Heritage, Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 1987 Page: 31
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
concealed weapons." A citizen who witnessed
the executions congratulated the
people of the republic "that Law and Justice
have been for once, with the energy
and promptitude of judicial sanction
hitherto unparalleled, enforced against
the boldest and most reckless offenders."
Moore again questioned officers of justice
for being sloppy in handling duelists.
On August 26, 1840, he reported a duel
in Mississippi between Thomas Eppes and
Chas Callahan. Moore commented on
such incidences that "we frequently notice
in Mississippi papers, which evince
that the officers of justice in those sections
are most culpably remiss in the discharge
of their duties." He also suggested
a way to prevent brawls: "Any person
thus threatened should apply to a majestrate
as the laws direct and announce the
intention of any blackguard who makes
Moore found miscreants even in is own
class-other editors engaging in duels
and street fights in Louisiana, Arkansas,
Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. He
sadly commented, "While men whose
duty is to promalgate the great principals
of morality, and to give torch to enlighten
public opinion, are thus found recreant to
their high calling and both precept and
example upholding crime, you shall look
in vain for a better state of affairs." He
When wretches lifted by accident from the
contaminating atmospheres of the grog shops
and brothels become conductors of public
journals, their gross ribaldry and vulgar slang
assumes the dignified character of public sentiment,
blackguards and bullying cowards take
courage and assume the position and ape the
airs of a gentleman. Brawls become fashionable,
and as a natural consequence, tumult
and bloodshed ensue.
As early as February 1838 Moore was
reporting that the incidences of duels had
been greatly reduced and this was due
largely to the seconds. "We rejoice to
state that although no less than a dozen
challenges have been accepted by various
individuals in this city, within the last
three months not a single duel has taken
place. This attributes solely to the manly
and honorable conduct of the seconds
who have been engaged." These seconds
removed the barriers of reconciliation.
Other duels were prevented by public
apology. The following appeared November
30, 1841, in the Bulletin:
Mr. Editor to satisy the demand of P., I assure
him that I intended no indignity to him or
to the lady to who the article alludes, that
nothing was intended in the least degree to
injure the character of that gentleman. L. B.
Finally, Dr. Francis Moore was elected
to the Texas Senate, and he got a stringent
amendment passed to the existing
weak dueling law; the culmination to his
five-year-long crusade. The Austin Sentinel
ran the act, which began:
Whereas, from a false sense of honor, the inhuman
and detestable practice of dueling has
been too _and resorted to as a mode of adjusting
or settling differences of small magnitude
between individuals, and we must arrest this
vice, the relief of the ignorant and barbarous
age, justified neither by the precepts or morality,
and the dictates of reason, this law is
Its provisions provided that a duelist
would be fined $1,000 and imprisoned
twelve months, and "rendered forever incapable
of holding any office, trust or
profit, under the government of this Republic
from the time of such conviction."
This provision remained part of Texas law
for many years, and until 1939 all state
officials were required to take oaths that
they had never taken part in a duel.
Moore's law didn't pass without debate,
however. According to William Hogan,
the Austin City Gazette said Senator
Oliver Jones "urged with great zeal and
utter impractability of suppresing a custom
so strongly justified by every chivalrous
and independent sentiment, as not
to be effected unless by public opinion."
Jones tried to change the caption of the
bill to "An act for the Protection of Cowards,"
and he tried to strike the provision
disqualifying duelists from office. Both
On the same day that the Sentinel reported
the law against dueling, they mentioned
that the Gazette had reported:
Citizens of Houston have requested that Dr.
Francis Moore resign his seat in the Senate.
We have asked several gentlemen and none of
them have heard anything about it, and we
concluded the report eminated in the fertile
imagination of that paper.
There was not a more efficient representative
nor one who was more devoted
to his country than was the senator from
Harris, Liberty and Galveston. The high
reputation he has won for himself will not
be effected by squibs from such a source.
There could have been many motives
for Moore's crusade against the duelist,
who was found in all classes. Maybe
Moore wanted to clean up the boom
town of Houston to attract a larger population.
Or simply, he saw a world of corruption
and he knew his editorship would
be the vehicle to public awareness. As he
so keenly saw it:
To editors, therefore, more than to any other
class of society is intrusted the guardianship of
public and private morals.
Suzanne Carlisle is a freelance writer in Austin,
First Victoria National Bank has
been working hard for the
progress and growth of the
Victoria area since 1867 ... and
we're working even harder today.
* * National
One DeLeon Plaza
101 South Main Street
Victoria, Texas 77901
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 1987, periodical, Spring 1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45438/m1/31/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.