The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956

THE SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. LIX APRIL, 1956 No. 4
reKaws aid ilibusters
in the 1850's
EARL W. FORNELL
URING the 1850's filibustering campaigns into Cuba and
Nicaragua received substantial support from within the
state of Texas. The support originating in the Lone
Star State was not a calculated effort in expansion designed to
increase Southern representation in the national congress; rather,
filibustering expeditions were mobilized in Texas to achieve a
more immediate objective. Practical men wished to establish
independent slave-holding states, first in Cuba and more definitely
later in Central America, which could be used as local trading
stations for a traffic in African slaves. The potential expansion
of cotton planting in Texas during the 1850's presented an almost
unlimited opportunity to acquire wealth. The only element lack-
ing was an ample supply of cheap slave labor. On the domestic
Texas market a prime field Negro cost from $1200oo to $1500. A
more reasonable source of supply had to be found if Texas cotton
land was to be exploited. In the last half of the decade of the
185o's a large portion of the Texans living along the Gulf Coast
had come to the reluctant conclusion that the reopening of the
African slave trade was necessary to develop the cotton wealth
of the state. The leading newspapers vigorously urged a pro-
gram which would lead to a reopening of this trade. Although, in
such circumstances, adventurous men had already begun to run
African slaves into the state from Havana and Africa, a more
available source was needed. Nicaragua was seen as a potential
"way station" for cheap labor importation into Texas until such
a time as the slave trade might be legalized. The Nicaraguan
filibuster, General William Walker, attracted the attention and

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101162/. Accessed February 28, 2015.