The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, July 1924 - April, 1925 Page: 8
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
emigration."14 These expressions are typical, though occasion-
ally a writer ventured the opinion that the prohibition of slav-
ery might not greatly affect the volume of emigration.1' The
keen interest of the writers is obvious, but slaves were valuable
property and not to be lightly risked. 'Moreover, the golden
promise that attracted men of the planter class was cotton. They
instantly recognized the conditions that were to make Texas the
greatest cotton producing area in the world. but they saw equally
clearly that slaves were indispensable to large-scale production.
If slaves were safe in Texas, they would go there; but, at the
worst, they could remain very comfortably at home. Leaders for
the crusade--if such there was-must come from this class; but
they were singularly untouched by the self-neglectful impetuos-
ity of crusading zealotry. They wished to take no chances. For
Austin and the settlers already in Texas, Mexican hostility to
slavery was a much more critical issue. Their property was en-
dangered and their future prosperity threatened. Only rapid
and efficient immigration could develop the country, enhance the
value of their lands, and bring the comforts of civilized society.
Since this depended upon the continuance of slavery, they nat-
urally strove to maintain it.
The cause of the first wave of uneasiness was the federal act
of July 13, 1824, already mentioned. What did it mean? The
caption reads: "Prohibition of Commerce and Traffic in Slaves."
The first two articles prohibited forever "commerce and traffic"
in slaves, from whatever country or under whatever flag, and de-
clared slaves introduced contrary to the tenor of this provision
free by the mere act of treading Mexican soil. The third and
fourth articles fixed heavy penalties for violation of the law but
suspended them for six months in favor of colonists who wished
to land slaves on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.'6 Did congress
14James A. E. Phelps to Austin, January 16, 1825; Charles Douglas to
Austin, February 15, 1825; Richard Ellis to Austin, January 30, 1830.
See also to Austin: R. R. Royall, August 23, 1825; James Davis, Janu-
ary 30, 1827; Richard Ellis, January 3, 1828; Ro. C. Nicholas, October
11, 1829. Dates prior to 1828 are in Austin Papers, I, 1020, 1046, 1183,
1598. Others are in the same collection in manuscript.
1"Robert Rankin to Austin, Washington County, Alabama, December 14,
1826, Austin Papers, I, 1531; Joshua Child to Austin, Natchez, Missis-
sippi, January 24, 1830. Austin Papers, MS.
'"Dublan y Lozano, Legislaci6n Mexicana (Mexico, 1876), I, 710. Bug-
bee translates the law, Political Science Quarterly, XIII, 398, note; and
Lundy, The War in Texas, etc., 42, contains a translation.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, July 1924 - April, 1925, periodical, 1925; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101087/m1/12/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.