Telegraph and Texas Register (Columbia, Tex.), Vol. 1, No. 29, Ed. 1, Tuesday, September 13, 1836

' MU
E X Jk.
VOIi. I.
WO. S9.
For the Telegraph.
No. 2.
It Was said of a great Captain of antiquity, that he knew how to
gain a victory, but not to profit by it. Had the Texians promptly fol-
lowed up the decisive advantage obtained on the field of San Jacinto,
tho panic stricken troops of Filisola, the largest division of the Mexican
army, would have fallen an easy prey to tBe vactacs. What peculiar
circumstances-induced this- Iuactiog-'of "tn5HgJ5ri&Srnphffs not been
fully developed, and it is not my design to enquire jpto them. The
The fact that an Armistice was entered into between General Houston
and General Santa Anna, is established beyond disputation. The
effect of that Armistice, it is my present purpose to elucidate.
Had the Mexican Chiefj whose faithlessness and cruelty have been
published to the world in every variety of aspect and every shade of
coloring, been hewn down on the battle ground by some gallant Texian,
as were hundreds of his vassals, the world would have hailed the event
as a just retributiou for the many and wanton injuries we had sustained
athis hands. But he escaped the dignity of such a fate. He was brought
into camp a prisoner of war. Had the Commander-in-Chief of the
Texian Army, even then, promptly pronounced his doom, and carried
the stern decree into effect, by causing him to atone with iiis own life,
for the lives of the gallant Fannin and his brave companions, the world
would have sanctioned the bloody sacrifice ; and the humanity of the
most humane, would have discerned enough of mitigation, to neutralise
every feeling of disgust. But Santa Anna was received a prisoner of
war. Let it not be-imagined that I intend to censure General Houston
for receiving his distinguished prisoner to the hospitality of his camp.
So far from this is true, that I am persuaded, the magnanimity exhibited
to a captive " whose war of extermination" had partaken largely
of the spirit of Vandalism, will reflect a lustre on the moral character of
Texas, that will blend beautifully with its military fame.
Before the advent of the blessed author of the Christian religion,
even among the most enlightened barbarians of antiquity, the fate of a
prisoner of war, was determined by the capricious and too often inhu-
man humors of the captor. But the meliorated morals, the refined hu-
manity and the political wisdom of modern times, have smoothed the
gruff visage of war, and softened its desultory and ungoverned cruel-
ties, into something like rule. The usages of war are "now clearly as-
certained and their obligations recognized, by all the powers of Chris-
"tendom. The Turk too, is wont to respect their humanizing restraints.
The laws of nations have been amplified, refined and systematized ;
and the people that now depart from their benignant precepts, incur
certain odium, if not positive chastisement. And what are the usages
of war, in relation to one, surrendered and received as a prisoner ?
That his life shall be preserved is the first and unequivocal axiom of
those approved customs. It is the untutored ssvage only, who immo-
lates his' captives to Jjie disembodied manes oT Tiisslaughtered friends.
To his benighted fancy, the spirits of the slain in battle rejoice in the
sufferings and gambol amidst the dying agonies of captive enemies.
But the light of Christianity has abolished these superstitions and bar-
barous rites, and has substituted a code of practice more congenial with
humanity and more consonant to the Supreme wisdom and benevolence.
If a prisoner of war is, a priori, assured of his life ; what is the
effect of an Armistice and a treaty entered into with such prisoner 1
He that-reads can answer, for common sense and common justice dic-
tate the reply. The Commander-in-Chief of the Texian Army, in pre-
sence of his Superior Officer, the Secretary of War, did enter into a
treaty with General Santa Anna, and consequent to that treaty, an Ar-
mistice was established between the belligerent powers. Santa Anna
issued his orders to his second in command, to retreat with all his
forces. Those Orders were remitted to the enemy's camp by General
Houston, under a flag of truce. They were promptly obeyed. The
enemy did retreat and the Texian Commander was relieved from the
inquietudes incident to the proximity of a hostile and numerically supe-
rior force.
Who that is at all acquainted with the" rudiments of international
law, can doubt the import or the validity of the guarantee, arising from
this Military Convention, which assured to Santa Anna protection to
his person 1 A specific promise was not requisite. Tacit or construc-
tive obligations, when clearly ascertained, are as obligatory as express
ones, and the sanctity of covenants relates to the one as well as
the other. Suppose that General Houston had made no positive pro-
mise of protection to General Santa Anna : that in the occasional hal-
lucinations of his intellect, he had made a mental reservation, that his
-captive should still abide the vengeance of an injured people ; could
this secret and disingenuous intention defeat the plain meaning and the
"humane principles of the laws of war 1 Assuredly not. The moral
character of Texas, was deeply implicated, and a violation of the im-
plied guarantee, would haveftntailed perpetual infamy on a people just
emerging into nationality.
Such was tho condition of things when I arrived at the camp on
Buffalo bayou. The members of the Cabinet were principally there.
The worthy Vice President, Lorenzo de Zavala had preceded me some
days. The Secretary of State elect, the Hon. Samuel P. Carson, had
been compelled by the infirmities ofir delicate constitution, to relin-
quish the duties and fatigues of office, and he obtained permission
. to visit the United States. The vacancy was not filled until after
the battle of 21st April, when James Collinsworth who had raised his
chivalry conspicuous amidst a crowd of heroes, was inducted to that
office. Mr. Hardimau, the Secretary of the Treasury, reached the
-camp before me. The Secretary of the Navy was also there. The
Secretary of War, Mr. Rusk, had been in cairip for some weeks. Peter
"W. Grayson, Esq., was invited to and accepted the office of Attorney
General, which had become vacant by the premature and accidental
-death of the Honorable David Thomas, after I arrived at camp.
The great battle and the consequences flowing and to flow from it,
were soon introduced as subjects of deliberation. Among the first inci-
dents to that discussion, and before any regular Cabinet meeting was
had, was the presentation to'me of a protocol of a treaty, in pencil, com-
prising 7 or 8 articles, by Mr. Rusk the Secretary of War. These arti-
cles I subsequently used as a guide in drawing up the first entire for-
mula of a treaty that was ever committed to paper by this infant Re-
public, and the spirit of the pencilled articles were preserved in that
formula. The treaty which I drew up received the sanction of the cn-
'tire Cabinet, the Secretary of the Navy excepted, and was intended
to be submitted to the Mexican President, as the will of the Govern-
ment of Texas.
The discussions of the Cabinet were animated and drawn to a con-
siderable length. But it is a source of gratification to me, that no bois-
terous or acrimonious disputation has ever occurred in the Cabinet con-
sultations of this Government: that a mutual respect, and a dignified
urbanity have characterized all its deliberations. Differences of opinion
have frequently happened, but they have been disposed of according to
the peculiar constitution of the government " ad interim." by a majority
of votes, the President exercising no other prerogative than voting.
The original Secretaries, it will be remembered were nominated and
elected by the Convention simultaneously with the election of the Chief
Magistrate, and as it is natural ior men to construe their own powers
liberally, it is not much to be marvelled at, that they should expect un-
der an organization so novel and indefinite, to exercise aniequal autho-
rity in the Cabinet Council, with the executive head of the government.
The only consequences that I would resulting from these facts,
is the obnoxious principle, that an equal exercise'of power, by clear
parity of reason, involves an equal responsibility.
In relation to the primary question of treating with Santa Anna, a
diversity of opinion existed with the Cabinet: bva. majority of them,
with whom I cordially coincided, believed that" the best interests of
Texas would be promoted bv entering into a fair and honorable and
liberal treat1", founded on the unqualified, absolute independence of
lexas, wnn me captive jrresiaent or Mexico, soon atter the treaty
was written out and had received the approbation of the entire Cabinet,
the Secretary of the Navy excepted, a change took place in the Depart-
ment of War. General Houston's wound, received in the battle of the
21st, had disqualified him for active command, and a Commander of the
Army was absolutely necessary. At the pressing solicitation of myself
and several members of the Cabinet, the Secretary of War, Mr. Rusk,
consented, with manifest reluctance, to take the command with the rank
of Brigadier General. His doing so vacated the War Department, and
Col. Mirabeau B. Lamar, who had acquired great distinction and popu
larity in the Army by his intrepidity in the recent conflict, was invited
to that high omce. ooi. L.amar entered promptly upon the discharge
of his duties, and very soon declared his opposition to the whole project
of treating with Santa Anna. His reasons have already been given in
extenso, to the public. His opposition, however, only increased the
dissentients to two. The treaty was drawn up and presented to the
Mexican President. AH the provisions of the treaty were embodied in
one document, and of course, were all intended to be public or to be
made public as soon as circumstances would authorize it.
Ihc President Santa Anna, however, suggested some reasons
which appeared of great consideration with himself, and were believed
to possess a good deal of propriety and force by us, why the stipula-
tions of the Treaty should be divided into two parts, one to constitute a
document for present use and promulgation, the other to be secret, until
the hnal result should render its publication expedient. After mature de-
liberation we acquiesced in the suggestion, and the treaty that had been
written at Buffalo bayou was withdrawn. That treaty contained a
clause providing for the release and transportation to Vera Cruz of the
Mexican President and his suite, consisting of Colonel Almonte, Colonel
Nunes and Cano, the President's private Secretary ; and an article to
that ettect was also contained m the first protocol, m penal, submitted
by Mr. Jtlusk the Secretary ot War.
l-WIKI lLtlUCTtlHttf
-c'T U . .. . : i A ! 1 r 7i I
iiueaaary iiu iub unity tu utuvu iu quarters, -rt. muiuuiue OI Oiner con-
cerns required the attention of the Civil Governnient, and a general
dispersion from Buffalo bayou ensued. The members of the adminis-
tration, with General Santa Anna and most of the Mexican Officers
taken in the battle, embarked in the steamboat Yellow Stone, for Gal-
veston Island. The army on the same day took up its march for Har-
risburg. The Mexican Commissioner, General Wall, was furnished with
a safe-conduct from my hand, and with an escort by General Rusk, and
set out for the Mexican camp. Tho steamboat came to anchor at Gal-
veston about sun down of the same day, and Santa Anna with his suite,
was placed on board the armed schooner Independence, under the com-
mand of Commodore Hawkins then lying at anchor in the harbor.
The entire want of accommodation at the Island, rendered it ne-
cessary for the government to seek some place where the ordinary office
business could be transacted, and Velasco was selected for that purpose.
Accordingly, in a few days we repaired to Velasco, with the President
Santa Anna and his retinue in company. The Vice President had been
compelled to leave us at Buffalo ba'ou, to attend to his domestic affairs,
which haa been seriously interrupted by the appropriation of his home-
stead, to the purposes of a hospital for the wounded in the late battle.
The Secretary of the Navy had obtained leave of absence conse-
quently there were present at Velasco, the Secretary of State, James
Collinsworth; the becretary ol the 1 reasury, Baily Hardiman ; the Sec.
of War, M.B.Lamar; the Attorney General, P.W. Grayson, and myself.
The negociation with the President Santa Anna was renewed, and
two separate treaties, the one public, and the other secret, agreeably to
the suggestion made at Buffalo bayou, were finally concluded and signed
by the contracting parties on the 14th May. As I have said before, that
treaty, considering the negociation as one, has received an almost uni-
versal condemnation by the citizens of Texas. And if I were to pur-
sue the cautious and perhaps prudential course of some adept politicians,
i should defer every effori to vindicate it, from the obloquy so lavishly
bestowed upon it, until time shall have assuaged the tumults of passion,
and the minds of men were prepared to receive the truth with candor
and to examine it with impartiality. But as I believe " truth is mighty and
will prevail," so I believe it is never too soon to exhibit the truth to an
intelligent people, who are able to comprehend, and will eventually appre
ciate and applaud it.
Ihe revolution ot lexas is an ovcut not paralleled in the history
of nations. From the dispersion at Babel, to the present time, an in
stance cannot be found that bears any thing like a strict analogy to it.
That a few foreign emigrants, invited into a wild wilderness, and for
many years, a derelict country, should at the lapse of 15 years from the
yet commencement of their settlements, and while they were few, with
out revenue and without any of the ordinary equipments of war, forcibly I
secede from, and put to defiance a government controlling -the energies
of eight millions of people, whose territory and population adjoined unto
them, is an anomaly in the history of man, which transcends all the
common criteria of political action. That they should finally succeed,
was almost Avarrantcd by the very audacity ot the enterprize. But
such warrant could afford no authority to the prudent politician, for he
is bound to predicate his calculations and to draw his conclusions from
ordinary events, otherwise the lights of history and the lessons of ex-
perience, from whence are extracted the best rules of political science,
are altogether inutile. The government of Texas felt the novelty of
its position: and it has essayed, by one bold stroke of policy to add a
grand and brief climacteric to the phenomena of her national struggle.
The birth of a nation is usually painful, convulsive and protracted: but
had that treaty ben perfected, the national nativity of Texas would have
been comparatively, the event ot a day, almost without a throe ; and
reciprocally advantageous to the Mother Country and to the infant
Republic. Mexico herself, is but a novice in the practice of self-government.
Her population for the most part is ignorant, uncultivated
and addicted to all the absolute follies of the Romish Church, the mother
of modern despotism. To a people so circumstanced, government is
an occult science, which the great mass arc willing to surrender to the
more astute and educated few. The common principles of morality are
ill understood and badly practised. Honesty, patriotism, fidelity, are
mere hypothetical terms, which have a ritual existence in the ceremonies
of a gaudy and meretricious superstition ; but are without practical influ
ence on a people, to whom the cheapness of Auricular Confession,
supplies an easy substitute. k
The general character of action affords a safe rule of precaution,
in all transaction with such na$on,or any portion of it ; and it did forma
criterion in the negociation with tv Mexican President. The executivo
government have-been ignorantl, oUarged witn reposing an undue con
fidence in the promises of Santa Anna: wheras our rule of action has
been, that no confidence could be safely reposed in Mexicans. We
acted indeed under a firm persuasion, which nothing that has since-
transpired has shaken in my mind, that Santa Anna was fuliy and
deeply convinced, by evidence which no after suggestons of his own
vanity, and no pompous sophistry of his less experienced compatriots in
Mexico could disturb, that his own highest political interests and the best
interests of Mexico too, would be advanced by a prompt and decisive
ratification of the treaty. We were there confident, that so far as ho
was personally concerned, there was little reason to apprehend a breach
of promise. But we did apprehend that the general faithlessnesa"bf
the Mexican character, would present some formidable obstacles to the
completion of the treaty. Much has been said of the individual faith-
lessness of Santa Anna, but we took a broader ground, and acted on the
national characteristic of Mexicans. We did not fear that Santa Anna
would be faithless to himself and to his own ambition ; but we did be-
lieve that his late political friends and dependents in Mexico would soon
prove apostate to him; for we knew the faithlessness of Mexicans was
less exclusive than that of Turks and comprehended their own kindred
and nation. We believed that so soon as the captivity of Santa Anna
was known in Mexico, new factions and new chieftains would rise up,
and a new revolution ensue : and that the vaunted "Idol," being a pri-
soner abroad, would soon be discarded and powerless at-home. That a
new dynasty would be established, with whom it might be an affair of
malignant gratification or of party politics, to denounce every act of
Santa Anna, and to build up their own popularity on promises to retrieve
the disasters of his campaign. The reputed faithlessness of Mexicans
does not preclude them from a large share of national vanity. This fea
ture ot their character is as distinct and prominent as the other; tho
only difference is, the one is ridiculous, the other detestable. The vanity
of the new chieftain would prompt him to attribute the failure of Santa
Anna to defect of skill or of courage, and to assume with all the confi
dence of an untried hero, that he could easily effect the conquest of
"the bandits or lexas," notwithstanding the misadventures of his pre-
decessor; and thus establish a factitious and transitory fame on the ruins
of Santa Anna's boasted invincibility.
Such were the views that we entertained of the prospective condi-
tion of things in Mexico. We felt that the capture of Santa Anna was
an event of vast importancejo Texas : that it rave tous advantagesjor-
riHGEnusiiiomja ui-ttcquxring-navantages, wmciryearsoi active war-
fare might fail to confer. But we knew also that to realise ihe full
benefit of his captivity, some immediate use should be made of him ;
and that to detain him an idle prisoner of war, was jeopardizing every
probability of his being converted to any beneficial purpose. Santa
Anna as a man and an officer, abstracted from his political influence in
Mexico, is worth to Texas precisely so much as his rank will command
in the matter of exchange of prisoners. He would probably be consi-
dered as an equivalent for the surrender of some five or ten officers of
the minor grades, should the events of the war throw such into the hands
of the enemy. But it may be, he will not eventually be worth this
much ; for should his enemies obtain the ascendancy in Mexico, they
would thank the enlightened Texians, for saving themselves the odium
of inhumanly destroying their competitor for power. And such verily,
is likely to be the fact. Let the charm that lately surrounded this po-
tent Mexican Chief, and made him the Soul and the Arm, the Sword
and the buckler of Mexico, be once dissolved ; let his power at home
and the glory of his name depart, and his influence pass into other and
hostile hands, and Santa Anna as a prisoner of war, is not worth to
Texas his daily rations. The eclat of his captivity may serve to gar-
nish a tale of fiction, but it will confer no substantial benefit on Texas.
And the battle of San Jacinto which had been hailed as the certain har
binger of peace and independence, will dwindle away in its political effects
into a mere slaughter of a few hundred miserable, unresisting cravens.
The executive government thought to convert that glorious event
to a more beneficial purpose, and therefore they made an honorable, a
liberal and a just treaty with the captive President of Mexico. 'And
they essayed to carry, that treaty into effect, but circumstances, over
which they could exercise no moral or physical control, supervened; and
the government of Texas was compelled to violate its compr omitted faith.
As this subject has been partially discussed in my late " Address
to the Army," which will appear in due course, I shall discant no fur-
ther upon it at present. It was said by a philosopher years ago, that
a fool could ask a question in a few words that would cost a wise man a
volume to answer. Whether this be true'-in natural or moral philosophy
or not ; it is certainly easier, in politics, to find fault with a measure,
than to comprehend the reasons oil which it is founded. But political
fault-finding is a privilege that fcught not to abridged, for it is better for
the public weal, to find fault erroneously, than to approve without inqui-
sition. An enquiring people will not be oasily deprived of their
just rights. Therefore I hope the people of Texas will always enquire
into the acts qj their government, .out let it be done in the spirit ot
Othello's imprecation ; "nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in
malice." UAV1D G. HURNET.
to be co-ntinued.
" Patriotism of America?. womex. Among the many instance of
the American women, I do not recollect any more affecting than the fol-
lowing : " A woman of this city, (Philadelphia) in a situation of life in
which liberal sentiments are not often looked for, or if they are, the
search is generally fruitless, being informed that one of her sons
had returned from the flying camp near Amboy, said, ' 1 am sorry to
hear of it, I fear he has come away before his time was out; if this be
the case I will not see him, I will shut my doors upon him; I had rather
have heard that he and my other three sons, who are all in tho army,
were slain in battle, than one of them should thus have disgraced our
cause." A rcpl y worthy 01 a opartan.
Before the action of Brandywine, all or nearly so, of the able
bodied young men of Chester county, joined their countrymen, with the
intention of partaking of all their perils and privations, leaving the fall
crop unattended to. The patriotic young women of the county, feeling
that with themselves alone rested the averting ot a great evil, no less than
the entire destruction of the crop having a knowledge of the importance
of their trust, joined the-few laborers that remained in the country, and
labored diligently in gathering the crop indeed they did not rest here.
Some of their fathers, brothers and lovers, were detained v-ith the army
a greater length of time than was anticipated, so that it became lncunr-
bent on the ladies to prepare themselves for the necessary task : the
ground was ploughed and the seed sown by them, and thus they succeeded
in affecting their design, and securing to themselves for the next season
the usual crop, which would, except for theii exertions, have been loart.

G.& T.H. Borden. Telegraph and Texas Register (Columbia, Tex.), Vol. 1, No. 29, Ed. 1, Tuesday, September 13, 1836. Columbia, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed July 1, 2015.