Anglo-Mexican Relations in Texas
Digital History ID 539
José María Sánchez
For the most part, Anglo-Americans and Tejanos had little contact with each other. While the Tejanos were concentrated in three towns--Goliad, Nacodoches, and San Antonio--and in large ranchos in the surrounding countryside, Anglo-Americans established few towns and instead developed farms and plantations in the fertile river valleys of east Texas. Unlike the Tejanos, who engaged in cattle ranching, Anglo-Texans raised cotton using slave labor. A few Anglo-Americans did marry into the Tejano elite, including Jim Bowie, for whom the bowie knife is named; he later fought and died at the Alamo. In the selection here, a sublieutenant in the Mexican artillery corps describes conditions in Texas in 1828, eight years before the Texas Revolution.
The commerce [in San Antonio], which is carried on by foreigners and two or three Mexicans, is very insignificant, but the monopoly of it is very evident.... Although the soil is very rich, the inhabitants do not cultivate it because of the danger incurred from Indian attacks as soon as they get any distance from the houses, as the Indians often lurk in the surrounding country, coming in the silence of the night without fear from the troops, for by the time the latter notice the damage done it is already too late. No measures can be taken for the maintenance of a continuous watch on account of the sad condition of the troops, especially since they lack all resources. For months, and even years at a time, these troops have gone without salary or supplies, constantly in active service against the Indians, dependent for their subsistence on buffalo meat, deer, and other game they may be able to secure with great difficulty....
The character of the people is care-free, they are enthusiastic dancers, very fond of luxury, and the worst punishment that can be inflicted upon them is work.... Property owners...abolished the missions and divided the lands among themselves; the lands they have not known how to cultivate and which they have left in a sad state of neglect....
The Mexicans who live here are very humble people, and perhaps their intentions are good, but because of their education and environment they are ignorant not only of the customs of our great cities, but even of the occurrences of our Revolution.... Accustomed to the continued trade with the North Americans, they have adopted their customs and habits, and one may say truly they are not Mexicans except by birth, for they even speak Spanish with marked incorrectness.
Source: José María Sánchez, "A Trip to Texas in 1828," trans. Carlos E. Castañeda, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 29 (1926).
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