hc Callaoha &Epdeditio o/ 1855
JIdiaHs or VNeroes?
RONNIE C. TYLER
OR SOUTHERN SLAVEHOLDERS, THE 1850'S WERE TRYING YEARS.
In most sections of the country abolitionists were cam-
paigning tirelessly for manumission. Even more irritating
was the actual loss of slave property, especially from the border
states of Maryland and Delaware. The loss of Negroes was not
confined, however, to the traditional border states, for the prob-
lem was even more vexing in Texas where there was the luring
possibility of escape across the unguarded international bound-
ary into Mexico.2 Senator Sam Houston called attention several
times in Senate debate to this generally unknown fact and often
compared Texas to a border state.3 But neither Houston nor the
other Texas delegates in Congress could obtain any legislation
to remedy the situation.
John S. "Rip" Ford, long an advocate of reclaiming slave
property from Mexico, had attempted to gain support for such
action ever since purchasing The Southwestern American in
1851.4 Ford estimated in 1855 that there were approximately
*Portions of this article were read at the Annual Meeting of the Texas State
Historical Association, April 3o, 1966, in Austin, Texas.
1According to these statistics (which are admittedly incomplete), Maryland lost
the most fugitives-279-while Delaware had the greatest percentage loss-slightly
more than one per cent. Joseph C. G. Kennedy, Preliminary Report on the Eighth
Census (Washington, 1862), 137.
"Frederick Law Olmsted wrote that "runaways were constantly arriving" in
Piedras Negras, just across the border from Eagle Pass. Olmsted, A Journey
Through Texas: A Saddle-Trip on the Southwestern Frontier (New York, 1857), 324.
'Congressional Globe, Appendix, Vol. XXII, Part 2 (1849-1850), 1548; Amelia
W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker (eds.), The Writings of Sam Houston, z8z3-
z863 (8 vols.; Austin, 1938-1943), IV, 214.
'Ford to Edward Burleson, Jr., February 15, 1856, Edward Burleson, Jr. Papers
(Archives, University of Texas Library, Austin). Ford changed the name of his
paper from The Southwestern American to The Texas State Times (Austin) in
1853. John Salmon Ford, Rip Ford's Texas, ed. by Stephen B. Oates (Austin,
1963), xxix, 2o8.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101199/. Accessed January 31, 2015.