Indian wars and pioneers of Texas Page: 254 of 894
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INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.
for independence would untimately have to be
fought. As matters stood, he knew that the
Liberal party had been, or would be, crushed in
Mexico, that Texas could look for no aid from
that quarter, that volunteers from the United States
would be slow to join the Texian standard, if the
fight was to be made merely for the rights of Texas
as a Mexican State, and that the part of wisdom
was to make a fight against Mexico like their heroic
forefathers made against Great Britain-for
absolute independence; for liberty or for death.
Some great men were opposed to the step, but the
party to which he, Governor Smith, Wharton,
Archer and others belonged prevailed, the declaration
was issued, the battle of San Jacinto fought,
and the independence of Texas secured.
While with the army on its retreat he was
detailed by Gen. Houston to ride through the
country and give warning to the settlers of the
approach of the three Mexican columns that were
sweeping eastward under Santa Anna. Having
placed his family in safety at Mina (Bastrop),where
they remained until 1838, the Indians committing
so many depredations after the war as to render it
perilous to live outside the limits of the town, he
set about the performance of the duty assigned him
and, having accomplished it, hurried forward to
join the army under Gen. Houston and reached it
the day after the battle of San Jacinto. It was
always a source of regret to him that he was prevented
by circumstances, over which he had no control,
from taking part in that great and glorious
In September, 1838, he was elected to represent
his district in the House of the Third Texas Congress
(the first under Lamar's administration) and
acquitted himself in a manner that fully sustained
the high reputation he enjoyed, and added fresh
laurels to those he had already won.
The Congress assembled at Houston on the 15th
In the Senate were Harvey Kendrick, of Matagorda;
Edward Burleson, of Bastrop; William H.
Wharton, of Brazoria; and in the House such men
as John W. Bunton, Greenleaf Fisk (Col. Caldwell's
associate from Bastrop), Jose Antonio
Navarro, Cornelius Van Ness, John A. Wharton,
Wm. Menefee, Holland Coffee, Moseley Baker,
Isaac Parker, David S. Kaufman, John M.
Hansford and John J. Lynn.
It was a very important session. Laws were to
be enacted to provide for a change from the civil to
the common law (in compliance with an amendment
to the constitution previously adopted), a
stable currency was to be provided, steps were to
be taken to lay the foundation for a free school system
and to effectually check the hostile Indian
tribes in East Texas and elsewhere and suppress
Mexican brigandage on the southwestern border.
All this and more was accomplished by that body
or placed in process of accomplishment. A ranger
force for frontier protection was created, a law
passed for the permanent location of the seat of
government, steps were taken to provide a more
efficient navy, fifty leagues of land were set aside
for a university and lands to each county for free
school purposes; the land, judiciary and probate
laws were improved, land grants were extended to
encourage immigration and a score or more of other
much needed and salutary laws enacted.
The law providing for the permanent location of
the seat of government was passed in January,
1839. It was a question of deep interest and
excited more or less sectional feeling. The whole
West and upper frontier wished it located as far in
the interior as practicable in order that it might
become the focus of frontier protection. Col.
John Caldwell, of Bastrop, William Menefee, of
Colorado, James Kerr, of Jackson, and Cornelius
Van Ness, of Bexar, were the especial champions
of the measure and Col. Caldwell is said to have
afterwards pointed out to the commissioners,
appointed under the law, the site on the Colorado
selected by them, for the beautiful capital city of
The next session of the Congress convened at the
new capital in November, 1839. This he also attended.
He took an active part in all the important
debates and legislation of the session and in shaping
the general lines of State policy that were then
developed, many of which, notably thoge inaugurating
the policy of free popular education and of
erecting and maintaining eleemosynary institutions,
have since been very closely followed.
Returning home, he was called upon more than
once to help chastise hostile Indians and responded
with that alacrity that was characteristic of the
pioneers of that day. The Indian outrages in 1837
and 1838 and in 1839 and 1840, incited by promises
of help from Mexico, were appalling. The frontier
was bleeding from savage fury, from San Antonio
to Red river,
On the 5th of August, 1840, a band of a thousand,
composed of Comanches and Kiowas, but including
also many lawless Mexicans and Indialns
from some of the more civilized tribes, passed down
the country to Victoria. They committed many
murders along the way, massacred several persons
in sight of Victoria and, after making a feint on
that town, proceeded to the village of Linnyille,9Q
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Brown, John Henry. Indian wars and pioneers of Texas, book, 1880~; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6725/m1/254/: accessed February 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .