Stephen F Austin to People of Texas, 10-03-1835

Summary: Showing that war in defense of constitutional rights is inevitable


From the Commitee of safety of the jurisdiction of Austin. All are aware of the present movements of volunteers towards the western frontiers. For the information of every one this Committee deem it proper to state as briefly as possible the leading facts whigh have given rise to this excitement.

When the circular of this Committee, under date of the 19th ult. was issued, information of an unquestionable character had been received here, as to the marching of soldiers from Bexar, in some short period, within the limits of the colonies. The object appeared to be the apprehension of certain citizens, among them Don Lorenzo de Zavala, now a citizen of Texas, was particularly designated and aimed at. This gentleman had come to Texas, as to an asylum from the persecution of the present administration of Mexico. His offence we know not, except that he is the known friend of free institutions. This distinguished man, the authorities of Texas have been arbitrarily required by military mandate to surrender into the hands of general Cos, who, in his zeal to secure the person of this patriotic and virtuous citizen, actually issued an order some time since, addressed to colonel Ugartechea, commandant at Bexar, to march into the colonies and take him, at the risk of losing all the force he should employ. The mere intimation of such an order would be an evident disrespect to, the citizens of Texas, but the issuing of it, with the correspondent threats of colonel Ugartechea of putting it into execution, is at once an open outrage upon the civil authorities of Texas, and upon the Constitution. But what is of most importance, such proceedings serve plainly to show us all, what kind of government; the present reformers in Mexico are aiming to subject us to—which is the government of the bayonet, and the regulation of all the affairs of Texas by military power, regardless of the Constitution, of the civil authority, and of all the legally vested, equitable, and natural rights of the people of Texas.

That such is the real and ultimate object of the military power now reigning in Mexico, and that the reasons assigned for the present hostile movements are nothing but mere pretexts to cover the main objects, and thus fill the country with troops, is clear and evident; but should there still remain doubts on the mind of any person, let him weigh and maturely consider the following facts, and draw his own conclusions.

The Constitutional Governor of the State, Viesca, and also another governor, Falcon, who had been constitutionally installed to succeed Viesca, have been deposed by the military at Monclova. The state authorities were imprisoned, and a governor appointed by the acting president of the general government of Mexico. This is evidently an act of military usurpation and despotism, and the state of Coahuila and Texas is at this time without any constitutional or legal government at all, and the people of every part of the state, and those of Texas in particular, are left at full liberty to provide for themselves as they may deem best.

But a more general, though succinct view of matters, is necessary for a full and proper understanding of this subject.

A disastrous and ruinous civil war was kindled in 1832, by means of an insurrection against the Bustamante administration, and general Santa Anna was placed at its head. The avowed object of this insurrection was to protect the federal system, and sustain the Constitution of 1824, which, it was then alleged, was attacked and endangered by the measures and projects of the Bustamante administration. On this principle the people of Texas supported general Santa Ana to defend the Constitution of 1824, and the federal system. This general was enthusiastically supported by every liberal and free Mexican, and by the friends of the federal system in every part of the nation. With this support he triumphed. He became the man of the people—the protector of the federal system—the oracle of public opinion—the arbiter of the nation's political destinies. How has he used this power, thus acquired? Let the military despotism now enthroned in Mexico upon the ruins of the federal system—let the friends of this system, who are now groaning in prisons or wandering in exile—let the Constitution of 1824, which still raises its dying voice from beneath the feet of military usurpation—let the free and impartial in Mexico and in the whole civilized world give the reply. They all say, he used it to destroy what he avowed he had taken up arms to protect; he used the federal party as blind instruments to destroy the federal system; he abandoned his federal friends who had given him power, and united with the military, ecclesiastical and central party, against whom he took up arms in 1832. The same party is now governing in Mexico, and they say to the people of Texas, in the language of friendship and persuasion—in that of sugar-plums and honey, that in the new Constitution, or central government that is organizing in Mexico, guarantees shall be given to the people of Texas, their rights shall be protected and secured, and they are told that the government expects from their "docility" a submission to all the reforms and alterations that may be agreed to by the majority of the nation. See the official letter of the Minister of Relations, a translation of which is published at the end of this paper, numbered I. But who compose, and what is this majority of the nation spoken of by the minister, and how are these reforms to be effected? It is composed of the same military power before spoken of, who have assumed the voice of the nation, and have suppressed, by military influence, the expression of public opinion; and the reforms are to be effected by unconstitutional means; a sufficient proof of which is, that the present Congress in Mexico, who was elected with constitutional powers alone, have, by their own act, declared themselves to be invested with the powers of a national convention, to frame a new constitution, or reform that of 1824 as they think proper.

What is here meant by "reforming" the Constitution of 1824, may be clearly deduced by the "reform" of the militia made by this same general Congress. This "reform" reduced the militia of the States to one militiaman for every five hundred inhabitants, and disarmed all the rest. The people of Zacatecas resisted this iniquitous law, but were unfortunate and compelled, for the time being, to submit to the military power of the reformer: so that, in fact, "reform" means destruction.

From this condensed view of the past let every impartial man judge for himself what degree of faith or credit ought to be given to the professions of the present government of Mexico, and ask himself whether a subtle poison may not be concealed in the sugar-plums, or a sting in the honey, that is now offered to the "docile," people of Texas.

But, in addition to this general view of matters, information of the most positive and unquestionable character is in the possession of this Committee, that every possible effort is making by the government in Mexico to raise troops, money, and resources to fit out an expeditionan army of invasion against Texas. Infantry, artillery, and cavalry have been ordered from San Luis Potosi, Saltillo, and Tamaulipas; and all the disposable infantry at Campeche has also been ordered on to Texas by water, as it was supposed they would stand the climate better than other troops. Magazines of arms and ammunition are forming at Matamoras, Goliad, and Bexar, and the old barracks and fortifications at the latter place are repairing to receive a large force, In short, the common talk all over Mexico among the military is the invasion of Texas.

Now, if the present government of Mexico is sincere in its profession of liberal guarantees for Texas, why all this preparation for a military invasion? Why has general Cos marched with all the disposable force at Matamoras (about four hundred men) to Bexar, where he now is, according to last accoynts? Can it be that the government, in its fatherly care for Texas, fears that there are servile slaves in this country, who will oppose liberal guarantees? Or is it that the promised guarantees, are only a cover and a false show, to quiet Texas until the general Government is prepared to give to it a military government.

It is well known to all that the reforms spoken of by the minister, and now being made in Mexico, contemplate the abolition of the whole federal system, the establishment of a central or consolidated government, which is to absorb and swallow up all the powers and authorities of the nation: military commandancies will supply the place of the state governments, and the vested rights of Texas under the constitution and law of May 7, 1824, are to be disregarded and violated.

Ought, or can, or will the people of Texas submit to all this? Let each man study the subject, and answer for himself. If he will submit, let him go to the military power and prostrate himself. If he will not submit, let him give his answer from the mouth of his rifle!

In regard to the present movements of the military, the letter from Gonzales, and extracts from other letters of unquestionable faith, [numbered 2.] will inform the public. By these letters the people of Texas are informed that their fellow-citizens at Gonzales have been attacked—the war has commenced! They will also perceive that general Cos has arrived with reinforcement of troops, and is preparing for a campaign of extermination against the people of Texas.

The head quarters of the ARMY OF THE PEOPLE for the present is at Gonzales. It is already respectable in numbers, and invincible in spirit. This Committee exhorts every citizen who is yet at home, to march as soon as possible to the assistance of his countrymen now in the field. The campaign is opened. Texas must be freed from military despots before it is closed.

S. F. AUSTIN Chairman of the Committee of the Jurisdiction of Austin.

San Felipe de Austin. October 3, 1835.

No. 1

Extract of an official letter from the Minister of Interior Relations of Mexico, to the Municipality of Gonzales.

"When the general Congress takes into consideration the reforms of the Constitution which have been requested unanimously by almost all the towns of the Republic, that august assembly will bear in mind the wants of the inhabitants of Texas, for the purpose of providing a remedy; and the government will very cheerfully co-operate in that object, by making the propositions which may most conduce to so laudable an end, reckoning always on the good sense and docility of the colonists, who, on adopting this for their country, subjected themselves to the alterations that, respecting the institutions, the majority of the nation may think fit to agree upon; which disposition the government is decided on supporting in fulfillment of its duty, as it is, also, of protecting all the inhabitants of the Republic, lovers of order, and of punishing those who foment sedition.

signed "BONILLA"

Dated Mexico, August 5, 1835

No. 2.

"Gonzales, September 30, 1835.

Fellow-Citizens of San Felipe and La Baca,—A detachment of the Mexican forces from Bexar, amounting to about one hundred and fifty men, are encamped opposite us: we expect an attack momentarily. Yesterday we were but eighteen strong, to-day one hundred and fifty, and forces continually arriving. We wish all the aid, and despatch, that is possible to give us, that we may take up soon our line of march for Bexar, and drive from our country all the Mexican forces. Give us all the aid and despatch that is possible.

Respectfully, yours,




Extracts from a letter, written by a gentleman of unquestionable veracity, dated La Bahia, October 1, 1836.

"The Alcalde of Goliad was struck or whipped in the street by an officer, for not being able to get the carts ready as soon as he wanted them, to transport the arms, etc. to Bexar. A Mexican from Victoria was also insulted, as being one of the valientes of Guadalupe; the soldiers saying that it would be only a short time until they visited us, and helped themselves to what cash and other things we had. The new officers who came with the arms, said that, as soon as general Cos should reach Bexar, it would be the signal of march for San Felipe de Austin."

"Cos is about to pass on to Bexar. He has a guard of thirty men with him, and the Morelos battalion of lancers is close at his heels. Cos has about $60,000 in specie, for the purpose of paying off the troops. He informed the Alcalde of the Nueces, that he intended to overrun Texas, and establish custom-houses and detachments of his army where he thought fit."

A letter from Bexar says, "the people must either submit, or prepare for defence; as the intention is to march into the colonies, and regulate the land affairs, and a great many things, by military force; also, to clear the country of what they choose to call vagrants, etc."

Information which is relied on, has been received from the interior, that the states of Zacatecas and Guadalaxara have risen and taken up arms in defence of the Constitution of 1824, and in support of the federal system; also, that there are insurrections in the state of Tamaulipas, in favor of the same cause; also, that the republican general, Juan Alvarez, has gained a victory over the government troops in the south of Mexico.

All these, and all the freemen of Mexico, are now fighting for the same cause that the people of Texas are defending. It is the cause of freedom— it is holy and just, and must triumph.