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U.S. agent advises against recognition of Texas independence


On this day in 1836, Henry Mason Morfit wrote the first of a series of ten letters about Texas to President Andrew Jackson. Morfit, a State Department employee, had been sent to Texas to report on the strengths and weaknesses of the new republic. Texas officials knew that U.S. recognition of Texas independence was vital to the republic's survival. That recognition hinged, however, upon the new country's ability to stave off possible Mexican efforts at reconquest. Morfit was doubtful that Texas would be able to do this, and he reported to Jackson accordingly. He stated that the Texas population was small, that the new republic was in serious debt, that there was a vast area of disputed jurisdiction, and that independence was far from secure. In December, Jackson referred to Morfit's pessimistic report as he handed the decision over to the U.S. Congress. The following spring, however, Powhatan Ellis, U.S. minister to Mexico, reported to the U.S. Congress that Mexico was suffering from anarchy, revolution, and bankruptcy, and that the Mexicans could not possibly invade Texas. Whereupon, on March 1, 1837, the United States sent a "diplomatic agent," Alcée Louis La Branche, as chargé d'affaires to the Republic of Texas. This diplomatic recognition was but one step leading eventually to annexation.

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