Do the People of Texas Have a Right to Declare Independence?
Digital History ID 3660
A “Committee of Vigilance and Public Safety” in San Augustin calls for revolution against Mexican rule.
If the people of Texas have the moral and political right to declare themselves independent of the Mexican government, is it expedient for them now to exercise that right? In order to illustrate this part of the proposition, the committee propose[s] to take a rapid review of the past. In the year of eighteen hundred and twenty-one, Texas was an uninhabited wilderness, infested by hostile Indians, from the Sabine river to San Antonio; not excepting Nacogdoches itself. Encouraged by the invitation of the colonization laws, the settlement of the wilderness was commenced, and continued by individual enterprises, entirely unaided by succors of any kind from the government; the settlement of the country has not cost the government one cent. The emigrants dared to settle an unreclaimed wilderness, the haunt of wild beasts, and the home of the daring and hostile savages; and in so doing, poured out their blood like water. . . . In the successful progress of the settlement of the country, and in the midst of the enactment of the flood of laws proffering protection to the persons and property of the emigrants, General [Vicente] Guerrero came to the office of the presidency of the republic. He and his friends spoke of liberty as a goddess, before whose shrine they were wont to worship; and the inviolable sacredness of person and property; friendship to the emigrants, &c. Among the first acts of his administration, was one to free all the negroes: this he said, was to give splendor to his official career, and make an epoch in the history of the republic. . . . To Guerrero, succeeded [Anastacio] Bustamente, the vice-president. The latter was considered the antipode of the former. Under his rule was enacted the law of the sixth of April, 1830, the eleventh section of which prohibited the emigration of natives of the United States of the north [into Texas], but none other: this totally separated many of the first emigrants from their relatives and friends, who intended to have removed to the country, and had disposed of their property to do so. Families, and the nearest ties of kindred and friendship were thus severed. Bustamente was displaced by Santa Anna, who was extolled as the great apostle of equal rights. He was represented as standing in the portico of the temple of Mexican liberty, with his brows bound with a patriot's wreath, unrolling and vindicating the constitution and laws of his country. Him, the first Convention memorialised, petitioned, we will not say supplicated: he answered all their prayers with the silence of contempt. The second Convention again petitioned and memorialised this man, and "to make assurance doubly sure, and take a bond of fate," sent one of their most respectable and influential citizens [Stephen F. Austin] on to the city of Mexico, to solicit in person in behalf of the rights of the people of Texas. This distinguished citizen . . . Santa Anna . . . without ceremony thrust into prison, and continued his dark and gloomy durance for perhaps more than eighteen months; and then only released him to administer to his own wants. Enough. Fellow-citizens, what are we contending for? Can true reconciliation ever grow where roots of hatred have struck so deep? His guaranty, what would it avail before the god of his devouring ambition? The Anglo-Americans and the Mexicans, if not primitively a different people, habit, education and religion, have made them essentially so. The two people cannot mingle together. The strong prejudices that existed at the first emigrations, so far from having become softened and neutralised contact, having increased many fold. And as long as the people of Texas belong to the Mexican nation, their interests will be jeopardised, and their prosperity cramped. And they will always be more or less affected by the excitements of that revolutionary people. Of all the times for Texas to declare herself independent, the present is perhaps the most exquisitely appropriate. The causes will fully justify the act before the enlightened world, and win its approbation. Then, fellow-citizens, let us instruct our delegates to the next convention to pass a Declaration of Independence with one loud and unanimous voice. . . .
Source: Resolution of December 22, 1835, published in the Telegraph and Texas Register (San Felipe de Austin), January 23, 1836, 102-3.
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