Memoria of the Bexar Seven
Signers above according to Vicente Filisola in Memoirs for the History of the War in Texas. Photo: From With the Makers of San Antonio by Chabot
Although the Bexar Ayuntamiento expressed disapproval of the Consultations of 1832 and subsequently 1833 and the citizens of Bexar did not actively participate, on 6 Dec 1832 the Bexar ayuntamiento appointed a committee to draw up a document outlining the colonists complaints. On 19 Dec at a meeting of 49 Bexarenos, a petition was endorsed and signed by the seven Bexar residents above which was circulated to the Texas ayuntamientos and in all or part eventually addressed to the legislature of the State of Coahuila and Texas. The petition was called the Representacion dirijida por el ilustre ayuntamiento e la Cuidad de Bexar and was more widely endorsed in Nacogdoches on 26 Jan 1834.
Historic governmental neglect. The town of Bexar (San Antonio) had been established a hundred and forty years, or in the year 1693; La Bahia del Espiritu Santo (Goliad) and Nacogdoches, a hundred and sixteen years or since 1717; and during, all this long interval the presidios of San Saba, Juan, San Marcos, Trinidad, and other military settlements on the rivers Brazos, Colorado and Guadalupe had been formed, and had again entirely disappeared, and in some of them every soul had perished in consequence of the utter neglect of the government, after inducing the people to settle there. The memorialists gave a mournful account of the privations and sufferings of Bexar, Goliad and Nacogdoches, owing to that neglect. During a period of more than a century since they had been founded for the purpose of extending Christianity and civilization through the vast wilderness, many of the first settlers had been sacrificed in defense of their homes by the barbarous Indians, while many more had perished by famine. Since 1821 ninety-seven of the citizens had been murdered by savages in the municipalities of Bexar and La Bahia (Goliad) and the then new town of Gonzales, exclusive of the military, had fallen in expeditions against the Indians. Farther to the west the settlements had suffered still more, and at that time they were all threatened, by the powerful tribe of Comanches, with total extermination. This tribe had taken advantage of the civil strife going on between Bustamente and Santa Anna, in which all the national troops were engaged. Even the few scattered troops then in Texas had not received the twentieth part of their pay, and nearly all had to be disbanded to seek subsistence as well as they could. Only seventy men were at that time retained under arms in all Texas, and these were supported by the voluntary contributions of the poor citizens of San Antonio, to give them some defense against the Indians.
Impact of inhibition of colonization. The memorialists complain that the first State law of colonization had retarded the progress of improvements in Texas. They complain of the twenty-sixth article of that law, allowing six years in which to settle the land granted; and of the twenty-seventh article, requiring, the land to be cultivated in totality before it could be sold. They complain of the exorbitant prices fixed for government lands, namely, from $100.00 to $300.00 per league of 4,428 acres, while elsewhere the price was only $15.00 to $20.00 per league. They also complain of the law prohibiting the immigration of North Americans to Texas. This absurd law could not be enforced for want of troops, and its only effect had been to prevent the immigration of the wealthier and better classes of Americans, while those who had nothing to lose were not deterred by it from coming.
Value of North American settlers. The great value to the State of North American settlers is enlarged upon, and the repeal of the prohibitory law is urged. The settlers would give protection against the Indians, and would add greatly to the wealth and revenues of the State.
Distance from Saltillo and lack of local judiciary. These ruinous defects in the laws would be corrected at once were Texas permitted to have a State government of her own, where the wants of the people could be fully known to those who make the laws. The distance to the then seat of government (Saltillo) was 350 leagues from Nacogdoches, or near 1,000 miles, and 200 leagues from San Antonio. The assessor or judicial councilor of the State, a most important officer, could only be consulted by going that hazardous and laborious journey; and yet most of the people often had occasion to consult that officer.
Lack of representation and military rule. The tyrannical proceedings of Col. Juan Davis Bradburn at Anahuac are complained of, and also the outrage upon the people of Texas by the expulsion of their deputies from the legislature, in 1830, under the fourth article of the plan of Jalapa, and that too without giving them any trial. The want of a law for establishing primary schools is considered a serious grievance. There was then but one school in Bexar, the teacher of which received $25.00 per month and was paid by the pupils. They complain of the law prohibiting all who were not born on Mexican territory from retailing merchandise of any kind of foreign production. The memorialists say that Texas was allowed but two delegates to the legislature, while she was entitled to four, in consequence of increase of population since the last apportionment. The Ayuntamiento of Austin's colony complain that Col. Juan Davis Bradburn, commandant at Anahuac, had arrested and imprisoned Don Jose Francisco Modero and Jose M. Carbajal, the former the commissioner appointed to survey the concessions of land granted to the colonists in the district of Nacogdoches and put them in possession and the latter his surveyor. This was done by order of Gen. Teran, January 2, 1831. Another military order is complained of, issued by the commandant general, by which the Ayuntamiento of Liberty was annulled December 10, 1831, both orders being in direct. It is also stated that the same commandant general had taken possession of private lands and appropriated them, in disregard of the laws of the State and the rights of property. It is further alleged that when the Alcalde of Liberty Hugh B. Johnson, in obedience to the laws of the State ordered an election for members of a new ayuntamiento (the old members having been deprived by Teran of authority to act), Col. Bradburn threatened Johnson with military force if he proceeded with the election, and thus the people were subjected to military rule.
Arbitrary arrests and reason for Anahuac. Another charge made against Bradburn is that he had, at various times, arrested peaceable citizens, for no other cause than the expression of their opinions against his violent and arbitrary acts. In May, 1832, he imprisoned seven respectable citizens, namely, Patrick C. Jack, William B. Travis, Monroe Edwards and others, and attempted to arrest George M. Patrick, first regidor. The State government was powerless to afford any remedy against these acts of tyranny. After exhausting every means to procure relief peaceably, the people finally took up arms and marched to Anahuac to release the prisoners illegally confined by Bradburn, and to re-establish the Ayuntamiento at Liberty. This was accordingly done. The citizens thus assembled encamped at Turtle Bayou, and formally pronounced in favor of the plan of Vera Cruz, in behalf of the constitution of 1824, and against the usurpation of Bustamente. This was done June the 13th, 1832. The same course was pursued by the citizens of the municipality of Brazoria and the precinct of Victoria, and, indeed, by the people generally; but as Col. Ugartechea, who commanded Fort Velasco, refused to support the plan of Vera Cruz, and continued to adhere to Bustamente, the people had no other recourse than to consider him an enemy, and they accordingly collected together under command of Capt. John Austin, and attacked and captured the fort, the whole garrison capitulating, not, say the memorialists, to rebels, but the national forces of Santa Anna.
Adherance to principles of the Constitution of 1824. The memorialists then proceeded to lay down the principles by which the people of Texas are governed, and which, they think, justify the course they had pursued, and they conclude with solemn pledges to each other and to the people that they will continue to maintain their rights under the constitution of 1824.
Ayuntamiento of Nacogdoches. The declaration sets out by saying that they "had been overawed by the military commander, Col. Jose do las Piedras, until longer forbearance would have become a crime, by exposing to his unconstitutional wishes the lives, interests and peace of our fellow citizens." He had demanded that the militia should be placed under his command. He had called in and employed Indians in his meditated warfare upon their rights. He had insulted them (the Ayuntamiento) by saying he held Americans and Indians in the same estimation, and as standing on the same footing as colonists. The declaration concludes with an appeal to the people to rally in defense of their rights, and pledges the Ayuntamiento to stand by them.
Declaration of the Ayuntamiento of Liberty. The Liberty ayuntamiento justified their resistance to the tyranny of Bradburn on the following grounds: 1st. His stationing among the people numerous garrisons composed of the vilest military convicts, who were guilty of habitual Pilfering, robberies and depredations. 2nd. His arrest of Madero, the legally constituted commissioner, to put the Colonists into possession of their lands. 3rd. His wanton seizure and appropriation to his own use of the private property of the citizens. 4th. The arrest and imprisonment by trial, and solely for the gratification of his animosities. The abrogation of the town of Liberty, and the dissolution of the Ayuntamiento by military edict, and the establishment of the town of Anahuac, subject to his own control. 6th. The verbal condemnation, by the same commandant, of the citizens to labor at the public works, and the infliction of this infamous sentence in divers instances. 7th. the incarceration of citizens merely for words spoken, said to have been disrespectful to himself. 8th. His interference in the civil government, forbidding the holding of legal elections under pains and penalties, and ordering elections on his own authority.
Austin Letter concerning the Bexar Remonstrance. The following letter contains Stephen F. Austin's remarks on the development of the Bexar Remonstrance, which he may have had a large hand in composing, and its importance to the unity of Texas in 1832:
AUSTIN TO SAMUEL M. WILLIAMS
Summary of the Bexar Remonstrance from Memoirs for the History of the Wars in Texas by General Vicente Filisola (Second in Command to Santa Anna). Summary of Circular Letter from the Council of Bexar to the city councils of the Department, Bexar, December 21, 1832, pp. 261-281:
A commission of two members from the group and four from outside has drawn up a petition to the state legislature. This had been approved by the council and citizens' meeting, and copies are to be circulated to all the city councils of the Department so that if they approve they may so advise the legislature. Petition sent to the city council of Austin, December 21, 1832: Since Bexar five other towns have been founded plus three additional military establishments in over a century. Only three remain, and this is because of savages, hunger and pestilence. Neglect by those who govern are in large part responsible. Since 1821, ninety seven men have been killed by Indians in addition to those killed in campaign. Other places have suffered even more. With civil war there has been little help, and in Texas there are only seventy men under arms, and they must support themselves. There is much evidence to support these statements, and there are several other annoyances since Texas has been a part of the State of Coahuila and Texas. Settlers have six years to cultivate and occupy allotted lands, but cannot dispose of them until they are in total cultivation. If they were granted in any other legal manner, they could sell or transfer by other means. There is no single inducement to provide settlement of Mexicans. A parcel of land is set at 300 pesos in Texas and 15 in Coahuila; because of resistance to emigration to Texas from fear of living there with limited capital there would be few who could pay. Also one fourth of the amount is demanded immediately. The law prohibits the immigration of North Americans, but there are no troops to watch over it. Honorable men with capital and industry are stopped because of the law, but adventurers and felons have come in any way. Likewise, many Indians expelled from the U.S. have crossed the Sabine with no one to stop them. It is difficult to dislodge them or to bring them under our laws. Those who came before this law have within seven or eight years been provided with a comfortable living. We regret to say that blankets, hats and even shoes have been begged from the interior, but with the North American colonists these resources have been provided. Also they furnish the best means of controlling the Indians. This can only be accomplished by bringing in enthusiastic men who are skilled in dealing with Indians. These advantages are not possessed by any other of the European nations who wish to colonize. The opening of direct roads from Texas ports to New Mexico and even Chihuahua would bring enormous benefit. It would give direct communication from all northern Mexico to the state of Missouri in the U.S. They could also easily achieve a prosperous good fortune with the fertile lands, pleasant climate, abundant game and beautiful pelts and fishing. There is no question but that the lack of a concerned government with the necessary measures has been and will continue to be the source of our sufferings. During two legislatures in four years nothing has been done to give Texas some separate government. It must be noted that this lack of action is due to sectionalism in the capital against all the towns they characterize as "frontier." This municipality speaks for a free people that resents the endless vexations. It asks for a part in reworking the laws since the most informed persons cannot have more knowledge than the people of Texas because of their topographical knowledge and eight years or more of practice. The complete implementation should be delayed for from four to six months for the careful examination by the city councils. The pact between Coahuila and Texas should never have been made. There is not, nor has there ever been, a government in Texas. Educated men of the frontier lack even books for study. Nacogdoches is 350 leagues from the capital, and the nearest adviser is 200 leagues distant. There are often involuntary delays. The tasks of the alcalde are very onerous, and those who can, refuse them. Those selected are of mediocre quality. There should be judges of record and public notaries and also interpreters for Spanish, and English criminal trials and civil ones where possible should be decided by juries. The commanding general of these States stopped the functioning of the commission given to Francisco Madero by the supreme government in order to gain control of the people between the San Jacinto and the Trinity Rivers. He even passed sentence on Madero in Anahuac. The Anahuac commander Colonel Davis Bradburn had caused the formation of another council in Anahuac itself. After an exchange of communications with the minister of relations the Texas representatives were expelled from the assembly without cause against the will of all the towns of the Department and almost all the others of the State. The constitution was violated, and the towns of Texas were insulted. The failure to appoint an inspector for the civilian militia of the State is impossible to assess. Whenever these men leave their homes they should receive a decent wage, but this has not been so. The State has provided no funds for school construction but has only passed laws. The councils are expected to pay out of the school allowance. The people of B6xar have had to provide the miserly sum of twenty-five pesos for a primary teacher. This is what is supposed to provide a foundation for the best civil and moral virtues. The prohibition of retail trade to non-native Mexicans was not made for Coahuila-Texans by adoption. According to the latest statistics on population Texas should have four representatives. These towns have never been able to achieve anything with only two deputies.
Texas was granted the right to divide itself into two districts, but
the legislature near its close has not deigned to resolve this matter. Also Texas was
given seven years of exemption from duties, but with all the delays only a few months
remained for those to be in force. Foreign merchants and some Mexicans have discontinued
trade to Texas, and this has meant a loss in population and resources. The new settlements
of Anihuac and others have been lost to the federation; not one Mexican has remained.
Delays granted to Powers and Hewitson have not been able to bring in a single family. The
legislature alone is responsible for this delay, and this should be remedied. This
petition deserves attention and foresight. The following articles sum up this point of
General Vicente Filisola's Comments on the Bexar Remonstrance and State of Texas in 1832 (Memoirs for the History of the Wars in Texas by General Vicente Filisola (Second in Command to Santa Anna). The foregoing events have indeed proven, and in a very bitter manner, how ill thought out and absurd were the reasons that were alleged in the above petition by the Bexar council, how unfounded and tactless were the provisions that were requested, and how malicious and evil were the objectives that they disguised. An attempt was also made to lead the congress in this direction because of a fatal error into which the councilmen had been led by cunning men who had treacherously taken advantage of their good faith and lack of experience.
They had no other purpose than to implicate them in their cause through the infamous trick of finding themselves delinquent, or at least suspicious in the eyes of the higher authorities of the State and even of the nation, and dragging the others down through the same necessity of escaping punishment. This leads them later little by little into the pain of rebellion as happened afterwards, with the notable circumstances that they were some of the first victims, as must generally happen, and the lesson of which should never be forgotten in similar cases. But since those of Texas had never had occasion to learn it, and day by day the maneuvers of the plotters were more calculated and more venturesome, opinion generalized in their favor among many of the natives of the country and among the honorable and industrious colonies that were among the rest, and particularly in the districts of Nacogdoches, Liberty, Gonzalez, Goliad and Bexar. If indeed they did desire that the territory be organized as an independent State, they wished to bring it about by the rules laid down by the Constitution, and in no way by means of a revolution, just as there did not enter into their innocent aspirations that of separating from the nation, whose protection and support they wanted because it was beneficial, more advantageous and absolutely necessary. his same declaration, or another in its place, was also sent to the general congress, asking that the territory of Texas be organized into a State in the federation since it had the eighty thousand inhabitants required by the constitution, since its interests were in absolute opposition to those of the State of Coahuila, and were ill provided for because of the large number of Coahuilans of which it was made up; because Texas itself needed to provide for its necessary and urgent defense against the savages who were constantly attacking them, and they demanded for their better well being to have their own energetic government. But the general congress, seeing through the true aims of this petition, and finding it devoid of foundation and false in the data that were cited in it, disallowed it to the despair of their authors and of Don Stephen Austin, who for the purpose of supporting it had been back in the capital from the end of 1832 to the beginning of 1833.
Thus it was that from that time on those settlements remained in a state of absolute independence, although those in charge pretended a respect and loyalty that they never felt toward the central government. This ridiculous fiction must have been all the more insulting and criminal in that they did not again permit the stationing there, much less the existence, of any public office. Rather they destroyed and burned those that there were and the forts and quarters, stealing at the same time all the materials that belonged to the nation and to its troops. They carried their insolent boldness to such an extent that they beat and tarred and feathered officers of the army, treasury employees, and some private citizens, as well as any Mexicans that had the misfortune to remain among them, either because of their interests, illness or other similar reasons. In addition to harming them in every way possible, they treated them with grossly insulting scorn as if they were dealing with their slaves. They did not govern themselves otherwise than by the laws of the United States of North America or those of their own fancy. To perpetuate these and to exercise them to the fullest, they tried to attract there all the adventurers that came their way and to provide themselves with arms and ammunition in order to be prepared to commit all kinds of aggression against the country and to continue their smuggling in the most open and insolent manner. With their own people they infiltrated all the departments of the frontier and of the interior of the Republic, even to the extreme of the barbarians' taking part in the traffic of Negro slaves, in spite of the fact that this was prohibited by the general congress and disapproved of by the generous and compassionate nature of the whole Mexican nation. Such for the Texans was the period that came to an end with year 1832.