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and his place was taken by Isaac Van Zandt, who was instructed to keep his government advised, so far as he might be able, of the feeling relative to annexation, both in Congress and among the people of the United States.
This indifference of the United States government was suddenly changed to marked anxiety. In the summer of 1843 a truce between Mexico and Texas was secured by the efforts of the British and French ministers in Mexico, in order that there might be negotiations for peace. Thereupon Mr. Van Zandt was instructed to make an informal statement to the authorities at Washington “that the subject of annexation was not open to discussion." Texas had finally struck the key-note of the policy that was to win where humble and filial petition had failed. The evidence of a good understanding between Texas on the one hand and Great Britain and France on the other, and of the possible influence of these two nations in Texas affairs, suddenly awoke in the United States government a sense of the risk it might be incurring by its refusal to consider the subject of annexation. In the words of Jones, "This aroused all the dormant jealousies and fears of that government, the apathy of seven years' sleep over the question was shaken off, and a treaty of annexation proposed to be celebrated."
1 Jones, Letters Relating to the Hist. of Annex., 8; Jones to Van Zandt, July 6, 1843, MS. Diplomatic Correspondence of Texas, file 1068.
The uneasiness thus awakened at Washington was much increased by reports that began to reach the government concerning a proposed use of British influence in Texas towards the abolition of slavery. One of these reports came through a private letter from "a citizen of Maryland," said to have been Duff Green, a friend of Calhoun. Benton asserts that the letter was intended for public use, and was paid for out of the contingent fund of the state department.1 Whether this be true or not, the story was sensational. It was to the effect that S. P. Andrews, of Houston, Texas, was seeking to get the support of the British government for a plan to abolish slavery in the republic by indemnifying the slave-holders. According to the "citizen of Maryland," who gave the Texan minister at London as his authority, that government had agreed to guarantee interest on a loan for the purpose, to be repaid with Texan lands, if the government of the republic would abolish slavery.
Upshur, the United States secretary of state, who must be regarded as speaking for President Tyler, credited the tale and thought the plan was a vast and deep-laid scheme on the part of England to abolish slavery throughout America, in order to save English sugar and cotton industries in the East and West Indies from the competition of the United States, and to acquire a dominant influence 1 Benton, Thirty Years' View, II., 590.
Senate Docs., 28 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 341, p. 18.
in the councils of Texas and a monopoly of the Texas trade. A more real danger that he foresaw was the possibility of friction from a Texas without slavery and beyond the limits of the Union, yet adjacent to the slave state of Louisiana. On August 8, 1843, he wrote W. S. Murphy, the United States chargé in Texas, telling of the report and his fears, and asking for further information.' Murphy's reply, based on the statements of several citizens who had conversed with Andrews after his return from England, went to confirm the story which had reached Upshur.
Andrews appears to have been a peculiar and interesting character. He was a native of Massachusetts, who had come to Texas from New Orleans in 1839. Settling in Houston, he began work in his profession of the law, and acquired considerable property. He was a thorough-going abolitionist, with energy and courage enough for anything; but his zeal seems to have been not according to knowledge, and he perhaps went beyond his warrant in drawing inferences from the courteous statements of the British diplomats. Apparently he had been himself the main agent in circulating the statements that had come through the "citizen of Maryland" to Upshur. When he came back from London and the people of Houston learned the object of his mission, they drove him
1 Niles' Register, LXVI., 164; Senate Docs., 28 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 341, pp. 18-23.
away by force and would not suffer him to return.1
The department of state at Washington must have had other information that served to stimulate its fears of British influence in Texas. Duff Green had written Calhoun on the subject as early as August 2, 1842. This letter may not have been known to Upshur, since it is not the one he quoted to Murphy; but the statement it contained as to the attitude of Great Britain towards slavery in Texas must have attracted Calhoun's attention and obtained a degree of circulation among those in the councils of Tyler's administration. January 25, 1843, Ashbel Smith, the Texan minister to England and France, wrote Isaac Van Zandt, the chargé of the republic at Washington, that in July, 1842, a person having relations with the British government had inquired of Smith whether Texas would be willing to abolish slavery if equivalent advantages were offered by England to Texas; and whether it might not be possible to divide the republic into two states, with the Colorado as the boundary between them, the eastern to be slave-holding and the western to be free. The man who made these
Murphy to Upshur, September 24, 1843, in Senate Docs., 28 Cong., 1 Sess., No. 341, p. 23. Andrews subsequently became an author of some note; see Appleton's Cyclopædia of Am. Biog., art. Andrews.
2 Am. Hist. Assoc., Report, 1899, II., 846.
3 Smith to Van Zandt, January 25, 1843, MS. Diplomatic Correspondence of Texas, file 1696.
propositions said that he did it with the knowledge of the Earl of Aberdeen, the English minister of foreign affairs, who had given it as his opinion that immigration into the free state would result in driving slavery from Texas altogether. The statements in Smith's letter were no doubt communicated to Upshur, who must have known something also of the contents of a confidential communication from the Texan ministers at Washington to Calhoun enclosing an extract from a letter written by Smith, July 31, 1843,' relative to the subject of slavery in the negotiations of Great Britain with Texas. Putting all things together, it seems certain that the information possessed by the department of state at Washington in the summer of 1843 was such as to lead to the conclusion that British influence was working strongly in Texas, and that it was one aim of Great Britain to secure the abolition of slavery in that republic."
Tyler and Upshur therefore decided to forestall such an event by concluding a treaty of annexation with Texas. The negotiations, so far as they are on record, began October 16, 1843, with a letter from Upshur to Van Zandt, offering to reopen the subject. October 19, Van Zandt replied that he had sent to Texas for instructions. But President Houston assumed an attitude of indifference and
Am. Hist. Assoc., Report, 1899, II., 866-868.
2 Cf. Worley, in Tex. State Hist. Assoc., Quarterly, IX., 27-31. Senate Docs., 28 Cong., 1 Sess., V., No. 341, p. 37.