SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
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The Fredonian Rebellion-Index
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Austin's Advice to Fredonians and Colonists
Austin to Williams and
Thompson 14 Dec 1826
San Felipe de Austin Decr 14. 1826 Mr. JOHN A WILLIAMS B. J. THOMPSON SIR I have heard with the deepest regret and astonishment of the late proceedings against the Authorities of Nacogdoches, it appears as tho. the people in your quarter have run mad or worse they are distroying themselves, building up the credit of their enemies with the Govt and jeopardising the prospects of hundreds of innocent families who wish to live in peace and quietness in the country---The new colonies are yet in their infancy and the Gov, will either protect or crush them according to the opinion it may form as to the character they will assume---when arrived at full maturity---Should the conduct of the new Emigrants in the infancy of their settlement be such as to convince the Government that in their manhood they will be turbulent and disobedient, it will crush them; but on the contrary should their conduct be such as to satisfy Government that they will be usefull and obedient members of the Mexican family it will protect them. What opinion will the Govt form of the Americans should they judge of them by the late proceedings at Nacogdoches? certainly a most unfavorable one---one that I fear will have an influence on the future prosperity and settlement of the country---Those measures were in the highest degree imprudent and illegal, for the law points out the mode of punishing officers in this Govt. from the President down to an Alcalde or a corporal and the legal tract ought to have been pursued and no other-they were most dreadfully illtimed. The slave question is now pending in the Legislature, the constitution now forming. What influence are acts of this outragious character calculated to have on the minds of the members and on the decission of the slave or any other question involving the interests and prosperity of the now Settlements? certainly a most unfavorable influence. With what face can any of those who are engaged in the late affray ask favors of the Gov' when the same hand that prevents the petition had just been raised in open hostility against its constituted authorities? And how are such measures to be justified? Why you will say the Alcalde had done injustice etc but admitting be has done all this, were the right steps taken to call him to account No. the law was trampled upon and passion or madness took the command I am not only astonished, but I am in the highest degree displeased at Burril J Thompson for the mad course he has pursued. I had a different opinion of him and spoke in his favor to the Govt. What can I say now?
There is one way for you all to save yourselves and only one, and that is to go in person and present yourselves to the chief of the Department of Texas, State your grievances, and acknowledge at once and without any reserve or stiff and foolish republican obstinacy that wrong steps were taken, that the attack on the Alealde was totally wrong-that you were misled by passion or something else, (for it puzzles me to frame excuses for such conduct) and petition the Governor to order a general court of inquiry in which the conduct of the Alcalde and Gains and all others and your own should be fully and fairly and openly investigated, and that their punishment should fall on the heads of those who merited it without respect of person---If you take this course all may be terminated well. Let B. J. Thompson dissolve his company and have no more to do with any such business had he taken my advice and let the company alone unless it could have been sanctioned by the proper Authority he would have saved himself from these difficulties. I wrote him what the law was and he is without excuse on that point---Let the Americans put aside their rifles and be guided by more prudence and reason than they have been. Let them submit to the Gov, and be obedient to the laws and only seek redress in the legal mode and let no time, not one moment be lost in stating to the Govt. your submission and readiness to abide by their judgment and throw yourselves on their mercy, for no matter what Norris may have done the party who entered Nacogdoches have done as bad and are liable to heavy punishment. If you take the right course now all will be well If you do not, I cannot say what may be the result---it may be some time before any investigation will take place, but you ought to loose no time in taking the course I have pointed out Col Bean is going on, he is an officer in the mexican army. Advice with him and put aside all your ill timed and I must say injudicious and obstinate republican nicity, and allay all your passions and excitements and take prudence for your guide and above all throw away your arms unless you can use them to better purpose than violating the laws You may think this letter severe, my object is to befried you so far as I can consistent with my duty and so far as I believe you merit it and no farther you want strong medicine. You may deem the course I have pointed out an unpleasant one or make a thousand imaginary objections but you may rely on it that it is the only one that can save you you must humble yourselves before the Government and that immediately you can shew this letter to whoever you please, a certain person in your country has always it seems tormented his imagination about one of my letters, and to save him and others the pain of guessing they are welcome to see this S. F. AUSTIN [Rubric] Addressed:] Mr. John A Williams or Burril J. Thompson District of Nacogdoches
Austin to Thompson. MR. B. J. THOMPSON SAN FELIPE DE AUSTIN, January 1, 1827. DEAR SIR,-In wishing you a happy new year, I regret I cannot add my approbation of some of your acts in the last months of the past one, though perhaps I do not understand the motives which governed you. So far as I do understand them, I am compelled to say, with all the frankness of an old friend, that you are wrong. I hope, however, that you and the majority of the good people in that country have been slandered, and that the reports we have in circulation here about you are false, for I cannot believe that you have so far lost your senses as to think of open opposition to the government; neither will I believe that you have so far forgotten the land of your birth and the proud name of American as to disgrace that name by associating yourself with persons, and advocating a cause, unworthy of it. My friend, you are wrong, totally wrong, from beginning to the end of this Nacogdoches affair! I have no doubt that great cause of complaint exists against the alcalde and a few others in that district, but you have taken the wrong method of seeking redress. The law has pointed out the mode of punishing officers in this government, from the President down, and no individual or individuals ought to assume to themselves that authority; but what is past is done; let us forget it and look to the future. If you will take reason for your guide in future, and do your duty as a citizen of this government, all will be right. The chief of this department is on his way to Nacogdoches; his object is to regulate the government and do justice to all; he is a mild and good man and will never do an act of injustice to any one and if you will come forward freely and without reserve, and in a respectful manner submit to his authority, you will save yourself and family from total and inevitable ruin. You have been most astonishingly imprudent, but I do not think it too late for you to settle all that is past, for I cannot believe that you have been so mad as to think of joining the Indians and opposing the government by force. The people of this colony are unanimous. I have not heard of one here who is not opposed to your violent measures; and there is not one among us who will not freely take up arms to oppose you and sustain the government, should it be necessary to do so.
My wish is to befriend you all so far as I can consistent with my duty, and if you will rely upon me and listen to my advice, all will be settled easily. Separate yourself from all factions; disband your volunteer company, raised in violation of law, and submit to the government freely and without hesitation and put aside your arms. If you do this, I have no doubt but everything will be satisfactorily settled; take the opposite course and you are lost, for you need not believe those who tell you that this government is without power; they can send three thousand men to Nacogdoches if it should be necessary, and there is not a man in this colony who would not join them. Think what you are about, my friend, and save yourself by adopting the course I have pointed out before it is too late. Farewell; may you have a happy new year, but whether you will or not depends entirely on yourself. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN
Blanco to Edwards-cancellation of contract.
Following the advice of Colonel Austin, B. W. Edwards wrote the governor of the state, Don Victor Blanco,.and gave him a detailed account of the difficulties that had arisen; together with the "stupidity" of the alcalde, Norris, and the treachery of his brother-in-law, Captain James Gaines, who controlled and gave direction to all he did; also the efforts made and being made by his brother to secure settlers; and, in conclusion, he asked the governor to stay proceedings against his brother until he returned, to afford him an opportunity to make his defense.
In reply to this communication, Governor Blanco, under date of October 2, wrote:
In view of such proceedings, by which the conduct of Hayden Edwards is well attested, I have declared the annulment of his contract, and his expulsion from the territory of the republic, in discharge of the supreme orders with which I am invested. He has lost the confidence of the government, which is suspicious of his fidelity; besides, it is not prudent to admit those who begin by dictating laws as sovereigns. If to you or your constituent these measures are unwelcome and prejudicial, you can apply to the supreme government; but you will first evacuate the country, both yourself and Hayden Edwards; for which purpose I this day repeat my orders to the authorities of that department in the execution of which, as they will expel from the country all evil-doers, so they will extend full protection to those of worth, probity, and useful skill, that have settled therein, and are submissive to the laws and constituted authorities.
Organization of the Fredonian movement, alliance with the Cherokees.
Before the receipt of the above letter Hayden Edwards had returned. Feeling himself both aggrieved and insulted, he determined to resist. He made an appeal to the American settlers and to the Cherokee Indians, who considering themselves badly treated by the government of Mexico listened favorably to Edwards. On the 20th of December, Hunter, Fields, and some other chiefs, after consulting three days, entered into a solemn league and confederation. The objects of the treaty were twofold, to wit:
1st. To divide the territory of Texas between the Indians and Americans. This was done by giving to the former that portion lying north of a line beginning at the mouth of Sulphur Fork; thence to a point not far from Nacogdoches; thence to the Rio Grande. All the territory south of that boundary to belon to the other party.
2d. To prosecute together the war against Mexico, until their independence was consummated.
The treaty was made by Hayden Edwards and Harmon B. Mayo, on the part of the Americans, and by Richard Fields and John Dunn Hunter, on the part of the Indians. The Fredonian legislature or committee that ratified it was composed of the following persons, viz: Martin Parmer president, Hayden Edwards, B. W. Edwards, John Sproul, B. J. Thompson, Joseph A. Huber, W. R. Ligon, and H. B. Mayo, on the part of the Americans; and by Richard Fields, John Dunn Hunter, Ne-ko-lake, John Bags, and Kukto-ke, on the part of the Indians. The new state was named Fredonia. In the meantime, on the 18th of December, 1826, the Fredonians, to the number of about two hundred, took possession of the "old Stone House" and began to fortify. Having raised their flag, they began an organization of their force and government. Colonel Martin Parmer was chosen commander of the militia. On the 4th of January, 1827, Norris, the alcalde, who had been deposed, finding the town defended by a small force, most of the Fredonians apprehending no danger had gone to their homes, raised a force of some eighty men and took position near the Stone House, intending to capture and hang the few Fredonians left to guard the place. Parmer had eleven men, and Hunter eight Cherokees, with whom they marched out and charged Norris's force, of which they killed one man and wounded some ten or twelve, and captured about half their horses. Norris made good his retreat and crossed the Sabine.
Theodore Dorsett to Samuel
Norris Ayish Bayou 20 Dec 1826
Ayes Bayou December 20th 1826 Dear sir I Call the Company to Geather yesterday to Sound the minds togeather & they all seames to taek one way & that Is the rite way our Commity has return home much Disgusted at the proceding of the Settin of Congress a grate Demier amungst them likely Caus by Rason the flag of Independence & for opporsition to Goverment there is two thirds of their own Company has Cum home & will return to day a Shame of their Conduct & Ready to hide Ef theay Cold find a place our meating is to morrow for all the Cum I Expect my Company to Strengthin fast theay vill then Bee for Readiness to Bee in your order & hav the Same with acclamation for not Idle tho hardly able to Travele a bout Lett me hear from you as quick as posable to hear the News & your movemintz ar what Ever Step you may think to taek that may Be most advantages to the Government Rite me your strenght of Indians & what tribes Also from Fields mind & Entention of Bisiness at presant & Beene Ef at hand Rite it Cum quick & Speady as they is nou time to luze at this time name your plaze of Randavus publick or privit. It will meet the approbation of the men nou more But Remain Still as Befour till Death
I Believe Cole Beene be at for Curtin though Cold Bee put to flite speadily---the mindz of many air concile for fear as the threats is Sow Sevear to all hu may be in opposition to them nou doubt but Evury privit advantage will be tacen By Day or by nite an Endivalz & property for that is the Last Remaday to fly to---for Reveng Befour theay macke their Escap or Shold. Theo Dorsett Samuel Norriss [Docketing note]: 1826 Theo Dorsett -to- S Norriss Dec.
Natchitoches Courier Article on the Fredonian Affair.
December 31, 1826. TO THE EDITOR OF THE NATCHITOCHES COURIER. SIR,-I am bound for the sake of public instruction, as well as for my own justification, to explain the compulsive motives that forced me to sign my name to a treaty held between the Don Quixotic Republic at Nacogdoches and several Indian chiefs that have intruded themselves in the province of Texas. I arrived in Nacogdoches the 15th instant, and was about to leave that place on the 16th, when a masquerade of sixteen revolutionists entered said place, with a sort of flag erected in opposition to that government under which I serve. The evening previous to this carnival entry some of the leading characters of this revolutionary mob threatened to pursue and seize a certain Don Veramendi and Don Seguin, bound to Bexar. I, of course, belonging to the same, and moreover military service, of that nation, in opposition to which they planted their so-called standard of safety, had not to expect a treatment more favorable from these zealous defenders of human rights than the gentlemen aforesaid, and in order to prevent from being cast into those dungeons which the gentlemen correspondents so gloomily depicted, I pretendedly joined their huzzas, and so artfully blindfolded these republican politicians that they had no scruple to elect me a member of their council of state, an office I accepted, but for the latter diving into the affairs of this lunatic cabinet; and it was this policy that made me sign that infamous treaty, which, besides its treasonable object, savors of plunder and unburies the tomahawk of the cruel savage.
You are very likely anxious to know how I could extricate myself from this diplomatic mob without being put to the stake as a political apostate, and I am no less willing to lead you into this mystery. I escaped with all the honors of an experienced diplomat. I escaped as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to stir the flame of civil discord at the Pecan Point, by a proclamation issued to the citizens of that district; a mission which I more willingly accepted than fulfilled, a proclamation whose fallacious contents I am obliged to refute. No. 1. They exculpate themselves for having planted their independent rag before they could consult the rest of their fellow-citizens, calumniating thereby all the inhabitants of the province as being concerned in their rebellion, though the majority of their own and nearest neighbors are not only adverse to, but in open opposition towards these desperadoes. No. 2. "Placed in a situation peculiar to ourselves." Indeed, it is a situation peculiar to themselves; for most of these revolutionists, being stained with all the crimes the Decalogue enumerates, most of them fugitives from that mother country into which they dare not return, and having until now been self-secure in Texas under the heretofore unorganized government, against which they now revolt because that government is about to establish its constitutional laws, and to put a stop to the unrestrained infringements of these lawless desperadoes by a military force. This is the situation 'peculiar to themselves.' The unexperienced reader of this rebellious proclamation is induced to believe that the citizens of Texas had the Mexican bayonets continually pointed at their breast, whereas the fact is that no such bayonet was to be found short of five hundred miles of that district. "Our liberties and our lives endangered." Pray, whose liberties and whose lives? "Sentenced without trial at the mere will and pleasure of a prejudiced governor." Pray, was it this prejudiced governor's will and pleasure to have Jacob L. Nugent handcuffed, pinioned, tied to a horse, and then shot under the pretence of leading him to the trial? They say "he tried to run away," and eight well-armed men could not stop a fettered prisoner! A candid, honest public may judge the merits of the proclamation from the proclaimers, whose character entitles me to the prediction that they may do a great deal of harm, and those that expect any good consequences must be ignorant of the axiom, that from evil causes no good effects can result. JOSE A. HUBER, Surgeon in the Ninth Regiment, Mexican Dragoons.
Lt. H. Haile to Col. B. W.
Edwards 4 Jan 1827 Neches
Neches 23rd Jany 1827 Col. B.W. Edwards I recd yours of the 20th Inst . in which you inform me that you send me a reinforcement of three men of which but one has arrived. A. B. Edwards will bring this and by.him you can learn the particulars of this place and the conduct I have pursued since I came to this place. I am sorry to hear you think I have been inattentive to my duty. It is true I have not kept a constant guard but when I thought there was danger I have done so. I am aware you have had some representations from some of the men that went in or from the prisoners. But I hope you did not give them much credit. [Line lost in fold] they wanted to go and they was in the way at the place and I thought by sending them in they would be removed from their families and that would be a great inducement to the families to keep silent while the were in keeping at Nacogdoches.
I will send the charges in that letter and the witnesses will come in as soon as they can which will be tomorrow. I hope you will question them closely. Asa will tell why I write this. The Ferry Boat has been sunk for some days back we have crossed several times. I will cross today with four men and at the woods from McLains to the River as there is some sines in that quarter by [? ]ting after night. But I cant believe there [is] any enemy in that quarter. I will learn today and if there is any I will inform you by express. There was five Cherokees come last evening but whether they will remain I am uncertain but I will try and get them to stay here. I expect Doct Hunter (John Dunn) in a day or so. From what you write me when they come I shall go as far as the Trinity and I am very anxious he should come as I could do something. My force has been rather small for me to do anything like looking for the enemy far.
I shall raise the flat [flag?] as soon as I can and then I will cross every day and look out then or twenty miles beyond McLains. Your last letter has give the men here great satisfaction and they are very willing to remain here if they could have some cloths and I hope you will send them some. I can't speak to much in praise of the men under my command and I hope you will send them some cloths. I hope you will send a reinforcement as soon as you can as the duty is very hard on the small number of men here and men are such as are here should not be worn out by hard duty. I will inform you by express if there is any danger and I will keep a lookout every day. We stand in need of Lath and powder. Vandawricah wants a blanket and I hope you can find him one and if you can get me a Buffalo robe I hope you will send one to me. I find there is no pleasing Calhoun and Gressom as they want me to let them have horses to pack their property away and I have not taken much pain in obliging them. They are the cause of my writing to you that the Williams are not friendly and they are now trying to make fair wether with the prisoners. If the Coffee is not out send us some as we have not tasted any since we come.
The names of the men at this post W H Milburn D Hays J Shennich Wm Nichols H Vandavaricah Henry Bunch J Light You can ask their friends there where their clothes are. I expect McLain is a good witness in this case as Bean made his house his home for some time. I am ready to do anything for the cause that is in my power. I am yours to command H Haile Lieut Comd. at Naches
Attempts to enlist support among the colonists by Edwards and the Fredonians
B.W. Edwards to Buckner. TO CAPTAIN AYLETT C. BUCKNER, Colorado, Austin's Colony, Texas. DEAR SIR,-Enclosed are papers which will explain their meaning. Though a stranger to you, I take it upon myself to forward you these documents at the request of my brother; and, from a high regard for your character and true American feelings, long since known to me, I am prompted at this moment to open a correspondence with you, believing that in times like these we would both feel superior to the little formalities of fashionable intercourse, which too often cramp the acts of congenial souls. Buckner, "this is the time to try the souls of men!" The flag of liberty now waves in majestic triumph on the heights of Nacogdoches, and despotism stands appalled at the sight. I need not say to you why we have taken this bold and determined stand. You are not ignorant of our oppressions here, nor can you be less acquainted with the treachery and perfidy of this government. We have found documents in the office here making it evident that troops would be sent on to force us into submission to our wrongs, and to dragoon us into slavery. We are Americans, and will sooner die like freemen than to live like slaves!
We have not acted blindly or precipitately in this matter. We have for some time looked forward to this issue, and were prepared for it. The Indians on our north have long since intended the same thing, and have only been waiting for us to say the word. They were determined to have a part of the country, which, they say, was promised to them by the government, and which they will never yield. They have immigrated of late in great numbers to the northern part of this province. Under those considerations, and for our own security and protection, we have just completed a treaty with them, designating a line to the north of this, running westwardly to the Rio Grande, securing all individual rights within their territory. The treaty was signed by Dr. John D. Hunter and Richard Fields as the representatives of the United Nations of Indians, comprising twenty-three tribes. They are now our decided friends, and by compact, as well as interest, are bound to aid us in effecting the independence of this country. The Comanches are in alliance with them, and their united efforts will be immediately directed against this base and faithless government. We will be in motion in a short time. We have sent communications to yours and to every district in the province inviting each district to appoint two delegates, to assemble here and make a declaration of independence, etc. On your patriotism and firmness we much rely in promoting this glorious end. I have no doubt that the people in Austin's colony are true Americans; indeed, I have pledged my word on it. Do not hazard too much; but, my dear sir, we can send you an ample force to secure the people of that colony, and will do it the moment we ascertain they are for independence. We are now only waiting to ascertain that fact in due form; morally, we cannot doubt it. You are Americans and our brothers, and, besides, you are the sons of freemen. To arms, then, our countrymen, and let us no longer submit to the caprice, the treachery, and oppression of such a government as this!
Our friends in the United States are already in arms, and only waiting for the word. We had some little opposition, on the Aes Bayou, from a few servile tools of Norris and Gaines; but the indignation of the multitude rose in the majesty of the American feeling, and they have fled in precipitation, and returned to the United States, there to meet the indignant scorn of every American. The cause of liberty will prevail, and in a little time we will once more be freemen! I have written to you like an old acquaintance, because, in times like these, our souls should speak forth their unaffected feelings. Adieu. Let me hear from you without delay. With sentiments of respect, etc. B. W. EDWARDS
B.W. Edwards to Thompson. NACOGDOCHES, December 26, 1826. TO CAPTAIN JESSE THOMPSON, San Bernard, Austin's Colony, Texas. DEAR THOMPSON,-We have raised the flag of liberty in Nacogdoches. We have made a solemn treaty with all the northern Indians in this province, signed by John D. Hunter and Richard Fields, as the representatives of twenty-three tribes, and by several other chiefs for their respective tribes. They have pledged themselves to aid us in our independence, and will very soon have several thousand warriors in the field. They claim the northern portion of this province, and are determined to be independent of the Mexican government. Those various tribes, and the Comanches, are now in alliance, and, with our aid, will make this government shake to its centre. I need not say to you why we have taken this bold and resolute stand. You have long since known our oppressions and the insecurity of our rights under this corrupt and despotic government. Thompson, we could not endure those outrages upon our rights and liberties any longer. We are Americans, and will sooner die than submit to slavery and oppression. We have now planted the standard of liberty and independence and, like our forefathers, will support it or perish by it.
Are you not Americans, too, and our brothers? Will you not rally around this glorious standard and aid us in support of this holy cause? To arms, then, like free men and the sons of those departed patriots who fought and bled for freedom! Should the Spanish troops pass the Brazos, if you are Americans, they never will return; they never will reach this place. Dorsett, Macky, and a few others, and even judge Williams (from disappointed ambition), rallied a few deluded Americans to march upon us and to take us in chains to San Antonio. They had not the courage to make the charge, and concluded to retreat, although joined by Norris and a number of Spaniards. Williams, Dorsett, and the ringleaders of that disgraceful expedition have met the angry frowns of their fellow-citizens at home, and, fearing the just punishment of their unnatural crime, have fled in terror to the United States, there to encounter the scorn of every American patriot. So flee all the enemies of liberty! In a little time we expect to have a large force on the way to San Antonio. Could you not manage it so as to take, the several pieces of cannon now in possession of that damned old rascal M. Dilson? Adieu, Thompson; 'now is the time to try the souls of men.' Remember that you are an American. Write immediately. Your friend, B. W. EDWARDS. P.S.-We have sent communications to every district, which will explain everything. If my brother is in reach of you when you get this, send an express and let him know his danger. B. W. E.
B. W. Edwards to Ross. NACOGDOCHES, December 26, 1826. TO COLONEL JAMES ROSS, Colorado, Austin's Colony, Texas. DEAR SIR,-In times like these the soul of every freeman feels inclined to speak its impulse to every kindred spirit! You and I, Sir, are strangers; but you are an American and so am I. The time has arrived when that proud title, I trust, will be a sufficient passport to the bosom of every man who claims freedom as his birthright. Nor are you, Sir, as a man unknown to me. The high consideration I entertain for your character and patriotism is my apology for the liberty I now take in addressing you. The flag of liberty and independence now floats above my head! No longer willing to endure oppression, we have, like our forefathers, resolved upon liberty or death. We have been prematurely forced into the field; threatened with the vengeance of a brutal soldiery, we have come forward like the sons of freemen to meet those invaders and to protect our fellow-citizens who are marked out as the destined victims of oppression and of violence. We call upon you and every American, as our brothers in a foreign land, to aid us in this holy cause. Twenty-three nations of Indians, exclusive of the Comanches, are now sacredly pledged to aid us in our independence. We must succeed, and this base government will soon shake to its foundation. We have sent communications to every part of your colony, etc., and are now only waiting to know the determination of our friends in that quarter. The communications will explain everything. I have written fully to Captain Buckner. If you appreciate my feelings, you will of course write me immediately. In haste, With sentiments of respect, Yours, etc., B. W. EDWARDS.
B.W. Edwards to Syms. NACOGDOCHES, December 27, 1826. To CAPTAIN BARTLETT SYMS, Brazos, Austin's Colony, Texas. DEAR SIR,-I write you in much haste to apprise you that the Americans in this end of the province have at length resolved to throw off the yoke of despotism and to be freemen. The flag of liberty now floats in triumph on the soil of Texas, and the Americans are daily rallying around it with a determination to support their rights or die in their defence. We have been shamefully oppressed for twelve long months. We have complained to this corrupt government in vain, and our only reply when we have stated our grievances has been that troops would be sent on to dragoon us into submission. Could Americans, the sons of those who planted the standard of liberty in our native country, bend their necks to military despotism? No! We are the sons of freemen and will sooner die than be slaves! There is no security under this perfidious government; they give and they take away, and all our titles are held by the uncertain tenure of the will, the mere breath of a corrupt and depraved governor. We are determined no longer to submit to oppression. We have made a treaty with all the Indians to our north, and in a short time will have several thousand of them on the march to the interior of this country. To arms then, my dear fellow ! I know you have the soul of an American in your bosom. Rouse our countrymen to arms, and tell them that in a short time we will be with them in considerable force. Many volunteers from the United States are now making preparations to join us. We are determined upon liberty or death! We look upon you as our brothers, and as such expect to find you in arms, ready to avenge our wrongs and to protect your own rights against the faithless government. Believe me, my friend, we have nothing but oppression to expect under it. The only security, the only hopes of Americans, is in their arms. They have conquered the conquerors of Europe, and they will ever conquer when liberty is the prize. Adieu. Write me immediately. Your friend, B. W. EDWARDS
Letters to Cherokees from Ahumada, Saucedo and Austin
Commandante Ahumada and Jefe-Politico Saucedo to Fields. General Mateo Ahumada, the military commandant, and the political chief, Saucedo, addressed the following letters to Richard Fields, the Cherokee chief, for the purpose, if possible, of disengaging him from alliance with the rebellious colonists, if there should be any truth in Hunter's claim that Fields had in fact joined the revolt.
Ahumada to Fields. SAN FELIPE DE AUSTIN, January 4, 1827. PRINCIPAL DEPT. OF ARMS IN TEXAS. To RICHARD FIELDS, Chief of the Cherokees: I have received information from various sources that you have united with the party of Americans who in Nacogdoches have declared themselves opposed to the supreme government of Mexico. Relying, however, on the prudence and probity which you have justly acquired, I have not given full faith to this news, and have, therefore, thought proper to say to you that if you feel any sentiments of displeasure against the superior authority, I can assure you it has not been the intention of the government to neglect you in the slightest degree, and that they will listen with paternal love to any solicitations you may think proper to make, and will grant such as are not in opposition to the law. I am informed that in Mexico you were told to visit the state of Coahuila and Texas and select the lands that pleased you for your settlement, and apply for them immediately. If you have not selected them, and not asked for them, it was not the fault of the government that you are not now in possession of them. Notwithstanding, you peaceably and tranquilly occupy lands of the nation. If you have since appointed other persons to represent your affairs in Mexico, and have not received the satisfaction you expected, it has no doubt arisen in consequence of your agent not carrying the necessary credentials, and consequently the supreme government doubted whether you really had sent them. Prudence and judgment, which adorn you, imperiously require that in a matter of so delicate a nature the utmost circumspection should be used. A precipitate commencement of hostilities will produce evils of the greatest magnitude. The arms of the republic of Mexico, which protect the department of Texas, and which I have the honor of commanding, must not be stained by the blood of my fellow-citizens, the Cherokees, nor with that of the other nations with whom they are united. Our common enemy is on the other side of the ocean. The party of Americans who in Nacogdoches have attacked the Mexican authorities will doubtless interest themselves to compromit you, for, having committed one error, they will follow it up by others still greater; but you are not in that situation, and I therefore desire that you come in person to the Trinity River, at the crossing of the main road near the Lomo de Toro, or to this town, where I am detained by bad weather, in order that we may have an interview and a discussion of this subject between the chief of the department of Texas, Jose Antonio Saucedo, Mr. Stephen F. Austin, yourself and myself, and come to such an understanding as the common interest may require, and I feel no hesitation in assuring you that the result will not be disagreeable to you. I therefore hope that you will inform me, in answer to this, your feelings on the subject, with the understanding that the republic of Mexico has no cause whatever to declare war against the Cherokees or other tribes with whom they are united. I have expressed myself to you with the frankness that characterizes me, and I expect the answer of a man of honor, and presenting you with my consideration and respect, I remain yours, etc. God and Liberty. MATEO AHUMADA. I certify the foregoing to be a true translation of the original which accompanies it. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN. SAMUEL M. WILLIAMS, Secretary. January 4, 1827 SAN FELIPE DE AUSTIN
Saucedo to Fields. January 4, 1827. To CITIZEN RICHARD FIELDS, Chief of the Cherokee Nation : When you went to the City of Mexico to solicit land for colonization in this department, I have no doubt the government received your propositions liberally, leaving to your option the selection of the land which might appear best adapted for your new colony, which promise, I can assure you, will not be violated by the government unless there should be some violation on your part. This unequivocal proof of the paternal love of the Mexican government towards those who seek an asylum within its bosom is conclusive as to the friendship and esteem with which you were treated by the supreme authorities. The letters which you have thought proper to write to me, offering me your services in defence of the country and its inhabitants, gave me the greatest satisfaction, and as documents of importance I forwarded them to the supreme authorities to whom I am subject, without one moment's delay, and they viewed with the greatest pleasure the sentiments of love, fidelity, and patriotism expressed by their adopted children.
Now that I have heard through various individuals that you have offered your support and protection to the perverse individuals who, in Nacogdoches, have attacked the sovereignty of the nation, depriving of their offices the legal authorities of that place arbitrarily, substituting others in their place, in violation of the laws which govern us, I am filled with astonishment and regret, and cannot but believe that you have some misconception on the subject, or have been deceived by individuals who, from interested motives, are endeavoring to compromit you in a matter of such delicacy and importance. I am firmly persuaded that if, with your accustomed prudence and reflection, you will take into consideration my observations, you will be satisfied that my government is just and incapable of violating its promises, unless the contracting parties, on their part, violate the contract made with them; and if the government of Mexico has not despatched your petition for colonization, it has been because your agents did not carry the necessary credentials, or that the multiplicity of the occupations which surround them, and of which we are ignorant, has delayed it. But it can all be regulated if we treat the matter with the prudence and moderation which the subject requires, and not with violence, as that produces nothing but the ruin of the federation of the states and of the towns of our brothers. In order, therefore, to stop at once the evils which on either side surround this delicate business, I will esteem the favor if you will agree to meet me either on the Trinity River, at the crossing of the main road near the Lomo de Toro, or at this place, where we can have an interview, you and myself, the commandant-of-arms and Citizen Stephen F. Austin, in order there to agree upon what is most likely to benefit our political and social interests, and bind ourselves in an inseparable manner to fight, not one against the other, but joined against the enemies of public tranquillity and repose, and of our liberty and independence. If these sincere expressions, springing from that paternal love which glows in my bosom, are considered by you as worthy of attention, I shall expect your answer with the utmost possible brevity, offering to you, in all times and places, the consideration and respect which, I think, you so justly merit. God and Liberty. JOSE ANTONIO SAUCEDO. I certify that the foregoing is a true translation of the original which accompanies it. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN. SAMUEL M. WILLIAMS, Secretary. January 4, 1827
Austin Letters to Cherokee Leaders. Austin likewise wrote the following letters to the Indians and their representatives
Austin to Hunter. MR. J. D. HUNTER. SAN FELIPE DE AUSTIN, January 4, 1827. DEAR SIR,-Report has informed me of the interest you are taking in favor of the Cherokees. Your object in uniting temporarily with the Nacogdoches insurrection is to procure lands for the Cherokees from the Mexican government. To suppose for one moment that your object is civil war and rebellion would be to suppose you destitute of that intelligence, integrity, and judgment which you have always manifested on all occasions, so far as I have heard of you. The object that I take for granted, then, is, to procure a legal title from the Mexican government for lands for the Cherokees, and in this object I will aid you if legal steps are taken. I know that the Cherokees can get their lands if the legal steps are adopted, and if they take the wrong course they are lost. The ruin may not be immediate, but it will ultimately fall and overwhelm them and their friends. I hope to see you shortly, in company with the Cherokee chief, in conformity with the request of the chief of this department and the commandant-of -arms, and I can prove to you that this opinion is well founded. When you were here I expressed myself fully as to the Cherokees, and unequivocally stated that I was a friend of those Indians, and would take an interest in their affairs, so far as my duty to this government would permit. The chief of department is now here, and assures me that the government never have nor will refuse to comply with the promises made to the Cherokees. You very well know the delays attending the despatch of governmental business at any time, and more particularly in a government situated as this is, just formed and scarcely organized. Delay was to be expected, but this is no proof that the business of the Cherokees would not be finished. The government have never refused them lands, have never expressed any dissatisfaction at their settlement where they now are, and, I have no doubt, will be willing to give them a title to lands at that place, so that the way is perfectly clear and plain, Bring in the Cherokee chiefs to this place, or to the Trinity River, to see the chief of department, as he has requested, and all will be right.
There is a happy moment in the tide of all events, and men of talent know when that moment arrives, and how to use it. If you are the man of talents I beleve you to be, and are actuated by the benevolent feelings towards the Cherokees hich you profess, you will see that the favorable moment in the tide of their affairs as arrived, and you will embrace it. Before the sword is drawn, the government will yield a title to the Cherokees, to keep it in the scabbard; but once drawn and stained with blood, they will never yield one hair's breadth, and nothing short of the extermination or expulsion of that nation will satisfy them! The happy moment, then, has arrived; use it prudently and promptly, and you save the Cherokees, the cause of humanity, and save the country from a war of massacre and desolation. My dear sir, let us examine this subject calmly; let us suppose that the Indians overrun the whole country and take possession of it for the present, as far as the Rio Grande, and drive out or massacre all the honest inhabitants; what will they gain? What kind of a government will they establish? How will they sustain themselves? You know the Indians well enough to know that so many different tribes of different habits and languages cannot be organized into anything like regular government, or government of any kind, and could not long agree among themselves. When the Spaniards and Americans are driven out and there is no common enemy to contend with, they would fight among themselves, and nothing but confusion and massacre and plunder would be the consequence. As to the miserable Americans who might remain and form a part of such a combination, they would be too insignificant, both as to character or property or numbers, to expect anything, or to have, or to deserve to have, any influence in any way. All would be Indians! But admitting you succeed this far and get possession of the country temporarily, how are you to keep that possession? The Mexican nation has force to subdue you; and even admitting they had not, she can procure it from the United States of the North, for both nations would unite in crushing a common enemy to both, and annihilating so dangerous and troublesome a neighbor as a large combination of Indians would be.
But admitting the government of the United States would not furnish troops, and this government could not subdue the country, they would cede it to the United States, were it for no other reason than to get rid of such neighbors, and the United States would soon sweep the country of Indians and drive them, as they always have driven them, to ruin and extermination. So that admitting this madness, this independence, succeeds to its full extent, the parties concerned have nothing but ruin in prospect, and will either cause the country to be desolated or throw it into the hands of the United States, and in either case the Indians are lost, past redemption lost! It is reported, on the best authority, that this government has already ceded this country to the United States. The report comes from the east and the west. Now, then, is the happy moment in the tide of Cherokee fortunes; get titles for them from this government before the treaty is ratified, and they are safe. Delay it with the delusive hope of taking the country, and they are lost. You know the government of the United States and its policy as respects lands and Indians. I write you freely and frankly, as a true friend of the Cherokees and of virtue and justice. Reflect on these matters. They now have a friend in me who can and will serve them if they take the legal course; they now can bring their affairs to a happy issue or they can ruin themselves, the American population, and the country. As respects the Edwardses, they have been deceived or are deceiving themselves as to my feelings towards them, and the letters of the chief of department and commandant-of-arms to Hayden Edwards ought to be sufficient to prove to them that I have at least done nothing against them. This government have by those letters offered a complete and full and unequivocal oblivion as to the occurrences at Nacogdoches since the commencement of these last disturbances, provided they now cease. This places Edwards and the others on the same ground they occupied before this affair; also the door is open for a new hearing, or, if you please, a hearing in full (supposing none to have been heretofore had), as to the affairs of his colony and everything connected with his acts since he came to the country.
The personal security of all concerned is guaranteed expressly by the chief in his letters while these matters (whose origin was previous to the last disturbances) are under investigation; and as to the union and acts of the party at Nacogdoches, there will be no investigation of any kind, for the general oblivion settles all that forever as respects the government. The door is therefore thrown open without reserve for all to come forward freely and under the guarantee of their personal security to present their complaints to the tribunals of justice, be those complaints of whatever nature. Edwards can have an opportunity of showing that the information given against him by the local authorities of Nacogdoches was false, and that the government has been deceived by those subordinate officers; and if he proves this, justice and equity and honor will at once say that if injustice has been done to him by a hasty decision, that that decision should be reversed. The way is now perfectly clear for you all; embrace this favorable aspect of things with the promptness and moderation you ought to do and all your affairs will end well; take an obstinate stand and ask too much and you are all lost, for the Americans will not uphold any party contrary to justice, law, and reason. This colony is now united to a man and ready to march under the banners of the nation to sustain the government. What will they do if these pacific and benevolent measures on the part of their government are not met with the respect and promptness by the opposing party which they so justly merit? As to myself, I am your friend, so far as my duty to this government and to the cause of justice will permit; beyond this I am your open enemy, and so is every man of honor in the country, the chief expressly states in his proclamation to the citizens that his object in visiting this part of the country is to bear the complaints that may exist against the local authorities of Nacogdoches, and I can assure you that these complaints will be heard, and those authorities dealt by as the law prescribes, if the proper steps are taken. Come, therefore, and bring the Cherokee chief and the Edwardses, and see the chief of department and commandant-of-arms; come quickly and without hesitation. I pledge myself, and this colony will sustain the pledge, that your personal security shall be sacred if you come in that frank and respectful manner which is due the authorities of the government. Let me hear from you, but let it be with frankness. The road to peace and happiness is now opened; look at it and the happy prospects it leads to, and look at the road that leads to rebellion, and civil and Indian wars, and its results, and make your election. Yours respectfully, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN
Austin to Fields, Bowles and Big Mush. TO MY FRIENDS AND BROTHERS, THE CHIEFS AND WARRIORS OF THE CHEROKEES, LIVING IN TEXAS This will be delivered to you by two of your old friends and brothers, John Cummings and William Robbins; they will tell you the truth; listen to their counsel and follow it. My brothers, I fear you have been deceived by bad men who wish to make use of you to fight their battles; they will ruin you and your people if you follow their counsel. The governor wrote to you, and sent on judge Ellis, of Huntsville, Alabama, and Mr. James Cummins from the Colorado, and James Kerr from the Guadalupe, to see you at Nacogdoches and tell you the truth; but I fear John D. Hunter has concealed the letters and the truth from you, for he and Edwards would not suffer those men to talk with the Indians. I therefore now send you copies of the same letters that were sent by the governor and delivered to Hunter, which he promised to send to you immediately. By these letters you will see the government have never had any intention to break the promises made to you, and that they are ready to comply with them, provided you do your duty as good men.
My brothers, why is it that you wish to fight your old friends and brothers the Americans? God forbid that we should ever shed each other's blood. No; let us always be friends and always live in peace and harmony. The Americans of this colony, the Guadalupe and Trinity, are all united to a man in favor of the Mexican government, and will fight to defend it. We will fight those foolish men who have raised the flag at Nacogdoches; we will fight any people on earth who are opposed to the Mexican government, and we are all united as one man. The bad men, who have been trying to mislead you, have told you that we would all join you. This is not true; not one of us will join them. Those bad men have told you that Americans would come on from the United States and join them. This is not true; a few runaways and vagabonds who cannot live in their own country may join them, but no others. The American government will not permit such a thing, and, if this government asks it, will send troops to aid us. Why do you wish to fight the Mexicans? They have done you no wrong; you have lived in peace and quietness in their territory, and the government have never refused to comply with their promises, provided you do your duty as good men. What, then, is it you ask for, or what do you expect to gain by war?
My brothers, reflect on your situation; you are on the brink of a dreadful precipice. The Cherokees are a civilized and honorable people, and will you unite yourselves with wild savages to murder and, plunder helpless women and children? Will you unite yourselves with bad men of any nation to fight and plunder peaceable inhabitants? No, my friends, I know you will not. Bad men have tried to make you believe that the Mexican government had neglected you, and you have for this reason complained; but, my friends, those bad men have deceived you. The government is new, and it requires much time and attention to regulate all its different branches, and this may have delayed your business, but it is no proof that it would never be done. Open your eyes to your true interests, drive away those bad men who wish to lead you into ruin, and come with Cummings and Robbins and see the governor and your true friends, and all will be right. My brothers, Edwards is deceiving you; he once threatened to take your land from you, and would have done it if he could, but he had no right to interfere with you; the government gave him no right to disturb you, and he is the only man who has ever attempted to molest you, and now he pretends to be your friend, and wants you to fight his battles and ruin yourselves.
Will you suffer such a man to deceive you? The government annulled his contract because he was trying to take away land from those who were settled before he went there. He tried to take away your lands, but the government stopped him, and defended and protected your rights as well as the rights of the whites; and will you fight for such a man and turn against the government who has protected you from his attempts to ruin you? No, my friends, you will not. You have been deceived by him; leave him and come and see the governor and hear the truth. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN. TO CAPTAINS FIELDS, BOWLES, AND BIG MUSH, and other Warriors of the Cherokee Nation living in Texas. SAN FELIPE DE AUSTIN, 24th January, 1827
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SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
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