The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997 Page: 272
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Southern whites "whose interests, feelings and institutions are identical
with our own."'
Like other proslavery Texans, Hunt viewed the growth of the peculiar
institution as essential to Texas's economic progress as well as its social
stability. His advocacy of Southern colonization rested on his belief that
certain regions of Texas were ideally suited by climate and soil for white
planters and their slaves, whereas other areas could profitably attract Eu-
ropean settlers. Indeed, Hunt insisted that annexation to the United
States was necessary to assure that these two distinct streams of immigra-
tion were channeled in a proper course. Although Europeans might be-
come loyal citizens, they could never successfully produce "any of the
great staples of this country"-cotton, sugar, tobacco, rice, and indigo-
that might flourish in the vast plain of the Gulf Coast and its broad
swath of river lands. In Hunt's estimation, this hot and humid region
would be "fatal" to "unacclimated foreigners" but "remarkably congenial
to the negro race, whose peculiar constitutions confer upon them al-
most uninterrupted health, while basking in the luxury of a vertical
sun." Without the capital and labor brought by migrating Southern
slaveholders, Hunt warned, "our country will present little else than an
immense field of pasturage and stock raising, like the Pampas of South
America-inhabited, as under the rule of Mexico, by herdsmen and
shepherds-losing all her agricultural importance, and furnishing no
great staples for the commerce of the world." This conception of eco-
nomic progress tied to slavery did not exclude European colonists, but
instead consigned them to "the more elevated or mountainous regions
of our country, where they can enjoy a pure and congenial atmosphere,
and, under the government of the United States, perfect security against
Indian and Mexican hostilities."2
Hunt's argument bears close scrutiny because it expressed attitudes
toward immigration policy and slavery that were commonly voiced by
Texans during the controversy over annexation in 1844-1845. The
rather sudden upsurge in antiforeign sentiment during this period re-
flected the uncertain status of the Republic in both political and social
terms. Although the number of European immigrants was still small, it
was widely believed that this population might increase suddenly if
' Hunt's speech, signed by himself and five others, was first published as a Galveston News,
Print, of March 28, 1845. For a more accessible and legible copy, see "Address to the People of
Texas, By the Committee appointed for that purpose, at a meeting of the citizens of Galveston
County and City, on the 21st inst., favorable to an immediate ratification of the joint resolution
[szc] of the Congress of the United States of America, offering to Texas, Annexation," in Address
of Memucan Hunt, to the People of Texas ... (Galveston: Office of the News, 1851), 63 (2nd quota-
tion), 64 (3rd-5th quotations), 78 (Ist quotation).
2 Ibid., 64-65 (quotation).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997, periodical, 1997; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/m1/338/: accessed July 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.