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Growth of War Spirit in the West

there were illegal votes polled, or any other substantial objection, but solely because the votes had been returned to the State Department instead of to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as directed by the Constitution.

It was not pretended that any thing was radically wrong in the votes thus returned. Yet no latitude of construction would then be allowed. The Constitution must be pursued to the very letter. This construction prevailing, reduced the majority of Gen. Houston about one fourth. I will not impeach his motives, because I have no right to do so. But how stands the case now sir? The tables are turned; the conduct of Gen. Lamar is under consideration, therefore a different rule of construction must prevail -- the utmost latitude of construction must be allowed, for it is only by implication and remote influence [inference?], that the power now claimed for the Executive, can be derived from the Constitution and laws. Consistency, thou art a jewel.[28]

Robert M. Williamson of Washington County forcefully presented the constitutional issue.

Violence has been done to the only king in the country -- the law. [he declared] Gentlemen have contended that it was policy to send out the navy -- yes, it was policy that the Executive should put the laws and constitution under foot. I have been taught when I was a boy that honesty is policy. Sir, this is a policy that will break the social compact; policy, sir; yes, sir, policy. . . . Have not laws been made, and yet gentlemen contended that policy should govern. Sir, policy is the course of the ex-Executive. [Williamson spoke two days after the inauguration of Houston.] Give the privilege of the same course to the Executive just appointed. Sir, we had better adjourn sine die at once, than sustain such a course. I would sooner adjourn to the infernal regions than to do it. The country has been trampled under foot by the Executive.[29]

On the other hand, Wood of Liberty County doubted the power of Congress to lay up the navy while the country was still at war. The west, he declared, was "subject to constant depredations, and yet Gentlemen said there was peace. . . . If is [it] was a peace, it was a kind that brought much pain and difficulty upon the people. . . .

28. Ibid., II, 148-149. As to the Montgomery County votes, Darnell seems to be in error. "From the counties of Montgomery, Galveston, Brazoria, and Jackson there were no returns at all. From the counties of San Augustine, Washington, Bowie, Burnet, Lamar, Bastrop and Gonzales, the returns were informal, having been made to the Secretary of State instead of the Speaker of the House, as required by the constitution." Ibid., I, 69 n.

29. Ibid., II, 155.

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