The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
COMMERCIAL ASPECTS OF THE TEXAN SANTA F.A
THOMAS MAITLAND MARSHALL
In June, 1841, the Texan Santa F6 expedition left its camp
near Austin and started on its toilsome march toward Santa Fe.1
Historians have speculated at length upon the reasons which caused
President Lamar to send the expedition. That those reasons,
whatsoever they were, appeared weighty to the President there
can be no doubt, for in sending forth the "Santa F6 Pioneers" it
was necessary for him to transcend his constitutional authority,
the congress of the republic, as the constitution demanded, having
given him no authorization for such an expedition.2
Historians who have written concerning the expedition have de-
pended largely upon the readable narrative of KIendall, the editor
of the New Orleans Daily Picayune, who accompanied the expe-
dition. Kendall says that he was informed by Major George T.
Howard, who was in New Orleans purchasing supplies for the ex-
pedition, that it was commercial in its intentions, the policy of
Lamar "being to open a direct trade with Santa F6 by a route
known to be much nearer than the great Missouri Trail." This
Kendall believed to be the primary object, but he subsequently
learned that an ulterior intention of Lamar was to make good
Texan pretensions to the territory east of the Rio Grande.4
Yoakum says that in 1841 Texas was engaged in building a
military road from Red River to the presidio crossing of the Nueces
and that a road was proposed from Austin to Santa F6. It was
believed that the Santa lP trade, which was supposed to amount
to four or five million dollars annually, might be diverted through
Texas, shortening the route three hundred or four hundred miles.
It was also believed that the province of New Mexico might be
1Austin City Gazette, June 16 and 23. 1841.
2Report of select house committee on Santa F6 expedition, December
6, 1841, in Austin City Gazette, December 15, 1841.
'George W. Kendall, Narrative of an Expedition across the great south-
western Prairies from Tewas to Santa Fd, 2v. London, 1845. An edition
was also published in 1844.
'Ibid., I, 14-15.
'Henderson Yoakum, History of Texas from its first Settlement in 1685
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 20, July 1916 - April, 1917. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101070/. Accessed May 23, 2015.