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Frontier Raids, Threats, and Counter-Threats of Invasion

Archer was more than critical of the President's policy in regard to the southwestern frontier, and spoke out firmly for bold action.

It is not without regret that I have to acknowledge the difference of opinion existing between your Excellency and the head of this Department on the subject of our Western military operations. The territory claimed by us extends to the Río Grande. Our citizens have been authorized to locate and settle within this territory. Many have availed themselves of this authority, without the aid or protection of Government. Invasions of this section of country have been of daily occurrence. Our Mexican enemy have no restraints upon their action. Under pretence of a licensed trade, they enter and depart, unmolested, with the profits of their traffic; thus presenting to the world an anomaly in the prosecution of border war -- free trade between belligerents -- free interchange of commodities, between men in arms against each other; a facility, I think, never before given or practised, but by the most adroit and skilful spies. This state of things is not the most material disadvantage, under which our Western fellow-citizens have been laboring. The authorized Central Troops of Mexico, invade at will, for the purpose of murder and plunder; whilst our Troops are not permitted to enter their territory, either for purposes of revenge or reprisal. A border war prosecuted on this plan, cannot fail to be disastrous to the restrained party. We know this fact, from the repeated complaints of our Western fellow-citizens, and their continued and loud demands on the Government for permittance to prosecute this border war on equal terms with the enemy. My order of date the 14th of July was countermanded by your order, of date the 14th of August following. This recession of the orders of the 14th of July, has been attended with consequences fairly to have been anticipated. The murder of our citizens, the violation of our women, and the sacking of our towns. If this state of things is to continue, I would most earnestly advise my brethren of the West, to abandon that frontier, as in a contest so unequal it cannot be sustained.[38]

Lamar's term of office was too near its close for him to lay down a policy in the light of these suggestions, and the problem of frontier defense was left to the incoming Houston administration to work out. But it was not too late to put into effect the new policy developed with Yucatán -- a policy designed as much to embarrass his successor as to aid Yucatán and retaliate upon Mexico. The Texas naval expedition, consisting of the Austin, San Bernard, and San Antonio, sailed from Galveston on December 13, 1841, the last day of Lamar's administration and the day that Houston began his second term as President,

38. Ibid., III, 361-362.

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