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Growth of War Spirit in the West

to be practiced upon the Treasury."[64]  He carefully pointed out that the arsenal at the seat of government in Austin was almost destitute of lead, possessing only seven hundred pounds on February 1, 1842. Six weeks later, on March 10, at the time of the Mexican invasion, there were at Houston only 2,128 pounds of lead and 1,550 of powder.[65]

Congress responded by providing for a company of mounted men to "act as Rangers" on the southern frontier on such terms as the President might deem beneficial to the public interest.[66]  As for the fortifying of Galveston and Matagorda Bays, the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, headed by James W. Byrne from the Goliad, Refugio, and San Patricio District, reported on January 8 adversely on the proposal to fortify those two points along the coast. Mexico's efforts to create a naval force on the Gulf was viewed as "the vain boasting of the vainest and most imbecile nation on earth," and the committee did not believe that "the enemy would venture within our Bays or Harbours with any force -- he could bring on the Coast." The committee admitted that Galveston and Matagorda Bays could be made defensible, but pointed out that a long line of coast, several harbors, and inlets would remain in a defenseless condition, open at all times to an invading force. In view of this situation, coupled with the entire prostration of the nation's credit and the need to economize in public expenditures, the committee recommended "that no action be taken on the subject of harbour defence for the present."[67]

Just as Congress was about to adjourn on February 5, Houston reminded it of "the exposed condition of the National Archives." Since the establishment of the government at Austin, he said,

. . . a constant military force has been at the disposition of the President. The large amount of money placed at the disposition of the former Executive gave him the means of rendering every necessary protection to this

64. Houston to the House of Representatives, Executive Department, City of Austin, Jan. 6, 1842, in Writings of Sam Houston, II, 423.

65. Same to George W. Hockley, Galveston, March 10, 1842, ibid., IV, 76-77. See also Same to House of Representatives, Executive Department, City of Austin, Feb. 2, 1842; Same to Same, City of Austin, Feb. 2, 1842 (Veto Message), ibid., II, 466-471.

66. H. P. N. Gammel (ed.), Laws of Texas, II, 746. The law was approved by the President on January 29, 1842.

67. Texas Congress, Committee Reports, Sixth Congress, No. 2582. Endorsed: Report of Naval Committee, January 8, 1842, ms.; printed in Smither (ed.), Journals of the Sixth Congress of the Republic of Texas, I, 215-217.

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