The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 24, July 1920 - April, 1921 Page: 18
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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
at the same time that the convention of September, 1849, was in
session at Santa Fe, Major Jeff Van Horne, a new officer, stationed
opposite El Paso, was writing for information as to whether the
laws of New Mexico should be enforced at his post. This region
was included in the ninth military department, which had its head-
quarters at Santa F6, but under Mexican control it had been in
Chihuahua, and was now in territory which was included in the
Texas boundary act of 1836. It was now a part of the county of
Santa F6, as organized by the Texas legislature, and a group of
Texans under the leadership of R. Howard, who claimed to be a
legally appointed surveyor for the Texas government, was busy
locating Texas claims in the salt deposits of the region. These
men claimed the exclusive right to use the salt, or to levy a tax
on any others who used it, while at the same time the New Mexican
prefect for this district was asking Van Horne to aid him in en-
forcing the collection of taxes there for New Mexico.2 Being
new to the district, Van Horne was not familiar with the facts
of the controversy between Texas and New Mexico., nor with the
instructions which had been issued, and he therefore refused to
pass judgment until he could receive instructions from the com-
mander of the department.
By the time his inquiry reached Santa F6, Colonel Washington
had been superseded as commander and ex-officio governor of New
Mexico, by Colonel John Munroe,3 and the new commander seems
to have been as thoroughly ignorant of the situation, and of the
attitude of the government, as was Van Homne himself. He sent
the data to the adjutant general of the army, that they might be
submitted to "the proper department of the government at Wash-
ington, with the view of having the question of jurisdiction de-
termined.""4 Instead of waiting for a reply from the government,
however, he wrote to Van Horne that since there was a portion of
the territory in question over which no civil authority had been
established by either Texas or New Mexico, he deemed it advis-
able, in order that the people might have the protection of civil
laws and magistrates, that the mihtary authority should sustain
"2Van Horne to Munroe, September 23, 1849, in Sen. Em. Doc. 56, 31st
Cong., 1st sess. (Ser. no. 561), p. 3.
"General Order No. 3, War Department, May 26, 1849, in Sen. Em.
Doc. 60, 31st Cong., 1st sess. (Ser. no. 561), p. 2.
"Munroe to Jones, November 21, 1849, in Sen. Ex. Doe. 56, op. cit.,
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 24, July 1920 - April, 1921, periodical, 1921; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101078/m1/24/: accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.