Texas Another World Texas History Texas : An Informal Biography

Texas : An Informal Biography

Texas : An Informal Biography
Catalog # SKU0615
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Owen P. White


An Informal Biography

by Owen P. White

Mr. White told his own story a few years ago in the Autobiography of a Durable Sinner. Still unregenerated, he now gives us the story of his native state, not a dry-as-dust and conventional history of that most unconventional of states, but a story of the Texans the ones who made their state great rather than the story of its politicians, who have sometimes succeeded in making it ridiculous'. "Texas," says Mr. White, "is one of God's greatest and most gratifying experiments. When God created Texas He did so with the mischievous intention of providing men who had no fear of Him, if only they could conquer it, with an empire of their own of stupendous wealth and unbounded opportunity. Thus Texas was his challenge to the tall, the tough, and the ugly to come and get it. They came and they got it. . . not just a few of them who have sat in high places - conquered Texas and made it over to suit their own tastes. They did it handsomely with long rifles and Bowie knives; mustangs and longhorns; lassos and branding irons; whiskey. cards, women, shooters; corn cotton, and barbed wire; books and Bibles; school and churches; sawmills; sugar mills, and gin Mills; oil drills and oil refineries. These were their tools, and with them they not only gave Texas its tradition, its culture, its costume, its manner of speech, its swagger, and its reputation, but also made it the most powerful, most envied, and most emulated state in the American Union."

Mr. White writes with gusto, with such a store of Texas knowledge and legend as probably no other writer possesses, and with a keen sense of the ridiculous. He knows his Texans from the ground up, and his tale is made vivid not by the men who were elected to office or who acted as spokesmen and leaders but by the men who I did the job of making Texas what it came to be.

Page 66-68

By the end of the year 1825 all of Stephen Austin's colonists, numbering approximately four thousand souls, all good Mexican citizens and all glad of it, were prosperous, peaceful, and happy. Elsewhere in Texas, though, conditions were otherwise.

Of the other men besides Austin who had gone to the City of Mexico to ask permission to bring colonists into Texas, Green DeWitt and Hayden Edwards had been granted permits under the general colonization law, and of this pair Hayden Edwards was the first to get down to work, but not to hard work. Apparently he was not that kind of man. Unlike Stephen Austin, empresario Edwards, the site for whose colony lay along the Louisiana border and included the old Neutral Ground, was a pompous gentleman who wore starched shirts and white collars and looked down disdainfully not only upon labor but also upon the authority of the Mexican Government. Consequently, in October, 1825, when he crossed the Sabine into Texas to assume control of his chosen territory, he didn't bother to comply with the law by going on to San Antonio to have the state authorities confirm his grant. This oversight placed him in a rather shaky position. Under his federal permit he was legally in Mexico, but, owing to his own negligence, he was illegally in Texas. For this reason the Mexican Governor, feeling that he had been deliberately ignored by this newly arrived, high-stepping Americano, at once sent him an invitation to vacate the state and to do so immediately. That invitation, however, was not accepted. Instead, by going to San Antonio and being contritely polite, Edwards succeeded in having the suggestion grudgingly withdrawn. When he returned to his colony he at once started to stir up some real trouble for himself. It was trouble of a kind he should have anticipated.

Much of the land Edwards had selected, and he must have known this, was already occupied by a very dubious class of settlers, of both Spanish and American origin, all of whom, obviously, had to be dispossessed. But they couldn't be, not without a considerable amount of either lawing or shooting, because when they were told to move practically every one of them produced beautifully engrossed, suspiciously new parchment documents indicating that the land they occupied had been granted to their fathers by his Majesty the King of Spain, and that therefore they were the legal owners of it.

That these documents were the products of a forgery mill was very clear. It was also clear that the Mexican citizen who owned the mill was the same man who at that time was a candidate for the high office of Alcalde of the town and district of Nacogdoches. It occurred to empresario Edwards that the easy way to handle the situation would be, first, to defeat the man in the election, and then, afterward, complain about him to the Texas authorities. He tried both of these ways and failed in both. Despite all Edwards could do with both his cash and his eloquence the Mexican forgery expert was almost unanimously chosen as Alcalde of Nacogdoches. Soon thereafter, when the Governor in San Antonio received two letters of complaint in the same mail, it didn't take him long to decide what to do about it. One of these letters, from Edwards complaining about the Alcalde, went at once into the official wastebasket, but the other, from the Alcalde complaining about empresario Edwards, did not. On the contrary, it was read carefully, and its main suggestion, which was that el señ or Edwards again be invited to leave Texas, was immediately acted upon. The astounding result was that el señ or Edwards at once declared war upon Mexico.

It was a comical war whose instigator even had a comical name for it. He called it the Fredonian Rebellion. In stirring language he described it as the struggle for freedom, liberty, and independence of the oppressed people of the Republic of Fredonia. The oppressor, of course, was the Republic of Mexico, but what was the Republic of Fredonia? Where was it, and who, and of what race, breed and color were its poor downtrodden people? To these questions, important to the Mexican Government, which didn't feel that it should be called upon to go to war with a myth, Mr. Hayden Edwards, after a hurried conference with the chiefs of the Cherokees who had established themselves in his neighborhood, made the following reply. The Republic of Fredonia, divided into two parts by a line running from Nacogdoches due west to infinity, took in all of Texas and then some. All of its white people and all of its red people were its oppressed people, and after victory had been won, according to the agreement made and entered into with the Cherokee chieftains, all the land north of the dividing line was to belong to the Indians and all the land south of it to the Americans. That was all there was to it. It was just another scheme, and a highly ludicrous one, to steal Texas. The promoter had deluded himself into believing that all he had to, do was wave his banner and all of Austin's colonists would flock to it and throw in with him. But they didn't. They were too busy clearing land, building cabins, and laying out roads to be bothered by any such nonsense as a war for freedom. All Stephen Austin did about it was to send a couple of good solid settlers over to the Sabine to argue with the Fredonians and point out to them the error of their ways. It was a wasted effort. With a plume in his hat, spurs on his heels, a sword at his middle, a vision in his mind, and forty or fifty reckless ruffians at his rear, "General" Hayden Edwards was in no mood to pay attention to any talk of peace. He was out for war; he was bound to have war; all who were not for him were against him, and....

And so far as Stephen Austin was concerned that settled it. He was no trifler. He and his people were loyal Mexican citizens, and if General Edwards was lusting for a war with their country they'd be only too happy to gratify him. He wouldn't have to come for it, either; they'd take it to him. In line with that determination the following manifesto was at once issued. It was blunt and to the point.

End Excerpt.

Softbound, 5.25 x 8.25, 277 pages

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