William R. Manning
It is the purpose of this article to study the diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United States concerning Texas and the boundary issue from 1822 to 1829. Internal affairs in Texas will be alluded to only when they furnish an occasion for or exercise an influence upon diplomatic communications.
The secret instructions given October 31, 1822, to Zozaya, the first Mexican minister to the United States, required him to ask the views of that government with reference to the limits of Louisiana. He was told that the imperial Mexican government considered the treaty of February 22, 1819, between the United States and Spain valid, and was disposed to carry out its provisions for establishing permanent landmarks. He was to learn whether any settlements had been effected or were being planned which would prejudice the rights of the Empire under that treaty.1
Spain's refusal to ratify the treaty for almost two years in the vain effort to induce the United States to agree not to recognize her rebellious colonies had delayed its execution until Mexico had become de facto independent. The recognition of that independence by the United States in the early part of 1822 made it necessary to reckon henceforth with Mexico in any matter concerning p218the southwestern boundary. In the meantime much had been said concerning the treaty and the claim to Texas which many asserted the United States had acquired in purchasing Louisiana from France. There was a strong disposition on the part of many people, some having considerable influence with the government, to take advantage of the change of sovereignty to regain the territory which they insisted had thus been bartered away.2 This sentiment in the United States was strengthened by a statement of Onis, the Spanish negotiator of the treaty, to the effect that "it is improperly called a treaty of cession, as it is in reality one of exchange or permutation of one small province for another of double the extent, richer and more fertile."3
The language of Onis also strengthened the suspicious fears of the Mexican government concerning the intentions of the United States. Elsewhere he says, "The Americans at present think themselves superior to all the nations of Europe; and believe that their dominion is destined to extend now to the Isthmus of Panama and hereafter over all the regions of the new world. Their government entertains the same idea, and the whole course of its policy calculates upon the illusions of these flattering expectations."4 The ephemeral republic proclaimed by Long in 1819 and the colonization enterprises of the Austins and others in the following years confirmed the suspicions of the Mexicans. Less than a month after Minister Zozaya had landed at Baltimore, less than two weeks after his formal reception at Washington, and only two days after the banquet which President Monroe gave in his honor, he wrote his government on December 26, 1822, that he had discovered ambitious views with reference to the province of Texas. In the national Congress and in the state legislatures, he said, there was talk of enlarging the army and militia, which movement he believed had no other object than that arising out of their ambition p219for Texas. He declared: "In time they will be our sworn enemies, and foreseeing this we ought to treat them as such from the present day."5 In August of 1823 Torrens, the Mexican Chargé, wrote his government that he frequently noticed the public papers enlarging on the fine location and fertility of the territory of Texas and reminding the government that it ought not to have lost the opportunity to obtain this rich province from Spain; and one of the objections which the enemies of the secretary of state were urging against his candidacy for the presidency was that he had ceded the province to the Spaniards. In the same letter Torrens advised his government not to permit the American population to become preponderant in Texas.6 Mexican authorities in Texas were at the same time sending alarming reports of the activities of the United States military establishments near the border. As a result of these the imperial government had sent a secret emissary into Texas in the latter part of 1822 to ascertain the true intentions of the United States.7
On October 1, 1823, Alaman, who was secretary for foreign affairs of the provisional government which had taken control after the fall of Iturbide in the spring, instructed Torrens to use all his skill and energy to have the boundary which had been established between the United States and Spain confirmed and marked out.8 When Torrens received this instruction he asked an interview p220with Adams before delivering any note on the subject to learn in advance whether there would be any difficulty in carrying it out. On January 26, 1824, he wrote that he had discovered some difficulties. The time provided in the treaty for the appointment of commissioners by both governments to mark the boundary had expired. Then a proclamation of the king of Spain had declared null and void everything that had been enacted by the constitutional government which had ratified the treaty. He proposed to wait fifteen or twenty days before he handed the government a note asking its intentions. According to that explanation he would word his reply; but he would insist that the attitude of Spain had nothing now to do with the matter, and that Mexico and the United States should proceed to carry out the treaty, naming the commissioners to mark the boundary, if not by virtue of the fourth article of the Spanish treaty, then by a new convention. He was sure the government would attempt to gain some advantage by this new pretext, and would not be surprised if the troops on the frontier should be ordered to advance into Mexican territory, so unlimited was their ambition for Texas. General Jackson, to whom he had been introduced, had declared in his presence that the government ought never to have lost the opportunity to obtain it. In the same conversation Jackson had said the way to obtain a territory was to occupy it, and after having possession treat for it, as had been done in Florida. It would not be strange, Torrens said, if the coming election should result in his elevation to the presidency, in which case he would be sure to employ this method.9
The note which Torrens presented February 15, 1824, declared that the Supreme Executive Power of Mexico wishing to remove all matters that might affect the good understanding which it desired to maintain with the United States had instructed him to ask, "that the limits between the two countries be fixed according to the third article of the treaty of Washington of the 22d of February, 1819, . . . I have therefore the honor to transmit the present communication to your Excellency in order to ascertain p221whether the Executive of the United States is disposed to acknowledge the said article, and will accordingly appoint the commissioners aforesaid; requesting at the same time that your Excellency may be pleased to inform me as early as convenient, of the intention of the President of the United States on the subject."10 A little more than a month after presenting this note Torrens wrote his government that he had received no reply.11 Five months after its presentation he wrote that he had asked an interview with the secretary of state to learn why no reply had been sent.12 But still no reply came. On April 15, 1824, the political chief of the Department of Texas had written the government at Mexico that he was certain "the United States was 'trying to annul or at least has the idea of annulling' the treaty of 1819, and he believed the American government would then assert its claim to the banks of the Rio Grande." Similar alarming reports from the same source followed. From various officials in Texas many letters were sent warning the government against the danger of permitting Anglo-American colonists to come in such large numbers into that territory.13
When in the middle of 1824 Obregon was appointed minister to Washington his secret instructions, dated August 30, told him the reports of Torrens indicated that the United States had intentions on Mexican territories in the Californias, New Mexico, and Texas; and with reference to the last those intentions were general and public. At this time the Mexican government seems to have been uncertain whether this was or was not an opportune time to press the negotiation for a treaty of limits. In the original draft of these secret instructions in the archives of the foreign office in Mexico, there was inserted then erased a paragraph saying he was not to begin the negotiation for the treaty of limits p222till circumstances were more favorable; but if necessity should arise to say anything about the matter he was to claim the limits of the treaty of 1819. Immediately following this erased paragraph is one which completely reversed it. In that he is told that the principal object of his mission is the negotiation of a treaty of limits as early as possible and ratification of the pending treaty between the United States and Spain. If before such negotiation should be completed the United States or its citizens should attempt the occupation of any territory belonging to Mexico under that treaty he should formulate claims on it as a basis. He was told that great circumspection was necessary in reference to all who came from the United States since there was danger of the introduction of spies or of invaders in disguise. In carrying out his general instructions regarding the admission of colonists he was to bear in mind these secret instructions. All reports on these matters were to be in cipher.14
Obregon's general instructions bearing the same date as his secret instructions told him that colonization was one of the most important matters then occupying the attention of the government. He was asked to call attention to the general law of August 18, 1824, on the subject, and to publish its regulations in the newspapers of the United States. All colonists from the United States, he was reminded, must bear passports and recommendations from Mexican diplomatic or consular agents in the United States. It was necessary to know the place of origin, the means of support, and the character of all colonists or empresarios. Those under suspicion, vicious adventurers, or vagabonds were to be excluded. But industrious persons, especially artisans, shipbuilders, p223and fishermen were to be encouraged and given lands.15
Before the time of Poinsett's appointment as minister from the United States to Mexico in March of 1825 no reply had been made to Torrens' note of more than a year earlier and no negotiation had been undertaken for the settlement of the boundary. With the new minister, Obregon, no communication had passed on the subject. In the instructions which were given to Poinsett on March 26, 1825, by Henry Clay, secretary of state under the new Adams administration, the third article of the treaty of 1819 with Spain was quoted describing the boundary line, and the fourth article providing for its demarcation was mentioned. He was told that the treaty had not yet been carried into execution, but that "having been concluded when Mexico composed a part of the dominions of Spain, it is obligatory upon both the United States and Mexico." Torrens's note of February 15 of the preceding year is cited as indicating the willingness of Mexico to accede to that treaty. But Clay continued:
Some difficulties may possibly hereafter arise between the two countries from the line thus agreed upon, against which it would be desirable now to guard, if practicable; and as the government of Mexico may be supposed not to have any disinclination to the fixation of a new line which would prevent those difficulties, the President wishes you to sound it on that subject; and to avail yourself of a favorable disposition, if you should find it, to effect that object. The line of the Sabine approaches our great western mart nearer than could be wished. Perhaps the Mexican government may not be unwilling to establish that of the Rio Brassos de Dios, or the Rio Colorado, or the Snow Mountains, or the Rio del Norte in lieu of it. By the agreed line, portions of both the p224Red River and branches of the Arkansas are thrown on the Mexican side, and the navigation of both of these rivers, as well as that of the Sabine, is made common to the respective inhabitants of the two countries. When the countries adjacent to those waters shall become thickly inhabited, collisions and misunderstandings may arise from the community thus established, in the use of their navigation, which it would be well now to prevent.
As an additional motive to induce Mexico to consent to such an alteration Clay suggested that it would place the capital of Mexico nearer the center of the Mexican territories, and, further, that the troublesome Comanche Indians would be left to the United States. These arguments, if ever presented, were probably about as convincing as it would be for a large land owner to say to a neighboring small farmer, "Your house is not in the middle of your fields. Give me forty acres next to my line and you will not have to go so far to work. Besides, this field contains an ugly patch of thistles which my superior industry and intelligence will enable me to cope with more successfully than you can." Clay showed that he was not prepared to insist on a change of the line nor to urge the matter unduly by saying, in concluding his instructions with reference to the boundary: "But if you should find that the Mexican government is unwilling to alter the agreed line in the manner proposed and that it insists upon the execution of the third and fourth articles of the treaty before mentioned, you are authorized to agree to the recognition and establishment of the line as described in the third article, and to the demarcation of it forthwith, as is stipulated in the fourth."16
Before Poinsett had opportunity to open negotiations respecting the boundary, in fact only two days after his formal reception by the president of Mexico, that official received an interesting sidelight on Poinsett's personal views with reference to the most desirable location of the boundary line. On June 3, 1825, a man named Azcarate who had been an official close to Iturbide wrote a p225letter to President Victoria saying that when Poinsett arrived at the coast of Mexico in 1822 he was received by General Santa Anna as an official envoy, and when he reached the capital he was supposed by all to have this character and was so presented to the Emperor. After the presentation Poinsett had told the writer that he desired an interview to speak of an interesting matter. At the time appointed the writer met him expecting the communication to be official. With a map before him Poinsett point out the line of 1819 but said he thought it was not a desirable one, and then traced a line which showed that he desired to absorb all Texas, New Mexico, and Upper California, and parts of Lower California, Sonora, Coahuila, and Nuevo Leon. Repressing his anger Azcarate replied that by virtue of the treaty of Iguala [Córdoba?] the Mexican government would always respect the Onis treaty and would never cede a handbreadth of territory. An appointment was made to continue the interview the next day.
In the meantime Azcarate saw Iturbide, explained the matter, and received authority to use his judgment in finding definitely the character of the proposals Poinsett had to make. Before entering on the discussion at the second meeting Azcarate presented his credentials and asked for Poinsett's. The latter thereupon declared that he came in no public character but merely as a traveler, and was only expressing his own personal opinion. Although it was evident that the discussion could be only an academic one, nevertheless the interview was continued and Azcarate was able, he said, to perceive five purposes which Poinsett had in mind: namely, to get possession of rich mineral lands; to gain ports on both seas for controlling the commerce between them; to get control of the free trade with the Indians; to get control of the fisheries in the Californias; and to monopolize the coasting trade on both seas. Azcarate concluded his observations by saying that in his conception the establishment of limits was to be the apple of discord between the United States and Mexico. His desire for the happiness of the fatherland was his motive, he told Victoria, for making this communication. He said it was possible that slight errors might have crept into this account of the interview, but it was substantially true and could be verified from a report in the p226office of foreign relations which he delivered to Iturbide at the time without preserving a copy.17
On July 12, 1825, about six weeks after Poinsett's reception, occurred his conference with Alaman, the Mexican minister of foreign relations, concerning the boundary. In it he had "suggested that, although the government of the United States held itself bound to carry into effect the treaty of limits concluded with the king of Spain the 22d of February, 1819, still it would appear more becoming the independent character of this government to lay aside that treaty altogether, and to endeavor to establish a boundary which would be more easily defined, and which might be mutually more advantageous." The secretary expressed himself much gratified by such a suggestion, and proposed that the two governments should forthwith appoint commissioners to make a reconnoissance of the country bordering on the line formerly settled with Spain, so as to obtain such information in regard to "that portion of our respective territories as would enable us to act understandingly on the subject." Poinsett objected that such a commission would delay the negotiation at least two years since it would take nearly a year to arrange for the commission and another year to do its work and make a report. Alaman replied that his government would be very unwilling to fix limits on the very slender information which it then possessed.18
On the matter of the difference of opinion as to the proposed commission to examine the country near the border an exchange of formal notes occurred a few days later in which each gave at length his reasons for the position he had taken.19 As Poinsett anticipated, the government at Washington refused to accede to the proposal for a joint commission since such was p227considered unnecessary and would be reversing the usual procedure, which was to decide on the principle and then send the joint commission to mark the line in accordance with the agreement. If examination were needful before deciding on the line it would be better for each government to send a separate commission. The United States had no objection to Mexico's doing so if desired; but hoped no unnecessary time would be lost in resuming the negotiation.20
In reporting to Clay on July 27, what had passed between himself and Alaman on the subject, Poinsett said: "I find that there exists great apprehension in the minds of the people of this country that the government of the United States contemplate renewing their claim to the territory north of the Rio Bravo del Norte; and it may be of some importance to consider their great sensibility on this subject." He added in cipher: "It appears to me that it will be important to gain time if we wish to extend our territory beyond the boundary agreed upon by the treaty of 1819. Most of the good land from the Colorado to the Sabine has been granted by the State of Texas and is rapidly peopling with either grantees or squatters from the United States, a population they will find difficult to govern, and perhaps after a short period they may not be so averse to part with that portion of their territory as they are at present."21 A little more than a week after sending this first report on limits Poinsett again wrote in cipher: "I feel very anxious about the boundary line between the two nations. While it will be politic not to justify their jealous fears on that subject by extravagant pretensions, I think it of the greatest importance that we should extend our territory toward the Rio del Norte either to the Colorado or at least to the Brazos. We ought to have on the frontier a hardy race of white settlers, which the climate of that region of country situated between the Mississippi and the Sabine will not admit of."22 Five days later another p228despatch to Clay, mostly in cipher, told of Alaman's declaring, in what was supposed to be a secret session of congress, that the United States ought to be regarded as enemies rather than as friends, because:
Mexico had everything to fear from our ambitions and nothing to hope from our friendship. He cited the treaty of limits with Spain as an instance of our disposition to encroach upon her territory. There are a few members of both houses disposed to view the treaty of 1819 in the same light, and it is possible if the question be left open and the discussion renewed this government may revive the absurd pretensions of Cevallos with regard to the western boundary of Louisiana. I am thus particular because I think it advisable that the President should be possessed of every circumstance that can aid him to come to a correct decision upon this subject.23
Poinsett's suspicions that the Mexican officials were going to try to push the line further east instead of permitting the United States to push it west proved to be well founded. In an interview respecting the boundary on September 20, 1825, Alaman asked Poinsett to trace on a map the boundary between the United States and Spain as defined by the treaty of 1795. Poinsett did so and then asked why the Mexican negotiator had wished it done. The latter replied that he thought it advisable to specify the ancient boundary in the commercial treaty they were about concluding and leave it so until the new line should be agreed on in the new treaty of limits to be concluded. Poinsett then declared to Alaman that before 1819 the United States had claimed to the Rio Bravo del Norte and Spain had claimed to the Mississippi. He also asserted that the treaty of that year with Spain was binding on the Mexican States, having been concluded before their emancipation from Spain and since acknowledged by their accredited agent in the United States. It was only motives of delicacy toward Mexico that had prevented the United States from carrying that treaty into full effect. It was the same motive that had caused him to propose the conclusion of an entirely new treaty. But he would not yield one square inch of land which had been included within the limits of the United States according to that p229treaty. In his opinion a more advantageous line might be drawn; but such was not to be sought for east of the Sabine nor north of the Red River or the Arkansas. Finally, Poinsett asserted that he would not consent to the insertion of any such article in the commercial treaty without at the same time renewing in it the claim of the United States to all of the country north and east of the Rio Bravo del Norte.24
In October, 1825, a radical change occurred in the Mexican ministry which displaced partisans of the centralist faction and replaced them with federalists favorable to the interests of the United States. It was thought that Poinsett had been largely instrumental in bringing about the change and it was suspected that he was using his influence to secure a treaty of limits through his friends which would extend the borders of his country at the expense of Mexico. But if he was trying to do so, as he probably was not, he was unsuccessful. One of the new ministers, writing to another on November 7, 1825, reminded him of the "memorable words of the laws of the Indies, which say, 'We promise and give our honor and royal word for us and our successors, that never shall be alienated or separated in whole or in part, either its cities (of America) or its inhabitants, for any cause or reason, or in favor of any person whatever. And if we or our successors should make any donation or alienation contrary to the aforesaid, it is null and such we declare it.' " According to this the whole Florida treaty was null. But in this minister's conception there was another reason why Mexico was at liberty to ignore the Florida treaty if desirous of doing so. He declared that the treaty, though approved by the Spanish cortes, did not have the "consent of the Mexican delegation, which refused to sign it."25
Thus within a few months after the negotiations had begun each government discovered that the other, while claiming to be willing to ratify and abide by the treaty of 1819, was really wishing to secure the extreme limits claimed by the United States on the one side and by Spain on the other before that treaty was concluded. Each had also discovered that the other was determined p230not to give up anything which that treaty secured to it. But each hoped something would happen to break down the determination of the other. Having thus found it impossible to come to any understanding for the time regarding the matter of limits, little of importance passed between the negotiators on the subject for more than a year.
In the meantime the influence was working which Poinsett had said would probably in time make Mexico less unwilling to part with Texas. The settlement of the territory was progressing rapidly. Obregon in Washington reported to his government that these settlements were Mexican only in name, belonging in customs and inclinations almost wholly to the United States.26 Indians in Texas were becoming more and more troublesome as they saw their lands being so rapidly taken away from them. The minister of war notified the minister of foreign relations that officials near the border complained of the sale of arms and ammunition to the Indians by citizens of the United States.27 On June 15, 1826, Camacho, the secretary of foreign relations, called the matter to Poinsett's attention,28 and on June 20, Poinsett reported the complaint to Clay.29 Steps were taken to locate a Mexican consul at Natchitochesº in Louisiana to prevent the importation of arms by that route and to enforce the regulations restricting the admission of colonists.30 In March Poinsett protested against certain grants p231of land which he heard had been made near the border in Texas, saying he would not consider any grant as valid which was made while negotiations were pending in case such grants should lie in territory ultimately included in the United States.31 When in June, 1826, the negotiations for the commercial treaty were nearing conclusion the Mexican plenipotentiaries proposed an additional article declaring that the contracting parties would take into consideration as soon as possible the negotiation of a treaty of limits, and in the meantime would facilitate in any way needed the work of the commissions sent by either power to examine the country near the proposed boundary; and declaring also that unauthorized acts or settlements by the citizens of one country in territory that should fall to the other should not constitute valid claims.32 In accepting the article Poinsett declared it was totally unnecessary because the United States considered the treaty of 1819 with Spain binding and was ready to execute it.
The undersigned was instructed, however, by his government to accede to the wishes of Mexico, if it desired to fix a new line, which might obviate some difficulties which are supposed to attend the existence of the present limits as agreed upon by the treaty aforesaid. But he was especially instructed not to insist upon changing this line contrary to the wishes of the Mexican government, but to agree to carry all the provisions of the treaty of Washington concluded between the United States of America and Spain into full effect, so far forth as relates to the boundaries of the two countries, if required to do so by the Mexican government.33
At the end of the year 1826 an event occurred in Texas which partially fulfilled Poinsett's prophecy made a year and a half p232earlier. This was the well known Fredonian Revolt. It was led by Hayden Edwards, who had received from the Mexican authorities a large empresario grant in the neighborhood of Nacogdoches, which grant had subsequently been revoked because he had been unsuccessful in his indiscreet though well meant efforts to overcome difficulties that were all but insuperable. Blinded with anger and a desire for revenge and fatuously hoping the people of the other Anglo-American colonies would come to his assistance, he and a few associates formed a treaty with the Cherokee Indians, issued a declaration of independence, raised a red-and‑white flag symbolizing a union between the red and white men, and drew a line dividing Texas between the two races. Austin issued a violent denunciation of the revolt; and members of his and other colonies joined the Mexican authorities to put it down. The Fredonians, unsupported and discouraged, disbanded with scarcely an attempt at resistance.34
This independence movement, although in itself the merest fiasco, is of very great importance as marking a turning point in the relations between the two countries. It created a great sensation in both and furnished the occasion for numerous diplomatic p233communications. Obregon in reporting the revolt to his government said that the Americans established in Texas never ceased disturbing the tranquility of Mexico. They considered themselves a colony of their fatherland, and expected to reunite themselves to it as soon as they could. They took their slaves where the laws did not permit slavery, and in order to save their property they broke away from Mexico. In view of the character of the people on the frontier he believed that the only way to maintain peace there was to allow no more American colonizers within the limits of Mexico, to fill the territory with vigorous and respectable Mexican people, and to establish a sufficient military force there to protect them. He was that the United States government had nothing to do with the affair; but compared this with similar revolts that had occurred earlier at Baton Rouge and in West Florida and had been preludes to the seizure of territories there.35
On February 16, 1827, Obregon had an interview with the secretary of state on the matter. Clay had said that the president was infinitely sorry and wished him to convey to the Mexican government the friendly sentiments of the United States. Three days later Clay addressed to Obregon a formal note declaring:
Information having reached this city of disturbances in the province of Texas, adjoining the territory of the United States, which appear to threaten the peace of the United Mexican States, I hasten by the direction of the President to express to you the very great regret which he feels on account of the existence of those disturbances. The frankness which has ever characterized the government of the United States in all its intercourse with foreign powers and the friendly feelings which it cherishes for the welfare of the Republic of the United Mexican States supersede altogether any necessity for the assurance which, nevertheless, I take pleasure in giving that the government of the United States has not given the smallest countenance or encouragement to those disturbances. The President has directed orders to be conveyed to that portion of the military force of the United States which is stationed on the Mexican frontier to give no aid or succor of any kind to those who have taken arms against or may oppose the authority of the government p234of the United Mexican States; and he will see the restoration of tranquillity with much satisfaction.36
On February 21, 1827, Poinsett wrote telling the effect produced in Mexico when news reached there of the Nacogdoches revolt. In the debate in the Mexican congress members had not hesitated to express their opinion that the government of the United States "was privy to this movement, if indeed it had not encouraged it. The latter opinion is boldly avowed by the Sol, a paper extremely inimical to the interests of the United States." The congress had appropriated five hundred thousand dollars to put down the insurrection.37 About two weeks later Poinsett wrote that the expedition against the insurgents in Texas had started for Vera Cruz whence it would sail for Matagorda, the rendezvous. It would consist of one thousand troops and would be joined by ten thousand others from the interior provinces. "A desire was manifested to evince on this occasion great promptness and energy, so as to prevent similar attempts being made elsewhere." In a conference which Poinsett had with President Victoria the latter had said he was satisfied the government of the United States had not encouraged the revolt; but expressed a desire that the president of the United States should give some public manifestation of disapprobation.38 The troops intended for Texas were assembled in Vera Cruz, and although word came of the collapse of the revolt, still they prepared to go to the Texas coast to guard against similar outbreaks. The large force of provincial troops were not to join them, however, as originally planned. But the expedition got no p235further than Vera Cruz. The state government endeavored to make use of them to resist the national authority; and in June the central authorities recalled them to Mexico City.39
Although Adams and Clay in the note of February 19, quoted above, distinctly disavowed for the government any connection or sympathy with the revolt in Texas, yet they appeared ready to take advantage of the event to see if it had produced the change in sentiment at Mexico which Poinsett had predicted. Clay wrote on March 15, 1827, that the numerous and extensive grants of land by the Mexican authorities
to citizens of the United States in the province of Texas authorize the belief that but little value is placed upon the possession of that province by that government. These grants seem to have been made without any sort of equivalent, judging according to our opinions of the value of land. They have been made to, and apparently in contemplation of being settled by, citizens from the United States. These emigrants will carry with them our principles of law, liberty, and religion; and however much it might be hoped that they might be dispose to amalgamate with the ancient inhabitants of Mexico, so far as political freedom is concerned, it would be almost too much to expect that all collisions would be avoided on other subjects. Already some of these collisions have manifested themselves, and others, in the progress of time, may be anticipated with confidence. These collisions may insensibly enlist the sympathies and feelings of the two republics and lead to misunderstandings.
The fixation of a line of boundary of the United States on the side of Mexico, should be such as to secure, not merely certainty and apparent safety in the respective limits of the two countries, but the consciousness of freedom from all danger of attack on either side, and the removal of all motives for such attack. That of the Sabine brings Mexico nearer our great commercial capital than is desirable; and although we now are, and for a long time may remain, perfectly satisfied with the justice and moderation of our neighbor, still it would be better for both parties that neither should feel that he is any condition of exposure on the remote contingency of an alteration in existing friendly sentiments.
Impressed with these views, the President has thought the present might be an auspicious period for urging a negotiation, at Mexico, to settle the boundary between the territories of the two republics. The success of the negotiation will probably be promoted p236by throwing into it other motives than those which strictly belong to the subject itself. If we could obtain such a boundary as we desire, the Government of the United States might be disposed to pay a reasonable pecuniary consideration. The boundary which we prefer is that which, beginning at the mouth of the Rio del Norte in the sea, shall ascend that river to the mouth of the Rio Puerco, thence ascending this river to its source, and from its source, by a line due north, to strike the Arkansas, thence following the course of the southern bank of the Arkansas to its source, in latitude 42° north,40 and thence by that parallel of latitude to the South sea. The boundary thus described would, according to the United States Tanner's map, published in the United States, leave Santa Fé within the limits of Mexico and the whole of Red River or Rio Roxo and the Arkansas, as far up as it is probably navigable, within the limits assigned to the United States. If that boundary be unattainable, we would, as the next most desirable, agree to that of the Colorado, beginning at its mouth, in the bay of Bernardo, and ascending the river to its source, and thence by a line due north to the Arkansas, and thence, as above traced, to the South sea. This latter boundary would probably also give us the whole of the Red River, would throw us somewhat farther from Santa Fé, but it would strike the Arkansas possibly at a navigable point. To obtain the first-described boundary, the President authorizes you to offer to the Government of Mexico a sum not exceeding one million of dollars. If you find it impracticable to procure that line, you are then authorized to offer, for the above line of the Colorado, the sum of five hundred thousand dollars. If either of the above offers should be accepted, you may stipulate for the payment of the sum of money, as you may happen to agree, within any period not less than three months after the exchange at the city of Washington of the ratifications of the treaty.
Then follow instructions for stipulating, in case of success, that there should be common navigation of and common jurisdiction over the boundary river; that bona fide land grants should be confirmed; that the inhabitants should be given full rights as United States citizens; and the delivery of the territory should be simultaneous with the payment of the consideration. A copy was p237enclosed of Clay's note to Obregon of February 19, "in order to put you in possession of what has occurred here, and to enable you to efface any impression, should such exist in Mexico, that the United States have given countenance to the insurrection."41
That Adams and Clay were in hearty accord in this attempt to purchase Texas cannot be doubted. On the day preceding that on which the instruction was sent, the former entered in his diary that the latter "spoke of a draft he had some time since submitted of an instruction to Poinsett to propose to the Mexican Government the purchase of the province of Texas to the Rio del Norte or the Colorado. I asked him to let me see the draft again." The next day he entered the statement that Clay "read his instruction to Poinsett to propose the purchase of Texas. I advised him to leave out the offer of ships of war, and offer only money."42 In his long speech, or rather series of speeches, several years later on the Texas question and the right of petition, Adams cited this instruction, but did not dwell on the motive.43 He declared that previous to this time he had uniformly favored acquiring Texas, saying: "I had myself, in the negotiation of our treaty with Spain, labored to get the Rio del Norte as our boundary, and I adhered to the demand till Mr. Monroe and all his cabinet directed me to forego it."44
p238 When Poinsett received Clay's proposal to buy Texas he wrote: "I fear the sum offered for the territory is too small. The expenses of the government are so great that they don't regard so insignificant a sum as a million as of much use to them."45 However he cautiously approached the Mexican government on the subject a few days later. On May 19, 1827, he wrote the secretary of foreign relations saying that the fortunate settlement of the difficulties in Texas suggested the importance of settling as early as possible and in a permanent manner the boundaries between the two countries. He added that he had been instructed by his government to call attention to this fact and say that he was fully empowered to treat on the subject.46 Some time later he again cautiously approached the Mexican authorities on the subject, this time definitely suggesting the idea of purchase, though not in an official manner. Early in the next year he wrote Clay:
I have taken great pains to ascertain what prospect of success there would be of the Congress ratifying the treaty if I could have prevailed upon the plenipotentiaries to alter the limits in the manner suggested by you, and am convinced that the attempt would fail and only excite an unfriendly feeling. I have therefore abandoned it altogether. In a private conversation with one of the plenipotentiaries, I hinted at a remuneration in money to the Mexican government as an inducement to extend our boundary to the Rio del Norte; but he assured me it would be impossible to obtain either the consent of the government or of the Congress to such a measure, because it would be considered a dismemberment of the Mexican territory, which is prohibited by the constitution. If both governments should fix upon the Rio del Norte or any other point as the limits of the republics, the state of Texas would have no right to complain; but the general government could not sell any part of that state to us without violating the constitution and the legitimate rights of Texas.47
p239 Apart from these two very cautious attempts of Poinsett to open negotiations for carrying out Clay's instructions of March 15, 1827, for the purchase of Texas, nothing of importance on the subject of limits passed between the two governments from that time until beginning of the following year. In the meantime the Mexican commission to examine the country near the proposed boundary had completed its slow preparations and started to the scene of its labors. The two years which Poinsett had said would be necessary to complete the work, if a joint commission were sent as Alaman had proposed, had more than passed before the Mexican commission started from the City of Mexico. In July, 1826, Poinsett wrote that a commission had been appointed and that General Mier y Teran had been placed at its head. That gentleman had told Poinsett that he expected to start in September of the same year; but the latter supposed his departure would not take place before October.48 It did not. Neither did it occur for more than a year later than that. On September 6, 1827, the Mexican congress appropriated fifteen thousand dollars to defray the expenses of the commission.49 A month later Poinsett wrote Clay that the commission had still not departed because the money was not in the treasury, and he was still trying to convince the government of the uselessness of the mission till the treaty had settled the boundary.50 But still they persisted; and the money was soon forthcoming. On November 10, 1827, the commission started from the City of Mexico. Almost four months later it arrived at Bexar, March 1, 1828, and was ready to begin its work.51 p240At about this time there came into the Mexican foreign office two extensive reports tracing the history of the Louisiana-Texas boundary from a very early period in an effort to get a historical basis for fixing the boundary.52 These seem to have strengthened the already existing determination of the government not to yield Texas or any portion of its territory.
Although the Mexican negotiators had repeatedly insisted that it would be necessary to have the information which the Teran commission was to gather before the treaty of limits could be concluded, yet it had hardly departed before preparations were made to renew the negotiations immediately,53 and had hardly gotten half way to the scene of its labors when a treaty was signed. When the commercial treaty which had been concluded July 10, 1826, was considered by the Mexican Chamber of Deputies early in the next year, that chamber passed a resolution declaring it would not consider that treaty further until an article should be inserted recognizing the validity of the treaty of 1819 between the United States and Spain so far as it had to do with the boundary.54 On January 8, 1828, after Poinsett had been trying in vain to induce the Mexican government to renew the negotiation for a commercial treaty (to take the place of that mentioned above, which the legislative bodies of both governments had refused to ratify), he wrote Clay that the Mexican negotiators had insisted that Mexico was
invested with all the rights of Spain and bound by all the obligations of the mother country . . . and in short declared that p241if I did not consent to comply with the resolution of the Chamber of Deputies it would be useless to discuss the other articles of the treaty, as it was certain that Congress would not ratify any treaty which did not contain such a provision. I withdrew my opposition; but observed that, as the treaty of navigation and commerce was for a limited period and that of limits perpetual, it would be better to make them distinct conventions, to which proposition the Mexican plenipotentiaries consented.
It was in this connection that Poinsett explained in cipher, as quoted above, his cautious hint to one of the negotiators that the United States was willing to purchase Texas. He concluded that cipher: "Believing, therefore, that any attempt to alter the former treaty of limits would prove ineffective and only excite unfriendly feelings, I shall accept the proposal of the Mexican plenipotentiaries and renew the treaty of Washington of 1819."55
The first conference in the negotiation of the boundary treaty had occurred on the day on which Poinsett wrote the above explanation of his reasons for abandoning Texas. After the Mexican negotiators had explained their position Poinsett replied that,
although the limits as settled by the treaty of Washington were liable to some objections and might be altered advantageously for both parties as he had before frequently explained, still if the Government of Mexico insisted upon the execution of articles three and four of that treaty he could not object to it. . . . Any alteration of the treaty of Washington must depend upon the mutual consent of the present contracting parties.56
In the second conference, which occurred on January 10, the negotiators agreed upon the preamble declaring the purpose of the treaty and the first article saying, "the two high contracting parties will proceed forthwith to carry into full effect the third and fourth p242 articles of said treaty."57 The second article of this treaty is in the exact words of the third article of the treaty of 1819; and the third of this is the same as the fourth of that. The fourth and last article of this treaty says "the ratifications shall be exchanged at Washington within the term of four months, or sooner, if possible." On January 12, it was signed.58
Thus after a deadlock of more than two years over the question of limits the treaty was negotiated and signed all within four days. But they who marry in haste repent at leisure. The four months designated within which ratifications should be exchanged afforded ample time in case action should be prompt; but it did not allow for much unnecessary delay, since it required approximately two months for a messenger to pass from Mexico to Washington. The conclusion of the boundary treaty had removed the obstacle to the negotiation of the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, which was signed almost exactly a month later. Since the two were complementary the former was held till the latter was ready. That the government at Washington might have time to consider the treaty of limits and be ready to ratify it within the time allowed Poinsett forwarded a copy of it on February 7, when he foresaw that the commercial treaty would soon be concluded.59 On February 22 his messenger set out from the City of Mexico bearing the official signed copies of both treaties, that of limits of January 12, and that of amity and commerce of February 14, 1828.60
In Poinsett's letter of February 7, cited above, he gave some reasons for his abandoning Texas in addition to those explained in his letter of a month earlier. He said:
This government and people have been kept purposely in a continual state of excitement upon this very delicate question. We have been represented by the agents of certain European powers p243 as the natural enemies of Mexico; and our desire to make alterations in the treaty of limits concluded with Spain and to deprive them of a possible of their territory was constantly urged in proof of our bad faith and insatiable ambition. It became necessary, therefore, for me to use very cautious language upon this subject, and in all my conversations and notes in relation to the question of limits to endeavor, if any change were made, that it should be at the suggestion of this government, so that the honorable dealing of the United States in this respect might at all times be manifest.61
The Adams administration was apparently fully convinced by these two letters of Poinsett that it was useless to attempt longer to obtain Texas. Neither was there any considerable opposition in the Senate. Action was as prompt as could be desired. On April 21 Clay wrote Poinsett that the latter's messenger had arrived with the treaties and that they would be immediately laid before the Senate for their advice and consent.62 On the same day the treaty of limits was transmitted to the Senate by President Adams,63 and referred by that body to its committee on foreign relations.64 One week later that committee reported it back without amendment; the committee of the whole considered it at once, also without amending, and reported it to the Senate; and that body immediately proceeded by unanimous consent to consider the resolution to advise and consent to its ratification, and approved the resolution, thirty-eight yeas to three nays.65 Two days later, April 30, 1828, Clay wrote Obregon, the Mexican minister in Washington, "I am ready to proceed in the exchange of the ratifications of the treaty at any time that may suit your convenience within the period prescribed," reminding him that only a few days remained.66 On May 1 Obregon acknowledged Clay's note of the day before, but expressed his regret that he did not have it in his p244power to effect the exchange immediately, and explained that he had not yet received the ratification by his own government.67 There remained eleven days before the time set for exchanging the ratifications would expire.
In Mexico, on the other hand, action on the treaty was very different. Poinsett reported on April 24 that its progress had been delayed by the extreme indolence of the man who had been secretary of state. He had kept the treaty for more than two months without presenting it to congress, although Poinsett had warned him repeatedly of the prejudice to Mexican interests caused by the delay.68 It had to be acted on by both houses of the Mexican congress. The lower house had ratified it before Poinsett wrote this letter of April 24,69 and two days later he wrote that the Senate had ratified it. The action of congress, he said, was prompt enough but it was impossible to get it to Washington in time to exchange the ratifications before the four months' time limit should expire.70 In spite of this the Mexican ratifications were transmitted to Obregon with instructions to effect the exchange, and that minister notified Clay on August 2, 1828, that he had just received them and was ready to effect the exchange when convenient to the United States government; but was informed that since the time limit had expired it would have to be laid before the Senate again at the next session to get its approval before the exchange could be effected.71
Although Poinsett's advances had been very guarded and he had not really made any offer to purchase Texas, yet the fact that p245the United States wished and was endeavoring to do so became known, since, as Poinsett said, there were no secrets in Mexico. Greatly exaggerated reports concerning the matter reached European courts. In the middle of the year 1828, Rocafuerte, the Mexican representative in London, wrote his government that a rumor was current in diplomatic circles there to the effect that Mexico had already ceded Texas to the United States for the sum of thirty-five million pesos; and that this was the result of the scandalous intrigues of the minister of the United States at the Mexican capital. He said he could not believe it, but neither could he deny it.72 As soon as Rocafuerte's letter reached Mexico his government instructed him to deny the rumor at once, since it was utterly without foundation.73
In the latter part of this year 1828, a curious request for the cession of Texas reached the Mexican government from a very different source and for a very different purpose. It came from London but not from the British government. It is of small importance but of considerable interest. Robert Owen, the well known socialistic philanthropist, presented through Rocafuerte a request that the government of Mexico should cede to him the state of Coahuila and Texas as a place where he might work out his philanthropic plans for the benefit of all mankind. He proposed that it should be an entirely independent state, and that its independence should be guaranteed by Mexico, the United States and Great Britain. As the chief consideration other than the philanthropic ones which should induce Mexico to grant his request, he argued,
That it is a frontier province between the Mexican and North American republics which is now settling under such circumstances as are likely to create jealousies and irritations between citizens of these states and which most probably at some future period will terminate in a war between the two republics. This consideration alone, in the opinion of many experienced statesmen, would render it a wise measure in the Mexican republic to place this province under the new arrangements about to be proposed.
The elaboration of his plans fills eight typewritten pages. In p246Rocafuerte's letter in transmitting the memorial he said he had told Owen there was not the slightest prospect of the government's granting the request, for, "although it is very beautiful, very plausible, and very philanthropic on paper it is unrealizable in practice."74
Numerous notes passed between Poinsett and the Mexican government concerning difficulties arising out of the operation of a law which had been passed in September, 1823, allowing goods intended for consumption in Texas to come in duty free for seven years. Poinsett presented complaints that officials were not allowing this privilege. Cañedo declared an erroneous interpretation had been placed on the law, that there were many frauds practiced, and that to prevent these it had been ordered that all goods should pay the duty, but that afterwards reimbursements should be made for goods proved to have been used in Texas. The privilege was still abused and merchants of Monclova complained because they no longer had the benefit of it. Poinsett argued with the Mexican officials that the lax enforcement of the law by the Mexican authorities on the coast had encouraged merchants of the United States to engage in this trade and they should not be made to suffer by the sudden withdrawal of the privilege. He attempted to have time allowed to notify shippers. But an order was issued in April, 1828, to treat as contrabandists all who attempted to land goods under the law. Poinsett informed Clay, April 23, 1828, that the Mexican government had decided to put a stop immediately to the free entry of goods for consumption by the inhabitants of Texas.75
In the absence of treaty stipulations for the purpose there was p247no regular means for the recovery by the United States of absconding debtors, runaway slaves, and escaped criminals who had taken refuge in Mexican territory. Clay wrote Poinsett in January, 1828, that information had come to Washington that impediments were placed in the way of recovering such, especially in Texas. A resolution of the House of Representatives had assumed the existence of such impediments and called on the President for information regarding the matter. Obregon had declared that he knew of no such obstacles. Poinsett was instructed to make inquiries and in case he found that such existed he was to protest against them.76 In April, 1828, Clay instructed Poinsett to ask the surrender of several persons named Hardin who were charged with having committed an atrocious murder in Tennessee and had fled to Texas. The treaties concluded and just received, he said, provided for such extradition, but since ratifications had not been exchanged it could not be demanded. On June 3 Poinsett presented the request. Expecting that there would be a long delay before the government decided what to do, he applied through a friend to the governor of the state of Coahuila and Texas, asking that the men be secured until the government should decide. But only three days after the request was presented Cañedo replied to Poinsett that the president had directed the governor of Coahuila and Texas to arrest and surrender the murderers. Later that governor wrote Poinsett directly that he would do so.77
The Fredonian revolt that had lapsed so speedily early in 1827 was only the beginning of a series of disturbances in Texas during the following two years, which called for the exchange of numerous diplomatic notes. In August of 1827 Obregon wrote his government of another attack which it was reported would soon be made p248on Nacogdoches by a band who had set out from New Orleans under the guise of a surveying party going to mark out a grant of land that had been made in Texas, but upon reaching the border had assumed a warlike aspect and were planning the descent on Nacogdoches with the assistance of the Cherokee Indians.78 In October of the same year he wrote that there was talk of the United States taking control of the disorderly Mexican territory south of the Red River, to prevent the Indians residing there from making attacks on citizens of the United States north of that river. Obregon advised his government to take steps to prevent this.79 In April of 1828 Cañedo complained to Poinsett that a party of fifteen men from the United States had made an irruption into Texas and at Nacogdoches had declared themselves the advance guard of a republican army consisting of several hundred which was going to march on Bexar or Guadalupe. Poinsett replied promptly that he would submit the matter to his government and ask that measures be taken to prevent such movements.80 Indians were causing trouble by attacking each other across the border. In July, 1828, Cañedo called Poinsett's attention to the fact that the Comanche Indians living in Mexican territory had asked permission to pursue and recover property that had been taken from them by Indians from the United States who had returned thither. The request was denied through respect for the territory of a friendly state.81
About the middle of the year 1828 reports reached the government in Mexico that Spanish refugees in New Orleans were planning to co‑operate with the Spanish authorities in Cuba in an expedition to the Texas coast. Orders were at once despatched to the governor of Coahuila and Texas to remove all Spaniards from p249the coast as soon as the expedition should approach; and a secret agent was sent to New Orleans to keep the government informed. That agent reported in September that there certainly had been talk of such a movement early in the year; but the schemers had neither sufficient men nor money. Their chief, José Lara, had gone to Cuba, expecting a reward for his zeal. In November the same secret agent reported a still more visionary movement. This was led by a Spanish officer who had been expelled from Mexico. He was trying to incite the poorest of his countrymen and some Mexicans of the same class to join him in a disorderly plundering raid. He assured them they called collect a hundred and fifty or two hundred men, go to Texas and proclaim the devil, if they wanted to, surprise some settlements, and get away with what they could carry.82 These movements amounted to nothing and would not deserve serious notice in themselves; but the Mexican authorities were unduly alarmed at them and they had no little influence on the rising tide of hostility in Mexico for the United States which so deeply affected the diplomatic relations. Similar reports continued through 1828 and 1829, from agents both in New Orleans and in Texas, especially from General Teran, who was near the border as head of the boundary commission. On July 29, 1829, Bocanegra, who was then secretary of state for foreign affairs, wrote Poinsett that he was instructed by President Guerrero to communicate intelligence just received from New Orleans. It was to the effect that José Lara was enlisting men in New Orleans under a commission from the government of Havana, and that he had already sent to that government more than four hundred recruits. It was also reported that at several places along the border United States troops were being collected and drilled and supplies collected. He asked that these acts in violation of neutrality and in aid of the Spanish expedition against Mexico be prevented.83 Two days after receiving this Poinsett made a spirited reply, declaring that the vigilant execution of the laws in the p250United States against foreign enlistment made incredible such things as Bocanegra said were going on in New Orleans. He ventured to suggest that Lara was doing no more than transport to Cuba Spaniards expelled from Mexico who were unable to support themselves and were willing to take advantage of the offer made by the Captain General of Cuba orphaning and support in that island. He declared also that he had no knowledge of such military preparations on the border as Bocanegra had mentioned, except from statements published in libelous papers in Mexico by enemies of the liberties of America who were striving to disturb the friendly relations between the two republics. They had no foundation in fact. He said if Spain attacked Mexico the United States would remain neutral; but would be friendly and sympathetic with Mexico.84 In reporting to Van Buren, the secretary of state in the new Jackson administration, this correspondence with Bocanegra, Poinsett said the conduct of the Mexican government with reference to all foreign nations was ridiculous and ought only to excite our compassion. They regarded Mexico as the most favored nation on earth and thought all others were jealous of her, especially the United States. He said General Teran had never ceased to arouse the fears of the government regarding the attitude of the United States toward Texas; and frequent insinuations by Europeans of American designs on Texas confirmed these fears. He had seen a letter of June 3 from Teran, "who has always been attached to the English interests. This person assures the government in his last despatches that we are making vast preparations to attack that country and have already fifteen thousand men on the frontier." Teran enlarged on the great size, fertility and natural resources of Texas, and the consequent reasons why Mexico should never yield possession.85 Another note from Bocanegra on August 20 telling of more positive announcements of military preparations in the United States against Mexico elicited the next day pointed denials from Poinsett and renewed declarations of the friendly disposition of the United States for Mexico. He said he thought the agents of the government gave too easy credence to false statements. In reporting this correspondence to Van Buren p251Poinsett said he had declared in a conference with Bocanegra on the subject that until the treaty of amity and commerce should be ratified military movements on the frontiers must be expected. The treaty contained a provision for restraining the Indians on the border. He had said that if Mexico did not restrain her Indians from attacks on the United States side, the United States would pursue such tribes for punishment even to the gates of Mexico. In the beginning of this letter to Van Buren Poinsett explained that the Mexican Senate had addressed to Bocanegra an insolent demand for information regarding the reported activities of the United States, and Poinsett believed that body wanted to plunge the country into war with the United States hoping that would overthrow the existing state of things in Mexico. He declared, "I will not therefore suffer myself to be provoked; nor will I personally yield to their attacks, although my residence in this country has become almost insupportable."86
It will be recalled that it was the second of August, 1828, when Obregon was told that the ratifications of the boundary treaty of January 12, 1828, could not be exchanged till that treaty should again be acted on by the Senate of the United States at the next session, because the four months' time limit had expired.87 This necessarily delayed the matter till the following winter. But action was not taken even then. In the middle of April of the following year Montoya, the Mexican chargé at Washington, brought the matter to the attention of the new Jackson administration by saying in a letter to Van Buren that he presumed the treaty had been presented to the Senate as had been said would be necessary, and asking whether the secretary of state was now ready to proceed with the exchange of the ratifications, explaining that the Mexican government, desirous of effecting the exchange, had invested him with full powers for the purpose. Van Buren replied that he was not fully informed as to the reasons why the preceding administration had not again submitted the treaty of limits to the Senate; but supposed it was because p252 Mexican action on the commercial treaty was expected and it was desired to have the Senate act on the two together, and this expectation had been disappointed. It would be necessary still to submit the treaty to the Senate to be acted on again, and he promised that it should be submitted at the next session. In the meantime he hoped the Mexican ratifications of the commercial treaty would arrive so the two could be submitted to the Senate together.88 Again the exchange was delayed, this time for the most of a year. But before this time was gone the new administration had determined to try its hand at negotiating a new treaty of limits which should supersede the other and give Texas to the United States.
Early in March of 1829 in reviewing at length, for the information of the new administration, the whole of his diplomatic activities and difficulties in Mexico, Poinsett discussed very briefly the boundary ;89 again in July he reviewed his negotiations for the treaties, tracing those for the treaty of limits to the conclusion of the pending treaty a year and a half earlier, and concluded by declaring: "I am still convinced that we never can expect to extend our boundary south of the river Sabine, without quarreling with these people, and driving them to court a more strict alliance with some European power."90 This renewed assertion of Poinsett's belief that it would never be possible to secure Texas peaceably did not reach the Department of State until nearly a month after the new administration had matured its project for the acquisition of Texas and despatched instructions for the purpose. It is doubtful whether it would have affected the situation, even had it arrived before the instructions were sent. The plan seems to have developed slowly. Nearly six months of Jackson's term was gone before it took shape. The earliest documentary evidence of the growth of the plan which is preserved in the correspondence p253of Van Buren is a report of Anthony Butler. It is not dated but seems to have been presented about August 11, 1829, since a letter from Jackson of the following day says, "I am with the document you sent me respecting Texas, and will be happy to see you and Col. Butler whenever it may suit your convenience." That this was not the origin of the project is evident from Butler's opening his report with the statement, "In negotiating for Texas a variety of considerations present themselves," and his reference later to the "anticipated negotiation." He discusses at considerable length the soil, climate, resources, and water ways of Texas and the value of the province to the United States. "The considerations which present themselves" he discusses under seven heads. In Van Buren's instructions he embodied nearly every suggestion which Butler here makes. In addition to his arguments Butler adds a gentle appeal to personal ambition by suggesting that the people of the south and west are so vitally interested in the matter "as to secure for that man who may accomplish the recovery of Texas their thanks, their confidence, and their gratitude," which, he adds, is likely hereafter to amount to something more than complimentary toasts or newspaper eulogisms. Jackson's letter referred to above shows that they had been studying with some care Poinsett's explanations of the reasons why the offer to purchase Texas in 1827 had failed, for he says that the constitutional question can be solved; two million added to the one million offered will amend the Mexican constitution. Another document which seems to have had a marked influence in shaping the final instructions is an unsigned and undated "Project for the acquisition of [the] province of Texas" which sets forth the motive for the negotiation by saying, "To counteract the evils growing out of the surrender of that part of Louisiana west of the Sabine and east of the Rio del Norte or Grand River, it is proposed to open a negotiation for the retrocession of the same to the United States." It gives several suggestions as to how Poinsett might approach the Mexican government and says the present threatened invasion of Mexico by Spain and the deranged condition of the finances "makes the time a very propitious one for the ascertainment of her views in regard to this territory as Mr. P. can give his enquiries the character of individual solicitude for her welfare and p254a desire to relieve her embarrassments rather than turn them to the advantage of his own country." On August 13 Jackson made a rough outline draft of the instructions to be given to Poinsett. With these various documents as a basis Van Buren prepared first a rough outline draft and then the complete instructions which were dated August 25, 1829.91
These instructions begin by saying: "It is the wish of the President that you should, without delay, open a negotiation with the Mexican government for the purchase of so much of the province of Texas as in hereinafter described, or such a part thereof as they can be induced to cede to us." The President was convinced of the necessity of the proposed acquisition in order to guard the western frontier, protect New Orleans, and secure the undisturbed possession of the valley of the Mississippi River with all its tributaries. "The boundary at present assumed by Mexico is deemed objectionable" for various reasons which he sets forth. There was some uncertainty as to which of two streams emptying into Sabine Bay was the true Sabine River. Whichever it should be, that river was navigable only by small vessels and never would sustain sufficient commerce to warrant the maintenance there of custom houses, without which it would be "impossible to prevent that frontier from p255becoming the seat of an extensive seat of smuggling." The lands east of the Sabine were poor and occupied by persons of an objectionable character who would continue to create incessant difficulties and broils which would foster and influence the "spirit of jealousy to which our neighbors are already too much inclined." His enumeration of the reasons which ought to induce Mexico to be willing to make the cession he begins by saying: "Nothing would be more adverse to the feelings of the President than to give that government reason to believe that he is capable of taking advantage of their necessities to obtain from them any portion of the Mexican territory, the cession of which would impair the true interests or commit the honor of that country." He then argues:
The comparatively small value of the territory in question to Mexico; its remote and disconnected situation; the unsettled condition of her affairs; the depressed and languishing state of her finances; and the still, and at this moment particularly, threatening attitude of Spain all combine to point out and recommend to Mexico the policy of parting with a portion of her territory of very limited and contingent benefit to supply herself with the means of defending the residue with the better prospect of success and with less onerous burdens to her citizens. It is for the federal government of Mexico, if they approve of the policy of doing so, to judge of their constitutional power to make the cession. It is believed that no doubt could exist on that account if the consent of the state of Coahuila were obtained; and if the view we take of the true interests of the republic of Mexico are not founded in error, it is supposed that such consent would not be withheld.
An argument which Poinsett was to use his judgment in suggesting was that the internal disturbances and revolutions of Mexico rendered a dissolution of the republic possible; and it was generally conceded that in such event Texas would be the first to strike a blow for independence, the example of which would endanger the unity of the rest. The aggressive character of the settlers on the United States side of the border; the settlement of adventurous persons in the prohibited zone on the Mexican side; and the lack of harmony between the non-Spanish settlers in Texas and the government were all causes of discord and heartburnings between the two governments that should be removed if possible. The Comanche Indians in Texas were very troublesome to the settlements p256and occasioned great expense to the Mexican government to maintain garrisons there. Other tribes were moving into the region and increasing the trouble.
The territory of which the cession was desired by the United States was described as all lying east of a line drawn through the center of the desert or Grand Prairie between the Nueces and the Rio Grande "north to the mountains dividing the waters of the Rio Grande del Norte from those that run eastward to the Gulf, and until it strikes our present boundary at the forty-second degree of north latitude." If he found that the Mexican government objected to this line because it contained the large Mexican settlements of San Antonio de Bexar and La Bahia, but still found that government disposed to part with any portion of the territory in question then he was authorized to accept any of three other lines, regarding those farthest west as most desirable. The second should begin at the mouth of the La Vaca, ascend the left bank of that stream to its head, then due north to the Colorado, up the west bank of that river to its head, and "thence by the most direct course that will intersect our line at the forty-second degree of north latitude and include the head waters of the Arkansas and Red Rivers." The third line was to commence at the mouth of the Colorado and follow its west bank all the way and thence as described in the second. The fourth was to follow the west bank of the Brazos from its mouth to its source and thence to the forty-second degree as the two previous. Poinsett was authorized to make such alterations in these lines as should appear to him clearly beneficial.
The line proposed as the one most desirable to us would constitute a natural separation of the resources of the two nations. It is the center of a country uninhabitable on the Gulf; and on the mountains so difficult of access and so poor as to furnish no inducement for a land intercourse; and of course no theater for those differences that are almost inseparable from a neighborhood of commercial interests. It corresponds with the habitual feelings of the people of Mexico and with the avowed policy of the Mexican government by causing a wide separation and difficulties of intercourse between the inhabitants of the two countries, and by preventing those excitements and bickerings invariably produced by the contiguous operation of conflicting laws, habits, and interests.
p257 The price to be offered for Texas Van Buren introduces by saying,
The President does not desire the proposed cession without rendering a just and fair equivalent for it. He therefore authorizes you to offer to the Mexican government for a cession according to the first-mentioned boundary a sum not exceeding four millions of dollars; and so strong are his convictions of its great value to the United States that he will not object if you should find it indispensably necessary to go as high as five millions.
For each of the other lines Poinsett was authorized to decide upon and offer what he considered a proportionate amount of the purchase price. It would be preferable to make the payments in three or four equal annual installments; but if necessary the whole sum could be paid within four months after the exchange of ratifications and delivery of the possession of the ceded territory. In case of success other details were provided for, such as rights of navigation and jurisdiction, validity of land grants, and the extension of personal and political rights to the inhabitants of the ceded territory.92
Anthony Butler, the author of the report mentioned above as one of the principal bases of the instructions to purchase Texas, was selected by the administration to bear the letter to Poinsett. When in the middle of October of this year 1829 Poinsett was replaced at the request of the Mexican government, Butler, already on the ground, was appointed to represent the United States at Mexico, with the rank of chargé. On October 17 Jackson signed the letter investing Butler with full power to conduct the negotiation for Texas. The instructions of August 25, which he had borne to Poinsett, were to be his guide.93
p258 Poinsett, convinced of the uselessness of attempting to acquire Texas, and feeling that his influence with the government was gone, appears to have refrained from even suggesting the new project. But the fact that the United States was ready to make a proposition for the purchase of Texas became public shortly after Poinsett's departure. On January 9, 1830, a paragraph appeared in the newspaper called El Sol declaring that,
A few days before the departure of Mr. Poinsett from this capital, the American Colonel Butler arrived here, commissioned, as it is said, by the government of Washington, to negotiate with ours for the cession of the province of Texas for the sum of five millions of dollars. As we are not informed that, so far, the colonel has made any overtures on the subject, we presume that he does the new administration the justice to suppose it incapable of lending itself to a transaction as prejudicial and degrading to the republic as it would be to the minister who would subscribe to it.
Butler was mystified at being so quickly found out. He wrote Van Buren the next day that the paragraph was "a very remarkable one. You perceive that they undertake not only to assert that the object of my mission is the purchase of Texas, but they also state a price to be paid for the cession! I have not time to say much on this matter at present, but I will endeavor to unravel the mystery hereafter."94 In the weeks preceding and following this a multitude of violently anti-American newspaper articles and pamphlets issued from the Mexican press, voicing the suspicion generally felt that the United States was attempting to dismember the Mexican republic. As evidence of the desire of the government p259and people of the United States for Mexican territory they unfortunately were able to cite the numerous articles which had been appearing in the administration newspapers in the United States dwelling on the value of Texas, and the desirability of its acquisition.95
Finally the administration at Washington came to the conclusion that it was unwise, for the time being at least, to endeavor to make the purchase; and Van Buren wrote Butler April 1, 1830:
The unsettled state of affairs in Mexico, and the excitement growing out of it, to which reference has already been several times made in the course of this communication, have induced an appreciation on the part of the President that the present is not an auspicious moment for the successful opening of the negotiations which form the object of the instructions from this department of the 25th August, 1829. To watch the state of the public mind, the opinions of the principal members of the government, and hear what is said on all sides, is all that is, for the present, expected from your agency in the matter. In doing this the greatest caution and circumspection is enjoined upon you; and the exercise of the most guarded discretion will be necessary on your part not to commit yourself or your government upon any point connected with the subject. You will, also, in informing this department of the result of your observations and reflections, adopt every measure which prudence will suggest to insure the safety of your communications. If, however, an opportunity should present itself to carry into effect the wishes of your government, in this respect, you will not fail to embrace it upon the principles and according to the instructions already given to you.96
As stated in the opening lines it is the purpose of this article to trace the relations between Mexico and the United States respecting Texas and the boundary only through the year 1829. The instruction of April 1 of the following year is introduced to show that the Jackson administration virtually withdrew the offer of the preceding August. In the hands of most diplomatic agents this instruction, taken together with the state of public opinion in Mexico, would have ended completely all effort to obtain the cession of Texas. But it was not so with Butler. He interpreted the last sentence quoted as leaving the matter entirely to his discretion. On receiving the letter he replied:
p260 I am glad that you adopt the opinion that the present time is inauspicious for the commencement of the negotiation for Texas, and have placed under my discretion the period and the manner of opening that subject. That discretion shall be exercised with all proper caution, and my judgment taxed to the extent of its powers for securing success.97
During the six years of his residence he never abandoned the project, showing in his correspondence with the officials of the government in Washington an unblushing readiness to resort to bribery and trickery when he found that legitimate diplomatic effort would not accomplish his purpose.98 To show the ultimate failure of all negotiations respecting the boundary up to this date, the subsequent fate of the treaty of limits pending at this time should be briefly traced. It will be recalled that it was concluded January 12, 1828, and that owing to delay on the part of Mexico the exchange of ratifications was not effected within the stipulated time limit of four months. On April 5, 1831, an additional article was concluded renewing the treaty and extending the time for exchanging the ratifications one year from that date.99 On April 5, 1832, the last day allowed, the ratifications were exchanged. This time the Mexican government acted nearly three months before the expiration of the time; but the United States delayed until the last day, the Mexican representative having declared two days earlier that his government had instructed him not to exchange the ratifications of the commercial treaty unless those of the treaty of limits could be exchanged at the same time, and the United States Senate having advised and consented to its ratification on the day preceding the exchange.100 The one year provided in article three within which commissioners should meet to begin marking the line expired without Mexico's acting, though the United States had been prompt enough this time,101 and on April 3, 1835, a second additional article was agreed to, which p261provided that the commissioners should be appointed within one year from the exchange of the ratifications of this second additional article. But the ratifications of this article were not exchanged till April 20, 1836,102 when Texas had wrested her independence from Mexico by force of arms. The commissioners never met.
With the attempts of the Mexican government in September, 1829, and April, 1830, to stop immigration into Texas from the United States the relations between Texas and Mexico and the relations between Mexico and the United States respecting Texas enter a new phase. This has been and is being treated sufficiently fully by students of the Texas Revolution, the Texas national period, and the annexation of Texas to the United States.
1 Instrucciones Reservadas para Zozaya, 31 de Octubre de 1822, La Diplomacia Mexicana, I.85. This treaty later known as the Florida Treaty is spoken of in the correspondence of the time as the Treaty of Washington.
2 The discussion of the basis for, the character of, and the justice of this claim is not in place here. See Rives, United States and Mexico, I, 1‑26; Smith, Annexation of Texas, 5‑8; Babcock, Rise of American Nationality, 285‑289; Cox, "Louisiana-Texas Frontier," The Quarterly, X, 1‑75; Bancroft, North Mexican States and Texas, II, 46‑53; and footnotes in each.
3 Onis, Memoir, 146. Onis's Memoria was printed in Madrid in 1820; and this translation was printed in Baltimore the following year.
4 Ibid., 23.
5 Nota del Ministro Zozaya, 26 de Diciembre de 1822, La Dipl. Mex., I, 103. He virtually repeats the language of Onis when he says: "La soberbia de estos republicanos no les permite vernos como iguales, sino como inferiores; su evanecimiento se extiende en mi juicio á creer que su capital lo será de todosº las Americas."
6 Note del . . . Torrens, 21 de Agosto de 1823, La Dipl. Mex., II, 22. Ibid., 50‑53, Torrens writes at length on proposed Anglo-American colonies in Texas, saying among other things, "mi opinion es, que intentando algunos agentes de Nuevoº Orleans hacer establecimientos de anglo-americanos en Texas, con el mismo objeto que lo habían hecho en Baton Rouge, de adquirir una influencia y maioría en la población y hacerlos declarar que querían unirse á los Estados Unidos, etc. . . . Por tanto, me parece peligroso permitirles establecerse en gran número y formando pueblos separados, porque esto vendría á ser el origen de disensiones con los Estados Unidos." He asks for instructions concerning the course he should pursue regarding limits. He had not received any on that subject since the change in government following Iturbide's deposition.
7 Bugbee, "Texas Frontier, 1820‑1825," 114 (Reprint from Publications Southern Historical Association, March, 1900). As evidence he cites letters in the Bexar Archives.
8 Alaman to Torrens, 1 de Octubre de 1823, La Dipl. Mex., II, 33. Alaman's Memorial to Congress, Nov. 1, 1823, in British and Foreign State Papers, X, 1072; and Poinsett, Notes, 311. He says the chargé has been instructed to secure the confirmation of this line.
9 Nota del . . . Torrens, 26 de Enero de 1824, La Dipl. Mex., II, 73.
10 Torrens to Adams, Feb. 15, 1824, House Executive Documents, 25th congress, 1st session, No. 42, p6; British and Foreign State Papers, XXVI, 828.
11 Torrens to Secretario, 23 de Marzo de 1824, MS. Relaciones Exteriores.
12 Same to same, 14 de Julio de 1824, MS. Relaciones Exteriores.
13 Bugbee, "Texas Frontier, 1820‑1825," 115, citing Bexar Archives. A letter of Sept. 19, 1824, from the political chief said, "The Anglo-American government counts this province as its own and includes it on its maps, tracing its boundaries from the sources of the Rio Grande to its mouth on the coast of Tamaulipas."
14 Instrucciones mui Reservadas, 30 de Agosto de 1824, MS. Rel. Ext. It is interesting to note here that Mexicans thought of asserting claim to the Oregon country. Torrens wrote that the settlement of that country was being considered in the United States Congress, where it was being urged that to leave this territory occupied by Indians, with England on one side and Mexico on the other to intrigue with the Indians, was dangerous to the United States and could do more harm than all Europe. Torrens added that he thought it would be dangerous to Mexico to permit the United States to occupy it. Torrens to Secretario, 5 de Mayo de 1824, MS. Rel. Ext.
15 Instrucciones, 30 de Agosto de 1824, MS. Rel. Ext. For text of the colonization law see Mexico, Leyes, Decretos, y Ordenes que forman el Derecho Internacional, 125. This is a government publication in three parts, of which this is part three. Parts one and two are Tratados y Convenciones. See note 32. For a discussion of the law, see any Texas history.
On March 23, 1824, Torrens had reported to his government that the Swiss consul at Washington had asked him if there would be any objection to receiving colonists from Switzerland; and he had replied that he thought they would be received since they were an industrious people and could not be enemies to liberal institutions. Torrens to Secretario, 23 de Marzo de 1824, MS. Rel. Ext. On July 10 the government at Mexico approved this act of Torrens and authorized him to assure the Swiss consul that Catholics from his country would find a favorable reception. Secretario to Torrens, 10 de Julio de 1824, MS. Rel. Ext.
16 Clay to Poinsett, March 26, 1825, MS. Department of State, Instructions, X, 225; extracts are printed in H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p5; and B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 829. For brief discussions of Poinsett's instructions concerning Texas, see Reeves, Diplomacy under Tyler and Polk, 61; Garrison, Texas, 170; Bancroft, N. Mex. Sts. and Tex., II, 88; McMaster, U. S., V, 460; Von Holst, United States (1828‑1846), 553; Falconer, Discovery of the Mississippi, 48; Kennedy, Texas, I, 370; Adams, "Texas Speech" in H. of R., 1838, p106.
17 Azcarate to Victoria, 3 de Junio de 1825, MS. Rel. Ext. Azcarate was appointed as minister to England in 1822 by the imperial government, but did not go. See Bocanegra, Memorias, I, 76. Poinsett tells of his presentation to Iturbide on Nov. 3, 1822, but of course says nothing of this conversation with Azcarate. In his description of the emperor Poinsett shows his antipathy to monarchy in general and to the imperial system of Iturbide in particular. Poinsett, Notes on Mexico, 67, 69.
18 Poinsett to Clay, July 18, 1825, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Despatches, I; extracts in H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p19; and B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 831.
19 Alaman to Poinsett, July 20, 1825, and Poinsett to Alaman, July 27, 1825, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., I; H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p20; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 831.
20 Clay to Poinsett, Sept. 24, 1825, MS. Dept. of St., Instr., X, 835; extracts in American State Papers, Foreign, VI, 581; H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p7; and B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 836.
21 Poinsett to Clay, July 27, 1825, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., I; extract not including the cipher portion is in H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p20; and B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 833. Reeves, Diplomacy under Tyler and Polk, 62.
22 Poinsett to Clay, Aug. 5, 1825, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., I. Reeves, Diplomacy under Tyler and Polk, 63.
23 Poinsett to Clay, Aug. 10, 1825, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., I.
24 Poinsett to Clay, Sept. 20, 1825, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., I; H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p23; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 835.
25 Esteva to Llave, Nov. 7, 1825, enclosure with Poinsett to Clay, Jan. 4, 1826, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., I.
26 Obregon to Secretario, 12 de Noviembre de 1825, MS. Rel. Ext.
27 Pedraza to Secretario, 10 de Febrero, 24 de Febrero, and 9 de Junio de 1826; and Blanco to Secretario, 7 de Agosto de 1826; all in MS. Rel. Ext.
28 Camacho to Poinsett, 20 de Junio de 1826, MS. Rel. Ext.; and MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., II.
29 Poinsett to Camacho, June 20, 1826, MS. Rel. Ext.; Poinsett to Clay, June 20, 1826, MS. Dept. of St., Desp., II. The last declares that hostile tribes in Mexico were in the habit of capturing defenceless Mexicans and carrying them across the border where United States citizens ransomed them and held them till their friends in Mexico redeemed them. This encouraged Indian warfare.
30 Erasmo Seguin of Bexar was appointed to the post in January, 1826; but in May asked to be relieved from serving because of his ill-health, because of the climate of Natchitoches,º and because he could not take his numerous family with him. His credentials and detailed instructions accompany his letter of appointment. Secretario to Seguin, 21 de Enero de 1826; Seguin to Secretario, 28 de Marzo de 1826; MS. Rel. Ext.
Bernardo Gutierrez, commandant of Tamaulipas, wrote in March urging the appointment of a consul at Natchitoches and recommending a resident of the place named Juan Cortes whom he had met there in 1812, Pedraza to Secretario, 7 de Marzo de 1826, MS. Rel. Ext.
31 Poinsett to Clay, March 18, 1826. MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., I; H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p24; Poinsett told of the effort of John D. Hunter to obtain a grant of land for Indians who were anxious to move over the frontier from the United States into Texas. The "government refused to give them a large tract of land where they might remain in a body; but offered to settle them in different parts of the country." Poinsett thought it would not be politic for the United States to permit Indians thus to move in bodies across the border. Poinsett to Clay, April 20, 1826, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., I.
32 Camacho and Esteva to Poinsett, June 19, 1826, Am. St. P., For., VI, 599; Mexico, Tratados y Convenciones, II, 125.
33 Poinsett to Plenipotentiaries, June 26, 1826, Am. St. P., For., VI, 599; Mexico, Trat. y Conv., II, 126. For the additional articles see Ibid., 144.
34 Most writers on Texas history have discussed the questions whether Edwards was justified in starting the revolt and whether Austin was justified in opposing it. G. M. Bryan in Comprehensive History of Texas, I, 506‑534, gives a full and careful account quoting a large number of documents from the Austin papers. He explains without unduly condemning Edwards' actions, and fully justifies Austin's. Yoakum, in the same volume, 114‑121, justifies Edwards and mildly excuses Austin. Brown, Texas, I, 131‑140, is more sympathetic with the Fredonians than Bryan but not so enthusiastic as Yoakum. He says "Austin was justified in his course but not in his denunciations." Foote, Texas and the Texans, I, 218‑292, gives a long sympathetic account of the revolt, quoting many letters and enthusiastically praising B. W. Edwards, who was his personal friend. He explains without condemning Austin's attitude. Bancroft, N. Mex. Sts. and Tex., II, 98‑110, gives an impartial account, explaining without severely condemning either. Garrison, Texas, 165, says Edwards would have found it difficult to avoid trouble "even if he had shown the utmost prudence; but his want of caution, not to say his improprieties, lay on him heavy responsibility for the result. . . . The whole affair was so confused that one grows weary of seeking to locate the blame." Barker in The Quarterly, XIII, 259, says, "Austin's part was an important one. He gave Edwards sage advice which, if he had followed it, would have enabled him to avoid most of his trouble; and in the end took the only possible course to preserve the confidence of the government and the interests of the colonists." Miss Rather in The Quarterly, VIII, 112, explains the DeWitt colony's opposition to the Fredonians. For a brief account of the Fredonian Rebellion, see Howren, The Quarterly, XVI, 382.
35 Obregon to Secretario, 8 de Febrero and 10 de Febrero de 1827, MS. Rel. Ext. With these letters and others of earlier and later dates Obregon enclosed newspaper clippings giving reports of the revolt.
36 Obregon to Secretario, 17 de Febrero, and 21 de Febrero de 1827, the latter enclosing a copy of Clay to Obregon, Feb. 19, 1827, quoted above, also Obregon to Clay, 20 de Febrero de 1827, politely acknowledging Clay's of the preceding day; all in MS. Rel. Ext.
37 Poinsett to Clay, Feb. 21, 1827, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., II. Early in February the Mexican foreign office had told Poinsett of a raid by Anglo-Americans on Nacogdoches Nov. 22, 1826. After some depredations they had left, declaring they would return on December 15. Poinsett replied that he would transmit this complaint to his government and felt sure that the aggressors would be punished. On receiving it Clay returned a copy of orders to the military authorities on the border which he said he believed would put a stop to the offense and secure the punishment of the guilty. Espinosa to Poinsett, Feb. 2, 1827; Poinsett to Espinosa, Feb. 4, 1827; Poinsett to Clay, Feb. 7, 1827; MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., II; and Clay to Poinsett, March 24, 1827, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Instr., XI, 283.
38 Poinsett to Clay, March 8, 1827, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., II.
39 Poinsett to Clay, March 24, June 5, June 16, and June 20, 1827, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., II.
40 This error which was commonly made was due to looseness of statement rather than to ignorance. The treaty of 1819 used this language but added "if the source of the Arkansas river shall be found to fall north or south of latitude forty-two, then the line shall be run from the said source due south or north, as the case may be, till it meets the said parallel, etc."
41 Clay to Poinsett, March 15, 1827, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Instr., XI, 270; extract in H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p8, and B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 837. See Rives, U. S. and Mex., I, 169.
42 Adams, Memoirs, March 14 and 15, 1827, VII, 239, 240.
43 Adams, "Texas Speech" in H. of R., 1838, 107. He said this offer was found to be highly disagreeable to Mexico, so was not pressed.
44 Adams's speech of April 15, 1842, Niles, Register, LXII, 138. In this speech he argued that because he wished Texas in 1825 and 1827 when slavery had been abolished there and could not have been restored had it been acquired, was no reason why he should be criticised for opposing the acquisition of Texas later.
For brief studies of the attempt to purchase Texas in 1827, see Barker, "Jackson and the Texas Revolution," American Historical Review, XII, 788; Reeves, Diplomacy under Tyler and Polk, 63; Garrison, Westward Extension, 87; Bancroft, History of Mexico, V, 155; Von Holst, U. S. (1828‑1846), 554; McMaster, United States, V, 155; Yoakum in Comp. Hist. of Tex., I, 135; Kennedy, Texas, I, 370; Jay, Review of Mexican War, 13; Robinson, Mexico and her Military Chieftains, 144. Most of these say Poinsett did not present the proposal to the Mexican government, citing Clay's "Raleigh Letter" of 1844, Niles, Reg., LXVI, 152, which says Poinsett "forebore even to make an overture for that purpose." No serious regular negotiation was undertaken but Poinsett did sound the authorities on the subject. Adams, Memoirs, XI, 365, says the offer was rejected.
45 Poinsett to Clay, May 10, 1827, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., III. See Reeves, Diplomacy under Tyler and Polk, 64.
46 Poinsett to Sec. of St. of Mex., May 19, 1827, MS. Rel. Ext.
47 Poinsett to Clay, Jan. 8, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., III. The above portion of this letter is omitted in the extract printed in , 25c., 1s., No. 42, p24; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 841.
It is interesting to notice that the Mexican negotiator based his argument for the unconstitutionality of the sale of Texas on the doctrine of state rights. If the matter could have been submitted to a vote of the people of the state the difficulty would probably have disappeared. In 1829 Van Buren suggested that this be done.
48 Poinsett to Clay, July 12, 1826, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., III; H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p25; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 837.
49 Mexico, Leyes, Decretos, y Ordenes que forman el Derecho Int., 139.
50 Poinsett to Clay, Oct. 6, 1827, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., III; H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p25; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 840.
51 Berlandier y Chovel, Diario de Viage de la Comision de Limites . . . bajo . . . Mier y Teran, 7, 115. This seems to be a very much condensed and slightly changed translation of a manuscript in French by Berlandier filling seven octavo volumes on travels in Mexico and Texas between 1826 and 1834. This and a few other Berlandier manuscripts of interest in the history of Texas and the Mexican War have recently been purchased by the Library of Congress. Berlandier was the naturalist of the expedition, and his notes are of value chiefly from the scientific, especially the geographical standpoint.
The passport for General Teran which the Mexican government requested was delivered by Clay to Obregon on March 24, 1828. H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p42; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 844.
52 One of these is the "Informe de Padre P. M. J. Puellas acerca de los limites de Texas," dated Zacatecas, Noviembre 28 de 1827, a report on documents in archives in that city on the subject, covering thirty-four pages. The other is "Extractos de la memoria del Padre Pichardo, y de los informes del Ministro y Consul de España en los Estados Unidos acerca de limites de Texas é invasiones en su territorio." The transcripts of these extracts cover fifty typewritten pages and review several hundred pages of manuscripts. MS. Rel. Ext.
53 Translation of Speech of Victoria to Congress, Dec. 24, 1827, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., III.
54 Resolution of April 2, 1827, Mexico, Trat. y Conv., I, 113; Poinsett to Clay, Jan. 8, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., III; Extracts in H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p26; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 841.
The Mexican negotiators in explaining to the foreign office, said they believed the United States would not have attempted to change the boundary unless they had expected to gain an advantage at the expense of Mexico. Camacho and Esteva to Espinosa, 12 de Enero de 1828, Mexico, Trat. y Conv., I, 114.
56 Protocol of first conference, Jan. 8, 1828, H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p27; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 841; Mexico, Trat. y Conv., I, 109. Enclosed with Poinsett to Clay, Feb. 7, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., III.
57 Protocol of second conference, Jan. 10, 1828, H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p28; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 843; Mexico, Trat. y Conv., I, 110, 112.
58 For treaty see Am. St. P., For., VI, 946; Mexico, Trat. y Conv., I, 115, 117.
59 Poinsett to Clay, Feb. 7, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., II; extracts in H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p26; Ibid., 2s., No. 351, p189; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 843.
60 Poinsett to Clay, Feb. 22, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., III; Am. St. P., For., VI, 948; H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 2s., No. 351, p190.
62 Clay to Poinsett, April 21, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Instr., XII, 98; H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 2s., No. 351, p17.
63 Am. St. P., For., VI, 946.
64 Senate Ex. Jour., III, 604.
65 Ibid., 605. Those opposing were Benton, Ellis, and Smith of South Carolina.
66 Clay to Obregon, April 30, 1828, H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p46; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 846.
67 Obregon to Clay, May 1, 1828, H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p46; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 846.
68 Espinosa who had been secretary of state for foreign relations nearly two years was succeeded by Cañedo on March 8, 1828. See Bocanegra, Memorias, I, 557. This was not quite two months after signing the treaty. Had the new secretary and both houses of congress acted as promptly as the authorities at Washington there still would have been time.
69 Poinsett to Clay, April 24, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., IV; H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p28; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 845.
70 Poinsett to Clay, April 26, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., IV; H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p29; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 845.
71 Obregon to Clay, Aug. 2, 1828, and Brent to Obregon, same date, H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p47, 48; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 846, 847. On May 10 Cañedo had informed Poinsett of the ratification by his government. H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 2s., No. 351, p202. For brief discussion of this treaty and its failure, see Rives, U. S. and Mex., I, 170.
72 Rocafuerte to Secretario, Londres, 16 de Julio de 1828, MS. Rel. Ext.
73 [Secretario to Rocafuerte], 22 de Septiembre de 1828, MS. Rel. Ext.
74 Rocafuerte to Secretario, Londres, 15 de Julio de 1828, and Owen's memorial accompanying, MS. Rel. Ext.
75 Poinsett to Secretario, Sept. 10, 1827, MS. Rel. Ext.; Cañedo to Poinsett, April 8, 1828; Poinsett to Cañedo, April 11, 1828; Cañedo to Poinsett, April 21, 1828; all enclosures with Poinsett to Clay, July 15, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., IV; Poinsett to Clay, April 23, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., III. The last cited is printed in H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 2s., No. 351, p201.
Bancroft, N. Mex. Sts. and Tex., II, 114, says the exemption expired in 1830. This is the time it would have legally expired had it not been withdrawn. He probably follows Filisola, Memorias, I, 163, which says: "al acabar aquel mismo año de 1830 debian terminar las escenciones y privilegios concedidos á lasº distritos de Tejas, Monclova, y Rio Grande, para la introduccion libre de derechos de todo lo que necesitasen para el uso de aquellos habitantes."
76 Clay to Poinsett, Jan. 12, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Instr., XII, 53; Clay to Adams, Jan. 14, 1828, and Adams to H. of R., Jan. 15, 1828, Am. St. P., For., VI, 822.
77 Clay to Poinsett, April 21, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Instr., XII, 98; H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 2s., No. 351, p17; ibid., pp18‑32 are the documents containing the charges against the Hardins; Poinsett to Cañedo, June 3, 1828, Cañedo to Poinsett, June 7, 1828, Poinsett to Clay, July 12, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., IV. The last letter is printed in H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 2s., No. 351, p214. Poinsett to Clay, June 9, 1828, MS. U. S. Embassy Archives, Mexico. This last is missing in the files of the Dept. of State.
78 Obregon to Secretario, 10 de Agosto de 1827, MS. Rel. Ext.
79 Same to same, 13 de Octubre de 1827, ibid.
80 Cañedo to Poinsett, April 12, 1828, Poinsett to Cañedo, April 19, 1828, enclosures with Poinsett to Clay, July 14, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., IV. In Poinsett to Clay, April 23, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., III and H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 2s., No. 351, p201, mention is made of this raid; and also of the violation of Mexican sovereignty by a party of one hundred hunters near the northern limit of California. Poinsett explained that this was probably due to ignorance of the exact location of the line.
81 Cañedo to Poinsett, July 15, 1828, enclosed with Poinsett to Clay, July 16, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., IV; H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 2s., No. 351, p242.
82 Pedraza to Secretario, 22 de Julio de 1828, Secretario to Pedraza, 26 de Julio de 1828, Secretario to Gobernador de Coah. y Tex., 26 de Julio de 1828, Gobernador de Coah. y Tex. to Secretario, 11 de Agosto de 1828, Secretario de Rel. to Secretario de Guerra, 27 de Agosto de 1828, Martinez to Secretario, Nueva Orleans, 23 de Septiembre de 1828, same to same 17 de Noviembre de 1828, all in MS. Rel. Ext.
83 Bocanegra to Poinsett, July 29, 1828, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., IV.
84 Poinsett to Bocanegra, July 31, 1829, ibid.
85 Poinsett to Van Buren, Aug. 2, 1829, ibid.
86 Bocanegra to Poinsett, Aug. 20, 1829, Poinsett to Bocanegra, Aug. 21, 1829, Poinsett to Van Buren, Aug. 22, 1829, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., IV; all of these except the important beginning of the last are in H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 2s., No. 351, pp291‑294.
88 Montoya to Van Buren, April 16, 1829, and Van Buren to Montoya, April 22, 1829, H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p49; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 848.
89 Poinsett to Sec. of St., March 10, 1829, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., IV.
90 Poinsett to Van Buren, July 22, 1829, MS. Dept. of St., Mex., Desp., IV; H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p29, prints a brief extract and the rest is in Ibid., 2s., No. 351, p285. This was received at the Dept. of St. Sept. 22.º
91 Butler to Secretary of State, [Aug. 11, 1829]; Jackson to Van Buren, Aug. 12, 1829; "Project for [the] acquisition of the province of Texas" [Aug. 13, 1829]; Jackson's draft of instructions to Poinsett, Aug. 13, 1829; Van Buren's outline draft, 16 pp; First draft in different hands with numerous corrections and containing practically everything in the final instructions, 32 pp; Second draft dated Aug. 25, 1829, 37 pp; all in Van Buren MSS., Library of Congress, IX and X. The conjectured dates have been adopted from the Library of Congress Calendar of the Van Buren papers prepared by W. C. Ford and Miss Elizabeth West and printed in 1910. Jackson's draft of Aug. 13, is printed in Reeves, Diplomacy under Tyler and Polk, 65 note, citing the Jackson papers, which seems to be an error.
Most writers on Texas history discuss these instructions of Aug. 25, 1829, and in connection with them mention the offer to purchase made by Clay to March 15, 1827, and his instructions to Poinsett on March 26, 1825, to negotiate for a westward extension of the boundary. See Howren, The Quarterly, XVI, 383‑387; Barker, "Jackson and the Texas Rev.," A. H. R., XII, 789; McMaster, U. S., V, 461 and 542‑555, which dwells at great length on the efforts of the Jacksonian newspapers to facilitate the purchase; Kennedy, Texas, I, 372. The following five give very brief discussions: Bancroft, N. Mex. Sts. and Tex., II, 89; MacDonald, Jacksonian Democracy, 211; Yoakum in Comp. Hist. of Tex., I, 129; the remainder are strongly prejudiced: Von Holst, U. S. (1828‑1846), 555; Jay, Review of Mex. War, 15; Adams, "Texas Speech" in H. of R., 1838, 114‑121; Tornel, Tejas y los Estados Unidos, 3, 10; Filisola, Memorias, I, 158‑162.
92 Van Buren to Poinsett, Aug. 25, 1829, MS. Dept. of St., Secret Record, I, 39; H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p10; B. and F. St. P., XXVI, 850. This was not entered in the regular volume of Instructions in the Department of State; nor in the regular volume of the Archives of the U. S. Embassy in Mexico. Jackson's full power to Poinsett to negotiate concerning the matter bears the same date as the instructions. See Van Buren MSS. Library of Congress, X.
93 Butler's commission as bearer of the despatch is Van Buren to Butler, Aug. 24, 1829, MS. Dept. of St., Secret Record, I, 52; his full power is Jackson to Butler, Oct. 17, 1829, Ibid., 53; his instructions are Van Buren to Butler, Oct. 16, and P. S., Oct. 17, 1829, H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 2s., No. 351, pp40‑53.
"Butler, an old comrade in arms of Jackson . . . lacked moral character and fitness for any position of trust. No worse selection for a diplomatic position could have been made. . . . [He] was charged with being a speculator in Texas lands, a gambler, a drunkard, and a liar. But this last epithet came from Jackson himself some years afterward, when his shortness of memory afforded him an easy escape from the entanglements of fact. It is safe to say that Butler's mission, discreditable and even disgraceful, had much to do with the unsatisfactory course of our diplomatic relations with Mexico which ended in war. When Butler appears for the first time upon the stage of diplomacy, he had recently been in Texas and professed to be familiar with the proposed river boundaries. Sent to Mexico as bearer of despatches to Poinsett, he went overland, again through Texas, and secretly. . . . From 1829 to 1836, during practically all of Jackson's term, Anthony Butler represented, or rather misrepresented, the United States in Mexico." Reeves, Diplomacy under Tyler and Polk, 68.
94 Butler to Van Buren, Jan. 10, 1830, and enclosure, H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 2s., No. 351, p310.
95 See McMaster, U. S., V, 543‑547.
96 Van Buren to Butler, April 1, 1830, H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 2s., No. 351, p62.
97 Butler to Van Buren, May 21, 1830, Ibid., 326.
99 U. S., Treaties and Conventions, 1776‑1909, I, 1084.
100 Ibid.; and Montoya to Livingston, March 26, 1832, H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p51; Same to same, March 31, 1832, Ibid., 53; Same to same, April 3, 1832, Ibid., 57.
101 Castillo to McLane, Dec. 2, 1833, H. Ex. Docs., 25c., 1s., No. 42, p60; Same to same, Ibid., 62; McLane to Butler, Jan. 13, 1834, Ibid., 16. Butler to Lombardo, Dec. 21, 1834, Ibid., 38.
102 Mexico, Trat. y Conv., I, 180.
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