prolific authors on Texas history. His writings are probably the most complete and best balanced ones. This book covers the history of the Texas Northwest and especially the history of the Fort Worth Region. This is volume two out of two.
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History of Texas:
Fort Worth and the Texas Northwest
BUCKLEY B. PADDOCK
History of Texas, Fort Worth 2, B. B. Paddock
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
CHAPTER XXII. THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS. 1
CHAPTER XXIII. THE TRANSITION FROM REPUBLIC TO STATE.. 29
CHAPTER XXIV. TEXAS IN THE MEXICAN WAR.. 36
CHAPTER XXV. THE TEXAS-NEW MEXICO BOUNDARY.. 40
CHAPTER XXVI. THE PUBLIC DEBT.. 46
CHAPTER XXVII. Prosperity and Progress, 1846-1860. 50
CHAPTER XXVIII. BORDER AND FRONTIER TROUBLES, 1849-1860. 56
CHAPTER XXIX. POLITICS, 1851-1860. 67
CHAPTER XXX. SECESSION.. 76
CHAPTER XXXI. TEXAS IN THE WAR.. 86
CHAPTER XXXII. RECONSTRUCTION.. 96
CHAPTER XXXIII. RADICAL RULE AND ITS OVERTHROW... 110
CHAPTER XXXIV. AFTER WAR AND RECONSTRUCTION.. 122
CHAPTER XXXV. MEN AND MEASURES. 158
CHAPTER XXXVI. RAILROAD BUILDING AND GENERAL DEVELOPMENT 191
CHAPTER XXXVII. PUBLIC HIGHWAYS. 202
CHAPTER XXXVIII. THE LIVE STOCK INDUSTRY.. 211
CHAPTER XXXIX. MINERAL RESOURCES. 232
CHAPTER XL. PETROLEUM... 249
CHAPTER XLI. TIMBER AND LUMBER.. 261
CHAPTER XLII. IRRIGATION.. 263
CHAPTER XLIII. THE SOUTH PLAINS OF THE PANHANDLE.. 268
CHAPTER XLIV. PUBLIC INSTRUCTION.. 274
CHAPTER XLV. FORT WORTH BEGINNINGS. 280
CHAPTER XLVI. FORT WORTH BECOMES A CITY.. 288
CHAPTER XLVII. EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES. 294
CHAPTER XLVIII. PUBLIC SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS. 300
CHAPTER XLIX. THE COURTS, BENCH AND BAR.. 306
CHAPTER L. INSTITUTIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS. 308
CHAPTER LI. FORT WORTH INDUSTRIES. 333
CHAPTER LII. WAR ACTIVITIES OF FORT WORTH.. 356
The domestic history of the Republic may be briefly summarized. President Burnet’s administration was inaugurated at the gloomiest moment of the war. The Alamo had fallen, and Santa Anna’s main division was advancing toward the heart of the colonies; Urrea, after destroying Johnson and Grant’s forces, was pushing toward Fannin at Goliad; Houstonwas retreating from Gonzales; and the roads east of the Guadalupe were thronged with fugitives, seeking a refuge in Eastern Texas or across the Sabine. Considering Washington on the Brazos too exposed for the seat of government, President Burnet established himself at Harrisburg. From there the approach of Santa Anna drove him about the middle of April to Galveston Island; but there were no accommodations at Galveston, and after the battle of San Jacinto the government made its third shift to Velasco. Finally, the close of the administration in October found the government at Columbia. In the midst of such confusion definite policies were not to be expected. The president simply met problems as they arose and dealt with them as he could.
Prior to the battle of San Jacinto, such time as the wanderings of the government permitted was employed in efforts to calm the fugitives, strengthen the army, and obtain supplies. These efforts were not conspicuously successful. The people were panic-stricken, and paid little attention to Burnet’s reassuring proclamations; volunteers came but slowly to the army; and the substitution of Thomas Toby and brother in New Orleans for William Bryan as purchasing agent of Texas was all but disastrous. Bryan had been appointed by the general council in the fall of 1835, and had used his personal credit for nearly eighty thousand dollars in the Texan cause; while the Toby brothers were said to be on the verge of bankruptcy at the time of their appointment, and proved themselves far less efficient than Bryan had been.
Following the battle of San Jacinto the execution of the Treaty of Velasco became an issue. According to the secret treaty, the Texan government was to release Santa Anna and send him back to Mexico, where he agreed to use his influence to induce his government to recognize the independence of Texas. On June 1 Santa Anna was placed on board a government vessel destined for Vera Cruz, but before it got under way, on June 3, a party of immigrant volunteers arrived from New Orleans, and on learning that it was the intention to liberate the author of the Alamo and Goliad massacres demanded that he be surrendered to them. In the end the civil authorities were compelled to recall Santa Anna and hand him over to the army. He protested against this breach of the treaty and complained of the hardships to which he was exposed; but to this Burnet somewhat sharply replied that Santa Anna’s visit among them had caused the Texans some privations and that for that reason they were little inclined to regret that he should share them. In July Santa Anna appealed to President Jackson to offer intervention in adjusting the relations between Texas and Mexico, but the Mexican government had disavowed the treaty of Velasco and had notified the powers that it would not recognize as binding upon it any act of Santa Anna, so that President Jackson took no action. After the failure of an attempt to rescue the distinguished prisoner he was placed in a very rigorous confinement, and it was not until the inauguration of President Houston in October that he was released. He then visited Washington and again proposed intervention to President Jackson, who still declined to act. In February, 1837, he returned to Mexico, being carried to Vera Cruz by a naval vessel of the United States. The other Mexican prisoners captured at San Jacinto were liberated early m Houston’s administration, after detention first at Galveston and later at Liberty.
The interference of the army in the case of Santa Anna reveals another source of confusion during the period of the ad interim government. The refusal of Mexico to accept the verdict of San Jacinto and its evident determination to renew the invasion of Texas made it necessary to maintain a strong defensive force. This was composed chiefly of volunteers from the United States, many of whom did not yield patiently to discipline. When General Houston went to New Orleans to obtain treatment for his ankle, wounded at San Jacinto, the command devolved on Gen. Thomas J. Rusk, secretary of war, and when, shortly afterward. Rusk resigned and the cabinet appointed Mirabeau B. Lamar to succeed him, the men refused to receive him and elected instead Gen. Felix Houston.
By mid-summer order was sufficiently restored for the people to give some attention to the establishment of a regular government. On July 23 President Burnet issued a proclamation calling an election for the first Monday in September. The congress then elected was to meet at Columbia the first Monday in October. Besides the election of officers the people were asked to vote on two other matters: (1) whether congress should be given authority to amend the constitution, and (2) whether Texas should seek annexation to the United States. Three candidates for the presidency appeared, Austin, Henry Smith, and General Houston. Houston was elected by a large majority and immediately appointed Austin secretary of state and Smith secretary of the treasury. The constitution was ratified and the power of amendment was withheld from congress, and the vote in favor of annexation stood 3.277 to 91.
President Burnet’s message to the first congress on October 4 reviewed the troubled career of the ad interim government and indicated the subjects which in his opinion required the immediate attention of congress. Concerning his administration he said:
“It will be recollected that the powers conferred on the government, ‘ad interim,’ were extraordinary, that they comprised the plenal attributes of sovereignty, the legislative and judicial functions excepted. The circumstances under which that government has been administered have been equally extraordinary.
“Sometimes, when Texas was a moving mass of fugitives, they have been without ‘a local habitation’ and scattered to the cardinal points; again they have been on Galveston Island, without a shelter, and almost without subsistence, and never have they been in circumstances of comfort and convenience suitable to the orderly conducting of the grave and momentous business committed to their charge. That errors should have been committed under such circumstances will not surprise those who have an honest consciousness of their own fallibilities. But that those extraordinary powers have not been perverted to any sinister purpose, to the damage of the country, to personal aggrandizement, or to the creation or advancement of a party, or to the success of a speculation, I assert with a modest but firm and assured confidence.’’
First, and most pressing, of the problems with which congress must deal was the organization of a system of finance. The debt incurred during the revolution was more than a million and a quarter, and the danger of renewed invasion by Mexico entailed a continuance of heavy expense in the army. As a Mexican province Texas had had no system of taxation, and congress must attack the subject de novo. Burnet recommended a tariff as the most ready means of revenue. For the army he recommended a continuance of the land bounty law which had expired in July, 1836, and the discouragement of short terms of enlistment. The navy was inadequate and an additional large vessel was needed. The judicial system should be organized, a postal system established, and some internal improvements begun — such as the bridging of small streams and the establishment of ferries on the larger ones. On October 22 President Burnet resigned his office and General Houston was inaugurated.
The most important laws passed by this congress were those dealing with the subjects suggested in Burnet’s message. To meet financial needs a loan was authorized for five million dollars, to be secured by the public lands and a pledge of the public faith. This was passed November 18, 1836. On December 20. 1836, a tariff act was passed; on July 7, 1837, an issue of ten per cent interest bearing refunding stock was authorized, which was to be exchanged for certificates of government indebtedness, redeemable after 1842; and on June 17, 1837, a direct property tax of one-half of one per cent ad valorem was authorized. At the same time a system of occupation taxes was inaugurated. The post office department and the judiciary were established; and on December 19, 1836, an important act was passed fixing the boundary of Texas at the Rio Grande from its mouth to its source, and thence northward to the fortv-second parallel of latitude. A law establishing a general land office was vetoed by President Houston, but was passed by a constitutional majority, and ultimately became effective.
Houston’s inaugural message was purely formal. His message of May 5, 1837, to the second session of the first Congress was of greater interest. The United States had recognized the independence of Texas on March 3, 1837, and in referring to this the president said, “We now occupy the proud attitude of a sovereign and independent republic, which will impose upon us the obligation of evincing to the world that we are worthy to be free. This will only be accomplished by wise legislation, the maintenance of our integrity, and the faithful and just redemption of our plighted faith wherever it has been pledged. Nothing can be better calculated to advance our interests and character than the establishment of a liberal and disinterested policy, enlighted by patriotism, and guided by wisdom.”
Concerning the finances there was nothing encouraging to report. Agents appointed to sell land scrip in the United States had failed to report, and commissioners appointed to negotiate the five million dollar loan had found financial conditions so unsteady in the United States that they had been unable to place any portion of the loan. Congress should devise a land system that would guard the interest of the government and prevent fraud, and at the same time protect the rights of bona fide claimants against confliction titles. As to the form of this law the president made no suggestion. The army was in an excellent state of discipline. It had been reduced to about 1,000 men, and the annual expense now entailed by it would fall below $230,000. The navy was too small, and the commerce of the country had suffered some damage from Mexican vessels in the gulf. Steps were being taken, however, to mend this deficiency. In connection with the navy President Houston referred to the subject of the African slave trade. “It cannot be disbelieved,” he said, “that thousands of Africans have lately been imported to the island of Cuba, with a design to transfer a large portion of them into this republic. This unholy and cruel traffic has called down the reprobation of the humane and just of all civilized nations. Our abhorrence to it is clearly expressed in our constitution and laws. Nor has it rested alone upon the declaration of our policy, but has long since been a subject of representation to the government of the United States, our ministers apprising it of every fact which would enable it to devise such means as would prevent either the landing or introduction of Africans into our country.
“The naval force of Texas not being in a situation to be diverted from our immediate defense, will be a sufficient reason why the government of the United States, and England, should employ such a portion of their force in the gulf as will at once arrest the accursed trade and redeem this republic from the suspicion of connivance which would be as detrimental to its character as the practice is repugnant to the feelings of its citizens. Should the traffic continue, the odium cannot rest upon us, but will remain a blot upon the escutcheon of nations who have power and withhold their hand from the work of humanity.”
Toward the Indians the president declared it to be the policy of the government “to pursue a just and liberal course * * * and to prevent all encroachments upon their rights.” In his second annual message of November 21, 1837, he went into this subject more fully. It had been the policy of the administration, he said, to seek every possible means to establish relations with the Indians upon a basis of lasting peace and friendship. “At this time I deem the indications more favorable than they have been since Texas assumed her present attitude. * * * The undeviating opinion of the executive has been, that from the establishment of trading houses on the frontier (under prudent regulations), and the appointment of capable and honest agents the happiest results might be anticipated for the country. The intercourse between the citizens and Indians should be regulated by acts of Congress which experience will readily suggest.” In neither of these messages did the president make important specific recommendations, and few measures of a general character were passed during the remainder of his term.
The constitution provided that the first president should serve two years and should be ineligible for immediate reelection. Houston’s term expired, therefore, in December, 1838. To succeed him the vice-president, Mirabeau B. Lamar, was almost unanimously elected. Despite a policy of peace with Mexicans and Indians and careful economy in all departments of the government, the public debt had increased to nearly 82,000,000 during Houston’s term. No progress had been made toward placing the $5,000,000 loan, and the government had begun the issue of paper money. The subject of the finances Houston recognized as the most serious problem confronting the government, but he indulged strong hope that the organization of the land office and the opening of the public lands would speedily yield “a boundless revenue.”
President Lamar’s inaugural address was modeled to some extent on that of Thomas Jefferson when he assumed the presidency of the United States in 1801. It would be his policy to foster “agriculture, commerce, and the useful arts as the true basis of national strength and glory”: “and at the same time to lay the foundation of those higher institutions for moral and mental culture, without which no government, on democratic principles, can prosper, nor the people long preserve their liberties. In foreign policy we should ‘‘deal justly with all nations, aggressively to none"; and we should ‘‘court free and unrestricted commerce wherever it may be the interest of our people to carry the national flag.” He was less wedded to the ways of peace, however, than Jefferson had been, and while declaring that he preferred peace, he was “not averse from war.” “I shall be ever ready to adjust all differences with our enemies by friendly discussion and arrangement, and at the same time equally to adopt either offensive or defensive operations as their disposition and our own safety may render necessary." He was opposed to the annexation of Texas to the United States, and the address pictured eloquently and at length the advantages of independence.
The annual message of December 20, 1838, fills nearly thirty closely printed pages. It began with a brief discussion of our foreign relations. The United States had recognized our independence and the relations between the two countries was most cordial. To England and France, too, the independence of Texas could not be a matter of indifference, and recognition from them was soon to be expected. “With Mexico our posture is unchanged; she seems still to cherish the illusive hope of conquest, without adopting any means for its realization. A final abandonment of such hopes, or a more vigorous prosecution of the measures which would at once determine their worth, would be more consistent with true glory and wisdom than this attitude of supine and sullen hostility. While we would meet with alacrity the first indication of a desire for a just and honorable peace, we should compel a more active prosecution of the war. If peace can only be obtained by the sword, let the sword do its work.” This suggests a more aggressive policy than President Houston had favored.
Toward the Indians, too, Lamar was less patient than Houston had been, which may be partly explained, perhaps, by the fact that he entered political life as the private secretary of Governor George M. Troup of Georgia. “As long as we continue to exhibit our mercy without showing our strength, so long will the Indians continue to bloody the tomahawk and move onward in the work of rapacity and slaughter.” The Indians who emigrated from the United States — such as the Cherokees and their allies — had never acquired from Mexico any title to the lands that they occupied, and the treaty which, by the authority of the consultation and the provisional government, was negotiated with these Indians in February, 1836, had never been ratified by any competent Texan authority. This absolved us of any legal responsibility in the matter, and the conduct of the Indians had left us under no moral obligation toward them. “I would respectfully offer the following suggestions: That there be established, as early as practicable, a line of military posts, competent to the protection of our frontier from incursions of the wandering tribes that infest our borders; and that all intercourse between them and our citizens be made under the eye and subject to the control of the government. In order to allay the apprehensions of the friendly tribes, and prevent any collision between them and our citizens, I would recommend that each Indian family be permitted to enjoy such improvements as they occupy, together with a suitable portion of land, without interruption or annoyance, so long as they choose to remain upon it, and shall deport themselves in a friendly manner, being subordinate to our laws in all criminal matters, and in matters of contract to the authorized agents of the government. To this end, the appointment of suitable agents to reside among the located tribes would be necessary, whose duty it should be to keep up a vigilant espionage, cultivate friendly relations, and, as far as practicable, prevent all causes of interruption and collision between the Indians and our own people. Commissioners might he appointed to make treaties to this effect with such tribes as are disposed to peace and friendship, while those who reject the terms should be viewed as enemies, and treated accordingly. These gratuitous and liberal concessions, on our part, are perhaps due to the regard which we all entertain for peace. If, unhappily, they should be found inadequate to secure that desirable object, and the Indians shall persist in their extravagant demands, and resolve upon war, then let them feel that there are terrors also in the enmity of the white man, and that the blood of our wives and children cannot be shed without a righteous retribution.” For this reason the president was moved to recommend the strengthening of the army and navy, while at the same time organizing the militia.
There had not been time since his inauguration for the president to enquire into fiscal affairs. The success of the loan, however, he considered very problematical, and for that reason he was unable to recommend a reduction of taxes or of the tariff. He thought that the development of agriculture, commerce, and the mineral resources of the country would soon put the government in easy condition, and recommended the passage of a law reserving mineral rights to the state. In the meantime, he recommended the establishment of a national bank, owned and controlled by the republic. Based on a hypothecation of the national lands, the plighted faith of the government, and an adequate specie deposit, such a bank would be safe and would inspire confidence. The specie deposit would not need to be so large as in a privately owned bank, but, unfortunately, as Gouge remarked in his Fiscal History of Texas, Lamar did not indicate where any specie was to come from. Few banks in the United States were making any specie payments at the time, and coin was very rare in Texas.
This message has become justly famous for its strong advocacy of public education:
“If we desire to establish a republican government upon a broad and permanent basis, it will become our duty to adopt a comprehensive and well-regulated system of mental and moral culture. Education is a subject in which every citizen and especially every parent feels a deep and lively concern. It is one in which no jarring interests are involved, and no acrimonious political feelings excited, for its benefits are so universal that all parties can cordially unite in advancing it. It is admitted by all that cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy, and while guided and controlled by virtue is the noblest attribute of man. It is the only dictator that freemen desire * * * Let me, therefore, urge it upon you, gentlemen, not to postpone the matter too long. The present is a propitious moment to lay the foundation of a great moral and intellectual edifice, which will in after ages be hailed as the chief ornament and blessing of Texas. A suitable appropriation of lands to the purpose of general education can be made at this time without inconvenience to the government or the people; but defer it until the public domain shall have passed from our hands, and the uneducated youths of Texas will constitute the living monuments of our neglect and remissness. To commence a liberal system of education a few years hence may be attended with many difficulties. The imposition of taxes will be necessary. Sectional jealousies will spring up, and the whole plan may be defeated in the conflict of selfishness, or be suffered to languish under a feeble and inefficient support; a liberal endowment which will be adequate to the general diffusion of a good rudimental education in every district of the republic, and to the establishment of a university where the highest branches of science may be taught, can now be effected without the expenditure of a single dollar. Postpone it a few years and millions will be necessary to accomplish the great design.”
President Lamar’s Indian policy was well received by Congress. On the day the message was delivered a bill was passed authorizing the organization of a regiment of 840 men for the protection of the frontiers, and $300,000 in promissory notes was appropriated for the purpose. On December 29, the president was empowered to accept the service of eight companies of mounted volunteers for use chiefly against the Comanches and $75,000 was appropriated. January 23, 1839, three additional companies were approved; and on January 24. $1,000,000 was appropriated for protection of the northern and western frontiers. During 1839 evidence fell into the hands of the government that the Mexicans were endeavoring to invite the Indians to war— particularly the Cherokee Indians. The growth of population and the rapid extension of the frontier into the Indian settlements caused constant broils and kept the Indians in an ugly mood. In 1839 the Cherokees, after fierce resistance, were driven from their settlement in East Texas, and the next year the Comanches were greatly weakened in three notable engagements. The first of these was the Council House fight at San Antonio in March, in which the Indians lost a number of their chiefs; in August Gen. Felix Houston defeated a large force at Plum Creek, near Gonzales; and in October Col. John H. Moore led an expedition that destroyed the chief Comanche village on the upper Colorado and killed more than 100 warriors, and, by mistake, it was claimed, some women. Ry the close of Lamar’s term the Indians were undoubtedly in a more submissive mood than they had previously been since the declaration of independence, and it seems likely that his aggressive methods must be credited with some share of the success that followed Houston’s gentler policy between 1842 and 1845. Houston found them at the beginning of his second term willing for a time to embrace the comforts of peace.
Lamar’s educational view, too, met the approval of Congress, and modest provision was made for the endowment of schools and colleges. January 26, 1839, a law provided that three leagues of land should be surveyed in each county, and devoted to the establishment of primary schools or academies, if there was not enough good vacant land in a county for this purpose, the survey was to be made from public land elsewhere. The president was to have surveyed also, fifty leagues of land “for the establishment and endowment of two colleges or universities hereafter to be created.” The following year — February 5, 1840 — an additional league was appropriated the schools of each county, and at the same time provision was made for certificating teachers. No teacher was to be given a certificate who was not capable of teaching reading, writing, English grammar, arithmetic and geography.
Other important legislation of Lamar’s administration was the first ‘‘homestead law,” approved January 26, 1839, a law granting 640 acre headrights to immigrant families who arrived in Texas before 1840, a law for the permanent location of the capital, and various acts for the increase of the revenues.
The homestead law “reserved to every citizen or head of a family in this republic, free and independent of the power of a writ of fifty facias or other execution issuing from any court of competent jurisdiction whatever, fifty acres of land or one town lot. Including his or her homestead and improvements not exceeding $500 in value, all household and kitchen furniture (provided it does not exceed in value $200), all implements of husbandry (provided they shall not exceed fifty dollars in value), all tools, apparatus, and books belonging to the trade or profession of any citizen, five milch cows, one yoke of work oxen, or one horse, twenty hogs, and one year’s provisions; and that all laws and parts of laws contravening or opposing the provisions of this act be and they are hereby repealed; provided, the passage of this act shall not interfere with contracts between parties heretofore made.” “This,” says the late Judge C. W. Raines, “appears to be the first homestead act ever passed in any country.”
On January 14, 1839, Lamar signed an act creating a commission of five to select a site for the permanent location of the government. As chosen by Congress, the commissioners were A. C. Horton of Matagorda, J. W. Burton of Nacogdoches, William Menifee of Colorado, Isaac Campbell of San Augustine, and Louis P. Cooke of Brazoria. The only restriction upon their freedom was that the site must be between the Brazos and Colorado rivers and west of the San Antonio road— in other words, it must be on the extreme western edge of settlement. The act provided that the capital should be named Austin. On April 13th, the commissioners reported that they had selected the village of Waterloo on the east bank of the Colorado as the most available location. The president had already appointed Edwin Waller to supervise the survey of town lots and the erection of public buildings, and so well did he discharge these duties that the government was transferred to the new capital in October, 1839. At the time there was a good deal of opposition on the part of jealous towns and localities to the establishment of the capital in the western wilderness, but it proved an excellent choice, and undoubtedly hastened the extension of the western and northwestern frontier and furthered the development of the country.
Lamar's was an extremely busy administration. The country was actually developing very rapidly. The Indian wars and a more active policy toward Mexico than Houston had found it necessary to pursue were costly. The country had been compelled to resort to the issue of paper money before Lamar came in, and this was already beginning to depreciate. The $5,000,000 loan authorized by the first Congress could be negotiated neither in the United States nor in Europe. Tax laws and tariff laws occupied much of the attention of every congress, but since taxes and tariff duties were payable in the paper of the government they yielded nothing in real money. As paper issues increased depreciation continued, and at the close of Lamar’s term in December, 1841, the debt had grown to more than $7,000,000, and the value of government paper had declined to from fifteen to twenty cents on the dollar. Lamar has generally been condemned for his extravagance, and certainly some of his policies — notably the Santa Fe expedition, to be described later, were lacking in judgment; but it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that much of his so-called extravagance was justified in the end by its results. In considering the $5,000,000 addition to the public debt during the three years of his term it must be remembered that, on account of the depreciation of funds, the value received by the government was hardly more than a third of that amount.
For some months during 1840 and 1841 President Lamar was on a leave of absence for medical treatment in the United States, and the duties of the office were discharged by the vice-president. David G. Burnet.
Burnet and Houston were candidates for the presidency in 1841, and Houston was elected. His message of December 30 announced that his policy would be a continuation of that developed during his first term, and almost the opposite of that followed by Lamar. One-fourth of the money consumed by the wars would have been sufficient, he thought, to make our borders safe, if it had been employed in cultivating friendly relations with the Indians. He advised the conclusion of treaties with as many of the tribes as possible, and the establishment of a line of trading posts from the frontier to Red River, with one or more traders at each, and with twenty-five or thirty men to protect them.
“I do not doubt that this system, once established, would conciliate the Indians, open a lucrative commerce with them, and bring continued peace to our entire frontier. Their intercourse with us would enable them to obtain articles of convenience and comfort which they could not otherwise procure, unless by a very indirect trade with more remote tribes who have commerce with traders of the United States. Finding a disposition on our own part to treat them fairly and justly, and dreading a loss of the advantages and facilities of trade, they would be powerfully affected, both by feelings of confidence and motives of interest, to preserve peace and maintain good faith.”
Mexico had rejected our overtures for recognition, and he was of the opinion that no further advances should be made to the government. But there was not the slightest danger of conquest from that quarter and he recommended the cultivation of commercial relations with Mexicans on the border.
On the subject of the finances the message spoke plainly:
“There is not a dollar in the treasury; the nation is involved from ten to fifteen millions. The precise amount of its liabilities has not been ascertained. * * * We are not only without money, but without credit, and, for want of punctuality, without character. At our first commencement we were not without credit, nor had a want of punctuality then impaired our character abroad or confidence at home. Patriotism, industry, and enterprise are now our only resources, apart from our public domain and the precarious revenues of the country. These remain our only hope, and must be improved, husbanded, and properly employed.”
To meet the situation President Houston advised the passage of stay laws postponing the redemption of outstanding debts “to a period sufficiently remote to enable the government to redeem, in good faith, such as it ought to redeem.” To attempt to tax the present population for the liquidation of the debt would be ruinous. For the future maintenance of the government he recommended the issue of $350,000 in exchequer bills, secured by a specific appropriation of a million acres of land in the Cherokee district; and a loan of $300,000 secured by specific assignments of the public land, which the bondholders were to acquire upon the failure of the government to meet the stipulations of its contract. The direct property tax should be reduced one half, the remainder and all other public dues to be receivable only in gold and silver, “or equivalent currency.” The exchequer bills were to be accepted as “equivalent currency.”
The situation was all but desperate, and congress was in the mood for economy. It abolished a number of offices and reduced the salaries of others, but did not follow exactly the president’s recommendations. Instead of reducing taxes one-half, Houston complained that it almost abolished them, and postponed payment for six months of those that it continued; it refused to authorize the new loan and repealed the five million-dollar act passed by the first congress; and though it authorized the issue of exchequer bills, it failed to secure them by specific allotments of public land, and they rapidly depreciated, as other paper had done. The subject remained a troublesome one throughout the remainder of the life of the republic, and at the close of 1845 the public debt was estimated at nearly $ 12,000,000.
At the same time Houston complained of the inefficiency and expense of the post office department. Both of these he attributed in some degree to the location of the capital on the edge of the western wilderness. In the spring of 1842, therefore, when the Mexicans made a foray and held San Antonio for a few days, he decided that the seat of government was too exposed, and, acting in accordance with his constitutional right, transferred it to Houston. An attempt to move the archives, however, was violently and successfully resisted by the citizens of Austin. Congress met at Houston in the winter of 1842, but thereafter the government was removed to Washington on the Brazos, where it remained during the rest of Houston’s term. This defense of the archives by the people of Austin has been dubbed the “Archive War.”
In December, 1844, Houston was succeeded by Anson Jones, who had been serving as secretary of state. Annexation was the all-absorbing issue at the time, and during the following year the domestic affairs of the republic were of small importance.
During Houston’s second term the active career of the Texas navy came to an end. During the revolution four vessels were purchased and put in commission — the Invincible, the Brutus, the Liberty, and the Independence. They rendered a valuable service in protecting the coast and in annoying the enemy on his own shores, but various casualties overtook them and by the fall of 1837 all were gone. The Invincible ran aground at Galveston in trying to escape the Mexicans and was destroyed, and Independence was captured, the Liberty was sold for debt at New Orleans, and the Brutus was destroyed in Galveston harbor by a storm. President Houston’s message of May 5, 1837, reminded congress that the commerce of Texas had suffered for want of an adequate navy. One of the first acts of the second congress, which met at Houston in November. 1837, was for the purchase of “a 500-ton ship mounting eighteen guns, two 300-ton brigs of twelve guns each, and three schooners of 130 tons, mounting five or seven guns each.” For this purpose $280,000 was appropriated. The president appointed Samuel M. Williams of the firm of McKinney and Williams at Quintana to place the contract. In November. 1838, Williams closed a contract with Frederick Dawson of Baltimore for six vessels conforming to the above description, and during the summer and fall of 1839 they were delivered. As rechristened by the Texans, they were the Austin, the Wharton, the Archer, the San Bernard, San Jacinto and San Antonio. In addition to these, Gen. James Hamilton had purchased for the government the Zavala. As the French fleet had in the meantime destroyed the Mexican navy, the Texan vessels were for the moment not needed for defense, and congress passed an act in February, 1840, requiring the president to retire from the service temporarily all except those needed as revenue cutters. The act provided, however, that “should Mexico make any hostile demonstration upon the gulf, the president may order any number of vessels into active service that he may deem necessary for the public security.” Lamar received information that Mexico was trying to obtain vessels in England for an attack on Texas, and therefore exercised the discretion which the law allowed him to keep the Texan fleet in service. Five of the vessels, commanded by Commodore E. W. Moore, he sent on a cruise to Yucatan, which was in rebellion against Mexico, and the following year (1841) a temporary alliance was made with Yucatan by which that state agreed to pay Texas $8,000 for putting to sea three of its vessels and $8,000 for every month of their active service against the common enemy. By the spring of 1842 the fleet was back in New Orleans undergoing repairs preparatory to enforcing Houston’s blockade of Mexican ports. Before the vessels were ready for sea. however, the blockade was withdrawn. In January, 1843, congress passed a secret act ordering the sale of the navy, but the commissioners sent by the president to New Orleans to carry out the sale were persuaded by Commodore Moore to sail with him to Yucatan, the government of which had agreed to pay liberally for the assistance. His chief motive seems to have been to obtain money with which to pay debts in New Orleans incurred in fitting out the vessels, and for which he felt a personal responsibility. A violent quarrel arose between Moore and the president, who finally issued a proclamation, declaring that Moore was guilty of “disobedience, contumacy, and mutiny.” The quarrel had the effect of making public the law for the sale of the navy, and this aroused such strong popular opposition that the act was repealed February 5, 1844. When Texas was annexed to the United States its remaining vessels, four in number, were incorporated in the United States navy.
In contrast with the government, the people of Texas were coming to be fairly prosperous during the closing years of the republic. Immigration had been rapid since the battle of San Jacinto, and by 1846 there were probably 100,000 white inhabitants. Most of them came from the United States, where the panic of 1837 and subsequent years of depression turned the attention of many to the free lands of Texas as a field in which to rebuild their broken fortunes. Next in number to the Americans were the German immigrants, with here and there an occasional Englishman or Frenchman. A revival of the empresario system had been instrumental in hastening the settlement of the western and northwestern frontier. Crops were good and commerce was increasing, and indications were not lacking that in 1845 the hardest days of the republic were over.
As a subject of international politics the republic of Texas occupied no small place in the diplomacy of three of the principal powers of the world — the United States, England, and France, not to mention Mexico. This was largely due to the refusal of Mexico to recognize Texan independence. On May 20. 1836, as has already been said, the Mexican congress passed a resolution declaring that Santa Anna had no power to bind the nation in the treaty of Velasco, and notifying the world that Mexico would recognize no action taken by him while a prisoner. At the same time it was announced that the government was determined to reduce the rebellious Texans and was preparing an expedition for that purpose.
In fact, the government exerted itself strenuously to prevent the evacuation of Texas by Filisola, who succeeded to the command of the Mexican army after the capture of Santa Anna. He was instructed at all cost to retain Bexar, and was told that a division of 4,000 men was being prepared to reinforce him. Filisola was already on the retreat to Matamoras when this dispatch reached him, and he continued his retreat. The next communication from the government relieved him of the command and appointed General Urrea to the place, but Urrea was now in Matamoras, whither he had preceded Filisola, and Filisola surrendered the command to General Andrade. Despite orders from Urrea to halt, Andrade continued the march to Matamoras, and before the end of July every Mexican soldier had crossed the Rio Grande.
Mexico continued to threaten invasion, and the Texans expected an expedition during the fall of 1836. On June 25, 1836, Mr. Powhatan Ellis, charge d’affaires of the United States in Mexico, wrote his government that Mexico seemed determined to push the war, and that men were being impressed daily in the streets of the capital to swell the army of invasion. More important, from the point of view of the United States, was the rumor which Ellis had heard on good authority that Mexico had appealed to England for assistance in reducing Texas. On August 3 Ellis wrote more definitely on this subject. He said that the Mexican minister at London had been instructed to appeal to England for aid in restricting the spread of slavery, and then, if their overtures were cordially received, to ask help directly in putting down the revolted colonists in Texas who were disobeying the Mexican laws and introducing slaves. On October 26 Ellis wrote that the troops that had been collecting in the capital took up the march for Texas the week before under the command of General Nicolas Bravo. They were all raw levies, he said, and probably did not exceed 4,000. Bravo seemed confident of success, and declared that the force would be increased to 12,800 men before it reached Texas. But, said Ellis, “however confident the officers may be of their success in the ensuing campaign, there is no doubt that a panic already prevails among the soldiers.”
Long before these troops reached Texas party conflicts between the Centralists and the Federalists made it necessary for the government to turn them aside for service nearer home, and the danger to Texas passed. Though Mexican vessels were able for a time, on account of the weakness of the Texan navy, to annoy our gulf trade, President Houston was wise enough to perceive that Mexico was practically helpless, and adopted the policy of ignoring it as a source of real danger. He sent most of the army home on furlough and frowned upon border broils.
In the fall of 1838 the attention of Mexico was still further diverted from Texas by trouble with France. On November 27, a French squadron blockaded Vera Cruz, and a state of war practically existed until the following spring. Notwithstanding President Lamar’s defiant inaugural address, he was anxious enough for peace with Mexico, and seeing in the French embroglio a favorable occasion for overtures, he appointed Barnard E. Bee to open negotiations. Bee was courteously received at Vera Cruz by General Victoria, who had been instructed by the Mexican government to treat him as a private individual and to get from him in writing a statement of his objects.
If he came as a commissioner from Mexico’s rebellious colonists, the government might consider his proposals; but if he came to treat for recognition, the government would ignore him, and Victoria should request him to depart. Bee accomplished nothing, and sailed from Vera Cruz on June 1 in a French vessel bound for Havana. He was encouraged by his experience and thought the day not distant “when a definite treaty boundary will be established between Mexico and Texas, consecrated as it must be by a lasting peace.” As for an invasion of Texas, Bee thought it was preposterous:
“They have no navy; they have not a dollar in the treasury; they have not paid their officers or men for years; they owe Great Britain $60,000,000; they are paying France $200,000 every two months. * * * Where, then, are they to get money to annihilate Texas? Sir, the question is settled.”
Following Bee’s withdrawal from Vera Cruz the Texan government became convinced that the government really desired peace. This conviction was induced by representations which James Treat of New York made to Gen. James Hamilton, who was representing Texas as a commissioner in 'placing the $5,000,000 loan. Treat said that he had received information through a friend in Mexico, an Italian gentleman named Vitalba. This friend later came to New Orleans and had a conference with Treat and Bee, who had now reached that place on his return from Vera Cruz. From New Orleans Treat went to Texas and was commissioned to proceed to Mexico and negotiate for peace on the basis of recognition as a sine qua non. Recognition being granted, the only question remaining would be that of boundary. Texas would insist on the statutory boundary of December 19, 1836, following the Rio Grande from its mouth to its source and extending thence northward to the forty-second parallel. For this line Texas was willing to pay Mexico $5,000,000, which Treat could disburse as seemed desirable, using as much as might be necessary in “secret service” work. At the same time Mexico might be sounded on a boundary which would follow the Rio Grande up to El Paso, and thence proceed due westward to the Gulf of California and the Pacific ocean. After the settlement of these two questions the agent might take up the negotiation of a treaty of amity and commerce.
Treat first returned to New York, and thence made his way to Mexico. He arrived at Vera Cruz November 28, 1839, and reached the capital two weeks later. Through the British charge. Sir Richard Pakenham, he established unofficial communication with the government and placed his proposal before it. For a time he believed that the prospect of success was good; but after a year of alternating hope and discouragement he abandoned his vain task and embarked for Galveston. He died before reaching his destination on November 30, 1840.
Two weeks before Treat’s death the British government signed a convention with the Texan minister at London agreeing to offer mediation in Mexico for the recognition of Texas. Hoping that this might induce a more conciliatory mood in the Mexican government, Lamar commissioned James Webb to proceed to Vera Cruz with full powers to negotiate a treaty. At Vera Cruz, however, he was not allowed to land, and communication with Pakenham at Mexico revealed the fact that the government had rejected the British offer of mediation.
In the meantime, the Federalists in northern Mexico had been making overtures to Texas. First they desired to transport arms through the republic, and later they proposed an alliance. They planned to detach the northern states from Mexico, and went so far as to declare the independence of the republic of the Rio Grande in January, 1840. The Texan government declined to have anything to do with this movement, but a considerable force of Texan volunteers joined the Federalists and participated in several rather serious battles.
Lamar’s administration saw the only attempt that the Texans ever made to realize the boundary fixed by the law of December 19, 1836. The chief city in New Mexico was Santa Fe, on the east side of the Rio Grande, and therefore within the limits claimed by Texas. Between Santa Fe and St. Louis, Missouri, a valuable trade had long existed, and the strongest motive influencing Lamar seems to have been the desire to turn the profits of this trade to Texas. On April 14, 1840, he wrote a letter to “the citizens of Santa Fe.” reminding them that Texas had “entered the great family of nations” and been recognized by the United States and France, while other powers of Europe were ready to extend the right hand of fellowship; our population was rapidly increasing by immigration from Europe and the United States; “and our commerce extending with a power and celerity seldom equaled in the history of nations. Under these auspicious circumstances, we tender to you a full participation in our blessings.” He hoped that this communication would be received in the same spirit of kindness and sincerity in which it was dictated and expressed the hope that he should be able to send commissioners to them in September “to explain more minutely the condition" of our country, of the sea-board, and the correlative interests, which so emphatically recommend, and ought perpetually to cement, the perfect union and identity of Santa Fe and Texas.”
No reply to this communication was received, nor were commissioners sent in 1840. The suggestion aroused some interest in Texas, however, and the secretary of war recommended the construction of a military road to Santa Fe. Congress refused to make appropriation for a commission, but in the spring of 1841 President Lamar determined, nevertheless, that one should be sent, and on his own authority ordered the treasurer and comptroller to honor drafts presented for outfitting the expedition. As finally organized, the expedition consisted of three commissioners — William G. Cooke, R. F. Brenham, and J. A. Navarro — fifty merchants, and a military escort, for protection from the Indians, of 270 men, commanded by Gen. Hugh McLeod. The whole party organized near Austin and set out toward the end of June. The commissioners bore an eloquent address from Lamar to the “inhabitants of Santa Fe and other portions of Mexico east of the Rio Grande” inviting them to cover themselves with the protection of the Texan flag. The commissioners were instructed to try tc secure the adhesion of the people to Texas, but not to use force; and if the Texan proffer were declined, to devote their efforts to establishing a commercial convention. The expedition reached New Mexico in the last stages of exhaustion from starvation and thirst and surrendered to Governor Armijo, who refused to believe that the Texans came on an innocent mission.
The prisoners were marched to Mexico and sent thence to various prisons. Those who were citizens of the United States or of European countries were soon released through the efforts of their governments; and Daniel Webster, as secretary of state of the United States, interceded with the Mexican government for the humane treatment of the Texans. On June 13, 1842, Santa Anna celebrated his birthday by releasing the remaining prisoners, except Navarro, who did not make his escape until 1845.
In the meantime Mexico had again taken the aggressive and had made a brief invasion of Texas. On January 9, 1842, Gen. Mariano Arista issued from Monterey an address to the inhabitants of the “Department of Texas” pointing out the hopelessness of their struggle for independence and promising amnesty and protection to all who refrained from taking up arms during his contemplated invasion. At the same time he warned them that while his country held out “the olive branch of peace and concord with one hand, she would direct with the other the sword of justice against the obstinate.” Early in March Goliad, Refugio, San Antonio, and Victoria were occupied for a few days by Mexican forces. The Texans were entirely unprepared, and at first great alarm was felt. Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston wrote General Hamilton on March 11.
“The war, after great preparation on the part of the enemy, is upon us without the slightest effort having been made by us. Our people are, however, turning out well and hastening westward, for the purpose of concentrating to meet the enemy, and notwithstanding every advantage has been given, we rely upon the energy and courage of our people to achieve most brilliant results.”
On the 10th President Houston issued a proclamation ordering the militia to be ready for a call, and the next day he wrote the Texan consul at New Orleans telling him the conditions upon which the government would receive emigrants from the United States: each should bring with him “a good rifle or musket, with a cartouche box, or shot pouch and powder horn, with at least 100 rounds of ammunition, a good knapsack and six months’ clothing, and enter service for six months subject to the laws of Texas. They must be landed for the present at some point west of the Brazos, with eight days’ provision. No number less than fifty-six in companies well organized will be received, and on landing each commandant will report to the secretary of war for orders.” By March 15 the Texan forces began to collect at San Antonio, but the Mexicans had retired on the 9th, and were already thought to be west of the Rio Grande. Many of the volunteers were anxious to invade Mexico, and General Burleson, who was in command at San Antonio, thought the invasion practicable. President Houston, however, wisely forbade such a movement before July 20, which was the earliest date at which he thought the necessary preparations could be made.
Fearing that Austin would be attacked, the president had transferred the government to Houston, and thither he called a special session of congress to meet on July 27. In his message he expressed the belief that Mexico could never conquer Texas, but he was convinced that it would continue to harass the frontier, and he advised a counter-invasion to bring the enemy to their senses. “We could at least impress them with the calamities which have thus far been incident to us alone, and create in them a desire for that peace which would be mutually advantageous to both parties.” As usual, however, Houston refrained from pushing his views strongly on congress, merely urging that a decision be reached quickly, so that additional emigrant-volunteers could be prevented from coming to the country if they were not needed. Congress voted for a declaration of war, and appropriated 10,000,000 acres of land to meet the expense, but this Houston considered totally inadequate and vetoed the bill, thereby abandoning for his own part the plan of an aggressive campaign.
The Mexicans had retired without doing any considerable damage, and it seems that the chief purpose of the invasion was to counteract the argument of annexationists in the United States, who contended that since Mexico had never made an official entrance into Texas since 1836, no attention need be paid by the United States to its claims. In September, 1842, another expedition penetrated to San Antonio under the command of Gen. Adrian Woll. This time some resistance was offered and the Mexicans lost a few men before the Texans, fifty-three in number, surrendered. The district court was in session at the time, and Judge Hutchinson and other officials were among those captured. As soon as the news spread Texan forces began to march to the relief of San Antonio, and a band of volunteers from Gonzales under Col. Matthew Caldwell succeeded in decoying a portion of Woll’s division into an ambush on the Salado and inflicting considerable loss upon it. At the same time, however, a company from La Grange and Fayette county, coming to the relief of Caldwell, was surrounded by the Mexicans and cut to pieces. Woll occupied San Antonio September 11-20, and then retired, being pursued for several days by Colonel Caldwell.
Again the militia was called out, and volunteers began to collect at San Antonio, eager for an invasion of Mexico. About the middle of November some 750 men, commanded by Gen. Alexander Somervell, started for Laredo. They took the town on December 8, and part of the force then disbanded and returned home. The remainder continued the march down the Rio Grande, but on December 19 Somervell ordered them to retreat to Gonzales. Some 300 of the men refused to obey his orders, elected Col. W. C. Fisher to lead them, and marched to Mier, where they fought a desperate battle with General Ampudia on December 25-26. The odds were hopelessly against them, and on the 26th they surrendered. Gen. Thomas Jefferson Green in his “Journal of the Texan Expedition Against Mier” says that they were promised the treatment of prisoners of war though the official capitulation says merely that the Texans will be treated “with the consideration which is in accordance with the magnanimous Mexican nation.” Green tells us that there were 261 Texans engaged in the battle of Mier, nearly forty having been left in camp to guard the baggage. Ten were killed, and twenty-three badly wounded, while the loss of the Mexicans was thought to be more than 700. General Ampudia was ordered to send the prisoners to the capital. On the way they made a break for liberty, killed some of the guards, and escaped, but were later recaptured in the mountains and a tenth of their number shot. The survivors were eventually imprisoned in Castle Perote.
While the Mier prisoners were marching toward the south another Texan expedition, commanded by Col. Jacob Snively, was moving toward the northern boundary of Texas to capture a train of merchandise which it was known would be carried during the summer of 1843 from St. Louis to Santa Fe. The expedition had been authorized by the Texan government in February, but the force was composed of volunteers who went at their own expense and who expected to repay themselves by the spoils of the caravan. They encamped on the Arkansas River to await the train, but before it arrived the party divided and Snively was left with only a few more than 100 men.
When the caravan arrived it was guarded by United States soldiers, who disarmed all but ten of Snively’s men and ordered them home. The Texan government claimed damages from the United States for this act and was paid for the arms taken, but the expedition failed.
In the meantime President Houston had been trying to bring pressure on Mexico through the mediation of the strong foreign powers. The United States, as we have seen, recognized the independence of Texas in March, 1837, by accrediting to the republic a charge d’affaires. France recognized it by concluding a treaty of commerce and friendship on September 25, 1839, which was ratified on February 14, 1840. British recognition was obtained in a series of treaties concluded in November, 1840, but these were not ratified until June 28, 1842. One of these British treaties was an agreement on the part of England to urge upon Mexico the recognition of Texas, and Lord Aberdeen on July 1, 1842, instructed the British charge at Mexico to make the necessary representation to the Mexican government. This was done, but the overture was rejected. Immediately following the ratification of the British treaties an effort was made to get France, England, and the United States to make a joint demand on Mexico for recognition, but England refused to become a party to this tripartite action. At the same time, however. Lord Aberdeen suggested that the three governments might make identical representations on the subject to the Mexican government. Appropriate instructions were accordingly issued to the diplomatic agents of England and France for making such a representation, but these agents, knowing the uselessness of such action, did nothing.
On October 15, 1841, just after the retreat of General Woll from San Antonio, President Houston again appealed to the powers to use their influence to compel Mexico either to recognize the independence of Texas “or to make war upon her according to the rules established and universally recognized by civilized nations.” “It has now been nearly seven years since the declaration and the establishment of the independence of this republic. During the whole of this time Mexico, although uniformly asserting the ability and determination to re-subjugate the country, has never made a formidable effort to do so. Her principal war has consisted of silly taunts and idle threats, of braggadocio bulletins and gasconading proclamations. All her boasted threats of invasion have resulted in nothing more than fitting out and sending into the most exposed portions of our territory petty marauding parties, for the purpose of pillaging and harassing the weak and isolated settlements on our western border.” Mexico’s object, he said, was merely to keep alive its claim to Texas and to retard the development of the country by threats that it had neither the intention nor the means to carry out.
Daniel Webster was secretary of state at this time in the United States, and on November 12, 1842, he instructed Waddv Thompson, the American charge at Mexico, to urge recognition. The United States saw with pain the preparations for war, and while it disclaimed any right to interfere, it could not be indifferent to a renewal of hostilities. He urged Mexico to accept the mediation of his government, and at the same time asked Texas to suspend any invasion it might be contemplating until the result of this overture could be learned.
Nothing came of this proposal, but on January 9, 1843, James W. Robinson, who had been lieutenant-governor of Texas under the provisional government in 1835-1836, and had been captured at San Antonio by General Woll in September, 1842, and was now in Perote, made a proposal to Santa Anna which led to negotiations. Robinson, who was anxious above all things to get out of prison, suggested that the people of Texas were tired of war and confusion and would be willing to be reunited with Mexico. He thought that if an armistice could be arranged, peace could probably be brought about by discussion. After a conference with him Santa Anna appointed Robinson a commissioner to go to Texas and open negotiations. Reunion with Mexico must be the sine qua non of any arrangement, but after acknowledging the sovereignty of Mexico, Texas might conduct its local affairs through its own officers pretty much as it pleased. Mexican troops would never be sent to the province.
President Houston had no intention of acknowledging the sovereignty of Mexico on any terms, but he was willing to play for time. A correspondence was continued through the British diplomatic agents at Mexico and at Houston, and it was finally agreed that commissioners should meet and arrange the terms of an armistice for the negotiation of a permanent settlement. Houston proclaimed a truce on June 15, 1843, and commissioners were appointed in the fall by both Texas and Mexico. They met at Salinas on the Rio Grande, and February 15, 1844, signed the armistice. Before following this phase of the subject further it will be necessary to return and trace briefly the movement for the annexation of Texas to the United States.
When Texas declared independence on March 2, 1836, the Texan commissioners, Austin, Archer, and William H. Wharton, were in the United States, and Austin was of the opinion that they could have obtained from congress the recognition of the new republic, if the ad interim government had sent them an official report of the battle of San Jacinto. Austin may have been mistaken, but both houses certainly sympathized deeply with the Texans, and before adjournment the senate committee on foreign relations reported that Texas ought to be recognized as soon as it had in operation a de facto government “capable of performing the duties and fulfilling the obligations of an independent power.” On May 30th President Burnet appointed James Collinsworth and P. W. Grayson to visit Washington and ask the mediation of the United States in securing from Mexico recognition of Texan independence. At the same time they were to sound the government on the subject of annexing Texas to the United States. They reached Washington after the adjournment of congress and had several conferences with Forsyth, President Jackson’s secretary of state, but received no satisfaction. In the fall the Texans, as we have seen, voted (3,277 to 91) in favor of annexation to the United States, and one of President Houston’s first acts was to send William H. Wharton to Washington to further this measure.
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