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Federalist Wars: First Phase

As the traders continued to pour in from northern Coahuila and Tamaulipas, they manifested the most friendly disposition toward Texas and Texans, and by mid-December 1838, were reporting the whole country along the Río Grande as having declared in favor of Federalism,[57]  as if this were a better reason than ever why they should be kindly received in Texas. "They consider that since they have almost unanimously declared in favor of federalism," reported Dr. Alsbury from San Antonio, "there no longer exists an occasion for hostilities; and as the[ir] general government can afford them no protection [having withdrawn its troops from the frontiers of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Chihuahua leaving the inhabitants exposed to the Comanches], they wish to make common cause with our citizens against the savages."[58]

With the spread of Federalism in the north, even Mexican citizens of the Centralist party sought refuge in the Texas frontier towns, preferring "the tranquility enjoyed even among enemies to the horrors and turmoil of civil war."[59]  But a few months before, the same refugees were using every means within their control to destroy the government that now extended them its protection. Among the refugees entering Béxar were Mexicans, who during the revolutionary disturbances of 1835-1836, had fled to the Río Grande country and beyond. Nearly two hundred of these families by April 1839 had returned to Béxar. Many of them were commencing the cultivation of the ranchos near Béxar that had been abandoned since the beginning of the Texas revolution.[60]  Some were opening new farms. Others were settling in the vicinity of the ranchos Calvillo, and Guadalupe-Victoria.

During its early stages the trade between the Texans and Mexicans had been carried on by stealth and was little more than a system of smuggling and barter; but in December 1838, the traders began to come in openly, protected by passports from the Federal commanders, and to pay specie for their purchases. Several thousand dollars in specie, a much needed item in Texas, were brought into San Antonio in the course of a week or two, and large quantities of silver were coming in from Chihauhua. One trader arrived with $17,000 in specie, and it was estimated in May 1839 that goods valued between $100,000

57. Telegraph and Texas Register, Dec. 12, 1838.

58. Ibid., Dec. 19, 1838. See also ibid., Jan. 18, 1839; Matagorda Bulletin, Jan. 10, 1839.

59. Telegraph and Texas Register, Feb. 20, 1839.

60. Ibid., May 13 and April 10, 1839.

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