Texas Is Lost

“Texas is lost”
Excerpt of letter from Mier y Teran to his friend, Lucas Alamán, July 2, 1832.

In 1828 Mexican General Mier y Teran had seen enough to convince him that strict measures were needed to stem American immigration (legal and otherwise) and its influence in Texas. If nothing is done to address the problem, Teran believed, the United States will take Texas.

In 1829, Teran submitted his recommendations in a report to the Mexican government. The next year, under the leadership of President Anastasio Bustamante, the  Mexican legislature passed a law that included Mier y Teran’s recommendations, the Law of April 6, 1830. From a Mexican point of view, the law was considered just and necessary. Texas colonists disagreed.

Signed by Lucas Alamán, the Minister of the Interior and Exterior, the law was printed and distributed among the Texas colonies and throughout Mexico in the form a broadside, a large, single-sided document that could be easily tacked to a door, nailed to a tree, read privately at home, or aloud on a street corner, or town square. Its contents alarmed the colonists, including empresario extraordinaire, Stephen F. Austin. The law included eighteen articles whose collective purpose was to regain Mexican sovereignty and control over Texas. Some articles were more incendiary than others, especially the articles that banned further colonization from the United States, the crackdown on slavery in Texas (slavery was outlawed in Mexico), and the establishment of new forts built and manned by convict labor from Mexico.

Despite Mexico’s best intentions, it was a case of too little, too late. American colonists were used to living as they always had,  guided by American norms and values (and in many cases, irresponsible behavior) while ignoring Mexican laws and customs. Most worrisome for Mexico was that by 1830, Americans outnumbered Mexican citizens ten to one.

Mexico also lacked the resources and the necessary political will and military attention required to enforce the law. Through the efforts of Stephen F. Austin and legislative initiatives most of the law’s recommendations were reversed within a few years, including those pertaining to American immigration and slavery.  Despite the repeals, an inevitable course had been set in motion. Relations between American settlers and the Mexican government would only get worse.

Factional infighting within Mexico and its consequence, the neglect of his beloved Texas, pushed an already depression-prone General Mier y Teran to take his own life in 1832, falling on his sword while on duty in the small  town of San Antonio in Tamaulipas, Mexico.

 

References

Texas by Teran, The Diary Kept by General Mier y Teran On His 1828 Inspection Of Mexico, copyright 2000, Edited by Jack Jackson, Translated by John Wheat, University of Texas Press.

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