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Growth of War Spirit in the West

in which are better entitled to the appellation of bandits than of either patriots or statesmen. These individuals have no exalted principles of action, and should receive no encouragement from us. The Executive, therefore, should be fully empowered to arrest and prevent the predatory warfare occasionally carried on within our territories to the injury of our Western settlers.

It is my desire that this government should assume a station in relation to this subject, not inconsistent with national respectability and conducive to our best interests. Mexico has more to lose in a contest with Texas than Texas has with Mexico. Her civil commotions will exhaust her resources and diminish her means of aggression; while emigration to Texas will give us population and resources -- and they will give us power to resist aggression.[60]

Houston's policy was in line with the recommendation made by England's minister to Mexico, Richard Pakenham, to James Webb, the Texan secret agent to Mexico in June 1841. Pakenham had written:

I have, on various occasions, taken the liberty to express to the gentlemen acting for the Government of Texas with whom I have had the honor to communicate, my conviction that it is entirely for the interest of Texas to forbear from any acts of hostility or aggression towards Mexico, so long as Mexico refrains from active hostilities against that country.

The Government of Texas, I have no doubt, possess sufficient information as to what passes in this country, to enable them to judge how far it is possible that Mexico will be able, and how soon, to undertake an expedition upon a scale to endanger the safety and independence of Texas. The longer such an expedition is postponed, the less likely it becomes that it should ultimately take place, unless Texas should, in the meantime by some act of aggression, offend the pride of the Mexicans, and lead them to put in action the means which they undoubtedly possess, if properly directed, of causing serious annoyance to Texas.[61]

In cabinet council, December 22, two days after the President's message to Congress, Dr. Anson Jones, the new Secretary of State, in substance, made similar recommendations.

Our policy as it regards Mexico should be to act strictly on the defensive. So soon as she finds we are willing to let her alone, she will let us alone.

60. Houston to the Senate and House of Representatives, City of Austin, Dec. 20, 1841, in Writings of Sam Houston, II, 399-408.

61. R. Packenham to James Webb, Her Britannic Majesty's Mission, Mexico, June 10, 1841, in "Report of the Secretary of State to Mirabeau B. Lamar, Department of State, Austin, October 12, 1841, reproduced in Smither (ed.), Journals of the Sixth Congress of the Republic of Texas, III, 246-247.

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