Tejano Leaders Favor Slavery in Texas
Digital History ID 3656
Juan Nepomuceno Seguin
Juan N. Seguin, a member of the Mexican Congress which passed this law against the further introduction of slaves, considered slavery essential to the development of the region.
"I agree with you that the great development of your colony, and of the other colonies of Texas, depends among other things, upon permitting their inhabitants to introduce slaves; that by such action many men of property will come; and that without it only the wretched will come who cannot advance the province. But, my friend, in my Congress such arguments were not listened to. On the contrary, when slavery was discussed the whole Congress become electrified in considering the wretchedness of that portion of humanity; and it was resolved that commerce and traffic in slaves should be forever extinguished in our republic and that the introduction of slaves into our territory should not be permitted under any pretext."
Ramón Músquiz., the highest official in Texas, writes to Governor J. M. Viesca on October 25, 1829 asking him to exempt Texas from Mexico’s 1829 ban on slavery.
I have received the decree of the President of the United States dated September 15, abolishing slavery in the Republic, which you forwarded to me in your communication of the 29th of this month. At the moment of preparing to publish and circulate the said decree, reflection occurred to me concerning the injuries which an exact fulfilment of this decree would cause in this department; and since I understand that it is one of my principal duties to report all evils which may threaten the Supreme Government for your due consideration and final decision, I thought it my duty to defer its publication until I could make this report was the purpose indicated, so that you may give my report such consideration as you think it merits, and bring it to the attention of the President so that he may weight it in the balance of equity and consider the peculiar circumstances in which this important part of the state finds itself, hoping that he may, perhaps, think it desirable to make another decree, granting to this department an exemption from the decree of the 15th of September….
Article 8 of the general colonization law of August 18, 1824, says: "The Mexican-nation offers to foreigners who come and establish themselves in its territory security for their persons and property." Article I of the State colonization law of the 24th of March, 1825, says explicitly: "All foreigners who in virtue of the general law of August 18, 1824, which guarantees them security for person and property in the Mexican nation, and who wish to plant themselves in the settlement of the states of Coahuila and Texas may come, and the said State invites and calls them." Under such solemn guarantees have the foreigners who now inhabit this department settled her, and after they have been so solemnly assured by the Mexican nation of security for their persons and property, and after, in addition, the state has invited and called them it does seem very hard to deprive them now of their property by a decree of the Supreme Government, and especially of that property which is of the most importance for agriculture and for raising cattle and for the other labors to which they have devoted themselves. For they cannot carry on these labors without the aid of the robust and almost indefatigable strength of that race of the human species called negroes, who, to their misfortune, suffer slavery. But I hope I may be allowed to make this observation these unfortunates, when they came to this country, were already slaves and their masters regarded them as things, objects of commerce. Neither the Government nor the inhabitants of the country have made them slaves. It is a condition which they brought with them, and they were introduced for the purpose of making them labor in the fields. To give freedom to these laborers would be the same as ruining this important branch of public welfare. Two rights of great importance are seen in this question: namely, liberty and property. Which is the most sacred and most respectable of these two rights in our case in the Mexican Republic? We have here a problem which is not to be settled easily. Philanthropy and the natural sentiments of humanity speak promptly in favor of liberty, but the laws which regulate society take the part of property and declare it to be sacred and inviolable---that no one should be deprived of his property without due process of law….
I beg your excellency to interpose your influence so that the Supreme Government of the Union may grant to this department exemption from the decree which abolishes slavery; or communicate to me as quickly as possible your decision concerning the action that I should take. I assure you that on my part your order shall be complied with immediately. I have only sought to point out the evils that would follow the execution of the decree in this department. I estimate that the number of slaves in the new settlements is approximately one thousand of both sexes. Their owners value them at around 300,000 pesos.
Source: Juan Nepomuceno Seguin to Stephen Austin, July 24, 1825
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