Augustus William Magee

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Augustus William Magee 

1789 –1813

An U.S. Army lieutenant and filibuster who led an invasion of Spanish Texas in 1812.

Augustus Magee was born in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1809, he graduated third in his class at West Point. He served as an artillery officer under Major GeneralJames Wilkinson at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and then at Fort Jessup under future president Zachary Taylor. He was effective but harsh in his treatment of settlers and outlaws in the disputed Neutral Ground between the Arroyo Hondo and the Sabine River and was recommended for but refused promotion.

Frustrated with his prospects, he played with Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara's plan to support the Mexican War of Independence through an invasion of Texas from American soil. Although this proposal defied the Neutrality Act, Magee resigned his commission in June 1812 and personally recruited many of the soldiers.

Leaving Natchitoches with 130 men on 2 August 1812, now-Colonel Magee crossed the Sabine six days later. On the tenth, he was joined by General Gutiérrez; on the sixteenth, the Gutiérrez-Magee Expedition entered Nacogdoches. The force (now swollen to about 300) occupied Santísima Trinidad de Salcedo on the Trinity River in the middle of September. Here Magee became ill. Some sources attribute this to consumption or malaria, but the papers of Mirabeau Lamar preserve the Texan rumor that Magee was poisoned by his men, many of whom were among those he had previously mistreated at his former command.

Through a long illness, he remained in nominal military command before dying while besieged at the Presidio Nuestra Señora de Loreto de la Bahía in modern Goliad. He was succeeded in command of the expedition by Samuel Kemper.

Green DeWittgreen dewitt.jpg

1787 – 1835

DeWitt was born in Lincoln County, Kentucky, moving with his family while still an infant to Missouri. At the time, Missouri was a part of Spanish-held Louisiana.  At 18, he returned to Kentucky, and studied for two years at the college level, then returned to Missouri once again. In 1808 he married Sara Seely of St. Louis, Missouri, and enlisted in the Missouri militia. He fought in the War of 1812, rising to the rank of Captain by the wars end, and then was elected Sheriff of Ralls County, Missouri.

In 1822, DeWitt petitioned the Mexican government for permission to settle colonists in Texas but was denied.  After gaining the support of Stephen F. Austin, an influential Texas empresario, DeWitt's second petition, in 1825, was granted. He was given permission to settle 400 respectable, industrious, Catholic families in an area bounded by the Guadalupe River, San Marcos River, and Lavaca River. This colony was southwest of Austin's.  DeWitt hired James Kerr as his surveyor. Kerr placed the capital, called Gonzales after Rafael Gonzales, provisional governor of Coahuila y Tejas, at the confluence of the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers. The first settlers arrived in the summer of 1825. DeWitt visited the colony in October, but spent much of 1825 in Missouri recruiting settlers.  DeWitt was accused of misappropriation of funds in San Antonio, Texas, by settler Peter Ellis Bean, but was exonerated on October 16, 1825. Sara DeWitt, whose Brooke County, Virginia family was quite wealthy, contributed to her husband's endeavors, selling off some of her property in Missouri to help finance his venture.

In July 1826 Gonzales was raided by Indians who were looking for horses. Most of the settlers fled temporarily to Austin's colony. Although the colonization laws specified that settlements should not be established within 10 leagues of the coast, DeWitt gained permission from the Bexar authorities to establish a temporary settlement, which they called Old Station, on Matagorda Bay near the mouth of the Lavaca River. The settlement would be allowed until enough colonists had arrived to be able to see to their own safety in Gonzales.  By October 1826 40 people lived in Old Station, including Dewitt and his family. His family included his wife, two sons, and three of his four daughters in Gonzales, the fourth daughter having already married in Missouri.

Because the Mexican government had made an error and included another colony in the contract grant, DeWitt had numerous disputes with colony founder Martín De León. At one point, DeWitt was arrested, on the authorization of the Mexican government, due to Martín De León claiming tobacco being shipped into the colony was contraband. Tensions eased somewhat when Stephen F. Austin stepped in, but the damage caused to the relationship of DeWitt and De León would never be repaired. As a result of his arrest, however, Mexican authorities ordered that Old Station be abandoned, and Gonzales was reestablished.

In 1827, DeWitt joined Austin and De Leon in signing a peace treaty with the Karankawa so that their colonies would be safe from their raids. DeWitt also negotiated a peace treaty with the Tonkawa, but were unable to reach terms with the Comanche. As Comanche raids took a toll on the settlement, the political chief in Bexar sent the settlers of Gonzales a small cannon that they could use for their protection. In 1830 Mexican authorities passed a law prohibiting further immigration to Texas from the United States. Austin was able to secure a waiver for DeWitt's colony, but the measure made it difficult for him to recruit families. When his contract expired on April 15, 1831, he had settled a total of 166 families. Because he was unable to meet the terms of the contract, any unassigned lands in his colony reverted to the Mexican government, and DeWitt was unable to get a further contract.

By 1831 the colony was becoming successful, but DeWitt's finances were depleted, having used a lot of his family's funds to help keep the colony going. In 1835, near the time of the start of hostilities that would result in the Texas Revolution, DeWitt traveled to Monclova, in Mexico, in an attempt to obtain more premium land for the colony, but was unsuccessful. While in Monclova, he contracted cholera, and died on May 18, 1835, being buried in an unmarked grave. During the Battle of Gonzales, following his death, his wife Sara and daughter Naomi cut up a dress to make the banner "Come and Take It", which has since become a symbol of pride for the community.

James Long 

1793 - 1822

Long was a former US Army surgeon in the War of 1812 who served at the Battle of New Orleans. He married Jane Herbert Dent Wilkinson in 1815 and owned a plantation in Natchez, Mississippi.

Many Americans and French settlers the American southwest were opposed to the Adams-Onis treaty of 1819 that settled the border dispute between the United States and Spain. Long teamed up with José Félix Trespalacios a former Mexican who had fought against Spanish rule in Mexico. They made their first filibuster expedition to Texas in 1819. And he also attempted to recruit Jean Lafitte and his men, but Lafitte turned him down. Several of Long's recruits were former French soldiers who had started a settlement in Texas the Champ d'Asile that Spanish troops crushed in 1818. Long was successful in capturing Nacogdoches, with his followers proclaiming Long the first President of the Republic of Texas, which lasted only one month, and is not affiliated with the Republic of Texas that was the result of the Texas Revolution. However a Spanish expedition routed Long and his followers.

Long led a second unsuccessful expedition from the Bolivar Peninsula the following year bringing his pregnant wife Jane Long and 300 troops. Then his troops seized Presidio La Bahía. He was caught and imprisoned, then shot in Mexico by a guard 6 months later. One of Long's followers, Benjamin Milam believed that Trespalacios who had been captured and freed was responsible.

His widow, Jane Long, claimed to be the first woman of English descent to settle in Texas gave birth to Mary James Long the first child born in Texas of English descent, a claim which has been disproved by census records from 1807 to 1826, which show a number of Anglo-American births. Throughout a long winter, she and her children struggled as she waited for her husband's return. At one point, several Karankawa Indians appeared, but Long fired a cannon each day to make them think there was an army stationed there. Finally, during the spring, Long heard of her husband's death. She then, with some friendly travelers, left Texas, hoping to one day return, and she did. She came back in 1820s as a bonafide colonist.

Jean Lafitte

1780 – 1823

Was a French-American pirate and privateer in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th century. He and his elder brother, Pierre, spelled their last name Laffite, but English-language documents of the time used "Lafitte". The latter has become the common spelling in the United States, including for places named for him.

Lafitte is believed to have been born either in France or the French colony of Saint-Domingue. By 1805, he operated a warehouse in New Orleans to help disperse the goods smuggled by his brother Pierre Lafitte. After the United States government passed the Embargo Act of 1807, the Lafittes moved their operations to an island in Barataria Bay, Louisiana. By 1810, their new port was very successful; the Lafittes pursued a successful smuggling operation and also started to engage in piracy.

Though Lafitte warned the other Baratarians of a possible military attack on their base of operations, an American naval force successfully invaded in September of 1814 and captured most of Lafitte's fleet. Later, in return for a legal pardon for the smugglers, Lafitte and his comrades helped General Andrew Jackson defend New Orleans against the British in early 1815.

In late 1815 and early 1816, the Lafitte brothers agreed to act as spies for Spain, which was embroiled in the Mexican War of Independence. Collectively they were known as "Number thirteen". Pierre was to inform about the situation in New Orleans, and Jean was sent to Galveston Island, a part of Spanish Texas that served as the home base of Louis-Michel Aury, a French privateer who claimed to be a Mexican revolutionary. By early 1817, other revolutionaries had begun to congregate at Galveston, hoping to make it their base to wrest Mexico from Spanish control. Lafitte visited in March 1817. Two weeks into his stay, the two leaders of the revolutionaries left the island.

The following day, Lafitte took command of the island and appointed his own officers. On April 18, he sailed for New Orleans to report his activities. With Spanish permission, Lafitte returned to Galveston, promising to make weekly reports of his activities.

Lafitte essentially developed Galveston Island as a smuggling base. Galveston was a seaward island that protected a large inland bay. As part of Mexico, it was outside the authority of the United States, and was largely uninhabited, except by Native American Karankawa.

Lafitte named his colony Campeche, after a Mexican outpost further south along the Gulf Coast. His men tore down the existing houses and built 200 new, sturdier structures. Ships operating from Galveston flew the flag of Mexico, but they did not participate in the revolution. Lafitte wanted to avoid a Spanish invasion. Aury returned to Galveston several months later, but he left in July when he realized that the men were unwilling to revolt.

In less than a year, Lafitte's colony grew to 100–200 men and several women. Lafitte interviewed all newcomers and required them to take a loyalty oath to him. The headquarters was a two-story building facing the inland harbor, where landings were made. The building was surrounded by a moat and painted red; it became known as Maison Rouge. Lafitte conducted most business aboard his ship, The Pride, where he also lived. Lafitte created "letters of marque" from an imaginary nation to "authorize" all the ships sailing from Galveston as privateers. The letters gave the ships "permission" to attack ships from all nations.

In April 1818, the United States passed a law prohibiting the import of slaves into any port in the United States. The law left several loopholes, giving permission to any ship to capture a slave ship, regardless of the country of origin. Slaves captured in such actions who were turned over to the customs office would be sold within the United States, with half the profits going to the people who turned them in. Lafitte worked with several smugglers, including Jim Bowie, to profit from the poorly written law. Lafitte's men identified slave ships and captured them. Smugglers would purchase the slaves for a discounted price, march them to Louisiana, and turn them in to customs officials. A representative of the smuggler would purchase the slaves at the ensuing auction, and the smuggler would be given half of the purchase price. The smuggler became the lawful owner of the slaves and could resell them in New Orleans, or transport them for sale in other parts of the Deep South, which was the major market of the time.

In 1818, the colony suffered hardships. After Lafitte's men kidnapped a Karankawa woman, warriors of her tribe attacked and killed five men of the colony. The corsairs aimed the artillery at the Karankawa, killing most of the men in the tribe. A hurricane in September resulted in flooding of most of the island, in which several people died. It destroyed four ships and most buildings. Only six houses survived as habitable.

In 1821, the schooner USS Enterprise was sent to Galveston to remove Lafitte from the Gulf. One of the pirate's captains had attacked an American merchant ship. Lafitte agreed to leave the island without a fight, and on May 7, 1821 departed on The Pride. His men burned the Maison Rouge, fortress and settlement. He reportedly took immense amounts of treasure with him, and was accompanied by his mulatto mistress and an infant son. All that remains of Maison Rouge is the foundation, located at 1417 Harborside Drive near the Galveston wharf.

Jose Bernardo Gutierrezo

Jose Bernardo Gutierrezo was the first constitutional governor of the state of Tamaulipas, and a native of Revilla, today Ciudad Guerrero, Mexico.

Gutiérrez de Lara was obsessed by the idea of freeing Mexico from Spain, and began by recruiting and arming twenty one men in Texas. Then together with José Menchaca, he spoke with the Indians and convinced them to fight with him against the Spanish.

After the suppression of an 1811 insurrection in Nuevo Santander, Gutiérrez de Lara, a strong supporter of the revolutionary movement, traveled to Washington, D.C. He can be viewed as the first Mexican diplomat in Washington, D.C., since on December 10, 1812 he went to the United States House of Representatives to request support for the cause of Mexican independence. He was welcomed with much interest, but the United States government could not offer assistance without jeopardizing relations with Spain.

Nevertheless, he managed to raise a private force. In The Herald of Alexandria, Louisiana on August 31, 1812, he published notice of what he called the “Republicans of Nacogdoches" to recruit volunteers. The troops under Gutiérrez de Lara's command consisted of only 450 men, many of whom were military adventurers from the United States. He invaded Texas with this slender force in 1812, taking possession of several cities and driving back the forces of Manuel María de Salcedo and Simón de Herrera. On April 6, 1813 he declared the independence of Texas from the kingdom of Spain, and proclaimed the first constitution and declared himself the first president of Texas. Warned of these developments, José Joaquín de Arredondo, whose forces were quartered in the Valley del Maíz, marched to engage Gutiérrez de Lara, collecting men and material on the way through Nuevo Santander. Colonel Ignacio Elizondo, sent in advance, allowed himself to be drawn into an engagement, and was totally routed. A few weeks later Arredondo himself defeated the insurgents, now under the command of José Álvarez de Toledo y Dubois, who had replaced Gutiérrez de Lara. Many prisoners were executed, including all the captured United States citizens, ending all hope of aid from the United States.

After the failure to create an independent Texas, he supported the Spanish general Francisco Javier Mina in his expedition of 1817 in support of the Spanish Constitution of 1812, and later accompanied James Long in his expeditions in 1818 and 1819.

Agustín de Iturbide, forming a broad coalition under the Plan de Iguala, recognized Bernardo Gutiérrez for his activities in support of Mexican independence. In 1824 he returned to Revilla, and one year later he was made the first constitutional governor of Tamaulipas. He moved to live in Linares, Nuevo León with his son José Ángel. He later fell ill on a trip to Santiago and died May 13, 1841. He was buried in the church at Santiago. 

Juan Jose Maria Erasmo Seguin

1782 – 1857

A prominent citizen and politician in San Antonio de Bexar (modern-day San Antonio, Texas, USA) in the 19th century. From 1807 until 1835, Seguin served as head postmaster of San Antonio, Texas. After Mexico achieved independence from Spain, Seguín was named the sole representative from Texas to the constitutional convention. He helped to draft the Constitution of 1824 and was a major influence in the addition of a general colonization provision. Seguín assisted Stephen F. Austin in choosing land for the first colony of American settlers to immigrate to Texas.

During the Mexican War of Independence, Seguin likely sympathized with the rebellion. In January 1811, Juan Bautista de las Casas led a revolt in Bexar, overthrowing governor Manuel María de Salcedo and appointing himself head of a new Mexican state. His arbitrary rule caused much dissatisfaction within Texas, and Seguin helped to organize the counter revolt that deposed de las Casas. A governing council was created to help lead the province until Spanish troops could regain control; Seguin held one of the seats.

In 1813, governor Salcedo was again overthrown, this time by the Republican Army of the North. They declared Texas an independent republic headed by José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara. During the invasion by the Gutiérrez-Magee Expedition, Seguin was in the United States on business. He returned carrying a letter from American authorities recommending that Gutierrez be replaced. While he was en route, the Spanish army, under José Joaquín de Arredondo, had defeated the invaders, killing 1300 Texians at the Battle of Medina, and resumed control of the province. Seguin's letter was found and confiscated, but he argued that he had been coerced into carrying it against his will. Arredondo did not believe Seguin's protests and labeled him a traitor. Seguin was dismissed from his position as postmaster and his property was confiscated. He was not, however, jailed.

Several years later, Arredondo offered a blanket pardon to most Tejanos. Seguin refused the pardon and instead took his case to the courts. In 1818, the court cleared Seguin of all charges and he was able to regain his property and his postal position. In the summer of 1820, Seguin was elected alcade, or mayor of Bexar. It would be just one of many of the municipal offices he would serve over the next two decades. In 1822, he was fully restored as postmaster and in 1825 he was appointed quartermaster of Presidio San Antonio de Bexar, a position he held for a decade.

In the early 1820s, the Spanish government reversed a long-standing policy against immigration. For the first time, people would be allowed to settle in Texas from other countries, including the neighboring United States. In 1821, the governor of Spanish Texas, Antonio María Martínez, asked Seguin to act as ambassador to Moses Austin and inform him that he had been awarded the first colonization contract. Several months later, Seguin and Juan Martín de Veramendi met Austin's son, Stephen at Natchitoches and escorted him into Texas. The small group explored a large area in eastern Texas. Three weeks into their trip, several of Seguin's employees found them to deliver the news that Mexico had been granted its independence from Spain.

In its initial years of existence, Mexico was in much political turmoil. In late 1823, authorities called for a constitutional convention. Seguin was elected as the only delegate to represent Texas. For the next eight months, he and the other representatives worked to draft a constitution. The Constitution of 1824 was signed in October 1824. The new Mexican constitution was similar to that of the United States, with the major exception that it established Catholicism as the national religion. Against Seguin's protests, Texas was combined with Coahuila to form a new state, Coahuila y Tejas. Seguín did succeed in inserting language that allowed Texas to petition for independent statehood at a later date. He was also influential in gaining a provision for a General Colonization Law. In an extension of the Spanish policy of 1821, the colonization law would allow state governments to grant land to empresarios, who could then allot it to individual colonists. The grants would be void after six years, however, if fewer than 100 colonists settled in the land grant. Among other issues he championed was a lessening of the restriction against Catholicism and slavery. After the convention ended, Seguin returned to Bexar.

Martín De León


A rancher and wealthy Mexican impresario descended from Spanish aristocracy. He was the patriarch of one of the prominent founding families of early Texas. Martín de León was born in 1765 in Burgos, Tamaulipas, Mexico to wealthy and well-connected aristocratic immigrants Bernardo and María Galván De León from Burgos, Spain.  Martín's first career was as a supplier of basic necessities to Real de San Nicolás mine workers. He joined the Fieles de Burgos regiment in 1790, being promoted to Captain.

In 1795, Martín de León married Patricia de la Garza. Her financial inheritance was part of the foundation of De León's Colony. De León and his wife Patricia de la Garza began ranching in Cruillas following their marriage. In 1799, De León moved northward and established Rancho Chiltipiquin, a cattle ranch in the vicinity of San Patricio County, Texas. Their cattle brand of a connected E and J (Espíritu de Jesús) became the first registered cattle brand in what was to become Texas. The brand had been modeled after one used by the Jesuits, and brought over from Spain when the De León family emigrated. Martín officially registered it in Texas under the family name in 1807.

De León's 1807 and 1809 petitions for colonization were denied by the Spanish government. After Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, colonization possibilities looked more favorable. On April 13, 1824, prior to the1824 Constitution of Mexico enacted on October 4, the provisional Mexican government approved a contract allowing Martín de León to settle forty-one Mexican families on the lower Guadalupe and Lavaca rivers, in the vicinity of Coleto, Garcitas, Arenosa, and Zorillo (Placido) creeks. It was the only predominantly Mexican colony in Texas. They founded the town of Victoria and named it after Guadalupe Victoria who had just become the first president of Mexico. The De León E–J (Espíritu de Jesús) cattle brand became the first registered brand in what was to become Texas. The extended De León family included politicians and freedom fighters who helped alter the course of history both in Texas and in Mexico. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark number 6542 placed at Evergreen Cemetery in 1936 acknowledges Don Martin de León's contribution to Texas. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark number 6543 placed at Church and Bridge Streets in 1936 denotes Don Martin de León's home in Victoria.

The couple had four sons: Fernando, Silvestre, Félix and Agapito. Fernando helped trade livestock for munitions to help Stephen F. Austin, and later became aide-de-camp to provisional Texas governor James W. Robinson. Silvestre fought beside his brother-in-law Plácido at the 1835 Siege of Béxar to drive Martín Perfecto de Cos out of Texas.

The couple also had six daughters, who were overshadowed by the men they married. Candelaria married José Miguel Aldrete, who was 1835 state land commissioner of Coahuila y Tejas. Aldrete joined several Texas insurgent groups to resist President Antonio López de Santa Anna. Guadalupe married Desiderio García, of whom nothing is known. María married politician Rafael Manchola who was elected to the state legislature in 1830. Refugio married Mexican freedom fighter José María Jesús Carbajal, who waged guerilla warfare in Mexico against López de Santa Anna's political machine. Agustina married Plácido Benavideswho opposed López de Santa Anna's dictatorship, but felt Texas should remain part of Mexico. Benavides led a unit of Tejano fighters at the Battle of Goliad. He was recruited by Stephen F. Austin for the Battle of Bexar. Benavides earned himself the sobriquet of the "Texas Paul Revere" for his 1836 journey from San Patricio to Goliad to Victoria, warning residents of the approaching Mexican army. Francisca married Vicente Dosal, of whom nothing is known.

Martín de León died of cholera in 1833. His estate was worth $500,000. De León is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Victoria, Texas. Upon her husband's death, Patricia assumed the role of head of the family. She kept the family together during exile in Louisiana, and upon return to Victoria, became a leading figure to help shape and nurture the community. Their extended family not only helped colonize Texas, but also included politicians whose deeds helped alter the course of history both in Texas and in Mexico.

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (Father Hidalgo)

1753 – 1811

Don Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo-Costilla y Gallaga Mandarte Villaseñor more commonly known as Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla or simply Miguel Hidalgo was a Mexican Catholic priest and a leader of the Mexican War of Independence.

As a priest, Hidalgo served in a church in Dolores, Mexico. After his arrival, he was shocked by the poverty he found. He tried to help the poor by showing them how to grow olives and grapes, but in Mexico, growing these crops was discouraged or prohibited by the authorities due to Spanish imports of the items. In 1810 he gave the famous speech, "The Cry of Dolores", calling upon the people to protect the interest of their King Fernando VII (held captive by Napoleon) by revolting against the European-born Spaniards who had overthrown the Spanish Viceroy.

Hidalgo was met with an outpouring of support. Intellectuals, liberal priests and many poor people followed Hidalgo with a great deal of enthusiasm. Hidalgo permitted Indians and mestizos to join his war. Hidalgo had no military training at all. The people who followed Hidalgo also had no military training, experience or equipment. Many of these people were poor who were angry after many years of hunger and oppression. Consequently, Hidalgo was the leader of undisciplined rebels.

Hidalgo's leadership gave the insurgent movement a supernatural aspect. Many villagers that joined the insurgent army came to believe that Ferdinand VII himself commanded their loyalty to Hidalgo and the monarch was in New Spain personally directing the rebellion against his own government. They believed that the king commanded the extermination of all peninsular Spaniards and the division of their property among the masses.

Hidalgo left Dolores with about 800 men, half of whom were on horseback. Through sheer numbers, Hidalgo's army had some early victories. Hidalgo first went through the economically important and densely populated province of Guanajuato. One of the first stops was at the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Atotonilco, where Hidalgo affixed an image of the Virgin to a lance to adopt it as his banner. He inscribed the following slogans to his troops’ flags: "Long live religion! Long live our most Holy Mother of Guadalupe! Long live America and death to bad government!"

On 28 September 1810, Hidalgo arrived at the city of Guanajuato with rebels, who were, for the most part, armed with sticks, stones, and machetes. The town's Spanish and Creole populations took refuge in the heavily fortified Alhóndiga de Granaditas granary defended by Quartermaster Riaños. The insurgents overwhelmed the defenses after two days and killed everyone inside, an estimated 400 - 600 men, women and children. The mass's violence as well as Hidalgo's inability or unwillingness to suppress it caused the creoles and peninsulares to ally against the insurgents out of fear. This also caused Hidalgo to lose any support from liberal creoles he might have otherwise have attained.

From Guanajuato, Hidalgo set off for Valladolid on 10 October 1810 with 15,000 men. Hidalgo and his forces took Valladolid with little opposition on 17 October 1810. Here, Hidalgo issued proclamations against the peninsulares whom he accused of arrogance and despotism, as well as enslaving those in the Americas for almost 300 years. Hidalgo argued that the objective of the war was "to send the gachupines back to the motherland" because their greed and tyranny lead to the temporal and spiritual degradation of the Mexicans.

The insurgents stayed in the city for some days preparing to march to the capital of New Spain, Mexico City. Hidalgo and his troops left the state of Michoacán and marched through the towns of Maravatio, Ixtlahuaca, and Toluca before stopping in the forested mountain area of Monte de las Cruces. Here, insurgent forces engaged Torcuato Trujillo's royalist forces. Hidalgo's troops made royalist troops retreat, but the insurgents suffered heavy casualties for their efforts like they did when they engaged trained royalist soldiers in Guanajuato.

Hidalgo's forces came as close as what is now the Cuajimalpa borough of Mexico City. After turning back, insurgents began to desert. By the time he got to Aculco, just north of Toluca, his army had shrunk to 40000 men. General Felix Calleja attacked Hidalgo's forces, defeating them on 7 November 1810. Hidalgo arrived in Guadalajara on 26 November with more than 7,000 poorly-armed men.[15] He initially occupied the city with lower-class support because Hidalgo promised to end slavery, tribute payment and taxes on alcohol and tobacco products.

Hidalgo established an alternative government in Guadalajara with himself at the head and then appointed two ministers. On 6 December 1810, Hidalgo issued a decree abolishing slavery, threatening those who did not comply with death. He abolished tribute payments that the Indians had to pay to their creole and peninsular lords. He ordered the publication of a newspaper called Despertador Americano (American Wake Up Call). He named Pascacio Ortiz de Letona as representative of the insurgent government and sent him to the United States to seek support there, but Ortiz de Letona was apprehended by the Spanish army en route to Philadelphia and promptly executed.[1]

Royalist forces marched to Guadalajara, arriving in January 1811 with nearly 6,000 men. Allende and Abasolo wanted to concentrate their forces in the city and plan an escape route should they be defeated, but Hidalgo rejected this. Their second choice then was to make a stand at the Calderon Bridge (Puente de Calderon) just outside the city. Hidalgo had between 80,000 and 100,000 men and 95 cannons, but the better trained royalists decisively defeated the insurgent army, forcing Hidalgo to flee towards Aguascalientes.

What was left of the insurgent Army of the Americas moved north towards Zacatecas and Saltillo with the goal of making connections with those the United States for support. Hidalgo made it to Saltillo, where he publicly resigned his military post and rejected a pardon offered by General José de la Cruz in the name of Venegas in return for Hidalgo's surrender. A short time later, they were betrayed and captured by royalist Ignacio Elizondo at the Wells of Baján (Norias de Baján) on 21 March 1811 and taken to Chihuahua.

Hidalgo was turned over to the bishop of Durango, Francisco Gabriel de Olivares, for an official defrocking and excommunication on 27 July 1811. He was then found guilty of treason by a military court and executed by firing squad on 30 July at 7:00 in the morning.[15] Before his execution, he thanked his gaolers, two soldiers, Ortega and Melchor, for their humane treatment. At his execution, Hidalgo stated "Though I may die, I shall be remembered forever; you all will soon be forgotten.”

Hidalgo's death resulted in a political vacuum on the insurgent side until 1812. The royalist military commander, General Felix Calleja, continued to pursue rebel troops. Insurgent fighting evolved into guerrilla warfare,[17] and eventually the next major insurgent leader, José María Morelos y Pavon, who had led rebel movements with Hidalgo, became head of the insurgents, until Morelos himself was captured and shot in 1815.[9]

Moses Austin

1761 - 1821

In 1784, he moved to Philadelphia to enter the dry goods business with his brother, Stephen. He then moved to Richmond, Virginia to open a second dry goods store.

In 1785, he married into the affluent iron mining family of Mary Brown, who then became known as Mary Brown Austin. The Austins' first child was born in 1793 and named Stephen Fuller Austin in honor of his father's brother and his mother's great uncle. Their daughter Emily Austin followed in 1795. James Elijah Brown Austinwas born in 1803.

Austin sought to start his own mining business in southwestern Virginia, and in 1789 he traveled to southwest Virginia to look at a lead mine site. Moses saw potential in the site and by 1791 his family had joined him in what is now Wythe County. Moses and his brother Stephen and several other partners and individuals industrialized the area. Several smelters, furnaces, commissaries, the Jackson Ferry Shot Tower, blacksmith shops, liveries, and mills were established. The tiny village around the mines became known as "Austinville," and Moses came to be known as the "Lead King."

The brothers incurred debts, causing the collapse of the company. After the Virginia lead business failed, Moses skipped out to avoid imprisonment and the consequences of debt, which was then customary in the U.S. for debtors under traditional English law (now being developed for U.S. federal and state codes), looked toward the rich lead deposits in Missouri, then a part of upper Spanish Louisiana. In December 1796, Austin and a companion traveled to investigate the Spanish mines. In 1798, the Spanish crown granted to Moses one-league (4,428 acres). In return he swore allegiance to the Spanish Crownand stated he would settle some families in Missouri. Stephen remained behind to salvage the Virginia business, creating a rift between the two brothers that would last for much of the rest of their lives. The state of Virginia seized much of the property Moses owned and broke up the various operations, which were later purchased from the state at great discounts by Thomas Jackson and his partners.

In 1803, Missouri came under the jurisdiction of the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Austin became founder and principal stockholder in the Bank of St. Louis, but the bank failed in the Panic of 1819 causing him to lose his entire fortune. He again sought help from Spain. In 1820, Austin traveled to Presidio San Antonio de Bexar in Spanish Texas and presented a plan to colonize Texas with Anglo-Americans to Governor Antonio María Martínez. The Governor rejected Austin's plan due to the ongoing attacks on Texas by American filibusters. An old acquaintance, Felipe Enrique Neri, Baron de Bastrop, who was living in San Antonio at the time and well-liked by the Spaniards, helped convince the governor to accept Austin's plan. In 1821, the governor asked Austin's friend, Erasmus Seguín, to give him the news that he had been awarded a land grant and permission to settle three hundred families in Texas. On Austin's return trip, he became ill and died in 1821, shortly after arriving back in Missouri. His son Stephen F. Austin carried out his colonization plan.

Philip Nolan

1771 – 1801

Philip Nolan was born to Peter Nolan and the former Elizabeth Cassidy in Belfast, Ireland, in 1771.

At the age of fifteen, he went to work for the Kentucky and Louisiana entrepreneur James Wilkinson as his business secretary and bookkeeper (1788–1791). He handled much of Wilkinson's New Orleans trade and became fluent in Spanish. During this time, he became acquainted with Manuel Luis Gayoso de Lemos Amorín y Magallanes, the district governor of Natchez, Mississippi.

In 1791, using the influence of Wilkinson, he obtained a trading passport from the Spanish governor of Louisiana and West Florida, Esteban Rodríguez Miró. He left Wilkinson's employ and set out to trade with the Indian tribes across the Mississippi. The passport was void in Texas, and his goods were confiscated by Spanish authorities. Nonetheless, and after living with the Indians for two years, Nolan returned to New Orleans with fifty horses.

He made a second trip to Texas in 1794−1795, with a passport from the Louisiana governor. He made acquaintance with Texas Governor Manuel Muñoz and the commandant general of the Provincias Internas, Pedro de Nava. It was on this trip that he met his first wife. This time he brought back 250 horses.

In 1796, he worked for Andrew Ellicott, boundary commissioner for the United States, who was mapping up the Missouri River. Governor Gayoso de Lemos was not pleased when Nolan arrived at Natchez accompanied by the surveying party. However, Nolan managed to patch things up, at least with Governor Carondelet in New Orleans, and obtained a third passport to enter Texas, despite the fact that trade directly between Louisiana and Texas was still officially prohibited by Spain. Gayoso de Lemos was not fooled. He wrote directly to the viceroy of Mexico, warning him against foreigners (such as Nolan) who were stirring up the Texas Indians against Spanish rule.

In the summer of 1797, he left on his third trip to Texas with a wagon train of trade goods, which he successfully brought to La Villa de San Fernando de Béxar, Spanish Texas (now San Antonio, the seat of Bexar County), where he insinuated himself in Spanish Texas society and married.[2] Commandant General Pedro de Nava was ordered by the viceroy to deal with Nolan, but Governor Muñoz defended Nolan and provided him with safe conduct out of Texas. Nolan left his wife and daughter in Texas and came back to Natchez in the autumn of 1799 with more than 1,200 horses.

Nolan is sometimes credited with being the first to map Texas for the American frontiersmen, but his map has never been found. Nonetheless, his observations were passed on to Wilkinson, who used them to produce his map of the Texas−Louisiana frontier in 1804.

Nolan was unable to obtain any more passports from the Spanish authorities. He conceived or borrowed a scheme to go illegally into Texas and perhaps other Mexican provinces. There is considerable dispute about the exact nature of this filibustering expedition; some claim that he promised his men that they would seize riches and land and create a kingdom for themselves. Nonetheless, he convinced some thirty frontiersmen that the expedition would make them rich. They crossed the border in October 1800 and headed north of Nacogdoches to capture wild mustangs. The Spanish soon heard of their activities, and Pedro de Nava ordered their arrest.

On March 21, 1801, a Spanish force of 120 men under the command of Lieutenant M. Múzquiz left Nacogdoches in pursuit of Nolan, whom they encountered entrenched and unwilling to surrender just upstream from where the current Nolan River flows into the larger Brazos (now in Hill County, Texas). Several of Nolan's men surrendered immediately to the Spanish and after Nolan was killed, the remainder yielded. Nolan's ears were cut off as evidence for Spain that he was dead. The first-hand account of the expedition, capture and subsequent imprisonment is contained in the Memoirs of Ellis P. Bean, who was second in command of the expedition. In early 1949, Rev. Rhea Kuykendall, a descendant of one Joseph Pierce who had settled on the "old Dixon Grant" along Mustang Creek, found the weathered tombstone of Philip Nolan. Mustang Creek is near Blum and Highway 174.

Stephen F. Austin

1793 – 1836

An American impresario born in Virginia and raised in southeastern Missouri. Known as the Father of Texas, he led the second, and ultimately successful, colonization of the region by bringing 300 families from the United States.

Austin was left penniless after the Panic of 1819, and decided to move south to the new Arkansas Territory. He acquired property on the south bank of the Arkansas River, in the area that would later become Little Rock. After purchasing the property, he learned the area was in consideration as the location for the new territorial capital, which could make his land worth a great deal more.

He made his home in Hempstead County, Arkansas, before moving to the Texas territories. Two weeks before the first territorial elections in 1820, Austin declared his candidacy for Congress. His late entrance meant his name did not appear on the ballot in two of the five counties, but he still placed second in the field of six candidates. Over the next few months, Little Rock did become the territorial capital, but Austin's claim to land in the area was contested and the courts ruled against him. Austin then moved to Louisiana. He reached New Orleans in November 1820, where he met and stayed with New Orleans lawyer and former Kentucky congressman Joseph and made arrangement to study law.

During Austin's time in Arkansas, his father traveled to Spanish Texas and received an empresarial grant that would allow him to bring 300 American families to Texas. Moses Austin caught pneumonia soon after returning home. He left his empresario grant to his son Stephen. Though Austin was reluctant to carry on his father's Texas venture, he was persuaded to pursue the colonization of Texas by a letter from his mother.

His party traveled the 300 miles (480 km) in four weeks to San Antonio with the intent of reauthorizing his father's grant, arriving on August 12. While in transit, they learned Mexico had declared its independence from Spain, and Texas had become a Mexican province rather than a Spanish territory. A San Antonio native, José Antonio Navarro, having like visions of the future of Texas, befriended Stephen F. Austin, and a lasting association developed between the two. Navarro, proficient with Spanish and Mexican law, would assist Austin in obtaining his empresario contracts. In San Antonio, the grant was reauthorized by Governor Antonio María Martínez, who allowed Austin to explore to find a suitable location for a colony.

Austin advertised the opportunity in New Orleans, stating that the land was available along the Brazos and Colorado Rivers.  A family of a husband, wife and two children would receive 1,280 acres (520 ha) at twelve and a half cents per acre. Farmers could get 177 acres (72 ha) and ranchers 4,428 acres (1,792 ha). In December 1821, the first U.S. colonists crossed into the granted territory by land and sea, on the Brazos River in present-day Brazoria County, Texas.

Austin's plan for a colony was thrown into turmoil by the independence of Mexico from Spain in 1821. Governor Martínez informed Austin that the  government of Agustín de Iturbide of Mexico, refused to recognize the land grant authorized by Spain. Austin traveled to Mexico City and managed to persuade the government to approve the grant to his father, as well as the law signed by the Mexican Emperor on January 3, 1823. The old imperial law offered heads of families a league and a labor of land, 4,605 acres (1,864 ha), and other inducements. As an empresario, Austin himself was to receive 67,000 acres of land for each 200 families he introduced.

When the Emperor of Mexico, Agustín de Iturbide, abdicated (gave up power) in March 1823, the law was annulled once again. In April 1823, Austin asked the congress to grant him a contract to bring 300 families into Texas. He wanted honest, hard-working, people who would make the colony a success. In 1824, the congress passed a new immigration law that allowed the individual states of Mexico to administer public lands and open them to settlement under certain conditions. In March 1825, the legislature of the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas passed a law similar to the one authorized by Iturbide. The law continued the system of empresarios, as well as granting each married man a league of land, 4,428 acres (1,792 ha), with the stipulation that he must pay the state $30 within six years.

By late 1825, Austin had brought the first 300 families to his settlement, with plans to settle an additional 900 families between 1825 and 1829. He had effective civil and military authority over the settlers, but he was quick to introduce a semblance of American law - the Constitution of Coahuila y Tejas was agreed on in November 1827. Also, Austin organized small, informal armed groups to protect the colonists, which evolved into the Texas Rangers.

With colonists numbering over 11,000 by 1832, they were becoming less conducive to Austin's cautious leadership, and the Mexican government was also becoming less cooperative. It was concerned with the growth of the colony and the efforts of the U.S. government to buy the state from them. The Mexican government had attempted to stop further U.S. immigration as early as April 1830, but Austin's skills gained an exemption for his colonies. He gave 640 acres (2.6 km2) to the husband, 320 to the wife, 160 for every child, and 80 for every slave.

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