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Mexico's Leaders Condemn Slavery in Texas
Digital History ID 3657

Author:   Santa Anna

Annotation: In a letter describing the situation in Texas, Santa Anna denounces Texans who continue to bring slaves into the region, and who circumvent Mexican law by calling slaves apprentices.

Document: …There is a considerable number of slaves in Texas also, who have been introduced by their masters under cover of certain questionable contracts, but who according to our laws should be free. Shall we permit those wretches to moan in chains any longer in a country whose kind laws protect the liberty of man without distinction of cast or color?

José María Tornel, Relations between Texas, the United States of America and the Mexican Republic by Secretary of War during the Texas campaign, 1837

Mexico’s Secretary of War

…Greater still is the astonishment of the civilized world to see the United States maintain the institution of slavery with its cruel laws to support it and propagate it, at a time when the other nations of the world have agreed to cooperate in the philanthropic enterprise of eradicating this blot and shame of the human race. Don Lorenzo de Zavala in his Trip to the United States, a work which he seems to have written to laud them to the stars while depreciating his country to the lowest depths, at a time when perhaps he was already meditating his dark treason, cannot resist the natural instinct of repulsion inspired by the contrast of the humane and truly liberal policy of Mexico and the cruel and sanguinary one of the United States in regard to the slaves. "In crossing from the Mexican Republic to the states of our sister Republic," says Zavala, "the philosopher cannot help but feel the contrast presented by the two countries, nor can he fail to experience a grateful feeling for those who abolished this degrading traffic in human flesh, removing from our midst every vestige of so humiliating a spectacle of misery." As a matter of fact, without having proclaimed as pompously as the United States the rights of man, we have respected them better by abolishing all distinctions of class or race and considering as our brothers all creatures created by our common father. The land speculators of Texas have tried to convert it into a mart of human flesh where the slaves of the south might be sold and others from Africa might be introduced, since it is not possible to do it directly through the United States. "It seems," says Mrs. Trollope, "that it is a general and deep-rooted opinion throughout the United States that the black race cannot be trusted. According to the prevailing opinion of the country, fear is the only force that moves a slave. It is not strange, therefore, that these poor wretches should act in keeping with such a policy." This mutual distrust, this reciprocal fear between master and slave will some day result in the freedom of more than three million men, a fact to which the thinking men of the neighboring republic are not blind….. What will be the course followed by the United States? To maintain and encourage this institution as long as possible and when the fatal hour of destiny arrives which is to destroy this tyrannous and opprobrious system, to treat them as the Indians, driving them into Mexican territory also…. It is upon Texas and perhaps upon New Mexico and the two Californias that the anxious eyes of those who even now are giving their attention to the future destinies of the colored race rest. As in the United States nothing is done without a preconceived plan, and since everybody works by common accord as if by an admirable instinct for the realization of the ends pursued, it is incredible that the slow working out of the means by which some day certain difficulties whose transcendental importance has been fully realized will be solved should have been ignored in their reckoning. Thus we see the concurrence of an infinite number of interests of the United States converging for the stimulation of their policy of expansion.....

Source: Santa Anna to Ministry of War, February 16, 1836

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