Davis Foute Eagleton.

Writers and writings of Texas online

. (page 2 of 27)
Online LibraryDavis Foute EagletonWriters and writings of Texas → online text (page 2 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ference of an influence antipatriotic m itself, and too inter-
woven with the paralyzing of the past to permit the hope of
relief from its incorporation with that which alone can avert
the evils of the present crisis, and place the affairs of the
country beyond the reach of an immediate reaction.

"They have witnessed these evils with bitter regrets, with
swollen hearts, and indignant bosoms.

"A revulsion is at hand. An army recently powerless and
literally imprisoned is now emancipated. From a compara-
tively harmless, passive, and inactive attitude, they have been
transferred to one pre-eminently commanding, active and
imposing. The North and East of Mexico will now become
the stronghold of centralism. Thence it can sally in what-
ever direction its arch-deviser may prefer to employ its
weapons. The counter revolution in the interior once smoth-
ered, the whole fury of the contest will be poured on Texas.
She is principally populated ^with North Americans. To
expel these from its territory, and parcel it out among the
instruments of its wrath, will combine the motive and the
means for consummating the scheme of the President Dic-
tator. Already we are denounced, proscribed, outlawed and
exiled from the country. Our lands peaceably and lawfully
acquired, are solemnly pronounced the proper subject of in-
discriminate forfeiture, and our estates of confiscation.
The laws and guarantees under which we entered the coun-
try as colonists, tempted the unbroken silence, sought the
dangers of the wilderness, braved the prowling Indian, erect-


ed our numerous improvements, and opened and subdued
the earth to cultivation, are either abrogated or repealed,
and now trampled under the hoofs of the usurper's cavalry.

"Why, then, should we longer contend for charters, which
we are again and again told in the annals of the past, were
never intended for our benefit? Even a willingness on our
part to defend them, has provoked the calamities of an ex-
terminating warfare. Why contend for the shadow, when
the substance courts our acceptance? The price of each is
the same. War exterminating war is waged; and we have
either to fight or flee. * * *

"The foregoing, we are fully aware, is a blunt and, in some
respects, a humiliating, but faithful picture. However we
may wish or however much we may be interested, or feel
disposed to deceive our enemy, let us carefuly guard against
deceiving ourselves. We are in more danger from this
from his insinuating, secret, silent and unseen influence in
our councils, both on the field and in the cabinet, and from
the use of his silver and gold, than from his numbers, his
organization, or the concentration of his power in a single
arm. The gold of Phillip purchased what his arms could
not subdue the liberties of Greece. Our enemy, too, holds
this weapon. Look well to this, people of Texas, in the
exercise of suffrage. Look to it, Counsellors, your appoint-
ments to office. Integrity is a precious jewel!

"Men of Texas ! Nothing short of independence can place
us on solid ground. This step wjll. This step, too, will en-
title us to confidence, and will procure us credit abroad.
Without it every aid we receive must emanate from the en-
thusiasm of the moment, and with the moment will be liable
to pass away or die forever. Unless we stake this step no
foreign power can respect or even know us. None will
hazard a rupture with Mexico, important as she is, or incur
censure from other powers for interference with the internal
affairs of a friendly state to aid us in any way whatever.
Our letters of marque and reprisal must float at the mercy of
every nation on the ocean. And, whatever courtesy or kin-


dred , feeling may do, or forbear to do, in aid of our strug-
gle, prosecuted on the present basis, it would be idle and
worse and worse than childlike to flatter ourselves with the
hope of any permanent benefit from this branch of the ser-
vice, without frankly declaring to the world as a people, our
independence of military Mexico. Let us, then, take the
tyrant and his hirelings at his word. They will not know us
but as enemies. Let us, then know them hereafter, as other
independent states know each other as 'enemies in war; in
peace, friends.' Therefore

"i. Be it resolved, That the former province and depart-
ment of Texas is, and of right ought to be, a free, sovereign
and independent state.

"2. That as such it has, and of right ought to have, all the
powers, faculties, attributes, and immunities of other inde-
pendent nations.

"3. That we who set hereunto our names, pledge to each
other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor, to sus-
tain this declaration relying with entire confidence upon the
co-operation of our fellow citizens, and the approving smiles
of the God of the living, to aid and conduct us victoriously
through the struggle, to the enjoyment of peace, union, and
good government; and invoking his malediction if we should
either equivocate, er in any manner whatever, prove our-
selves unworthy of the high destiny at which we aim.

"Done in the town of Goliad, on Sunday, the 20th day of
December, in the year of our Lord, 1835."



Stephen Fuller Austin, the great Empresario and
"Father of Texas," was born in Austinville, Virginia,
in 1793. Educated in Transylvania University, Ken-
tucky, he followed his father, Moses Austin, to Mis-
souri, and later undertook to complete his father's
scheme of establishing a colony in Texas. His course
was beset with difficulties. "His long and perilous pil-
grimages to Mexico in the interest of his people; his
exertions to obtain for them the fulfillment of the
pledges made to him ; his unwarrantable detention and
imprisonment in Mexico; his unwillingness to counsel
his people to take up arms against that government,
while a vestige of hope for peace remained; his firm
and decided voice, speaking words of encouragement
and hope during the dark hours of the war ; his labori-
ous travels in the United States to obtain needed suc-
cor for his struggling countrymen all these afford
ample material for a volume of absorbing interest."

His colony, with San Felipe as the capital, was
located between the Brazos and the Colorado rivers,
and grants of land were given for a small price to his



settlers for permanent homes. He died at Columbia,
Brazoria County, December 25, 1836.

The following is an extract from a speech delivered
by him in Louisville, Kentucky:

"It is with the mast unfeigned and heartfelt gratitude that
I appear before this enlightened audience, to thank the citi-
zens of Louisville, as I do in the name of the people of
Texas, for the kind and generous sympathy they have mani-
fested in favor of the cause of that struggling country; and
to make a plain statement of the facts explanatory of the
contest ia which Texas is engaged with the Mexican Gov-

"The public has been informed, through the medium of
the newspapers, that war exists between the people of Texas
and the present government of Mexico. There are, how-
ever, many circumstances connected with this contest, its
origin, its principles and objects which, perhaps, are not so
generally known, and are indispensable to a full and proper
elucidation of this subject.

"When a people consider themselves compelled by circum-
stances or by oppression, to appeal to arms and resort to
their natural rights, they necessarily submit their cause to
the great tribunal of public opinion. The people of Texas,
confident in the justice of their cause, fearlessly and cheer-
fully appeal to this tribunal. In doing this, the first step is
to show, as I trust I shall be able to do by a succinct state-
ment of facts, that our cause is just, and is the cause of light
and liberty: the same holy cause for which our forefathers
fought and bled : the same that has an advocate in the
bosom of every freeman no matter in what country or by
what people it may be contended for.

"But a few years back Texas was a wilderness, the home
of the uncivilized and wandering Comanche and other tribes
of Indians, who waged a constant and ruinous warfare
against the Spanish settlements. These settlements were at
that time limited to the small towns of Bexar (commonly


called San Antonio) and Goliad, situated on the Western
limits. The incursions of the Indians extended also beyond
the Rio Bravo del Norte, and desolated that part of the

"In order to restrain these savages and to bring them into
subjection, the government opened Texas for settlement.
Foreign immigrants were invited and called to that country.
American enterprise accepted this invitation and promptly
responded to this call. The first colony of foreigners or
Americans ever settled in Texas was by myself. It was
commenced in 1821, under a permission to my father, Moses
Austin, from the Spanish government previous to the inde-
pendence of Mexico, and has succeeded by surmounting those
difficulties and dangers incident to all new and wilderness
countries infested with hostile Indians. These difficulties
were many and at times appalling, and can only be appre-
ciated by the hardy pioneers of this western country, who
have passed through similar scenes.

"The question here naturally occurs, what inducements,
what prospects, what hopes could have stimulated us, the
pioneers and settlers of Texas, to remove from the midst
of civilized society, to expatriate ourselves from this land
of liberty, from this our native country, endeared to us as
it was, and still is, and ever will be, by the ties of nativity,
the reminiscences of childhood and youth and local attach-
ments of friendship and kindred? Can it for a moment be
supposed that we severed all these ties the ties of nature
and of education, and went to Texas to grapple with the
wilderness and with savage foes, merely from a spirit of
wild and visionary adventure, without guarantees of pro-
tection for our persons and property and political rights?
No, it cannot be believed. No American, no Englishman, no
one of any nation who has a knowledge of the United States,
or of the prominent characteristics of the Anglo-Saxon race
to which we belong a race that in all ages and in all coun-
tries wherever it has appeared has been marked for a tena-
cious and jealous watchfulness of its liberties, and for a


cautious and calculating view of the probable events of the
future no one who has a knowledge of this race can or will
believe that we removed to Te.xas without such guarantees
as freeborn and enterprising men naturally expect and re-

"The fact is, we had such guarantees; for, in the first
place, the government bound itself to protect us, by the mere
act of admitting us as citizens, on the general and long es-
tablished principle, even in the dark ages, that protection and
allegiance are reciprocal a principle which in this enlight-
ened age has been extended much farther; for its received
interpretation now is, that the object of the government is
the security, well being and happiness of the governed, and
that allegiance ceases whenever it is clear, evident and palpa-
ble, that this object is in no respect effected.

"But, besides this general guarantee, we had others of a
special, definite and positive character the colonization laws
of 1823, '24, and '25, inviting emigrants generally to that
country, especially guaranteed protection for person and
property, and the right of citizenship.


"I pass to an examination of the resources of Texas. We
consider them sufficient to effect and sustain our indepen-
dence. We have one of the finest countries in the world, a
soil surpassed by none for agriculture and pasturage, not
even by the fairest portions of Kentucky a climate that
may be compared to Italy; within the cotton or sugar re-
gion, intersected by navigable rivers and bounded by the
Gulf of Mexico, on which there are several fine bays and
harbors suitable for all the purposes of commerce a popu-
lation of about seventy thousand, which is rapidly increasing
and is composed of men of very reputable education and
property, enterprising, bold and energetic, devotedly attached
to liberty and their country, inured to the exercise of arms,
and at all times ready to use them, and defend their homes
inch by inch if necessary. The exportation of cotton is
large. Cattle, sheep and hogs are very abundant and cheap.


The 'revenue from importations and direct taxes will be con-
siderable, and rapidly increasing; the vacant lands are very
extensive and valuable, and may be safely relied upon as a
great source of revenue and of bounty to emigrants.

'The credit of Texas is good, as is shown by the exten-
sive loans already negotiated. The country and army are
generally well supplied with arms and ammunition, and the
organized force in February last in the field exceeded two
thousand and is rapidly increasing. But, besides these re-
sources, we have one which ought not, and certainly will not
fail us it is our cause the cause of light and liberty, of
religious toleration and pure religion. To suppose that such
a cause will fail, when defended by Anglo-Saxon blood, by
Americans, and on the limits and at the very door of this
free and philanthropic and magnanimous nation, would be
calumny against republicanism and freedom, against a noble
race, and against the philanthropic principles of the people
of the United States. I therefore repeat that we consider
our resources sufficient to effect our independence against
the Mexicans, who are disorganized and enfeebled by revo-
lutions, and almost destitute of funds or credit.

"Another interesting question which naturally occurs to
everyone is, what great advantages are to result to philanth-
ropy and religion, or to the people of these United States
from the emancipation of Texas? To this we reply, that
ours is most truly and emphatically the cause of liberty,
which is the cause of philanthropy, of religion, of mankind;
for in its train follow freedom of conscience, pure moral-
ity, enterprise, the arts and sciences, all that is dear to the
noble minded and free, all that renders life previous. On
the principle the Greeks and the Poles, and all others who
have struggled for liberty, have received the sympathies or
aid of the people of the United States; on this principle the
liberal party in priest-ridden Spain, is now receiving the aid
of freeborn and high-minded Englishmen, on this same prin-
ciple Texas expects to receive the sympathies and aid of their
brethren, the people of the United States, and of the freemen


of all nations. But the Greeks and the Poles are not parallel
cases with ours they are not the sons and daughters of
Anglo-Americans. We are. We look to this happy land as
to a fond mother from whose bosom we have imbibed those
great principles of liberty, which are now nerving us, al-
though comparatively weak in numbers and resources, to
contend against the whole Mexican nation in defence of our

"The emancipation of self-government over a rich and
neighboring country, and open a vast field there for enter-
prise, wealth and happiness, and for those who wish to es-
cape from the frozen blasts of a northern climate, by re-
moving to a more congenial one. It will promote and accel-
erate the march of the present age, for it will open a door
through which a bright and constant stream of light and in-
telligence will flow from this great northern fountain over
the benighted regions of Mexico.

"That nation of our continent will be regenerated; free-
dom of conscience and rational liberty will take root in that
distant, and, by nature, much favored land, where for ages
past the banner of the inquisition, of intolerance, and of des-
potism has paralyzed, and sickened and deadened every effort
in favor of civil and religious liberty.

"But apart from these great principles of philanthropy, and
narrowing the question down to the contracted limits of cold
and prudent political calculation, a view may be taken of it
which doubtless has not escaped the penetration of the saga-
cious and cautious politicians of the United States. It is the
great importance of Americanising Texas, by filling it with
a population from this country, who will harmonize in lan-
guage, in political education, in common origin, in every
thing, with their neighbor to the east and north. By this
means Texas will become a great outwork on the west, to
protect the outlet of this western world, the mouths of the
Mississippi, as Alabama and Florida are on the east, and to
keep far away from the southwestern frontier the weakest
and most vulnerable in the nation all enemies who might


make Texas a door for invasion, or use it as a theatre from
which mistaken philanthropists and wild fanatics might at-
tempt a system of intervention in the domestic concerns of
the South, which might lead to a servile war, or at least
jeopardize the tranquillity of Louisiana and the neighboring

"This view of the subject is an important one, so much so
that a bare allusion to it is sufficient to direct the mind to
the various interests and results, immediate and remote,
which are involved.

"To conclude, I have shown that our cause is just and
righteous, that it is the great cause of mankind, and as
such, merits the approbation and the moral support of this
magnanimous and free people. That our object is indepen-
dence, as a new republic, or as a state of these United States ;
that our resources are sufficient to sustain the cause we are
defending; that the results will be the promotion of the
great cause of liberty, of philanthropy, of religion, and the
protection of a great and important interest to the people of
the United States.

"With these claims to the approbation and moral support
of the free of all nations, the people of Texas have taken up
arms in self defense, and they submit their cause to the
judgment of an impartial world, and to the protection of a
just and omnipotent God."


The state papers, proclamations and speeches of
General Sam Houston are characterized by a dignified
ease of expression, carefulness of diction, astuteness
of reasoning, and directness of presentation, that sug-
gest to the mind the masterful English of a Pitt or

Born in Virginia in 1793, he came with his widowed


mother and family to Tennessee in 1806. After a
chequered career, he was elected Governor of the state
in 1827. The same year he abruptly resigned his posi-
tion and went west to take up his life with the Indians.

The struggle for political independence in Texas
attracted him greatly,. and in 1832 he cast in his lot
with the heroic patriots, finally triumphing on the
battlefield of San Jacinto, April 21, 1836. Later, as
President of the Republic, Governor of the State, and
Senator to the United States Congress, he served his
adopted State fearlessly and faithfully. He died at
Huntsville in 1863.

The following selections indicate his versatility of
style and his ease of expression.


(The first Congress of the Republic was organized October
3, 1836. After the incidental preliminaries, the President ad
interim vacated his position, October 22, and General Sam
Houston, the President-elect, was duly inaugurated, the
Speaker of the House administering to him the oath of


Deeply impressed with a sense of the responsibility de-
volving on me, I cannot, in justice to myself, express the
emotion of my heart, or restrain the feelings which my sense
of obligation to my fellow citizens has inspired their suf-
frage was gratuitously bestowed. Preferred to others, not
unlikely superior in merit to myself, called to the most im-
portant station among mankind by the voice of a free people,
it is utterly impossible not to feel impressed with the deep-
est sensations of delicacy in my present position before the
world. It is not here alone, but our present attitude before
all nations, has rendered my position, and that of my coun^
try, one of peculiar interest.


A spot of earth, almost, to the geography of the age, des-
titute of all available resources, few in numbers, we remon-
strated against oppression; and, when invaded by a numer-
ous host, we dared to proclaim our independence and to
strike for freedom on the breast of the oppressor. As yet
our course is onward. We are only in the ou.set of the cam-
paign of liberty. Futurity has locked up the destiny which
awaits our people. Who can contemplate with apathy a
situation so imposing in the moral and spiritual world?

The relations among ourselves are peculiarly delicate and
important; for, no matter what zeal or fidelity I may pos-
sess in the discharge of my official duties, if I do not obtain
cooperation and an honest support from the coordinate de-
partments of the government, wreck and ruin must be the
inevitable consequences of my administration. If then, in
the discharge of my duty, my competency should fail in the
attainment of the great objects in view, it would become your
sacred duty to correct my errors and sustain me by your
superior wisdom. This much I anticipate this much I de-

I am perfectly aware of the difficulties that surround me,
and the convulsive throes through which our country must
pass. I have never been emulous of the civic wreath when
merited, it crowns a happy destiny. A country situated like
ours is environed with difficulties, its administration is
fraught with perplexities. Had it been my destiny, I would
infinitely have preferred the toils, privations and perils of a
soldier to the duties of my present station. Nothing but zeal,
stimulated by the holy spirit of patriotism, and guided by
philosophy and reason, can give that impetus to our energies
necessary to surmount the difficulties that obstruct our po-
litical progress. By the aid of your intelligence, I trust all
the impediments to our advancement will be removed : that
all wounds in the body politic will be healed, and the con-
stitution of the Republic derive strength and vigor equal to
any emergency. I shall confidently anticipate the consolida-
tion of constitutional liberty. In the attainment of this ob-


ject, we must regard our relative situation to other coun-

A subject of no small importance is the situation of an ex-
tensive frontier, bordered by Indians and open to their
depredations. Treaties of peace and amity, and the mainte-
nance of good faith with the Indians, seem to me to be the
most rational means for winning their friendship. Let us
abstain from aggression, establish commerce with the dif-
ferent tribes, supply their useful and necessary wants, main-
tain even-handed justice with them, and natural reason will
teach them the utility of our friendship.

Admonished by the past, we cannot in justice, disregard
our national enemies. Vigilance will apprise us of their ap-
proach, a disciplined and valiant army will insure their dis-
comfiture. Without discrimination and system, how unavail-
ing would all the resources of an old and overflowing treas-
ury prove to us ! It would be as unprofitable to us in our
present situation as the rich diamond locked in the bosom
of the adamant. We cannot hope that the bosom of our
peaceful prairies will soon be visited by the healing breezes
of peace. We may again look for the day when their ver-
dure will be converted into dyes of crimson. We must keep
all our energies alive, our army organized, disciplined, and
increased to our present emergencies. With these prepara-
tions we can meet and vanquish despotic thousands. This
is the attitude we must at present regard as our own. We
are battling for human liberty; reason and firmness must
characterize our acts.

The course our enemies have pursued has been opposed to
every principle of civilized warfare bad faith, inhumanity,
and devastation marked their path of invasion. We were a
little band, contending for liberty; they were thousands, well
appointed, munitioned, and provisioned, seeking to rivet
chains upon us, or to extirpate us from the earth. Their cruel-
ties have incurred the universal denunciation of Christendom.
They will not pass from their nation during the present

Online LibraryDavis Foute EagletonWriters and writings of Texas → online text (page 2 of 27)