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4Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Mexico paid such penalties as nations that have surrendered themselves to despotism have always paid: in this case, loss of half her territory and an unmerited reputation, through many decades, for cruelty, treachery, and bad faith.

Texas, resisting despotism and fighting for the natural right of a free people to have and maintain a free and orderly government, failed in her first attempt to establish one because many of her leaders were unwilling to make those personal sacrifices without which free government cannot exist; and refused, until too late, to save the men of Goliad, to subordinate their selfish aims, individual prejudices, factional intrigues, and personal jealousies and ambitions to the common good.


But Santa Anna, soon set about proving that no democratic government, however vicious, bad, or weak, can ever be as bad, or as stupid, or as cruel, as despotism, even at despotism's best. Prior to Goliad, Santa Anna, though notoriously crafty and cunning, had not been thought a cruel man; despite the moral cautery of a generation of desperate internal fighting, beginning with the first Mexican outbreaks against Spain, the Mexican people had builded no reputation for cruelty or bad faith. Mexico, from the point of view of Americans, was a friendly republic, not too well governed, according to our lights, but a land newly-aspiring to liberty and freedom, and immune, absolutely, from American aggression and from undue interference at American hands. This was but too well proved in November and December, 1835. General José Antonio Mexía, in league with some of the Texan leaders, and as part of the general plan to use the disturbances in Texas as an opportunity for the rising of the Mexican Liberals against Santa Anna's usurpation of arbitrary power, made an attack on Tampico, with Americans recruited at New Orleans, about 150 men. Twenty-eight of these were captured in the course of the fighting, tried as pirates, convicted, and shot. American reaction, almost universal, was "served them right."

It was common knowledge that the Texans, in undertaking to fight Santa Anna, had done so in reliance on help in men, munitions, and money from the United States. It was too much to expect Santa Anna, or any other despot, to understand the gulf

Copyright © 1939 Texas State Historical Association

Go to Page | Index | Contents | Sketches A4   Appendix A | Biblio. | Page- | Page+

Harbert Davenport 1936
H. David Maxey, Editor             Webpage of January 1, 2000