The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991

Politics and the Treatment of the Mexican
Prisoners after the Battle of San Jacinto
MARGARET SWETT HENSON*
1 LITICAL RIVALRIES IN BOTH MEXICO AND TEXAS AFFECTED THE WAY
Sthe Mexican captives were treated after the Battle of San Jacinto in
1836. Gen. Sam Houston's plan to hold captured president Antonio
L6pez de Santa Anna hostage to insure the withdrawal of the remain-
ing Mexican troops from the Brazos to Goliad was an immediate suc-
cess when Gen. Vicente Filisola followed the orders of his superior. But
contrary to modern popular belief, the Mexican retreat to the Rio
Grande during May 1836 did not insure Texas's independence. Politi-
cally ambitious generals in Mexico urged revenge of national honor
and called for an immediate reinvasion and reconquest of Texas, and
during June and July 1836, the Texans braced for another attack. Am-
bitious men in Mexico who wanted to supplant Santa Anna declared
the presidency vacant and quite correctly refused to honor agreements
made by the captive executive.
While the Mexican leadership was in chaos and the country unable to
finance a military expedition into Texas, the Texans quarreled among
themselves. Ad interim president David G. Burnet, jealous of Hous-
ton's popularity, resented the role played by the military in the prelimi-
nary negotiations with Santa Anna and at first sided with those who de-
manded his execution. The disposition of Santa Anna remained a
political issue through November 1836 when, by executive order, newly
installed president Houston released him to go to Washington, D.C.
The delays in returning Santa Anna to Mexico to plead for recognition
of Texan independence-if indeed he had carried out his promise-
resulted in his diminished influence. The presence of so many hostages
in Texas was a financial drain for the new republic. To ease the prob-
* Margaret Swett Henson, who taught at the University of Houston Clear Lake before retir-
Ing, is the author of a number of books and articles including Samuel May Williams: Early Texas
Entrepreneur (1976), Juan Dav Bradburn A Reappraisal of the Mexcan Commander of Anahuac
(1982), Baytown: A Iltstory (1986), Chambers County- A Pactoral Ilutory co-authored with Kevin
Ladd (1988), and "Tolbry Sentiment in Anglo-elxan Public Opinion, 1832-1836," Southwestern
Hlitoncal Quarterly, XC (July, 1986).

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/. Accessed August 4, 2015.