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Frontier Raids, Threats, and Counter-Threats of Invasion
with instructions to capture Mexican towns and levy contributions, destroying public works and seizing public property. It was suggested that these acts would "strike terror among the inhabitants, which may be very useful to us." But, as for a military operation by land against Mexico, even Lamar could see the impracticality of such an enterprise. His whole administration had been one of general frustration on both the international and domestic fronts, and as Congress assembled amid a "scene of tumult and vexation" for the last time in Austin, Lamar was constrained to ask in his last annual message to Congress on November 3:
Whilst we are . . . annoying our enemy by water, the question naturally arises, what shall be our course toward them upon land? I have already expressed my aversion to military invasion of their territory. If there were no other reasons which would indicate the impropriety of such a step, the condition of the country, in a pecuniary point of view, utterly forbids it at present. We have not the means to raise, equip, and continue in the field an army of sufficient force to chastise that nation into an acknowledgment of our independence, without involving ourselves in pecuniary difficulties and embarrassments, infinitely greater than those which now surround us, and which it is admitted by all, are as great as the country at this time can bear, without materially retarding its prosperity and the development of its resources. I am aware that an opinion prevails among many of my fellow-citizens that an army once organized and put in motion, can support itself off the enemy. But how is this to be done? Shall it be permitted by sacrilege and robbery -- by plundering the churches, and strip[p]ing peaceful citizens of their private property without giving them any thing in compensation for it? This would hardly be consistent with civilized and honorable warfare. Besides the violence would be offered to a people who are neither hostile to us, nor adverse to their Government's acknowledging our rights; for it is known that the Mexicans on the Río Grande, have always evinced a disposition for peace and a desire to cultivate with us, amicable and commercial relations. It is emphatically their interest to do so; for if a violent war be awakened upon that border, they will be the sufferers, no matter which of the contending parties may prevail; as both will equally prey upon them. They also desire peace upon other grounds. Their proximity to, and intercourse with us, have inspired them with more enlarged and liberal views than are entertained by the interior State of Mexico; and instead of being at war with our institutions, they would prefer to see them introduced
39. Branch T. Archer, Secretary of War & Navy, to E. W. Moore, Sept. 18, 1841, in E. W. Moore, To the People of Texas: An Appeal in Vindication of His Conduct of the Navy, pp. 12-13.