Texas and the Mexican War - Nathaniel W. Stephenson - ebook
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THAT American diplomat known to his contemporaries as "the eel-like Monroe" gave Manifest Destiny a deep offense which popular memory has let slip. He bartered away, as his enemies said, our claim to the country between the Sabine and the Rio Grande. However shadowy that claim was, there were patriotic Americans in the year 1819 who wanted the country. The shadowiness of the claim was not worth mentioning, they thought. Napoleon sold us something in the Southwest and surely we, with Manifest Destiny on our side, were the best judges of what old Louisiana included. Monroe took a narrower view; and when he acquired Florida from Spain and rounded out the eastern coast line, but stopped at the Sabine on the west, there was wrath in many American hearts, and some bold Americans were ready to stake their heads for the rectification of their government's error.            One of these was James Long, who led a filibustering expedition across the Mexican line in 1819. Long's exploit was the outcome of a public meeting of the citizens of Natchez, inspired by indignation over Monroe's policy. The little army of adventurers who followed Long and captured the Mexican frontier town of Nacogdoches was strangely composed and acted from a variety of motives. A noted Mexican refugee, Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara, was associated with Long in setting up a ready-made government on the American model to preside over the new "Republic of Texas" which the invaders proclaimed at Nacogdoches. This Gutiérrez had been involved in earlier attempts to overthrow the kingdom of New Spain. Doubtless to some of Long's followers the invasion was but a detail in the revolution against Spain of which they dreamed in their vision of a new and greater Mexico. Thus, it may be, starts a delusion which we shall find all through Texan history  –  the delusion that a genuine republican inspiration was struggling in Mexico with reactionary monarchism. Long's republic was short-lived. During its few months, its founder revealed that deadly serious naïveté which appeared so often in Americans of that time. Looking about for an ally, Long bethought himself of the last great pirate of American waters, Jean Lafitte, who flew the Jolly Roger over Galveston Island. Lafitte had a pirate town there, and for a while was a sovereign over the freebooters of the sea. To him Long appealed. It was while Long was absent negotiating with Lafitte that the soldiers of New Spain fell upon Nacogdoches, abolished the infant republic, and drove its survivors, whether American adventurers or Mexican dreamers, helter-skelter across the border...

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TEXAS AND THE MEXICAN WAR

Nathaniel W. Stephenson

PERENNIAL PRESS

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All rights reserved. Aside from brief quotations for media coverage and reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced or distributed in any form without the author’s permission. Thank you for supporting authors and a diverse, creative culture by purchasing this book and complying with copyright laws.

Copyright © 2015 by Nathaniel W. Stephenson

Published by Perennial Press

Interior design by Pronoun

Distribution by Pronoun

ISBN: 9781518319112

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER I. THE EMPRESARIOS

CHAPTER II. THE TURNING POINT

CHAPTER III. THE INCOMPATIBLES

CHAPTER IV. TEXAS SECEDES

CHAPTER V. RECOGNITION

CHAPTER VI. THE MEXICAN SHADOW

CHAPTER VII. ENGLAND AS PEACEMAKER

CHAPTER VIII. THE INTERNATIONAL CRISIS OF 1844

CHAPTER IX. THE DOMESTIC CRISIS OF 1844

CHAPTER X. AN ADVENTURE IN IMPERIALISM

CHAPTER XI. “THE HERO OF BUENA VISTA”

CHAPTER XII. THE STROKE FROM THE EAST

CHAPTER XIII. THE PIVOTAL ACTION

CHAPTER XIV. THE CONQUERED PEACE

2015

CHAPTER I. THE EMPRESARIOS

~

THAT AMERICAN DIPLOMAT KNOWN TO his contemporaries as “the eel-like Monroe” gave Manifest Destiny a deep offense which popular memory has let slip. He bartered away, as his enemies said, our claim to the country between the Sabine and the Rio Grande. However shadowy that claim was, there were patriotic Americans in the year 1819 who wanted the country. The shadowiness of the claim was not worth mentioning, they thought. Napoleon sold us something in the Southwest and surely we, with Manifest Destiny on our side, were the best judges of what old Louisiana included. Monroe took a narrower view; and when he acquired Florida from Spain and rounded out the eastern coast line, but stopped at the Sabine on the west, there was wrath in many American hearts, and some bold Americans were ready to stake their heads for the rectification of their government’s error.

One of these was James Long, who led a filibustering expedition across the Mexican line in 1819. Long’s exploit was the outcome of a public meeting of the citizens of Natchez, inspired by indignation over Monroe’s policy. The little army of adventurers who followed Long and captured the Mexican frontier town of Nacogdoches was strangely composed and acted from a variety of motives. A noted Mexican refugee, Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara, was associated with Long in setting up a ready-made government on the American model to preside over the new “Republic of Texas” which the invaders proclaimed at Nacogdoches. This Gutiérrez had been involved in earlier attempts to overthrow the kingdom of New Spain. Doubtless to some of Long’s followers the invasion was but a detail in the revolution against Spain of which they dreamed in their vision of a new and greater Mexico. Thus, it may be, starts a delusion which we shall find all through Texan history – the delusion that a genuine republican inspiration was struggling in Mexico with reactionary monarchism. Long’s republic was short-lived. During its few months, its founder revealed that deadly serious naïveté which appeared so often in Americans of that time. Looking about for an ally, Long bethought himself of the last great pirate of American waters, Jean Lafitte, who flew the Jolly Roger over Galveston Island. Lafitte had a pirate town there, and for a while was a sovereign over the freebooters of the sea. To him Long appealed. It was while Long was absent negotiating with Lafitte that the soldiers of New Spain fell upon Nacogdoches, abolished the infant republic, and drove its survivors, whether American adventurers or Mexican dreamers, helter-skelter across the border.

After such an invasion one would expect the jealous and sensitive Spaniards to be intolerant of everything American. Yet the excitement of Long’s adventure had hardly subsided when Moses Austin, a Connecticut Yankee, was granted permission to establish a colony of Americans inside the borders of New Spain. Why did the royal authorities thus contradict the logic of events? Their archives have not yet disclosed the answer. Guesses have been made, some of which must be considered. Did the Viceroy of New Spain think there was a population in our Southern States, royalist and Catholic, averse to becoming Americans and willing to be lured back into the monarchical fold? Did he feel that monarchical reënforcements were needed in Mexico as a bulwark against revolution? Or was there no deeper motive behind his action than mere favoritism? Was it, in the blunt modern phrase, only a case of “pull”? The fact that Austin had a powerful friend at court, a certain Baron de Bastrop, favors this unromantic suggestion. The riddle is still unread. But one fact is clear and full of significance: Mexico evidently had no intention of fostering an alien civilization; she prescribed methods of government for the newcomers and laid upon all the obligation to be, or to become, members of the national church.

Though Moses Austin – citizen of Connecticut, wanderer, pioneer, subject of Spain in old Louisiana, citizen of the United States again after 1803, and promoter of many ventures – obtained the grant from New Spain, his death intervened soon after; and it was his son, Stephen F. Austin, who was the real founder of Anglo-American Texas. It was he who planted the first American settlement, San Felipe de Austin, in December, 1821. Meanwhile the revolution had begun which was to result in the independence of Mexico. The revolution seems to have given a new turn to the dealings of Stephen Austin with the authorities of New Spain. In the spring of 1822, Stephen Austin, while busy with his scheme of colonization, was commanded to proceed to Mexico City to negotiate direct with the Congress of independent Mexico. At the capital, Austin met other Americans seeking, like himself, concessions from the Mexican Government. Chief among them stood that shifty General Wilkinson who had drawn Spanish pay while a great official of the United States, who had left his country for his country’s good, and who was now on a hazard of new fortunes beyond the Spanish line. There, too, was Hayden Edwards, destined to become the enemy of Austin and to play a strange rôle in the history of Texas, perhaps even a deeply significant one. Other adventurers surrounded these conspicuous figures. All were clamoring for grants from the new government. Among the Mexican revolutionists there was eager discussion of many things, ranging from the practicality of the schemes of the adventurers to such high subjects as the republican ideal and the merits and demerits of slavery. In the midst of this turmoil of conflicting interests Austin found no one in a hurry to translate his informal agreement with the old authorities into a formal agreement with the new.

While Austin waited at the capital a second revolution changed the new republic into an empire, and General Itúrbide became the Emperor Agustin I. But Itúrbide’s government set the example for so many later governments of Mexico by quickly collapsing. A second Mexican republic was set up and in 1824 a federal constitution was adopted. The old Spanish provinces were formed into states one of which included the three former provinces, Texas, Nuevo León, and Coahuila. Though Nuevo León was soon detached, the other two remained one state until Texas ceased to be a part of Mexico.

One of the last acts of the reign of Itúrbide was a decree granting Austin the right to form a colony of Americans in Texas and prescribing the main lines upon which the new community was to be constructed (February 18, 1823). What is known as the Imperial Colonization Law of 1823 had been passed a few weeks before. The provisions of the law and of the decree, so far as Austin was affected, were confirmed by the Congress of the republic when Itúrbide fell.

The imperial decree carrying out the provisions of the colonization law instructed the Governor of Texas to apportion land either directly among immigrant families or indirectly through empresarios who should agree to bring in not less than two hundred families. Each family was to adopt as its occupation either farming or grazing. Each farming family was to have 177 acres of land; each grazing family, 4428 acres. Austin, if he brought in as many as two hundred families, was to have 354 acres of farm land and about 66,000 acres of grazing land. All his immigrants were to “prove that they are Roman Apostolic Catholics, and of steady habits,” and he was to found a town, organize his colonists as a militia, preserve order, and administer justice.

The land granted to Austin, which was rapidly taken up by his colonists, lay between the San Jacinto and Lavaca rivers, on the Gulf side of the one Texan highway, the trail from Nacogdoches to San Antonio. His capital was the new town, on the Brazos River, San Felipe de Austin. For the government of his colony Austin himself drew up a code of laws almost paternal in temper, including a prohibition of gambling and imprisonment for debt.

In 1824 the Mexican Republic enacted a colonization law similar to the former imperial law, but leaving many details to the local authorities. Between the lines of this law we glimpse a shadow of uneasiness. Mexico reserved the right to “take such precautionary measures as it may deem expedient for the security of the confederation, in respect to the foreigners who may settle within it.” The question whether slavery should be continued in Mexico had already been raised. The national colonization laws were silent on the subject. A state colonization law of Coahuila and Texas, enacted in 1825, provided merely that, “in regard to the introduction of slaves, the new settlers shall subject themselves to the laws that are now, and shall be hereafter established on the subject.” The newcomers did not hesitate to bring with them their slaves.

The Texas that was the consequence of these laws was a mosaic. Theoretically a Spanish country, it was dotted with colonies of foreigners. Each colony formed a tiny state embedded in the recognized state of Coahuila and Texas. To establish the colony an empresario or contractor was empowered to bring in a stated number of families and to allot to each family a specified amount of land within a definite area. This group was given local rights similar to those of other Mexican communities, with an ayuntamiento or local council, elected by the people.

The purpose of the Mexican republicans in permitting the creation of these colonies of foreigners has not been explained any more than have the purposes of the royalists who began the work by encouraging Austin. The Spanish tradition ran counter to such a policy. If circumstantial evidence counts for anything, the Mexican authorities had some vision of a new régime which Americans do not yet understand. One thing is certain: they had no intention to leave the colonies permanently separate from the rest of the population. Only the Spanish language was to be used in public transactions. A colonist who married a Mexican was allowed more land than one who did not. All the laws repeated or implied the provision of the original grant to Austin, which laid down as “the first and principal requisite for colonists that of being Catholics or agreeing to become so.” It was under these laws that Americans crowded into Texas from 1822 forward. Here appears one of the shadowy places in Texan history. How exact was their knowledge of the situation? What was their conception of the obligations the laws required them to assume? Did all of them, did even most of them, know they were supposed to join the Church of Rome? The old style historian, with his eyes fixed on slavery and on constitutional issues, ignored these questions and the new historians have not yet answered them. Why Mexico, after hedging these aliens about with such stringent regulations, left them for a number of years to their own devices, letting them come as they chose without enforcing the restrictive laws – all this still awaits research.

Whatever motive may have guided them, thousands of Americans felt an irresistible desire to pitch their tents in the sunset. From every section, from every class, pilgrims were drawn to Texas, the very seat of fortune in the American mind during the twenties. Its noble woods, its great prairies, the land that could be had for next to nothing – these were potent magnets. Furthermore, it was the land of romance, of mystery. It was the borderland of the strange Spanish world. To the adventurous soul, it called in the deep murmur of the forest, in the wind across the trackless prairie – “I am the Unknown!” To the dreamer of democracy, it whispered grimly of possible revolution, of the last death-struggle between the people and the kings. The upholder of slavery saw in Texas a possible new lease of life for his peculiar institution. The abolitionist saw in it the possibility of a new free State. The patriot of sectionalism, if a Southerner, dreamed of expanding his section by the addition of the Southwest. Another sort of patriot, believing ardently that Texas had been filched from his country by diplomacy, turned westward, resolute to recover it, whether by fair means or by foul. Young and old, rich and poor, wise and foolish, a great host of Americans poured into the colonies of Texas in the high days of the twenties.

Out of the crowd of empresarios, the leaders of this migration, two men stand forth as makers of history. These were the younger Austin and Hayden Edwards. The character and adventures of Stephen Austin will one day inform a biography of singular interest. For the present he is eclipsed, or nearly so, by that bolder, more bulky personality which dominates the later history of Texas, Sam Houston. But Austin will eventually come to his own. A resolute, but also a patient man, he may not have equaled Houston in driving force; but in steadfastness he was second to none. From the start to the finish he was true to his conception of his obligation to Mexico. For this we have his own words, and he was a man of principle whose words must be accepted. But just what his conception was it is not easy to say. Though he made a hard and fast religious agreement with Mexico, he did not live up to it, and there seems little doubt that he felt free to disregard it. Strangely enough, his biographers, apparently indifferent on this point, have never troubled themselves to go in search of his own defense; their lightly sketched, half-articulate explanations leave the subject dark. That he probably considered the religious agreement a conventional survival of the old order which was, as he thought, perishing in Mexico and which he believed would vanish presently along with last night’s darkness – that he interpreted as evidence of this, Mexico’s utter failure to enforce the agreement – is at present a plausible hypothesis. What is definite, what sets him off in sharp contrast with Edwards, is his resolute attempt to become part of Mexico. Neither Austin nor Mexico understood the other. Mexico did not realize that it was undermining itself by introducing the Americans. Austin saw no reason why the two races with their differing civilizations should not occupy the same territory, and though with the simplicity of his period he understood himself as little as Mexico did, he fought hard to maintain the impossible new condition – impossible for reasons that will develop as the tale proceeds – and struck hard at the first head reared in opposition.

Edwards, on the other hand, was among those who looked upon the Mexicans as the real intruders north of the Rio Grande, upon themselves as the rightful owners of the soil, and upon the possession of it as their chief aim in life. His previous history is obscure. Henry Yoakum, the early historian of Texas, calls him “a wealthy and intelligent gentleman.” His enemy, Austin, accused him of having been a professional gambler at Mexico City. He was role of the adventurers who surrounded the sinister figure of Wilkinson during the intrigues there in 1823. He had succeeded in getting himself made an empresario and had fixed the site of his colony – perhaps by design, perhaps by accident – as close as possible to the boundary of Louisiana and near to Nacogdoches, which had been the seat of Long’s short-lived republic. That Edwards had Long’s adventure in mind is not unlikely.

On the face of the record the revolt of Hayden Edwards and his followers against the Republic of Mexico, which followed, grew out of the question of land titles. The region in which Edwards’s colony was situated had suffered for twenty years from others besides Long. Many of the native landowners had fled from their homes. Nevertheless, their lands still belonged to them. In selecting land for his colonists, Edwards was naturally required to avoid the holdings of these absentees. But he did not do so. Was it merely because he was a rough man with a high temper? This easy explanation is not wholly satisfactory. In the minds of most of the Americans who went to Texas was fixed the idea that the earth belongs to him who gives it value. Edwards and his associates looked upon themselves as the sole creators of land- value in their colony, and the return of Mexicans who had failed to hold their own was to them as the red rag that inflames the bull. Finally, many honestly believed that the soil belonged to the United States, that all good Americans thought so, and that any one who did not was a poltroon. Now and then in history a bold adventurer has risked his head in all attempt to commit his country to an extreme course. He puts his life on the hazard, believing his countrymen, whatever their attitude hitherto, will be so wrought upon by his daring that they will take up his battle cry and spring to arms. It will appear in a moment that Edwards conceivably was one of these great gamblers.

A decree of the Governor of the state canceled Edwards’s contract and ordered him out of the country. Edwards demanded the privilege of appeal to the Federal Government. The Governor replied that he might do what he pleased hereafter, but now he must go. Edwards’s first thought seems to have been that all Americans in all the colonies would stand by him. He sent posthaste to Austin for assistance, which was instantly refused. Thereupon Edwards put his head on the hazard. With a mere handful of followers he seized the town of Nacogdoches and proclaimed an independent republic which he styled Fredonia. For assistance against Mexico, he appealed to Americans everywhere and even contracted an alliance with the Cherokee Indians. He succeeded in raising an army of two hundred men. On December 21, 1826, the Republic of Fredonia, in true American style, adopted a complete constitution. The revolt was quickly put down. Not only did the colonists fail to respond to Edwards’s appeal, but Austin helped to raise a considerable force that joined the Mexicans in an attack on Nacogdoches. Edwards at that moment was seeking aid across the near border, in Louisiana. But before the end of January all was over. The former empresario was a landless man on the east side of the Sabine and his handful of followers were dispersed or prisoners.

And yet Hayden Edwards had made history.

CHAPTER II. THE TURNING POINT

~

THE FREDONIAN REVOLT WAS THE sensation of the hour both in the United States and in Mexico. American newspapers in 1827 teemed with reports of the “Fredonian War” – the war of two hundred men against a nation – and with expressions of sympathy with the Fredonians. The American people, having in them the egoistic passion of the Lord’s Anointed, saw nothing of the point of view of the Mexicans. Democracy, freedom of the individual, as Americans conceived it, was for them the supreme law. No delicate questions of legal right or of the political duty of the revolters were allowed to color the main theme. In sharpest black and white the ardent Americans of 1827 pictured their kinsmen defeated in Mexico as apostles of democracy crushed by an alien civilization.

Mexico took alarm. A startled consciousness seized the Mexican leaders that their colonizing policy had overshot the mark. In their effort to get a hardy new population they had created a power that now threatened to turn and rend them. It was the story of Frankenstein translated into terms of politics. Immediately there was proposed the simple but now dangerous course of reversing the colonization policy and prohibiting further immigration from the United States. Obregon, the Mexican Minister at Washington, reporting to his Government the widespread sympathy for Fredonia in the United States, gave as the only solution the closing of the Mexican frontier against Americans. In the Mexican Congress the Washington Government was bluntly charged with complicity in the Fredonian war. A powerful newspaper at Mexico City, El Sol, put the accusation into public print. The President of Mexico told the American Minister, Joel R. Poinsett, he did not believe the charge but said he hoped the President of the United States would publicly deny it.

As early as February, 1827, indeed, Obregon had interviewed Henry Clay, Secretary of State, hoping for such a denial. He wished to be reassured that he was right in thinking that the United States Government had no official connection with the Fredonian revolt. Clay in perfect sincerity gave him “the assurance . . . that the Government of the United States has not given the slightest countenance or encouragement to these disturbances.” The Minister wrote home that he believed Clay. But he knew something of American history. He knew that immigrants from the United States, settled in Spanish territory, had in times past stirred up revolts, and that those revolts had increased the international tension which finally led to the American occupation of the Floridas. Whatever the Government of the United States might do or not do, the people wanted Texas, just as they had wanted Florida; their hearts were with their kinsmen beyond the Sabine; and Mexico must put herself on guard.

At this juncture the Administration at Washington made a bad blunder. For all their imposing talents, neither John Quincy Adams at the White House nor Henry Clay in the Department of State, had the essential qualities of the diplomat. They were both racial egoists, unable to understand an alien race. Unfortunately the Minister at Mexico shared their limitation. He had misunderstood the Mexican character so thoroughly that his dispatches to Clay created at Washington the false impression on which Adams and Clay now decided to act. Nearly two years earlier Poinsett had written to Clay that, in spite of intense contrary feeling, Mexico would soon find Texas such a thorny problem that she would consent to part with it. Clay apparently reasoned that all Mexico had needed was a demonstration of her difficulties in Texas, which he thought she now had. “Impressed with these views,” he wrote to Poinsett, “the President has thought that the present might be an auspicious period for urging a negotiation at Mexico, to settle the boundaries between the two republics.”

This proposal sounds innocent enough, but the conditions of the moment gave it a sinister meaning. Once the United States had claimed the Rio Grande as the boundary of Louisiana. The withdrawal to the river Sabine, and the acceptance of that line in the treaty of 1819 had been bitterly denounced in the United States. Thousands of Americans believed that they were entitled to “recover” the territory between the Sabine and the Rio Grande. On the other hand, when Poinsett first began sounding the Mexican Government on the subject, he found a very different idea. The Mexicans made an astonishing claim. They held that the King of Spain never had authority to alienate any part of the Spanish domain in America, that the treaty of 1819 was therefore null and not binding on Mexico; and it was even intimated that the true boundary between the two countries was the old line of the treaty of 1795 which would extend Mexico to the Mississippi. There were still other considerations. The story of Poinsett in Mexico is a strange and obscure tale. He was accused of taking part in Mexican politics. In 1827 rumors about his political improprieties were a floating scandal at Mexico City. That there was foundation for them he himself confessed in a letter to President Adams. He told of his attempt to rally and consolidate the friends of “our Republican principles” in Mexico by drawing them into a grand lodge of York Freemasons that was to rival the older Mexican foundation of Scottish Rite Freemasons. The branches of the Masonic body thus arrayed against each other became the bases of two political parties. No wonder Poinsett’s most careful critic calls his course “amazingly imprudent.”

In the spring of 1827 Mexico still withheld its endorsement from the treaty of 1819 and the United States had not accepted a commercial treaty negotiated by Poinsett the year before; and the bitterness over Fredonia still charged the air when President Adams, through Clay, directed Poinsett to offer Mexico in return for all the Texan country to the banks of the Rio Grande the princely sum of one million dollars. But opinion in Mexico with regard to the boundary had crystallized; to meet the United States at the Sabine and fight it out there became the accepted policy. In April the Mexican Congress resolved that it would not complete the commercial treaty unless the United States pledged itself to accept the Sabine as a boundary. In the following month Poinsett began sounding the minds of the Mexican statesmen on the subject of the Rio Grande, and was soon convinced that the project was hopeless – at least for the present – and then, he wrote Clay, he “abandoned it altogether.” A premature statement, as we shall see.

So lacking in diplomatic prescience were all three of the American managers that they saw nothing suspicious in the next move made by Mexico. A Mexican commission started northward in the autumn of 1827 to examine the country along the proposed boundary. Nothing suspicious in this! Yet at that very time Poinsett wrote that the only thing to do was to accept the line of the Sabine and complete the pending commercial treaty on that understanding. Early in 1828, Mexico met Poinsett on his new ground, accepted his proposition, agreed to the revised commercial treaty and to another, destined to be known as the Treaty of Limits, fixing the boundary at the Sabine.

This action, however, did not turn the course of the Mexican boundary commissioner, Don Manuel de Mier y Terán, a learned and able man, devotedly patriotic, He continued his leisurely journey through Texas to Nacogdoches where in 1827 a small Mexican force commanded by Colonel Piedras had been stationed. This officer was often involved unpleasantly with the colonists of that region, who wanted to know why his garrison was there. It may have been this that moved the Mexican authorities to instruct Terán as follows: “Further, the Government desires that Your Excellency in passing beyond the frontiers which we actually hold, will report whether or not there is any necessity for fortifying any points along the same for the necessity of the interior, once the exact boundary is established.” About the middle of the next year, having finished his “geographical investigation,” Terán sent to Mexico long and interesting description of the Texan community.

As one covers the distance from Béjar to this town [ Nacogdoches], he will note that Mexican influence is proportionately diminished until on arriving at this place he will see that it is almost nothing. . . . The ratio of Mexicans to foreigners is one to ten. . . . The Mexicans of this town comprising . . . the lowest class. . . . The naturalized North Americans in the town maintain an English school, and send their children north for further education. . . . Thus I tell myself that it could not be otherwise than that from such a state of affairs should arise an antagonism between the Mexicans and the foreigners which is not the least of the smouldering fires I have discovered. Therefore, I now warn you to take timely measures. Texas could throw the whole nation into revolution. . . .

The wealthy Americans of Louisiana and other Western states are anxious to secure land in Texas for speculation but they are restrained by the laws prohibiting slavery. If these laws should be repealed – which God forbid – in a few years Texas would be a powerful state which could compete in wealth and productions with Louisiana. The repeal of these laws is a point toward which the colonists are directing their efforts. They have already succeeded in getting from the Congress of Coahuila a law very favorable to their prosperity; the state government has declared that it will recognize contracts made with servants before coming to this country, and the colonists are thus assured of ample labor which can be secured at a very low price in the United States.

Among the ideas which were taking form in the alert mind of Terán, here is one of the most important. The Texans had a great economic advantage over the rest of Mexico in their possession of slaves. And they were holding slaves in defiance of Mexican national law. Local laws also in theory had abolished slavery. The state constitution of Coahuila and Texas, adopted in 1827, emancipated all future children of slaves and forbade bringing in slaves after six months. But the influence of the Texans had brought about the other slavery law to which Terán refers. This piece of legislation was not two months old, when Terán singled it out as dangerous. Under this law, the newcomer from the United States just before crossing the border made a contract with his slaves, which the State of Coahuila would respect. Thus slaveholding settlers continued to come in. Terán saw the difference in prosperity between Texas and Mexico and fixed on the labor supply as the prime, though not the only, cause; and to destroy the supply of slave labor in Texas became henceforth one of his chief designs.

In the spring of 1829 Terán left Texas. He and Austin had become friends. That his visit had made history, and that it was the beginning of the end of their peace, had probably not entered the minds of any of the Texans who had been the hosts of this accomplished and delightful gentleman.

The year 1829 was eventful in the history of Texas, Mexico, and the United States. In that year Spain made an attempt to reconquer Mexico – a wholly foolish endeavor that began in July and collapsed in September at Tampico, without apparent result except a great reputation for the Mexican general, Santa Anna. Second in command against the invaders was Terán. The repulse of the Spaniards left him a conspicuous figure as commandante general of the Eastern States of Mexico.