August 12, 1845



Latest from Texas


The steamer McKim, Captain Phillips, reported in forty-six hours from Galveston, arrived here on Sunday night.  We have Austin papers by her to the 30th ult., and those of Galveston to the 9th inst.



The Convention is proceeding well and wisely in the discharge of its important duties.


On the 19th ult. The article relative to the Executive Department was adopted in Committee of the Whole and ordered to be engrossed, after being amended by striking out the clause requiring the Governor, if not a citizen of Texas at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, to be a native citizen of the United States, by the insertion of an additional section providing for the election of a Lieutenant-Governor, and by providing that the Secretary of State be appointed by the Governor and Senate, and that the Treasurer and Comptroller be elected by the Legislature in joint ballot, instead of being chosen by the people.


The section containing the provision that no minister of the gospel or priest shall be a member of the General Assembly has been retained by a majority of seven.  The section providing that the basis of representation should be the qualified electors was amended by substituting therefore the basis of white population, but subsequent to the adoption of this amendment the subject was referred to a select committee, and it was expected the committee would recommend a mixed basis of population and territory.


But it is unnecessary to follow them in their labors, as their action on any article cannot be deemed definite until the adoption of the whole.  We give the letter of our intelligent correspondent at Austin, which will give our readers a more familiar knowledge of matters and things at that now important part of the State than they could derive from the newspapers.  The Convention will not have framed the new Constitution and closed their labors till about the latter part of this month.


                                                    [Correspondence of the Picayune]

Austin, July 23, 1845


Gentlemen – The Convention is proceeding industriously in the formation of the Constitution.  With all the landmarks before them, there is, nevertheless, much diversity of opinion.  There is a party here, as elsewhere, that seem disposed to keep in the advance of the age, which is already sufficiently tending to ultraism.  It may be fortunate for us that a restraint is exercised over the action of the body, from the fear that if any established principle in government, or as regards vested rights, be violated, our Constitution will not be accepted.  I will, however, do the members the justice to say, that I have not seen any body assembled to deliberate on any subject whose morality, deportment as gentlemen, and intelligence entitled them to more respect.  I have observed, also, in debate, that great propriety is evinced, and the utmost decorum practiced towards each other.  The President (Rusk) is highly popular, with no other objection than his excessive good-nature, which is somewhat injurious to the strict observance of order, which is always necessary to to the advancement of business.  Gen. Rusk is a man of talents – not much cultivated; he is large, rather tending to fat, careless to a fault in his costume; he is kind in his manner, courteous to all.  He exercises great influence over the Convention, and always for the better.  He might at all times, had he chosen to do so, have controlled the destinies of Texas, and was and is, perhaps, the only one that could free the country from the power of Houston, which has evern been exercised in wantonness of spirit, and always for the gratification of a controlling selfishness, without regard to any other consideration whatever.  There is a muttering in the elements that forebodes a storm he will find difficulty in allaying.  However much he may coquette in the United States for a great office, he cannot, with all his art, hide from the people here, and those with you whom he now perhaps, loves better, that he has been the controlling spirit in every movement taken by those in power here in opposition to that great measure.  Now, whatever may be his opinions upon the question for the future, it is evident and known to all that he was opposed to it, denounced the treaty as infamous, and said that Texas would not, and ought not to accept the terms.  His object was to negotiate under Benton’s resolution:  — there was a margin there for terms, as well as cash.  There was a curious clause in the rejected treaty, which was a stipulation to pay two hundred and odd thousand dollars to Dawson, for the purchase of the navy.  This was about half his claim, it having been doubled by forfeiture.  The Ministers who negotiated it are above suspicion; – it is shrewdly suspected that they had orders on that subject.  Why should a single creditor have been preferred, when that creditor had exacted the penalty of his bond, and those who had furnished the Government with means at par value were overlooked?



We have literally complied withe the terms proposed by the United States.  Although many citizens do feel great uneasiness on the subject of bounday, the resolutions of our Congress and our ordinance in Convention yield the settlement of that question to your Government, without restriction.  The boundary to the Rio del Norte is not only indispensable to our safety and repose, but to the United States Government.  The old boundary was the Nueces, and its line is within 30 miles of San Antonio.  The distance thence to the Rio del Norte varies from two to three hundred miles.  It is unsettled and uncultivated, except immediately on the bank of that river.  And unless we occupy that river, there is no locality for slaves West of the Colorado, which is the finest country we have for cotton, sugar, stock, the ordinary farming pursuits and health combined.  And besides it is the avenue through which the Camanche alternately commits depredations on the Mexican and Texan frontiers.  If that avenue is closed by the occupation of our troops, it confines them to the mountains, and gives protection alike to the Mexican and to us.  In addition to this, the river gives a line that may easily be defended, and the only one that can protect and encourage trade.  We thought it better for Texas to occupy that position before annexation, and a citizen of the United States generously offered to furnish provisions and munitions of war for the enterprize.  Our people were eager for it, when to blast these hopes, the President’s Treaty with Mexico, and his Proclamation for an Armistice made its appearance, admitting a disputed boundary, which no Texan had before allowed to be questioned.  It is shrewdly suspected that the failure of this measure before our Congress was the consequence of the opposition of the U. S. Charge, and Executive influence in the Senate, where it failed.


This question of boundary underwent an animated discussion some days since, on a proposition to refer the subject to a committee for report.  The opinion of the Charge controlled some, the old leaven of adhesion to the Ex and present Executive, others; it was however referred to the committee on the ayes and noes by a majority of five.  So far as I am advised on the subject, it is not intended to interfere by any organic resolution that the boundary, but to express to President Polk our opinion upon it, and our right to it, and as far as possible, to neutralize the injurious effect of the very strange course of the President.


The Convention is destined to have considerable discussion, and a close vote on the immediate organization of a State Government.  A large party, if not a majority of the Convention, feel disposed, when the constitution is submitted to the people, to authorize at the same time the election of a Governor and Representatives – to convene them soon after, and elect our Senators – to transfer all power and authority now exercised by our Executive and Congress, as an independent government, to the Governor and Legislature. – All profess to have lost confidence in the President, but some fear that it is premature, and will have an injurious effect.  It is difficult to see the force of this reasoning.  In the first place it rids us of a man who does not represent us, and of all the expensive machinery of a badly regulated government.  It also shows we do not distrust the good faith o your government – that we have fulfilled the conditions of the bond – formed a representative form of government, and demand, not implore, admission.  Should this not be done now, nearly or quite a year will elapse before we can avail ourselves of the benefits arising from representation.


The reports of all the committees, but “General Provisions,” have been made.  The Convention has settled the Bill of Rights, and gone through the Executive department.  The Governor and Lieutenant Governor to be elected for four years; the Secretary of State, appointed; the Treasurer and Comptroller, elected by joint ballot; two thirds are required to pass a bill over the veto.  It seems to be probable that the seat of government will be fixed here until 1850, then to be definitively located.  The Convention will probably adjourn about the 20th August.



The president of the Convention enclosed to the Hon. C. A. Wickliffe, now in Texas, a copy of the resolution of the Convention tendering him, as one of President Tyler’s cabinet, the expression of the approbation of the Convention, to which Mr. Wickliffe returned a suitable reply.


Several new settlements have recently been formed on the Western and Northern frontier, and they are rapidly improving.  A settlement has been formed within the last two or three months high up on the San Gabriel, near the old Towacanne fort, about fifty miles north of Austin.  Twenty or thirty families are now located near this fort, and it is expected that forty or fifty more will settle there during the summer.  Another settlement has been formed on the Medina, twenty miles above Castroville, and ten or fifteen families are now located at that point.  The valley is remarkably fertile and capable of producing large crops of corn, wheat, potatoes and culinary vegetables in abundance.  Castroville is rapidly improving.  There are now about two hundred men at this place capable of bearing arms, and they are regularly mustered and drilled every month.  They have large fields of corn, wheat and hemp under cultivation.  Although most of the settlers are Europeans, they have enjoyed excellent health, and are generally delighted with their new location.  It is expected that a large number of Mexican families from the Rio Grande will soon remove to Bexar county and settle in the vicinity of Castroville and along the Medina.


W. T. Smith, American Consult at Matagorda, was washed from his horse and drowned, one of the latter days of last month, in attempting to pass the bayou between Indian Point and Pass Cavallo.


The sloop Olive branch arrived at Galveston on the 7th from Corpus Christi.  She reported the revenue cutter Woodbury to be at Decrow’s Point on the 6th awaiting the arrival of Maj. Donelson, who was hourly expected, when she was to said for New Orleans.  The Olive Branch also reported the U. S. troops to be still on St. Joseph’s Island, and that the steamer Monmouth left for New Orleans on the 4th.  The steamer Dayton left Galveston on the 6th for Corpus Christi, under charter to convey the troops to the main land.  The U. S. ship St. Mary’s arrived at Galveston on the 7th.  The Hope Howes was up to leave for this port on the 11th.


H. G. Catlett, Esq., arrived at Washington, Texas, on the 28th ult., from Fort Jesup, to which place he had borne despatches from Maj. Donelson to Gen. Taylor.  He left the Fort on his return on the 22nd ult., three days before the Dragoons set forth.  He was to proceed at once to San Antonio and thence to Corpus Christi, with despatches from Col. Twiggs to Gen. Taylor.  The Dragoons were expected to reach San Antonio by the 20th inst.


Source: The Daily Picayune, Tuesday, August 12, 1845.



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