Memos to Santa Anna
No. 5. MINISTRY OF WAR AND MARINE. Central Section.
Desk No. 1. Circular
Most Excellent Sir: Under this date I have notified all commandants-general and the principal governors and political chiefs of departments and territories as follows:
"The supreme government has positive information that in the United States of the North public meetings are being held with the avowed purpose of arming expeditions against the Mexican nation, of helping those who have rebelled against this government, of encouraging civil war, and of bringing upon our territory all those evils attendant upon civil war. Some expeditions have already been organized in that republic---our former friend---such as the one conducted by the traitor José Antonio Mejia to Santa Anna [small town in Tamaulipas, located near the coast--C.C.] and others on their way to the coast of Texas. All kinds of war supplies have been sent to the said coast; and due to this censurable procedure, the rebellious colonists have been able to carry on a war against the nation that has showered so many favors upon them. The supreme government has the most positive assurance that these acts, censured by the wise laws of the United States of the North, have merited the consequent disapproval of that government with which we maintain the best understanding and an unalterable harmony. The speculators and adventurers have succeeded in evading the punishment that awaited them in that republic, but we hope that it will still overtake them. His Excellency, the President ad interim, who cannot see with indifference these aggressions that attack the sovereignty of the Mexican nation, has seen proper to command that the following articles be observed with regard to them.
1st All foreigners who may land in any port of the republic or who enter it armed and for the purpose of attacking our territory shall be treated and punished as pirates, since they are not subjects of any nation at war with the republic nor do they militate under any recognized flag.
2nd. Foreigners who introduce arms and munitions by land or by sea at any point of the territory now in rebellion against the government of the nation for the purpose of placing such supplies in the hands of its enemies stall be treated and punished likewise. I have the honor of transmitting these instructions to you for their publication and observance.
I have the honor of transmitting the foregoing circular to Your Excellency for your
information, assuring you of my sincere affection.
GOD AND LIBERTY. José María Tornel
México, December 30, 1835.
To His Excellency, the President, General-in-Chief of the Army of Operations, Antonio López de Santa Anna, Benefactor of his Country. sdct
No. 7. To Ministry of War and Marine on a Goliad capitulation.
Most Excellent Sir: One of the strongest causes for the resentment, whose fatal effects I was on the point of suffering in my captivity while a prisoner of the Texans, was the assertion that a capitulation had been drawn up before the surrender of Fannin and his men at Goliad and that in violation of its terms they had been executed. This assertion was common not only among the Texans but in many papers of the United States and even in some of the capital. Although the official report of General José Urrea, published and printed in various papers, belies such a statement, I shall deem it a great favor for the supreme government to order Colonels Juan Morales and Mariano Salas and Lieut. Col. Juan José Holzinger to declare and explain before the competent authorities everything that happened, giving testimony in due form, since they were the mediators in the surrender. In case that from their declarations it should appear that some agreement guaranteeing the life of the prisoners was signed, let them declare whether, officially or unofficially, I was ever informed of it. If I had heard of such an agreement at the time it would have been scrupulously investigated; and if its existence had been proven, even though celebrated without authority, I would have explained the circumstances to Congress and obtained, perhaps, a pardon for those unfortunate wretches. sdct
Likewise it is said that the execution of those prisoners was carried out in an inhumane and cruel manner, shooting them without order or concert, in such a way that some were able to escape. These formed part of the guard that kept watch over me for many days. The commandant at Goliad, Lieut. Col. José Nicolás de la Portilla, is responsible for the cruel and inhumane manner of carrying out the execution to the nation, to the world, and to God. I do not doubt that, since its own honor is involved, the supreme government will also order an investigation of his acts, advising me as to the findings. I have made war like a soldier. My pride is founded on my never having soiled victory with murder, and my having been always adjudged humane and just, as I am in fact. If during the last campaign, one in which we were not fighting against'a recognized nation, I was forced by law and by the strict orders of the supreme government to apply to the delinquents a penalty which though severe was legal and from whose application I could not excuse myself, I am none the less sensitive to the attacks made upon my good reputation, one that I believe I deserve. I flatter myself that the president will accede to my petition out of consideration for me, for the army, and for the nation in order to help me clear myself of this accusation, and to blot out a stain that involves the whole nation. I, therefore, beg Your Lordship to communicate this petition to His Excellency. I reiterate the assurances of my esteem. GOD AND LIBERTY ANTONIO LÓPEZ DE SANTA ANNA MANGA DE CLAVO, May, 1837. To His Excellency, the Minister of War and Marine.
[This debated question has caused much hard feeling and misunderstanding. The truth of the matter seems to be that Fannin and his men proposed to surrender on terms; that these were not accepted by Urrea, who nullified all the proposals by his note added at the end of the said terms; and that, due to the fact that an the negotiations were conducted through an interpreter, many were left under the impression that the surrender had been on terms, and not unconditionally.--C.C.] sdct
No. 8. Request to Congress for policy statement on Texas
MINISTRY OF WAR AND MARINE Army of Operations Most Excellent Sir: The army of operations under my command being already on its march to Béxar, which I expect to occupy before fifteen days, I am going to find myself embarrassed if the supreme government does not send me opportunely the necessary instructions as to the policy that I am to observe in dealing with the colonies after order has been restored. I believe, therefore, that it is necessary for the executive, together with the legislative body, to give its attention to the reorganization of the government of those colonies without delay; and that the instructions sent to me ought to be definite, clear and ample in order that when the time comes I may act in the most convenient manner for our national interests. Otherwise we will have gained but little by the painful march which our army has undertaken; and the large sums that have been spent, and must be spent, will go for nothing if we fail to take this splendid opportunity presented to us to insure the integrity of the territory of the republic, unfortunately neglected for such a long time that today its conservation is costing us ten times more than if we had looked after it more opportunely. With these considerations in view and moved by the deepest concern for the propriety of the measures that may be adopted I will proceed to explain briefly the points I believe ought to be kept in mind in view of the experience I have acquired concerning this country.
The campaign being over, it is but natural that the causes that gave rise to it be analyzed. As it is evident from these that it was the colonists who unjustly provoked it, and it is a known fact, on the other hand, that in war the aggressor is responsible for the consequences, it seems certain that the rebels of Texas will have to pay the expenses incurred by the march of the army to the frontier. How, then, must the payment of this debt due necessarily to the nation, be met? Upon this point it is necessary that I be given a definite answer. The next question that arises is what shall be done with the prisoners, Mexicans or Texans, who are taken either in action or by capitulation or by unconditional surrender? What shall be done with the property of these and that of their families? What shall be the fate of those colonists, Anglo-Americans or Europeans, who have not taken an active part in the revolution? Will they be left on the frontier and on the coast, or will their property be appraised and other vacant lands or money given them as compensation? There are also many foreigners who have introduced themselves without passports or permission from the constituted authorities of the republic, and these, in my opinion, should be treated as invaders, or at least, they should be immediately expelled from Mexican territory. sdct
There is a considerable number of slaves in Texas also, who have been introduced by their masters under cover of certain questionable contracts, but who according to our laws should be free. Shall we permit those wretches to moan in chains any longer in a country whose kind laws protect the liberty of man without distinction of cast or color? Here are some points that it is important to solve beforehand and upon which I wish definite instructions to be dictated in order not to fall again in error as when the Anglo-Americans were permitted to colonize in Texas. In my judgment, those lands have a recognized value both in America and in Europe and there is no need of giving them to foreigners when we ourselves are capable of settling them. Military colonies such as those established by Russia in Siberia, by England in East India, and even by Spain itself in this country would be the most convenient for Texas, in my opinion. It would also be opportune for the national Congress to occupy itself in forming a plan, instead of drawing up a new colonization law, by which the salaries of both civil and military employees might be capitalized by those who chose to do so, each one receiving two-thirds in land and one-third in silver to encourage the establishment of settlements. It is understood that the government will take proper steps to counteract any abuses and to promote the desired end.
From such a plan the nation would reap many advantages, it seems to me, the first one being a decrease of the annual budget; the second, the population of Texas by Mexicans; and the third (perhaps the most important) the preservation of the integrity of our territory. Let it not be said that there would be no industrious Mexicans capable of establishing themselves in the confines of our frontier, for while on my way from Mexico to this place I have observed in all the country states and cattle ranches the greatest desire to go to the frontier on the part of the poor and hard-working people who are, to a great extent, mostly farmers and herders. The riffraff of our great cities would, of course, be incapable of undertaking such an enterprise both because they are accustomed to a different life and because, unfortunately, they are too demoralized. I do not believe that this class, in spite of its poverty, can be used for anything but the establishment of manufacturing enterprises in the future. If both civil and military officials who capitalize their salaries according to the proposed plan are obliged, therefore, to settle their land with Mexicans, the result will be that every official and his family who goes to Texas will bring with him a multitude of industrious and useful settlers. Otherwise, if Texas is settled entirely by Europeans, or if it is left unpopulated, it will be necessary to maintain a large number of troops there, constantly exposed in the first case to continuous plottings, for after all foreigners, whatever be their nationality, more readily take on the customs and interests of the neighboring nation than ours, especially when they find themselves such a long distance from the government of their new allegiance. In the second place, our troops would find themselves without the necessary food supplies as a result of the want of settlers. In any case, I am firmly convinced that we ought not to risk allowing either Anglo-American or European colonists to remain on the frontier, much less along our coastline. Even if some of those settled there did not take part in the present Texas revolution, a rare coincidence indeed, prudence warns that they be removed to the interior of the republic in order not to expose ourselves, as at present, to the sad experiences of our inadvertence, a lesson that is costing us so dearly. It should be added to this that the wars waged by the savage tribes in the frontier departments are encouraged by the colonists who buy the stolen booty from the said tribes, giving them in exchange arms and munitions. sdct
In this manner they carry on a trade at the expense of the Mexicans which though wicked is nevertheless very lucrative to them, These are considerations that, in my judgment, the supreme government must present to the legislative body when the definite policy in regard to Texas is formulated. All of them could easily be enlarged upon by the numerous details of our sad experiences. In the future it should be kept in mind that all foreigners admitted into the territory of Texas ought to be required, in addition to their compliance with all other requisites of our laws, to reside for at least ten years in that territory and hold title to welldefined property before they can hold public office. Otherwise, it will not be possible to avoid the introduction of evil foreigners who will contaminate those already established in the country with their revolutionary ideas. The execution of the plan proposed will involve but a small portion of the territory of Texas. What shall be done with the rest of the vacant lands of that Yast and beautiful province? Supposing that the territory adjoining the frontier and that along the coast is settled strictly by Mexicans as I have indicated, I would be of the opinion that the rest of the lands be surveyed in acres or fanegas, a Spanish unit of measure with which we are acquainted and which we understand better. This done, an agency to be known as the land office should be opened, such as that of the United States of America, which constitutes one of the principal sources of income of that republic. In that country, the minimum price per acre, as provided by a decree of Congress, taking it on an average, that is to say, of the best and the poorest, is ten reales. Why, then, could we not sell a fanega, the equivalent of the acre, for a peso, when our lands are known to be superior to theirs in every respect? I am convinced that it could be done; and I believe that, if the sale of those lands was decreed, the nation would not only discover new resources to replenish its exhausted public treasury, but would be able, at the same time, to carry our civilization to those far away places, with which, on the other hand, frequent communication could easily be maintained through the Gulf of Mexico.
If we are to judge by the printed maps and the accounts of some of the travelers who have crossed Texas in different directions, its territory must include at least one billion fanegas. From this fact alone, its importance is evident. But in order to neutralize the influence that Europeans who acquire lands may exercise, disregarding the AngloAmericans who must be entirely excluded, it would be advisable, for example, not to sell to the French settlers more than five million fanegas a similar amount to English settlers, a little more, perhaps, to Germans. No limit need be placed on those nations where our language is spoken, for no Columbian, or Cuban, or Canary Islander, or Spaniard would be very anxious to settle in our country. There is nothing to lose in such a plan, but there is much to gain. Why, then, should we not try to put it into execution? If it answers our purpose, that is to say, if definite advantages result to the nation from its operation, we may apply it to the Californias, New Mexico, Colima, Coatzacoalco, etc., and by these means, at the same time that we would increase our population, we would increase the resources of the nation without giving away its lands or mortgaging still further the strained credit of the country. The plan is feasible, for the lands of Texas already command a definite market value everywhere as evidenced by the last revolution, undertaken in the main for the purpose of speculation with its lands. It is for Congress, therefore, to ponder over such a measure, upon which I do not believe I ought to be more explicit in consideration of the well-known wisdom of its members.
I will now discuss another point, perhaps the most important under the present circumstances. I say under the present circumstances because upon its solution depends, perhaps, the amount of resistance offered by the rebellious Texans, whose interests are involved. I want to refer to the grants made by the legislature of the state to various individuals, both Mexicans and foreigners. How must these grants be regarded? As forfeited by the rebellion of the grantees, or as annulled by this act? Is there any possible right that legalizes the sale of lands that has been made in the United States and that gives title to the buyer though he has not complied with the requisites of the Colonization law? I do not think so; but at this time, I believe that it is very important for congress to make a declaration on this matter, or at least to give me detailed instructions in order that I may not be embarrassed in reviewing any of these grants. I must also consult the government about several tribes that have migrated from the United States into our territory and that could be advantageously used by the republic if lands were assigned to them. One of these tribes, the Cherokee, rendered important services to the nation in 1827; and it holds, as I understand, the solemn promise of the government to give them lands upon which to establish themselves, a promise that has not been fulfilled up to the present. What shall be done in regard to these tribes? Are they to be left without any definite agreement, exposing ourselves by that very fact to their hostility? Or shall we request them to leave the country? All of this, I repeat, must be solved ahead of time if we are not to walk blindly. On the other hand I will do everything that I can to secure the best possible solution, but without the help of the government and congress I may, perhaps, find myself in an embarrassing situation.sdct
As a tribute to justice, I believe I am duty bound, before finishing this letter, to suggest to the government the convenience and advisability of establishing a land bounty for those officers and soldiers who may voluntarily want to remain in Texas, making such grants only to those that may be deemed advisable. It seems unnecessary for me to emphasize the utility of such a measure, for it is evident on the face of it, that the further removed a military man is from his family and those comforts he has a right to expect, the greater the effort that should be made to keep him pleased. Nothing that may contribute to this end should be omitted for the highest success of the mission intrusted to him depends upon it. I believe that a square league for the staff officers, half a league for other officers and a solar for each soldier would be enough for the purpose. The amount, in my opinion, is unimportant, the thing that matters is that bounties be established. I will not finish this letter without calling the attention of the supreme government very particularly to the conclusion of the treaty of limits with the United States of America which has so often miscarried and which is so important to bring to an early termination. The extraordinary mission which, as I understand, is going to Washington will offer doubtlessly a good opportunity of securing the desired end, in view of the known wisdom of the negotiator that has been chosen.
The march of the army towards the frontier on the other hand will facilitate the demarcation of the boundary line. The statement on the part of the president of the United States of America that it will be useless to extend the time limit stipulated at the last negotiation celebrated with Mexico two years ago should not be taken, in my opinion, as an excuse. This is all that occurs to me as worthy of being presented to the supreme government relative to Texas, surrounded as I am by numerous duties. I hope that the points suggested will immediately be taken under consideration and submitted, if necessary, to the legislative body. I again present to you the assurances of my personal esteem. GOD AND LIBERTY ANTONIO LÓPEZ DE SANTA ANNA General headquarters, Villa de Guerrero, February 16, 1836. To His Excellency, the secretary of War and Marine, General José María Tornel. This is a copy. Mexico, March 7, 1837. sdct
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