Speech of Hon. Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, on the exercise of civil power and authority by military officers; delivered in the U.S. Senate, August 5, 1850 Page: 3 of 16
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himself brought forward, the gross injustice of letter from the War Department, of August 6,
every reflection which he has made, and I expect 1845, he was instructed to look to Texas for
from his generosity and his m:nliness, and that such auxiliary force as he might require. In
benevolence of character, which I have known keeping with my promise not to read more ex-
so long to distinguish him, that he will retract tensively than was necessary, I will not read
every aspersion lie has thrown upon the fame of that letter, unless the reading be called for;
that distinguished soldier. but, before the receipt of that authority, a cor-
The PRESIDENT. The senator must not respondence h.id commenced with the President
apply a remark of that kind to any senator.- of fexas in relation to the defence of her settle-
"Aspersion" is a word that should not be so ments. The commanding general, writing from
used. his headquarters at Corpus Christi to the then
Mr. DAVIS, of Mississippi I never design to President of Texas, Anson Jones, says as fol-
be personal to any member of this body, certain- lows:
ly not to the senator from Texas. I am but an- " IIADQUARITERS, CORPUS CRISTI,
swering his own remark; which remark, under " AuousT 16, 1845,
the suggestion of the Chair, I will read, in order " You have undoubtedly received intelligence
that it may be seen how far my language is ap- of the hostile steps taken by Mexico, and the
plic tb!e. In referring to the people of the State probable declaration of war against us by that
of Texas, he says: Power. Under these circumstances, I do not
"The people of that State hnve been unwvar- deem it prudent to detach any portion of my
rantably ass iled, tr.aduced, and defamed by the force at present; and it is the principal object
present Executive of the nation when a General of this communication to recommend that any
in the fild. If I were not sust:,ined by incon- volunteers or spies now in the service of Texas
testable authority, I would scorn to impute to be continued in employment, should you eon-
any high functionary of this Government aught sider it necessary for the defe;ce of the frontier,
that w.,s u worthy of his station, or of the high If you concur in this view, I will, at your in-
position which he occupies: but in this case I stance, dispatch an office- to muster into the
am fully sustained in every word I say, as I will service of the United States any companies
show by recourse to testimony stronger than which you may designate as necessary for the
the mere assertion of a political opponent, that security of the frontier, to conform in numbers
will carrv conviction to the mind of every can- and organization to the laws of the United
did man.' St:tes. Should such musters be made, I will
Now, sir, I say I propose, by the very witnes- recommend that the officers and men, while in
ses that he has brought before the Senate, to service, continue to receive the same rate of
prove that he was wholly unsustained in his as- pay whith they have drawn from the Texas
persion ; and I expect him as a just man.--not Government.
to s :y a generous and benevolent rtan, as I said " My presence, and that of my command, is
before-to withdaiw that defamation, or else to now iniperatitely required on this frontier,
find himself in a position, which he has himself When our relations with Mexico and the state
describ d, as one " it would excite his scorn to of the service in this quarter shall permit my
occupy." The f.Lets in this case---the true ap- absence,I wi: t-ike great pleasure in proceeding
plication of tie sentence lie quoted-are quite to the seat ot government, and co:ferring with
the reverse from the view which the senator from yon personally in relation to the proper disposi-
Texass hs thought proper to present. The let- tions to be made for tie permanent occupation
ter to which he refers, and from which he makes of the frontierr"
a quotation of the opinion expressed by the
commanding general of the army of the Rin
Grande, that the militia of Texas were too far
from tie border, and their aid could not there-
fore be depended upon; that assertion was no
defamation, as he says, of the character of the
people of Texas, no reflection upon their gAlan-
try. Nor was the expression ii relation to the
Texans made by the Geaeral, when, as the sena-
tor says, not one of them had ever been placed
under his command, and not a solitary corps or
individual of them had he then ever seen ranged
under his banner."
Sir, before the war commenced specific au-
thority was given to that general to call upon
the people of Texas for forces if he required
them. The intention was that Texas was to
have priority in any demand for troops. In a
This w. as done on his own responsibility, as
appears by the following extract from a letter
o the Adjutant General, at Wahington, D. C.:
" HEADQUARTERS, CoRPUS (CR[S'Tr,
" AUGUST, 26, 1845.
"In regard to employing volunteers from
Texas, you will perceive t:at I have in part
anticip ted the wishes of the Government in
mv letter of the i thi instant to President JonesF
a copy of which was furnished you on the 19lth
In that communice tion I looked only to the
defence of the frontier against Indian aggres&
sions; but I shall now comnnunic te with Pre-
sident Jones, and ascertain the number of vol.un-
teers tht c tn be called into service in c se of
an invasion by Mexico, and shdll take the nees-
sary steps to arm and employ that force, should
the safety of the country require it."
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Davis, Jefferson, 1808-1889. Speech of Hon. Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, on the exercise of civil power and authority by military officers; delivered in the U.S. Senate, August 5, 1850, pamphlet, August 5, 1850; [Washington, D.C.]. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth395238/m1/3/: accessed November 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Schreiner University.