OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
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Samuel Rhoads Fisher | Republic of Texas | David Burket-Index
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Samuel Rhoads Fisher
1830 | 1831-1835 | 1836-1838
Austin to Royall and Fisher 7 Jan 1836
New Orleans, January 7, 1836. Messrs. R. R. Royall and S. Rhoads Fisher. Dear Sirs: I am happy to inform you that the cause of Texas and of liberty stands very high in this city and all over the United States. The spirit of the people is aroused by the evident justice of our cause, and they will sustain us. The universal wish and expectation in this quarter is that Texas ought to declare herself independent at once. I have always been cautious and unwilling to involve the pioneers and actual settlers of Texas in anything like precipitation. As to the right of Texas to declare herself absolutely independent, I have no doubt; none can possible exist; but, when I left home, I was not fully satisfied that we should be sufficiently sustained. Information received here has satisfied me on this subject. The people of Texas in future need not hesitate to declare independence, from any doubts about being sustained; and, as for myself, I am willing to go into the measure, and believe we ought to do it without delay. At the last accounts Santa Anna had left Mexico and was rapidly marching on to Texas. He had reached San Luis Potosi. S. F. Austin
Fisher to Public Jan 1836
To The People of Texas Fellow-Citizens,---I am well aware, that in times, whether of civil commotion or international strife, it Is not only important, but highly impolitic, and even culpable, to divert the public mind from graver subjects, by an open and public appeal in defence of individual character; yet convinced of the prevailing opinion as to the sacredness of private reputation, I unhesitatingly, though respectfully, place before you the. following declarations and facts. I am the more decidely persuaded to make this defence, from the fact of having received through a highly authentic and respectable source, an extract from the Governor's message, accompanied by a letter in relation to the affair of the schooner Hannah Elizabeth, penned and directed by J. W. Fannin, jr., to the Governor and Council of Texas. My wish is to meet the false imputations they contain. If I succeed in the effort, my most anxious hopes and exertions will be amply gratified and rewarded: therefore, I submit to your candid and impartial examination, the following statement of the facts, with the accompanying proof, the witnesses being those whose names are attached.
Matagorda, December 17, 1835. To the Honorable the Provisional Government of Texas. Gentlemen,---I had this honor, under date of 2d instant, and shall give you below, an extract, and then proceed with the leading facts relative to the schooner William Robbins. Sometime early in November last, we, understood that our coast was blockaded by one or two Mexican armed vessels, and the Committee of Safety of this jurisdiction considered it important that a vessel should immediately be armed and equipped, to attack and drive them off. The schooner William Robbins was at that time in this bay, and by a resolution of this committee, Ira R. Lewis, Esq., and myself were appointed to negotiate the hire or purchase with her captain and owner, William Watlington, who, however, positively declined making any other disposition of her than that of a sale. This, then, we were compelled to do, and the price was thirty-five hundred dollars. She was then placed under the command of captain Hurd, and considered a government vessel. From a former conversation with T. F. McKinney, Esq., I was induced to believe that a draft on his house would be accepted, on behalf of the public; and in accordance with that belief, I gave my exchange as chairman of the committee, in virtue of a resolution of the body, to captain Watlington for the amount, taking a bill of sale, and holding the register; and in order further to satisfy captain Watlington that he would be paid, the following named gentlemen entered into a written obligation to hold themselves individually responsible to captain Watlington or his assigns, to the amount respectively affixed to their names, to wit: Howard and Fleury $800; Robert H. Boyce 300; S. Rhoads Fisher 500; Ira R. Lewis 500; J. E. Robertson 200; S. B. Brigham & Co 500; George Wheelright 100; $3500 Making the amount of money specified above.
On Thursday, the 19th ult. at night, information was received in this town, that a vessel, supposed to be an American, had been driven on shore at Passo Cavallo, pursued by a Mexican armed vessel; and early the next morning, a number of our fellow-citizens embarked on board the William Robbins, a small schooner, commanded by captain W. A. Hurd, armed and equipped to repel the enemy, or afford such assistance as the case might require. On the evening of the 21st, we came to anchor off the pilot house, at the pass, and having sent a boat ashore, ascertained that the Mexican vessel had been driven by the north winds to sea, but that the American vessel was in possession of a prize crew. The volunteers, to the number of about twenty, were immediately landed under my command, where we augmented our force to twenty-three, besides captain Hurd and his crew, I think three in number. A list of the names of the volunteers, with their temporary rank, is appended, and numbered
1. On presenting ourselves, the prize master, a lieutenant of the Bravo, as he states, and not the Montezuma, delivered his sword, and surrendered himself and men as prisoners of war. The total number was twelve, one of whom, from exposure consequent on drunkenness, has since died. After taking the vessel, it was necessary for all hands to turn to and discharge her cargo: this was effected in part with great difficulty, exposure and labor; and the remainder had to be left in consequence of the vessel having rotted out her masts in the breakers, I think on the night of the 23d ult., and ripped up her deck. Captain Hurd then proposed that the part of the cargo which was landed, should be taken to Matagorda, and there sold: it was objected to principally by one Peter Kerr, a passenger on board, and who claimed a large amount of goods, although he produced no bills of lading as evidence: he wished them sold on the spot that he might purchase. Partly in compliance with his wishes, and partly from the impracticability of getting them to town for the want of lighters, captain Hurd agreed to it, not knowing how soon the Bravo or her boats might return, it was considered most prudent to sell the goods without delay, as each individual purchaser be at the risk. Captain Hurd then ordered the sale of each, (the usual mode of proceeding in such cases,) but as it was not presumed our fellow-citizens were prepared with the money he agreed to take their notes, payable on demand, or when they should arrive in town. However, before the sale commenced, Mr. Kerr, who seemed more like a crazy than a sane man, begged captain Hurd that. his property might not be sold, but that he would, in lieu thereof, pay as salvage, fifty per cent, on the invoice cost: to this captain Hurd also agreed, provided the assemblage were willing; and at Mr. Kerr's request, I made his proposal public. It was acceded to, and captain Hurd then gave Mr. Kerr permission to select what It claimed and roll it on one side, and to take it under his own charge: the quantity and invoice cost, as furnished me by himself, will be found annexed, numbered
2. Mr. Cazeneau, the auctioneer, then commenced the sale; and at the close, captain Hurd publicly appointed me his agent: the bills were all made out, and the notes drawn in that manner. As the hull of the vessel, her spars, sails, &c., together with a small portion of the cargo, remained unsold, it was considered most prudent to close the business and sell the vessel, tackling, &c., with her contents, as she lay; it was so done publicly and regularly. Each individual took such care of his own property as he could, and then returned to town: we were absent about eleven days. These, gentlemen, are the facts, and can be substantiated. I cannot refrain from observing that, it appears to me, the capture of the Hannah Elizabeth by the boat of the Bravo, was the result of the most shameful cowardice; and here furnish you a statement given me by Don Mateo. He says, "the Hannah Elizabeth had on board fifteen Americans and five Mexicans, besides a woman; three cannon upon deck, mounted, two sixes and a four; eighteen kegs of powder; two boxes of muskets, rifles, and other arms; and that about 7 P.M., he boarded her in the breakers with one boat and twelve men, himself included; not a gun was fired nor the least resistance made; indeed, that they thrown the cannon, powder, and arms overboard. A number of the Americans and two of the Mexicans, were taken on board the Bravo; the Mexicans were J. M. J. Carbajal, and Fernando de leon." Allow me to advise you that I have, under date of 6th. inst., addressed Mr. Royall a member of your honorable body, partly on this subject, requesting him to communicate the same, but fearing the letter may have miscarried, (as the hurry of business, on the part of the government, has prevented their establishing a mail route to this place,) I will offer you the extract
Ere this, I should have sent the government a full detail of all the proceedings connected with the re-capture of the Hanna Elizabeth, as taken down at the time, and the information received from the prize-master, Don Mateo, as written on the night of the capture, but it was left in possession of Mr. Catlett, who went round in the William Robbins, for the Brazos, to get an outfit, and has not yet returned. I would be pleased if you would communicate the same to the government. I was appointed agent by captain Hurd, for all whom it might concern, and shall therefore contend that she was a legal prize to the captors and to the government, who are owners of the vessel: the proportion belonging to them and the captors, the government itself will decide. I have a list of the names of all concerned, and their rank, and presume it will be settled according to the usages of the United States' navy. Let me also mention, that as Mr. Kerr did not pay any of the amount he agreed to, I left the property in the hands of Mr. Daniel Decrow, at the Pass, with instructions to deliver the same to him on his complying with his contract and own proposition; or to deliver him one half and return the other. We, the undersigned, having been at the Pass during the sale of the wrecked vessel Hannah Elizabeth, and the goods taken from her, do certify that the foregoing facts and statements are correct, and transpired principally in our presence and hearing, to the best of our knowledge and belief. L. H. W. Johnson. A. B. Fleury. Farnham Frye. Francis Desauque. James Harris. William L. Cazneau. Samuel B. Brigham. Thomas Stewart. Arthur Robertson. John L. Alford. Matagorda, January 11, 1835.
Having now, gentleman, communicated all the facts attending the purchase of the William Robbins, and the re-capture of the Hannah Elizabeth, I have the honor to submit them to you for your adjudication. Whether it be a question of salvage, or whether she be a legal prize, she is, undoubtedly, the property of the salvors or captors, and as such, I present myself to you as the agent of the party interested. Trusting you will give the subject your earliest attention, compatible with your many and arduous duties, I have the honor to be, with high respect, Your obedient servant, S. Rhoads Fisher.
Document No. 1 names of those who fell into the ranks, and marched under orders, on the 21st November, at the re-capture of the schooner Hannah Elizabeth, (an American vessel in the possession of a Mexican prize crew,) according to their respective rank, as far as organized. S. Rhoads Fisher, Captain, William P. Corbin, Lieutenant, L. H. W. Johnson, Surgeon, F. Desauque, Orderly, Thomas Stewart, Purser, William L. Cuzneau, F. Catlett, F. Frye, T. D. Dasher, Arthur Robertson, A. B. Fleury, Captain Watfington, James Harris, Robert H. Boyce, S. B. Brigham, E. Decrow, Dr. Alford, Benjamin Grayson, J. M. Shreeve, C. R. Sharpe, T. Robinson, --Sheldon, --Wilson, --Crookes, M. Morrison, Captain Dalton, Captain Hurd and crew, three in number.
Document No. 2 List of articles claimed by Peter Kerr. 100 barrels Flour, at $7.50 $750.00; 200 Bales Tobacco, at $7; $1400.00; 5 Casks Gin at 62.00; 5 do. Brandy 86.00; 22 Barrels Whiskey 243.00; $3541.00, 50 percent on which the amount he is to pay is 1270.50; Amount of sales per auctioneer's acct. and numbered 3 2843.83 $4114.33
Document No. 3. Account sales of the Cargo of the wreck of the schooner Hannah Elizabeth, sold for account of whom it may concern, per order of captain W. A. Hurd. Josiah Tilley, lot of buckets $2.50; A. Robertson, lot of castings 4.00; Dr. Alford, 3 kegs of lard 12.00; A. Robertson, 1 set wheels 30.00; J. M. Shreve, pd., 1 set wheels 28.00; Ditto ditto ditto 28.00; J. Tilley, 1 set wheels 23.50; B. Grayson. pd., stove 23.00; S.R.Fisher, pd., 1 carriage and harness 100.00; J. M. Shreeve, pd., 2 jars crockery 21.00; A. B. Fleury, 1 hogshead ditto 40.00; F. Desauque, 1 box shoes 22.00; A. Robertson, 1 box tin ware 10.00; J. E. Robertson, 1 plough 7.50; Mr. Crookes, 1 lot sundries 10.00; D. Decrow, 1 piece rope 4.00; J. E. Robertson, 3 boxes wine 13-00; A. B. Fleury, 1 box tea, and axes 15.50; Ditto 2 iron posts 6.00; R. H. Boyce, 1 lot champaign 30.00; Dr. Alford, 1 bag garlic 3.00; M. Morrison, 29 boxes soap 26.00; Dr. Johnson, 1 lot cassin 2.00; J. M. Shreve, pd., 1 box cheese 9.00; Ditto ditto 1 trunk Britannias 34.00; Ditto ditto ditto 43.00; R. H. Boyce, 1 trunk plantillas 51.00; A. Robertson, 2 trunks shoes 61.00; R. H. Boyce, 1 trunk platillas 49.00; T. Stewart, pd., 20 boxes soap 40.00; A. B. Fleury, patent balance & saw 10.00; R. H. Boyce, 5 boxes chocolate 11.50; J. M. Shreve, pd., 1 box dry goods 41.00; Capt. Watlington, 1 barrel whiskey 14.00; Mr. Desauque, 10 barrels sundries 62.00; E. Decrow, 7 kegs nails 8.00; J. E. Robertson, 3 barrels sundries 3.50; Dr. Johnson, 1 box medicines 28.00; J. M. Shreve, pd., 1 lot sundries 37.00; Mr. Harris, 8 barrels flour 59.00; T. Stewart, pd., 15 boxes wine 27.50; J. M. Shreve, pd., 14 boxes tobacco 170.00; Mrs. Desauque, 17 boxes soap 12-50; J.M. Shreve, pd., 1 hogshead sundries 31.00; J. M. Shreve, pd., 1 lot sundries 5.50; Mr. Crookes, 1 lot leather 9.50; A. Robertson, 1 box sugar 6.50; J. M. Shreve, pd., 1 box dry goods 250.00; A. B. Fleury, 1 trunk clothing and shoes 70.00; Mr. Sharpe, pd., 1 trunk boots 40.00; R. H. Boyce, 1 trunk brogans 50.00; Mr. Desauque, 6 bags coffee 62.00; Mr. Crooke, 1 box shoes., &c 32.50; J. M. Shreve, pd., 1 box dry goods 166.00; Ditto ditto ditto 175.00; Mr. Desauque, 1 box dry goods 270.00; T. Stewart, pd., 9 barrels flour 52.00; Mr. Harris, 1 plough 6.00; Mr. Grayson, pd., 8 barrels flour 34.00; Howard & Fleury, 1 jar crockery 10.00; Ditto 9 barrels flour 47.00; J. E. Robertson, 1 barrel liquor; 11.50; Kendrick & Alford, 1 iron pot 10.50; J. M. Shreve, pd., 1 bedstead 38.00; Wm. A. Hurd, pd.,wreck of vessel and balance of cargo 275.00; J.E.Robertson, chance for a drift boat 20.00; D.Decrow, chance for guns and cannon 5.50; 2993.50; Brought forward 1993.50; Charges, my commission, 5 per cent, and clerk hire 149.67; $2843.83 Errors excepted. William L. Cazneau, Auc. Matagorda, December 18, 1835.
The foregoing, fellow-citizens, (with the exception of the additional certificate,) has all been presented to the government for their consideration, many weeks since, as you will perceive from the dates. Acting in the capacity in which I did, I conceived it my duty to transmit the statement alluded to, and pursued custom as my guide in affixing my own signature alone in attestation of its veracity: but the receipt on the 9th instant, (through the kindness of the honorable R. R. Royall, chairman of the Council, &c.,) of an extract from the (governor's message, with the copy of a letter addressed by colonel Fannin to the government, has driven me to the mortifying necessity of since procuring the certificate of the gentlemen who were witnesses to the transaction. The foregoing certificate, appended to the statement of facts, has annexed to it, with two or three exceptions, the names of all those in our town who were present during the time of the sale, and of the whole affair. Without entering into a critical review of his excellency's message, I cannot but feel astonished that he should so far descend from the station to which he has been exalted, or that he should so far transcend the duties of his office as to combine with one or more, either directly or indirectly, to animadvert upon the private characters of a few of his fellow-citizens, ranking them with plunderers and pirates, and branding them with the unmeaning, and vulgar epithet of "bone pickers" when a statement of the whole transaction, signed by the only one authorized, and since verified and substantiated by the proper signatures of many of our citizens, witnesses, and engaged in the same affair, was within his view. But the words themselves are the best representatives of their meaning; I here offer you an extract: "I herewith transmit for your information, documents received from various persons, touching a wrecked vessel near the port of Matagorda. That the unfortunate should receive the treatment as indicated in those communications, is truly to be lamented." In almost the next sentence, and in reference to the same affair, he further says, "Our sea coast has for years presented nothing but a scene of fraud, corruption and piracies to the unfortunate, who, either by misfortune or design, have been driven on our shores." Now, not only the text, but the whole context, seems replete with either charges or animadversions against not only the honorable, but the honest character of the individuals concerned in the re-capture of the Hannah Elizabeth, and more especially against captain W. A. Hurd and myself. As captain Hurd is at present in the United States, it becomes necessary for me to make this statement, not doubting that on his arrival, he will know perfectly well how to satisfy his own honor. I would fain extend and observe towards his excellency, that respect and reserve which his office would seem to demand; but, being as himself, a republican, and having early imbibed the liberal sentiments which its principles warrant, it may not be surprising that I claim that most liberal and humane part upon which the whole system is based, in defending any character from calumny and abuse, viz: "That all men, (whether governors or private citizens) are by nature free and equal, and that among their natural and absolute rights, is that of preserving their reputations from slander and detraction." With these assurances of my rights, and a consciousness that those rights imperatively demand it, I cannot refrain from noticing the closing sentence of the extract, which is as follows:
"Having lived since my first settlement in the country contiguous to the sea coast, and frequently called upon in an official capacity to extend protests and other documents relative to wrecked vessels, I am well aware of the intrigue, management, and downright roguery which has been universally practised by the unprincipled speculators, and always to the great injury and frequently total min of the unfortunate, without having it in my power to remedy the evil, which makes me the more solicitous that your honorable body give the subject that attention which it justly merits." Happy had it been for the littoral residents of Texas, had the early sympathies of his excellency found vent through the medium of a public newspaper, which at that time was published in Brazoria, the theatre of his observation, and thrice happy had it been for them could intelligence have been transmitted to the proper tribunals for the adjustment of such matters, that a recurrence of similar events might be prevented. The "monstrous horrendum" which now stares us in the face, might then have been crushed in its infancy, and a simple annunciation, which for years has kept pace and grown with his excellency's dignities, might have spared the simple and unoffending citizens of Matagorda, and all other ports of Texas, the universal denunciation contained his excellency's message. Accompanied with the message, and from the same source, I received, as I before observed, a copy of a letter addressed by colonel Fannin to the Governor and Council. I did not wish to tax your patience with the following remarks in answer to that gentleman; but as he has, in a most pains-taking manner, assumed to himself the duties of an inquisitor on our coast, and ferreted out, through every vile and filthy channel, the base and false accusations trumped up in that letter, I will here insert a copy of a communication, the original of which I had intended to have directed to him personally. It is well that the people, who will soon, no doubt, be made cognizant to the whole plot of "fraud and corruption," should become acquainted with the projector. The following is the communication alluded to. Matagorda, January 12, 1836.
Colonel Fannin, Sir,---I had earnestly hoped that the flattering notice extended towards you by the government, would in some degree, have reflected upon your character and disposition, a portion at least, of that magnanimity which should belong to those holding the honorable station to which you have been exalted---that it might serve as an emolient to the asperities of your nature; and that, in your patriotic efforts for the common weal, and your zeal for the chastisement of fraud, and the establishment of rigid justice, it might prevent you from sometimes overstepping discretion and truth; but the receipt of an extract from the Governor's message, with a copy of your letter to himself and Council, in relation to the affair of the Hannah Elizabeth, convinces me that you are incapable of adhering to the first principles of either. It is, however, but reasonable. Hundreds of instances go to prove, that after a long time spent in vice and folly, their subjects are frequently apt to run into an opposite extreme of goodness and virtue. Your letter is dated Matagorda; your information, no doubt, was obtained from the same place. Who were your informants? Those who were witnesses to the affair of the Hannah Elizabeth? Nearly all in our place directly acquainted with the transaction, have attested to the truth of my statement. Every circumstance connected with the transaction, the whole of which is contained in the statement alluded to, has been verified by the signatures of those gentlemen. Has your character and condition in life so far removed you from the society of those witnesses, that you were compelled to make your charges from hearsay evidence? Why did you not, if wishing to obtain the truth, turn to the fountain head, where it might be found in its purity, instead of tracing it in its perverted course, until lost in a sin of defamation and falsehood! Or were you really ignorant that such positive and direct testimony existed? Such a supposition is too idle to be harbored for a moment. But the cause is known without troubling you for an answer. You sought to bolster and prop up a falling reputation, by effecting the total ruin and extinction of another's; and expected that all this noise and rhodomontade about despoiling the unfortunate, would direct the attention of the public and your fellow-citizens from your own breaches of humanity. But have you effected your purpose. Your African emigrants have scarce yet gained a residence in our country, their native lingo yet betrays their recent importation. Did you expect to gull the Government and Council, and the public, by your whining affectations of sympathy for the unfortunate, when but a few months have rolled round since your last Ethiopian speculation and importation? or did you suppose that the abuses practised on our coast, would be corrected at the instance of one who, contrary to the laws of his country, had disgraced its borders by the introduction of slaves, natives of, and immediately from, Africa? But it is idle to dwell longer on the inconsistencies and absurdities of your letter; it proves itself, and more especially by the certificates in this communication, to be like Falstaff's lies, "open, false, and palpable." It is not my wish, in answering your letter, to continue the correspondence; I therefore, in taking my leave of you, have nothing further to say than to leave you to that corroding worm which never dies, and to remind you, with what you are already acquainted, that my residence is in the town of Matagorda. S. Rhoads Fisher.
P.S.---I will also further observe, that, having been advised by the same honourable source, R. R. Royall, Esq., and at the same time, that charges of a like piratical and infamous character against captain Hurd and myself, had been laid before the Governor and Council, (and a copy of which he would send me, but from their extreme length, and the hurry of business, was prevented.) by one Isaac E. Robertson, or, as he is more generally and properly known, "dog Robertson." I should also have condescended to have given his venemous abortion a more detailed notice; but as I am as yet debarred from the honour of its perusal, I shall pass the subject, as unworthy further notice, as well from its canine rabies, as its source. S. Rhoads Fisher. January, 1836
Fisher to Borden 9 Feb 1836
Matagorda Feby: 9th 1836 Gale Borden Esqr. Dear Sir, Our mutual friend D. Davis D. Baker Esqr. is about applying for the vacancy of a majority in the Infantry of the regular Army of Texas. If can answer for Mr. Bakers qualifications and bravery-it is well known that he distinguished himself at the "Battle of Concepecion" and I believe that by his obtaining the appointment, the Country would acquire a valuable officer---You will therefore confer a personal favor on me by using your influence in forwarding his news-Gen. Houston was the gentleman who informed him of the vacancy, and I much regret that he is not at present in San Felipe to forward Mr. Baker's news I expect to have the pleasure to see you in about two weeks and remain with friendship and respect Your Obt Servt S. Rhoads Fisher
Fisher to Baker 22 Feb 1836
Matagorda Feby. 22-1836 My Dear Baker Herewith you have certified copies of all the electoral returns from which you will perceive that Royall has 93 votes and 1, 79---but by examination you will perceive that there appears from Squire Norton's certificate, 5 votes altered on the McCoy return and that there is a difference of 1 vote in the tallied county, and the written figures of Larche's return-these you can look into and many other irregularities I am willing to pass by-but I shall oppose "in toto" the returns of the Goliad election, as by the statement of Dugald McFarlane who drew up the discharge of the volunteers, they were all at liberty to return to their homes on the 12th Jany: and were not, either in service nor in the field-this will take from Royall 16-see Cady's certificate against the 5 volunteer votes on the Trespalacios, taken after night, (Washington Greys) on their return to the U States, when the law says Citizen volunteers, I shall object to-this will make to be deducted from Royall 21-and Dan Rawls will say upon oath, that he voted for me, tho' it is put down differently-that will be 22 to be deducted from 93, which leaves Royall 71 votes-(many of which even are doubtful) but giving me a majority of 8 votes-Mr. McFarlane told me he would go before the convention and make his statement under oath-memo-did you know 'till now that any others than Royall & Ingram were voted for at Goliad? The votes at Buckners I shall object to, as no election was ordered to be held there-(see R. Hoods Certificate) in evidence of which you have herewith the original orders for an election as taken from the Court House after the election-the above are in Squire Norton's handwriting as you will perceive-Mem: Major Lewis has certificates that the Lt Rawls voted for me--very truly S Rhoads Fisher
Green et al to Barton et al 7 May
Thomas J. Green, A. C. Allen, Samuel M. Williams, S. Rhoads Fisher, James Power, Edward Conrad, Henry Austin, Edward Hall, Samuel Ellis, Robert Wilson, T. G. Western, D. C. Barrett, and William Bryan, New Orleans, to Seth Barton, Randal Hunt, and O. P. Jackson, New Orleans, May 7, 1836, thanking them "in behalf of the officers and crew of the Texian man of war schooner Invincible" for defending them against "the false imputation of piracy, brought against them by the secret Mexican influence of this city."
Fisher to Lamar 30 Jun 1836
To Mirabeau B. Lamar Velasco June 30th 1836 Commander in Chief of the Texian Forces My Dear Sir, I have great pleasure in introducing to your knowledge, my particular friend William L. Cazneau of who I had the honor of having some conversation with you previous to your leaving - I was not aware of your intention to depart so soon, otherwise I should have made it my especial business to have conferred further with you respecting Mr. Cazneau's appointment in your Staff - Should you by any possible means find it expedient to given him the appointment you would confer a singular favor on me, being fully persuaded from many years acquaintance, that his amiable disposition - high chivalric cast of mind - and tried courage, would justify you in your choice The News received yesterday from the Army more than confirms the former intelligence sent by Captains Teale & Kearns - Our Country requires every arm, and that arm to be nerved with the spirit of patriotic martyrdom. I shall have the pleasure to join you in a few days unless ordered upon other duty - Colonel Woodlief left yesterday morning I have the honor to be with sincere respect Your Obt. Servt. [Addressed: S. Rhoads Fisher To General Mirabeau B. Lamar Commander in Chief of the Texian Army Mr. Cazneau
Austin Memo 20 Jul 1836
Describes accounting business with Archer and Wharton. "Archer and Wharton at this time requested that I would be a candidate for Presidency of TexasB Hardiman, S. Rhoads Fisher and many others also requested it."
Morehouse to Fisher Coleto, 14 Aug 1836
Verifies that 110 NY volunteers landed in Matagorda and were housed by Col. S. R. Fisher at his expense.
Rusk to Arciniega 15 Aug 1836
Head Quarters Coleto 15th August 1836
To Miguel Arciniega Sir It has been reported to me that some persons are driving off cattle towards the Rio Grande those who are friendly to the cause of Texas will be protected in their person and property and I have once or twice given orders to the citizens of Bejar not to drive off the Stock in violation of these orders some of them have continued to drive them off I have detached some Cavalry from the Army in the direction of Bejar and have given express orders to treat all persons who may be found driving cattle in the direction of Rio Grande as enemys. I have also sent up Col. Fisher with orders he will see you and require you to aid him in executing his orders relative to property belonging to colonists. I am Sir very Respectfully Your obedient servant Thos. J. Rusk Brig Gen Comdg Texian Army
Millard to Huling 21 Aug 1836
Camp Coleto 21 Aug 1836. Henry Millard declares he cannot support Lamar for president, declares for Henry Smith. Describes buildup of Mexican forces to retake Texas, expresses opinion that the army will not back Austin for president, says Austin pledges to appoint Wharton and S. R. Fisher (his old enemies) to his cabinet for their support. In a second letter of 23 Aug expresses support for Fisher for "the navy department."
Fisher to Government 10 Dec 1836
December 1 1835 Extract from a document on file in this office of the capture of the American Schooner Hannah Elizabeth by the Mexican armed vessel "Brave," and the recapture of the same by the Citizens of Matagorda, Sometime early in november last we understood that our coast was blockaded by one or two Mexican vessels; and the committee of Safety of this Jurisdiction considered it important that a vessel should be immediately armed and equipped, to attack and drive them off. The Schooner William Robbins was at that time in this Bay, and by a resolution of the committee J. R. Lewis Esqr. and my self were appointed to negotiate the purchase or hire, with her Captain and owner WM Watlington, who however positively declined making any other disposition than that of a sale; This then we were compelled to do, and the price was $3500. She was then placed under the command of Capt Hurd, and considered to be a Government Vessel from a former conversation with T. F McKenney Esqr. 1 was induced to believe that a draft on his house would be accepted on behalf of the Public; and in accordance with that belief I gave my Exchange as Chairman of the Committee; in virtue of a resolution of the Body, to Captain Watlington for the amount On thursday, 19th ulto. at night information was received in this Town, that a vessel supposed to be an American had been driven on shore at "Paso Cavallo" pursued by a Mexican armed vessel; and early the next morning a number of our fellow citizens embarked on board the William Robbins a small schooner commanded by Capt W. A. Hurd, armed, and equipped to repel the enemy or afford such assistance as the case might require. On the evening of the 21st. we came to anchor off the Pilot House at the pass, and having sent a boat on shore ascertained that the Mexican vessel had been driven by the North winds to sea, but that the American vessel was in possession of a prize crew; the volunteers to a number of about 20, were immediately landed under my command. When we augmented our force to 25, besides Captain Hurd and his crew, I think 3 in number; on presenting ourselves the prize master, a lieutent of the Bravo, as he states, and not the Montezuma, delivered his sword, and surrendered himself and men as prisoners of War, the total number was 12, one of whom from exposure consequent on drunkenness has since died I cannot refrain from observing that it appears to me, the Capture of the Hannah Elizabeth by the boat of the Bravo, was the result of the most shameful Cowardice, and here furnish you a statement Given me by Don Matteos---he says the Hannah Elizabeth had on board 15 Americans and 5 Mexicans, besides a woman, 3 cannon upon deck mounted va: 1 Sixes and a four, 18 Kegs of powder, 2 Boxes of Muskets, rifles and other arms; and that about 7 p. in. he boarded her in the breakers with one boat and 12 men himself included---not a Gun was fired nor the least resistance made, indeed they had thrown the Cannon, powder and arms overboard, A number of the Americans and two of the Mexicans were taken on board the Bravo---the Mexicans were J M. J. Carbajal & Fernando DeLeon. Sigd. S. Rhoads Fisher, a true copy of extracts taken from the report made by the Honble. S Rhoads Fisher to the Provisional Government. Navy Department Columbia Decr. 10th, 1836 John Buchanan clif clk [Addressed]: To General Mirabeau B. Lamar
S. R. Fisher to M.B. Lamar
[COLUMBIA] 11 Dec. 1836
Columbia Decem: 11---1836 Dear General, My particular object in furnishing you with the foregoing statement is that you may not only have another link to connect the historical chain, but that I may have justice done me. The Government never have replied to me, tho I wrote them on the subject several times. I was then primary Judge of the municipality, and chairman of the Committee, and being of course the highest authority, and hearing nothing from the council of San Felipe, & the support of the prisoners being considerable I released them to embark for New orleans. A few general observations from you on that subject will produce the proper impression. In August 1832 there were a number of Electors chosen from the Colonies to proceed to Bexar, and there, A Governor, Vice Governordelegates to the State Congress and other officersthey met on the 9th: Sept: at Bexarthose who went from the colonies wereS. Rhoads Fisher, James Kerr, Robt. M. Williamson, William Pettus, J.B. Miller, F.F. Wells, Eli Mitchell, F. DeLeon & Wm. J. Russell. The April previous the Legislature of Coahuila & Texas had passed a law prohibiting any but native Mexicans from retailing goods, exsepting in the Coloniesand the municipal authorities of Bejar, had about the same time passed a law prohibiting any but native mexicans from selling beef in Bejarat that time most of the cattle were driven from the Colonies and was a trade of considerable importancethese two laws we considered excessively odious and unjust, and it became our duty to represent the feelings of the Colonists in pretty strong terms---The consequence was both were repealed. My principal papers and memorandums, of the different public meetings of our Section of the country, and addresses to Mr. Musquiz their political Chief are in the United States, and I regret I cannot furnish you with them---If the above is worthy of your attention I shall be gratified---Very respectfully & Sincerely Yours &c &c S. Rhoads Fisher [Addressed] Endorsed S. Rhodes Fisher-To General Mirabeau B. LamarCapture Schooner Hannah Elizabeth
S. R. Fisher's Case [HOUSTON] Nov
Principal Misdemeanor's charged in President's Message.
1st. Proposition to Thos. Toby to engage in a speculation in Tobacco, to be smuggled into the enemy's country & traded with the enemy, on their joint acct. and for their private advantage--Vessels of Texas Navy to be so disposed of by the Sec. as to give protection to the illicit traffic---Horses and mules, got in exchange for the Tobacco, to be sold to the Texas Government. See letter, Fisher to Toby Jan. 9th 1837 (B No. 1)---Contrary to established principles of international Law.---Contrary to policy of the Republic, and the duties and proprieties of his station-inceptive treason-giving "aid & support to the enemy" (See Declaration of Rights, See. 16.) calculated to bring odium on the Govt. &c. The operations made in Tobacco by the Commanders of the Army, and with the approbation of the Executive, demanded by the necessity of the case---Warranted by sound policy, and by Executive authority---the public good only in view.---(See Depon. of Cageneau, Nov. 41th and recollect statement of Genl. Rusk.) consistent with the principles of national Law---(See Wheaton fol. 222-3)
2nd. Detention in his hands of public money, recd. for the sale of Steam Boat Cayuga, & Brig Pocket.---He recd. $1600 in cash. Paid $200 to the Treasurer and $300 to the President, both of which sums were expended for provisions for the army. (See Brigham's Depo.) Never paid but the $200 to the Treasurer---never tendered payment to him---rendered no acct. of sales to the Depart. Made sundry loans to clerks and others, for which he took their due Bills, and now claims these loans as payment; but by his own showing still owes $545.05---which in the acct. exhibited to the Senate he charges as having paid to the Trear. on 6th June 1837 but which Trear. swears has not been paid (See Brigham depo.)---taking---his own statement it is a defalcation to that amount, if not an embezzlement. (See a/c. B. 11.) (and Depo. of H. Smith, Nov. 16)---contrary to constitution---(see Con. Art. 1 Sec. 25)
3rd---"Taking a cruise with the Navy," against the enemy, without the approbation of the President, and contrary to his known wishes and express denial. Done surreptitiously, under pretence of recruiting his health and spirits. (See his publications in the Telegraph of Sept. 9th and 16th.)---(Application for and grant of leave of absence, A. 2 and 3.)---Took a position on board, which, while it exempted him from the legal responsibilities of the command, gave him in fact the superintendance and effectual control of the squadron and its movement. He was known to be the sec. of Navy---officers bad been appointed and instructed by him. He writes as if he felt himself the head of the "Fleet," and recd. the public applause as if rendered to the Commander & Hero of the cruise. (See Instructions -May 23. 1837 A. 4-Letter to H. Smith, B. 2-Reply to Invitation, Telegraph B. 9-Card to the Editor, Telegraph Sept. 16-Considered his reputation as identified with that of the Navy-"Secy. of the Navy turned Sailor"-participated in the act of the act of the squadron---approved what was done---See, as above, also Depos. of Simons & Cheesinan---was the actual director of the Squadron---willing to appropriate to himself the Cr. of the cruise---therefore responsible for its misdeeds.
Discreditable character of the Cruise-Plundering-burning and destroying the property of defenceless and unoffending Mexicans-not warranted by laws of War and of Nations-(see Wheaton fol. 249 et Seq.)---Disobedience of orders---leaving the Texan Coast unguarded---700 miles from it---parting Company three times---ordered to cruise a month or 6 weeks, staid nearly 3 ms. (See Instructions A.4. and Reports of Thompson & Baylan (C. a)---and (C. b.) answers of Thompson (c. d.) and reply of Ex. (c.e.)---Making prize of neutral vessels not having contraband of War on board---Case of Eliza Russell---see Instructions (A.4) attorney Genl's opinion (A.5) Thompson answer to querries (c.d) Executives reply (c.e)---The sending in the E. R. approved by Fisher, see his letter to H. Smith (B. 2) Attack on Sisal contrary to orders---impolitic---endangered loss of vessels---See (A.4) and (c.e.) as above. Intention declared of attempting with the armed force of the Navy to effect the release of the Texas prisoners at Matamoros, while he knew the Ex. was attempting the same thing by negotiations and exchange of prisoners. See his letter to H. Smith---B.2---Statement in presidents message matter of history. The use of the navy had already been refused---See Veto Message. (R.12)
4th---Offensive character of his publications in the Telegraph---The reply to the Committee on the 4th Sept. the very day he reported for duty, after having exceeded his furlough nearly double the time granted. (See Tel. Sep. 9. B. 9) evinces a distrust of the approbation of the Executive, and a disposition to make a party with the "PEOPLE," whose feeling's would naturally be excited and carried to enthusiasm by the fame of military success. And at that time the true character of the cruise was not known. Accepts the approbation by the people of the supposed "gallant exploits" of the Sqn. as due to him as the "Head of the Department"---but is willing it shall be "extended to the officer, and crews."---Letter to Dr. Bartlett, (an Englishman, publishing a British Newspaper in New York) evinces a total disregard of the opinions of the world, and a contempt for the maxims of "systematized Governments."---See also his card in the Telegraph Sept. 16th (B.10.)---which is disrespectful to Ex. Sneering---tauntingironical---Says he "wrote a resignation, intending, if leave of absence were refused, to tender it" See Depo. of H. Smith Nov. 16th where he gives a different account or his intended resignation.---Betrays a temper and hostility of feeling incompatible with the respect due the Ex. and the confidence that ought to exist between them.
5th---His letter to the P. of the 18th Octo. 1837 (a10) disrespectful---grossly insulting---charges P. with falsehood---imbecility arising from peculiar diseases---(inuendo, Mania a potu--?)---charges him with offering an "indignity" to the Senate---makes a high toned & arrogant demand for redress, &c. The whole tenor of that letter, as well as his publication of 16th Sept. contumelious---and utterly inconsistent with the dignity of his own station and the difference due to the Executive. See joint resolution of Congress---approved Dec 13th 1830---Laws of Texas vol. 1, p 77---"There does not exist in the Honl. S.R. Fisher that disposition to consult the good of the country & to obey its laws which should characterize a member of the Cabinet."---(see message).
DEDUCTION: The Honl. S.R. Fisher Sec. of the Navy, stands in a relation to the president which forbids the supposition that they can ever again harmonize, and that in consequence the respectability and efficiency of the govt. must be impaired and the public good injured unless the Senate will consent that the president be permitted to rename the present incumbent and appoint a new Secy. of the Navy. Whenever it shall happen that a Secy. of a Department shall transcend the proper limits of his duties or usurp authority that does not belong to him or he disobedient to the orders of the president or shall contravene the policy of the Government---or shall violate public law---or shall commit any acts incompatible with the integrity or dignity of his station, or which will bring discredit or reproach on the government---and he shall thereby lose the confidence or incur the displeasure of the President, so that they cannot harmonize in conducting the affairs of the Government---the public good requires that the Secy. should be dismissed and another appointed in his place: That should such a misunderstanding be brought about between the President and a Secy. that they cannot harmonize---no matter what may be the grounds, or how faultless the Secy. the public good and public policy requires that the President should be permitted to remove the obnoxious Sec. and appoint one with whom he can unite cordially in carrying on the operations of Govt.
G. Wheelwright to M.B. Lamar 24
Matagorda Aug. 24th 1838 To/Gen. M. B. Lamar Dr Sir, Anticipating without a doubt your election to the Presidency and believeing you will make radical changes in many abuses which it has been the misfortune of the Country to labour under during the present administration and reinstate meritorious and injured officers to their former rank, where it evidently is the wish of the people and of subordinate officers in the particular department. I have for. several months past taken pains to ascertain the sentiments of the community, and more especially to the officers of the Navy, as well as the crews of the Invincible Brutus in relation to the late Secreta of the Navy the Hon. S. Rhoads Fisher. I scarcely find a dissenting voice wherever I have been, as regards the unjust treatment sustained by that gentlemen and his qualifications to fill with credit to his country and the particular advantage to the service the same station he formerly occupied. I have only to observe that should your views of that gentleman coincide with mine, it would give all the officers of the Navy great pleasure to recognise him as the head of that department under your administration. I have the honor to be Yr Obt. Svt. Geo. Wheelwright. [Addressed] [Endorsed] Gen. Mirabeau B. Lamar- Geo Wheelwright City of Houston Nacogd. 24 Augst 1838
D. G. Burnet to M.B. Lamar [HOUSTON] 18 Mar 1838
Oakland March 18th 1838 To General M. B. Lamar dear Sir I have been requested by Col. S. Rhoads Fisher, late Secretary of the Navy, to furnish a copy of my Speech delivered as his Counsel on his recent trial before the Senate, for publication The remarks I made on that occasion, were without the aid of notes, and it would be impossible for me to write them out as they were uttered---I could write a Speech with less reluctance than I could attempt to palm it on the public as a Speech delivered on a Special occasion---Col. Fisher has particularly called my attention to the following Sentence found in the printed Speech of Mr. Kaufman of Nacogdoches, Counsel on part of the prosecution in the same naval trial. "And Sir I would be doing great injustice to my own feelings were I not to return my most profound thanks to the distinguished President of this body (General Lamar) for the pointed and eloquent rebuke, which he yesterday gave to one of The Counsel (Mr. Burnet) who had forgotten the respect due to himself and to this house."
I know how to appreciate the rhetorical flourishes of a jealous advocate, sufficiently well not to attach any consequence to a personal allusion of this kind---But circumstances sometimes invest the merest trifles with a Show of importance---In this instance an explanation of the facts is due to my client as well as to myself and if I have not greatly misunderstood you, there is a patent error in Mr. Kaufman's application of your remarks on the occasion alluded to. I am not sensible that at any moment during that trial I manifested the Slightest disrespect to the Senate, or any member of it. That I Spoke with Some Severity of the Prosecutor, President Houston, is---probably true---But I am confident that I said nothing of him but what was authorised by facts that can be fully substantiated It did not therefore enter into my imagination that yourself or any member of the Senate could construe my remarks into disrespect for that body---On the contrary, I should esteem it much the weightier offence, to impute to them collectively or individually, so much official servility as that suggestion would import. You will please therefore to state to me, whether you intend the remarks designated in the quotation from Mr. Kaufman's speech, as a rebuke. I should not have put you to to this trouble, were my own feelings alone, concerned in the matter. Very respectfully Your Obt. Servt. David G. Burnet [rubric] [Endorsed] D. G. Burnett 18th Mch 1838 about Rhodes Fisher &C
Samuel Rhoads Fisher |
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