Stephen F Austin to Conventional Committee, Unknown [Prior to 04-01-1833]
Summary: Address of central committee to convention. Reciting reasons for separation of Coahuila and Texas.
The central committee of safety and correspondence which was
established by the late convention, and by whose request the present
convention has assembled, beg leave to offer their sincere
congratulations on your arrival at the theatre where you are to exercise the
Believing that your deliberations will be fraught with important results to the interests of our common country, the committee deem it a duty they owe you, as the delegates of the people to make a brief exposition of the reasons which have operated on them in calling this convention, and in doing this, they wish it to be understood, not as attempting to dictate to this convention the course it should pursue in the least degree, nor to prescribed limits to its action, but to give a satisfactory explanation to you, and through you to the great body of the people of Texas, of the causes which have impelled them to the exercise of this responsible duty.
The situation of Texas, is such as to give rise to great anxiety and even alarm in the heart of every person who inhabits it, or feels any interest for its prosperity or welfare.
The whole of this country, with the exception of the small towns of Bexar and Goliad, has been settled and redeemed from the wilderness within a few years by the enterprise of immigrants who removed to it in consequence of the express and earnest invitation of the Government, contained in the national and state colonization laws. Those immigrants have uniformly evinced their gratitude to the government and nation of their adoption for all the acts of kindness and liberality that have been extended towards them, and they have faithfully performed their duty as Mexican citizens, and fulfilled the intention and spirit of the colonization laws, by settling the country, defending it from hostile indians, or other enemies, and developing its resources, thus giving value and character to a large section of the Mexican territory which was before wild and almost unknown. They have introduced agriculture and the usefull arts and commerce, and if as has been said by a celebrated author " that man deserves well of his country who makes a blade of grass grow where none grew before ", how much more do the people of Texas deserve from their country who have so materially added to the national grandeur, phisical force and resources. The people of Texas ought therefore to rely with confidence on the government for protection, and to expect that an adequate remedy will be applied to the many evils that are afflicting them.
The invitations in virtue of which they came here, and the
guarantees of the constitution and laws, evidently contain a pledge on
the part of the government, that they should be governed in
accordance with the spirit of the free political institutions of the Mexican
republic, and in the manner best adapted to the local situation and
necessities of Texas. The
right of the people of Texas to represent
their wants to the government, and to explain in a respectfull man-
It is very evident that these considerations have influenced the
people of Texas in all they have done up to the present time. They
have been governed by the desire to do their duty faithfully to the
Mexican nation and to themselves. In the discharge of this duty
the people and civil authorities of Austins Colony made a
respectfull and humble petition to the General and State governments on
That convention adopted many other memorials and resolutions,
amongst the most important of which was the provisional
organization of the militia, as a precaution against contemplated attacks upon
our exposed frontier by the many tribes of hostile indians who
inhabit the northern and western parts of Texas; and the
establishment of the central and sub-committees of safety and
correspondence throughout the country all of which were rendered inoperative
At the time when this committee determined to convoke the present convention, they took an impartial survey of our federal relations and of our local affairs.
They beheld the Mexican confederation torn and broken asunder by political parties each of which sustained its pretentions to the supreme executive power of the nation by force of arms. Civil war raged in every part of the Mexican territory and in looking upon the face of the nation nothing was to be seen but confusion and bloody discord—Brother contending with brother in deadly strife for mastery in political power. They saw that the constitution of the republic, that instrument which they had been taught to look upon as the sacred charter of their liberties was alternately violated and set aside by all parties, and that all the constitutional guarantees were merged for the time being in military power. They saw the constitutional period for the election of President and vice President of the nation and of members of Congress, pass by, and at least one third of the states refuse or neglect to hold the elections. The future presented the gloomy prospect that the days of constitutional freedom had been numbered to the Mexicans, and that we should ere long see the waves of anarchy and confusion close forever over the wreck of that Mexican republic. The disorganization of the government was so extreem, that even the leaders of the liberal party who have been contending for the restoration of constitutional liberty, and whose cause was espoused by the people of Texas, and generously defended with their blood and treasure, found themselves conpelled to lay aside all the established forms, and to renovate the constitution by violent and unconstitutional means.
The committee turned from this view of our national affairs to that of the local internal situation of Texas which has not materially changed since the last convention. The political system under which Texas has heretofore been governed, tends to check the growth of the country, and to produce confusion and insecurity, rather than to extend protection to lives liberty and property. The unnatural annexation of what was formerly the province of Texas to Coahuila by the constituent congress of the Mexican nation, has forced upon the people of Texas a system of laws which they do not understand and which cannot be administered so as to suit their condition or to supply their wants.
The Alcaldes who are the highest judicial officers in Texas and
have unlimited jurisdiction in all cases, are elected annually by the
people, and those who are ignorant and corrupt and without re-
The manner of trying culprits for high criminal offences is such that it amounts to no tryal at all. The tryal by jury is not sanctioned by law, and the rights of the accused are committed to an alcalde who is ignorant of the formulas of the laws, and of the language in which they are written who prepares the cause for the judgment of the supreme tribunal in Saltillo, thus the lives, liberty and honor of the accused are suspended upon the tardy decission of a distant tribunal which knows not nor cares not for his suffering, and the rights of the community to bring offenders to speedy and exemplary punishment are sacrificed to forms equally uncertain and unknown. The formula required by law in the prosecution of criminals is so difficult to be pursued that most of the courts in Texas have long since ceased to attempt its execution. The tryal by jury has been attempted in some of the municipalities, but being unsupported by the sanction of law it also has failed of success. A total interegnum in the administration of justice in criminal cases may be said to exist. A total disregard of the laws has become so prevalent, both amongst the officers of justice, and the people at large, that reverence for laws or for those who administer them has almost intirely disappeared and contempt is fast assuming its place, so that the protection of our property- our persons and lives is circumscribed almost exclusively to the moral honesty or virtue of our neighbor.
"In the judiciary department there never has been any adequate organization and it may be said with just cause that in this department there is not and never has been any government in Texas."
Besides the evils which menace Texas for the want of a judiciary
there are others of no less appalling effects. This country is in
danger of being inundated by bands of northern Indians who are
Judging from the past, it must be considered a vain hope to look
to the State government of Coahuila and Texas for a redress of
grievances, or a remedy of wrongs. We have twice beheld the
mortifying spectacle of the corrupt mob of the Capital driving the
legislature by force to adopt measures, unconstitutional in themselves,
insulting to the inhabitants of Texas, and disregardful of their
rights, The general neglect of the state Legislature of all the
important interests and rights of Texas and their repeated violations
of the constitution are very clearly and energetically set forth in
the Bexar remonstrance of
In this state of things the committee considered themselves bound by a solemn duty to call on the people of Texas through their representatives to meet in general convention with full powers to deliberate on the present distracted situation of our infant country and to adopt such constitutional measures as in their wisdom they may deem necessary In exercising this highly responsible duty the committee did not act unadvisedly or without the most mature deliberation, and they did not call this convention untill they were satisfied that a large majority of the people of Texas were in favor of applying for a well organized state Govt as the only remedy for existing evils.
The law of the constituent Congress of
The right which this law confers upon the people of Texas to inform congress when they are in a situation to figure as a State, and to apply for admission into the Union is certainly very clear and unequivocal.
What method may be the best to obtain a remedy for the many evils which afflict Texas, can only be determined by the wisdom of the convention. Trusting that your deliberations will be conducted with that zeal for the public welfare which the common good of our adopted country requires and that they will tend to that happy issue which all so confidently anticipate, the central committee take leave of the convention by depositing the power which they have exercised for a time in the hands of those who gave it.