Ben Milam and United States and
Edited by GEORGE R. NIELSEN*
BENJAMAN RUSH MILAM, KNOWN PRIMARILY IN TEXAS HISTORY FOR
his courageous leadership and death in the capture of San Antonio
in December, 1835, was among the first Anglo Americans in Texas.'
He came to Texas in 1818, prior to the Mexican Revolution, to trade
with the Comanche Indians. The friendship of Milam and Joel Poin-
sett, the recipient of this letter, evidently grew out of an acquaintance
which developed when Poinsett, as United States minister to Mexico,
secured the release of Milam from a Mexican prison. Milam had served
in James Long's expedition in 1820o offering aid to the Mexican in-
surgents. Long, however, was captured, imprisoned for two years,
and then shot by a guard. Believing the deed to have been a political
assassination, Milam and a few others decided to avenge Long's death.
Their plans became known and they also were imprisoned.
After his release Milam turned to land investment and colonization.
The colonization law of Coahuila y Texas enticed many, including
Milam, to apply for contracts. While his application was pending,
Milam cautioned Poinsett about the drawbacks of the land market
in Texas. In his letter, Milam also described the unsettled conditions
on the frontier and, in the fashion of a land-developer seeking tran-
quility, hinted at a solution to the unrest through cooperative rela-
tions between Mexico and the United States. No evidence is available
indicating further communication between Milam and Poinsett. Short-
ly after the writing of this letter Milam not only was awarded an
empresario contract, but also served as the agent for another em-
presario, Arthur G. Wavell. Milam's original letter is held by The
Historical Society of Pennsylvania. It is printed here with no editorial
alteration except for a few changes in punctuation to facilitate reading.
*George R. Neilsen, associate professor at Concordia Teachers College, River Forest,
Illinois, is at present doing research at the Australian National University under a
Fulbright research grant. He has published previous articles in the Quarterly about
'This account of Milam is based on Lois Garver, "Benjamin Rush Milam," Southwest-
ern Historical Quarterly, XXXVIII (October, 1934), 79-121.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117147/. Accessed June 2, 2015.