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The Fredonian Rebellion-Index

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Austin advice and warning to colonists

Austin to Colonists of the Lower Brazos.  1 Jan 1827

SAN FELIPE DE AUSTIN, January 1st, 1827. To the Inhabitants of the District of Victoria. MY FRIENDS: An important crisis has arrived, in the progress of this country, and in the destiny of this colony. We stand high with the government and an opportunity is now presented of raising our characters still higher and placing this colony on a firm footing as regards the opinion of the government, and I think there is not one man in the colony who will not with pleasure embrace it. A small party of infatuated madmen of Nacogdoches have declared Independence and invited the Indians from Sabine to Rio Grande to join them, and wage a war of murder, plunder, and desolation on the innocent inhabitants of the frontier. The leader of this party is Martin Parmer; and Jim Collier, Bill English, the Yokums, and men of that character are his associates. Agreeably to information received this day under date of 28th December this party is about forty strong. All the well disposed and honest part of the people on Aes Bayou are decidedly opposed to them, and there is a force of seventy men united there against the Nacogdoches madmen and in favor of the government.

The chief of department and the military commander will be here to-morrow or next day on their way to Nacogdoches, and I wish to raise an escort of about thirty men to go on with them. This is a mark of respect we owe these officers, and at this particular time it will have a decisive influence on the future prospects of this colony. It will also have a very great influence in the quieting and settling the difficulties in that part of the country, for the men who go on from here, by their presence under the banner of the government will at once dissipate the errors which those people have been induced to believe by a few artful men, as regards the part this colony would take. It will have a much better effect for the people to volunteer on this service than to be called on officially, and in order to give them a full opportunity of showing their patriotism and their love of good order, virtue, and justice, I have made no official call, but merely appeal to you as men of honor, as Mexicans, and as Americans, to do your, duty, but I am happy to say that, in this instance, they are the same. It is our duty as Mexicans, to support and defend the government of our adoption, by whom we have been received with the kindness and liberality of an indulgent parent. It is our duty as men, to suppress vice, anarchy, and Indian massacre. And it is our duty as Americans to defend that from the infamy which this Nacogdoches gang must cast upon it if they are suffered to progress. It is also our interest, most decidedly our interest, to do the same, for without regular government, without law, what security have we for our persons, our property, our characters, and all we hold dear and sacred?

None, for we at once embark on the stormy ocean of anarchy, subject to be stripped by every wave of faction that rolls along, and must finally sink into the gulf of ruin and infamy. The occasion requires an effort on the part of the people of this colony, and to give it its full force I wish that it should be voluntary and unanimous. And I wish the inhabitants in the District of Victoria to meet and adopt such resolutions on this subject as their patriotism may suggest, and to come out openly and above board in expressing their disapprobation of this Nacogdoches business and make an offer of their services to the Governor to march against the insurgents, should it be necessary to do so. And then appoint a committee to wait on the chief of department with the respects of those inhabitants and to present the resolutions. Such a thing will be done by every other part of the colony and will have a very happy influence on our future prosperity. I wish the men who volunteer to go on with the chief to be here as soon as they can conveniently prepare themselves for the trip, ten men from the District of Victoria, will be enough, unless more wish to go, for it is a good and honorable service. I have no doubt that you will be active and prompt in this business and embrace the opportunity that is now presented with pleasure. Wishing you a happy New Year, I remain very respectfully your friend and fellow citizen and recornmend to you Union and Mexico.

Austin to Austin Colonists. 22 Jan 1827

TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE COLONY: The persons who were sent on from this colony by the chief of department and military commandant to offer peace to the Nacogdoches madmen have returned without affecting anything. The olive branch of peace that was magnanimously held out to them has been insultingly refused and that party have denounced massacre and desolation on this colony. They are trying to excite all the northern Indians to murder and plunder, and it appears as though they had no other object than the ruin of the whole country. They are no longer Americans, for they have forfeited all title to that high name by their unnatural and bloody alliance with Indians. They openly threaten us with Indian massacre and the plunder of our property. Ought we to hesitate at such a moment? No. They are our countrymen no longer. They have by a solemn treaty united and identified themselves with Indians, made common laws with savages, and pledged their faith to carry on a war of murder and plunder against the peaceable inhabitants of Texas. They are worse than the natives of the forest with whom they are allied, and it is our duty as men, as Americans, and as adopted Mexicans, to prove to those infatuated criminals and to the world, that we have not forgotten the land of our birth, nor the principles of honor and patriotism we inherited from our fathers, and that we are not to be dictated to and driven into crime and anarchy by a handful of desperate renegades. The civil and military chiefs of Texas aecompairied by a chosen band of national troops march with us, who in union with the brave and patriotic militia of the colony will be fully able to crush in its infancy this mad unjust and unnatural rebellion.

To arms Fellow Citizens! To arms in the cause of liberty, of virtue, and justice. To arms in defense of your property, your families, your honor. To arms, in defense of your adopted government, and hurl back the thunder upon the heads of those base and degraded apostates from the name of Americans who have dared to insult you by a threatening invitation to join them in this mad and criminal scheme. Every man able to bear arms is now wanted. Temporary inconvenience, and loss must and ought to yield to necessity and duty; you will receive pay allowed by law to national troops of the same class, and the commander will see that it is punctually discharged as soon as possible. The people of the colony after a full understanding of the pretended cause of complaint on the part of the rebels, as well as of the mild and magnanimous course of the government in offering them a full and unreserved amnesty and an impartial and public investigation of their alleged grievances, have unanimously, solemnly, and voluntarily pledged themselves in writing to the government, to oppose the factionists by force of arms. You are bound in honor to redeem the said pledge.

To arms then my friends and fellow citizens, and hasten to the standard of our country. Hasten to the field of honor and of duty. Hasten to the protection of your property and families, and all that you hold dear and sacred upon earth. The approbation of every honest and honorable man in your native country, of your adopted government, and of a just and omnipresent God, and the consciousness that you will have done your duty and saved yourselves will be your reward. The first hundred men who were called out from this colony will march on the 26th inst. I now conjure you to turn out in mass, and join us as soon as possible. The necessary orders for mustering into service and other purposes will be given to the commanding officers. Union and Mexico. UNION AND MEXICO. S. F. AUSTIN. SAN FELIPE DE AUSTIN, 22d January, 1827

Government Responses

Ahumada to Edwards 6 Jan 1827 (Translated from Spanish by Samuel Williams)
Colonel Haden Edwards    San Felipe de Austin 6th Jany 1827.  Dear Sir   Although I have not the honor of a personal acquaintance with you, the interest I take in the public tranquility induces me to inform you that on this day, as you will be officially the Chief of the Department of Texas Dn Josť Antonio Saucedo has thought proper to grant an amnisty to all individuals who have taken up arms in Nacogdoches and attacked the political authority of the Mexican Republic.  Mr. Stephen F. Austin has cooperated effectually in this important object and I shall be filled with the greatest satisfaction when I perceive that reason directs your operations   

For the benefit of humanity and wishing to avoid the effusion of blood I call your attention to this subject in order that you should present yourself to the said Chief of Department and lay aside all hostile intentions. It is yet time and it is yet in our power to fight past errors. Hostility against the Mexican Nation, to which I have the honor to belong, will be fatal to you. Prudence advises that that which can be obtained in a peaceful manner should not be demanded by force of Arms and your judgement will at once point out the difference between peace and war.  With this view of the subject I hope you will have the goodness to communicate to me your intentions and be assured of the consideration of him who subscribes himself, yours & & Mateo Ahumada   I certify the foregoing to be a true translation from the original in Spanish. Jany 6th 1827.  Samuel M. Williams   translator  [Rubric]

Jefe-Politico Saucedo's Proclamation. 22 Jan 1827. In view of the disturbances above indicated, the political chief of the department of Texas, Jose Antonio Saucedo, addressed the following proclamation "to the inhabitants of the Trinity, Neches, and district of Nacogdoches":

The difficulties which unhappily arose in Nacogdoches between the people of that district and the local authorities attracted the attention of the government, and I lost no time, after hearing of them, in marching from the capital of this province for that place, accompanied by the military commandant and a body of troops, for the purpose of regulating the government of that section of the Mexican territory, hearing the complaints of those who have been unjustly injured, and redressing the grievances of all in the mode prescribed by the laws. The Mexican government has opened its bosom to the reception of foreign emigrants with a degree of liberality unprecedented in other nations. The law prescribes the mode of their reception, and designates the quantity of land allowed to each settler and the manner of procuring it; and it is the duty of the government scrupulously to watch over the execution of the law, and see that no impositions are practised on the people. An empresario was appointed for the country bordering on the reserved lands adjoining the United States. The people complained that Hayden Edwards, the empresario, was practising speculations on them by exacting exorbitant fees, and by turning off their places old settlers and giving them to new emigrants, who would pay the price required. These complaints and many others came from the people, and the voice of the people was heard. Proof was exhibited in writing, under 'the signature of said Hayden Edwards, that the material part of those charge's were true, and it therefore became the duty of the government to notice them, and to interpose its arm to protect the innocent emigrants, ignorant as they were of the language and laws of the country, from any further act of injustice or oppression on the part of said empresario. Proof upon proof of his illegal acts were multiplied, and the government had no alternative but to stop him by annulling his contract, or suffer him to grind the poor emigrants and extort from them all they possessed.

An erroneous opinion has, I fear, existed as to the nature of the authority granted to the empresarios. They are, according to the colonization law, nothing more than colonizing agents, employed by the government to settle a specified number of families of a certain description within a specified boundary. Hayden Edwards violated his duty and obligations as a colonizing agent or empresario by disregarding the law and speculating on the people, and the government were therefore not only authorized but in duty bound to take his agency from him. They did so, and for this reason he and his associates have declared themselves in open rebellion against the government, and he is endeavoring to excite the very people he was oppressing, and to protect whom the government interposed, to take up arms and join them in their mad scheme of independence. Will you suffer yourselves to be deceived by such men? Can you so far forget the bounties of this government and your duty as men to unite with renegades to wage a war of murder and plunder against your fellow-citizens and against your government? No! Some of you may have been deceived, but, when you hear the voice of truth and reason, you will listen and be governed by it. Hear what this government have done, and then ask yourselves if they could or ought to have done less. They annulled Edwards's contract because he was unjustly oppressing the new emigrants, but in order to give him a full hearing, even after he had taken up arms, they offered him a full amnesty and an impartial rehearing by the competent tribunals as to his acts as empresario. This act of moderation on the part of the government was insultingly refused by him, and he is endeavoring to excite the Indians to war.

Fellow-citizens, do not suffer yourselves to be misled by the Nacogdoches faction, for they will ruin you and the country. I march from this place to-morrow, in conjunction with the military commandant of Texas and the militia of this colony, for Nacogdoches, and have authorized Lawrence Richard Kenney to call upon all persons living in that section of the country to take up arms under the national standard and act in concert with the commandant-at-arms in attacking and putting down this faction. All persons who prove themselves faithful on this occasion will receive their lands in the manner prescribed by law, and those who live on the reserved lands will be recommended to the President, whose approbation is necessary in order that they may procure titles in conformity with the law. Rely with good faith on the justice and liberality of this government, and do not, I again repeat, suffer yourselves to be deceived by the sinister schemes of the factionists. Extend your views to the future, reflect on your situation and that of your families and property; reflect on your duties as men of honor and as Americans, and you will see that anarchy, disgrace, and ruin must be the fate of those who stray from the true path of reason and justice, and that prosperity and happiness will be the reward of those who steadily pursue it. I therefore call on you to rally round the standard of your country and unite your efforts with the national troops and militia of this colony to crush this most unjust and unnatural rebellion in its infancy. Union and Mexico. JOSE ANTONIO SAUCEDO. SAN FELIPE DE AUSTIN, 22d January, 1827

Ellis, Cummins, Kerr Commission Report. In order to further investigate the matters of complaint, to satisfy the other colonists of the true situation in Edwards's colony, and to settle, if possible, the existing difficulties, a commission, composed of Richard Ellis, James Cummins, and James Kerr, was appointed to visit the scene of the troubles and to endeavor to reconcile the discordant factions. They discharged the duty assigned them, and made the following report of their proceedings to Colonel Austin, to be by him communicated to the political chief:

Colo. Gross's Lower plantation 22nd January 1827. SIR,-We have the honor to report to you, and through you to his Excellency, the political chief of the department of Texas, that we have failed of success in the hoped for object of our mission to Nacogdoches. We proceeded with all possible despatch to the Neches River, where we met an outpost of the insurgents stationed in the house of Colonel Bean. They had taken possession of the boat and all of Bean's property and declared it confiscated. On our arrival at said post the soldiers informed us that the country was revolutionized from that to the Sabine River. We therefore deemed it important and to our safety to make known to those people the object of our mission, and to inform them of the generous and friendly proposition of his Excellency: that justice was offered and mercy would be extended to all that would return to their duty; at which they seemed well pleased, and expressed a wish that we would succeed in the hoped for object. We reached Nacogdoches the next day, and directly made known to the principal men of the factionists our business. They informed us that the laws of war had been declared in Nacogdoches, and that they should expect us to be governed by them. We were therefore under the necessity of meeting the principals in private, which we did, viz: Hayden and Benjamin Edwards, on the part of the white people, and one John D. Hunter and --- Bassett, on the part of the red people. (This Hunter said he was the representative of twenty-three tribes of Indians, and, further, that he was the absolute agent and attorney in fact of Dick Fields).

We delivered the official documents to those present, and those for Fields were delivered to Hunter. We then went into a friendly discussion by way of exhortation to them, founded on the proclamation and amnesty granted by his Excellency, and urged the same with all our force; that it held forth to view justice and mercy, and the bounty and munificence of this our beloved and adopted country. We argued that this highly benevolent act on the part of the Mexican government must place the same on high and very exalted ground with and in the eyes of all the republics of the earth, and gives at one view every assurance of a warm-hearted and affectionate step-mother; that it was a proof and sure guarantee of the republic resting on the broad basis of justice, liberty, and equal rights! For all of which we received for answer that they never would concede one inch, short of an acknowledgment on the part of the government, of their entire, free, and unmolested independence, from the Sabine to the Rio Grande; that they viewed the Mexican government (as it was called) as a corrupt, base, and faithless government! Here our negotiations ended. Fields was in his own village, and we deemed it not only hazardous, but dangerous, to attempt to see him; which, however, is the less to be regretted, as we are satisfied that he is under the influence of Hunter. Two principal war-chiefs---Bowles and Big Mush---have, as it is said, refused to join Fields.

We are happy to inform his Excellency that the citizens on the Trinity and Neches Rivers are firm friends to the government, and also those of the Aes Bayou, who are in deep distress for want of aid from the government. Some of them have crossed the line for safety, while others are acting the hypocrite, in order to save their little property until relief by the government may enable them to come out with a full front in favor of the government. We would here beg leave to state that there is scarcely one of the perverse party that has any property; not one slaveholder among them, but many vagabonds and fugitives from justice, who have fled from the United States of the North, and who have so shamefully debased the American character. We take the liberty to recommend to the notice of the political chief and to yourself Colonel B. Foster and Captain P. Nesby, who have aided our efforts in all things, and highly deserve our warmest gratitude. God and Liberty. We have the honor, Sir, to be, very respectfully, Your obedient servants, RICHARD ELLIS. JAMES CUMMINS TO COLONEL S. F. AUSTIN. JAMES KERR.

Resolutions by Ayuntamientos against the Fredonian Rebellion

Resolution of the citizens of Mina, Austin's Colony. As pointed out by Austin, the older colonies were united against the Fredonian movement and loyalty to their government and disapproval of the action was expressed by numerous municipalities and villages. Resolutions adopted by citizens of Mina, San Felipe, the Atascosito district and DeWitt Colonists are given as examples. The following resolutions were unanimously adopted by a meeting of the citizens of Mina, Austin's Colony, on the 4th of January, 1827:

1st. We unanimously declare our firm resolution to support the Mexican Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Coahuila and Texas.
2d. We feel deeply incensed at the conduct of those Americans at Nacogdoches who have openly raised the standard of Rebellion against the Government, and offer our services unanimously to suppress it.
3d. We would wish the Government to, understand clearly and distinctly that those traitors at Nacogdoches, at least the leading men are of infamous character, who have been obliged to fly from the United States for murder and other crimes committed there.
4th. We likewise from the personal attachment we feel towards the Governor as the chief executive officer of our state wish him every success, and that he may be able to quell in a short time the insurrection, and restore peace and harmony to the people.
A committee consisting of William Kincheloe, William Selkirks and jsaac Philips, was appointed to present the resolutions to the Political Chief. The proceedings were signed, Thos. M. Duke, Alcalde.

Two days later the inhabitants of San Felipe and the surrounding country declared that:

they view the attempt of the Nacogdoches party to declare independence and call in the aid of Indians to wage war against the peaceful inhabitants of Texas with the most decided disapprobation and are ready to rally round the standard of the Mexican Nation and sustain its government.and authority by force of arms whenever called upon. The inhabitants frankly and freely declare that they are satisfied with the government of their adoption, that they are gratified for the favors they have received from it, and have full reliance on its justice and magnanimity, and that they will take up arms in its defence whenever necessary to do so. With the greatest pleasure they receive the chief of this department and commandant of arms and respectfully present to those distinguished officers their most sincere welcome and congratulations on their arrival in this colony, and through them to the superior government the assurance of our firmness and patriotism in defence of the liberty, honor, and rights of the Mexican Nation to which we have the honor to belong. Resolved by this meeting, that this declaration be signed by the Alcalde in the name and in behalf of the inhabitants of this District and that two persons be appointed a committee to present one copy of them to the Chief of Department and another to Col. Mateo Ahumada, the commandant of arms of this Department of Texas. Done in the town of San Felipe de Austin, this 6th day of January, 1827. M. M. BATTLE, Aloalde. DON JOSE ANTONIA SAUCEDO, Chief of Department.

On January 7, Captain George Orr of the Atascosito district wrote Austin:

We are alarmed and quite uneasy from reports flying about the country respecting the transactions going on at Nacogdoches so much so that I have determined to send an express to you to get information and advice concerning them. We understand that a considerable force is embodied at Nacogdoches, that Hayden Edwards is of the party, that they have hoisted the American standard, and are plundering and confiscating the property of such as do not join them, we have intimations also that they intend moving this way or sending a detachment to regulate us. We are entirely ignorant of their ultimate design or of the cause of their thus, doing or of the principles upon which they are guided, or rather, as I should think, misguided. For my part, I acknowledge allegiance to the legitimate Mexican authorities and no others, and such I believe is the sentiment of the inhabitants of this district. I request of you under these circumstances such information and ad-vice as you may conceive it proper and expedient to entrust to me respecting the causes of this revolt, their objects and principles, what course government is pursuing or will pursue with respect to them, and what in your opinion it -will be proper for the well disposed inhabitants of this district to do. Whatever you shall please to communicate you can if you please communicate in confidence, or to be made public, and your injunctions shall be strictly observed in that respect. The bearer of this, Mr. Robert Berry, will receive your answer. I am very Respectfully Your obt. Svt., GEORGE ORR. To Col. Stephen F. Austin, San Felipe de Austin. P. S. Please to be full and explicit, and from time to time as you may have opportunity or necessity may require, send me information.

Resolutions from the DeWitt Colony. On 27 Jan, DeWitt colonists at a meeting at the Station on the La Baca adopted resolutions denouncing the rebellion and expressing loyalty to their government which were relayed to Austin and authorities in a letter by James Kerr.

Summary of outcome by Frank W. Johnson in A History of Texas and Texans.

On the receipt of the news of Edwards's movements at San Antonio de Bexar, the capital of the department of Texas, the Political Chief at once adopted measures to put down the revolt. Colonel Ahumada, the commandant at Bexar, was ordered to march to the seat of war with as little delay as practicable. At the same time, the chief issued an order to Colonel Austin, to raise such a force of the militia of his colony as he could speedily collect, to act with the national troops, who would join him in San Felipe de Austin. Austin, in obedience to this order, called together a respectable number of his colonists; but, at the same time despatched commissioners to Nacogdoches to confer with Edwards, and, if possible, get him to desist. But Edwards would not consent, saying that he was able to maintain the position he had taken. On the return of the commissioners, Captain William S. Hall, one of them, reported to Col. Austin the result of this mission, which was, that they had been unable to effect anything satisfactory; that Edwards had but a small force, which the commissioners, from information and observation, were of opinion he would not be able to raise to any considerable number. Early in January, 1827, Colonel Ahumada and his forces arrived in San Felipe de Austin, where they remained a few days to rest and refresh themselves, as they had had a fatiguing march, the road being heavy from recent rains. On their arrival they found Austin in readiness with a respectable force of colonists. All things being ready, in a few days they took up the line of march in all the pomp, pride, and circumstance of war, The Mexican soldiers were well dressed in military uniforms, which contrasted strikingly with the dress of the hardy pioneers of the colony, which was composed of buckskin, cottonade, and linsey-woolsey, and head-gear to match. The colonists had managed to get an old four-pounder gun, the balls for which were manufactured by the blacksmith of the town, David Carpenter, and were heither round nor square. On the second day of the march, in firing the morning gun, the four-pounder lost some six or eight inches from one side of her muzzle. Notwithstanding, she was kept several years, and dubbed "Marley Waller," in honor of the gentleman of that name, who had charge of her. Fortunately no one was injured by this accident, and all moved forward in high spirits. On the march they were joined by settlers on the Trinity and San Jacinto. After a fatiguing march, on account of rains and the state of the road, when near Nacogdoches, they were met by a courier who informed them that Edwards had disbanded his troops and evacuated the place, which they entered in triumph, with the honors of a bloodless victory. The inhabitants of the town and surrounding country, that is, such as had joined Edwards, by the influence of Colonel Austin, were assured that they had nothing to fear from the government---that they shauld go to their homes and pursue their ordinary occupations as if nothing had happened, and in due time should be put in possession of their lands. Of those who had joined in the revolt, we will mention three who had been conspicuous, Colonel Martin Parmer, the "Ring-tailed Panther," Major John S. Roberts, and Captain Francis Adams. The first followed his leader and did not return to Texas until 1831; the two latter remained and took an active part in our struggle for our rights and independence. It is due to Colonel Austin and his settlers, and those of Colonel DeWitt, as well as those on the lower Trinity, to say that they not only disapproved of the conduct of the Fredonians, but turned out and joined the Mexican force sent against them. Whatever may be said in favor of Edwards's course, it is clear and undeniable, that his acts, in the first place, were only in part authorized by law or his contract; that the decree of the governor of the state, while hasty and unjust, was still based on official reports of subordinate officers, hence, he felt it to be his duty to annul the contract, and order him to leave the territory of the Republic; but at the same time he informed Edwards, if he felt grieved, that he could lay his case before the federal authorities, but must first leave the country. Here was offered an opportunity to Edwards to place himself right, and innot doing so he placed himself clearly in the wrong. In the second place, after he had raised the standard of revolt and formed an alliance with the Cherokee Indians, the olive branch was held out to him, for on the arrival of the chief of the department of Texas, and Colonel Ahumada and his troops at San Felipe de Austin, Colonel Austin interposed in behalf of these misguided men. The chief, acting upon the advice of Colonel Austin, issued a proclamation of free pardon to all who had participated in the revolt and would sunmit to the laws and constituted authorities of the state. To Edwards he offered a hearing before the proper authorities of the state when he would have, an opportunity of proving the malversations of Sepulveda and Norris, his accusers. This offer was neglected, and he pursued his evil course. These facts leave no excuse, or color of excuse, for rebelling against the government, and still less for the league which he entered into with Indians. In concluding this important affair, unfortunate for Edwards and unfortunate for the colonists, as subsequent events prove, we append the opinion of two distinguished citizens. David G. Burnet said, "It was quite inevitable, without supposing Austin an infatuated visionary, which he was not, that he should promptly unite with his lawful chief in suppressing an insurrection so wild and impracticable." James H. Bell said "This Fredonian disturbance has been little understood, and when the details of it are made known it will be seen that the movement could lay no just claim to be considered as an honorable and praiseworthy effort in the cause of freedom and right, and that Austin's course in respect to it was the only one that a man of sense and honor could pursue."

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The Fredonian Rebellion-Index
© 1997-1999, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved