Go to Page | Index | Contents 79     | Biblio. | Page- | Page+

The Opening of Frontier Trade

. . . this officer is evidently laboring under an egregious mistake relative to the policy of the government. He evidently imagines that his post will be soon strengthened with a body of troops from this section, which will enable him to act on the offensive. He also apprehends some offensive movements on the part of Mexico. Experience will ere long convince him that he has nothing to hope from this government and nothing to fear from Mexico. Both will remain as they have remained during the last year -- entirely passive. We trust, therefore, that since it is the settled policy of this government to keep the hands of the soldiers idle, their heads will be kept also inactive, lest by being permitted to think for the citizens and to prescribe their duties, they infringe upon civil rights, which the framers of the constitution intended to place far beyond the reach of military encroachment.[2] 

On the other hand, the trade on the southwestern frontier must not be permitted to jeopardize the Republic's efforts to win French friendship and recognition. The French government must not be offended, and that government was soon to be assured that the government of Texas would take the necessary steps to prevent the Mexicans evading the blockade of the Mexican ports so far as Texas was concerned. The Texas revenue cutter operating along the Texas coast would enable the Republic to have intercourse with the French blockading squadron in the gulf, and might, said Secretary of State Irion, "be of great utility to us in procuring a good understanding with the French Government."[3] 

In the meantime, the Secretary of War presented to Congress the question of the advisability of the opening of trade by the Texan government between the inhabitants of San Antonio and the Mexican population beyond them to the Río Grande, in order to divert to Texas large quantities of specie passing through Mexico's northern ports to the United States. At the same time, Texas would cultivate friendship among those living on the northern frontier of Mexico.[4] 

About this time, Congress, in an effort to lower the cost of living at home and to give a stimulus to trade, modified the tariff policy of the

2. Ibid., March 31, 1838; See also R. A. Irion to Sam Houston, Nacogdoches, [dated:] City of Houston, July 28, 1838, in State Department Letterbook, no. 1, ms., pp. 41-42.

3. R. A. Irion to Sam Houston, Nacogdoches, [dated:] City of Houston, July 28, 1838, in State Department Letterbook, no. 1. ms., pp. 41-42.

4. Report of the Secretary of War to the Senate and House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas in Congress Assembled, War Department, April 24, 1838 [signed by Barnard E. Bee], in Army Papers (Texas), ms.

Go to Page | Index | Contents 79     | Biblio. | Page- | Page+

AFTER SAN JACINTO: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1836-1841
Joseph Milton Nance, 1963