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The Boundaries of Texas.—Becomes a member of the Confederacy of 1824.
-The Texas which was obtained from France in 1803, and which was ceded to Spain in 1819.-Grant of land to Moses Austin.-Settlement of Texas.-General Cos with a military force crosses the Nueces.-Collision of Arms.-Cos is forced to surrender.-Santa Anna invades Texas in person.—The garrison of Alamo slaughtered.-Murder of Fanning's command.-Battle of San Jacinto.-Santa Anna makes a treaty with the Texans.—The Mexicans evacuate Texas.—The claim of Texas to the Rio Grande.
The Texas Revolution, and its consequences, were prominent causes of the war with Mexico; and therefore the settlement of Texas, its independence and annexation to the United States, must be briefly examined. It has been unjustly asserted by those whose position entitled their opinions to some consideration, that the first settlers of Texas were outlaws from their native land. That their object in emigrating to Texas was to seek an asylum, and when they had obtained sufficient strength, to sever from Mexico by force that portion of her territory. This charge is as unfounded as unjust.
In the investigation of this branch of the subject, it becomes important to ascertain what were the boundaries of Texas, at the date of her revolution.
It has been asserted, that, as the independence of that country was accomplished by revolution,
only so much as was forcibly wrested from Mexico by the sword, was annexed to this country. On the other side, it has been as strenuously insisted, that the country known as Texas, has always been bounded on the south and west by the Rio Bravo; and to the extent of these boundaries was incorporated as a State into the Mexican confederacy. The several States of Mexico, in 1824, adopted a constitution similar to our own; and it has been insisted, that Texas, as one of those States, becoming a party to the compact, was bound by its provisions only so long as they remained in force. That the constitution of 1824 was a compact of States, there can be no doubt.* Santa Anna, subsequently to that period, having by force and fraud violated that constitution, each State in the confederacy was resolved into its original element.f It is not easily conceived how this reasoning can be successfully controverted. It is strongly fortified by analogy.
* Art. 4. The Mexican nation adopts for its government the form of republican representative, popular, federal.
Art. 5. The parts of this federation are the States and Territories.
Art. 171. The articles of this Constitution, and the constitutional act which establishes the liberty and independence of the Mexican nation, its religion, form of government, liberty of the press, and division of the supreme powers of the federation and the States, can never be reformed. - Mexican Constitution of 1824.
“ ART. 2. It is free and independent of the other United Mexican States, and of every other foreign power and dominion.” Passed March 11th, 1827, and accepted by Mexico.-Constitution of Texas.
† Vattel says it is a truth“ acknowledged by every sensible writer, whose pen is not enslaved by fear or sold for hire, that as soon as a prince attacks the constitution of the state, he breaks the contract which bound the people to him ; the people become free by the act of the sovereign, and can no longer view him but as a usurper, who would load them with oppression."
When the effort was made to form our own Constitution as a substitute for the old articles of confederation, delegates from the several States assembled in convention. The instrument which was then drawn up, until sanctioned by nine States, was not more obligatory than so much blank paper. Previously to becoming parties to the instrument, the States were independent sovereignties. They were known to possess certain limits, not always, it is true, very well defined, so far as the territories were concerned which belonged to them, but sufficiently so for all practical purposes. Suppose, then, these States had refused to become parties to the Constitution, each would have preserved its sovereignty entirely independent of the rest. Again, suppose that nine States—the number required by the Constitution to give it life, had become parties to it, and the three remaining States, had unconditionally refused to sanction it, there was no power to force them. They might have remained to this day separate and independent sovereignties. But for a still further illustration : suppose at this day the Union, which is composed of thirty States, and has expanded in power and grandeur until it has become one of the first powers on the earth, should be violently assailed by a victorious chieftain, fresh from the battle-field, with his trained bands obedient to his will, and the Constitution should be destroyed, will any one insist that the States would be bound by the decrees of the usurper? On the contrary, all would admit that the bonds which bound the Union together, having been violently dissevered,
each State would become free and independent. If this reasoning, from analogy, be conclusive, no one can deny that when the Constitution of 1824, to which Texas had become a party, was destroyed by Santa Anna, that Texas at once resumed the rights which she possessed before becoming a party to that compact. The country known as Texas, was ceded by France to the United States by the treaty of 1803. We have the authority of some of the most distinguished American, French, and Spanish statesmen, for saying, that the southern and western boundary of Texas was the Rio Bravo.*
* Mr. Adams in 1818 says: “The claim of France always did extend westward to the Rio Bravo. She always claimed the territory which you call Texas, as being within the limits, and forming a part of Louisiana."
Mr. Clay, in his Raleigh letter, written in 1844, said : “ The United States acquired a title to Texas, extending, as I believe, to the Rio del Norte, by the treaty of Louisiana.”
In Spain, Texas has gone to the Rio Bravo ever since the beginning of 1700. Mr. Cevallos, negotiating with Pinckney and Monroe, writes at Aranjuez, April 13th, 1805 : “ The limits between Louisiana and the Texas have been always known, even when the French possessed Louisiana. Near the beginning of the last century, the venerable Alanzet, of the order of San Francisco, founded in the province of Texas, towards the confines of Louisiana, different missions, among them Nacogdoches.” And a few years after he wrote, " it was generally known in the writings of those times, that the province of Texas, or new Philippines, had its boundaries about the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, to Pocenes, the Rio Grande, and to the East Louisiana.”
Let us hear Don Onis to Mr. Adams, January 16, 1817: “ You did me the honor to applaud a proposition so frank and liberal, as dictated by equity and good faith, and made known to me with the same frankness, that the United States desired to unite to its dominions all the territories which belong to Spain to the east of the Mississippi ; and that, for them, they would offer to Spain those which were between the Rio del Norte and the Colorado. But as not only these lands, but all those which lie between the Colorado and Cape North, drawing a line by the river Mermento, or Mermentao, towards the Presidio of Adias, and from thence, by
Unfortunately that Territory was ceded to Spain by the treaty of 1819, and subsequently to that period was wrested from that Government with the
the Arryo Onda, towards Natchitoches, are a part of the province of Texas, belonging to, and in the uninterrupted possession of, his Majesty, without there having been, in relation thereto, any dispute between France and Spain, (that dispute being solely as to Natchitoches, which fort the French raised unjustly in the territory of his Catholic Majesty,) it results that this proposition not only does not offer compensation to his Majesty for West and East Florida, whose cession to the United States you intimate would be very agreeable, but it involves the relinquishment of the property and possession which his Majesty has of the territory in the province of Texas, which lies between the Colorado and the vicinity of Natchitoches." (For Foreign Relations, 438.) There is no pretence that Spain altered the boundaries of provinces, between 1821 and 1824. At the latter date the Confederation of Mexico was established, taking the provinces as they then stood. (See While's Recapitulation, 375, Title X.) CONSTITUTIVE ACTS OF THE MEXICAN FEDERATION.
FORM OF GOVERNMENT AND RELIGION.
Art. 1. The Mexican nation is composed of provinces formally known as the Viceroyalty of New Spain, the Captain-generalship of Yucatan, and the internal provinces of the east and west.
Art. 6. The integral parts are free, sovereign, and independent States, in as far as regards exclusively its internal administration, according to the rules laid down in this Act, and in the General Constitution.
Art. 7. The States at present composing the federation are as following, viz. : Guanajuato, the internal State of the west, composed of the provinces of Sonora and Sinaloa ; the internal State of the east comprising the provinces of New Leon, Coahuila, and Texas ; the internal State of the north, containing the provinces of Chihuahua, Durango, and New Mexico; Mexico; Michoacan, Oajaca, Puebla de los Angeles, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, New Santander, called also Tamaulipas, Tabasco, Lascala, Vera Cruz, Jalisco, Yucatan, and Zacatecas. The Californias and the district of Coluira, (except the town of Fomiela, which remains annexed to Jalisco,) will for the present be territories of the federation, and directly subject to its supreme power. Dated Mexico, January 31, 1824.
JOHN GAZENAN. Page 380. The Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States, sanctioned the General Constituent Congress on the 4th of October, 1824. -388, Title 11. Only section.