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The Southwestern Frontier

in control of the town.[33]  By the end of March, after the rumor of an impending invasion began to die out, "like a thousand idle rumors of a similar character that proceeded it,"[34]  a considerable trade had sprung up at San Antonio with the Mexicans on the Río Grande. Large flocks of sheep were driven into the western counties from the Río Grande.[35]  Competition filled the market, and according to one account, large amounts of specie were being brought into the city. Within two weeks time two sizable shipments of specie had reached Austin by way of San Antonio on their way east to buy goods in New Orleans for the Mexican trade.[36]

While much has been written concerning the influx of specie into Texas and the prosperity of the western trade, little has been said "whether the dollars were realized at a profit or loss, and it is no doubt from miscalculations of this kind," reported Reuben M. Potter,[37]  "that the trade of Béxar has been overrated and overdone." Since its opening the trade had become more competitive; prices were depressed, being in May 1841, about half what they were the year before. "Merchandise is, indeed, cheaper here at present," wrote Potter, "than in any part of Texas, which leaves little chance of profit where the expense and risk of transportation are so great, and the stock on hand is sufficient for many months. The trade, however, was only with the small towns on or near the Río Grande, and not yet extended to any of the larger cities beyond the frontier and could not be expected to do so until there was a "treaty or truce with Mexico, or with the western part of it in case of a new insurrection."

Depressed market conditions at San Antonio, due to overstocking,[38]  reflected not only increased competition among traders in that quarter, but the growth of the trade carried on with northern Mexico from other frontier settlements, especially those located along or near the Texas coast, which had ready connections with New Orleans, Mobile, Pensacola, and other United States ports. The inland towns on the frontier were at a disadvantage in transportation, in that it was not only more expensive, but was also more dangerous owing to the

33. El Ancla, quoted in Telegraph and Texas Register, July 29, 1840.

34. Telegraph and Texas Register, Feb. 3, 1841.

35. Ibid., Jan. 5, 1841.

36. Ibid., April 7, 1841.

37. R[euben] M[armaduke] P[otter] to the Editor of the Morning Star, San Antonio de Béxar, May 15, 1841, reproduced in Telegraph and Texas Register, June 9, 1841.

38. Telegraph and Texas Register, June 16, 1841.

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