Home Translation Austin's Opinion Filisola's Comments US Declaration Glossary Map Sources Activities TEKS Author 

PETITION

ADDRESSED BY THE

ILLUSTRIOUS AYUNTAMIENTO

,

OF THE CITY OF BEXAR TO THE

HONORABLE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE:

TO MAKE KNOWN THE ILLS WHICH AFFLICT THE

TOWNS OF TEXAS AND THE GRIEVANCES

THEY HAVE SUFFERED SINCE

THEIR UNION WITH COAHUILA.

 

[THE PETITION] Honorable Congress

     When illnesses occur, the treatment adopted should be proportionate to the gravity of the situation, and application should be immediate.-- This town of Bexar was established 140 years ago, La Bahia del Espiritu Santo and Nacogdoches 116 years ago, and the fort of San Saba, the towns of Jaen, San Marcos, and Trinidad, were founded in the intervening years along with other military establishments on the Guadalupe, Colorado and Brazos rivers. These communities have disappeared entirely; in some of them the residents dying to the last man. --Many early settlers and their descendants have been sacrificed to the barbarians, and not a few others have died of hunger and pestilence, which have caused havoc in this part of the republic due to the inaction and apathy of those who govern. --…every last one of us is probably threatened with total extermination by the new Comanche uprising. This very large and most warlike tribe renewed hostilities four months ago, just when the national forces were involved in bloody struggle stemming from the aberrations and Constitutional infractions committed on all sides-especially since the year 1828.

     --Since the troops protecting this part of the frontier have not received even one-tenth part of their salary during the entire past year, it has been necessary to put more than half of them at liberty so they would find means for their own subsistence. Today, in all of Texas, only seventy men are at arms. --To assure themselves that even this limited support will remain available, the poor townspeople are obliged to supply these men with grain and other essential articles from the already meager community resources.

--Article 26 of that law gives settlers six years to populate and cultivate the lands granted to them; article 27 of said law denies them the right to transfer or give away property that is not totally under cultivation. Who fails to observe, therefore, a contradiction in the spirit behind these two articles with respect to the increase of population? If possible, such rights should be applicable from the first year, be it to the grantee or to any other legally entitled person to whom these lands might be sold or transmitted by any other means.

--…the May 2, 1832 law establishes that lands in Texas are priced at from one to three hundred pesos, according to their quality, while those of Coahuila at only fifteen pesos. -- Principally it serves to keep the Mexican population at a greater distance from Texas, because people from the interior of the Republic have always resisted immigrating to these deserts which they greatly fear. Very few Mexican residents of Texas will be able to afford the indicated fees because of their limited capital. In extreme cases, even those who already acquired concessions of some lands are abstaining from asking for their respective properties. This is due as much to the aforesaid exorbitant price as to provisions in article 13 of that law that demands one quarter of the payment immediately.

     And what shall we say concerning evils caused by the general law of April 6, 1830, which absolutely prohibits immigration by North Americans? The lack of troops and other officials capable of supervising it has made it impossible to enforce this law. On the other hand, the law prevents immigration of some capitalists and of some industrious and honorable men who have refrained from coming because of it, but has left the door open to wicked adventurers and others who constitute the dregs of society. --

     The same is true of the numerous tribes of semi-civilized Indians. Expelled from the United States of North America, they have crossed the Sabine River and, unchallenged, have established themselves in our territory. It will be very difficult to uproot them and even more so if we intend to make them observe our legal system. Yet, risking all kinds of dangers and inconveniences, North Americans reclaimed a considerable part of these lands from the desert prior to the passage of the law of April 6, 1830, and toiled assiduously to further agriculture and to introduce crafts unknown in these parts since the discovery of this land by the old Spanish government. They planted cotton and sugar cane, introduced the cotton gin, and imported machinery for the cultivation of sugar and sawmills to cut wood economically. We owe these advances to the efforts of these hardworking colonists, who have earned a comfortable living within seven or eight years.--

--…the miserable manufacture of blankets, hats, and even shoes was never established in Texas towns. Lack of these articles has obliged us to beg them from foreigners or from the interior of the republic, two or three hundred leagues distant.-- All these resources came to us with the North American colonists, but if their immigration is blocked who knows how long we will be denied such advances.

     Immigration is, unquestionably, the most efficient, quick, and economical means we can employ to destroy the Indians and to populate lands they now occupy-directing the immigrants to the northern interior whenever possible. This goal can only be achieved by freely admitting these enthusiastic North Americans so they may live in this desert. They already are experienced in dealing with the barbarians in their native land, where they have done similar work. Not a single European nation that might be interested in colonizing offers their people similar advantages. Because they have been very regimented, the Europeans' transportation, climate, customs, and forms of government are very different from those of the neighboring republic and are not as suitable for Mexico.

The opening of roads going directly from Texas ports to New Mexico, Paso del None, or even Chihuahua, would place Texas at the rank it should occupy in the Mexican federation. This achievement, too, is the result of the immigration of North American capitalists. --The population of those lands [between Texas and Missouri, and between Texas and New Mexico] would benefit Texas and would be the best barrier against the Indians. It would thrust population 200 leagues farther north than it is today, and protect the entire line of defense for Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, and even that of Chihuahua.

     When the august legislature adjourned the last of its ordinary sessions in September of 1828, Texas received the decree on the relocation of the capital of the state. -- The decree was examined by the executive of the state and two subsequent legislatures and this matter…has not moved forward in four years. --

     We conclude this part of our memorial requesting that all laws on colonization be reviewed, and that a new one be written that will take into account omissions left by the previous law and irregularities experience has brought to light. As the government knows…not even the most erudite men of the state, much less the republic, have the special knowledge enjoyed by residents of Texas.-- Thus complete adoption of this [new colonization law], and other laws applicable to Texas, should be held in abeyance for four to six months after their publication to allow review by the ayuntamientos of Texas.

The controversial decree number 50, issued by the first constitutional legislature, diminished the strength of various branches of the government with which it dealt. --…the decree completely violated the state constitution and, since the date of its publication, directly dissolved the social compact of Coahuila y Texas. The people of Texas could have declared themselves as in a natural state and could have gone on, therefore, to organize a special government adequate to its needs and social situation. --

     The judicial branch [of government] has never been suitably organized, and there is ample cause to state that this branch of government never functioned in Texas.--The most educated man of all the inhabitants of this frontier lacks the training and even useful books to enable him to acquire some instruction in the science of law. --Three hundred and fifty leagues separate Nacogdoches and two hundred leagues separate this city from the [state] capital. This involuntarily delays resolution of matters at hand. --…it is difficult to get people to serve as local judges [alcaldes]…--The judiciary needs true and proven integrity and knowledge associated with highly accurate interpretation and perfect understanding of Spanish and English. When trained justices [jueces de letras] and notaries public [escribanos publicos] are appointed, the heterogeneous composition of the Texas population must be considered. Furthermore, criminal and even civil cases, whenever possible, should be resolved by juries.

     Outrages have been inflicted on the sovereignty of the state, on the innocent public, and even on foreign nations by the scandalous conduct of the commanding general of these states [Manuel Mier y Teran] .The latter authorized one of his subordinates [John Davis Bradburn] to prevent implementation of an order from the supreme government of the state to citizen Francisco Madero, who was to put those inhabitants living between the Trinity and San Jacinto rivers in legal possession of their lands, and even imprisoned Madero at a place known as Anahuac on Galveston Bay. --…the military authority disrespectfully destroyed an ayuntamiento created by Madero, which was legalized and recognized by the state at a town named Libertad, while the Commander of Anahuac, Col. Davis Bradburn, ordered that another ayuntamiento be established at Anahuac that acted in place of that legal body and even distributed town lots [solares] to its inhabitants.

   --The Texas deputies were judged unworthy of public confidence in the last sessions of September of 1830. Based on Article 4 of the Plan de Jalapa, they were expelled from that august assembly without being told the reason, without a hearing, and against the express will, not only of all the people of this department [of Texas] but almost all the rest of the state [of Coahuila y Texas ] , whom they represented more or less. --

--It would be desirable to organize the militia that are attached to those towns [of the frontier] in a different way, so it might be used more actively and achieve greater success. It should be ordered especially that on whatever occasion the militia leaves home, it should enjoy a reasonable salary. To date this has been impossible to achieve in Texas. This pay should be obligatory whenever the troops go forth, whether willingly or under orders, in pursuit of Indians who do us harm or for some other just purpose.

Numerous requests have come from Texas communities that primary schools be established at state expense, in view of the poverty of these residents and their meager municipal funds. Their requests have never been heeded. Instead, the government has tried to placate the towns by passing laws that set forth specious regulations which always adhere to the concept that either ayuntamiento funds be used in payment, or that funds needed for the support of said schools be raised from tuition paid by each of the young students. Having judged this impractical, residents of this city have been forced to underwrite the miserable salary of twenty-five pesos monthly for the only primary school teacher they have. --

Decree number 183, expedited this year, prohibits persons not born on Mexican soil from engaging in retail sales. It deserves, if not total repeal as seems just, at least the repeal of the exceptions. It is shocking that these were not submitted to the Coahuiltejanos for adoption as the Constitution and even natural right itself demands, and as the dignity of the honorable state legislature requires! --

Texas would have four representatives in the legislature scheduled to begin next January, had the legislature presently concluding its work taken the time to compute the increase in the population of Texas according to the latest statistics sent. The Constitution requires that the legislative body fulfill this obligation. -- Texas has no influence in the legislature and, since its only two deputies have always been oppressed, has never been able to obtain anything from it.

     Texas was permitted to divide itself into two districts [partidos] by decree number 164, which also provided that the jefe de partido be elected following specifications in law number 37. -- However, the honorable legislature… has not seen fit to resolve this interesting question. Had it acted and sent a senior magistrate who is Mexican by birth, the law might have had the effect of preventing political movements that have surfaced at different times in the partido of Nacogdoches, for lack of adequate government.

--…Texas was barely able to take advantage of even the most minimal part of the seven-year exemption from taxes conceded by the general law of September 1823, because of the stupid and crass doubts raised by the Ministry of Relations. The latter was determined to doubt the merits of qualifying Bahia de San Bernardo as a port of entry for the introduction of foreign goods. When that ministry's error was reversed, only months remained for the seven-year period of grace to lapse. Several foreign merchants and some Mexicans stopped making their usual trips altogether because of this. Otherwise they would have continued to make these journeys, arriving at that bay and bringing considerable population growth as well as unlimited resources into this country. --

And what has become of the new communities of Anahuac, Tenoxteclan [Tenoxtitlan], Teran, etc., which were founded two years ago with the national treasury making many sacrifices to prevent unnecessary costs for the conveyance of units of land [cuerdas] intended for their establishment? --Since not one of the Mexican inhabitants has remained, and even the troops who garrisoned those towns have fallen back to this city de- moralized and miserable, why is it necessary to erase those towns from the scene of the Mexican federation only to place them in the desert anew?

     Finally, the extension of time conceded by decree number 184 to the promoters [empresarios] [James] Power and Heuitson [James Hewetson], who, in the six years they were given, have been unable to introduce even one of the many families they offered to bring, has impeded the growth of population on that part of the coast that was of most interest to Texas and to all the state. -- Its repeal is eminently just and fitting…--

Finally, we have demonstrated the pitiful condition of this beautiful part of the republic and the only hopes remaining for its remedy. Being persuaded, your honors, of the importance and need of this manifesto, you will surely appreciate the language of sincerity and frankness with which this body has explained its cause. In so doing, it represents the emotions that inspire its inhabitants. It does so openly, without remote thought of calling into question the sweet and valued glory of being Mexican. This body beseeches you to believe that over and above its evident justice, the reason for this presentation is to avoid consequences of immense significance that we can already sense, and that would be very difficult to remedy in the unexpected event that its claims go unattended. May heaven grant you foresight and exact justice to examine impartially this pressing matter which, to summarize it from only one perspective, concludes with the following articles:

[click on the number next to the grievance for historical background]

 

1.            That a civic militia of the frontier be organized in sufficient number and form to punish conveniently and carry out the extermination of the barbarians, and that these militiamen be given the help they need whenever they are obliged to leave their homes.

2.            That a new colonization law be written that will fill the voids and reform the remaining abuses created by those already prescribed on the subject. And that this law endeavor to concede some privileges to attract Mexicans, whose increase in population would be the most suitable and should for this and possible additional reasons be encouraged for Texas. Concessions of free plots of land [sitios], for example, might be made to each native-born family living in Texas! Also, the unhindered sale of lands acquired under provisions of the aforesaid colonization laws might be permitted once the grateful recipient has fulfilled all obligations to the state, without requiring him to wait until he has completed payment of the installments or met the vague and difficult to understand requirement of populating all of the land before being able to sell it. Other similar inducements might be made.

3.            To fulfill the goal of the previous article, we entreat the august houses of the legislature to permit the immigration of industrious North Americans or capitalists. Populating the country with this class of people will impede the immigration of adventurers and criminals, as well as Indians from North America, who are entering without the knowledge of our authorities.

4.            Repeal decree number 50 and, consequently, revive the constitution and the use of public functionaries whose nominations were held back by that decree. The naming of judges and notaries public possessing the qualities described should be ordered at the same time.

5.            Seek some means by which to end the distaste with which the burdens associated with such positions of responsibility [judgeships and notaries] are regarded, by giving some salary or other emoluments that would somehow obviate or end that lack of attention that now characterizes their time in office.

6.            Oppose with all the energy of the supreme general powers, the scandalous proceedings by which the military authority in Texas imprisoned and made other affronts against the citizen Francisco Madero. He was commissioned to act by the government, yet they destroyed the ayuntamiento of the new villa of Liberty and were responsible for the creation of the one at Anahuac by the military commander of that place, Colonel Davis.

7.            Likewise, satisfy the people of this Department for the outrage inflicted upon its special representatives by decree number 149.

8.            That until such time as they can raise funds to do this for themselves, the state treasury underwrite a suitable salary for the endowment of a primary school in each of the towns of this Department.

9.            That decree number 183 be revoked, at least for the people of Texas, since without doubt it is prejudicial to their interests. Or, as a last resort, that naturalized foreigners be exempted from complying with it.

10.        That in view of the growth of population in Texas, the number of its representatives be increased.

11.        That resolving the doubt that grew out of Decree number 164, which provided for the naming of the jefe politico of this Department, that appointment proceed.

12.        We seek from the sovereign general congress an absolute exemption from import duties for ten or more years for all goods introduced through the ports of Galveston, Aransas, and Rio de los Brazos for the use of the inhabitants of Texas.

13.        That the extension of time conceded to the promoters Powers and Heuitson [Hewitson] by decree number 184, as well as that of identical character provided by numbers 185 and 192 to those mentioned in them, be annulled and revoked since they are contrary to the spirit of the law which seeks the most immediate growth of population.

14.        It is essential that the honorable legislature give priority to dealing with all these matters during its current session. The inhabitants of these towns look to it as the last resort for the remedy of their problems for, according to what has been made clear, the time is not far off when these problems will lead them to total ruin.

 

Bexar, December 19, 1832.

 

Jose Antonio de la Garza

 

                                             Angel Navarro  

 

                                             Jose Casiano                Manuel Ximenes

   

                                                                                 Juan Angel Seguin

 

                                           Jose Maria Sambrano

 

                                                                                Ignacio Arocha,

                                                                                     Secretary.