Reminiscences of the Texas Republic
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[Photo: Ashbel Smith, chargé d'affaires Republic of Texas to England and France 1842-1844, negotiated the non-aggression Smith-Cuevas Treaty with Mexico which acknowledged the independence of Texas in 1845].
The annexation of Texas, from its first agitation commencing immediately after the victory of San Jacinto until its final accomplishment, was the subject for a while of absorbing national interest. It was also a measure of permanent national importance. Its influences will endure as long as the white races shall live on the continent of North America. To the slave-holding states the incorporation of Texas into the American union commended itself as a means of restoring for a time at least their equality with the non slaveholding states in political power in the American congress. The creation of new states in the west had already destroyed this equality. The disparity was from the same cause rapidly becoming greater, soon to be overwhelming. What wonder then that to the, statesmen of the south the annexation of Texas seemed a question of political prosperity or of hopeless inferiority---of political power or of political, subjugation. And such political inferiority, it was apprehended, would bring in its train a profound change, a revolution in the social and industrial institutions of the south, its social degradation and its economical ruin. The sagacious statesmen of the southern states clearly perceived the elements of the irrepressible conflict long before Mr. Seward formulated the idea into the phrase just quoted. The accession of votes which Texas coming into the. Union would bring to the south in the federal congress, with corresponding power, it was hoped would stave off the evil day. The people of the south too were not unjustly alarmed at machinations, carrying on mainly in Europe, which aimed through Texas to strike a fatal blow to southern institutions.
Considerations the reverse of those just alluded to, less strong and less general, prevailed in the northern states adverse to annexation. Underlying these considerations at the north was the greed of political power, which in the largest communities, in nations as in individual man, is whetted by possession and increase to grasp for more. Anti-slavery sentiments always existing at the north, originally most honest but dormant from respect to the rights of the states guarantied in the federal constitution before its late changes, had been long favored by British abolition emissaries from Exeter Hall, salaried by the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. Under these influences there was now rapidly developing a powerful political party with active, aggressive hostility to the south.
In this state of things north and south, the annexation of Texas entered as an element, at times a seemingly controlling element, in great political contests for several years before its consummation. It beat Mr. Clay for the presidency---it made Mr. Polk president of the United States. I might name other similar consequences, but such are matters of very minor importance.
Not only did Texas by annexation bring an imperial domain as an accession to the already vast American republic, it was also the sole occasion of the war with Mexico; a war which resulted in the further acquisition of the great south-western Pacific ocean regions, California and adjacent territories. If we examine the newspapers, letters, addresses, pamphlets exhibiting the political history of the times, and note the intense earnestness of the discussions, persons too young to remember those times can have only a faint idea of the absorbing interest of this subject. Robert J. Walker, secretary of the treasury; and Judge Upshur, secretary of state, published elaborate letters advocating annexation. Northern politicians denounced it in protests and official communications. It formed a prominent topic in messages of successive presidents, it was the subject of special messages to congress.
During its pendency annexation was not limited in interest nor in action to the North American continent. It gave rise to more than one European policy. It was a subject of diplomatic arrangements between the cabinets of the great powers of Western Europe, Great Britain, France and Spain. It also had its diplomatic disappointments and mortification. To some of these arrangements and disappointments I shall allude in the course of this address. To come lower down, the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, a restless humanitarian stalking horse, meddled with annexation for evil. Will the future historian find in the annexation of Texas the first act of the mighty drama which culminated in secession and on which the curtain fell at Appomattox Court House?
The leading external facts of annexation if I may so speak, from its inchoate agitation to its consummation, are known or may be found related more or less correctly in books. As it does not come within the scope of this address to aim at a complete history of annexation, I shall only advert very briefly to many of these facts, and the limits of an address will oblige me wholly to omit others. It is rather my purpose at this time to present sketches of the inner history, the diplomatic and personal history, the history of diplomatic movements, of parts performed by persons then at the head of affairs in Europe, in the United States, in Texas. I shall endeavor to throw some light on causes and motives little obvious to public view, little known or scarcely known at all, which bore on the progress of this great measure and especially on its closing scenes. I shall embrace matters known to but few persons on either side of the Atlantic.
For very few of the principal actors survive. General Houston, Anson Jones, Gen. Jackson, Mr. Tyler, Mr. Polk, Mr. Calhoun, Lord Aberdeen, Monsieur Guizot, Señor Garro, minister of Mexico at Paris, Don Thomas Murphy, Mexican minister at London, and not lest in the part he took in these affairs, Louis Philippe, who was often his own minister, and besides these, other persons, men of power and leadership in their day and deserving well to be named in this connection they are all dead. Peace to their ashes. Captain Elliot, the accomplished British minister to Texas, and the astute Count Alphonse de Saligny who represented France still survive.
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A matter connected with the relations of Texas to the lest of the territories constituting the United States of America, meets us on the threshold of our subject, and deserves consideration. A vague notion has existed that the territory of Texas, somehow once belonged to the United States before annexation. Mr. Tyler permitted himself in a message to congress, treating of Texas affairs, to speak of the re-annexation. You may search the entire domain of history and I assert alter full, conscientious examination of all the relations of Texas, you cannot find a more utterly groundless, a more utterly unfounded claim to territory than this one in question. The United States never had even the shadow of a right, never the faintest color of title. Let us appeal to facts universally known incontrovertible. Early Spanish navigators first discovered Texas, landed on its coast and laid claim to the country. Previously to 1595 they established settlements on both sides of the Rio Grande. This was nearly one hundred years before La Salle, the French navigator, then in search of the mouth of the Mississippi was carried by errors of reckoning out of his course and landed on Matagorda bay. He indeed claimed the country, it is alleged, in the name of his master Louis the XIV. Immediately this accidental lodgement was known, the viceroy of Mexico sent an armed force against the party left by La Salle, broke up their settlement, hunted up the fugitive Frenchman who had taken refuge among the Indians and put them to death. This is the whole of the French title to the territory once constituting the republic of Texas, today the state of Texas, which persons in the United States affected to claim as enuring to them under La Salle's settlement, as it has been termed, and by virtue of the Louisiana purchase. But the government of Spain not satisfied with this expansion of La Salle, forwith took steps to establish permanent military occupation of the country. Accordingly, A.D. 1698, thirteen years only afterwards, the Spanish presidio of San Antonio de Bexar was built---A.D. 1716 that of Espiritu Santo subsequently called Goliad---A.D. 1718, that of San Miguel de los Adaes on the Sabine---and, A.D. 1732, the town of Nacogdoches.
In A.D. 1742 the French post of Nachitoches being injured by an inundation of Red river, its commandant asked and obtained permission of Sandoval, commandant of the neighboring Spanish presidio of Adaes, to move some two hundred yards on to Spanish territory. For granting this permission Sandoval was immediately recalled by the viceroy of Mexico, tried by a court martial, and punished in Spanish phrase with the extreme rigor of the law---put to death. Spain thus held exclusive, unquestioned possession of Texas until A.D. 1763, when by the family compact, as it was called, that power became possessor of Louisiana by cession from France. In A.D. 1800 by the treaty of San Ildefonso, Louisiana was retroceded to France "with the same extent it had while in the possession of France." In A.D. 1803 the United States purchased Louisiana territory from France. Coveting Texas they subsequently applied to France to support their claim to the Rio Grande. Instead of sustaining this pretension the French government affirmed the title of Spain to the country west of the Sabine. Bonapart was then consul. Talleyrand, minister for foreign affairs, in his reply to the application of the United States, took occasion to hint more modesty in their demands. Matters remained thus until A.D., 1819. In the treaty of that year with Spain, the United States recognized the country of Texas as belonging of right to Spain; and they renounced forever for themselves all claim to the territories lying south and west of the line forming the boundary of Texas on the north and north-east at the time of annexation.
I have brought with me for inspection by members of the society, curious in these matters, a "Map of North America, with the West India Islands," published in London; February, A.D. 1777. It is stated to be "laid down, according to the latest surveys and corrected from the original materials of Governor Pownall, member of parliament." Mr. Edward Everett said to me that it is known by the name of Governor Pownall's map, that it is very rare, and that the one before you is one of the only three copies he had heard of. He had given his own copy to, the commission for running the north-eastern boundary between the United States and the British possessions. The map before us was obtained in the city of Mexico, when that city was in possession of the American armies under General Scott. You may observe that the Sabine is both dotted and colored throughout its entire course to indicate the boundary between Mexico and Louisiana. The lower portion of the Sabine is here called the Mexicano, the upper portions the Rio de los Adiais.
Was it then not worse than idle for President Tyler, in a message to congress, to speak of annexation as "reclaiming a territory formerly constituting a portion of the United States," and to style it reannexation with the implied idea that the people of Texas were only tenants at will, and not owners of our country, and that annexation was only a restoration, a reconveyance to the American union what was once rightfully a part of it? I have dwelt at some length on this preliminary portion of our subject, but not more than the vindication of truth demands, not more than is required by justice to the old citizens of Texas, who won this land with their swords, and who have a right to be truthfully represented before the world and before posterity.
As we have Governor Pownall's map before us, we may note that on the region between our north-eastern boundary and the Colorado, we find TICAS in capital letters. It is impossible to determine whether this is the name of a region of country or of its aboriginal inhabitants. The type is the same as that used elsewhere on the map to designate districts of country and also Indian tribes. Is it Indian or Spanish in its origin? Is it the name of an aboriginal tribe and the origin of the Spanish Texas or Tejas---is it the English spelling of the Spanish Texas or Tejas? It is clearly the same word as the present Texas, but I fear the etymology of the Latin word is still hopeless despite the waste we have witnessed of learning and conjecture. [Dr. John Gilmary Shea, the learned and conscientious translator of The History and General Description of New France, by the Rev. P. F. X. de Charlevoix, S.J., Vol. iv, page 84, note, says: "Father Morfi includes under the name of Texas (which he explains as Texia, friends the Texas, Asinais, Navedachos, Nagcodoches, Nacogdoches, Nadocogs, Ahijites Codogdachos and Nasonis. These Texas, in 1761 were governed by Sanate Adivia (Great Lady), a chieftainess with four husbands. Father Morfi's Memorias para la Historia de la Provincia de Texas, are still in manuscript.---Galv. His. Society]
If I do not tire your patience with preliminary matters I will relate some incidents which for a while seemed likely to launch Texas on a widely different career from the one it has followed.
More than thirty years ago I met repeatedly in Paris a personage very noted in European history during the early years of the present century. The Prince of Peace, Il Principe de la Paz, Don Manuel Godoy. This personage said to me that his master Charles IV, king of Spain, had bestowed on him the province of Texas to be an apanage of the house of Godoy. The king had also assigned to him the young women in the Female Asylums of Spain to go thither---that is to come hither---together with 2000 soldiers, for the settlement and permanent inhabitation of this, our present state of Texas. The soldiers were designated, the transports were being got in readiness to sail. The French invasion of Spain, under Napoleon, at this moment, made the soldiers needed at home. The enterprise was arrested. The Spanish damsels were restored to their asylums. The mighty events in Spain following in quick succession and involving nearly all Europe prevented the enterprise of Godoy from being ever resumed. There appears no reason for doubting Godoy's narrative. The whole was a fitting incident in the history of the Spanish court during those hideous times. When I used to see Godoy, then seventy-six or seventy-eight years old, he, still exhibited traces of that beauty of Antinous which more than thirty years before had wrought the infamy of the court in which he ruled, the all powerful favorite of the queen as well as of the king. When I met him, Prince Godoy was living in very plain apartments on the fifth story in a small street near the boulevard. His sole means of subsistence in his age and in his poverty, he said to me, was 5000 francs paid to him annually by King Louis Philippe---a salary he was once, entitled to as grand officer of the legion of honor. I sometimes saw him wrapped in a Spanish cloak, sauntering solitary on the boulevards, gazing at the thing; displayed in the shop-windows.
The great battle of the old Texians for life, for freedom, for their homes and for their altars, culminated in victory on San Jacinto. When pausing from this death-struggle they contemplated their situation and cast about for the future; their home government and their external political relations, thenceforward naturally occupied the foremost place in their counsels. To resume any union with Mexico on any guaranties whatever, in view of the causes which had impelled them to take up arms, was a folly not to be thought of. From Mexico they were effectually and forever separated. So far as concerned that country they felt themselves forever independent. They had won and well could keep their lands. But other matters equally grave demanded attention. They put in operation a provisional government for immediate use. The next pressing business was to obtain the recognition of their independence by the nations of the world, and to establish permanent international relations for Texas. The two objects were inseparable. Should they look to founding a permanently separate, independent state, with a population so meagre in numbers? Bold in battle, they were modest in council. Accordingly at the first election of officers under their new constitution, polls were also opened for votes for or against annexation to the United States. The vote for annexation was almost unanimous.
Application was made by Texas to the American government for their recognition of our independence. The recognition in the American senate was by a vote of 23 to 22. Had the taking of deferred to the next day it would have been in the negative. For a motion to reconsider, made that day, was lost by a tie vote, 24 to 24---a full senate. A year lacking a few days had elapsed since the overwhelming victory of San Jacinto. Mexico appeared to make then even an effort. It was a year lacking two short months since General President Santa Anna had by solemn treaty acknowledged the independence of Texas. A young man at this day may well be pardoned for feeling surprise that party prejudice and unreasoning fanaticism should have so periled before the American senate the acknowledgment of what was after all simply an obvious fact.
The proposition for annexation, presented to the American secretary of state, Mr. Forsyth, was at once categorically declined. The application was withdrawn by President Houston. The Texas commissioner sent to England and France, negotiated treaties with those powers. These are matters of published history: I need not dwell on them. In accordance with the intimation that personal reminiscences characteristic of those times will be interesting I will relate here an incident illustrative of the times and of President Houston.
San Antonio was much the largest, richest, most influential city of Texas of that period. It was remote from the seat of the Texian government. There was no intervening population between it and the Mexican frontier. For its protection and that of the country, a considerable squadron of cavalry was stationed in that city. This squadron was indeed the only military force of Texas kept mobilized that was ready to take the field. Major Western, who commanded this body of cavalry, had by some acts and significant innuendoes intimated that he cared very little for the one horse government in the city of Houston. President Houston was apprehensive that an order to recall the major or to relieve him might be disobeyed. It was announced publicly that a minister would be appointed to represent Texas at the court of St. James. Col. Wm. H. Patton was going to San Antonio on his own private business. President Houston, in a long and friendly conversation with Col. Patton, at length adverted as by accident to the proposed mission to England. He spoke of Major Western, lauded his polished manners, his courtly address, his diplomatic ability---said the major reminded him strongly of Mr. Van Buren---asked Col. Patton what he thought of the appointment of Major Western to this mission. All this he begged Col. Patton to hold in strict confidence---" nothing was absolutely determined on."---"Col. Patton need not be surprised at anything." The president, waiting till he heard of Col. Patton's arrival in San Antonio, sent through the war department orders to Major Western to report in person at the seat of government. The major presented himself in Houston radiant and decorous as Titus at the head of the Roman legions organized for the conquest of Jerusalem. Time rolled on. The major became visibly impatient bespite the gracious accord with which President Houston greeted him. At length he began to inquire very quietly who was to be appointed to England---he inquired of your speaker who was a member of Houston's staff but Ashbel Smith "knew nothing of cabinet matters, he was not a member of the cabinet." Finally, instructions were being made out in the state department and Gen. Pinckney Henderson was making preparations to leave London. The rumor leaked out "the major would not believe it"- "President Houston had better judgement of men"-"what did Henderson know of diplomacy." The appointment of Gen. Henderson became an established fact. The major "was disgusted" - "he would go back to San Antonio"---and so he did, but he found his successor there well established in command of the Cavalry. Referring to this matter at the time, Gen. Houston said to your speaker that he would have no pronunciamentos of the Mexican fashion in Texas during his presidency. During his second presidency he had to confront and ward off the far more perilous danger of two pronunciamentos which were threatened and which might have proved disastrous but for his consummate tact in charming them down. Recurring to the incident just related, Gen. Houston at a subsequent time provided comfortably for his disappointed old friend, the major, by placing him at the head of the Indian bureau.
Treaties with the two great powers of western Europe, England and France, appear to have been negotiated with out any serious obstacle. There were indeed some curious incidents connected with the French negotiations which our limits to-night prevent me from relating.
The votes of the American senate on recognition and on the motion to reconsider when carefully examined being adverse to Texas, the prompt and unmitigated rejection of the application for annexation by Mr. Forsyth, American secretary of state, seemed to put an end to all Prospect of Texas forming a portion of the American Union. The term of General Houston's presidency expired in December, 1838. He was succeeded by Mirabeau B. Lamar, a gentleman distinguished for chivalric courage, spotless integrity land pure patriotism. The subject of annexation was indeed at rest. Opposition to it was the avowed policy of the new administration. Events of grave moment at the time took place during General Lamar's presidency, but none having immediate, direct bearing on annexation. It is sufficient for our purpose at this time merely to advert to some of these; we need not dwell on them. A ridiculous affair that should never have been suffered to be heard of, the killing of a pig at a horse trough, embroiled the administration of Texas with M. de Saligny, the French minister. This gentleman demanded his passports, suspended diplomatic intercourse, and left the country during the rest of Gen. Lamar's administration. The ill-advised Santa Fe expedition ended in almost ignominious disaster.
The finances of the country, always a sure index of national prosperity out of adversity, were at the lowest possible ebb. The public debt was increased enormously, several hundred per centum -not a dollar in the treasury-public credit absolutely null-its redbacks issued on the faith of the republic had fallen in nominal value to three or four cents on the dollar and were used only in fancy traffic or wilder speculations. Mr. McIntosh, who had been left by Gen. Henderson on his return to Texas, as charge d' affaires at Paris, was suffered to remain there through sheer neglect, his salary unpaid, himself sorely embarrassed by want of means of subsistence. Gen. Lamar's administration was not a success. The country had not improved. The Indian tribes on our frontier, friendly under the preceding administration, had become exasperated and hostile. Texas had not grown in the esteem of nations.
During this administration Gen. James Hamilton, representing Texas in Europe, had negotiated with the British government a convention, in which it was stipulated that Texas would assume £1,000,000 of the debt due from Mexico to the English holders of its bonds, when the British government by its good offices with Mexico should obtain peace and the recognition of Texian independence by Mexico. British statesmen were sincerely desirous for the prosperity of Texas and the firm establishment of its independence. This was the moving cause of the successful negotiation of this convention of mediation, in such untoward circumstances at home.
General Houston's second administration as president was inaugurated amid this general dilapidation. His first care was the finances. The system of exchequers limited in amount not to exceed $200,000 was adopted to meet immediate wants. They were denounced as a revival of old redbacks under a new name. Despite ill boding vaticinations of speedy worthlessness, despite the virulent and contemptuous hostility and machinations of speculators and bankers combined, mostly residents of Galveston, the exchequers, after temporary depression below their face value, rose to full par with gold and continued at par till the end of the republic. They were freely received in exchange for American eagles, English sovereigns and French napoleons. During the latter period of the republic they were in little use. They accomplished their object. Texas enjoyed practically, a currency of gold. Gen. Houston stated to your speaker, at the time of the first issuance of exchequers, that he alone was responsible for the system-that in this matter, his secretary of the treasury was only a clerk.
The French imbroglio demanded early attention. Your speaker was the bearer of a letter from the state department to the French government which, adverting to the difficulty only to ignore it, expressed a wish that M. de Saligny should return to his post in Texas. This gentleman did so. This was the end of the imbroglio. Admiral Baudin afterwards informed me in France that M. de Saligny on this account was in bad odor at the foreign office---tres mal note aux Affaires Etrangeres. France might afford to do wrong she could not submit to be rendered ridiculous. The imbroglio, absurd in its origin, might have led to disagreeable consequences. Your speaker who was authorized to permit M. de Saligny to take a copy of the letter from the state department just alluded to, met in company with this gentleman in New Orleans, Captain Renard of the French navy, commanding the ship of war La Brillante, M. de Saligny informed him that Captain Renard with his ship were there subject to his orders. On reading the letter, M. de Saligny had no orders to give.
Ratified copies of the treaty negotiated by Gen. Henderson and of the convention negotiated by Gen. Hamilton, both with Great Britain, had not been exchanged. Your speaker, then newly appointed minister of Texas to England and France, was charged with the exchange of ratified copies of these instruments. On his arrival in London in April, 1842, he learned that two war steamers were building in British ports and nearly completed for Mexico and to be employed against Texas. They were the Guadalupe, an iron steamer building by Messrs. Laird at Berkenhead on the Mersey opposite Liverpool. She was very strong, drew only four feet with her armament aboard, constructed to operate on the coast to ravage the coast country. The other war steamer was the Montezuma, a larger vessel of deeper draught, building by Messrs. Green and Wigram, in the India docks on the Thames near London. These war steamers were contracted for by M. Lizardi, Mexican consul, at London, avowedly for the war against Texas. I could not ascertain whether or not Mexico had been able to raise money for building these vessels by negotiating a loan. A rumor in London gave. out that the steamers were paid for with money furnished to General Santa Anna by the Mexican clergy. I also heard some time afterwards that the English holders of Mexican bonds had enabled Mexico to make an additional loan of £200,000. However that may be, it was too unimportant a matter to be worth inquiring into afterwards when the fact might have been ascertained. My clear opinion at the time was that the abolitionists of the British and Foreign Anti- Slavery Society rendered the most zealous countenance and aid to Mexico in this attempt at a renewal of active hostilities against Texas. Whether they made contributions in money or how much or whether they lent their powerful influence only is of no moment. As a general fact these abolition leaders were much more liberal with their influence than with their own money. They were remorseless enemies of Texas to the last.
I have spoken of the building, of these war steamers in England, though having at first blush so little apparent connection with the future relations of Texas, because they became closely connected with the first or opening scene, if they. did not indeed constitute its leading incident, of the last act of the drama of annexation. For four years from the peremptory rejection of the application of Texas by Mr. Secretary Forsyth, annexation had lain at rest, sometimes alluded to, but practically in indefinite abeyance. From this time forward there was no real pause in its agitation until it was forever sealed by vote of the citizens of Texas, A. D. 1845.
[Photo: General Pinckney Henderson, minister to England and France, first governor of the State of Texas, USA] The British cabinet on the application of General Henderson, commissioner of Texas for the admission of the republic of Texas into the family of nations, recognized with reasonable, graceful promptness Texas as a nation, and entitled to all the courtesies and rights due and belonging to all sovereign nations. They desired that Texas should continue a separate, independent nation and government. They made no secret of their wish nor of their reasons for this wish. On the contrary these reasons were frankly avowed. They were in substance -- Texas was a purely agricultural country. For obvious causes agriculture would for a long period constitute the main pursuit of its people, however numerous they might become. They would of course be large consumers of foreign manufactures. The freight of these and of raw materials in, exchange for them would give employment to a considerable commercial marine. Great Britain desired to find in Texas a market for her merchandize "without having to climb over the United States tariff." These are Lord Aberdeen's words to me. Texas was known to be the best cotton-growing country in the world -- it was of .immense extent ---it was now in the hands of a people, energetic, civilized, who would utilize its vast capacities instead of allowing them to remain sterile as they had been for three centuries under Spanish rule. Great Britain consumed millions of bales of cotton. They wished not to be almost wholly dependent as they then were on supplies from the United States. Their statesmen made no secret of their willingness to see an independent state established on the south-western border of the American union which should arrest its further extension in that direction and prevent encroachment on the territories of Mexico.
The foreign commerce of Mexico had been long done mostly with or through British merchants --- its mines of silver and gold were worked with British capital-their rich yields of the precious metals reached the world through British merchants. That government naturally wished to preserve this field of British enterprise against encroachment by a powerful neighbor. The British cabinet knew that Mexico could never subjugate Texas. They desired peace for Mexico as well as for Texas; for only in peace could the industrial and commercial interests just alluded to prosper. You see herein, gentlemen, a policy that might be honestly entertained and. honorably avowed. It worked no injustice to other nations. There was neither secrecy nor the affectation of secrecy. The American minister at London during this period, Mr. Edward Everett, as the minister of the nation most friendly to Texas, was made acquainted with the details of the intercourse and business of the Texan minister with the British cabinet. It was eminently: proper that a frank and good understanding should subsist between the American and Texian ministers at the British court. Other reasons requiring there should be a full and frank understanding between them arose afterwards:
At no time, in no manner, did the British government attempt to exercise or even hint the remotest wish to exercise any political influence in the affairs of Texas, or to possess any advantage, obtain any facility, enjoy any privilege that was not equally and as fully accorded to every other power in amity with Texas.
I have already spoken of the convention negotiated under Gen. Lamar's administration stipulating for the mediation of Great Britain with Mexico. I reached London in April, 1842, bearing ratified copies of this convention and of the general treaty previously negotiated, to be exchanged on behalf of Texas for similar copies from the British government. Before my arrival, the minister of foreign affairs, Lord Aberdeen, not waiting for the exchange of ratifications, had instructed Mr. Packenham, British minister at Mexico, to bring the proffer of mediation before that power. Considerable correspondence had taken place. The Mexican government categorically refused to entertain the question of peace on any terms into which the independence of Texas entered. Señor Tornel, one of the cabinet but not of the foreign department, assured Paekenham that no man, no party in Mexico, could admit the independence of Texas even for a moment and sustain themselves. Such was the information of Lord Aberdeen to the Texan minister relative to mediation under the convention.
The ratified treaties were exchanged with Lord Aberdeen in face of urgent remonstrances by the anti-slavery abolitionists and in disregard of a caution obtruded by a Mr. Doran Maillard. This Mr. Maillard had just published a voluminous libel of 500 or 600 pages on Texas, its climate, its productions and its people. It has already been stated that they were building at this time in England for Mexico two powerful war steamers. They were nearly ready to sail and formed part of ample preparations making by Mexico to subjugate Texas. They carried each, two 68-pounders Paixhan pivot guns, besides lighter armament and small arms. Their munitions of war and supplies for men were in quantities extended into cargo. In the words of Mr. Laird about the Guadalupe which built by his house, "they were armed to the teeth." They were commanded by two distinguished British officers, Captain Cleveland and Captain Charley of the royal navy. They were manned by British men mostly recruited in London and Portsmouth.
An energetic protest with details of the facts was promptly addressed by the Texian minister to the minister for foreign affairs against this violation of neutrality by permitting the building and arming of vessels of war and the organization of hostile expeditions in British ports against Texas, a country in amity with Great Britain. The British cabinet, acted tardily and with seeming great reluctance in forbidding these vessels to sail from their ports armed, laded with military supplies, manned by British seamen avowedly for the Mexican service against Texas. They were also slow in forbidding their gallant officers just named from taking active service under Mexico against Texas. In the case there were some embarrassing circumstances. The models of these steamers had been furnished by the British admiralty. The admiralty had also granted permission to the officers in question to take temporary in the Mexican navy. Such permission was not unusual. Permission had been given not many years previously to British officers to take service in the internal war of war of Spain and in a similar war in Portugal. The several acts complained of in the protest of the Texas minister, the armament, the taking of foreign service by officers, the recruiting of men in Great Britain for foreign service were not necessarily violations of British municipality law. The Act 59, George III, commonly styled the foreign enlistment act, conferred full discretionary power on the council in such matters.