The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997

A Choice of Destiny:
Immigration Policy, Slavery, and the Annexation
of Texas
DAVID E. NARRETT*
ON MARCH 21, 1845, MEMUCAN HUNT, THE FORMER TEXAS MINISTER
to the United States, spoke for a citizens' committee at Galveston
which demanded the immediate ratification of annexation to the Ameri-
can Union. "This great measure," he declared, would determine "the
destiny of millions yet unborn." To Hunt, the choice before citizens was
no less stark than deciding between American and European loyalties. If
annexation were rejected, he feared that the Texas Republic would be
forced into an alliance with Great Britain that would have devastating so-
cial consequences for his nation. Should large numbers of English immi-
grants be diverted to Texas, Hunt asked rhetorically, would they not
"control the destinies of this country" and subject the Republic to "the
growing power, the fanaticism, and reckless violence of Abolitionism?"
Without labeling all European newcomers as unpatriotic, Hunt cast
doubt upon those foreigners in Texas who had settled under coloniza-
tion contracts in their own communities, "rendering it almost impossi-
ble [for them] to mix and amalgamate with our citizens." The growing
foreign presence was linked to an even greater danger, namely "that the
slave-holders of the South have ceased almost entirely to immigrate to
our country." Annexation to the United States was imperative in Hunt's
view in order to counteract British influence, to provide a secure politi-
cal environment for slavery, and thereby to encourage the arrival of
* David E. Narrett is associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Arlington. The
author would like to thank all his friends and colleagues at the University of Texas at Arlington
who have read and commented on this essay. Special thanks to Dr. Jose Delgado, who assisted
greatly in translating Spanish-language sources, to Fred Hoover for his help in research, and to
Gerald Saxon and Kit Goodwin for their suggestions about maps and illustrations. Bret Carroll
and Richard Francaviglia offered useful critiques at several points. The author also acknowledges
the support of UTA's Center for Greater Southwestern Studies and the History of Cartography
which funded travel to archives.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/. Accessed April 18, 2014.