Archival Correspondence Regarding George Fisher 2
Stephen F. Austin to Wily
Martin 30 May 1833, Matamoros.
The Com. Gen'l Filisola, is a blunt, honest, candid and prompt soldier. He has been over thirty years in service; has been Com. Gen'l. at various times, with important powers entrusted to him and what is rather uncommon, he has not made a fortune. His principles are liberal and republican, and he wishes that the practice of all the authorities should conform with the true spirit of the Constitution and the laws. Says that there is a great want of moral honesty, and great abuses in the revenue. He is the friend of the farming and agricultural interests-a decided enemy of smugglers and lawyers, for he thinks they demoralize the community by placing temptations before weak or avaricious persons etc. He will be unpopular with all who wish to make money by evading the law. He thinks well of the idea of making a State of Texas, and has a good opinion of the Colonists in general, but believes they have more enemies amongst themselves than any where else. The reason he thinks so is, that he says a quiet and prudent course is the best for them and a rigid adherence to all the laws, so long as they are in force, etc. They are gaining yearly, and the republican principles they have been accustomed to, are also gaining all over the nation, so that a little patience will place all right without any difficulty etc. He has orders to reestablish the custom house and garrisons, and is compelled to do so. The former will be done, the latter, probably not until fall; and I am of opinion not to the extent then that was contemplated a month ago.
Geo. Fisher goes back as collector. I assure you that he is now a new man, it is the interest of the country to sustain him, and I request my friend, that you will unite in support of what I recommended on this, and all other matters in my letter to the Ayuntamientos. The quantity of tobacco that has been smuggled from the ports of Texas, has made a great noise all over the nation, and the violation of the custom house laws in Texas, are made a pretext for similar violations elsewhere. The enemies of Santa Anna are making a areat handle of these Texas matters to injure him and destroy his popularity. They say he has lost Texas, and is the cause of the destruction of the public property there, the ruin of the forts, and the insults which it is reported the Mexicans have received there, etc.; and that he is now unwilling or unable or afraid to punish such acts of outrage, etc. Much is said by his enemies on the subject.
I am told that Santa Anna and his friends are very much enraged at the colonists, and blames them for the Anahuac expedition; says they had some cause to complain, but they went to work in so headlong and passionate a manner to get redress, that they placed themselves in a worse situation than they were before, because they put weapons in the hands of their enemies, and injured. and mortified their friends.
Amongst other things, it is reported that there are a number of American Generals in Texas, who are inflaming the people against the Mexicans, and that the common talk is about independence, fighting, and abuse of the Mexicans, etc. It is also reported that the alcalde and the ayuntamientos of Austin treat the State authorities with contempt, and do not even acknowledge the receipt of the official correspondence, and never pretend to answer it, or comply with the laws. Amongst so many rumors and lies, it is not to be expected that I should escape. It is reported that I was the author of the Anahuac expedition, and of all John Austin's acts. The Santa Anna party are irritated at that expedition for they say it put the current in motion and was the cause of all that passed. I am told I shall be roughly received by Santa Anna at first. This I do not believe, for nothing could be more unjust than to accuse me of being the author of that expedition. However, all this can be corrected and. placed on its true basis by a statement of facts; for I believe the irritation has proceeded more from the handle or pretext it gives the enemies of Santa Anna to abuse him, than from a belief that there was no cause for complaint.
You could not have a correct idea of how matters stood, unless you were informed of all these reports and sayings, and for this reason I have mentioned them.
I think it best to harmonize with the State commissioners so far as it can be done, without yielding the principle of a State Government.
I am told that Coahuila would consent to the separation if the money now due for land a1ready granted was secured to Coahuila they say that Texas has paid nothing as yet, to defray the expenses of the State etc. For my part, so far as I am interested as a citizen of Texas, I am willing to yield this point and to pay to Coahuila all that is or may be due for all land where titles are actually issued. This would not include the floating eleven league tracts not located, nor lands in colonizing contracts not settled, but would only embrace all where the possession was actually given and the title issued before the final separation.
That money is a mere trifle compared to getting a State, and I can assure you it will be very difficult to get a State without the consent of Coahuila, and very easy to get it with her consent. I merely make the suggestion to you of harmonizing as much as possible with Coahuila, for if the State Government should apply to the General Government, or to the other States for aid to inforce its laws in Texas, the General Government would hardly dare to refuse it in the present critical state of things. The general congress has adjourned and probably will not meet again until January next, so that my trip to Mexico was rendered measurably useless, and having been very much debilitated by a dysentery, or Cholarina, that is prevailing here,, I had concluded at one time to postpone my trip for the present and I forwarded the memorial to the President through the commandant General by mail, so as to remove the bad impressions that existed in Mexico. I have this day heard of a vessel that is unexpectedly to be sent to Vera Cruz, the schooner Comet, and I shall embark on board of her and take the stage from Vera Cruz to Mexico. I am illy calculated at this time to stand the trip by land, and I believe that it would lay me up in this hot, dry country perhaps for the whole summer.
Nothing definite can be done about the State question, until Congress meets in January, unless there should be a called session, and they are always convened for special objects, and by the constitution nothing can be done in them but the special objects for which they are convened. So that all I can do is to talk with the President and Ministers and correct lies and false reports etc., and pave the way. I think I shall return in August, but if it appears to be necessary for me to remain until January, I shall do so.
The basis of my policy, so far as I had any thing to do with Texas matters, up to last July the time when I returned and found all in confusion, was this-never to put the interests of the settlers at hazard, and to rely more upon the regular and natural progress of things for remedies, than upon efforts to force them prematurely.
The settlers have earned what they have got too hard, and by too many years of hard labor and privation, to jeopardize all hastily-a war with the nation will be ruinous to them, for they will be destroyed and overwhelmed, eaten up by those who come from abroad to aid them in fighting their battles. They have more to dread from such friends, and from Indians, than from the whole Mexican nation. Had I been an ambitious military leader, the reverse of this would have been my policy, and I would have aroused and led on the settlers, and inflamed them into a war and then made use of them (as all military leaders do of the people) to build up my own fame as a chieftain, success would have deceived the most of them and made me a great man, nominally. For I think that true greatness consists in doing the most good, and not in acquiring the most fame when I entered Texas I laid it down as a fixed rule of action, to conquer that country with the axe, the plough and the hoe. Silently and gradually my ambition was to benefit all, and make use of none as mere instruments to build up myself and a few chosen band of leaders. Every military leader must of necessity be surrounded by a set of leeches, who must be kept fat, and whose ambition must be gratified, and whims satisfied. All this is done by using the people as tools, or rather as food to glut upon.
I am the friend of farmers. The plough is my favorite weapon for conquest, and I am not the friend of the useless dupes in society. I look upon the most of military and professional men as useless. I speak in general of the masses as we find them. Also, I have pursued concilliation as a system; both in the colony and out of it. I did so because a small spark kindles a great flame, and such flames always injure the farmers and working classes. Besides this, a child is easier destroyed in a conflict than a full grown man. My policy has displeased the ardent spirits in my colony, but I still think it was the correct one; and I see no necessity for abandoning it and adopting the reverse as a basis. Though, if it is abandoned, I shall go into the opposite extreme, and adhere to it as fully, and as obstinately, as I have to the system of concilliation, and perhaps much more so than some of those who are easily excited, and talk much about, fighting. Upon the whole, I think we have all got along wonderfully well, considering all things; and I have the fullest confidence in the most favorable results.
I have been adverse to the principle of slavery in Texas. I have now, and for the last six months, changed my views of that matter; though my ideas are the same as to the abstract principle. Texas must be a slave country. Circumstances and unavoidable necessity compels it. It is the wish of the people there, and it is my duty to do all I can, prudently, in favor of it. I will do so. I think the General will send on Fisher with a few men by land. He is compelled to re-establish the customhouses, and I advised him to rely on the colonists to enforce the revenue laws. I am of opinion decidedly, that if Fisher's reports are favorable, there will riot be any garrisons sent to Texas except on the frontiers.
It would take a sheet or two of paper to tell you the extent of the injury that was done to all Texas by the departure of Dudor [Duclor] from Brazoria.1 He was a Santa Anna officer. When I look back, I am really mortified at some things. In the first excitement at Brazoria, Samuel Sawyer was a leader, and a great man-a right-hand man of J. B. McKinstre. Also, in Matagorda bay, one John Colbourne, who was concerned in the Boston packet, took a part in insulting the customhouse. Now, this Colbourne went to Mexico and cheated Mr. Parrot, an American merchant out of $3500, by a forged draft in company with Girard. And yet the farmers were ready to fight all Mexico to favor the smuggling operations of such miserable scoundrels. Mr. McKinstre was the principal cause of Dudor's [Duclor's] leaving Brazoria, and he has done as much harm to Texas as any man in it. If the industrious men of the country will suffer themselves to be made the mere tools of peddling traders and hot-brained madmen, they will deserve to suffer. Fisher ought to be sustained, and I hope all the past will be totally forgotten. See John Austin on this subject. As to Fisher, the fact is there were faults all round, on both sides. Farewell. S. F. Austin.
Austin to John Austin 31 May
Austin to Oliver Jones and
Others 31 May 1833 Matamoros.
Austin to Samuel M.
Williams 31 May 1833 Matamoros.
Austin to Samuel M. Williams 31 May 1833 Matamoros.
Austin to McNeil and Woodson 31
Austin to Fisher 15 Jan
Fisher to R.M. Williamson 5
Editorial by George Fisher,
Mercurio de Matamoros. 11 Dec 1834. Lamar Papers no. 191.
Where is then this Scandalous contraband trade, which is carried on with impunity in the Northern Ports, which has caused these energetic measures on the part of the supreme Government, with which the Editors of the Telegraph [Mexican government ministerial paper] are traducing the good name of the inhabitants of the eastern internal States, saying: "that there are Mexicans who are affording them assistance and cooperation," and menacing us with strong measures, and severe publishments [punishments]?--What Kind of punishments have the Gentlemen of the Telegraph decreed for us, and which they expect very shortly, founding their hopes in the wisdom of the next Congress?--Will it perhaps be the closing of the Northern Ports, a sit was projected by the memorable Chabinet [cabinet] of 1831, in order to do away with this measure all the lawful trade, to prevent those of Durango, Chihuagua, a part of the Western States and the territory of New Mexico to retrograde to the degrading colonial sistem of the Monarch of both Spains and the Indies, and to give to Vera Cruz and Acapulco the ascendancy of priviledged Ports, with the exclusive monopoly of the transmarine trade, permitting them the annual introduction of the fleet of their vessels; and drawing a formidable wall, like unto the Chinese, upon this frontier between us and the neighboring nation? God forbid, that thus should happen, because the people of these States has already enjoyed for a considerable time the benefits of a free trade derived from a federal system of Government by their Ports being declared Ports of Entry for foreign trade, to remain cold spectators of such unwarranted attempt, with equal rights in the Eye of the Law.and could it be called Equallity, that of being compelled to supply their wants with goods, wares and Merchandize imported exclusively by those two privileged Ports, when nature herself has destined for the transmarine trade, the Rivers, Bays, Inlets, and Harbors, of the vastly extended coast from Panuco to the Sabine, for the better advantage to the people of the Coaliated Northern States of our Confederation, thus affording them through abundance, cheapness?Could there be a greater absurdity than that of presuming, that a Sea Port is to be closed with a Sheet of Paper [The Telegraph]? as it was contemplated to be done by the 11th article of the Odious Law of 6th April 1830, relative to foreigners emigrating to Texas---what good has the Law produced, and what were its consequences?---We have seen them already, an appeal for grievances against the Government, by armed forces, and can we expect anything else, from an attempt to reduce us to a Colonial state, as we have already described!
Therefore we would advise our contemporaries of the Telegraph to reflect for themselves and to prescind from deprecating erroneously against this frontier, without evidence or foundation, and not to slander us, and much less to threaten us, with severe punishments, but to follow, with those to whom in the 4th Number of our paper we recommended the Missions of our Motto [Concordia res parvae crescunt---Discordia maximae dilabuntur] adding then that "Alieno in loco, hand Habile Regnum est." The Sovereignth over remote Regions, is precarious. (Trans. by the Editor)
Whatever the causes might have been, that induced the Supreme Government to put the said vessels of war in Commission upon the Coast, does not behoove to us to investigate for the present, because we consider the measure of high policy, is nevertheless praiseworthy, because by its means the unfortunate remainder of our worthy navy is employed, of this Strong arm of our national Independence, which has fought with valor and enthusiasm. for our liberties in 1828---let the Castles of Morro and Cabanas of Havana speak for it.---which we desire to be patronized in preference to the formidable Army now organizing in every part of our Country, and shut into Cantonments in various directions, according to the tenor of said Editorial, which measure in our opinion is unnecessary in a Republic, if we are to have one "de facto, et de jure" because we have no internal enemies to combat, but are not without external ones, against whose invasion we require a Navy and when the time shall have arrived to oppose resistance to Slavery, and in the hour of danger of losing our liberties by an interior tyrant [Santa Anna, at that time usurping the power, in defiance of the Laws and the Constitution, and organizing the army, to disarm the militia of the Country, preparatory to the centralizing the GovernmentNote in document], there will not be a Mexican, freeman who will not fly to arms; therefore a formidable standing army in a Republic is unnecessary, and the Military Calender by which the divers Corps of the army of the Mexican Nation are designated and distinguished is improper for the age we live in---There are Batallions of Ximines, of Hidalgo, of Aldama, of Abersolo, of Matamoros &c; and Regiments of Vera Cruz, of Tampico, of Jalapa, there might likewise be, and perhaps there will be in time Batallions of Tamaulipas, or Texas, of New Leon, &e: similar to [those] of Castillo, of Navarra, of Leon (Old) of Zaragosa, and finally of the Crown, of the Queen, of St Charles, of St Peter the Apostle, and of St Anthony the Abbott or of Carnid, of St Francis, and of St Ferdinand- This Mode of Clasifying the army, is similar to the rage of changing the names of the Cities, towns and villages of a Country, thus destroying its Geography, and Carrying into perpetual oblivion all that is beautiful, heroic, and worthy of remembrance in the history of the Revolutions of a Country which by great efforts and Sacrifices has emerged from a state of Slavery, and the very names of the Corps and places which by their heroic actions have distinguished themselves are lost.---In our humble opinion there is no more appropriate mode of designating the divers Corps of an Army than by their corresponding numeration.--- What would have done a Xerxes, a Darius, an Alexander the Great a Julius Caesar, or a Napoleon, with the establishment of a Military Calender? all the Saint of the Gregorian would not have sufficed, to designate the Corps of their Armies.
1. Sir-I received your favor of 5th inst. making inquiry whether I had
sent you a copy of my "Exposition,"' and you suspected one had been purloined in
the Post Office of that place which had been directed to you. I think it probable your
suspicion is will founded, for I sent one to you, one to the Ayuntamiento, and one to
Smith. I now send you another copy which I hope will reach.
1. Dear Sir-Your favor of the 31st ult is before, us, and we preceed to answer it with that frankness which is characteristic both of you and ourselves.
2. We thought proper to call your attention in our No. 20th of 19th ult., which we did accordingly, to the re-organization of the Presidial Troops of which they stand so much in need, for the security of the frontiers settlements against the incursions of the savages,-not because we would, even for a moment, be led to believe that you would overlook a matter of so much importance, but for the simple reason that [illegible] does not depend entirely upon your attributes, whilst you have not the necessary means to attend to their wants, which [illegible] present are noted. This very reason has marked us our out duty to call likewise the attention of the Supreme Government, in an indirect manner, as it were, to this point, with a view to induce it to use its exertions in placing and preserving the Presideal Troops on a footing, to enable them to fulfil the objects of their institution. In regard to details we are convinced of your zeal, and it is pleasing to us to make it manifest.
3. You observe to us, General, that meantime that object is effected, "there is nothing more urgent than that of not diverting the attention of the Supreme Government with odious and noisy questions which might disturb the public peace," &c., &c. We confess it to you, Sir, without blushing, that we do not comprehend the true meaning, of those phrases, nor how they could be applied to our humble productions. You, sir, who peruse all our papers. will have perceived that they contain ideas upon general matters, which never can be characterised, justly, as those vices you have designated.
4. The public peace having been disturbed by Vital Fernandez, and Lojero. has given us cause to express, with energy our indignation for the aberrations and iniquity of those men, who attempted to reduce the people of this state to a horde of slaves. We could not have omitted doing so without degrading our dignity as Men, and without violating our duty as public writers, and prompted by both of those principles are determined not to recede a step in the career we have commenced. It this then, General. is what you include in what you are pleased to call, "odious questions," it is indispensable to continue them,-calling the attention of the Government towards them, until the remedy is obtained. In such circumstances as those, in which Tamaulipas is placed, being only a subject to the insolence of a Tyrant, there are but two ways left for her to pursue. * * * * *,You know them both, and you see, that the worst one against tyranny has not been adopted, a remonstrance has been made to the Government, and as yet the people have not resorted to extremity.
5. This state, without contradiction, is content with a moderate liberty, and has neither a said, not wanted, any thing more: it respects the laws and the [illegible] authorities, but at this time it is not known where the one or the other exists. The funcitionary who breaks the law, destroys the titles to his authority, and wherewithal does he pretend to continue it? The acts of Don Vital Fernandez -those of the Legislature dictated by him-those of so many other magistrates, who are acting in concern with the one calling himself Governor, and the resolutions of the Legislative club-can they be called and considered as acts of the Laws? and, notwithstanding all this, do the people of Tamaulipas not obey them? contenting themselves to remonstrate to the General Government, in a manner which proves that this people, the most mild upon the face of the earth, not only desire a moderate liberty, but have even the patience to tolerate the most onerous tyranny enthroned in their very bosom.
6. In order not to divert you from your important we labors, General, with thanking you much for the favorable opinion with which you honor us,--assuring you that we will always, for the benefit of a people for whom we may write, inculcate ideas that will make them great and respectable. With sentiments of highest consideration, we are General, Your obedient Servants, Geo. Fisher, For himself and the Editors of the "Mercurio de Matamoros."
Guerra to Fisher 6 Sep 1835
And I transcribe the same to you for your information and compliance; assigning you the time of six days to leave this City, in quest of a vessel in which to leave this Republic as decreed by the Supreme Government. Matamoros, 6th September, 1835. God and Liberty. Josť Mariano Guerra, Principal Commandant To Mr. Geo. Fisher A true translation of the original Spanish, in my possession. Geo. Fisher
1. The enthusiasm displayed by our fellow citizens at the meeting last evening in favor of the people of Texas, deserves the highest commendation. The meeting was intended to be only a preparatory one, consisting of the immediate friends of the Texians; and so soon as the hour arrived, the Committee Room was thronged with an anxious audience.
2. William Christy, Esq. was called to the Chair, and James Ramage, appointed Secretary; after which a Committee was nominated to draft resolutions. During the retirement of the Committee, Messrs. Fisher and Gustavus Schmidt addressed the meeting.
3. Mr. Fisher stated that he had recently been exiled from Mexico. He had formerly been a citizen of the United States, but had resided for ten years in Mexico, where he had formed extensive connections, mercantile and otherwise. He had lately edited a journal in Matamoros; but in consequence of having made some free remarks on passing events, he was ordered to leave Mexico in six days. He stated that there are three parties at present in Mexico-one composed of the Clergy and Military, who are for a consolidated Government under a Triumvirate form, with Santa Anna, Bravo, and Lucas Alaman, at its head-another composed of Liberals; who desire to retain the federal Republic, as fixed by the Constitution of 1824, and a third, in favor of Monarchy and for placing a scion of the House of Bourbon on the throne of Mexico. He stated that the aristocratic party are resolved to subjugate Texas at all hazards, and to expel all Americans from that State; and that the Liberal party are as firmly resolved to sustain the Texians, if they sustain the Constitution of 1824-which is now the pivot of the contest between the opposing parties. If Texas prove victorious then will republicanism and constitutionality triumph in Mexico; but if Texas is worsted, then a despotic rule will be substituted. He entered, also, into particulars, concerning the present invasion of Texas, and showed that it has long been contemplated by Santa Anna-although he had before expected to postpone it till the commencement of next year. He stated that ere Gen'l Cos went to San Antonio, he took large sums of money from the Custom House of Matamoros, but that he will soon fail of ways and means in the interior of the Country, and that the invaders must prove a prey to the DARING TEXIANS.
4. Mr. Schmidt also eloquently advocated the cause of the people of Texas, in support of the resolutions which were proposed by Mr. O. de A. Santangelo.
The Committee returned and through Mr. Caldwell, they presented the following resolutions to the meeting: [Here follow seven Resolutions, In favor of the cause of Texas. ] A true extract of the publication in the "'New Orleans Bee" of 14th October, 1835. Geo. Fisher
SONS OF DEWITT