Page images

belonging to his group; and on January 11, 1816, a copy of the map was sent to each of the governors and to Arredondo's assistant inspectors in those provinces. According to this map Texas was separated from Nuevo Santander by the Nueces, and from Coahuila by the Medina, and its southwestern and western boundary was a zigzag line beginning at the mouth of the Nueces and ending at a point on Red River a little east of the one hundredth meridian of longitude west from Greenwich.1 This must be considered the understanding of the Span-ish government at the time of the revolt of Mexico in 1821.

The purchase of Louisiana in 1803 made it necessary to fix the boundary between the United States and Spanish territory in the southwest. In 1806 this question, after almost provoking a war, was quieted temporarily by what was called the "Neutral Ground treaty," an agreement concluded by Generals Wilkinson and Herrera, and to some extent respected by the governments concerned. The agreement was to the effect that the United States troops should not go west of the Arroyo Hondo, a tributary of Red River, nor the Spanish east of the Sabine. The intervening district was to be treated

1 See map No. 2, facing p. 104, from a tracing of the copy sent to Saltillo, furnished me by Judge Bethel Coopwood, of San Antonio. No copy has yet been found in the Saltillo archives. Cf. Apéndice de los Documentos Relativos a la Linea Divisoria . . . del Estado de Coahuila (Saltillo, 1882).

? McCaleb, Aaron Burr Conspiracy, 150-153.

as neutral. But when Florida was bought in 1819, as a part of the bargain, the southwestern boundary was so fixed, after a stout resistance by Secretary of State Adams, as to leave all of Texas west of the Sabine to Spain.

The official Spanish delimitation of Texas in its later years as a province is shown by the map sent out in 1816, but Texas was not satisfied with her limits as thus marked off. May 14, 1836, when Santa Anna was a prisoner in the hands of the Texans, he concluded with them two treaties, of which one was secret.' It provided, among other things, for the conclusion of a subsequent treaty by which the limits of Texas were to be fixed, but were not to extend beyond the Rio Grande. This agreement the Mexican government refused to regard as binding, because it was made under duress. American historians have generally accepted the Mexican argument, and have either entirely neglected the treaty with Santa Anna, or have dismissed it lightly as of small importance; but there is much to be said in favor of its validity, and hence something for the Texan claim to the Rio Grande subsequent to 1836.2 December 19, the same year, was approved an act of the Texas congress defining the boundaries of the republic as follows:

"Beginning at the mouth of the Sabine River,

1 For the text of this treaty, see Niles' Register, LXIX., 98. 2 Cf. Howard, in Cong. Globe, 31 Cong., 1 Sess., 205-209; as to the effect of duress, see Woolsey, International Law (5th ed.), 169.

and running West along the Gulph of Mexico, three Leagues from Land, to the mouth of the Rio Grande, -thence up the principal stream of said river to its source, thence due North to the forty second degree of North Latitude, thence along the boundary line, as defined in the Treaty between the United States and Spain to the beginning." 1

This definition was not backed up by the establishment of actual jurisdiction. The Mexicans still held the left bank of the Rio Grande, but along the lower course of it their control extended no farther. As a matter of fact, the district lying between the Rio Grande and the Nueces was then practically unoccupied except along its edges, and the Texans had possession of the Nueces valley. In the year 1841 President Lamar, acting without the sanction of his congress, made an attempt to extend the jurisdiction of Texas to the Rio Grande in New Mexico by means of the Santa Fé expedition. A force of two hundred and seventy men was organized near Austin, and set out in June to cross six hundred miles of desert infested by hostile Indians. They carried copies of a proclamation by the president to the Mexican authorities, in which he offered them the privilege of incorporating themselves with Texas if they wished, but informed them that if they did not desire to change their allegiance they would not be attacked. He hoped, however, that

1 MS. enrolled bill in the Tex. archives; cf. Gammel, Laws of Tex., I., 1193.

the expedition might result in the establishment of closer commercial relations between Texas and New Mexico. After enduring great hardships the expedition reached the neighborhood of Santa Fé, only to be captured. Two men were executed, and the remainder sent to Mexican prisons, where they were confined till the following year. Some of them who were not Texans were released on the intercession of the governments to which their allegiance was due; the others, except one, were set free by order of the Mexican president, Santa Anna, June 13, 1842; and that one, who happened to be a personal enemy of Santa Anna, was held in captivity till he escaped early in 1845. The expedition had done nothing to change the status of the boundary question.1

1 For details, see Kendall, Santa Fé Expedition; cf. Bancroft, North Mex. States and Tex., II., 332-337.



[ocr errors]


spite of the repulse which the Texan government had suffered in its attempt at annexation, it was first to indicate the desire of returning to the subject. In Dec mber, 1841, when Sam Houston became for the second time president of the republic, he immediately sent James Reily as chargé d'affaires to Washington, with instructions to ascertain whether the United States was indisposed to negotiate further relative to annexation.1 Anson Jones, secretary of state under Houston, says that this was done with little hope of a favorable answer; and the Texan authorities were therefore not disappointed on learning from Reily that his efforts had met with no encouragement. March 25, 1842, he wrote Jones from Washington, saying, "I would rather die than to remain here. . . . You can see from my official letter that nothing can be done here in the way of any negotiation for Texas." Shortly afterwards his request to be relieved was granted,

1 Jones, Letters Relating to the Hist. of Annex., 4.
' Ibid., 7; Jones, Repub. of Tex., 178.

« PreviousContinue »