The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, July 1924 - April, 1925 Page: 19
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Influence of Slavery in the Colonization of Texas
authority in order to concentrate the resources of the nation to
repeal a Spanish invasion; and General Jose 'Maria Tornel per-
suaded him to take advantage of this military dictatorship to
issue on September 15, in commemoration of Mexican independ-
ence, a proclamation abolishing slavery throughout the republic,
except in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Tornel's object was to
check emigration from the United States and he believed-
rightly enough-that emancipation would accomplish that end.46
The decree reached San Antonio in a letter from Governor
Viesca on October 16.7 Without waiting to confer with Austin,
the political chief resolved to withhold its publication until the
president could be urged to except Texas from its operation. He
drew up for the governor a statement that Austin could not have
bettered. The right of the first colonists to hold slaves, he de-
clared, was specifically recognized by the act legalizing Austin's
contract. Subsequently both the federal and state colonization
laws invited immigrants to settle in the country and solemnly
guaranteed their property. In the face of these assurances it
seemed very hard that those already in the province should be
deprived of the one form of property that was indispensable to
them in agriculture, cattle raising, and other labors "to which
they are dedicated, and which could not be carried on without the
aid of the robust and almost indefatigable arms of that race of
the human species which is called negroes, and who, to their mis-
fortune, suffer slavery." But it must not be forgotten that they
were already slaves before coming to Mexico; neither the govern-
ment nor the people of the country made them slaves; and, while
"philanthropy and the natural sympathies of humanity cry out
in favor of liberty, the positive laws which regulate society take
the part of property and declare it a sacred and inviolable right."
There were more than a thousand slaves in the colonies, Misquiz
estimated, and the governor would realize from what he had said
"Dublan y Lozano, Legislacidn Mexicana, II, 151; J. M. Tornel, Breve
Reseja Hist6rica, etc. (Mexico, 1852), 85. Tornel's recollection in 1852
of his purpose in 1829 may have been shaped in some degree by the re-
cent war with the United States. It was a popular exercise of public
men when he wrote to claim to have seen the catastrophe from afar and
to have tried to avoid it.
"MAsquiz to Colonel Antonio Elosua, November 24, 1829, General Land
Office of Texas, Vol. 54, page 115, MS.
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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/m1/23/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.