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Growth of War Spirit in the West

Gentlemen contend," he said, "that we had no right to notice a paper blockade -- no right to oppose it." When then, he asked, should one prepare to prevent an actual blockade?[30]  Louis P. Cooke of Travis County, Chairman of the Naval Affairs Committee, wanted "to know how much longer the wretched people of the West were to endure the sacking of their towns, the plunder of their property and the carrying off of their citizens; how much longer was it to be subject to devastation and gentlemen to contend that we were not invaded?"[31]  Cooke then went on to paint a vivid picture of the suffering and misery of the people of the west, and was highly critical of the policy which permitted this state of things. He thought the effort to censure the President and recall the navy an eastern measure, and in subsequent debate was severely taken to task by Chairman Darnell for this bold assertion. Cooke declared that the country had already been invaded, that Mexico had declared and published a blockade of the Texas coast; and that "other nations would suppose the actual existence and enforcement of the blockade," unless the administration had otherwise demonstrated. He contended that under these circumstances "the ordering out of the Navy was necessary and proper."

Witnessing the belligerent attitude of the western leaders, Van Zandt rose to ask, "What was the true state of things?" "There was," he declared, "news upon news, brought here last winter to induce Congress to invade Mexico; . . . some of it was created not far from here. But this House," he said, "had stamped its disapprobation upon it. But the President had attempted to carry out the principle which the House had refused to sanction, and involve the nation in a war."[32]  He ridiculed the suggestion that had been made by Lamar's defenders that the navy had been sent out to defend Texas against the vessels which were yet upon the stocks in New York, building for the Mexican government. He declared that the argument was "a petty sub[t]erfuge [and] . . . that the excuses for sending off the navy were false and palpable." Van Zandt concluded by drawing "a picture of a wretched female, ragged and almost naked, with her children around her, wringing her hand in bitterness, on account of the money which had been drawn from her for taxes, and paid out to send the navy to Yucatán." He represented the "female as calling upon the Government, in varied and pathetic terms, to know what had become of their money; whether

30. Ibid., II, 126-127.

31. Ibid., II, 123-125.

32. Ibid., II, 129.

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