The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 36, July 1932 - April, 1933

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

DANIEL WEBSTER AND MEXICAN RELATIONS: THE
SANTA FE PRISONERS
R. EARL MCCLENDON
As Secretary of State in the Harrison-Tyler administration
Daniel Webster was called upon to interpose in the name of his
government on behalf of a number of citizens of the United
States who were captured on the ill-fated Texas Santa Fe expe-
dition. The resulting negotiations were rendered all the more
difficult by virtue of the unusual manner in which those individ-
uals had found their way into Mexican prisons. It is the pur-
pose of this paper to review this brief episode in the relations
between the United States and Mexico which, though peaceably
settled, was connected essentially with the fortunes of the young
republic whose annexation to the United State a few years later
was followed by war between the two nations. No attempt is
made to relate in any detail the story of the well-known expedi-
tion as such. A few summary statements seem necessary, how-
ever, in order to clarify the discussion which is to follow.
The primary purpose of the Santa Fe expedition may be con-
sidered as two-fold. Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar as President
of Texas hoped to extend the actual authority of that republic
as far as the upper waters of the Rio Grande River, in what was
then and now is known as New Mexico, where, according to the
claim of the Texan government, it rightfully belonged; and he
wished to establish definite commercial relations between Santa
Fe and what for the time may be regarded as Texas proper.
Santa Fe and the surrounding territory, still in the possession
of Mexico, was included in the department of New Mexico which
was controlled by a governor-general sent up by the central gov-
ernment. Lamar, however, had been led to believe by apparently
reliable reports that the inhabitants of Santa Fe, who but re-
cently had engaged in revolt, were still dissatisfied with the po-
litical control of Mexico and would welcome the sovereignty of
Texas. By means of a letter written on April 14, 1840, he in-
vited them to become citizens of Texas, and announced that he
planned near the end of the following summer to send a com-
mission to explain to them the advantages of a union between

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 36, July 1932 - April, 1933. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101093/. Accessed April 21, 2014.