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The Opening of Frontier Trade

nation. It removed the duties from sugar, coffee, tea, salt, flour, all furniture, cotton bagging, bale rope, books, stationery, utensils, lumber, and a few other items, but all dry goods of which cotton formed a component part were subjected to a ten per cent ad valorem tax.[5] 

The attitude of Mexico toward the development of the frontier trade is revealed in an order from the Minister of the Interior to the Governor of the Department of Coahuila in April 1838, declaring that until Texas was subjugated all commercial relations between Coahuila, Sonora, and Nuevo México with the United States must be severed.[6]  This order, however, did not prevent a continuation of the trade, now rapidly growing in volume.

As a result of the increasing demand for friendly trade with northern Mexico, the President of Texas on June 13, 1838, instructed the chief justices of the counties of San Patricio, Goliad, Béxar, and Victoria to permit the citizens and friends of Texas residing on the Río Grande to trade at Béxar and other parts of Texas under certain conditions designed to protect Texas from hostile acts by the Mexican government and its citizens. Twenty-four hours notice had to be given of the approaching arrival of any group of over ten persons, and upon arrival the Mexican traders were to check their arms with the chief justice of the county. No person, however, was to be allowed to trade from the settlements of Texas in the direction of the Río Grande, nor were any companies to be raised without orders from the government, except that in case of invasion the militia might be called out on the frontier. "But no company," said the President, "shall go west of the Nueces, without orders expressly from [the] Government."[7] 

5. Telegraph and Texas Register, Feb. 10, 1838; Asa K. Christian, "The Tariff History of the Republic of Texas." Masters' thesis.

6. Minister of the Interior to the Governor of the Department of Coahuila, Mexico, April 28, 1838, in "Relaciones Exteriores Asuntos Varios Comercio Estados Unidos, 1825-1849," Barker Transcripts, ms.

7. Sam Houston to the Chief Justices of the Counties of San Patricio, Goliad, Béxar, and Victoria, June 30, 1838, Documents under the Great Seal (Texas), Record Book, no. 37, ms., pp. 25-26. In Domestic Correspondence (Texas), 1836-1846, ms., the date is shown as June 13, 1838. See also [Sam Houston], To the Chief Justice of the County of San Patricio, Houston, June 13, 1838, broadside; Erasmo Seguin, Chief Justice, to R. A. Irion, San Antonio, Aug. 14, 1838, State Department Letterbook, no. 2, ms., p. 185. Seguin reports the posting at San Antonio of two copies of the order opening the trade and the sending of other copies to the Río Grande.

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