Hayden Edwards and the Fredonian Revolution

 

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The History of Texas: Hayden Edwards Grant and the Fredonian Revolution

(Previous Section: Stephen F. Austin's Colony)

The Mexican Constitution of 1824

THE Mexican federal constitution of 1824—about which so much has been said—was formed upon that of the United States, but with some fatal differences. Among the most important of these were—the absence of the right of trial by jury; the prohibition of any other than the Roman catholic religion, and defining that as the faith of the nation; making Congress, instead of the courts, the final interpreter of the constitution; permitting the president, under any circumstances, to command the armies of the republic in person; and failing to define more clearly the rights of the several states of the confederacy.*

* The constitution of Mexico may be found in Edwards, Holly, and Kennedy, and in Dewees's Letters.

However, Congress, after a labor of five months, adopted the instrument on the last day of January, 1824, though it was not proclaimed until the 4th of October following. The newly-created states also went to work to establish state constitutions, and to organize under them. They labored under difficulties which the states of our Union had not to encounter; ours were states anterior to the compact—theirs were created by it; our states were watchful, and jealous of their rights—theirs had no rights, except such as the national government gave them; and, as the federal Congress alone had the right to construe the constitution, the states were entirely at its mercy. Yet, after all, the success of any and all systems of government must depend upon the intelligence of the governed. In this particular, the citizens of the federation north were infinitely superior to their southern brethren. The former had been trained up under the healthy influences of Magna Charta, and the vital principles of the common law, which, whatever may be said of its clumsiness and want of flexibility, is the faithful guardian of liberty. The latter, just emerged from the tyranny of centuries, had but a dim idea of their civil rights, and often confounded them with the wild liberty of nature. Their individual rights were determined by the civil law, a system which, whatever may be said of its elegant adaptation to equitable rights, is the offspring of implicit obedience, and is utterly in-applicable to a country of free institutions.

"Constitution Act" Joins Texas and Coahuilla

It will be remembered that, previous to 1824, Texas, as a province, was in nowise connected with Coahuila. But, by the second article of a decree of the Constituent Mexican Congress, passed on the 7th of May, 1824, known as the "Constitution Act," Coahuila and Texas, not being sufficiently populous to form each a state, were united into one state, and known as the state of Coahuila and Texas. This decree also provided that, when Texas should possess the necessary elements for that purpose, she should be admitted into the Mexican Union as a separate state.

The first congress of the state of Coahuila and Texas was duly installed on the 15th of August, 1824, at Saltillo, and entered upon the discharge of its legislative duties. Provision was made for a temporary governor and council, the latter consisting of a vice-governor and four other persons. The other officers and authorities in the state were confirmed in their power, and existing ordinances continued in force till further laws were passed. All the authorities — civil, military, and ecclesiastic—and the soldiers and citizens of the state, were directed and required to take an oath of fidelity to the state and the Constituent Congress; all of which was done, and the installation of the congress celebrated by chanting a solemn Te Delon in the churches, and public prayer offered for Divine aid to guide its deliberations.

Upon the organization of the new state, the political chiefs of the former provinces of Texas and Coahuila ceased their functions, and the archives of their offices were transferred to the governor. But the distance of the executive from Texas, and the necessity of having some one in the territory to guard her interests, induced the congress of Coahuila and Texas, on the 1st of February, 1825, to create a political authority, styled "Chief of the Department of Texas," to be appointed by the governor, and be responsible to him; to reside at Bexar; to watch over the public tranquility; to inflict punishments; to command the local militia; to issue and examine passports; to preside over popular meetings and festivals; to solve all doubts raised by his subordinates; to be the sole channel between his subordinates and the government; to see that the laws were administered; and to report his proceedings and observations to the governor.

First Chief of the the Department of Texas

Don Jose Antonio Saucedo was appointed to this office, and, as the first constitutional functionary placed over Texas, was scarcely competent to fulfill its duties. The majority of the citizens under his jurisdiction were colonists, mostly Americans, toward whom his prejudices were such, that little favor was to be expected at his hands.

In pursuance of the national colonization law, the state of Coahuila and Texas, with a view to "augment the number of immigrants, advance the raising and increase of stock, and the progress of commerce and the arts," published her celebrated decree of March 24, 1825.

This law provided that any foreigner, who should settle himself in the state, upon making proper application, and taking the oath required, might designate the lands which the decree allowed him, and obtain a title to the same. The eighth article, however, was the most important, as it provided for the creation of empresarios, through whom any number of families, not less than one hundred, might be introduced. By that article it is made the duty of the governor, when a proper application is made by one wishing to become an empresario, to admit him, and immediately designate the lands whereon he shall locate his colony. Contracts made by the empresarios with the families which should come at their expense, were guarantied by the law.

Texas Colonization Law

There were two features in the colonization law which will arrest attention. 1. In the distribution of lands, a preference was given to Mexican citizens. When we look at the superiority of the colonists over the natives, this clause was productive of constant jealousies. 2. The third article required foreigners, who wished to become colonists, to make a declaration to that effect before the ayuntamiento of the place he should select as his residence; by which, in that case, he should be sworn to obey the federal and state constitutions, and observe the religion prescribed in the former. It is not unsafe to affirm that, in the face of this law, nineteen twentieths of the colonists of Texas neither observed nor believed in the religion prescribed in the Mexican constitution; and it may, be further said that they believed that constitution had no right to prescribe any rule of faith on the subject. Men never become religious by contract or compulsion. Yet such was the law.

However, under the state colonization law, empresarios and immigrants flowed into Texas. On the 15th of April, 1825, Robert Leftwich obtained a contract for two hundred families; three days afterward, Hayden Edwards secured one for eight hundred families; on the 4th of June, Austin obtained authority to introduce five hundred families in addition to his first concession; and, on the 6th of October of that year, Green Dewitt contracted for three hundred families, and Martin de Leon for one hundred and fifty more. In addition to these contracts, emigrants under no contractor, and at their own expense, removed to Texas, and obtained lands where they found selections to please them. Thus the year 1825 was the year of emigration for Texas. It was an impulse of the Anglo-Saxon race crowding westward. The land was rich and inviting, the scenery was lovely, the climate unsurpassed.

Many of these immigrants, coming on their own account, had settled on the Trinity. They applied to Governor Gonzales, praying to be admitted citizens of the state. He transmitted their petitions to Colonel Saucedo, chief of the department of Texas, directing him to inform them, through Stephen F. Austin, that the lands they then occupied were about to be colonized, and if, when that was done, they were found qualified, they would be admitted. This fact is referred to here, because of the consequences resulting from it, to be noticed presently.

The Hayden Edwards Grant

Among the empresario contracts, as has been already mentioned, was that of Hayden Edwards. He was a gentleman of high moral character, strict honor, and liberality. He had devoted much of his time in Mexico in forwarding the general colonization law. He had his colony greatly at heart, and had expended thousands of dollars in getting up the enterprise. The contract with the state was sufficiently liberal. It admitted him as an empresario under the general state law. The lands designated were bounded on the east by a line beginning twenty leagues from the Sabine and ten leagues from the coast; thence through Nacogdoches, and fifteen leagues beyond it; thence west to the Navasoto; thence down this river to the San Antonio road, and with this road to the San Jacinto thence down said river to within ten leagues of the coast; and along the coast, ten leagues from it, to the place of beginning. This boundary included the fine lands of the Trinity, Neches, and Angelina; and, with the exception of Austin's grant, it was perhaps the most desirable location in Texas.

Hayden Edwards, on receiving his grant, returned to the United States, and requested his brother, Benjamin W. Edwards, then at Jackson, Mississippi, to visit Texas, with a view to aid him in building up his colony. The latter, complying, proceeded immediately to the new state, and spent some months with Colonel Austin, during which he conversed with him freely on the subject of the great enterprise of peopling the country with North Americans.

Edwards labored under a disadvantage in regard to his colony from which Austin was entirely free. The territory of the former was in part occupied by Mexicans and the old settlers on the " neutral ground," while that of Austin was unsettled. The Mexicans about Nacogdoches had but recently returned there, having fled, with Long, from the vengeance of Colonel Perez. They were, to some extent, hostile to the Americans, and entirely unwilling that an American should be placed over them. Some of them, too, were bad men, who had fled to the confines of Mexico to avoid the punishment due to their crimes. Here they met many of a like class—heroes of the "neutral ground"—who, having no particular objection to Hayden Edwards because he was an American, were opposed to all rules and all subordination of any kind. With such men the latter was compelled to deal in carrying out his contract.

Ellis P. Bean Moves to Texas

Among the settlers found in Edwards's colony was Colonel Ellis P. Bean. After the death of Morelos, and the conciliatory propositions of Apodaca, the fires of the Mexican revolution had so far expired, that Bean left the country and visited his native state. He reached the residence of his half brother, Captain William Shaw, in White county, Tennessee, in the spring of 1818. After remaining here some time, he formed a matrimonial alliance with a daughter of Isaac Midkiff. He then emigrated with his family and father-in-law to Smackover creek, in Arkansas. Here they settled, without a neighbor within thirty miles of them, and commenced raising stock. At the end of three years, his father-in-law died. This event, together with the news of the liberation of Mexico, and the call for colonists, induced Bean to come to Texas. He located himself at the Mound prairie, the ancient town of Texas, and obtained from the Mexican government, for his services, a grant for a league of land, including his residence.*

* John Dunn Hunter arrived in Mexico on the 19th of March, 1826. —Bean's Notes, MS. Hunter was a remarkable man. He published in 1823 a history of his life, with sketches of the manners and customs of the Indians. He says that, when a child, he was taken by the Indians, but knows not when or where. His parents, he supposes, were killed. He was raised by the Indians until he was nineteen or twenty years old. This was about 1816. He had become identified with them; and, from his expertness in hunting, the Indians gave him the soubriquet of Hunter. He added the balance of his name out of respect for John Dunn, of Missouri, who had rendered him great services. He formed an acquaintance with the fur-traders, and gradually learned the English language; acquired the habits of his race; left the Indians; had a great thirst for knowledge, and was much aided by kind friends who had heard his romantic story. He visited the eastern cities and Europe, producing quite a sensation among philosophers and sympathizers; and finally returned to live among the Texan Cherokees, where he immediately obtained a position and influence among them not inferior to that of their head chief. It is alleged, however, in the "North American Review," that Hunter was an impostor. — Review, 1825-'26.

At this place Bean resided quietly till the summer of 1825, when he set out for Mexico. He reached the capital on the 18th of October, and remained there till the 21st of July, 1826. Here he met his old companions-in-arms, and possessed himself of a knowledge of the interesting events that had transpired in the country during the past seven years. For his services in the revolution he received, in addition to the grant of land before mentioned, the appointment of colonel in the permanent forces of the republic.

While in Mexico, Bean found there John Dunn Hunter, who had been sent there by the Cherokee Indians, to endeavor to procure for them the long-promised title to their lands. They did not succeed in obtaining anything more than vague promises. The government was willing to admit these Indians as colonists, but would not grant them a body of land in community. Hunter returned with the result to his people, which greatly exasperated them.

Difficulties in the Hayden Edwards Colony

Hayden Edwards, after making the necessary arrangements in the United States for bringing on colonists, set out for his new home, and reached Nacogdoches with his family about the middle of October, 1825. The want of a conveyance prevented him from reporting his arrival to the political chief, at Bexar, before the 6th of January following. He then informed that functionary that he had been using his best efforts since his arrival to restore order, and persuade the people to place themselves under the laws; and that he had generally succeeded, with some two or three exceptions; these were Jose Antonio Sepulveda and Luis Procela, a couple of infamous men —the first had been guilty of forging drafts for money, and land-titles for sale; the other had fled from confinement in the United States, leaving his family there; and Procela, since he had come to Nacogdoches, had been acting as alcalde by proxy, a thing unheard of in a republican country. Edwards further informed the political chief that his prospect for fulfilling his contract was good; and, after enclosing to him copies of all his official acts, hinted to him very delicately that if these turbulent characters had been citizens of the United States, he would have dealt with them in a summary manner, as he had a right to do under his contract.

This letter seems not at all to have been relished by the chief. Edwards had referred to the ignorance of these two bad characters. They were Mexicans; so likewise was the chief. But there was another cause of offence. It will be remembered that, in 1819, Nacogdoches was completely swept by the invasion of Long. There was not a human being left in the place to govern or be governed. Nor did any return for some time. Previous to 1819, there had been made a few old grants of land. The owners, if alive, had left the country, and most of the grants may be said to have lapsed for the want of an owner. After Mexico had achieved her independence, however, a few of the old citizens of Nacogdoches had come in, and also some newcomers; so that by the time Edwards reached there, the town and its vicinage may have included a hundred people of all ages and colors. Among them came Sepulveda and Procela. Finding the lands were likely to become valuable, the first-named person became industrious in getting up old titles to the best lands; and when it became necessary to make an old title, it seems he engaged also in that business!

By the second article of Edwards's contract, the possessions found in Nacogdoches and its vicinity, with the corresponding titles, were to be respected by the colonists; and it was made Edwards's duty, should any of the ancient possessors claim, the preservation of their rights, to respect them. To ascertain the extent of these claims, the empresario, in November, 1825, gave notice for all persons having such titles to exhibit them to him, in order that they might be received or rejected according to law; and, if they did not so present them, the lands would be sold, and those who had just claims would have to pay for improvements made on them. This notice gave great offence to the Mexican authorities. The first part of the notification seemed necessary, to enable the empresario to know what claims to respect. As to the sale of the land, the empresario could not moan that he possessed the authority to do so, for it was not given him.

About the same time, Edwards issued a notice for the election of militia-officers, to occur on the 15th of December, 1825; and, in the same notice, he advised the people to elect an alcalde. The election, it seems, was held by Sepulveda, the, former alcalde. There were two candidates for the alcaldeship —Chaplin, the son-in-law of the empresario; and Norris, the brother-in-law of James Gaines, of the neutral ground. Chaplin was elected; but, as he had obtained most of the votes between the Attoyac and the Sabine, occupied by immigrants, and not within the ceded land, though under the alcalde's jurisdiction, Sepulveda and his party threw them out, and declared for Norris. The other party included these ballots, and decided in favor of Chaplin. The latter thereupon proceeded to take possession of the archives of the office, and entered upon its duties. All this being reported to the political chief of the department, he declared in favor of Norris, wrote to the old alcalde to swear him into office, and, if Chaplin did not deliver up the archives to him, to proceed to take them with the aid of the national militia.

On the receipt of this document, the people were all assembled to hear it read. They obeyed the injunctions of Saucedo, and Samuel Norris was duly inducted into the office of the magistrate or local judge.

But another cause of difficulty now arose. Before Edwards had made his contract, a man by the name of Tramel had emigrated from Pecan point, in Arkansas, to Nacogdoches. After he had reached the latter place, he learned from the alcalde that that functionary had received orders from Governor Trespalacios to place some one at the old crossing of the Trinity, to keep up a ferry on the San Antonio road. Tramel agreed to occupy the post, and, with the order of the alcalde, he removed to the ferry and settled himself. He finally sold out to another person, who still kept up the ferry. Ignatius Sertuche, a Mexican and the only surviving inhabitant of the old town at the Spanish Bluff, below the ferry, was starving together with his family. The occupant at the ferry invited him to rmove up to the crossing, and he would supply his family with food. Sertuche, finding the situation pleasant and profitable, managed to dispossess the occupant. The facts being made known to Edwards, he took steps to repossess the true occupant. This was all reported to the political chief, and Sertuche was again placed at the ferry. The only reason given by Saucedo for this arbitrary act was, that Sertuche was a Mexican, and entitled to the preference!

In several other instances, these invidious distinctions were made; and Americans, who had come into the country and wrought improvements, were compelled to give place to Mexican favorites of Sepulveda and Norris, the two alcaldes, who occupied the judicial chair during the years 1825 and 1826.

It would be doing injustice to the character of the Americans to suppose that they bore these things patiently; and that they did not express their opinions freely, not only of the acts themselves, but also of the actors—the government and the Mexican people generally.

But, says the political chief Saucedo to Hayden Edwards, in his letter of the 1st of May, 1826: "Hitherto, the accusation against you, which has arrested the attention of the supreme government of the Union, is the ordinance which you yourself published, in October of the past year, proclaiming yourself the military chief of that part of the state, and demanding of the old inhabitants the titles of the lands which they possess; for which acts the corresponding charges shall be made when the government shall so order."

By the sixth article of his contract, Edwards had power to raise the national militia, of which he was declared to be chief, until some other disposition was made. No other disposition had been made. Hence it was no usurpation in him to order an election of militia-officers, and to announce that he was by his contract their chief. His position in this respect was little different from that of Austin, who held the rank of lieutenant-colonel, organized and controlled the militia of his colony, and called them into service when it became necessary. But Austin had Americans only under his command.

Hayden Edwards Leaves for the United States

Hayden Edwards left for the United States early in the summer of 1826, leaving his brother, Benjamin W. Edwards, who had returned to the colony in the preceding April, to act as his agent. The latter, being in full possession of all the facts connected with the settlement of the colony, and the difficulties that surrounded the enterprise, sat down and wrote a long letter to Colonel Austin, detailing a history of those difficulties, and asking his advice. On the 24th of July following, he also wrote to the baron de Bastrop, then a member of the state congress at Saltillo, informing him of the facts in question. In the succeeding month he received a friendly answer from Austin, advising him to write directly to the governor of the state, giving a particular account of the conduct of both parties at Nacogdoches.

Following the recommendation of Austin, B. W. Edwards addressed to Governor Blanco a long and manly letter, presenting a full history of the difficulties in the colony, detailing the stupidity of Norris the alcalde; the treachery of Colonel James Gaines, his brother-in-law, who directed and controlled him in his adjudications and orders; and also of the efforts made and still making by Hayden Edwards to bring on immigrants. He further stated that he understood serious charges had been preferred against his brother, and alluded to them, as detailed on the preceding page; that his brother had no notice of them, and was at that time absent, engaged in filling his contract, but would return in a few weeks, until which time he asked the governor to wait, that the empresario might have an opportunity to defend himself, and be furnished with a specific statement of the charges against him. This letter, dated on the 5th of September, was worthy of a freeman, and in a free country would have been applauded.

Hayden Edwards Land Grant Annulled and Hayden Edwards Expelled from Texas

Edwards received an answer from Governor Blanco, dated on the 2d of October, in which, after stating that the letter of the former is not sufficiently respectful, and recapitulating the charges before named, concludes his reply in this style; —

" In view of such proceedings, by which the conduct of Hayden Edwards is well attested, I have decreed the annulment of his contract, and his expulsion from the territory of the republic, in discharge of the supreme orders with which I am invested. He has lost the confidence of the government, which is suspicious of his fidelity; besides, it is not prudent to admit those who begin by dictating laws as sovereigns. If to you or your constituent these measures are unwelcome and prejudicial, you can apply to the supreme government; but you will first evacuate the country, both yourself and Hayden Edwards; for which purpose I this day repeat my orders to the authorities of that department—in the execution of which, as they will expel from the country all evil-doers, so they will extend full protection to those of worth, probity, and useful skill, that have settled therein, and are submissive to the laws and constituted authorities."

Previous to the receipt of this letter, Hayden Edwards had returned to Texas; but the rumor came that his contract was to be annulled. This threw everything into confusion. The Mexican population, in anticipation, immediately set up claim to all the valuable places occupied by the Americans! The servile alcalde, Norris, granted all the orders they asked; and Gaines, his brother-in-law, was ready with a company of regulators to enforce them. By these means, the Americans were dispossessed, driven from their homes, fined, and imprisoned. Matters had become intolerable. The tyranny of Norris and Gaines had grown to such a height, that their American partisans had nearly all deserted them; and measures were being concerted by the Americans to take vengeance for the accumulated wrongs they suffered. In fact, on the very day of the date of the decree, annulling the contract of the empresario, and expelling him and his brother from the country, B. W. Edwards was writing a letter to his friend Thompson, at Aes bayou, to dissuade him from proceeding immediately against Gaines. " Let us wait," says he, " and not prejudice our prospects by premature operations on our part. The government may yet act with faith and justice toward the Americans. The eyes of the government are at this moment upon us all, and much may depend upon our present deportment. Gaines and Sepulveda have been represented to the proper authorities, and in a little time an investigation must take place.

At length, official information was received of the abrogation of the contract, and the decree for the expulsion of the empresario and his brother. This was an act of high-handed and inexcusable tyranny. The empresario had expended fifty thousand dollars in his enterprise; and he had enlisted the services of hundreds, who had come, or were on the way, or preparing to assist in carrying out the contract. His offences, at most, were but venial, and could not compromise the rights of the state, for she had the right, the law, and the power to enforce them. Why, then, was he not tried? why was not process issued, that he might have a day in court to defend himself ? His right was vested, and even under the constitution of Mexico the decree of rescission was unlawful. The state constitution, it was true, had not yet been proclaimed; yet, by the decree of the 25th of August, 1825; it was declared that, " for infringement of constitution or law, a process shall always be instituted."* In this case there was none. In one of the letters written at that time, it was suggested that there must have been some other cause—some potent influence at the capital of Mexico, other than the alleged offences of Hayden Edwards to produce this extraordinary act on the part of the authorities of the republic. However this may have been, it was done, and, in its consequences, greatly retarded immigration, and taught Mexico that the Americans, however small their numbers, would never submit to her system of administration—that something more than the name of " liberty" was needed to satisfy their views of a free country.

The colonists have been charged with ingratitude. Where-in ? They were invited to a desert. They came, and found it inhabited by Indians—and those of such audacity, that even in San Antonio, where the Mexicans mostly lived, they compelled the citizens and soldiers in the place to hold their horses while they paraded about the town! These savages the colonists had to subdue at their own expense and on their own account. Mexico gave them nothing; the lands only were valuable, because they made them so. They were invited to a free country; they were determined to keep it free, not only from Indian cruelty, but Mexican tyranny. If Mexico was slow in learning this fact, it was not the fault of the colonists, for they employed every suitable occasion to impress it upon the rulers of their adopted country.

The occasion for a lesson now occurred. The settlers on Edwards's grant were determined to resist. The ill temper of the Indians, in not obtaining the titles they had expected for their lands, caused them to make threats against the Mexican government; and they thought also to avenge themselves upon the white settlements in Texas. Hunter, exercising his great influence among them, induced them to suspend their action till he could visit Nacogdoches. He did so, conferred with the Edwardses, ascertained their feelings, and a mutual league and union were agreed on. The Indians were easily brought into it.

The Fredonian Revolution

On the 18th of December, 1826, Hayden Edwards and his brother visited the settlers beyond the Attoyae, for the purpose of raising forces. On their return they learned at that river that the enemy were expected at Nacogdoches that night. Preparing a flag, B. W. Edwards and fifteen men hurried into the town on the morning of the 16th. They here ascertained that the enemy consisted of Colonel Ellis P. Bean, who had hastened on from the city of Mexico with a command of about thirty-five Mexican troops; that he had approached within a few miles of the town, learned the state of public feeling there, and had retreated in the direction of the Trinity, to await reinforcements.

By the 18th, the "Fredonians," as the American colonists were then styled, numbered about two hundred men. They took possession of the stone house in Nacogdoches, and commenced fortifying themselves. Having raised the flag of independence, they began to organize their forces and government. Colonel Martin Parmer,* one of the most daring and vigilant men in the colony, was appointed to the command of the military; and suitable alcaldes, or, as they preferred to call them, justices of the peace, were chosen for the different settlements. On the 18th they held a court-martial for the trial of Manuel Santos for giving aid and comfort to the enemy, of which he was honorably acquitted. On the 20th, Hunter and Fields, representatives of the Indians, with some other chiefs, came in to consummate the treaty of alliance with the whites. They entered into a general council, and, after three days' deliberation, a solemn league and confederation between the whites and Indians was adopted and signed by the agents of the respective parties, and on the same day ratified by the committees, as representatives of both parties.

* Martin Parmer was only one of the extraordinary characters that appeared in Texas about that time. His life had been a thrilling romance. He was born in Virginia, in 1775. At twenty years of age he emigrated to Tennessee, where he married Miss Sarah Hardwick. He was engaged for some time in superintending the works of Montgomery Bell, of Dickson county. But his ambition was not satisfied. In 1818, he emigrated to Missouri, and settled fifty miles above the highest county formed in the then territory—surrounded by the Sioux, Iowa, and Osage Indians. He gave fifty dollars for a bear-dog, and by the chase kept such supplies of meat as drew the Indians around him. One of them, called Two Heart (from the fact that he had killed a white man, and eaten his heart), came to partake of his bounty, when he spread before him a large quantity of meat, and, standing over him with a drawn knife, forced him to eat till it ultimately killed him! Parmer had numerous and fearful fights with the savages, but at last acquired an influence over them, which induced the government at Washington to appoint him an Indian agent. He was elected a colonel of the militia, and then a member of the convention to form a state constitution. It was shortly after taking his seat in this body, that, two of the members getting into a fight, he interfered in behalf of one of the parties, announcing him-self as the "Ring-tailed Panther," by which name he was afterward known in the west,. After serving two or three terms in the Missouri legislature, Parmer emigrated to Texas, and settled near the Mound prairie. It is said he fired the first gun in the Fredonian war. Among the numerous stories told of him, it is related, upon good authority, that when his bear-dog died, he sent fifty miles for a clergyman to attend the funeral, which he actually did—supposing it to be one of Colonel Parmer's family! His son, from whom the above account is obtained, says he heard the sermon.

The objects of the treaty were twofold, as follows;

To divide the territory of Texas between the Indians and Americans. This was done by giving to the former all that portion lying north of a line beginning at the mouth of Sulphur fork; thence to a point not far from Nacogdoches; thence west to the Rio Grande. All the territory south of that boundary to belong to the other party.

To prosecute together the war against Mexico, until their independence was consummated.*

* The treaty was made by Hayden Edwards and Harmon B. Mayo, on the part of the Americans, and Richard Fields and John Dunn Hunter, on the part of the Indians. The Fredonia legislature or committee that ratified it was composed of the following persons, viz.; Martin Parmer, president; Hayden Edwards, W. B. Ligon, John Sprow, B. P. Thompson, Joseph A. Hither, B. W. Edwards, and H. B. Mayo, on the part of the Americans; and Richard Fields, John Dunn Hunter, Ne-ko-lake, John Bags, and Kuk-to-ke, on the part of the Indians. - Foote has published the treaty, vol. i., p. 255.

This war was commenced with a view and in the expectation that all the American settlers and Indians in Texas would join the insurgents. It was further expected that volunteers from the United States would rally to the "Fredonian" standard. Had these results followed, the revolution might have been successful. But various causes prevented. In regard to the Indians, some of the tribes—the Kikapoos, for instance—had been so badly treated by the whites, that they could not be induced to join them. In addition to this fact, Mexican emissaries had been among them. Bean was in the neighborhood, and had an influence with the Indians.**

** In Bean's notebook we find this entry; "December 26, 1826. Sent an express to Fields."

A proclamation was sent to Natchitoches for volunteers; but Huber, who carried it, betrayed his friends, and gave such an unfavorable account of affairs at Nacogdoches, that no assistance was obtained from that quarter. The express with an address to Austin's colony met with like ill success.

Saucedo, the political chief of the department, had set out for Nacogdoches with some two hundred troops under the command of Colonel Mateo Ahumada, and reached San Felipe de Austin about the first of January, 1827. Here he issued a proclamation, rather conciliatory in its terms, promising lands to those who were subordinate, and pledging the faith of the government. His presence in the colony, and the delicate position of Austin, together with the fact that he was ignorant of the wrongs Edwards and his colony had actually suffered, induced him and his colony, not only to refuse any aid to the Fredonians, but to join in opposing them.

After the first day or two of excitement had passed, and there being no immediate danger of an attack from the enemy, the Fredonians retired to their homes, leaving Colonel Parmer, with a few men, to guard the place. Norris, who, had been deposed from his office, seeing the town so poorly defended, collected about eighty followers, of whom ten or twelve were Americans, mostly his relatives, and on the 4th of January marched into Nacogdoches, for the avowed purpose of banging the Fredonians. Arriving within two hundred yards of the stone house, where the latter were stationed, they dismounted, and took a position behind some old houses. The Americans, eleven in number, to whom were united eight Cherokees under Hunter, marched out and charged upon Norris and his forces.

In a few minutes the latter fled, leaving one killed and ten or twelve wounded, together with about half their horses.

The report of this conflict drew many of the Fredonians into the place, and a better organization of their strength was made. Benjamin W. Edwards was elected colonel and commander-in-chief of the Fredonian forces, and set out in pursuit of Norris. The latter, however, was safely across the Sabine.

In the meantime, the Mexican troops under Ahumada were approaching Nacogdoches. The Fredonians thereupon sent an express to Aes bayou,* for assistance; but Bean had dispatched an emissary in advance to these people, promising them pardon and lands. They also sent an express to the Indians, but Bean had likewise anticipated them here, and had promised the Cherokees and their associate bands that they should have the lands they had applied for. Hunter alone was faithful, and the Indians murdered him.**

* From Colonel Bean's note-book; " December 28, 1826. Sent an express to Aes bayou. Sent a spy to Nacogdoches." This spy was John Williams. The Fredonians arrested him as such, but subsequent events prevented the action of the court-martial.

** Colonel Bean, through the instrumentality of John Williams, Elliott, and others, succeeded in detaching the Indians from the whites. These agents, for this service, received each a league of land. It is said that Bowles was hired to assassinate Fields and Hunter. Fields was first killed, and shortly afterward Hunter suffered the same fate near the present town of Henderson.

The Indians had joined the Mexicans, and, on the morning of the 27th of January, 1827, their entire forces were within ten or twelve miles of Nacogdoches. Under these untoward circumstances, the remaining Fredonians evacuated the place, and crossed the Sabine on the 31st. The Mexican troops entered the town shortly after the Fredonians had left, and, through the influence of Austin, treated the inhabitants and prisoners with humanity. Thus ended an affair in every way unfortunate for Texas.

[Next Section of Texas History: Texas: 1825-1830]

 

 

 

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