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1 RISING TIDE OF EMPIRE: GULF COAST CULTURE AND SOCIETY DURING THE ERA OF EXPANSION, 1845 1860 By MARIA ANGELA DIAZ A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013
2 2013 Maria Angela Diaz
3 For my family
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Many people and institutions helped me throughout my time research ing and writing this dissertation. First, I would like to thank my parents Joe M. Diaz and Francisca Diaz, my brother, Joe Anthony Diaz, and my entire family for their encouragement and help. Without their unwavering belief in my abilities this would not h ave been possible. I love them all more than I can say. My dear friend, Autumn L. Hanna, read many drafts and was one of my loudest cheerleaders. She made me laugh when I really needed it. I would also like to thank Allison Fredette, Andrea Ferreira, Aurl ia Aubert Jennifer Lyon, Matthew Hall, Scott Huffard, and James Broomall for their helpful suggestions and careful readings of various stages of this work. Peter Carmichael and Watson Jennison were two of my favorite professors at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and they both played a crucial part in helping me to realize my goal of obtaining my Ph.D. I thank them for this every single day. I would like to thank my advisors, William A. Link and J. Matthew Gallman, for their guidance, patien ce, and kindness. Bill Link answered every question and every late night email with thoughtful suggestions. His generosity as a mentor is extraordinary, and I hope to be as good a mentor to my future students as he was to me. Matt Gallman pushed me to thin k more creatively about my work and our many discussions led me to consider this dissertation in new and different ways. It would not be the study it is today without his help. Both of these amazing historians have taught me what it means to be a scholar. I would like to thank my committee, Sean Adams, Leah Rosenberg, and Paul Ortiz, for their thoughtful critiques and questions. I am indebted to the archivists at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas, the Southern Historic al Collection, the Howard Tilton Memorial Library, the Hill Memorial Library, the
5 Galveston and Texas History Research Center, and the Historic New Orleans Collection.
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 8 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 9 CHAPTER 1 THE VALUE OF THE GULF OF MEXICO ................................ .............................. 11 2 WILD SONG: TEXAS ANNEXATION AND THE IMAGINED GULF SOUTH IN 1845 ................................ ................................ ........ 27 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 27 Imagining Texas and Imagining Expansion ................................ ............................ 34 The Most Fertile Coast in 1845 ................................ ................................ ............... 56 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 63 3 THE GHOST OF SA NTA ANNA: U.S. MEXICAN WAR RHETORIC AND REALITY ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 66 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 66 Creating a Martial Rhetoric ................................ ................................ ..................... 70 The Return of Santa Anna ................................ ................................ ...................... 81 ................................ ................................ .............. 90 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 100 4 UNPROTECTED TREASURE: NAVAL DEFENSES AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF PENSACOLA ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 103 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 103 Pensacola ................................ ................................ ............... 109 Defending the Coast and Improving the Bay ................................ ........................ 115 Patrolling the Gulf and Protecting the Borders ................................ ...................... 129 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 140 5 SETTLERS, LAND, AND SLAVES: GALVESTON AND THE TAMING OF THE TEXAS BORDERLANDS ................................ ................................ ...................... 143 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 143 Galveston in 1850 ................................ ................................ ................................ 147 Connecting to the Settlers and Selling th e Slaves ................................ ................ 154 Policing the Borders and Dominating the Others ................................ .................. 169 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 177
7 6 FILIBUSTER FORAYS: THE CUBAN FILIBUSTERING EXPEDITIONS AND RACIAL RHETHORIC IN NEW ORLEANS ................................ ........................... 180 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 180 New Orleans and Its Creoles ................................ ................................ ................ 186 Struggles Between Cuban Creoles and Spain Come to New Orleans .................. 196 The Expeditions Take Shape ................................ ................................ ................ 200 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 222 7 EXPANSION AND SECESSION IN THE ANTEBELLUM GULF COAST ............. 225 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 225 Cuba, Europe, and Past and Present Fears ................................ ......................... 228 Rejecting the Filibusters ................................ ................................ ........................ 237 The State of the Border ................................ ................................ ......................... 242 The Gulf South Chooses ................................ ................................ ....................... 248 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 255 8 THE VIEW FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO ................................ ......................... 259 BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 267 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 292
8 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3 1 Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna ................................ ................................ ............ 81 4 1 Chart of the Bay and Harbour of Pensacola, 1780. ................................ .......... 109 5 1 Galveston Bay, 1860. ................................ ................................ ....................... 147
9 Abstract of Dissertation Presented t o the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy RISING TIDE OF EMPIRE: GULF COAST CULTURE AND SOCIETY DURING THE ERA OF EXPANSION, 1845 1860 By Maria Ange la Diaz August 2013 Chair: William A. Link Cochair: J. Matthew Gallman Major: History The dissertation explores territorial expansion, its impact on port communities th e antebellum period. I argue that an expansionist discourse was compiled of images of the U.S. Mexico borderlands, oppressed Cuban Creoles, and threats to the economic security of the Gulf of Mexico. Southerners living within the Gulf of Mexico used this l attempted to expand their Southern slave society into Texas, Mexico, and Cuba. historians hav World, yet the Gulf ports also played central roles as sites of social and economic connection for other parts of the Americas as well. This dissertation posits that the Gulf Sout h served as a major site of connection for the Atlantic World, Latin America, the U.S. South, and the U.S. Mexico borderlands during the antebellum period. An examination of this region during the period of U.S. territorial expansion serves to unite the co mplex histories of both North and South America at a time of great upheaval in
10 the latter half of the nineteenth century. By studying the confluence of spaces, images, and ideas in this particular region the language of territorial expansion becomes eviden t.
11 CHAPTER 1 THE VALUE OF THE GULF OF MEXICO Harriet Martineau, an English social theorist and writer, wanted to be the first among her traveling companions to see the Gulf of Mexico. She stood on the pier near the steamboat, and with her finger traced t he landscape until the forest turned to marsh. She tried to make out the point where the Gulf emerged out of this setting, but as she umbrella broken, she ran for the safety of the waiting ship, escaping a rain the likes of which she had never before experienced. Yet Almost a decade later, Matil da Charlotte Houstoun, an English writer, and her husband sailed throughout the Americas, spending a great deal of time in the Gulf. During the mid 1840s their journey through Texas ended where it began, on the Gulf Coast as they prepared to set sail for N ew Orleans. Matilda, like many others journeying through the Gulf, often remarked on the volatility of its weather and the violent storms, which loomed suddenness and tremen 1 The warm and calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico belied the unpredictability of the weather there. How could such a seemingly quiet and isolated place bring forth such power and violence? Like the changeable nature of the weat her, few could have 1 Harriet Martineau, Retrospect on Western Travel (London: Saunders and Otley, 1838), 122; Mati lda Charlotte Houstoun, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico; Or Yachting in the New World (London: John Murray, 1844), 126.
12 would bring about violent power struggles, but during the late antebellum period this was what happened and it irrevocably changed the Gulf of Mexico and its people. The antebellum Gulf South moved according to its own rhythm. Visitors often remarked on the exotic nature of the region as compared to the plantation districts and urban areas of the southern interior. In the sub tropical heat of the summ er months, the fear of yellow fever struck the region, and those that could escape the cities often did so as soon as the seasons changed. Business slowed, parties were few and far between, and urban life seemed quieter. However, with the return of chillie r winds social life in the region resumed its frenetic pace. Winter was the time of carnival and cotton sales. 2 pleasure; all the people return from the country, & th e strangers whom the plague 3 Yet beyond this yearly cycle of heat, sickness, cool winds, and profits were the broader national trends of Manifest Destiny Throug hout the 1840s and 1850s, the rapacious Gulf South. This dissertation argues that through an examination of the confluence of spaces, images, and ideas, the rhetoric of ex pansion emerges. This rhetoric of expansion was both constructed and used by those within the Gulf port cities. The emergence and evolution of this discourse allowed port residents to capitalize on the 2 Harriet E. Amos, Cotton City: Urban Development in Antebellum Mobile (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1985), 18 47; James P. Bau Water Systems in the Gulf Southwest, 1836 The Journal of Southern History 34, no. 3 (August 1968): 357 381. 3 Alfred Mercier, Biographie Pierre Soule, translated By Marietta Millet of New Orleans, 1848, Bound Volume So ule (Pierre) Papers August 31, 1901 Undated (Department of Archives and Manuscripts Louisiana University, 1939), Special Collections Hill Memorial Library, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
13 process of U.S. territorial expansion, and as they did so, it fundamentally reshaped their communities. Alternately, the forces at work within their region also changed the social and cultural makeup of the antebellum South. I contend that these popular understandings rarely matched the reality of the process of expansion, which at times challenged the rhetoric and at others upheld it. These challenges heightened the anxieties and fears of southerners living in the Gulf of Mexico, which in turn, caused them to react. The many ideas and images used to propel th e United States into violent clashes with Latin American nations, specifically Mexico and Cuba and the outcomes of these clashes form the subject of this dissertation. Four main themes govern this study. The first and perhaps central thrust of the disserta tion is to examine the transnational and global connections of port communities in the Gulf of Mexico. How did these connections define the region as different from the rest of the South and how did they shape the worldview of those living in the ports? Th e second is to reconsider the perceptions and ideas of territorial expansion as they evolved during the years before the Civil War. How did southerners living within the Gulf experience, interpret, and comprehend territorial expansion? And how did expansio n shape these communities? Thirdly, I contend that race and racialized rhetoric decisively shaped the project of territorial expansion within the Gulf of Mexico. How did Anglo southerners racialize the Latin American peoples they encountered along the Sout these racial constructions play in the perpetuation of southern expansion? Furthermore, discourse? Fourth, the emerging debate over secessi on and the origins of the Civil War
14 is grounded within the ideas and experiences of expansion into Latin America that took shape. How did the prior two decades shape the context of secession in the Gulf of Mexico? This story begins with the annexation of T exas, follows through the U.S. Mexican War, filibustering expeditions to Cuba, and the development of secessionist ideas in the major port communities of the American South in 1861. While the entire American Gulf Coast is the focus of this study, New Orlea ns, Pensacola, and Galveston provide case studies through which to explore these larger themes and questions from a variety of perspectives. Throughout the antebellum period, many different worlds intersected in the Gulf of Mexico. Historians of the antebe llum South have yet to address this region and its expansion and the breakup of the Union. My study also contributes to the literature of Manifest Destiny and antebellum expansi on by focusing on the cultural experience of expansionism and the construction of the discourse surrounding it, rather than the Through the bustling import and export tr ade of port cities such as New Orleans, the military defenses at Pensacola, and the rapid growth of smaller communities such as Galveston, the region became a staging ground for expansion into the Latin America. The Gulf of Mexico was a world where size d id not necessarily denote importance. New Orleans was one of the largest cities in the nation, but the Gulf valued its small port towns just as much as its large cities. Locale was as important as population along the coast. Throughout this period, the Gul f South evolved into a center for trade, as well as cultural and political exchange for the Atlantic World, the
15 Caribbean, the U.S. Mexico borderlands, and the southern United States. The Gulf South connected East with West, the Old South with the new sout hwestern territories, and was a place truly entangled with multiple worlds and buffeted by a multitude of local, regional, national, and transnational forces. During the years leading up to the Civil War, the region was a center of developing international trade with Europe and communities evolved within the ports. Military conflict plagued the region decades after it had ceased to be an integral part of the lives of o thers living in points farther north. At the heart of these forces was the process of national expansion, which was built on the multiple transnational and national connections found within the Gulf South ports. For my purposes here, I define the Gulf Sou th as the communities along the coast that were directly tied together through trade, cultural, and social similarities. In the 19 th century, port communities of all sizes dotted the landscape of the Gulf of Mexico. However, for the purposes of this study, I chose three cities that could illuminate the various aspects of discourse and experience that made up territorial expansion. In the antebellum South, New Orleans became a center of expansionist thought and action. Its newspapers overwhelmingly supported expansion, and as the America. New Orleans dwarfed Pensacola and Galveston in term s of size and status in the South, however the small populations of these two communities were dealt with the same intersection of forces experienced by New Orleanians. In so doing, they revealed much about how southerners and Anglo Americans contemplated what it meant to be,
16 fications made it essential for defense, a fact even New Orleans and Mobile southerners understood. As a port, Galveston was largely a product of expansion into Texas. It did not exist before the Texas Revolution in 1836, and depended on exporting cotton f rom the Texas agricultural regions. As a result, the city was deeply connected Texas borderlands. Texas features prominently in this study for two main reasons. First, many of the ideas about race concerning Latin American peoples were primarily formulated through the settlement and annexation of Texas. Second, for the lower South, of which the Gulf South was a part, Texas was one of the main sites of settlement in the antebellum period. The annexation of Texas, and later the U.S. Mexican War, served as pri me examples of what territorial expansion could accomplish. The Gulf Coast, and Gulf Southerners, are the primary focus here, but transnational connections and international warfare make Latin American nations important to consider. Mexico and Cuba figure as prominently in the evolution of the discourse of expansion as Texas. The images of all model, I argue that it is not only important to study the places where people settled, but also the places they came from and the regions they passed through. He maintained to rather than what was rushed over the grassy plains, but by their very nature they became places through which people, goods, and
17 both changed by the journey. 4 In recent years southern and Civil War histo rians have begun to study the manner in which the nineteenth century United States was affected by a larger on southern slaveholders. Others, such as Walter Johnson, have explored transnational aspects of nineteenth century capitalism and the cotton market, which the Gulf plays a significant role in establishing. Scholars such as Matthew Guterl have reimagined s outhern slaveholders as a part of a hemispheric slaveholding class in the Americas. In rethinking the South and its transnational context, scholars have emphasized the cosmopolitanism of the region. England and France were both powerful naval powers and bo th became identified with abolition and anti slavery at same time that the South expanded further into the Gulf of Mexico and the cotton market developed. 5 What would happen if these European nations gained footholds in the U.S. Mexico borderlands? What wo uld happen if they negotiated Cuban independence while demanding that Cuban slave owners give up their slaves? These questions plagued those living along borders of the South and in the plantation districts. Most of this scholarship has focused on the north Atlantic, and does not often place the 4 Elliot West, The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998), xvi. 5 Walter Johnson, River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom (Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press, 2013), 11 17; Matthew Pratt Guterl, American Mediterr anean: Southern Slaveholders in the Age of Emancipation (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2008), 7.
18 Gulf of Mexico at the center of these transnational connections. Likewise, the connections between the South and the southwest borderlands, which became the U.S. Mexico borderlands in the mid nineteenth century, still require additional study. U.S. territorial expansion viewed from a Gulf Coast perspective sheds light on these emerging connections. The comparisons and connections that have emerged between Latin American slave societies and the southern United States have begun to bridge both Northern and Southern American histories. Southerners did not always view these connections as positive, and they often viewed their slave system and society as being superior to others. Anglo southerners often viewed Latin America with as much curiosity as they did fear. They did not seek unification between these worlds. They sought control and dominance as they always had when it came to those they viewed as r acially inferior. 6 Much of the literature on expansionism concerning the Gulf concentrates on the colonial and Early Republic periods, making the region appear to have become y and Slave Country reveal the lengthy process of expansion and settlement that took place in the lower South. Antebellum expansion in the Gulf South was a particular moment in which the nature of expansion began to shift away from expansion into territory once held by European colonial empires, and a move toward acquiring territory held by other independent nations. In addition, the added sectional tension and 6 Journal of Southern History, 75, 3, (Aug. 200 Southern Quarterly: A Journal of the Arts in the South 42, no. 3 (Spring 2004), 155 156; Just Below South: Intercultural Performance in the Caribbean and the U.S. South (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007), 2 6; Nathalie Dessens, Myths of the Plantation Society: Slavery i n the American South and the West Indies (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003); Sam W. Haynes, Unfinished Revolution: The Early American Republic in a British World (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010), 1 2.
19 beginnings of southern nationalism alter the context of these processes. The manne r in which Anglo Americans constructed the discourse of expansion within the Gulf South, and their participation in the U.S. Mexican War, affected some of the most fundamental and far reaching aspects of southern society, namely race and slavery. While thi s work will focus on the formation of Anglo discourses of expansion, Mexicans, Cubans, Native Americans, and African Americans provide perspectives that deepen our understanding of how other racial and ethnic groups in the Gulf of Mexico assserted themselv es voices emerged, I have tried to listen and incorporate their stories into my larger project. In doing so, it becomes evident that these various groups constructed the ir own discourses of expansion that emphasized American greed and violence. 7 Historians interested in expansionism focus much of their attention on the national political conflicts that arose from the introduction of new territory into the United States, 8 This dissertation considers local views of the national process of expansion, and the ideas used to export it to Latin America. In so doing it reveals that the nation failed in its 7 Daniel H. Usner J Coastal Encounters: The Transformation of the Gulf South in the Eighteenth Century edited by Richmond F. Brown (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007), 13 14; Usner, Indians, Settle rs, and Slaves in A Frontier Exchange Economy: The Lower Mississippi Valley Before 1783 8; Adam Rothman, Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2005); Frances Lawrence Owsley Jr., F ilibusterers and Expansionists: Jeffersonian Manifest Destiny 1800 1821 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1997), 22. 8 Brian DeLay, War of a Thousand Deserts: Indian Raids and the U.S. Mexican War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008) xiv xviii ; John Craig Hammond, Slavery, Freedom, and Expansion in the Early American West (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007); Robert Walter Johannsen, To the Halls of the Montezumas: The Mexican War in the American Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985); Johannsen, Sam W. Haynes, and Christopher Morris, Manifest Destiny and Empire: American Antebellum Expansionism (College Station, Tex: Published for the University of Texas at Arlington by Texas A&M University Press, 1997); Terry G South in Mid Nineteenth Annals of the Association of Geographers 57, no. 4 (December 1967): 667 690.
20 attempts as much as it succeeded and that expansion west did not immediately result in domination further south. Southerners within the Gulf of Mexico viewed themselves as the vanguard of expansion into Latin America. In so doing they revealed the e xtent to west. Southern expansion was not only retracted from above, but also pushed away from below. More recent literature on expansionism seeks to incorporate a more cu ltural West and Latin America. 9 Gulf South communities attempted to utilize ideas about the process of U.S expansion to gain national attention both economically and socially. The concept of borders and the ideas of expansionism require that this study use a met hodology that addresses the construction of space, identity, and the dissemination of ideas within that particular space. The concept of borderlands proves useful for understanding how these southerners viewed the world around them and interacted with it. Historians such as Andres Resendez and Peter Sahlins have noted that, in frontier regions borders have a complex relationship with local interests as two or more cultures interact over an extended period of time. These local interests made real, but also d estabilized the abstract geopolitical borders determined by nation states. 10 As 9 William Barney, The Road to Secession: A New Perspective on the Old South (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1972 ) xv; Ernest McPherson Lander, Reluctant Imperialists: Calhoun, the South Carolinians, and the Mexican War (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980); James David Miller, South by Southwest: Planter Emigration and Identity in th e Slave South (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2002) ; Morrison, Slavery and the American West 4 8. 10 Andres Resendez, Changing National Identities at the Frontier: Texas and New Mexico, 1800 1850 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 169; Peter Sahlins, Boundaries: The Making of France
21 Samuel Truett and Pekka noted, the field of borderlands studies needed to consider new and different spaces such as trading centers and port cities in places such as the Gulf of Mexico. 11 While these spaces do not appear to be borderlands, they are intimately connected to them. Building on this observation, I examine the Gulf as both a world akin to the Atlantic World and a borderland. The Gulf South ports inhe rited notions about race that were often at odds with those imported by southerners from the Upper South, which developed out of British colonial biracial societies. The French and Spanish ideas about race incorporated a number of mixed race categories not often recognized by Anglo Americans form the Upper South. Black and white Creoles remained long after U.S annexation, posing continued obstacles for white southerners attempting to enforce their own racial categories and slave laws. When Anglo southerners began moving into the region in the early 1800s, there were many different cultures, and this trend continued throughout the borders eventually became just like the souther n interior, but, even in Florida, this was not necessarily the case. The incorporation of the Gulf Coast region altered the South, as much as the South altered it. 12 and Spain in the Pyrenees (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), 3 7. Pierre Bourdieu, The Logic of Practice ch.3; Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (New York: Wiley Blackwell, 1991), ch 2. 11 Pekka Journal of American History 98, no.2 (2011): 338 361. 12 Pensacola: A Struggle for the Middle Gro Creoles of Color of the Gulf South ed. James H. Dormon ( Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1996), 29; Caryn Cosse Black, Revolution Romanticism, and the Afro Creole Protest Tradition in Louisiana, 1718 1868 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Un Creoles of Color of the Gulf South 1 23.
22 From the annexation of Texas, to the filibustering expeditions to Cuba, Southerners within the Gulf South racialized Mexicans and Cubans to justify territorial expansion into their countries. However, these images changed and evolved throughout the period and came to define each other, especially during the expeditions. During the U.S. Mexican War, rhetoric created in support of the war used images of Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna republic. These notions of Mexicans as the descendents of Spanish, Indians, and Africans stemmed i Mexicans were viewed during the U.S. Mexican War. 13 During the filibustering expeditions to Cuba, Cuban Creoles we re imagined against the background of this Mexican miscegenation as a downtrodden and oppressed people similar to Anglo Americans though not exactly alike. Naturally the institution of slavery in Cuba helped bolster this idealized image. However, Cubans in Cuba did not always agree with this themselves much more in kind with the Mexican people who had already thrown off their colonial oppressors and were hard at work building their republic. 14 Once southerners had developed narratives and images of expansion, once they had attempted to fulfill these narratives and interpret Latin American societies through their own understanding of race and slavery, how did these ideas shape th e debate 13 Benjamin Heber Johnson, Revolution in Texas: How a Forgotten Rebellion and Its Bloody Supp ression Turned Mexicans into Americans (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 10 11. 14 Paul Foos, A Short, Offhand, Killing Affair: Soldiers and Social Conflict During the Mexican American War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002); Rod rigo Lazo, Writing to Cuba: Filibustering and Cuban Exiles in the United States (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005).
23 over secession in the Gulf of Mexico? In the years leading up to the Civil War, southerners used these narratives to contemplate the choices that lay before them. Their relationship with Cuba and Mexico as well as the state of the U.S. Mexico bord er framed their thinking on sectionalism. While scholars have debated over what aspect of political discourse, or which political event, ensured the split between the North and South, this is not my focus here. 15 Rather, I seek to understand how the previou s narratives became a part of both unionist rhetoric and secessionist rhetoric. Secession was more than a fight between Republicans and southern Democrats, it was also the beginning of a new political and social philosophy, and it was steeped in a culture that grew out of the ideas that existed at the time. Many of these ideas were linked to the trend of expansion and the language of expansion that took shape in the Gulf of Mexico. 16 While this is a story about people and places, it is also a story about an imagined world and a proposed future that this population, living on the edges of the South, believed would unfold if they pursued expansion. They made decisions, at times 15 Michael F. Holt, The Political Crisis of the 1850s (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1978); David M. Potter, The Im pending Crisis, 1848 1861 (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1976); Lacy K. Ford, Jr., Origins of Southern Radicalism: The South Carolina Upcountry, 1800 1860 ( New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988); William A. Link, Roots of Secessio n: Slavery and Politics in Antebellum Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003); Stephanie McCurry, Masters of Small Worlds: Yeoman Households, Gender Relations, and the Political Culture of Antebellum South Carolina Low Country (New York: Oxford University Press,1995); Manisha Sinha, The Counter Revolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000); Charles B. Dew, Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Co mmissioners and the Causes of the Civil War (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press,2002); Elizabeth R. Varon, Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789 1859 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2008). 16 Michael A. Morrison, Sla very and the American West: The Eclipse of Manifest Destiny and the Coming of the Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997); Amy Greenberg, Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2 005), 4 5; David M. Potter, The Impending Crisis, 1848 1861 (New York: Harper and Row, 1976), 5 6, 20 25, 196 97; William W. Freehling, The Road to Disunion: Secessionists At Bay, Vol. I (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 353 440; Joel H. Silbey, S torm Over Texas: The Annexation Controversy and the Road to Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).
24 incredibly risky ones, based on how they imagined the future might be. But the imagi ned world was also a product of knitting together present experiences and desires through the evolution of expansionist discourse. A project spanning fifteen years, one war, and three distinct port cities requires an organizational strategy that is both ex pansive and focused. I use case studies in three Gulf Coast cities, but I also chose to explore the construction of expansionist rhetoric by using a Gulf wide perspective to understand the evolution of ideas about race and expansion. The dissertation is or ganized in a way that enables me to present wider views that incorporate all three cities and more focused treatments of each at a specific moment of expansion. Each chapter examines the central questions and themes stated above from a different perspecti ve. Chapters 2 and 3 examine the development of both rhetoric concerning the image of Texas and the racialization of Mexican people using a Gulf wide perspective during the annexation of Texas and the onset of the U.S. Mexican War. Texas annexation was sha ped by the many images that travelers, Texans, and Gulf South expansionists created concerning the fertility of Texas land and fears Mexican invasion and European intervention. In addition to exploring the formation of these early ideas, Chapter 2 also pla ces the annexation of Texas within the larger context of expansion into the Gulf that came before it, and considers how the inclusion of Texas reshaped the map of the Gulf. Chapter 3 explores the emergence of the racialized rhetoric concerning the U.S. Mex ican War, as well as the experiences of see the convergence of national and local narratives of expansion during the war.
25 racist ideas about Mexicans and Mexican culture that began with annexation. These images and experiences during the war created the negative view of Mexican culture against which later views of Cuban society were formed. Chapter 4 is the first of three ca se studies that take a closer look at how individual port communities dealt with the process of expansion and the internal improvement projects to the naval yard and t the U.S. Mexican War reveal the anxieties over British and French naval dominance in 1850s, and the reactions of slaves, Anglo settlers Mexicans, and European immigrants within the Texas borderlands. Often times the Texas hinterlands appeared threatening rather than inviting to Galveston boosters eager to link their port town to the growing Texas cotton trade. They supported both militar y presence in the borderlands and efforts to open trade along the Texas river system. Chapter 6 focuses on New Orleans and the filibustering expeditions to Cuba that happened in the aftermath of the U.S Mexican War. The filibustering expeditions revealed t he nature of the transnational discourse over the identity and race by utilizing images of Creoles within the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. Mexican War to frame their movement to annex Cuba. Sympathetic images of Cuban Creoles were used to bolster enthusiasm and economic support for the expeditions and their efforts to spark revolutions in Cuba. Chapter 7 addresses the many ways in which these images and their connections with Latin America shaped the debates over the virtues of sectionalism in the Gulf Sout h in the years before the Civil War. It explores how Cuba, the slave trade, and conflicts along
26 the U.S. Mexican border contributed to the tension between unionists and secessionists. In 1851, a correspondent for the Mobile Daily Register stood on the balc ony of his rented room in New Orleans. Turning his spyglass toward the levee, he marveled at the volume and variety of peoples, goods, and ships that populated the edges of the city and sailed for places within and beyond the Gulf of Mexico. Those visiting the queen of the Gulf South ports for the first time took in these sights. 17 In 1847, one such young man, William Morton, traveling through the South from his home in Farmville, Virginia, f produce and Mississippi River, bobbing serenely in a line stretching for five miles toward the Gulf Coast entrance. Shortly after his stay in New Orleans, Morton set sail fo r Havana, this Gulf Coast culture is significant, but it is only one half of the story. The reaction of the individuals who watched him walk the levee is the other half of that story, and one that deserves to be told. 18 17 Mobile Daily Register March 17, 1851. 18 William Morton and J. W. P. Jenks, Diary of William Morton of Farmville, Va., Dec. 1, 1846 Jan. 11, 1847: An Account of His Trip from Charleston to New Orleans, and From New Orleans to Cuba (Jacksonville: Historical Records Survey, 1938), 1 2.
27 CHAPTER 2 GULF SOUTH IN 1845 Introduction In June of 1844, the New Orleans Daily Picayune published one of its popular a series by journalist C.M. Haile that were meant to depict the perspective of southwestern Louisianans on various political issues of the time. Jones affirmed that he was for Texas annexation, but only conditionally because Texas spider that threatened it a hundred years for them to whip Texas, and you know, 1 central questions concerning annexation and provided a window into the reasoning behind Gulf South annexationi promising and imperiled land. While it seemed counterproductive for annexationists to emphasize imagined perils, doing so consistently called attention to the necessity of annexing Texas to the United S tates. 1 C.M. Haile, New Orleans Daily Times Picayune June 6, 18 44; Mexico, 1846 Myths, Misdeeds, and Misunderstandings: The Roots of Conflict in U.S. Mexican Relations and Kathryn Vincent eds. (Wilmingto n: SR Books, 1997), 112 114.
28 In 1845, the annexation of Texas marked a major achievement for southern expansionists. Their persistent drive to obtain new territory and protect the institution of slavery had resulted in a steady expansion into the Gulf Coast. In that particular moment, southern expansionists in the Gulf stood victorious, having vanquished their anti annexation foes and gained hundreds of thousands of square miles of new land. Historians often study the moment of statehood by focusing on the divisions that annexa tion caused within antebellum party politics. In the most familiar version of the story, Texas annexation either becomes the last great moment of unity, or one in a series of missteps along the road to secession. A focus on congressional politics obscures the experiences of Gulf South communities at the time of annexation. Though the United States had long been interested in nearby Spanish colonies, the emergence in bo th Texas and Mexico, gave them a new sense of urgency when it came to securing the Gulf South under U.S. authority. Many Southerners, especially those within the Gulf ports, supported Texas annexation from the moment Texans achieved independence through a short lived revolution in 1836. Annexation was part of a much longer history of expansion in the Gulf of Mexico stretching back to the colonial period, and should be understood within this context. 2 2 William W. Freehling, The Road to Disunion: Secessionists at Bay. Volume I 1776 1854 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 353 440; Michael F. Holt, The Political Crisis of the 1850s (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1 978), 40 45; David M. Potter, The Impending Crisis, 1848 1861 (New York: Harper & Row, 1976), 2 27; Michael A. Morrison, Slavery and the American West The Eclipse of Manifest Destiny and the Coming of the Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolin a Press, 1997), 13 39; Joel H. Silbey, Storm Over Texas: The Annexation Controversy and the Road to the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Frederick Merk, Slavery and the Annexation of Texas (New York: Knopf, 1972) political and military vulnerability. However, this aspect of his work remains almost wholly a political analysis focusing on U.S. national politics. While he takes care to examine some o f the larger political players in Texas his perspective stems largely from South Carolinians. With its dramatic revolution in
29 Texans and Gulf South expansionists couched their decisio ns within cultural as well as political and economic terms. Images of Texas and Texans framed the political debate over annexation. The idea of Texas as an endangered but fertile region of annexation along the coast. While Texas sustained the process of expansion in the Gulf of Mexico began in Latin America during the post independence period. Thro ugh the annexation of Texas, newly independent Latin American nations became incorporated into the larger scheme of U.S. territorial expansion. This was a significant shift because the United States no longer solely obtained land under European colonial co ntrol, but also independent democratic nations. Such a shift required the language of expansion to evolve to include racialized stereotypes of those inhabiting these new nations. Yet, it remained founded within the larger history of territorial aggrandizem ent within the Gulf of Mexico. Following from this logic, Chapter 2 argues that the annexation of Texas was part of an earlier trend of expansion, but also a departure from it, marking one of the earliest clashes between the United States and an independen t Latin American nation. By examining literary sources and the personal correspondence of those living within Texas, Chapter 2 addresses the various ways that Gulf South annexationists imagined Texas during the 1840s. In addition to drawing out several maj or themes that will be addressed throughout this dissertation, Chapter 2 also provides a glimpse into the society of the Gulf of Mexico and how Texas fits within it. 1836 and equally heated entrance into the nation, the story of Texas became an integral part of the Civil War story. Many U.S. his torians emphasize the North/South divisions that occurred during the annexation debate. In the aftermath of U.S. annexation, the nation was left more politically unstable.
30 By 1845, English interests in the Texas Republic, Mexican military incursions, and for th ose living within the Gulf of Mexico a lack of military presence by the U.S. made annexation a favorable and seemingly necessary process. These particular issues persisted past annexation, and came to form several major themes within the discourse of Gulf Coast expansion throughout the antebellum period. The annexation of between the various ports within the region changed. 3 Expansion into Texas was often depicted as a highl y militaristic process. The landscape, particularly the prairie, played a significant role in the imaginary of Texas as did the image of Texans as intrepid Anglo Saxon frontiersmen. Texas was often depicted as a wild and threatened space, which needed the guiding hand of Anglo Americans, especially slaveowning southerners, to protect it from immediate threats such as the Mexican Government and English abolitionism. The image of the land was both forbidding in its foreignness and beautiful in its fecundity. These imaginings corresponded to the ones that travelers formulated about the Gulf South and her port cities, and were related to the larger history of expansion. In the sixteenth century, expansion in the Gulf of Mexico moved from south to north rather t han north to south. Prior to European colonization, many different cultures 3 Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815 1846 (New York: O xford University Press, 1992), 132; Harry P. Owens, Steamboats and the Cotton Economy: River Trade in the Yazoo Mississippi (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2003); Robin W. Doughty, At Home in Texas: Early Views of the Land (College Station: Texa s A&M University Press, 1987), 62 63; 79 81. Steam travel annexation occurred during this development. Merchants and shipping agents valued the land for the cotton it produced, but also for the navigable rivers running through it which might grant them access to At Home in Texas concerns the ways that Texans viewed the environment around them, and points the way towards th inking about how expansionists used images of landscapes and peoples to further their ends in the Gulf of Mexico.
31 existed along the Gulf Coast, which extended 4,000 miles from the Florida Keys to Cabo Catoche, the northwestern most point of the Yucatan Peninsula. Several distinct Native Americ an cultures lived within this immense coastline. Choctaws and Hoamas lived in and around what became New Orleans in order to escape the Chickasaw and Biloxi Indians. The Panzacola and Apalachee peoples inhabited land that extended from the upper Florida Co ast through present day Louisiana. All of them contended with the mighty Creeks who made their home further inland. On the western side of the Gulf of Mexico the Karankawa whom the Spanish believed to be cannibals, but were largely farming and fishing peop les dominated the Texas coastline around Galveston Island, and on the Mexican Coast the Tabasco and Campeche grew and traded cotton, beans, and corn. 4 The Spanish were the first to colonize the Gulf of Mexico, beginning with Hernn Corts de Monroy y Piza rro conquest of Mexico in the early 1500s. Amerigo Vespucci became the first European to sail along the Gulf Coast in 1497. By the time the French landed in Louisiana, the Spanish had explored the Gulf extensively, and encountered the various Indigenous pe oples that lived there. When the English founded Jamestown attempt to settle present day Pensacola also pre dated the struggling British colony by several decades. Trist an de Luna, Governor and Captain General of La Florida and Santa Elena set sail from Veracruz on June 11, 1559, intent on settling Pensacola. The 4 Allen R. Sandstorm and Enrique Hugo Garcia Valencia, Native Peoples of the Gulf of Mexico (Tucson: University Press of Arizona, 2005), 22 24 ; W. W. Newcomb Jr., The Indians of Texas: From Prehistoric to Modern Times ( Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999), 77; Alan Gallay, The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1607 1717 (New Haven: Yale University Pres s, 2002), 2 4,140 144.
32 several hundred years later Pensacolians continued to believe that their bay was a date, numbered an impressive fleet of eleven ships carrying 1,500 persons. His group was larger than the initial parties sent by the English to found Roanoke, Plymouth, and Jamestown combined. However, this expedition was plagued with similar struggles as those experienced by many English settlements, and they eventually abandoned the project. The Spanish wo uld not return to Pensacola Bay for another 135 years. 5 During the European conquest, the Gulf of Mexico became the crossroads of empire. The French, Spanish, and English fought for the spoils of the marshy coast and the mighty rivers that flowed toward it Native Americans, particularly the Comanche in Texas fought against Spanish control. In colonial Louisiana and Florida they worked largely within the French, Spanish, and English colonial structures though many continued to resist colonial subjugation. A s many historians, prominent among them Daniel Usner, have noted, relations between different ethnic and racial groups were were forced to construct their own economic sys tem among Native Americans, African Slaves, and European colonists. Spanish colonies along the Gulf Coast had differing levels of importance and success within the empire. Throughout the region the mixture of different peoples also meant the evolution of unique food ways, religious practices, folklore, and even architecture. Slavery proved vital toward the formation of the colonial economy and society throughout the Gulf of 5 Michael Gannon, Florida: A Short History (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003), 1 3; John J. Clune Jr. and Margo S. Stringfield, Historic Pensacola (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008), 1, 18 21; David J. Web er, The Spanish Frontier in North America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 147 171.
33 Mexico. Spanish and French colonial societies formed ideas about race and laws conc erning slavery that were, in many ways, malleable and far more varied than those that eventually took hold in the English colonies of the Upper South. However, slavery was no less oppressive in the colonies of the Gulf of Mexico than it was in the English colonies. Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans in North and South America experienced both conflict and cooperation. A variety of racial and class groups developed out of these complex social and economic interactions. Yet, whether it was the labor an d crops extracted from Native Americans through Catholic missions and the Spanish Encomienda or the capture and transport of Africans, forced labor regimes lay at the heart of European colonization in the Gulf of Mexico. 6 The centrality of slavery to expa nsion did not change under the influx of Americans coming from the newly born United States. In fact, it persisted and increased. The rapid development of cotton and sugar agriculture increased the migration of southerners from the middle and upper Souths, and a society with slaves throughout the antebellum period, Americans, primarily from the South established and further entrenched their own systems of slavery while Latin American nations worked to abolish the practice during the early nineteenth century. Within Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas the spread of American settlement brought new 6 Felipe Fernandez Armesto, The Americas: A Hemispheric History (New York: Modern Library, 2005), 58 97; Daniel E. Usner, Jr., Indians, Settlers and Slaves in a Fr ontier Exchange Economy: The Lower Mississippi Valley Before 1783 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), 4 9; Weber, The Spanish Frontier in North America 64 75; Robert S. Weddle, Spanish Sea: The Gulf of Mexico in North American Discove ry, 1500 1685 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1985) ; John Craig North American Continent, 1770 Journal of Early Republic 32, no.2 (S ummer 2012), 174 178.
34 cultural encounters and conflicts. As settlers moved into these areas they also sought to establish the social and economic systems they left behind. While they were largely successful, the older French, Spanish, African American, and Native Am erican peoples persisted under this new rule and challenged Anglo policy and personal choice contributed to the spread of slavery and settlement in the G ulf South during the early nineteenth century. The settlement and annexation of Texas empires that grew out of European and American colonization. 7 Imagining Texas and Imagining Expansion Throughout the 1820s, Mexico was plagued with internal divisions, and regional interests. As a result, the centralists in the Mexican government sought to establish a formidable state power. In order to achieve this stability, it insti tuted new policies to encourage settlement of its northern states. From the beginning of settlement in Texas, southerners saw the region as an outlet for their ever growing slave population. American settlement was a marriage of convenience. The depression and panic of 1819 made settlement on the cheap and fertile plains of Texas far more appealing than the more expensive land in the United States. Mexico granted settlers 640 acres for the head of the family, 320 for his wife, 160 per child, and an addition al 80 per each slave. 7 Joseph C.G. Kennedy, Population of the U.S. in 1860 American Historical Quarterly 28 (1966), 603; Ira Berlin, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centur ies of Slavery in North America (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2000), 288 289, 325 365; Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press 1992); Walter Johnston, Soul by Soul: Life in the Antebellum Slave Market (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 135 162; Adam Rothman, Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2005), x xi, 165 216.
35 Many Americans went to Texas in the hopes of escaping debt, which is, in part, why Texans were thought to be a criminal sort. 8 Due to the mixture of Mexican and Americans settlers, Northern Mexico, of which Texas was a part, was rife with tensions visitors observed, the South West states of the Gulf interacted frequently with the 9 In 1829, the Mexican government abolished slavery, but allowed American born slaveholders to keep their slaves. Still encouraging American settlement, the Mexican government decreed that settlers in Texas would be able to keep their slaves for an additi onal year after 1829. Thereafter, some slaveholders converted their slaves to indentured servants in order to circumvent the law. Southerners also continued to bring slaves with them, and ignore Mexican laws. In the early years of settlement the Mexican st ate only loosely enforced the policy of conversion to Catholicism. Still, many Anglo Americans disliked these requirements as well as the additional requirement that they pay taxes after five years of residence. 10 Most Americans settled in the east along the rivers, the coastal plains, and the banks of the Rio Grande. During the 1820s and early 1830s Anglos and Mexicans, especially in the Rio Grande Valley, formed a tenuous foothold on the southern prairie. 8 Gregg Cantrell, Stephen F. Austin, Empresario of Texas (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), 94; Pekka The Comanche Empire (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), 95 100 9 Southern Literary Messenger 7 no. 6 (June 1841), 403. 10 David J. Weber, The Mexican Frontier, 1821 1846: The American Southwest Under Mexico Changing National Identitie s at the Frontier (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 339, 340; Jan Bazant, A Concise History of Mexico from Hidalgo to Cardenas, 1805 1940 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 50 55; Donald Fithian Stevens, Origins of Instability in E arly Republican Mexico (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991),5 7.
36 Intermarriage with Mexican women was one of the e arly methods for Anglo American men to gain property and land in South Texas. This practice changed with the new settlers that came after 1836, when Texas became an independent Republic. When Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836, the population w as small, comprised of 30,000 whites, 5,000 African Americans including slaves and free blacks, 3,470 population increased 7,000 inhabitants per year. By the time of the U.S. Me xican War the population of the entire state stood at 135,000, including 39,000 slaves. 11 Despite the fact that pro annexationists viewed Texans as heroic, many others believed Texans were a destitute bunch fleeing their native country for fear of being pro secuted as debtors or criminals. Texans fought against this image through the 1820s William Kennedy wrote about this phenomenon in 1841 when he penned his history of the Texas Republic, Texas: The Rise, Progress, and Prospects of the Republic of Texas, Vol.1 He emphasized th find their way into the settlements. Matilda Charlotte Houstoun, an English traveler in felons, thiev es, and assassins fight for their country, as the Texans have done? I should 11 Carlos E. The Mexican Experience in Texas Thread of Blood: Colonialism, Revolution, and Gender on Mexico's Northern Frontier (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1995); Armand o C Alanso, Tejano Legacy: Rancheros and Settlers in South Texas, 1734 1900 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998), 130, 143 ; The Independence of Mexico and the Creation of the New Nation (Los Angeles: UCLA Latin Ameri can Center Publications, University of California, 1989).
37 law, they were not any worse than their neighbors in the other Gulf States when it came t Texans as fearless frontiersmen, striding into the unknown Mexican wilderness to make inroads for their nation to follow. The fact that Texas achieved its independence through war aided the shift in Anglo perceptions of Texans from criminals to conquerors. 12 Of all the port cities in the region, New Orleans with its cotton hungry merchants and expansionists was most involved in American settlement in Texas. The city played a cent vast sums of money to the cause. During the Texas Revolution, the Texas army gained more men by advertising 800 acres of land and free passage from New Orleans for those willin of creditors in the city filed a petition with the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate intent on recouping the money they had lent the late Republic of Texas. Most of T through the city before going on to Texas. Once in Texas, the cotton they produced was eventually shipped to New Orleans. By 1835, the majority of Texas cotton wound up on New 13 12 Joe Bertram Frantz, Mike Cox, and Roger A. Griffin, Lure of the Land: Texas County Maps and the History of Settlement (College Station: Published for the Texas General Land Office by Texas A&M Uni versity Press, 1988); Stephen F. Austin, quoted in Cantrell, Stephen F. Austin 177; William Kennedy, Texas: The Rise, Progress, and Prospects of the Republic of Texas, Vol.1 (London: R. Hastings, 1841), 333; Matilda Charlotte Houstoun, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, or, Yachting in the New World (London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1844), 79. 13 Second aver: Economic and Territorial Expansion, 1830 58; Matthew Kachur, Jon Sterngrass, The Mexican American War (New York: Gareth Stevens Publishing, 2008), 6; Johnson, Soul by Soul 1 2, 7.
38 However, Texans were not always happy with this arrangement. Commenting on the rise of Texas cotton markets and their interest in maintaining trade relationships with Europe, an early article in the Houston Telegraph and Texas Register observed that hoped that with the arrival of the English steamship Forth in Galveston might provide a way to transport cotton directly from Texas. A new English steam li ne promised to link the Atlantic, Cape Horn, and the Gulf of Mexico in a large trade network. Galvestonians hoped to be at the center of that new network, leaving their entanglements with New Orleans far behind them. Such a thing could be accomplished in a republic, but could not be easily done as a state. The close connections between Texas ports and the other cities along the Gulf were deeply and historically rooted. That did not stop smaller ports from attempting to compete and move out from under the sh adow of the larger cities. These connections became the new crossroads of empire and replaced the ones that allowed initial European colonization. 14 Like the imagery of Texas and the Gulf South as exotic and economically important places, the route toward a nnexation evolved throughout the period between revolution and statehood. Texas minister to the United States, Memecun Hunt Jr., proposed annexation in 1837, and Texans overwhelmingly voted in favor of it. Yet when Hunt brought the proposal to Martin Van B expansion played a large part in Van B 14 Edward L. Miller. New Orleans and the Texas Revolution (College Station: Texas A&M University, 2004); Houston Telegraph and Texas Register February 9, 1842.
39 pressed the issue during his time in office, believing Texas was better off on its own. The possibility that annexation might neve r happen seemed a reality in 1837, and made the land appear all the more vulnerable. 15 The depiction of Texas as a fertile but untamed land was not so different from earlier frontiers in the Gulf of Mexico. As Texans attempted to annex themselves to the Un ited States, the Second Seminole Indian War threw Floridians into chaos and bloodshed. Along the borders of the Gulf, in Texas and Florida Native Americans, Commanche and Seminoles among them, fought to maintain a hold of their lands against the onslaught of Anglo settlers. Whites within the Gulf ports not only read about the continued presence of Native peoples, they saw them in their cities. Matilda old blanket wrapped Texas, Sam Houston did his best to make peace treaties with the Commanche, Kiowa, and other nations i n the late 1830s. Constant conflict with Native Americans persisted from the Colonial Era into the nineteenth century. The idea that Anglo Saxons would expansion thus placing th e settlement of Texas within the centuries old contest between and wild prairies was the idea that perhaps Anglos could settle the region successfully, 15 T.R. Fehrenbach, Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans (New York: American Legacy Press, 1991), 262 264
40 and the constant push on the part of Native Americans and Mexicans combined with the U.S. reluctance seemed to doom the prospect of annexation. 16 Travel narratives touched on both the importance of slavery to Texas which only Frederic Leclerc, a French physician, arrived in Texas in 1838. He remained for only a few months, but the country and its recent history made such an impression on him that he felt the need to contribute his own voic Texas and Its Revolution was part history and part travel journal. He used previously published materials to construct his version of the Texas Revolution. Leclerc saw southern fears concerning the growing po pulation of slaves and the need to expand into new territory as the main impetus for settlement and annexation. Texas, he wrote: labor, one practically boundless both in area and in the types of agriculture which While traveling from Texas to Havana, Matilda Houstoun observed that the central topic of discussion among her fellow travelers was slavery in Texas, and that this question concerned Galvestonians most of all. She recalled that Galvestonians had been so indignant over the presence of abolitionists in their town that they banished them from 16 R ay Allen Billington, Land of Savagery/Land of Promise: The European Image of the American Frontier in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Norton, 1981); William H. Truettner, and Nancy K. Anderson, The West as America: Reinterpreting Images of the Frontier, 1820 1920 (Washington: Published for the National Museum of American Art by the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991); Richard Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600 1860 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2 000); Fredrick B. Pike. The United States and Latin America: Myths and Stereotypes of Civilization and Nature (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992); Sara L. Spurgeon. Exploding the Western: Myths of Empire on the Postmodern Frontier (College Station: T exas A & M University Press, 2005); Stephanie LeMenager, Manifest and Other Destinies: Territorial Fictions of the Nineteenth Century United States (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004); Gannon Florida: A Short History 32.
41 mainland, and there turned adrift t Another abolitionist, an African American man, who attempted to preach about abolitionism in the market place attempted to claim British citizenship. Unfortunately, Houstoun was silent as to what happ ened to the man, but, more than likely, he faired worse than the abolitionist they exiled to the woods and prairies. 17 The conflicts between Texas and Mexico perpetuated the idea that Texas was continually threatened both within the young Republic, and wi thin the South. The Mexican government refused to recognize Texas independence and flatly rejected the Treaties of Velasco in 1836, which had supposedly settled the matter shortly after the war. They argued that Santa Anna signed the treaty under duress as he lay wounded and prone on the battlefield. Mexico believed this treaty was not legal and that the boundaries that Texans claimed were erroneous. Texas claimed the Rio Grande as its national boundary, but Mexico claimed it was the Nueces River over a hun dred miles north of the Rio Grande. 18 However, in 1840 and 1841 Texans were more interested in extending its western border to include the lucrative Santa Fe Trail, which further emphasized their image as intrepid and militaristic frontiersmen. The Santa Fe Trail carried much needed trade into Mexico, and Texas President, Mirabeau B. Lamar hoped instead to divert the New Orleans Picayune, journeyed with the expedition. While the main poin t of the expedition was to 17 Southern Literary Messenger 67; Houstoun, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico 243 244. 18 Fehrenbach, Lone Star 252 254, 262 263.
42 Indians, as well as to partake in the wild excitement of b uffalo hunting and other sports bolstering their failing economy. Matilda Houstoun believed that had the Texans been able to secure the Santa Fe Trail trade they would have had a distinct advantage over Americans and thus they would have had little reason to continue to support annexation. However, that was not to be. The southwestern border between Texas and Santa Fe was a territory they could not wrest from the Mexican s nor the Comanche. This amplified continued anxieties over invasion in Texas. 19 These fears became reality in 1842 as the Santa Fe Expedition collapsed and Mexican forces crossed into Texas, intent on taking back the rebellious state. Rumblings of possible Mexican movements against Texas began in the fall of 1842. By March Mexican troops under Rafael Vasquez crossed into the Lone Star Republic. Prior to leaving Monterrey, General Mariano Arista, then in command of the army and under the authority of Santa A nna, issued a statement exclaiming that it was useless for Texans to continue their fight for independence, and promising amnesty for those who remained neutral during the ensuing invasion. Mexican troops marched through Texas and occupied many of the sett lements and towns where they had fought during the War of Independence. The small number of volunteers that guarded San Antonio quickly abandoned it to the Mexican army. Three hundred citizens living in Austin, the to President Sam Houston claiming that they were 19 Clarksville Northern Standard taken from the New Orleans Picayune August 27, 1842; Matilda Charlotte Houstoun, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico 75.
43 well prepared for the invasion. They believed their position toward Mexico had always been antagonistic and that they had grown stronger and more capable of defending themselves. The Austinites insisted that Mexico? Their belief in their own martial prowess and their simultaneous dismissal of the Mexican army demonstrated both the persistence of conflict within the region, and also a formation of an idea of Anglo Texans as superior to Mexicans. 20 The invasion was short lived, and did little damage. However, it was followed by another attempt in the fall, which also did not succeed. The fear th at other incursions might arise lingered, and Sam Houston became convinced that the Mexican John Reagan, then a justice of the peace in Nacogdoches, remembered that many Anglo Texans called for retaliation against their old Mexican enemies. The Texas Congress passed a bill providing for a war against Mexico, and even proposed a other ports in the region would be stopped by the small Texas Navy. According to Reagan, fears of Mexican invasion coupled with hostilities between Native Americans, annexation to t feel continuously at war with Mexico. During this period newspapers in New Orleans and Pensacola also saw phantom Mexican political machinations stemming from the real invasions. The Picayune suspected that a report of two war ships built in New York 20 Civilian and Galveston Gazette April 11, 1842.
44 were meant for Mexico then intent on invading the Texas coastline. Public meetings were held in New Orleans to show support for the Texans, and to organize militia groups. Eventually Hous ton got hold of his senses and vetoed the bill declaring war between Texas and Mexico. This, however, did not stop private citizens in Texas from organizing armed expeditions to Mexico for revenge. 21 Continued conflict with Mexico, as well as with Native Am military assistance from other nations. It also added to the romanticization of Texan A poem written in the 1843 concerning th e ill fated relationship between a Mexican woman and a white Texan soldier fighting in the revolution embodied these ng on the Texas prairie. isles arise,/ Surrounded by a sea of flowers,/ That scent and tint the skie s -/ Was not is not this Paradise -22 Amidst the prairie background, the Texas rebels became blue eyed Anglo saviors as compared to the Mexican people as oned her 21 Northern Standard August 27, 1842; John Henninger Rea gan, Memoirs, with Special Reference to Secession and the Civil War (New York and Washington: The Neale Publishing Company, 1906), 33 35; New Orleans Picayune The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813 1863 eds. Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, Vol.2 (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 1943), 257; New Orleans Picayune January 27, 1842. 22 Southern Literary Messenger 6 no. 10 (No vember 1840), 766.
45 exemplified the defeminization of female racial others and the feminization of Mexican While this paragon of Spanish fieriness initially attracted the Texan Campbell, h e eventually married a blue eyed American woman named Mary, thus emphasizing the importance of such relationships on the southern frontier. On his wedding night, hideous snake,/ And coiling round the bird in strangling folds,/ After a mighty struggle be tween the U.S. and Mexico to secure Texas. 23 In the second installment the readers met with an untimely death as he was discovered to be the one who defiled another sister some years ago. The depiction of the Creole soldier as a lascivious and unscrupulous character spoke to the often times tense relationship between Anglo Americans and French and Spanish Creoles in the Gulf South. 24 The image of the Texan soldier as a rugged individual persisted in imaginings of the Texas frontier and the 1836 revolution. However, as annexation become increasingly probable the Texan soldier needed domesticating. The poet, Pablo, likened him to an untamed steer roaming the pampas of So uth America. The Texan soldier was 23 ibid. 766 769. 24 Southern Literary Messenger 7, no. 1 (January 1841), 53 57.
46 transformed into a man who had been on the prairies so long that he scarcely Swarthy brow has lost the hue, that marks the Anglo Saxo the violence of the battlefields and the memories of the death of his comrades at the Alamo and San Jacinto clung to the Texan Soldier and made him so frightening that, er, peace! The Eagle guards thee! The ways that the revolution and the men who fought it were remembered during annexation as both fierce but also in the process of becoming p art of the Union. 25 Stories such as these demonstrated the extent to which Texas and Texans were seen as both alluring and frightening. Compared to other parts of the United States they seemed foreign, with the presence of Latin American peoples and Africa n Americans existing alongside whites. The Texas frontier, the Lower Mississippi Valley, and the Gulf South were all seen as places both threatened by racial others and economically prosperous. While Americans settled territory in the Gulf of Mexico once r uled by France and Spain, the influx of Anglo Americans into Texas marked the first real experience Americans had with the newly established Mexican nation. The United 25 Southern Literary Messenger 11, no. 11 (November 1845), 684.
47 nat ions interested in diplomatic relations with Texas, but such interests also began to supplant the original contest of empires, which was most evident in the way that those within the Gulf South and Texas began to view the Texas landscape. 26 Frederic Lecler c traveled into the plantation districts of eastern Texas. As he did so he marveled at floating down the San Jacinto River, the site of the last battle of the Texas Revolution and its final victory. The revolution was ever in the minds of Texans at the tim Looking out at his surroundings as he traveled down the river on a steamboat, the contrast of seemingly untouched land and new technology fascinated Leclerc and, for him, formed 27 He the beauty of its climate, the possibility of establishing steamboat navigation on its rive South. Florida, Louisiana, and Alabama were all seen similarly as places where surplus slaves could be sold and surplus whites could move. 28 Ferdinand Roemer, a German geolog ist, toured Texas in 1844 and 1845 as a part of a geological survey of North America. Fascinated by the German settlements, prairies, and cities, Roemer published a separate travelogue covering Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. In 1847, he published his accou nt, Texas 26 Lester D. Langley, Struggl e for the American Mediterranean: United States European Rivalry in the Gulf Caribbean, 1776 1904 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1976); Montejano, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas 25 31. 27 Houstoun, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, or, Yach ting in the New World 165. 28 Edward E. Baptist, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002); Richmond F. Brown, Coastal Encounters: The Transformation of the Gul f South in the Eighteenth Century (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007); Rothman, Slave Country 196 201.
48 marveled at both his means of travel and the scene before him. In 1845, scarcely a month before the United States officially annex ed the young republic, Roemer embarked at New Orleans and headed for Galveston aboard a steamship of the same name. He observed that Galveston looked out onto the low lying plains, which he western part of the United States such as Buffalo or Chicago, which, like mushrooms, it was cultivated and settled by Anglo Saxon people who had conquered both the landscape and the people. Roemer combined racist views of Mexicans and the landscape around him. also Texas he describes Mexican settlements as crude or deteriorating from lack of upkeep. He B raunfels, on the banks of the Comal River, Roemer remarked on its pleasing appearance and its uniqueness in Texas and North America. He was thrilled to see familiar German people and customs taking root in Texas. 29 These statements 29 Ferdinand Roemer, (Boerne: Mockingbird Press, 1935), 26 27, 35 36.
49 emphasized the difference s between the German, Mexican, and Anglo settlements. German and Anglo communities were described as growing and bustling. Apprehension over whether or not such growth could be sustained become one of the major reasons why annexatinoists continued to push for Texas statehood. 30 The importance of protecting the Gulf ports as global trading centers drove much renewed U.S. interest in annexing Texas to the United States. Tyler and Houston, now in his second term as Texas president, negotiated a treaty, which was sent before Congress in 1843. The fear of English abolitionism and economic dominance possessed deep roots in the region. Southerners continued to identify the West Ind ies appear as though abolitionism might spread there next. In 1844, the Gulf South waited to hear news concerning the outcome of the annexation treaty as it moved through the Senate. The New Orleans Picayune predicted that if the United States did not annex Texas, it would lose its commerce along with that of Mexico and Central America. They feared agricultural staples produced in Texas might displace those from the souther n states. In a few years, the Picayune asserted, Texas would raise every bale of cotton that the English used in their factories. They said influence will overwhelm and swallow up everything that is American, and estrange the 31 The desire to protect the Gulf 30 Roemer, 29, 37, 77,61. 31 New Orleans Pi cayune April 11, 1844.
50 in the early 1840s came from both the existence of independent Texas and the presence of European powers in t he West Indies. The presence of two new nations on the borders of the United States as well as remnants of old colonial powers created a complex political atmosphere for Gulf annexationists. sed many Americans, particularly in the South, from their ambivalent feelings over Texas annexation. Though the British Empire had no real interest in adding Texas as a colony, it was interested in checking U.S. westward expansion and trading with the newl y formed nation. In 1829, Parliament denounced the efforts of the U.S. to obtain Texas. had been responsible for failure of negotiations between England and Spain regarding the 32 During her travels in Texas, Houstoun observed the Texans discussed the fate of and remembered one gentleman traveling on the same ship to Cuba who believe Texas should become an English colony. Southerners worried that Great Britain wanted to take advantage of the position to further extend their influence into the Southwestern region. The fact that British diplomats had been sent to Galveston heightened worried annexationists in Texas and the United States. Beyond diplomatic dinners, Charles Elliot, charg d'affai res, hoped to 32 Leclerc, Texas and its Revolution 78.
51 be able to negotiate between the Texas Republic and Great Britain, and work to make Texas a free nation. A year later, the Houston Telegraph and Texas Register reported that a treaty of commerce and navigation had been signed between the Texa s Republic and England. When Texas newspapers reported interest in selling their cotton and establishing trade relations with Great Britain, it also caused many to worry over the security of slavery within the Gulf South. 33 The English also worried about ho w the presence of a wholly new republic would alter the balance of power on the North American continent, and for that reason they did Gulf South annexationists, the Picay une maintained that annexation was absolutely attack us in our slave property by warned that Texans doubted their government could sustain the nation, and might be will almost to a man sustain the pol they declared. Yet, what Mexico would do in the event of annexation remained central to political negotiations. In March, the Mexican government passed an act that made speaking out in support of annexat ion or Texas independence an act of treason. The U.S. consul at Vera Cruz wrote to James Buchanan, then Secretary of State, regarding 33 Sam W. Haynes, Unfinished Revolution: The Early American Republic in a British World (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010), 230 237; Houston Telegraph and Texas Register S eptember 12, 1842.
52 agree to declare war with the U. Stat es, but send an Army herself to Texas and Compell the U. S. to declare War with Mexico and this cause I am inclined to think will be 34 In February the Houston Telegraph published a rumor that the United States was about to ratify the treaty. hoped it could be achieved. Texas was the key to U.S. imperial interests; the Picayune border, and the burnished arms of American troops will be reflected from the sparkling Sidney Johnston concerning the ex and South are interested to have Texas annexed to our country. . we shall in this respect suffer a small diminution i n the price of cotton, but we are compeled to have it annexed, or abandon our slaves if it is to be a British Colony of abolitionism. 35 By July 1844, the measure was dead, the parties sharply divided, and the prospect of annexation a major issue in the nex t presidential election, which expansionist Democrat James K. Polk won. 34 New Orleans Picayune March 26, 1844; U.S. Consul at Veracruz, F. Dimond to James Buchanan Sec. of State, April 2, 1844. 35 Houston Telegraph February 10, 1844; New Orleans Picayune February 14, 1844; Rice Ballard to Albert Sidney Jo hnston, April 17, 1844, Albert Sidney and William Preston Johnston papers, Manuscripts Collection 1, Louisiana Research Collection, Howard Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University, New Orleans.
53 Prominent Texans such as Albert Sidney Johnston and Sam Houston had been surprised by the tepid reception of annexation under the Van Buren administration. Texan hopes rose again with the Tyler administration, but when the treaty failed those hopes were again dashed. When Polk became president he renewed expectations for Texas statehood. Houston consistently fought for annexation, going so far as to play the British and Americans agains t each other in order to gain further support for statehood. remained hesitant, then perhaps being a nation was for the best. Both Johnston and Houston were born in upper South states, but found a home in Texas, and felt a strong connection to the territory and the Lower South. In his youth, Johnston encountered Americans migrating to Texa s while he lived in Alexandria, Louisiana, a border town. Several of his siblings took part in the 1813 Gutierrez Magee expedition, an early joint Mexican and American filibustering expedition that aimed to wrest colonial Texas from the Spanish at the star recalled that his father claimed that despite these familial connections with Anglo expansion into Texas his real reason for going there was to help bring it into the Union. became Secretary of War for the Texas Republic. After 1837, Johnston spent most of his time drilling the small Texas army and er, he was not Clay Davis, urged him to run for president of Texas, telling him that he would find ample
54 1845, Johnston traveled to Shelbyville, Kentucky where he married his second wife, Elizabeth. In March J.S. Mayfield wrote to him, begging Johns ton to return. Mayfield alacrity & now that she is about to pass an ordeal that must for ever affect her destiny & proceedings of the Texas congress. In a letter written on March 30, 1845 h e wrote that if steps to ascertain the will of the people, we will take the matter in our own hands, have a convention unseat him, and hang him if necessary to carry our pur poses and all that conceptions of themselves. Men like Johnston and Houston were seen as powerful voices for annexation within the Texas Republic, and were expected to stan d in support of annexation and for the benefit of the state. 36 In January 1845, in order to keep spirits high over the possibility of annexation, the Picayune claimed that passengers aboard the steamship New York who had come ajority of the people of Texas are warmly in favor of annexation, and entertain strong hopes that a bill to that effect will pass before our 36 William Preston Johnston, The Life of General Albert Sidne y Johnston 67 68; H. Clay Davis to Albert Sidney Johnston, March 27, 1844, Johnston Papers; J.S. Mayfield to Johnston, March 8, 1845, Johnston Papers; James Love to Johnston, March 30, 1845, Johnston Papers.
55 Picayune claimed that Texans obje cted to conditions in the bill that emphasized concerning slavery might change under the justification United States. 37 Texas President, Anson Jones, put the resolution before Congress in June as a choice and annexation to the United States. 38 The Texas constitutional convention drew up a state constitution, which was then approved by popular vote in October 1845. The formal transfer of authority occurred during a special ceremony in which Anson Jones sferred power to James Alabama brought news of the approval of annexation to New Orleans, where according to Ferdinand Roemer, the news made a profound impression on New Orleanians. 39 While Texas had always been a part of the import and export trade through the Gulf South, its entrance into the United States reshaped the region in many ways. Though annexation seemed merely a formality, it changed how Gulf trade functioned due to the fact that the Unite the major port cities of the Gulf South were larger, and more established communities. Throughout the 1830s and 1840s trade and social connections grew stronger, and Gulf 37 New Orleans Picayune April 11, 1844; ibid, January 10, 1845; 38 Herbert Pickens Gambrell, Anson Jones: the last President of Texas (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1948). 39 Ferdinand Roemer, 36.
56 South annexationists sto od ready to welcome Texans. Thus, the picture of the Gulf in 1845 was of a region bordered by new land in Texas and Florida. It containing port cities with citizens who believed they were on the verge of conquering Latin America, and becoming the richest p art of the nation. The Most Fertile Coast in 1845 The completion of Texas annexation meant a variety of different things to Gulf South southerners in the port communities. Trade and security played important roles in the justification for annexation early on in the movement. In Texas, as in much of the American South, Galvestonians possessed trade relations with the larger ports in the Gulf, but were more cautious about annexation due to their fear of losing their pride of on of growing towns. Becoming a part of the United States meant that they no longer held that same importance, and were instead subjected to the rules and regulations of the United States customs office. In addition, ports such as Galveston continued to se nd their cotton to New Orleans rather than establishing independent trade routes and relations with English and northern factors. Many Pensacolians supported annexation, as did those living in Mobile, citing increased trade and a grand addition to the nati connected with the events which have separ institution. 40 40 David G. Macomb, Galveston: A History (Austin: University of Texas, 1986).
57 In 1845, with the acceptance of the joint resolution, came deeper connections within the Gulf South. The Gulf South was connected by far more than just settlement, imports, and exports. Harriet E. Amos, in her study of antebellum Mobile, argues that the ports and large cities of the Deep South did not constitute a regional system. Each city, she contends, had little communi ty ties with each other, based on the movement of imports and exports that moved mostly from northern to southern cities. 41 However other historians such as Kimberly Ann Lamp noted that intra regional trade of foodstuffs increased in the 1840s. While this m ay be the case, the Gulf South was built on more than imports and exports. The Gulf South ports were connected through shared characteristics, cultural events, food ways, and more mundane aspects such as mailing systems, newspapers, and shipping lines. Boa rding houses such as the M.D. Hernandez house in Pensacola served up food cooked in the best style by both and airy bedrooms in both the Mobile Herald and Tribune as well as the New Orleans Picayune 42 Food ways also united the Gulf Coast, and travelers commented on it as much as they did on the people and places. Matilda Houstoun recorded a description of some of the dining establishments and their offerings. Soups served at s oup houses down fresh beef steaks in addition to the ever present oysters. She even remarked that 41 Harriet E. Amos, Cotton City: Urban Development in Antebellum Mobile (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1985). 42 Pensacola Gazette, the Gulf of Mexico, 1835 i.
58 Montgomery Journal marvele d at the sheer variety of fish to be found on his trip to Pensacola, and during a dinner at the Navy at home; we lack the fish, gophers, fruits & c., that cannot be had away f rom this or a 43 Throughout the 1840s reliance on steam travel increased, and the newly available land united Gulf South southerners into a community as much as did trade and cultural commonalities. As a region that was in the midst of exp ansion, mobility became a large part of life for Gulf South southerners. Trade also tied them to the North and the black belt South. Gulf South ports, regardless of size, exported cotton and sugar, which became their top exports by 1845. These developments elevated the importance of cities such as New Orleans, Galveston, and Pensacola in the South, the nation, and the wider world. Southerners living in the region often went back and forth between the major ports. Many of the planters and merchants owned lan d in the plantation regions of the Gulf South states and property in the cities themselves. Wealthy New Orleanians owned property in the city and retreated to plantations in the summer time, hoping to escape the deadly yellow fever outbreaks. Following a s imilar pattern, elite Galvestonians owned property in town and plantations on the mainland. The Pensacola Gazette advertised a Mobile Stage Line, which left for Mobile, Alabama rrival 43 New Orleans Picayune February 13, 1842; ibid, March 27, 1846; Houstoun Texas and the Gulf of Mexico 36, 162; Montgomery Journal printed in Pensacola Gazette August 6, 1853.
59 of the eastern mail. 44 Ships began plying routes along the western gulf early in the 1830s. By 1841, steam packets began running regularly back and forth between Galveston and New Orleans. At the time Galveston was merely a collection of small shacks on a sand bar off the coast of Houston. 45 More dire issues such as sickness also united the Gulf ports into a community. If yellow fever broke out in New Orleans, then often spread to Mobile, Galveston, or Pensacola. Newspapers and citizens often reported the health of other cities especially in the summer time when the fever usually popped up. At the time of annexation, Gulf Coast ports contained similar populations, though they ranged in size. 102,193 people lived in New Orleans and in Mobile there were 12,672. By 1850 just over 2,000 lived in Pensacola. Galveston was also a small town on the edge of two big cities with a population of 4,000. European immigrants were a large cities continued to rise. The majority came from Germany, Ireland, and France, but there were also Cubans, Mexicans, and Spanish people that found their way to the ports. Galveston and its neighbor, Houston became major depots for slaves brought to Texas. The New Orleans slave market was the largest in the region, and many slaves who racially and ethnically diverse populations within the port cities challenged the black w hite race binaries encountered in other parts of the upper and lower South, and demonstrated the fragile nature of such racial constructions. Thus, by 1845 white 44 Pensacola Gazette March 29, 1845. 45 Gary Cartwright, Galveston: A Hist ory of the Island (Fort Worth: TCU Press, 1991), 79 83.
60 American populatio n, but they lived in communities very different from those in the southern interior. 46 New Orleans and Mobile remained the epicenter of culture and trade in the Gulf South. Even though New Orleans was not located directly on the coast, it still dictated the pace of economic and social life in the Gulf South. New Orleans consistently outpaced New York in terms of total exports throughout much of the 1830s and 1840s. In 1846, the total value of produce imported from the Gulf South hinterlands and exported out value, which was $25,000,000. Mobile was not to be outdone, in the 1850s the cotton business would amount to $30,000,000. While cotton remained king in the Gulf South, the sugar industr y developed through the 1830s and 1850s partly in response to increased demand in the United States. The center of sugar production was the Mississippi River, but when Texas entered the Union, planters in the coastal prairies increased sugar production the reby competing with Louisiana sugar barons. Albert Sidney Johnston wrote frequently to friends about his plans for his own sugar plantation on the Texas Gulf Coast. In a letter to George Hancock he remarked on a small patch think there can be better anywhere My land from its long cultivation is peculiarly adapted to the immediate culture of the cane & the adjacent prairie which is uncommonly good is said by the luminaries, to be the true locality for 46 James H. Dormon, Creoles of Color in the Gulf South (Knoxville: University of Tennessee, 1996), xi xiv; Bellum Pensacola: 1821 The Florida Historical Quarterly 37, no. 34 (Jan Apr 1959), 348 353; Martha Hodes, in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2006), 83 87; Amos, Cotton City ; David G. McComb, Galveston: A History 47, 105 107
61 Pensacola lumber and bricks were purchased by merchants in both Mobile and New Orleans. 47 Business life coincided with social life in the Gulf Coast ports when merchants and planters alike gravitated t o the cities in the fall and winter to sell their goods. If summer was a time of sickness and death, then winter was a time of frenzied social life. Pensacola. In 1842, the Picayune boasted that if Charles Dickens wanted to a new experience he ought to get out of Boston and set out for New Orleans. What would he make of their town and the fetes to be found there? Mardi Gras celebrations began with the French colonists in Mobi le when they organized the first mystic societies in 1703. When the capital of French Louisiana moved from Mobile to New Orleans in 1723, the celebration of Mardi Gras was also transferred. Later, the tradition became much more formal in Mobile with the or ganization of the Cowbellion de Rakin Society. Though groups masqueraded regularly in New Orleans throughout the early nineteenth century, the formal and predominantly white organization of mystic societies did not begin there until the mid 1850s. Through much of the colonial and antebellum periods, free and enslaved African Americans participated in these festivals and congregated at Congo Square in New Orleans every Sunday to socialize and sell produce and various wares. New Orleans and Mobile also posses sed theaters and shops to encourage travelers, merchants, and planters to stay a little longer and spend a little more money in the cities. Galveston possessed a number of drinking establishments, and the Pensacola Gazette regularly advertised eating and d rinking establishments in its columns. 47 6; Amos, Cotton City 231; Johnston to George Hancock, April 22, 1848, Johnston papers.
62 naval yard and army fortifications. Due to some of the more raucous establishments, fetes, and customs in the Gulf ports they were often seen as far more foreign and amoral than other parts of the antebellum South. 48 The burgeoning cotton trade and social life of the ports often times masked the instability of the region. Military fortifications were of the utmost importance of th e antebellum Gulf South. Violence persisted in the region; during the first half of the nineteenth century a number of wars and violent conflicts happened. The War of 1812 ended in New Orleans, but was also tied to beginnings of the Creek and Seminole Wars Cherokee War erupted in north Texas in 1837, and Comanche and Anglos clashed on witnessed se veral armed expeditions to Mexico, Nicaragua, and Cuba. Continued conflicts between Anglos and Mexicans erupted into the U.S. Mexican War. When we look at the entirety of the Gulf of Mexico this trend bares out with slave rebellions and uprisings in Cuba, the Haitian Revolution, and the Independence Wars of Central and South America. As a result, Gulf Coast expansionists welcomed the military in their midst. The lack of a strong naval presence was always a source of concern amongst the communities of the Gu lf. Many of the fortifications in Mobile, New Orleans, and Pensacola dated back to Spanish and French colonial rule. Pensacola, though small, was considered an important aspect of any military defense of the region due to its 48 Samuel Kinser, Carnival, American Style: Mardi Gras at New Orleans and Mobile (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990); James Gill, Lords of Misrule: Mardi Gras and the Politics of Race in New Orleans (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1997), 25 57; Amos, Cotton City 64, 65; Daniel E. Walker, No More No More: Slavery and Cultural Resistance in Havana and New Orleans (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004), 2 3; Pensacola Gazette November 6, 1847.
63 fortifications and naval yard. Any talk about the defense of Gulf South shipping routes against the British, French, or Spanish focused on improving forts and navy buildings in the small Florida town to such an extent that it became dependant on the influx of federal money. Due to its youth, Galveston did not possess an established fort, but it had once been the home of the small Texas Navy. There were also several militia groups established in Galveston during the antebellum period. Since 1823, the presence of the U.S. Navy shaped the Pensacola community, characterized by George and social structures against threatening internal and external forces. 49 Conclusion Latin American territory, and European dominance. This reinforced most southern visions of t he frontier, however, annexation and settlement did not simply reproduce an older understanding of the South. Expansion into the Gulf shaped southern identity whether southerners wanted it to or not. While the upper plantation districts of the Lower South did, for the most part, take on aspects of plantation culture similar to those found in older southern states, the Gulf itself remained an alluring and at times frustrating 49 Rothman, Slave Country 119 122, 106 he War: U.S. Expansion to the Gulf Coast and the Fate of the Seminole, 1763 1858 ed. William S. Belko (Gainesville, University Press of Florida, 2011), 54 103; Robert E. May, Filibustering in Antebellum America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 8 10, 260 262; Jaime E. The independence of Spanish America (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge Universi ty Press, 1998); Richard Gott, Cuba: A New History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 39 97
64 enigma bordering the plantation South. The strength of its external ties to Latin A merica both their urban centers and the expanding Southern frontier. In 1845 Texas became a part of the nation, a new state and a new place open to a waiting flood of sett lers. Throughout the late 1840s and into the 1850s Gulf South southerners both within and outside of Texas continued to be concerned with the state of the frontiers in Texas and Florida, and the security of its richest port cities. These urban spaces viewe d themselves as sophisticated, worldly, wealthy, and important to the entirety of the South. Yet they continued to promote expansion into Latin America. In so doing the fate of the frontier, westward expansion, and southern interests became increasingly ti ed to Latin American countries. Early involvement with Texas provided the basis for later formations of ideas about the Mexican and native peoples, the country of Mexico, and the notion of the frontier as important to the future of the South. Within the G ulf South, Anglo southerners saw the continuation of the process of southerner territorial expansion. During the Early Republic, the South spread out over the lower South, capturing vital trade routes and ports. Gulf South slave holders believed they had r emade the malingering Spanish and French colonies of the Gulf into prosperous American port cities, and it had bested one of its new sister republics in the form of Mexico with Texas statehood. The coming war would prove to Americans their superiority over the new republican nations of Latin America. Chapter 3 addresses the continued evolution of racial depictions of Mexicans,
65 Texas, Manuel Rincon, Governor of the Department o f Mexico, ordered that a decree be printed denouncing Texas statehood. Rincon stated that the joint resolution between that annexation was the latest in a long list of offenses perpetrated by the United States against Mexico, and challenged its sovereignty and rights. The decree not only condemned the U.S. and its policy toward Texas, but also called the Mexican nation to arms, claiming that Mexican independence, threatened by the usurpation of the te 50 When Mexico about Mexicans and the Mexican government, which first took shape in Texas during the transition from republic to statehood. 50
66 CHAPTER 3 THE GHOST OF SANTA ANNA: U.S. MEXICAN WAR RHETORIC AND REALITY Introduction The Nueces Strip, that ribbon of land between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande, was hardscrabble country. A mixture of short brushy bushes and stumpy live oaks, it was a far cry fr om the thick marshy coastal land and bayous that most Gulf South Anglos were used to seeing. During the 1830s and 1840s travelers to Texas often viewed the land between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande as essentially worthless, with its only real use as a boundary between Texas and Mexico. In 1845, with a peculiar vegetation of barren, thorny shrubs, and is inhabited only by herds of mustangs or wild horses and small 1 Yet after 1845, the United itself; the United States demanded that Texas stretch to the Rio Grande. It was here that the two young republic s met each other in the first clash of the U.S. Mexican War. This was not the first time that Mexicans and Anglos fought over this territory. Mexicans and Anglos both settled the region that became Texas. They fought. They intermarried. They formed communi ties. These interactions created a deeply complex and shared past out of which the U.S. Mexican War grew. 2 1 Ferdinand Roemer, 2d ed. (Borne: Mockingbird Books, 2011), 7. 2 These interactions are a large part of Chicana/o and borderlands historiography. For a selection see the following: Armando C. Alonzo, Tejano Legacy: Rancheros and Settlers in South Texas, 1734 1900 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998); David Montejano, Anglos and Mexicans: In the Making of Texas, 1836 1986 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987); Arnoldo De Leon, They Called Them Greasers: Anglo Attitudes towa rd Mexicans in Texas, 1821 1900 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983); David Guiterrez, Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995); Raul A. Ramos, Beyond the Alamo: Forging Mexican Identity in San Antonio, 1821 1861 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,
67 The beginning of the U.S Mexican War exposed several aspects of the Gulf es pursued Gulf of Mexico conflicts between Anglos and Mexicans over Texas remain ed the central issue. Chapter 3 examines the U.S Mexican War in two different contexts. First, it explores the localized context of the war and the manner in which the history of past conflicts created the context for the war in Gulf Coast society. Support ers of the war often used the history of Anglo Mexican conflict within Texas to further develop a rhetoric based on the racialization of Mexicans as mongrels and the Mexican government as insufficient and despotic. 3 Both ideas were first shaped during sett lement, independence, and annexation in Texas. This local context then became part of the national discourse and propaganda surrounding the war with Mexico. Through the war with Mexico a justification of Anglo American superiority over Mexicans, first arti culated during the annexation of Texas, further evolved and would be used to bolster enthusiasm for later armed interventions into Latin America. Second, the war is analyzed from a perspective in which battlefront and home front blur by examining the exper iences of soldiers and their families often living across the Gulf in 2008); Andres Resendez, Changing National Identities at the Frontier: Texas and New Mexico, 1800 1850 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2005). 3 Amy S. Greenberg, A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012), 16 17; Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2 005), 562 563; Thomas R. Hietala, Manifest Design: American Exceptionalism and Empire Revised Edition (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985), 215.
68 U.S. port cities. Their views at times challenged the overriding public discourse on the war and at others upheld it. 4 As has happened with the history of annexation, historians often t reat the U.S. Mexican War in broadly national terms. They rarely consider how people within different The U.S. Mexican War has also been swept up in the great story of sece ssion and the Civil War. Many young men who fought in Mexico later went on to fight in the Civil War, and many historians argue that the political battles over the territory won during the war finally split the country apart. This has also been the case wi th southern history. For instance, William Freehling in his extensive two volume treatment of southern secession assesses the importance of annexation and the war along these lines. However, his treatment of the actual war and its effect on local regions i s limited. While southerners such as John C. Calhoun may have been against annexing territory beyond the Rio Grande, those in the Gulf South, and Texas especially, coveted Mexico and places such ure and its slave based populations living in Mexico. However, for expansionists in many parts of the South, the 4 James M. McCaffrey, Army of Manifest Destiny: The American Soldier in the Mexican War, 1846 1848 (New Yo rk: New York University Press, 1992), xii; Paul Foos, A Short, Offhand, Killing Affair: Soldiers and Social Conflict during the Mexican War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 13 17; Richard Bruce Winders, Military Experience in the Mexican War (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1997), 3, 12 one of the most complete to date, and gave me cause to think of the experience of soldiers from the Gul f impact on class relations amongst the officers and men as well as race relations. The experiences of the career soldiers who fought in earlier conflict wi War also participated in the Texas Revolution, Seminole Wars, U.S. Mexican War, and countl ess other wars committed against Native Americans before they marched into battle against each other. Very little has been done to understand what kind of impact of warfare against racial others might have had on these career soldiers and volunteers.
69 war was more than a blatant land grab. It was also a way to shore up slavery in an increasingly uncertain political climate. To do this, southern war supporters needed to cast their foes as inherently inferior and thus, undeserving of consideration as a neighboring democratic state similar to their own. They deploy ed the arguments used to settle and annex Texas in order to achieve these goals. 5 For many Anglo Americans the war was distant and foreign, but in the Gulf ports the experience of war was far more intimate and invaded daily life. Soldiers swarmed the ports over Mexico brought a decades long border war to a close. In 1848, Anglos believed they had triumphed over their age old opponents, and that Latin America could be theirs. 6 A multitude of past events and people shaped the rhetoric of the war. The Texas War of Independence and views on the Mexican government and its people all formed a 5 Wi lliam W. Freehling, Secessionists at Bay, 1776 1854 Vol.1 of The Road to Disunion (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 448 459; Ernest McPherson Lander, Reluctant Imperialists: Calhoun, the South Carolinians, and the Mexican War (Baton Rouge: Louisi ana State University Press, 1980). In the past Civil War historians cast support for the war in stark North/South terms. Painting with broad strokes they asserted that the South was pro war and the North largely against it. But others, Freehling among them also noted the role partisanship played in the war. The Gulf South was quite supportive of the war, but opposition to the war did exist there though this chapter does not focus heavily on it. Much work is left to be done concerning how different regions reacted to the war. Indeed, the U.S. Mexican War remains one of the least well understood wars of the nineteenth century. 6 Jack K. Bauer, The Mexican War: 1846 1848 (New York: McMillan, 1974); John D. Eisenhower, So Far from God: The U.S. War with Mexico 1846 1848 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000); David A. Clary, Eagles and Empire: The United States, Mexico, and the Struggle for a Continent (New York: Bantam, 2009), 438 449; McCaffrey, Army of Manifest Destiny 208 209; Robert Johannsen, To T he Halls of Montezuma: The Mexican War in the American Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988); Foose, A Short Offhand Killing Affair 6; Freehling, Road to Disunion Vol.1, Secessionists at Bay 488 490; Brian DeLay, War of a Thousand Deser ts: Indian Raids and the U.S. Mexican War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), 229 33; Resendez, Changing National Identities at the Frontier 237 265. More recently historians such as Andres Resendez, and Brian DeLay published works that explore diff erent aspects of the U.S. Southwest borderlands during this period are some of t he few who address different experiences of the war and different forces exerted on the nation during the war.
70 part of this discourse. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna a central and intensely controversial f igure proved to be emblematic of the past that formed the foundation for the war. Throughout the 1830s and 1840s both Mexicans and Anglos were both fascinated and infuriated by Santa Anna. They often painted him as treacherous, vain, capricious, and, at ti mes, completely immoral. While Santa Anna played an important part in the initial propaganda of the war, the experiences of soldiers and their views of Mexicans that evolved out of the process of invasion and warfare further entrenched the racist views of Mexicans within the region. These images, like the conflict itself, evolved over several decades. The intensity of warfare solidified them within the public discourse. 7 Creating a Martial Rhetoric Toward the end of 1845, annexation transformed into war as tensions between contested territory north of the Rio Grande did not help matters. At the time of its claims as well as its independence. Like the Republic of Texas, the U.S. also claimed the Rio Grande boundary when they annexed the territory, and in July 1845 sent Genera l Zachary Taylor along with 3,500 troops to the Nueces River in the event of a Mexican invasion. At the same time, Polk ordered the Pacific Squadron to seize ports in California should Mexico declare war. In November of 1846, Polk commanded John 7 Tom Reilly, (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2010), 1 5, 11 34; Johannsen, T o the Halls of Montezumas 22 23; Timothy J. Henderson, A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and Its War with The United States (New York: Hill and Wang, 2007), 76 81; Jamie Javier Rodriguez, The Literatures of the U.S. Mexican War, Narrative, Time, and Identity (Aus tin: University of Texas Press, 2010).
71 Slidell, m inister to Mexico, to purchase the Nueces Strip, Alta California, and Santa Fe from Mexico. He offered the Mexican government $25,000,000 for the California territory. Due to political upheaval and fears over what a loss of so much territory might mean for its national honor, Mexico refused to negotiate and sent Slidell packing. Grande, where they built a makeshift fort directly across from the city of Matamoros. Mexico immediate United States withdraw its troops from the strip. When Taylor refused to withdraw back to the Nueces River boundary, General Mariano Arista dispatched 2,000 cavalrymen into the region. On April 25,1846, they attacked a small U.S. patrol, killing 16 men. After 8 For many Americans, the war was their first exposure to a foreign culture. Those living within the Gulf South had long since formulated an idea of Mexican culture. housed the site of the Mexican consul in the Unit ed States, and at one time or another many Mexican political exiles made their homes in the Crescent City. Ships once used for trade and delivering mail bore men and arms to Mexico and the wounded and sick back to hospitals in New Orleans and Pensacola. Ga lveston served small weapons depot, amassing arms and supplies in preparation for the Texan volunteers soon to storm their streets. Pensacola became one of the main sites from which the Gulf Squadron sailed in 1846, and also another hospital. Santa Anna re marked that the 8 Jack K. Bauer, Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993), 149.
72 revolution. Gulf South ports provided money, soldiers, and aid during the Texas Revol ution. They did so again during the U.S. Mexican War. 9 During the early stages of the war, as Americans clamored for information about their new foe, the idea of the Conquest resurfaced in the Gulf South. Imagining hority over Mexico, many newspapermen and soldiers used the language of La Conquista to heighten expectations of speedy success. The Civilian and Galveston Gazette remarked on the number of articles concerning the history of Mexico published in papers thro ughout the nation. An article Pensacola Gazette reported that the Paris journals all sided with the U.S history of European colonial expansion, but also placed Mexico on equal footing with its former colonial ruler. In his memoir of the war, Raphael Semmes, repeatedly used the term Mexican War. He thought that the Spanish Conquest ultimately brought with it all the trappings of civilization to New Spain, much the way English colonization brought Anglo Saxon civilization to North America. The difference between the two was that Anglos 9 Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, The Eagle: The Autobiography of Santa Anna ed. Ann Fears Crawford (Austin: The Pemberton Press, 1967), 49.
73 displaced Na tive Americans when they arrived in the New World, and Spain had incorporated them, rendering the Mexican people weaker than his own race. He recorded a speech given by President Mariano Paredes in 1846 in which he also viewed the oncoming war as a new for never permit new conquests, and new advances of the government of the United States 10 The idea of conquest functioned in different ways in the discourse of the war. First, it revealed much ab out how those within the Gulf South, as well as other Americans, thought about the war and Mexico. Secondly, the Spanish conquest of Mexico provided a vision of the U.S. that linked it to massive and rapid expansion of the Spanish colonies in the sixteenth seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. They would do to the Mexicans what Cortez had done hundreds of years before them. Mexicans were well aware of the power of the history of the Conquest. Within the Gulf Coast borderlands these two ideas converged. An glo fears of Mexican violence and the border along the Rio Grande proved to be an important motivation for action. In the aftermath of the 1842 Mexican invasion of Texas, Texans and other Gulf South southerners considered invading Mexico. In many ways, the conflicts between Mexicans and Texans provided a dress rehearsal for the larger national invasion. Texans felt they had conquered Mexico. Conquering the rest of the nation was almost expected and became a crucial part of the larger narrative of the war. 10 Civilian and Galveston Gazette December 5, 1846; Pensacola Gazette July 7, 1846; Raphael Semmes, Service Afloat and Ashore during the Mexican War (Cincinnati: WM. H. Moore&Co., Publisher s, 1851), 17.
74 In order to reaffirm this narrative for themselves, Texans spent the initial months of the war honoring past heroes and past wars. The citizens of Washington City wrote Sam Houston on October 8, 1846 and offered to hold a public dinner to honor him for his Galveston Civilian and Gazette concerning the war was that through the past twenty years worth of hostilities in Texa s a war between the United States and Mexico had become inevitable. It was a whic de Santa Anna, ended the Texas Revolution. The battle held special meaning for those who had lived through it, as well as those who had learned of it when they migrated to Texas. T he Anglo Americans already living in Texas, especially those who had fought against the Mexican Army during the Texas Revolution possessed deeply ingrained 11 Within the Gulf South, feverish enthusiasm became the order of the day, and minister to Mexico in 1822, commented on the beginnings of war with Mexico in the De H e Mexico could not be resolved peacefully. Poinsett, a first hand witness to the political 11 Austin Texas Democrat October 21, 1846; Civilian and Galveston Gazette December 7, 1846.
75 struggles betw een conservative monarchists and liberals in Mexico, described the he feared that such a against our form of government, and [would serve] to furnish additional force to the the Mexicans will b compensate for having in any w ise contributed to the establishment of kingly 12 Opposition to the war in other parts of the U.S. used similar language focusing on those tha critique. The Galveston Weekly News collected and published a number of criticisms war shou ld be regarded with more caution than was currently being displayed in the nation. Recalling the war, former Republic of Texas president Anson Jones flatly accused Polk of intentionally starting the conflict by placing troops within the contested territory invading Texas. The troops he had requested during the annexation process were supposed to watch over the disputed territory, not enter into it and become involved in a 12 2, no. 1 (July 1846), 21 24.
76 firefi ght with Mexican troops. Jones further stated that the war was completely unlawful es that the gained territory would be a boon for the United States in a way that it never had been in Mexican hands, which had been declared insufficient for handling such a task. was unfair to the Mexican nation because of its weakness. Whereas pro war Americans thought that the nation should conquer Mexico because of that weakness, others felt that they should not attack their southern neighbor for precisely the same reason. 13 In t he South, opposition to the war remained couched in ideas about Mexican interaction and conflict in Texas. During the war, Southern Whigs who opposed the war did so on grounds t hat it would bring an unwanted race of people into the nation, and into the South. Two major proponents of this line of opposition were John C. Calhoun and Waddy Thompson. Neither favored annexation of further territory south of the Rio Grande, and used th e idea of a mixed race people in Mexico as a major reason against He had seen wha t would happen if the United States persisted in its attempts to gain more Mexican territory. Some southerners may have wanted to avoid a war with 13 Anson Jones, Memoranda and Official Correspondence Relating to t he Republic of Texas, Its History and Annexation ( New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1859), 52
77 Mexico, but in the Gulf South, most welcomed it and wanted to expand slavery into Mexico. Calhoun was much mo re skeptical about expansion further into Mexico. 14 Past conflicts and tense negotiations between Mexico and the United States made it appear as though war was eminent. Alexander Lander, in his history of the Galveston Riflemen, wrote that he, fully expecte d annexation to lead to war. Lander thought that the seeds of the war were planted with the first shots of the Texas enemy, the people the sons of free and independent ancestry began to look upon General Taylor on the Rio Grande was an immense relief. He was on their frontier oe, for their just across the river. Lander echoed a long held expectation that the U.S. Army would ride to the rescue. 15 1846 requires careful scrutiny because it summed up the past twenty years of discourse about Mexico. The speech was also a moment where local border struggles influenced national discourse over the vated and unredressed wrongs on our part; Mexico in violation of solemn treaty stipulations, and of every principle of justice recognized by civilized nations, commenced hostilities, and thus, by 14 Waddy Thompason, quoted in Freehling, Secessionists at Bay 457, 456 457; Greenberg, A Wicked War 89 91. 15 Alexander Lander, A Trip to the Wars, Comprising the History of the Galveston Riflemen, Formed April 28, 1846, At Galveston, Texas; Together with the History of the Battle of Monterey; Also, Descriptions of Mexico and its People 9.
78 the accusations that it repeated seizure of American vessels, trade, and sailors in the ports of the Gulf as achieved her independence, which the United States were the first among the nations to acknowledge, when she commenced the system of insult and spoliation, which she has al climate, and he blamed it for continued depredations. When the U.S. government attempted to file claims for their citizens against committed by any of the powerful nations o f Europe, would have been promptly resorted war Americans, respect made war absolutely necessary. Polk further emphasize d Mexican instability by describing the nation as a the manner in which the discourse of national expansion was shaped by the experiences of those living in regions that were in the process of expanding the United independence and annexation, and was then inco rporated into national rhetoric and
79 decades long history of conflict in the Gulf of Mexico gave the U.S. the right to confiscate territory and commit war. Polk argued that the annexation treaty was not annexation at all, but a re of his platform. Senator Robert J. Walker, an ardent expansionist from Mississippi, first coined the phrase as a way to argue that the United States owned Texas under the Louisiana Purchase and that it should not have been traded back to Spain under the Adams Ons Treaty. In this interpretation of the treaty, Texas constituted a part of Louisiana, ceded to the U.S. in 1803 The United States ceded all of the land that then made up Texas back to Spain in 1819, but since the United States originally owned Texas, they were simply reclaiming what was always theirs. Those who supported this theory asserted that Texas had a right to secede and form a nation of its own under the image of Latin American republics that saw them as neighbors but beneath the status of the United States and flawed in th eir ideas about democracy. He also participated in a reimagining of Texas as having been American territory for as long as the other Gulf South states. Arguing that Texas had, in some way, always been American further asserted the feelings of those living within the Gulf South that the spread Anglo Saxon peoples could remake foreign countries. To lend further credence to his reasoning, Polk emphasized the fact that Mexico welcomed American immigrants. American citizens expected that they would be d by constitutional governments similar to those which existed in the republic
80 United States, Texas was never a part of Mexico, and Mexico had no real right to her. The f act was that the Mexican state was unstable and there were many revolts in Mexico throughout the early nineteenth century. Polk and many pro war expansionists exploited the instability and the highly racialized rhetoric in the Gulf South and Texas as the b asis for their argument that Mexico could not govern itself and could not manage annexation to the United States, bore the same relation to Mexico, that Mexico had borne 16 According to Polk, in every conceivable way, Texas had never been Mexican. Anglo Texans strongly agreed. Even before the Texas Revolution they viewed themselves as Americans in Mexico, not Mexicans. The policies and later, the atrocities, committed by Santa Anna only drove Anglo Texans further toward the arms of their American cousins. 17 16 James K. Polk, "Message, Fellow Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States," Democratic Telegraph and Texas Register December 28, 1846. 17 Montejano, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas 2 3; Resendez, Changing Nat ional Identities at the Frontier 4 3; Will Fowler, Malcontents, Rebels, and Pronunciados: The Politics of Insurrection in Nineteenth Century Mexico (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012), 1 3.
81 Figure 3 1 Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. 18 The Return of Santa Anna Although Santa Anna lived in exile in Havana when Mexico and the United States exchanged their first shots, su pporters of the war often invoked his name and his part in republican, aristocratic, and temperamental figure helped to define Mexico as a nation that was the complete 18 Latin American St udies [online database], (accessed May 15, 2013); available from http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/santa anna.htm ; internet.
82 opposite of the young United States. 19 Within the wider U.S., citizens came to see Mexico as a nation of republican minded citizens hijacked by an enfeebled government. However, a more localized view of Mexi co as a nation filled with an undesirable race that had plagued Anglo Americans since they first set foot on Texas soil, also helped to contradictory they were intimately re society from its elites to its poorest citizens. Since the close of the Texas Revolution, Santa Anna exemplified all of the negative aspects that Anglo Americans saw in Mexico. Even within Mexico he proved to be a controversial figure. Lauded as a patriot one moment and vilified the next, Santa Anna was eventually forced to step down after the 1842 expedition to Texas and went into exile in 1845. Even though he was no longer welcome in the country, the close l ink between Santa Anna and the idea of Mexican weakness persisted. Frederic Leclerc the personal history of Santa 20 the Gulf of Mexico, Raphael Semmes, captain of the USS Somers during the war, Matilda Charlo tte Houstoun observed that it was well known that Mexicans were not 21 19 American Historical Review 117, no. 2, (2012): 387 388. 20 Leclerc, Texas and Its Revolution 85. 21 Raphael Semmes, Service Afloat and Ashore during the Mexican War 25; Matilda Charlo tte Houstoun, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, or, Yachting in the New World (London: John Murray, 1844), 144.
83 The norteamericanos as Mexicans called Anglo Americans, may not have been the only ones in the Gulf who maligned Santa Anna after the Texas Revolution but his harsh actions at the siege of the Alamo and the attack on Goliad caused whites to vilify him. His boastful attitude and disdain for those he deemed beneath his station did not help matters. 22 Mexicans remembered both sides of his reputation. Durin g the 1820s, Mexicans celebrated him for the key role he played in the fight for Mexican Independence. In 1821 he had driven Spanish forces from Vera Cruz after which he retired to his hacienda, Manga de Clavo, declaring that he would remain there unless h is country needed him. He stayed there for only a year before he decided that he was again needed. Following Mexican independence, Santa Anna switched sides from self appointed emperor royalist camp and transf ormed himself into a supporter of republicanism, helping to overthrow the would be ruler. To Mexicans, he had been both a villain and a hero. Their relationship with Santa Anna was far more complex than many Anglo outsiders fully realized or were willing t o admit. changeable views of Santa Anna into reasons why the republic should not be allowed to own the territory that existed under their flag. 23 In 1828, Santa Anna aided yet anoth er coup against Presidente Vicente Guerrero, who was succeeded by Gudalupe Victoria. Shortly after Victoria gained the presidency, Santa Anna defeated Spain in their final attempt to recapture Mexico, 22 Matilda Charlotte Houstoun, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, or, Yachting in the New World (London: John Murray, 1844), 144. 23 Donald Fithian Steven s, Origins of Instability in Early Republican Mexico (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991) 107 109.
84 thereby gaining more support for himself. Years later, in 1832, he was at the head of yet another rebellion, which finally led him to the presidency. This cyclical pattern of gaining a government office, then resigning and retreating back to his hacienda only to reemerge as a public figure, also contributed to his image. Santa Anna often blamed his he attained were beneath him in some way. They paled in comparison to the thrill of military glory and immediate national a doration. While writing his autobiography in 1878, Santa Anna remarked that he felt he had been unfairly persecuted from the time he initially became involved in Mexican politics. vy followed explained becoming president in terms that many politicians, American or Mexican, wou ld have used. It was something that was foisted upon him, not something he disappoin actions shed light on how and why he was seen as so capricious by others, and his public image often pushed him to act in many ways that did affect the course of relations between the United States and Mexico. He both embodied U.S. understandings of Mexicans and Mexico, and also affected their evolution. 24 24 Santa Anna, The Eagle 4 5.
85 Delving further into the complicated views Mexicans expressed about Santa Anna during the years leading up to the U.S. Mexican W ar, it becomes apparent that his choices as president were also a crucial part of his spotty reputation. His loss of Texas at the hands of people he thought of as rabble counted as an embarrassment both to the Mexican nation and to himself personally. The Anna on the fields of San Anna committed a disgraceful performance at the final battle of the Texas Revolution. Santa Anna blamed the outcome of the revolution on the men who served beneath him. To him they were the true disgrace. As General Maria no Paredes, once a confidante of Clavo. He felt disillusioned and resentful toward Mexico, believing his nation had abandoned him. 25 In 1838, the Pastry War, a short lived French invasion of Veracruz, allowed Santa Anna to regained the presidency, which he did in 1841 when he joined a revolt against the current president, Anastasio Bust amente. In 1842 Santa Anna attempted yet another invasion of Texas, while simultaneously trying to put down a rebellion in the Yucatan. In 1844 General Paredes charged Santa Anna with a misuse of power. He Mexico to have failed in Texas, after 25 Leclerc, Texas and Its Revolution Address of General Don Mariano Paredes, To The Mexican Nation. Re Telegraph from Texas Register December 25,1844; Santa Anna, The Eagle 89.
86 making the efforts which outraged honor demanded, than to gain in Yucatan, with the military campaigns had been missteps, and the y cost Mexico honor and men. Since the loss of the war in 1836, Santa Anna had, according to Paredes, produced nothing but chaos and cronyism in the national government. 26 Such things were unforgivable in the Mexican Republic, but then, turning away from th e republican and liberal cause was even more treacherous. It was shortly after this speech that Santa Anna left Mexico for Cuba and exile. While Texas was in the midst of celebrating its acceptance into the union, Santa Anna left Mexico. He arrived in Hav ana on May 19, 1845, after fifteen days of travel from Veracruz. Santa Anna had originally planned to continue on to Venezuela. However he felt he had been so well received in Havana that he decided to stay. Santa Anna made his home in Havana until the out break of the U.S the province of Texas, coveted the rich and vast territories of Alta California and New 27 The Cuban correspondent related that Santa Anna sulked in grand style. He remained ensconced in his estate where, the correspondent claimed, he had cockfights. The gentleman explained that he had only stayed long enough to watch the ex president suffer yet another exorbitant loss to a young American from one of the 26 Houston Telegraph and Texas Register December 14, 1844. 27 Santa Anna, The Eagle 88
87 28 While Santa Anna may have appeared to have been gambling the days away, he was actually preparing to leave for M exico. Aside from demonstrating the manner in which Americans, Mexicans, and Cubans circulated in the same society, among American readers of the Mexican ex ness and degeneracy. Americans then used this track record to accuse the entire country of capriciousness and illegitimacy as a nation. Removed from the theater of war, Santa Anna categorized the conflict between the two Republican nations as the United St in me in defence of her liberties, and in 29 It took several months before Santa Picayune believed it to be a hoax, but then felt that the audacity of returning to Mexico from forced exile was so characteristic of the former Mexican president that it must be true, and expected Santa Anna in Mexico by the time they published the letters. In September 1846 the Picayune and its readers eage rly awaited word of the outcome of negotiations between the U.S. and Mexico over the Texas boundary. They worried that Santa Anna might step in to sabotage the negotiations in some way by is affected reluctance 28 New Orleans Picayune March 21, 1846. 29 New Orleans Picayune April 25, 1846.
88 to assume the reins of power at once and openly, may be a subterfuge by which to is affected, is false and hallow . the only 30 In the early months of 1846 leading up to the outbreak of war along the Rio Grande, the ghost of Santa Anna was ever present. His name pervaded discussions of the possible outcomes of annexation and the subsequent fallout. On a ship back to Vera Cruz, Santa Anna sailed through the blockade and returned to his home country on the app lause of people made him forget the indignities of exile. nature far outweighed, if not completely obliterated, the past glories for which he was once exalted in Mexico. For Americ ans it seemed a mystery why he continued to come times he managed to capture the presidency, plus his return from exile, contributed to the view on the part of Americans t flawed in comparison to the supposedly more stable U.S. national government. Santa Anna accomplished yet another rise to power during the war by promising both sides that he could help them end it quickly. To t he Mexicans and President Valentn Gmez Faras he had promised that he would fight the Americans, but not attempt to gain the presidency. To the Americans, Santa Anna suggested that he might be able to broker a peace between the U.S. and Mexico and avoid further bloodshed. More importantly, he 30 New Orleans Picayune September 16, 1846.
89 promised that once he gained entry into the country, he would broker the sale of the U.S. the territories that Slidell had attempted to purchase before the start of the war. Such overtures were the main reason that the Gulf Squadron blockade permitted him into the country. For Mexicans, the war truly began with the return of Santa Anna and the mounting blockade that would end with the U.S. invasion of Veracruz, before its march into the heart of the great Mexican val ley. However, the invasion remained several months off when Santa Anna arrived back in the blockaded port of Veracruz in September 1846. Almost as soon as he landed Santa Anna recanted his promises to the U.S. and Mexico. He did not bother trying to negot iate a Mexican surrender, nor did he keep his promise to the Mexicans to remain a general. In early December, he reestablished the sion of the army with the spirit of the people. The constitution reestablished a federalist system in Mexico, replacing the centralist system that the country adopted in the 1830s. During the U.S. Mexican War, Mexico was in the midst of extreme political t urmoil and Santa Anna took advantage of this to assume the presidency yet again in March 1847. 31 Before then the army remained largely in the north Mexican states, and it continued to be largely a border dispute. n Mexico campaign were the first to experience Mexico and write back about their observations. While the highly racialized 31 Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna to Senior de Compana, December 31, 1846, Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna Collection, 1821 1878, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.
90 rhetoric of the war is the central focus, the experiences of individuals during the war also shows how they confronted the larger for ces of international warfare and politics. Many of the young men who fought in the U.S. Mexican War had never been to a foreign country before, and most of what they knew about Mexico came from the exploits in the Nueces Strip territory. Career soldiers and those from the Gulf South were more familiar with the region they invaded, but still remarked with curiosity about Mexican culture and society. In certain instances they us ed the established rhetoric to interpret the world around them used the established rhetoric, but in many ways their perceptions of Mexico challenged that discourse and demonstrated its fragility. While the Gulf Squadron condu army under General Zachary Taylor descended down through northern Mexico. The combination of both Taylor and the blockade intensified the conflict. The experiences of soldiers and sailors during the war sh aped their view of the role they played in the war and as a part of territorial expansion. Their time in Mexico revealed the limits of those early racial constructions, but in certain ways their combat experience also hardened their view of racial others. For many of the men fighting the war, even those who came from the Gulf South, their march into Mexico was the first time they saw first hand what their enemies looked like and how a foreign people lived. Their experiences and ideas were sometimes at odds with the prevelent rhetoric in the United States, but at other times they served to uphold racist notions of Latin America, and even further entrench them.
91 At the outbreak of the war, the U.S. army was a small force, numbering only 5,500 men and officers who were stationed throughout the territories and newly created states. Many were fighting the Native American nations that lived in Texas, Florida, and for the flaws wit hin the militia system many states refused to allow their militia to fight on foreign soil, and most of them were only authorized to fight for a period ninety days Congress opted to expand the army. On May 13,1846, Congress authorized Polk to raise up 50,0 00 volunteers for twelve months, calling men from across the states to serve in Mexico. The government first called up troops from the states closest to Mexico. Throughout the South, elite men in cities and towns created volunteer regiments. 32 While Albert which individuals encountered both the rhetoric and reality of territorial expansion. Retired from milita ry life and enjoying the seclusion of his plantation, China Grove, on the banks of Oyster Creek near Galveston, Albert Sidney Johnston read the news of war along with everyone else. Even though Johnston intended to become a Texas planter, he saved an extra that was published by the Galveston Gazette on the day that the U.S. declared war on Mexico. This gesture suggests he either longed for military life, or simply thought it was a noteworthy event. Either way, in March 1846 his part in the war remained unce rtain. 32 Pinheiro, Manifest Ambition 43 45.
92 As Taylor recognized that the Mexican army across the river greatly James Pinckney Henderson wrote to Johnston, urging him to join the Texan regiments at Point Is pushed a mutual friend to urge Johnston to command the regiment, claiming that Johnston would receive a rank next to his own once he made his way to Point Isabel. s dismay, Congress did not allow him to make appointments to the Johnston was elected colone l of the First Regiment of Foot Riflemen of Texas as he 33 The War Department gave each state a quota for volunteers that they were asked to fill during the beginning of the war. By July, volunteers continued to fill state quotas throughout the nation, and men who were eager to serve in the war with Mexico began to make their way toward the Gulf South. Charles G. Bryant, a Texan adventurer and architect originally from Maine, wrote to Johns ton while in New Orleans at the beginning of the war and observed that if Texas wanted to raise several companies that it could be easily accomplished by looking for them in Louisiana. Those disbanding expences over here and enlist for 33 Albert Sidney Johnston to George Hancock, July 10, 1846, Albert Sidney and William Preston Johnston papers, Manuscripts Col lection 1, Louisiana Research Collection, Howard Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University, New Orleans.
93 desirous of coming out with a company from Alabama I t hink if you desire to fill up the raise his own company for Johnston. He had seen many letters, he said, looking for positions in whatever Texas regiments might be raised. The enthusiasm over participation in the war that Bryant displayed in his letters spoke to the pressure men felt to serve in the military as a part of their manly duties. It also revealed the extent to which New Orleans and the Gulf South became t he natural expansion into Latin America. Within the Gulf South, many of these men volunteering for the army had been involved in some way in the border disputes and confli cts between Texas and Mexico, and were willing to continue the pursuit of the enemy now into Mexico. 34 Illinois framed much of his impressions about the arid northern country of M exico when his regiment marched through it on its way to Camargo. Johnston had not been in the regular army for some time, but his military expertise provided him with an tly Santa Rosalia de Camargo in the northern state of Chihuahua. Before leaving he penned a letter to Hancock describing the eagerness of his troops to get under way. The d 34 Charles G. Bryant to Albert Sidney Johnston, July 10, 1846, Johnston Papers.
94 conducted direct Johnston often criticized the manner in which the war was being conducted. He asked: n, waste a cartridge on the castle of San Juan de Ula or throw away the public treasure in a war of marches against a country without population comparatively, Mexico did day journey up the Rio Grande. Steamboats had excessive trouble navigating the Rio Grande. At one point Johnston complained about the inability to receive supplies while stationed along t he Rio Grande. He recorded his impressions of the people and their population greatly more numerous -on a river the inhabitants of the Rio Grande, an inferior, resembling in color the indians of the U. States & not much superior to some of 35 The comparison between Native Americans in the U.S. and the Mexicans living along the Rio Grande exposed the manner in which the public discourse of expansion and the U.S. Mexican War had shaped the frame of mind many soldiers had as they entered Mexico, but also the confluence of personal experience and national event. Traversing the landscape of Northern Mexico, Johnston described the thatched roofs of 35 Johnston to Hancock, July 30, 1846, Johnston Papers.
95 understandi ng of his environment had been shaped by his previous experience on the edges of the expanding nation, fighting in the Black Hawk War and along the Texas Mexico border. The sense of surprise over the amount of cultivation found along the Mexican border ste mmed in part from the view that the Nueces Strip, of which the Rio Grande was a part, was largely barren. Yet the rest of the Rio Grand Valley was quite fertile, under cultivation, and populated by a variety of peoples including both Mexicans and Native Am ericans. the U.S. Mexican War so deadly. Due to sickness and the nearing end of their Au gust. After losing his regiment, Johnston joined volunteers under General William Orlando Butler as Inspector General, extending his stay in Mexico. He continued to In the early months of his se views of Mexican society in the northern states along the Rio Grande. Quitman was originally born in Pennsylvania but eventually moved to Mississippi where he established a law practice and was elected to Co ngress. He had been a long time supporter of nullification, Texas annexation, and territorial expansion into Mexico. During the Texas Revolution, he mailed Sam Houston a polish knife with a note encouraging him to fight for Texas freedom, before leading a regiment called the
96 wife and children often, and discussed both troop movemen ts and his views of the teaming numbers of Mexicans who lived on ranchos in the region. In a letter to his children, Henry, Louisa, and Antonia, Quitman described how the Mexicans in Camargo ed back toward the interior, fearing the ravages of war. This left many Mexicans of lower classes, and these were among the first Mexicans that many American soldiers saw. This was partly the reason that many soldiers compared Mexicans to Native Americans. He described regularly. 36 up and headed home. He participated in the opening movements of the battle and wrote about them to his wife almost before the battle was over. Eliza Quitman was not at all thrilled with his decision to sign up for service in Mexico. Exchanging letters reg ularly, she expressed worry on more than one occasion. She also articulated a sense of ambivalence toward the war and the manner in which it was fought that many Americans felt. In the it appears to me tha t peace is now farther off than ever, and that there are many bloody and desperate battles yet to be fought. I am not one of those who hold the Mexicans in contempt. I think they have been 37 Mexicans 36 John A. Quitma n to Eliza Quitman, August 14, 1846, Quitman Family Papers #616, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; John A. Quitman to Children, August 18, 1846, ibid. 37 Eliza Quitman to John A. Quitman, October 29 1846, Quitman Family Papers.
97 propoganda found in the pages of New Orleans newspapers. While she did not demonstrate outright opposition to the war, her worries represented those of many Americans w ho feared the war might last longer than expected, and the Mexicans might be harder to fight than at first thought. The soldiers entering Mexico later in the war came through the Gulf ports and through the Rio Grande. Many were part of the invasion of cen tral Mexico. Their experience was somewhat different in that they moved through the Valley of Mexico and Vera Cruz, which was a very different landscape. A year after Johnston returned to Galveston, his brother in law, William Preston, decided to enlist. J ohnston again wrote his friend Hancock to tell him of the news he had received in November of 1847. him. By 1847, many Americans had tired of the war despite the newspape military coverage. The army had already won several battles, and the war was coming lly justifies my prosperously in the hands of pidlers & there must be means adequat Johnston believed his regiment had the means to bring the war speedily to a close, but some vital point it has wasted its momentum by breaking up the force into army corps which from the vast extent of the country they operated in have in every instance been
98 frustration with the way the war was being managed. 38 William Pre throughout 1847 and 1848 when he served as Lieutenant Colonel of the 4 th Kentucky Volunteers. Whereas Johnston crossed the Rio Grande, Preston sailed from New Orleans on November 11, 1847, w here his regiment only stayed a night before heading down river and reaching the Gulf of Mexico. From Kentucky, for Preston the trip to Veracruz was the first time that he had ever seen the Gulf. Like many soldiers who had come from other parts of the Sout h, the trip through New Orleans or Mobile was just as surprising and intriguing as was the experience of a foreign country. Of the Gulf, the light, fleecy, clouds drift ing before the winds, the clear waves and delightful breeze, create a pleasant languor, which renders you careless of everything save the scene remarked on the dilapidated surrounded them as they camped on a plain between the city and the sea where marched 10 months earlier. Preston recorded the 39 38 Johnston to George Hancock, November 1, 1846, Johnston Papers. 39 William Preston, November 11, 1847, Diary of Lieutenant Colonel William Preston, Mexico, 1847 1848, Johnston Papers.
99 As his unit marched their way through the Mexican countryside, Preston spent more time observing the landscape and animals than had Johnston a year earlier. For Preston, the experience of Mexico was wholly foreign. He had little on which to base his experience on. After over a week of marches, birds similar to the oriole of gaudy plumage, & myriads of flowering shrub presented to 40 On the road from Veracruz to Mexico City, hacienda. He described in detail the house, which posed a great curiosity to the men of the 4 th Kentucky. He noted the imposing quality of Mango de Clavo, which was more marked on a discussion between himself Thompson, who thinks it would produce cotton & sugar profitably as the land can have no means of irrigation being to elevated and remote from the mountain & the alternations of wet & dry seasons being the marked to permit its being tilled very 41 Whatever their differences, they both viewed the world around them as what it would produce once it was under U.S. contr ol. experienced a very different world from that experienced by the soldiers during Winfield campaign was frame d more by the Texas/Mexico disputes of the past and the Native American/Anglo disputes. Later, soldiers who entered through Veracruz and central 40 Preston, Diary of Lieutenant Colonel Wi lliam Preston, November 27, 1847. 41 Preston, Diary of Lieutenant Colonel William Preston, November 29, 1847.
100 Mexico arrived during the final acts of the war. Though in 1846 the largest and most spectacular battles still remained to be fought, the northern campaign exposed soldiers to the reality of war that often challenged the rhetoric. Conclusion The physical experience of invading Mexico, fighting against Mexican troops, and seeing the Mexican people first hand at tim es presented images that conflicted with those depicted in the American newspapers. Many on the home front read about the war being conducted against this foreign people on the North American continent, but soldiers saw them first hand. For some it was a w holly new experience, and for others it was couched within a longer history of service. Yet U.S. newspapers, with their hyper racialist discourse, and the invocation of the past glories of the Texas War of Independence, along with the imperiled border, pu shed young men to enlist. These factors also provided the images and narratives necessary for supporting a war that often times disturbed life within the port cities. The re lied on previous experiences to develop a language of their own, revealing that the language of expansion as dictated by public discourse was in fact limited. What was familiar to them, from their past, was what they used to describe and understand the cou ntry in which they found themselves. the United States provided the foundation for his experiences of Mexican villages along the Rio Grande river, much the way that the prior vi ctories and Mexican Anglo conflicts allowed Texans and those within the Gulf South to shape the early narratives of the U.S.
101 choices to go to Mexico, and his ideas about the world he encountered. William Preston had no such prior experience with the region and thus he relied on his own understandings of American wildlife and landscapes to try to come to terms with the different world around him. The language and images used to cons truct the rhetoric of war revealed much about the role that local history played in constructing a justification for the war against Mexico. The decades long conflict over Texas provided a context within which to situate the new war, much the way it influe nced the discourse of annexation. American newspapers and even American generals vilified Mexican officers throughout the war, but the manner in which Santa Anna became involved in not only Mexican but also Texan and U.S. history in the 1830s and 1840s len t his name a level of significance that few others possessed. 42 His white Creole ancestry and relatively high status within but his fiery reputation remained a part of Anglo stereotypes foisted upon Mexican peoples. The U.S. Mexican War came at a time when Mexico might still be saved in the eyes of Americans, despots might still be brought to justice, and the security of the na tion preserved. moving into the arid mountains of Northern Mexico, but that experience was only a tiny fragment of the events that took place during the war. On the home front, Gulf s outherners attempted to utilize the war to their own benefit. In Chapter 4 we will consider how Pensacolians interested in boosting their standing in the Gulf of Mexico 42 Reilly, War with Mexico! 214 217.
102 dominance in the Gulf and Caribbean, to gain further funds for the completion of the the 1840s come s into focus and reveals an alternate view of both the experience of the U.S. Mexican War and its value as a path toward territorial expansion in Latin America.
103 CHAPTER 4 UNPROTECTED TREASURE: NAVAL DEFENSES AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF PENSACOLA Introduction In 1845, Captain John Sanders of the Army Corps of Engineers published a report about the Ohio River Valley. His report a collection of essays and newspaper explained how its economic advantages could help defend the Gulf Coast. In 1836, when Sanders became chief army engineer in charge of improvements on the Ohio River, he quickly realized that its timber and iron waterways and G ulf ports. In addition, westerners could provide the extra labor needed to complete improvement projects on the Gulf. With the increased trade down the the Gulf recei 1 It was a question that also plagued those living in the Gulf ports. Aside from the Texas border, Gulf South southerners often felt that the Florida Straits was one of its most vulnerable and important borders. Most of the import and export trade conducted in the Gulf of Mexico. During the 1840s, the relationship between economic resources and national defense occupied the minds of Gulf Coast southerners, and was often used to justify the 1 John Sanders and James Louis Mason, Memoirs on the Military Resources of the Valley of the Ohio, as Applica ble to Operations on the Gulf of Mexico; and on a System for the Common Defence of the United States. With a Review of the Same, Concisely Exhibiting the Proper Functions and True Relations of Forts and Ships, Their Mutual Dependence and Harmonious Action, When Properly Combined Published with the authority of the War Department (Washington: C. Alexander, Printer, 1845), 3.
104 the weakness of the Gulf and the strength of the Ohio River Valley, he reminded rea ders that the southern ports and the western territories were intimately connected. the patriotic arms of his own native and other riveraine states . could further gi ve efficient assistance in protecting the products of their shops and lands wherever wafted 2 Territorial expansion and trade linked the South and the West together, making the defense of one a priority for the other. Even during the opening salvo of the U.S. Mexican War, U.S. interests in the Caribbean and South America continued. Among the strongest opposition to U.S. expansion in both the borderlands and the West Indies were European countries, specifically England. Chapter 4 ex plores the manner in which Gulf South expansionists attempted to capitalize on this discourse and fervor of territorial expansion as a way to curtail European influence in the region. It examines the construction of a dry dock at Pensacola, and the manner fortifications, and before the war, Pensacolians fixated on a possible naval war with tial body of scholarship considers the evolution of U.S. British relations during the Colonial and Early Republic periods; the Civil War era has historically been considered a time when the United States retreated inward. However, historians now seek to un derstand how global dynamics shaped the events leading up the Civil War. Transnational forces confronted Americans throughout this 2 Sanders and Mason, Memoirs on the Military Resources of the Valley of the Ohio 3.
105 forces. 3 interests in improving their naval yard and military fortifications, the many national and transnational forces that buffeted the Gulf Coast during the U.S. Mexican War become evident. When the naval war they had predicted came it was with a weaker naval f orce, but Britain and France both continued to play a role in how the Gulf South saw the navy and naval fortifications in area. The Gulf South and the Navy struggled with the effects of the blockade. It was not as exciting as the the Mexican interior, and some Gulf southerners feared it naval fortifications in Pensacola, and fears concerning European presence in the Gulf offer a counterpoint t o the racialized rhetoric discussed in Chapter 3 and demonstrate reveals the manner in which fears concerning European presence in the region, and the conduct of the Gu lf Squadron to show how the larger currents of U.S. expansionism affected even the most far flung and seemingly insignificant parts of the Gulf South. 3 Recent works that address these issues include: Sam W. Haynes, Unfinished Revolution: The Early American Republic in a British World (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010); Andre M. Fleche, The Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalist Conflict (Chapel Hill: Un iversity of North Carolina Press, 2012), 154 156; Edward Bartlett Rugemer, The Problem of Emancipation: The Caribbean Roots of the American Civil War (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008), 200 242; Matthew Pratt Guterl, American Mediterrane an: Southern Slaveholders in the Age of Emancipation (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2008). My work contributes to a growing body of scholarship that explores the impact of outside forces on the United States during Civil War era territorial e xpansion. Much of this work is focused on the Atlantic World, but considering how national and transnational forces shaped expansionist rhetoric in the Gulf of Mexico allows us to see how the Atlantic World connected with the U.S. Mexico borderlands during the antebellum period and the U.S. Mexican War.
106 Pensacola sought to benefit from the U.S. military presence, and eventually became economically as well a s socially dependent on its presence. Within these small spaces we see the manner in which expansionism shaped the Gulf Coast during the height of the U.S. Mexican War. 4 To sailors, Pensacola and the Gulf of Mexico seemed isolated when it came to the dist ance that ships sailed for repairs. Along the entire length of the U.S. Gulf Coast there was no place to repair the larger merchant or navy ships, and southerners in the region worried incessently about the lack of a proper naval yard. During the U.S. Mexi can War, the navy yard provisioned the Gulf Squadron, and provided minor repairs for the ships participating in the blockade. It also housed a small hospital where many wounded, sick soldiers and sailors found shelter. When improvements to the naval yard l agged, frustrations in Pensacola and New Orleans heightened their sensitivity to the idea that the federal government was either unable or reluctant to provide adequately for the Gulf ports. By the 1840s, railroad companies had laid thousands of miles of t rack, but the rivers, lakes, canals, and coasts as its primary form of transportation. It remained important for the United States to secure its dominance over these waterw ays. Alhough the U.S. hoped to secure the nation against foreign intervention in the Gulf South, European powers remained a presence in the Gulf of Mexico. Thus, Gulf South southerners and the military argued for increased military presence to ensure that the 4 Ernest F. Dibble, Ante Bellum Pensacola and the Military Presence (Pensacola: University of West Florida, 1974), 9 11.
107 United States established its authority on the coast. To do so the Gulf South needed forts, improved naval yards, and a navy. Prevailing wisdom in the government was to concentrate on building up coastal fortifications, especially those along the Atla ntic Coast to which the British Navy had come during the War of 1812. The war with England often dictated both memories of war and military strategy. However, the merchants and citizens of the Gulf ports argued that without a navy to stave off a blockade f rom a foreign power, fortifications would do little good. They argued as much for an improved navy as they had for improved forts and naval yards. When the next war with a foreign power came, it was with Mexico. Their sister republic, like themselves, was not a naval power by any means, so focus on been to ensure the growth of maritime trade by patrolling the Caribbean, the Gulf, the South American Coast, West Africa, an d far flung destinations in between. The Gulf Squadron was on such a patrol when war broke out in 1846. 5 At the outbreak of the war with Mexico, the United States Navy was relatively small compared to the more imposing European fleets that still plied the waters of the Caribbean and the Atlantic. It was separated into several squadrons, two of which, the Pacific and the Gulf or Home Squadrons, played significant roles in the Mexican American War. The Gulf Squadron consisted of thirteen ships, three fifty gu n frigates Cumberland several smaller sloops and brigs of war, as well as steamers that primarily ferried supplies back and forth. While estimates 5 Fitch Waterman Taylor, The Broad Pennant, or, A Cruise in the United States flag sh ip of the Gulf Squadron, during the Mexican Difficulties (New York: Leavitt, Trow & Co., 1848), 83 84; Nathan Miller, The U.S. Navy: A History 3d ed. (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1997), 83 87.
108 of the actual number of men who served aboard these ships vary, roughly 13,000 total served during the war. This number was quite small when compared to the 70,000 soldiers and militia that marched across the Mexican landscape between 1846 1848. 6 By the U.S. Mexican War, the United States had acquired the entire northern Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida. The war offered the nation a chance to dominate militarily a good part of the southern portion of the coastline. Expanding American influence into the region thus became a key aspect of the naval improvement projects at Pensac image used repeatedly to capture its importance to U.S. commerce. When newspapers discussed the importance of defending the coastline, they often considered French defenses in the Med iterranean. By the 1840s, New Orleans had a small dry dock, and there were army barracks established just beyond the city. However, its location on the Mississippi River was not ideal for the Gulf ships in need of repair. In the 1820s, Pensacola quickly be came the ideal location for a formidable set of fortifications, and the dream of becoming a major shipping center for the Gulf of Mexico began. 6 Raphael Semmes, Service Afloat and Ashore During the Mexican War (Cincinnati: Wm. H. Moore & Co., Publishers, 1851), 76; Karl Jack Bauer, Surfboats and Horse Marines: U.S. Naval Operations in the Mexican War, 1846 1848 (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1969).
109 Figure 4 1 Chart of the Bay and Harbour of Pensacola, 1780. 7 Pensacola e View past. Each time it changed hands of the French, the Spanish, the British, and then the Americans concerns. From its earliest days to the establishment of Florida as a state in 1845, Pensacola felt the brunt of diplomatic shifts as West Florida exchanged hands throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Pensacola remained part of a world where no one nation possessed complete domination. When France began making inroads into the lower Mississippi, Spain decided to establish fortifications in Western 7 A Chart of the Bay and Harbour of Pensaco la, 1780 1780 map, Special Collections Department, University of South Florida.
110 Florida. In 1698, Spain built a presidio near what became the location Fort Barrancas. While the first real improvements to the defenses of Pensacola. 8 After Florida became an American po declined from 4,000 inhabitants to a meager 1,000. The significant population drop in the 1820s signaled troubled times. Despite the small population, it remained remarkably diverse. Rachel Jackson, wife of Andrew J ackson, wrote her friend Eliza Kingsley in French. Some speak four or five languages. Such a mixed multitude, you, nor any of us, ever had an idea of. There are fewer white people by far than any other, mixed with all taken in 1820, before Spain transferred the territory to the United States, found that French and Spanish Creoles dominated the town and surrounding countryside. One third of the population was mixed race, and three individuals were identified as mestizos with 30 households comprised of a white man and a mixed race or black woman. Unlike New Orleans, Galveston, Mobile, and many ot her ports along the Gulf of Mexico, Pensacola never became a major depot for the agricultural hinterlands. During advantage of the newly acquired territory. While this ben efited the young territory overall, it did not benefit Pensacola. The town lacked sufficient river access to the most prosperous cotton districts, and much of that trade was shipped out through other ports. 8 John J. Clune Jr. and Margo S. Stringfield, Historic Pensacola (Gainesville, University Press of Florida, 2009), 50 51.
111 The Apalachicola River and the city of Columbus, Georgia served the growing cotton trade, bypassing Pensacola. Despite this fact, Americans did make their way into Pensacola and by 1840 the population increased with Anglo Americans outnumbering the small French and Spanish Creole society. However, this s mall population remained along with the Free People of Color and a small Creek Indian population that often attempted to pass as white or mixed race. The 1850 census recorded 2,164 total inhabitants. In the 1820s Pensacolians sought for a way to make their town prosper, and when it appeared that political and economic power shifted to the middle counties, they sought economic development through other methods. 9 The first attempt to remedy the stagnant economy was with support of a Gulf Coast Canal, which w ould link East and West Florida together. During the early nineteenth century, internal improvements and canals were the order of the day. Pensacolians looked on at the work done on the Erie Canal and thought canals might save there dull economy. Historian offered a chance to open the West to trade with the more established East, all of which would travel through Florida. In 1827, John Lee Williams, completed a survey of West Florida for a plan of improv Even though it possessed a favorable harbor, the canal plan failed, and led to other schemes for economic salvatio n. Throughout the remainder of the antebellum period, 9 Rachel Jackson to Eliza Kingsley, 1821 quoted in Cl une and Stringfiled, Historic Pensacola 137; Jane Florida Historical Quarterly 61, no. 1 (July 1982), 39; Virginia Meacham Goul d, Pensacola, 1769 41.
112 Pensacola boosters touted railroads, but many of these ventures never got much closer location of the navy yard and army forts in Pensacola Bay after 1825. Thereafter, Pensacola became a military town, with developing small industries in brick and pine lumber, utilizing the tall thin pines that littered the countryside around the town. 10 ture, was the location of the navy yard and army forts in Pensacola Bay. During the 1820s, Central and South American Spanish colonies fighting for independence spurred an increase in piracy. From 1815 to 1825, pirates and privateers attacked an estimated 3,000 ships. These concerns led the same year, Congress made the first appropriation for the construction of a naval yard at Pensacola and authorized improvements to the fortifications that already existed there. 11 The importance of defenses to the Gulf trade was immediately recognized during this period when a Board of Engineers recommended Pensacola Bay because it uilding and launching of vessels of any size, for docks and dock yards in healthful positions and as being industries in brick making and pine lumber, utilizing the tal l thin pines that littered the 10 Dibble, Ante Bellum Pensacola and the Military Presence 8, 37 40; Edward E. Baptist, Creating An Old (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 17 19, 34; John Lauritz Larson, Internal Improvement: National Public Works and the Promise of Popular Go vernment in the Early United States (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 11 14. 11 Dibble, Ante Bellum Pensacola and the Military Presence 9 10; Michael Gannon, Florida: A Short History (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003), 27 28;
113 for bricks to build the new forts along the mouth of the harbor. They had originally come from Mobile, but in the 1830s the army began purc hasing local bricks. 12 During the 1840s, Pensacola remained a small town compared to its largest neighbor to the west, Mobile. There was both a shipping and stagecoach line to Mobile aylor, a recently arrived sailor in the Gulf Squadron took a trip into town while his ship was being outfitted for war. He found the town much as he had left it. Taylor described it as a e and two story some prettily embowered in green foliage and s, as the hot foliage and the orange trees gave shade against the inten se sun of a Florida summer. Beyond the houses there was a town square, still reminiscent of Spanish presidio layouts. Boarding houses, restaurants, and Oyster houses also existed on these streets. Some touting, St. Andrews Bay oysters, liquors, and candies al a mode de New Orleans 13 It was not only a seaport but also a frontier town for much of this period. Despite the fact that a canal would never join East and West Florida, the town still depth and its location to drive the debate over fortification of the Gulf of Mexico. Its position on the 12 Miller, The U.S. Navy: A History 85; Pensacola Gazette August 18, 1843. 13 Fitch Waterman Taylor, The Broad Pennant, or, A Cruise in the United States flag ship of the Gulf Squadron, during the Mexican Difficulties (New York: Leavitt, Trow & Co. 1848), 194 195; Rialto House advertisement, Pensacola Gazette November 6, 1847.
114 Florida Gulf Coast meant that Pensacola was near enough to Mobile that supplies, and passengers could make the trip in just a few days. The distance f rom the Gulf of Mexico to the North Atlantic ports was much further than the length of the coastline would suggest. The currents and wind dictated that a ship traveling from the north Atlantic ports had to travel along the southern edge of Cuba before sail ing into the crescent shaped coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The powerful Gulf Stream made it easy for sailing vessels to travel out of Gulf and up the East Coast, but sailing down and back into it the Gulf was much more time consuming. Depending on wind and tide, a trip from an eastern port like Norfolk could take anywhere from 30 to sail ing in the Mediterranean. 14 Foreign naval superiority provided both the drive for increased naval defenses, a potent symbol for the Gulf South concerning what their region could be in terms of trade and military dominance. Sanders referred to the Gulf in this way when he wrote about the necessity of a strong Navy on the southern coast. He wrote that a navy for then Cape Hatteras farther north. Commodore Charles Stewart commented in the that Pensacola Bay was to the Gulf of Mexico what Toulon was to the Mediterranean for the French. Toulon had a prominent naval depot, the U.S. government sel ected Pensacola in an attempt to build such a presence in the Gulf. France fashioned Toulon into its 14 Quoted in Pensacola Gazette February 28, 1846.
115 primary military port on the Mediterranean. By 1820, it had become the staging ground t sail from the port to Algiers. 15 Comparisons between the Mediterranean and the Gulf recalled the success of European colonization in both the Americas and the Meditterranean. The image of the of itself, and also its conception of the threats that surrounded it. Beyond trade, empire building, and cultural exchange,the Mediterranean was also an ancient site of naval warfare. Pensacolians hoped that their town could become the same type of staging ground for further expansion into Latin America and the Carribbean, much the way that Spain had used the island of Hispanola and France had used Toulon. Defending the Coast and Improving the Bay In order for the town to become a successful starting point for U.S. expansion into Mexico and the Caribbean, it required the expansion of the naval yard located five miles away, specifically the construction of dry docks and a seawall. Dry docks were used for constructing and repairing ships. The New Orleans dock was not equipped to handle the brigs and man of wars used by the Navy. A dry dock at Pensacola could provide a facility for ship repairs, so that the navy would not have to travel all the way around the peninsula of Florida to reach the dry docks at Charle ston, Portsmouth, or Norfolk. The dock would be made available for use by merchant ships in the region, and Pensacolians hoped it would lead the way to the development of a ship building industry in the Gulf South. A new stage of military construction bega n in earnest during the 15 Sanders, 3; Quoted in Pensacola Gazette February 28, 1846; Josef W. Konvitz, Cities & the Sea: Port City Planning in Ear ly Modern Europe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978), 4, 73 79.
116 for naval improvements, the city might finally become a major shipping center rather than merely a struggling small town on the edge of the Gulf o f Mexico. Construction began in 1826, when the Navy issued the first contracts to local businesses for lumber. commandant, Captain M.T. Woolsey, began the practice of hiring slaves to do the majority of the work on the new yard. In 1828, Captain William H. Chase arrived to begin building forts McRee and Pickens. He relied on Pensacola brick makers to supply millions of bricks for their construction. The first two decades worth of co nstruction at 16 Mexican War, he When first entering the ba y, the ship passed forts Pickens, McRee, and Barrancas before arriving at the Navy Yard. The Spanish built Fort Barrancas at the site of a clash the War of 1812. After the U.S. obtained Florida, it expanded Fort Barrancas and constructed two other forts, McRee and Pickens, to guard the entrance of the bay. In as that were so typical of the sub tropical 16 George F. Pearce, Pensacola During the Civil War: A Thorn in the Side of the Confederacy mes to The Florida Historical Quarterly 55, no.1 (July 1976), 37 47.
117 climate. The center of the yard consisted of two large octagonal buildings, one of which held a chapel in an upper room. 17 The search for a dry dock began in 1840, when the naval appropriations committee introduc ed legislation into the Senate, and John C. Calhoun added an amendment for a dock at Pensacola. He considered the need to protect commerce in the Gulf by providing funding for an improved naval station in the region to be vital y. Pensacola remained the most obvious choice. A number of other southern Senators supported Calhoun and the committee, maintaining, as one commerce from both regions would ne ed to be protected by a naval force in the event of war. The bill was eventually defeated, but the essential elements of the argument that surrounded improvements to the navy yard had been made. The specter of war and protection of commerce formed some of the most essential parts of discourse over increased military presence in the Gulf of Mexico. 18 Throughout the 1830s and 1840s proponents of Gulf Coast defenses supported ons. Captain John Sanders eagerly promoted the involvement of western states in providing for both aspects of Gulf defenses. His interest stemmed partly from the extent to which the Gulf of Mexico was seen as the major point of connection between the easte rn states and the western states. Sanders believed that the eastern born army and navy 17 Taylor, The Broad Pennant 177. 18 Pensacola Gazette July 5, 1840.
118 of the reasons why it was so poorly defended. Westerners, who relied on the Gulf ports toward their economic security. 19 The landscape of abundance that had surrounded him since boyhood inspired in him a desire to act. In 1840, Sanders traveled to Wash ington, where he met the like minded Joel R. Poinsett, the first U.S. Minister to Mexico. Throughout his long career he had supported the idea of a strong navy and army, along with internal improvements, which supported U.S. expansionism. Poinsett supporte President and Congress. In 1842, Sanders urged the federal government to approve the when the U.S. annexed Texas and its ports. As Sanders reflected on the significance of Texas statehood, he recalled it signaled the need for a stronger military presence in the 20 By 1840, the navy yard had existe the Depression of 1837, progress slowed, and disappointed Pensacolians subsequently monitored closely developments of fortifications along the East Coast. Pensacola newspapers described the progress of the do cks in New York, charging that the federal government treated the South unfairly and left it unprotected, while the North possessed 19 Ibid, August 18, 1843; Sanders, Memoirs on the Military Resources of the Valley of the Ohio 3 4. 20 Ib id, 4 6.
119 several military installations and naval yards. However, in 1843, Congress appropriated including repairs to the hospital buildings as well as provisions for the dry dock. 21 Pensacolians and Gulf South southerners interested in the navy improvements felt embittered by what they saw as an unfair distribution of funds. They saw the northern por ts going ahead with repairs, while the South was left open to possible invasion. During a House debate over a bill to allow the president to direct transfer of appropriations for the navy, David Levy Yulee approved the bill based on the fact that the Secre tary of the Navy took money away from proposed improvements to Pensacola, and used it for other navy yards. In August 1843, Pensacola claimed that the New Orleans newspapers leveled charges of the misappropriation of funds against those supposedly in charg e of the improvements at Pensacola. They claimed that much of the government, they proclaimed: -let it be known now, and to all future generations, that while New York, strong enough in herself and her dense population, was made to Meanwhile in the South the por New Orleans Picayune forts in Louisiana, at Mobile left exposed, in the sudden advent of war, warned, would turn their own defenses against them. Despite the fact that war did not 21 Dibble, Ante Bellum Pensacola and the Military Presence 3 5; Pensacola Gazette April 25, 1843.
120 appear eminent, the invocation of it, and how it might affect the great emporiums of the Gulf, New Orleans and Mobile, perpetua ted the desire for stronger fortifications. However, they required an enemy, and before the U.S. Mexican War, it was most often found in the image of the British Empire. 22 Fears about British dominance in the Caribbean continued to play an important role i n the growing debate over defenses in the Gulf. In response to an appropriations bill passed some months prior, the Pensacola Gazette threatening aspects of our relations with England, one would think, should have opened t he eyes of Government to the fact of the extremely defenceless state of our commerce 23 A report sent to Congress in February 1844 compiled the opinions of local n. Yet despite all of this preparation, building at the naval yard floundered and was plagued by many of the same problems it had been in the 1820s. Frances Webster informed her husband Lucien then stationed at Fort Pickens near Pensacola of the reaction t o the Oregon news back in New York. She wrote to her husband that she had overheard several gentlemen mention that the ship Caledonia had recently arrived from England bringing news that the Queen had ordered steamships of war to be outfitted with men and 22 Dibble, 4 6; Haynes, Unfinished Revolution 224; United States Congress, Thomas Hart Benton, Abridgement of the Debates of Congress, From 1789 to 1 856: From Gales and Seatons Annals of Congress; From Their Register of Debates; And from the Official Reported Debates, by John C. Rives (New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1861), 38. 23 Pensacola Gazette August 12, 1843.
121 24 the Pensacola Gazette referred to was the strained relations between the U.S. and Great Britai n over the Oregon territory and the fate of Texas, which reached Pensacola through the exchange of letters between loved ones and news from New Orleans and New York. The First Seminole Indian War and the War of 1812 solidified what historian William Belko cotton crop made the Atlantic crossing to English factories. Decades after they had conquered the Flo rida territory, Americans, especially those in the Gulf South recalled the early days of their fragile republic and its conflicts with the old mother country. Yet these most recent entanglements with Great Britain took on added significance in light of the Mexico. 25 The British Abolition Acts of 1807 and 1833 and the gradual emancipation of slaves within British held colonies near the Gulf of Mexico added a new dimension to Ame rican Anglophobia, especially among the slave states. The early conflicts between Americans, Europeans, and Seminoles served as precursors for later stages of territorial expansion in the mid nineteenth century before the eruption of the Civil War. From Fl orida, Southerners expanded into Texas where the British had attempted to 24 Frances Webster to Lucien Webste r, November 3, 1845, quoted in The Websters: Letters by an American Family in Peace and War, 1836 1853 ed. Van R. Baker (Kent: The Kent State University Press, 2000), 65 66. 25 can Anglophobia, and of the Seminole, 1783 1858 ed. William S. Belko (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2011), 9.
122 mediate a truce between the Republic of Texas and the Republic of Mexico in an attempt to resolve the border dispute that had festered between the two. As relations between the U.S. and Mexico deteriorated, the British attempted to intercede in an effort to stave off what many within the United States felt was an inevitable war. 26 Even though relations with Mexico and the United States collapsed in 1846, their fear of Britain remained a strong commonality between the two nations. In the years preceding the U.S. Mexican War, England loaned a considerable sum of money to Mexico, enforcing a favorable trade policy for itself. By 1845, the Picayune reported that response the Mexican squadron, fearing it would be blockaded, sailed to Aleverda in the hopes of getting out of its way. What was evident was that in many parts of the Gulf of Mexico, the Britis h fleet remained a significant threat. 27 The United States and Great Britain were not the only powers pressing for expansion in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pensacolians knew it. In the eyes of the Pensacola Gazette belligerence against Mexico. The Baltimore Sun and Pensacola Gazette reported that the French fleet was also en route to the Gulf to protect it s interests there. Fitch Taylor Fears of European intervention in North American activities and U.S. expansion 26 Edward Bartlett Rugemer, The P roblem of Emancipation: The Caribbean Roots of the American Civil War (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009). 27 Daily Picayune January 23, 1845.
123 slavery policies, and from a sense of competition for dominance of the young republics of Central and South America. 28 Support of the dry dock was driven primarily by the English presence in the Caribbean, but competition between the Gulf and the north Atlantic Coast also played a s fortifications. Southerners believed that the Gulf was neglected in comparison to the North Atlantic Coast, and the distribution of navy yards was, according to those in Pensaco being admitted in practice to be totally superfluous, might very well be dispensed with, le aving the Boston, the Brooklyn and the Norfolk stations as they are, or even adding to the mouth of Sabine River in Texas possessed only one naval yard. As a result of t he disparity between the southern and northern coasts vessels within the Gulf had to sail some 2,000 miles in order to be properly refitted in the event of an accident. Newspapers used examples of ships forced to sail to a northern port to get simple repai rs done, such as the revenue schooner Decatur so slight a repair as caulking her sides e the mortal enemies of sailors. Ships moved gingerly through the Straits, while their the unprotected merchantman, about whose movements he would have more certain 28 Pensacola Gazette August 12, 1843; Taylor, The Broad Pen nant 204; Pensacola Gazette July 4, 1846.
124 and speedy Pensacola Gazette that they were under eminent threat from foreign naval forces. 29 The distances between the northe rn and southern ports meant that many sailors go home to the U.S. wore thin, and Taylor, like many sailor s who wound up there, observed that it was still of the in view of the national inter Mexican War. 30 Sailors regularly referred to both the Gulf and Pensacola as being beyond the bounds of the United States and almost like a foreign country. The start of the U.S. Mexican War coinc ided with rumors that Pensacola would finally commence the naval improvements. The declaration of war must have seemed like the realization of a prophecy in the Gulf South. Gulf South papers had long talked of war, but the war that came was not the one the y expected. In January, the Picayune announced that the improvements at Pensacola would finally commence beginning with swelled with the influx of sailors, workmen, and so ldiers at Fort Pickens, while the town 29 Pensacola Gazette August 18, 1843. 30 Taylor, The Broad Pennant 197 198.
125 also housed the families of many serving in Mexico. 31 The Navy contracted James P. Kirkwood, a civil engineer living in Pensacola, to oversee the construction of a sea wall, and the paper hoped the possibility of war w 32 Despite all of the construction and improvement in Pensacola, the long awaited floating dock remained a pipe dream. Impatient with the slow progress on the project, the Picayune reminded its readers that Congress had instructed the Secretary of the Navy to begin construction two years prior to 1846. The dock would now cost over $1 million to construct, with $200,000 appropriated that year. The Pensacola Gazette quoted the subject of resolutions in Congress. The successive secretarie s of the navy had favored improved defenses on the Gulf for several years, but according to the Gazette they had rapidly. They declared that it was time they spoke out a gainst what they viewed as injustices against the South and Southwest. The Gazette also pleaded with congressmen from the southwestern states to pay more attention to the subject of the naval yard at Pensacola. The senators and representatives of the South west, they believed, were sympathetic to the necessity of speedy construction, and those in 31 New Orleans Daily Picayune The Florida H istorical Quarterly 33, no. 2, (Oct. 1954), 130 132. 32 Secretary of the Navy, Register of the Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the Navy of the United States Including Officers of the Marine Corps and others for the Year, 1846 (Washington DC: Alexander Printers, 1846), pg. 76; New Orleans Daily Picayune January 21, 1846.
126 Pensacola hoped that they would make more of an effort to move the project further along. They reiterated the fact that engineers drew up plans; all money had been set aside, and all the work on naval yard improvements commenced. There was nothing to hold back the construction of their cherished dry dock so the work should have started in earnest, but not much had been built besides the sea wall. 33 Captain William K. Latimer, who had previously served in the Gulf Coast, returned to Pensacola in 1846 to take command of the navy yard, where he would be for the remainder of the U.S. Mexican War. In May 1846, the Picayune reported that naval engineers were traveling to sev eral dock sites for the purpose of determining which type of dock would best suit each of the different environments in Pensacola, Philadelphia, and New York. But by 1847, Pensacolians saw their cause taken up by those on the Atlantic coast when the Charle ston Mercury published an article in support of the improvements to the Pensacola harbor. The Pensacola Gazette claimed, with for a Dry Dock any where but here ; and yet, under one pretext or another, it has been attempting to take over the dry dock project, and in 1843 the Secretary of the Navy had actually withheld the appropriated funds from being used in Pensacola. Floridians thought that once Florida became a state that the naval improvements would the blockading squadron, which needs repairs, must go a thousa nd miles out of way to 33 New Orleans Daily Picayune February 11, 1846.
127 on an ill prepared Gulf seemed to be coming true. Town boosters touted the improvements made to their naval facilities such as the construction of a new sea wall, work, complaining that the naval yard could not offer anything but the most rudimentary repairs. 34 uickened with every day. Several civil engineers proposed plans for the dry dock at Pensacola, and newspapers debated the merits of the two most likely models, either a floating dock, or a stone dock. The Charleston Mercury speculated that the sandy botto m of the bay in Pensacola would be unable to support the weight of a heavy stone dock, while they also worried that the construction would take far too long. They feared that the efficiency of the Gulf Squadron would be compromised, if the Pensacola improv ements were not completed as quickly as possible. 35 The fact that the balanced dock was strong enough to handle the weight of the larger ships currently blockading the Gulf of Mexico, the simplicity of its day to day operation, and the speed with which it c ould be built lent 36 By June 1847, the proposition for docks at Philadelphia, Pensacola, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire had been approved. The Secretary of the Navy authorized $350,000 to be allocated for the purpose of completing the Pensacola dock as quickly as possible, but during the 34 Lewis R. Hamersly, The Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1870), 80; William Queruea Force, Army and Navy Chronicle, and Scientific Repository, vol. 8 (William Q. Force, 1839), 242; New Orleans Daily Picayune May 17, 1846; Pensacola Gazette January 9, 1847. 35 Charleston Mercury December 30, 1846. 36 Pensacola Gazette Jan uary 9, 1847; New Orleans Picayune June 16, 1847.
128 next month the Picayune reported that the appropriation made by Congress for the dock would not be sufficient to finish the work, and completion would b e delayed yet again. 37 By September, with no builders in sight and not enough money, the Pensacola Gazette -Pensacola luck, and there is nothing like it in the annals of misfortune, except the lu ck of the poor fellow who could throw nothing but deuce ace, until he was so exasperated that he swallowed the dice -been in existence for over a quarter of a century, it was n o more a navy yard than a ship Suspicion that Congress continued to favor the naval fortifications of the North over those of the Gulf South reared its ugly head yet again. The paper suspected that the 38 Many felt that improvements to costal defenses were absolutely vital towa rd perpetuating U.S. presence was also important, especially with the war between the United States and Mexico. At the outbreak of the U.S. Mexican War, fears of England p ersisted, but during the next two years the Gulf Squadron primarily focused on maintaining a strict blockade of all Mexican ports, as well as keeping the army well stocked, as they marched toward gy in the region required 37 New Orleans Picayune July 31,1847. 38 Pensacola Gazette September 7, 1847.
129 not only improved naval defenses, but also newer ships. The war happened at a time pressures to keep up with European powers that also increased the ir use of steam proclaimed the Pensacola Gazette 39 They further warned that, unless they built at least one or more fortified naval depots on the Gulf, a war on this coast would result in great numbers of casualties in the first month. Many felt that furnishing the Gulf with at least one large dockyard and twenty steamers of war would overcome thes e dire predictions. Despite these warnings from the Gulf South ports, construction of the dock had been slow going, and there had been no increase in the number of ships that made up the Gulf Squadron. Patrolling the Gulf and Protecting the Borders The n Mexican War was quite different from that of the army. Navy, merchant, and mail ships ferried the ground troops back and forth between the theater of war and the home front. Their main duty was to blockade both the Pacific and Gulf ports. They were an integral part in the siege and fall of Veracruz, landing of troops on Mexican soil, which began the invasion of the Mexican interior. The experie nces of sailors during the blockade directly connected Pensacola, their concerns over the security of the Gulf Coast, and the U.S. Mexican War. 39 Ibid, August 13,1843.
130 On May 14, 1846 Commodore David Conner, then in command of the Gulf Squadron, declared a blockade of the Mexican Gulf ports including Matamoros, Tampico, Alvarado, and Vera Cruz. The last port on the list quickly became the focal point of the invasion of Mexico. Naval power in the Gulf increased in the months between the annexation of Texas and the outbreak of the w Mexico border region, the Gulf Squadron also took measures to militarize the maritime borders between the two nations. Stephen Perry was appointed Commodore and took command of the In dependence In February, the Picayune received word from their Pensacola correspondent that the ships of the Gulf fleet were either actively patrolling the Gulf or ship s arrived in Pensacola from ports throughout the U.S. such as the Schooner Refer which sailed from New York. The Picayune 40 Whi le the nation focused on the glorious battles fought by the army, sailors had been as much of a part of American territorial expansion as their landlocked counterparts. The army sought to extend the U.S. into the borderlands and the navy was to do the same on the sea. However, sailors experience of war was far different from that of the soldiers. With newspaper correspondents relaying back the details of battles, the Gulf Squadron was pushed to the background of the main story. The Democratic Telegraph and Texas Register detailed troop movements on the Texas and 40 New Orleans Picayune February 13, 1846; Pensacola Gazette July 7, 1846.
131 Mexico coastline. While transporting troops to the Brazos Santiago, a small barrier island off the coast of Texas, the officers of the Cincinnati Gen. Taylor, were in hi gh spirits, and anxious to encounter the main army of the 41 Many men in the army wrote of their adventures marching through Mexico. By contrast, men in the navy experienced a great deal of monoton y during the blockade and the patrols conducted throughout the Gulf. Sailors were often relegated to commentators and spectators of the movement of the American army across the Latin American landscape. 42 Several of the regular mail packets that sailed from the Gulf ports had only been established a decade prior to the start of the U.S. Mexican War. The Galveston started carrying mail and passengers on a route between Galveston and New Orleans only five months before the outbreak of hostilities along the Rio Grande. Some of the regular commercial packets used for military transport were the New York, the Galveston, and the Alabama The Picayune reported several ships having been commissioned to transport several companies to Veracruz, Matamoros, and Corpus Ch risti where General Zachary Taylor had set up his camp. By May 1846, thousands of young men throughout the states had answered many of the calls for volunteers and they began flooding into the main ports. The Picayune announced that the steamship New York had taken four companies from the barracks located a few miles south of New Orleans and was headed for Brazos Santiago, a small island on the border between The United States and Mexico. The Alabama was bound for Point Isabel, off the coast of Texas, 41 Houston Democratic Teleg raph and Texas Register May 13, 1846. 42 Bauer, Surfboats and Horse Marines.
132 carry ing five more companies packed in amongst her decks. And yet more steamers busily brought down young men from the towns and parishes further up river. 43 The constant influx of unknown young men and soldiers erupted into a riot when volunteers stormed the st reets. New Orleans was inundated with volunteers and soldiers. Hotels filled to capacity and men camped in the country surrounding the city. It tested even the most staunch supporters of Manifest Destiny, who complained of the unruly mass in their midst. R aboard naval ships in the nineteenth century and during the war. Like their counterparts in the army, and even like the small town of Pensacola they were caught up in forces much large into Latin American territory and denigrated the Mexican people as unfit to rule over such a large territory. Yet he was critical of the U.S. strategy during the war. The initial conf the Rio Grande, which meant that they were the first into Mexico. General Winfield C oast plains rather than marching from the top down through the most arid parts of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains. Still, for sailors such as Semmes ,this was too much -inde ed the only policy -to carry on the war wholly on land, leaving the navy to act the subordinate, but not less onerous part of harassing and annoying the enemy on his sea 43 Ibid, May 13, 1846
133 board . and of aiding our and forces, in the duties of transport, convoy, making d nineteen transatlantic crossings and his numerous other naval exploits. As a young man, Raphael enrolled in the Charlotte Hall Military Academy and shortly after g raduation joined the Navy as a midshipman in 1826. In 1837, Semmes was called into duty and served aboard the USS Constitution during the Seminole Indian War. He married shortly after and eventually settled in Pensacola, purchasing a piece of property call ed Prospect Hill across the Perdido River near the naval yard. He eventually moved his family to Mobile in the hopes of providing his children with better education, however, his duties kept him primarily based in the Pensacola naval yard. Before the war, the Squadron primarily patrolled throughout the Gulf and the West Indies. From 1840 to 1845 Semmes served on several ships, doing survey work in and around the Gulf. He became well acquainted with the winds and currents of the Gulf of Mexico and the Carib them to sail from Pensacola to the Mississippi and then out to Cape Antonio along the north side of Cuba, before passing between Cuba and St. Domingo and returning to Pensacola. Semmes and his shi pmates found themselves sailing this same route when they got the news that the war had commenced in earnest. The brig to which Semmes was assigned was temporarily ordered from the Gulf and sent on a cruise of five weeks to the West Indies and the Island o f St. Domingo. At the time of their departure Semmes
134 immediately after the initial short firefight so Semmes and his men left the Texas coast newspapers. Their patro l routes into the Caribbean and throughout the Gulf of Mexico signaled the importance of the Caribbean to the U.S. and the intense interests that the nation had in eventually expanding into the the islands still dominated by European powers. 44 The fact tha army. The Picayune 9th of Ma y could convince the navy that the quarrel would come to extremities; and reasoning from their own inactivity, it would not be wonderful if the operations of the army on the Rio Grande were even now looked upon by many in the Gulf squadron as fabulous the De Republic. After sailing to Port Au Prince, the ship finally made its way back to Pensacola, sailing into the bay on July 1, 1846, a full four months after the start of the war. On ly after having received fresh water and provisions did the ship finally set off for Veracruz to join the rest of the Gulf Squadron and participate in the blockade of 44 Warren F. Spencer, Raphael Semmes: The Philosophical Mariner (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1997), 10 13; Washington National Intelligencer Aug ust 9, 1845.
135 Mexican Gulf ports. Other officers showed up at the naval yard eager to set sail for the Mexican coast despite the fact that they had missed the squadron. 45 The experience of the blockade, especially in the early days was one of monotony and waiting. Between the declaration of the blockade and the capture of Vera es could have been more irksome than those which all merchant marine traffic coming ou t of Mexican ports throughout the duration of the war. In his memoirs, Semmes wrote the oppressive heat of the cramped quarters aboard the brigs, frigates, sloops, and schooners during the summer months, and the wild northers of winter evenings. Much of Se was not spent monitoring Mexican ports and stopping Mexican ships, but spent aboard ship, which was almost continuously moored at Anton Lizardo, a natural harbor formed by several small barren islands that barely stood above sea level. Here the crew experienced much of the hardships of naval life without any of the only clean laundry they had was often washed in salt never went anywhere was far more exhausting than service aboard a blockading ship recalled Semmes. 46 Often, it was only at sunset that the men were allowed to stroll 45 Pensacola Gazette March 26, 1846. 46 Raphael Semmes, Service Afloat and Ashore during the Mexican Wa r (Cincinnati: WM. H. Moore & Co., Publishers, 1851), 74 76.
136 about and stretch their legs, at which time they talked about the war as if they were not complete participants in it, and specula 47 Unlike the army, the navy had no enemy to actively fight. It was much harder for them to displ ay their bravery to the satisfaction of those back home. On the Somers Semmes experienced some of the most exciting events of the blockade though it had nothing to do with battle, and everything to do with the unpredictable weather of the Gulf of Mexico. It nearly sank in a terrible storm. Many of the men abandoned ship and were fished out later by a British ship, which demonstrated the continued presence of European powers during the war. During a funeral for an American sailor, Taylor was angered by the fact that the Spanish and French did not lower their flags to half mast as was the custom. He blamed this lack of it were degenerate. 48 The British, French, and Spanish ship s that also clustered around the blockaded Mexican ports created some tensions among the various ships sailing up and down the Mexican coast. In June, the Barbados Globe to Veracruz, acting on a report that the U.S. Navy prevented the English sloop Rose orders to the commander of the Endymion, to proceed at once to Vera Cruz, there to join the Vindictive and other ships of war, in consequence of her Majesty's sloop Rose 47 Semmes, Service Afloat and Ashore 76. 48 Semmes, 93.
137 having been prevented by an American squadron from entering one of the Mexican Picayune refusal to allow the Rose to enter a Mexican p ort. At last accounts, we think, she was 49 Small conflicts such as these, as well as the presence of European ships, transformed the mundane nature of patrolling during the blockade, but they also demonstrated that even this war between neighbors on the North American continent still garnered attention from Europe. The squadron and blockade drew much controversy throughout the war from Judah P. Benjamin wr ote an article in the in which he called into question whether Gulf Coast merchants were abiding by international law. He wrote: have vessels, fitted ou t in New Orleans, been turned away from Mexican ports, without being permitted to land their cargoes; and already have controversies arisen in relation to the effect produced by this interruption of their voyages in the respective rights, duties, and oblig ations of freighters, ship outline all the reasons why a blockade is just during war and why New Orleans merchants should not be surprised to be turned away. When Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna entered Mexico and sl ipped through the blocakde unharmed, Fitch Taylor force, for the blockade of the Mexican ports; and worst of all, for the strict blockade of the harbor of Veracruz, if a st eamer with a Mexican General on board, with hostile 49 Barbados Globe June 4, 1846; New Orleans Picayune, July 4, 1846.
138 intentions against the American government can be allowed to pass through the Senate, Stephen Douglas claimed there was no reason that Santa Anna should not be allowed into the country, as he was a private citizen and there was no blockade agaisnt private citizens. Controversy over the blockade revealed that at times economic expansionism and military expansionism were not always one and the same. Gulf Coast port cities such as New Orleans and Pensacola often prized both forms of territoral aggrandizement making their position in the Gulf of Mexico quite complex and multifacited. 50 Panic struck Veracruz as rumors mounted of a n impending siege, and the Picayune of Mexico have come to think that the United States have borne as much tom foolery 51 ctance to destroy one of the slowness and conduct of the blockade. Semmes claimed that the Gulf Squadron remained too weak to undertake a full attack on Veracruz during the siege of the city. of the bay of Veracruz. As a result, the city was the only Mexi can port city on the entire coast capable of defending itself against an American attack. Being one of the most prosperous cities with one of the largest ports as well as roads leading directly to the 50 Northern Standard June 3, 1848. 51 New Orleans Picayune April 2, 1846.
139 heart of the Mexican interior, made it the most obvious point of entrance for the Americans. 52 The siege of Veracruz ended on March 29, 1847 with the landing of the American force on Mexican shores. From there, the army cut a swath through the valley of Mexico until it marched through the streets of the capital city. By mid December, the army held the center of Mexico. The capital city itself, William Preston felt was without equal in the entirety of the Americas, and from his ship anchored on the coast, Fitch Taylor imagined what the army must have experienced. As it marched into Mexico City, Taylor wrote well read had a rush of historic assocations pouring into their thoughts, while they recalled the story of the past, as the y had, with the interest of romance, traced the La Conquista again flooded the minds of those that participated in it. Whereas Albert Sidney Johnston had regarded the Mexican popul ation as largely impoverished, and Raphael Semmes had seen a distasteful mix of races, William Preston shared Fitch picturesque population combine to render it an object of more interest to the traveller 53 On Christmas Day, Preston recorded that the treaty between the U.S. and Mexico had passed the Mexican Lower House. There was much excitement in the city. The next twenty fou r hours, Preston 52 Semmes, 77 78. 53 Taylor, The Broad Pennant 410; New Orleans Picayune December 19, 1848.
140 54 Conclusion In Pensacola, construction on the dry dock picked up t oward the end of the war. Afterward, the army no longer regularly used Fort McRee and Fort Pickens. In 1853, the dry dock was finally completed. That same year the Montgomery Journal published several letters from a young man identified as Harry. On a trip to the Gulf of Mexico he stopped at Pensacola and wrote about the general state of the city. During his stay in Florida he and several friends were treated to a tour of the naval yard and dry dock. After a ride around the bay and a tour of the forts he re Harry then spent the rest of the day with the Commodore at the naval yard and dined with him. 55 The Gulf South had much to celebrate in the early 1850s. It had aided in what appeared to be a second conquest of Mexico. The United States had defined its border along the Rio Grande, which many Anglo Texans argued was part of the original treaty between Mexico and Texas. The Gulf of Mexico was now guarded by a larger naval yard and dock at Pensacola. Yet the struggles of the Navy throughout the war, and frustration of Gulf South southerners over the sluggish development of the Pensacola naval yard had exposed the raw nerve of North South re lations as well as continued anxiety over the presence of European powers within the Gulf of Mexico. The ways in 54 New Orleans Pica yune December 25, 1848. 55 Pensacola Gazette August 6, 1853.
141 which Pensacolians looked upon the English and French became similar to the ways they began to see the North, not as friends, but as a threat. Pensacolians, naval officers and engineers produced reports and articles that warned against a possible war on the sea with a superior naval power. What is interesting to note is that their only real naval engagements during the years after the annexation of Texas were with a weaker naval power such as Mexico. Advocates of Gulf Coast hoped that they could continue to protect and expand into this most valuable space between the East, the West, the Old South, and the new southern frontier. The end of the war made many Anglos in the Gulf South feel as though they had accomplished a long held goal of expansion into Texas and Mexico. However, as the years progressed after the victory in Mexico, the war and the vast new territory would pose more questions than it answered about borders, expansion, and the future of the South in the nation. The war dramatically reconfigured the balance of power on the North American continent, and dramatically refigured the map of North America. With the United States in control of a large portion of the continent, foreign spheres of influence became absolutely intolerable. The Gulf South set its sites on Cuba and finishing the business of conquering the U.S. Mexico borderlands. As historian, Sam Haynes has noted, after the war newsp aper editors and Washington policymakers broadened and solidified the meaning of the Monroe Doctrine. The United States had founded a territorial empire much the way the old colonial powers had done, and the South thought it would play a large part in sett ling that new territory, but it was not to be. The question of whether or not all of Mexico would be annexed was hotly debated. Eventually, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was ratified without these states. Many
142 Americans, including some in the South, felt that such a large mixed race population should not be brought into the Anglo Saxon dominated United States. Within the Nueces Strip, the war had settled the border as the Rio Grande. The dividing line between New Mexico and Texas, also a contested border, now took precedence for many Texans. 56 As the troops withdrew, and the sailors went back out to sea, American traders and settlers flooded the once heavily contested land south of the Nueces Strip. The end of the war opened up the Rio Grande to American tr ade and transportation. Rio Grande City, which later became the seat of Starr County, was set to become one of the primary import/export points along the river. Henry Clay Davis, founder of the city, embarked on a trip to Corpus Christi, the island upon wh ich Zachary Taylor had made his initial headquarters at the outset of the war, to ascertain the shortest route between his home and the island. He anticipated that it would be a major trade route, bringing freight from New Orleans to the island before it m oved into the Rio Grande and arrived in their city. In the Chapter 5 we examine how ports along the Texas Gulf Coast, specifically Galveston and Houston looked upon the growing river trade and the coming settlers with great interest. Their next steps would be to attempt to capitalize on these new developments, as they found their place within the Gulf of Mexico. 57 56 Haynes, Unfinished Revolution 278 279. 57 Roots Web [online database], (accessed March 13, 2013); available from http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txstarr/news/news.htm ; internet.
143 CHAPTER 5 SETTLERS, LAND, AND SLAVES: GALVESTON AND THE TAMING OF THE TEXAS BORDERLANDS Introduction A month after Mexico and the United States s igned the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in March 1848, Texans celebrated the anniversary of Texas Independence. It was an auspicious time for them, a time to take stock of the past five years. Anglo Texans had much to celebrate and much to ponder. The Houst on Democratic Telegraph and Texas Register published a lengthy article commemorating both the end astonishing change! The proud banner of the Union floats triumphant ov er the state capital, and by March 8, 1848, when the treaty was ratified by the United Sta tes of the U.S. victory as a part of Texas independence signaled a belief that one stage of expansion had come to an end, and the expansion of agriculture and trade could no w proceed with vigor. 1 For Anglo Texans, territorial expansion again shifted direction away from the invasion of Mexico, and back to the Texas hinterlands. After the war, the Gulf South faced a central question: Now that the war was over, the treaty ratif ied, and the old villain supposedly put to rest, how was the actual process of expansion going to proceed in Texas and the rest of the Gulf South? 1 Houston Telegraph and Texas Register April 19, 1848.
144 Chapter 5 considers how the discourse of expansion evolved after Texas annexation and the U.S. Mexican War, and will explore several central questions. How did Galvestonians, living in one of the more prosperous port towns in Texas, work to solidify their place in Texas and the larger Gulf South? How did increased migration of immigrants, southerners, and slaves affect Texas? How did slaves, Mexicans, European immigrants, and Native Americans resist the narratives perpetuated by Anglos? In the aftermath of the war, the smaller port towns of the western Gulf sought to solidify their status by connecting the cotton growing counties of Texas with the coast. These port towns also vigorously advocated for the further settlement of the Texas interior. While Pensacola relied on military funds, Galveston sought to become a leading port of entry for immigrants and the pri mary site for trade in Texas. In order to encourage further settlement in Texas, Galvestonians supported efforts to open up encourage new steamship lines that connected them to the eastern Gulf cities. In addition, the coastal communities supported the continued militarization of the newly established U.S. Mexico border, and participated in the spread of slavery throughout Texas. The process of expansion included securing land s along the border for further Anglo settlement. Yet, the military and local governments not only protected settlers, By examining the many ways that slaves, Mexicans, immigrants, and N ative Americans resisted the pressure of Anglo control, we see that the U.S. Mexico War was not so easily put to rest and many issues that concerned Texans continued to press
145 them to action. Though Galvestonians did not use the continued growth of slavery to gain the recognition they so desired, the city became one of several growing slave markets in Texas. To understand the growth of slavery in Texas, Chapter 5 considers how African Americans, who were as vital to the project of expansion as soldiers, sai lors, and newspaper editors, reacted to their forced migration and enslavement in the Texas borderlands. The stories that the slaves told speak to the uncertainty they faced and the fforts. As often happened in other parts of the South, slaves sometimes voted with their feet: many s. Anglo Texans suppressed the political voices of European immigrants and Mexicans during the 1850s partly because they believed that both communities harbored antislavery sentiments. Following from these fears, continued violence between settlers and Nat ive Americans in the western counties and between Mexicans and Anglo Americans on the monitor this region. Thus, the presence of Latin American peoples, Native Americans and European immigrants within the Gulf Coast took on new meaning as settlement in Texas increased, and the slave population grew. 2 2 Ira Berlin, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (Camb ridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2000); Dale Baum, The Shattering of Texas Unionism: Politics in the Lone Star State During the Civil War Era (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998); Randolph B. Campbell, An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar Insti tution in Texas, 1821 1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989); John Craig Hammond, Slavery, Freedom, and Expansion in the Early American West (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007); Robert Johannsen, Sam W. Haynes, and Chr istopher Morris, Manifest Destiny and Empire: American Antebellum Expansionism (College Station, Tex: Published for the University of Texas at Arlington by Texas A&M University Press, 1997).
146 After the war with Mexico, Texans focused their attention on Mexicans inside and outside their borders. During the U.S. Me xican War, Anglo Texans focused primarily on the Mexican government. By the 1850s, Mexicans and Germans had managed to carve out a small amount of economic and political space for themselves in the Gulf South. Most Mexicans and Tejanos Texans of Mexican de scent lived in San Antonio, one of the largest towns in Texas aside from Galveston, and the last major urban area between east and west Texas. Many also lived in the Rio Grande Valley. European immigrants were mostly German, but there numbers also included Czechs, Polish, and French. By the 1850s, the German population numbered 20,000 and the Mexican population numbered 15,000. Both groups created newspapers and organizations, while they also participated in local politics. In Galveston, German immigrants f ormed societies to help their fellow immigrants become acclimated to life in Texas. While Galveston is the primary focus of Chapter 5, it also examines the connections between Galveston and neighboring port communities, as well as the public discourse conc erning the Texas frontier, which helps to illuminate how the Gulf South viewed the agricultural regions beyond their coast. Gulf ports along the Texas Texas hinterlands. Despite the level of competition between the small ports such as Galveston, Houston, and Indianola, they often times worked together as the gateway to the rural plantations and farms beyond. Yet, Galveston remained a symbol of what the western Gulf could b ecome. 3 3 David G. McComb, Galveston: A History (Austin: University of Te xas Press, 1986), 11.
147 Figure 5 1 Galveston Bay, 1860. 4 Galveston in 1850 Galveston Island is a barrier island off the coast of Texas that extends roughly thirty miles long and three and one half miles wide. It is a thin strip of sand betwee n Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Early Spanish and French visitors remarked on the barren nature of the little island, which the Caddo Indians had once called home. Three hundred miles west of New Orleans, the city of Galveston occupied a small nub large tracts of coastal prairie dotted the area between Galveston and mainland Houston. 4 African American Civil War Memorial [online blog]; (accessed April 12, 2013); available from http://afroamcivilwar .blogspot.com/2012/06/juneteenth flag day celebration.html ; Internet.
148 By 1850, Texas had a total population of 212,000, and within a decade that number w population was never as substantial as those of the eastern Gulf South ports, and it did n ot possess the deep historical roots of the Creoles of color. 5 Locating a city on what was essentially a glorified sand bar seemed madness, but potential profit often trumped logic in the development of port cities. New Orleans was built on a bend in the M ississippi River that often flooded;Galveston was built on a barrier island five feet above sea level at its highest point. When compared to the other older communities in the Gulf South such as New Orleans, Mobile, or even Pensacola, Galveston seemed out of place, and little more than a rudimentary small community on largest and most important cities. As Ferdinand Roemer had stated in 1834, it was primarily important beca use of its proximity to New Orleans, the safety of its harbor, and its connection to the San Jacinto and Trinity Rivers. In the mid nineteenth century, the Galveston Bay entrance was the only channel deep enough for ocean going vessels. There were several other minor harbors along the Texas Coast, which were available to shallow draught vessels. Sand bars impaired the entrance of the San Jacinto River and, further south, Matagorda Bay. 6 Many different peoples had used Galveston Island, including the Karank awa people, its earliest inhabitants, as well as Europeans, Mexicans, and Anglo Texans. 5 Campbell, An Empire for Slavery 50 66. 6 Roemer, 40; Fornell, The Galveston Era 2 4.
149 Jean Lafitte, among the most infamous visitors, once used the island as a temporary home. He abducted Africans from slave ships and held them on the island until he cou ld sell them. During the war in 1836, the Texas Army employed the island to house Mexican prisoners of war. During the Texas War of Independence, Michel Menard, Thomas McKinney, and Samuel May Williams formed the Galveston City Company, which obtained the 7 Each had ties to the Independence War. Williams and McKinney furnished close to $100,000 worth of goods and services to the Texas army, while Menard was one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. During this earl y transitional period, Mexican regulations concerning the sale of land remained in place. According to the Monclova legislature only Mexican born citizens could purchase land grants on Galveston Island. In order to gain access to this land, Menard advised one of his Mexican born clients, Juan Seguin, to apply for rights to land on the eastern end of the island. Seguin then transferred the 4,600 acre land grant to the trio, and the company was born. Throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century the Ga lveston City Company controlled much of the comings and goings in the city including the sale of lots, general city planning, and many aspects of municipal politics. 8 Thus, Galveston was born. Shortly after the end of the Texas War of Independence, Lucy Cl ark, a recent New England immigrant, described the rough look of the island and town. According to Clark, the island was quite flat, and while it possessed lovely flowers and tall green any of the first 7 Cartwright, Galveston pg. 72. 8 Cartwright, 76 78.
150 houses and structures were built low to avoid the high coastal winds. Emigrants also found it difficult to adjust to the tumultuous Texas weather and abrupt shifts in temperature, as well as the storms that blew through the area in the fal l and winter. By the time of the U.S. Mexican War, the city began to look much more permanent with brick structures and bustling streets full of a myriad of different peoples. ward by the universal and indomitable spirit of Yankeeism, a spirit that is to revolutionize the Texas Planter The paper promised that agricultural and cultural comforts of civilization would soon become available, tying together t American Yankeeism. Such articles demonstrated to those living in the region that the city was well on its way to becoming as sophisticated, the city found ers hoped, as New Orleans or Mobile. Galvestonians boasted that the growth of their city made it the ing farther throughout the 1850s, its export of sugar also grew steadily. In 1850, Galveston exported 2,782 hogsheads of sugar and roughly the same in molasses. By the close of the decade these numbers reached 15,000 barrels of sugar and 9,000 barrels of molasses. 9 In the antebellum era, Galveston paved the main streets with bleached white shell and imported fragrant oleanders, which eventually led to its nickname as the 9 Texas Planter Novembe r 11, 1845; The Texas Almanac, for 1858, 182.
151 rental houses, an connected through a system of alleys and back yards. During the 1840s, slaves along slaves also include d other outbuildings, such as carriage houses and kitchens, and these remained in the back of most lots, creating a network of pathways used primarily imposing, and cannot fail 10 By the 1850s, shipping routes between Galveston and New Orleans had become firmly established, with the vessels running back and forth weekly between these two cities. The Picayune reported the esta blishment of new shipping lines between its city and Galveston, carrying mail, goods, and passengers and establishing weekly communication between the two cities. 11 Incoming ships transported European ors touted the growing trade between small western port towns and the larger eastern cities. By the latter half of the 1850s, Galveston received over sixty five vessels from Europe and 483 from the Gulf Coast cities in one year. The Indianola Bulletin boas schooners has been established to run from Philadelphia to Galveston, Indianola and 10 Beasley, The Alleys and Back Buildings of Galveston 13 14; Melinda Rankin, Texas in 1850 (Boston: Damrell & Moore, 1852), 157 158. 11 New Orleans Daily Picayune January 1, February 20, 1846.
152 Bulletin evelopments of our trade, and the growing facilities springing up to enable our country to carry on its trade with the larger sailors such as room and board and sail making. 12 from the coast back toward the frontier counties in the western section of the state. In addition, they also brought slaves who traveled with their owners or traveled to th e Texas port cities for sale. The development of new shipping lines, and the continued arrival of European immigrants, became the primary way that Galveston connected both the settlement of Texas with the growth of the maritime economy in the Gulf South. W hen newspapers announced passenger lists for recently arrived ships, they also stated the number of African Americans brought aboard the ships. These small migration o f slaves to the southern hinterlands. The movement of free and enslaved municipal government to enforce strict racial hierarchies through ordinances and city laws. 13 While the state continued to attempt to remove Native Americans and peoples of boosters began to organize their city in ways similar to older southern ports. The mayor and alderme n worked to transform Galveston and the surrounding coast from a 12 Fornell, The Ga lveston Era 23 24; Indianola Bulletin October, 19,1853. 13 Galveston Weekly Journal December 24, 1850, March 27, 1851, March 13, 1851, July 22, 1851; Civilian and Galveston Gazette August 23, 1851.
153 wilderness once inhabited by pirates to an agricultural landscape and a sophisticated port city. Whereas Indian depredations were the main concern in the western borderlands, the movement of 1850s. Throughout the antebellum period, Galveston slave owners and city officials alike attempted to establish control over the movement of slaves, free blacks, and immigrants. During the 1840s, there was little in the way of regulation, but by the end of the decade, the city passed ordinances attempting to limit fraternization. 14 All of these processes of expansion, the physical expansion of Anglo settlement as well as the extension and solidification of state and city power, happened simultaneously and were intimately connected. As settlers moved farther into west Texas, coastal towns began to see the value of the interior and its importance to the largest States in the Union, must ere long, in the progress of events furnish cargoes for more vessels than any States in the Union, an d hence build up a tremendous the Texas coast. 15 Now that the land was secured through annexation and a war of conquest, the trade between the border South and the inter ior South had to be protected and increased. As early as 1838, travelers to Texas coastal towns remarked on the flood of 14 e Workers in Galveston, Texas, 1840 Journal of Social History 40, no.3 (April 2007): 717 720; Ellen Beasley, The Alleys and Back Buildings of Galveston: An Architectural and Social History (College Station: Texas A&M University, 2007), 194. 15 Indian ola Bulletin October 19, 1853.
154 saw entering the city did not stop in it: but their passage gave it a most animated 16 While the city attempted to capitalize on the exploits of land agents and merchants, the real work of transforming the city from a backwater stop to one of the fastest growing cities in the western Gulf South w as accomplished by free blacks, poor whites, and, most importantly, by slaves. Connecting to the Settlers and Selling the Slaves city fathers interested in expanding its economy and position within Texas took an interest in western counties. Many efforts to construct railroads and strengthen river transportation were aimed at enhancing connections between western Texas and the Gulf ports, as well as supporting military actions in the frontier. One of the more widely supported schemes was the Galveston, Houston, & Henderson Railroad, which many believed would connect coastal and western counties. In order to make these counties safe for further economic development, Galvestonians u rged further military protection in the western counties. maintain favorable land policies to keep the settlers coming. As a part of Mexico, Texas had been allowed to administ er its own public domain. During annexation, Texas insisted on maintaining this tenet of Mexican federalism. For example, as a state, Texas continued many of the same land policies it had practiced as an independent nation. In 1854, the state legislature p assed the Texas Preemption Act, offering homesteaders 16 Roemer, 28.
155 160 acre plots of land for fifty cents an acre, a price which was significantly lower than 17 The June 1851 issue of contained instructions for emigrants on what t o expect in Texas. The authors warned settlers about the cold north winds, but Review also listed the best times of the year to travel and which routes to take, Coast or the western frontier, the article recommended a sea route, as driving oxen, a wagon, family, and belongings across the entirety of Texas was a much harder prospect than disembarking at Galveston and proceeding from there. New Orleans emigrants, according to the could purchase passage on several steamships for a western hunter, the chivalrous and high spirited southern planter meet here upon common ground, divested of all sectional influence, and lend their combined energies to the improvemen 18 The warned those going to Texas, including European immigrants, to be cautious about purchasing land. There were three main forms of land titles, all with varying degrees of authenti city. The Spanish colonial and Mexican titles, thought to be more dependable, were the most prized because they were awarded to 17 Robert A. Calvert, Arnoldo De Leon, and Greg Cantrell, The History of Texas third ed. (Wheeling: Harlan Davidson, Inc, 2002), 115 116. 18 Beasley, The Alleys and Back Buildings of Galveston 16 17; "Texas: Climate, Rivers, Lands, De Bow's Review (June 1851), 641 642.
156 the old Empresarios. Those titles issued under the Texas Republic were the next best thing. The titles issued under the state re quired greater scrutiny because they were the grants that unscrupulous land agents most often sold. A poorly informed settler might purchase land they thought was located in a different part of the country, perhaps even well into Comanche territory. No mat ter which form of title an emigrant possessed, the Review 19 Land was fundamentally important to all settlers, but the planters intent on se ttling Texas also valued the slaves forced to work it. The system of slavery had drawn southerners to support annexation and the war. Its entrenchment in the state became a fundamental part of continued expansion and settlement. Galvestonians attempted to capitalize on land hunger in a variety of ways, but after the war enhancing the river trade became paramount. Attempts to improve the thereafter. While the bay remained th decades of American settlement, settlers stayed primarily in the coastal plains and surrounding prairie, but after the war t hey began to move even further inland. Opening up navigation to the plantations and farms far north on the Trinity River was a primary goal toward the close of the U.S. Mexican War. Several Galveston newspapers reported on a meeting in Livingston calling f or a convention of the surrounding counties 19 Clinton Machann and James W. Mendl. (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 1991); Fornell, The Galveston Era 85 86; DeBow's Review 10, no. 6 (June 1851), 636.
157 of the Trinity River to send men for the purpose of clearing the river of logs and removing shallow shoals to make steam transport easier. Other plans consisted of canals to be built along the Brazos River, allow ing access to Galveston Bay. On February 8,1850, the Galveston Brazos Navigation Company gained a charter to construct a canal connecting the bay and the Brazos. Unlike the doomed canal projects in Florida, the Brazos Galveston canal was eventually finishe d in 1855. However, the onset of railroad construction drew capital away from the canal. 20 While canals and river participation in the extension of slavery also upheld its p rominence in the region. must the people there, and it is my duty to do all I can, prudently, in 21 As Galveston developed, the institution of slavery underwent significant changes. These changes continued the process of expansion in the urban and rural parts of the western Gulf South. Slaves moved from the interior and upper South through the internal slave trade or with their owners. They formulated images and thoughts of the Texas frontier, which created an alternate view of Manifest Destiny. Historian Sean Kelly cites several major groups migrating during the antebellum period. While hi s work focuses on the Brazos region of eastern Texas, these stages of migration correspond with the in its growth. 20 Fornell, The Galveston Era 27 28; Galveston News March 27, 1848; Civilian and Galveston Gazette April 28 1848. 21 Stephen F. Austin to Wiley Martin, May 30, 1833, quoted in Campbell, Empire for Slavery 20.
158 The first stage of migration took place during the ini tial settlement of Texas starting in the 1820s and 1830s when Anglos first brought their slaves with them. The second took place during the transitional period from annexation to war, and the third during the early 1850s, many of who were the properties of slave trading firms. However, many slaves in the eastern coastal plains of Texas also came through the developing markets in both Houston and Galveston. In addition to African American slaves from the interior of the South, slavers shipped recently enslav ed Africans from Cuba to Texas during the early antebellum period making them the fourth and smallest migratory group. Because of this, Galveston and Houston slave traders became interested in the debate over reopening the slave trade. 22 The presence of s laves as well as new residents forced cities and their municipal governments to regulate interactions. The intermingling of different racial groups in the 1840, whi ability to sell goods, and racial segregation within the boarding houses, were also f ound in other southern cities. Slavery within Galveston functioned much the way it did in other southern cities. Slaves worked as household servants as well as on the wharves where they intermingled with lower class whites. By incorporating these statutes, Galvestonians attempted to make their city fit into southern social mandates. 22 The history of slavery is mammoth, and for purposes of space, I cite here those works, which have been most influential in my thinking on the evolution of slavery in the Texas borderlands. Kelley, Los Brazos de Dios 20 21; Ira Berlin, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2000); Stephanie M.H. Camp, Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women an d Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), xvii, xviii; John Craig Hammond, Slavery, Freedom, and Expansion in the Early American West (Jeffersonian America. Charlottesville: University of Virgini a Press, 2007).
159 Galveston mayor, John Sydnor, issued several ordinances that attempted to codify and dictate how free and unfree African Americans interacted in the city. In his first year in office Sydnor approved vagrancy laws as well as those dictating the movement of teamsters into the city. Most teamsters during the antebellum period were of Mexican descent, which was one of the reasons that they were so heavily regulated. Sydnor passed or any slave or slaves any commodity of any kind of whatsoever, without the written ten dollar fine Secreting or hiding slaves within town limits resulted in a fifty dollar fine,.Slaves were not permitted to hire themselves out. Free persons of color were prohibited from hosting gatherings for other free persons of color or slaves. Free blacks arriving in the city were required to pay a tax to the mayor upwards of $500, or be sentenced to work hard labor in the city. They required free persons to keep up the class indivi loitering in and about tippling houses, all who can show no reasonable course of rounded up b y Galveston police forces and brought before the mayor. The ordinance Sydnor introduced these laws in an effort to maintain the racial order, which was under attack i n other parts of the state. These measures may also have been a reaction to the movement of soldiers through the Gulf ports during the war, which unsettled the day to day order of life. In the early months of the war, a ship filled with soldiers had
160 almost paralyzed the city with their carousing and drunken antics. The situation became so alarming that Sydnor was forced to tell soldiers crowding the town center that they had to leave the city and go back to their ships. Ordinances became one path through wh ich he attempted to achieve this goal, and maintain control over the unpredictable environment of a southern frontier port city. 23 The slave trade through Galveston occurred through auctioneers who dealt in land as well as slaves. Unlike other ports through out the South, such as New Orleans and Mobile, Galveston did not initially possess a main site of sale. However, after his of the warehouse he used for his cotton business. The Houston Telegraph maintained did the auctioning himself. Sydnor placed an ad in the Civilian establishing himself as an Josephine Ryles, a former slave, recalled that she was sold in Galveston, and that slaves were not shipped elsewhere to be sold. Another woman, Mintie Maria Miller, remembered being sold in Houston and described the market there as a 24 These types of sales emphasized the shifting and fluid manner of slave markets beyond the more traditional sites of the Old South. Ex slaves not only told stories of being sold in Texas, but also tales of forced migration. Fr elicited similar stories from slaves. While camped on the banks of the Guadalupe River, 23 The Civilian and Galveston Gazette September 25, 1857. 24 Josephine Ryles, WPA Slave Narratives, Texas, District 6; Mintie Maria Miller, WPA Slave Narratives, Texas District 7; Walter Johnso n, Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999). 5 7.
161 Olmsted met with an elderly black man and woman riding toward the railroad. The husband related his life as a slave, telling Olmsted about his birth in Maryland, and subsequent life in diverse places such as South Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee and finally, Texas. Sydnor sold hundreds during the 1840s and1850s, but was not the only slave dealer on the island. Dealers came from di fferent parts of Texas to sell slaves in Galveston. 25 While most slaves came from the interior parts of the South, some came to Texas from Cuba through the illegal African slave trade. There has been much debate on the extent of this trade and the numbers of slaves that entered the United States via Cuba. Describing the continuation of the African slave trade in Texas, Randolph Campbell maintains that illegal cargos of Cuban ships never amounted to more than a laves. Campbell estimates that some 2,000 African slaves came through Galveston during the antebellum period, while Fornell put it at several hundred throughout the 1850s. 26 Before the Texas War of Independence free blacks had migrated to Texas of their own accord. Like white settlers, they went searching for a better life for themselves and their families, and had settled in many of the coastal towns. The separation of congress passe d a law expelling free blacks from the state. Free blacks had to obtain 25 Civilian and Galveston Gazette 1839, January 4, 1843, January 25, 1845; Houston Telegraph May 25,1857; Fornell, The Galveston Era 112 113 26 Campbell, Empire For Slavery Chapter 1; The Civilian and Galveston Gazette, December 24, 1850; Galveston Weekly Journal May 13, 1851; Galveston Weekly Journal May 27,1851; Galveston Weekly Journal July 22,1851; Civilian and Galveston Gazette Septem ber 23, 1851.
16 2 special dispensations or leave by January 1842. This law touched off a feverish race on communities s after annexation the state legislature to allow them to remain in the state. Free black petitions came from all over Texas, many of them explicitly detailing the good character of t he free person of color. Petitioners were described as Likewise, their standing in the community and whether or not they had obtained property was often mentioned, as was the length of time they had been in Texas. An 1840 petition filed by fifty six Anglo citizens in Houston requested that a freewoman named Zelia Husk and her daughter Emily be allowed to stay in the Republic, as they had been residents of the country since 183 status as both an asset to the community and as a mother in the hopes of gaining permission for her to stay in Texas. For Husk and her daughter the result was positive, but for others the experience did not turn out as well. 27 In Harris County, another free woman of color, Fanny McFarland, filed a petit ion to stay in the Republic, in which she justified her continued residence in Texas by emphasizing that she, like many of the white men in power, had moved to Texas during Mexican rule. McFarland maintained that her master freed her for good service, and that she lost all she had in the Mexican invasion. By mentioning the loss of her property at 27 State Library Archives Division, Records of the Legislature, Memorials and Petitions, Record Group 100.
163 the hands of Mexicans in her petition, she invoked the shared experience of the Texas War of Independence as a part of her claims to citizenship. In addition to th ese justifications, she, like Husk, also emphasized motherhood, as well as her old age. 28 Sadly, the historical record remains silent about the result of her petition, but the narrative of expansion and used it toward their own ends. Though free African expansion, some nevertheless appropriated those narratives. Free African Americans continued to be important parts of Texas and continued to live and work within the coastal cities. the extreme level of displacement slaves often felt, and how that displacement and constan t movement provided a record of the narrative of expansion as violent and oppressive as the wars of conquest Anglos fought to win Texas and the Mexican market and as a main port of entry linked it to this larger process of expansion, as did its interest in pushing settlement further into the Texas interior, past the coastal plains. The Gulf ports aided in the visions of prosperity that drew settlers to Texas, and slaveholdin g settlers attempted to impart those visions to their slaves as they migrated to borderlands. 29 28 Memorials and Petitions. 29 Olmsted, A Journey Through Texas 229 231.
164 In order to keep their slaves from escaping, some slaveholders concocted fanciful tales concerning the Texas landscape. Slaves remembered and recounted them as part of the story of their journey to the southern borderlands. Betty Farrow, born in children treating their departure like a celebration, but the journey over the moun tains was so perilous that it quickly drained them of any excitement. According to Farrow, another woman recalled that the women and children rode in wagons while the male slaves were chained together and walked alongside during the passage to Texas. Ex sl ave Lewis Jenkins claimed he had emigrated with his owners from Green County, Jenkins women, and his father a slave owned by the Jenkins family. Rather than acknowledge an int erracial child born of a white woman and the subsequent scandal that would ensue, the family moved to Texas, forcing young Lewis to go along as their slave. John White, unlike Jenkins, was sold from an eastern plantation to a woman in Linden, Texas. Remem bering the long and tedious journey from the east coast, White 30 The passage to Texas was often dangerous and lengthy for southerners, immigrants, and slaves alik e, but for slaves, the uncertainty of their condition there, the violence they encountered, and the forced separation from family over so long a distance made up much of their experiences of Texas. 30 Lewis Jenkins, John White Till Freedom Cried out: Memories of Texas Slave Life eds. T. Lindsay Baker and Julie P. Baker ( College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1997), 39 42, 120 28.
165 The passage of slaves from the southern interior to the T exas borderlands was a agricultural production, as well as their own identity, was dependent on the slaves they ets of the Gulf Coast them, forced migration was a significant part of their lives, and also a significant part of the process of expansion. While the discourse of expans ion focused on Anglo Saxon dependency on slave labor. Many of the stories which masters and traders used to coerce slaves into migrating to Texas reveal much about how they themselves imagined Texas and what they thought might best appeal to slaves in order to keep them from running away. As discussed in Chapter 2, southerners imagined Texas in a variety of ways throughout the prior two decades of its settlement; those i deas remained a vital component of settlement. Such imaginings shaped the way that white southerners explained the Texas borderlands to the enslaved men and women they transported there. Van Moore, ry. As her owner prepared to move his slaves and family to Texas, he announced that they would find the lakes were y, remembered hearing from her cotton.
166 Once they arrived in Texas, slaves desc ribed being forced into pens as protection against the animals on the prairies and in the woods. Texas slave owners were known for being particularly harsh. For many, the frontier became a far off place where owners sent slaves who misbehaved. Others told stories of harsh conditions similar to what Edward Baptist described in his work on the Florida frontier.Plantations in the southern borderlands, Baptist reminds us, were often rudimentary organizations that demonstrated the extent to which they were littl e more than moneymaking enterprises. In many ways, the process of expansion stripped the South bare of its imaginings and narratives, just as southerners worked ever harder to create a discourse of expansion about their superiority over Latin American nati ons and even other slaveholding cultures. The experiences of slaves, their migration, and the stories that slaveholders told them about Texas, reveal the fragile nature of this discourse, and the 31 The border, not predatory animals, formed the primary worry for slave owners. Slaves did not view the Rio Grande as a barrier, but as a possible gateway toward freedom; many of them escaped through it. The end of the U.S. Mexican War did not alleviate anxiety over the border between the United States and Mexico. Slaves even more. For them, the borderland meant hope and refuge. The line between free and slave that others saw div iding North and South also existed in the boundary 31 Van Moore, District 7, Tarrant County, Slave Narratives, Works Progress Administration Records, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin ; Ann Ladly, WP A Slave Narratives, Texas, District 7; Jim Johnson, WPA Slave Narratives, Texas, District 6; Lu Lee, WPA Slave Narratives, Texas, District 6; Isabella Jackson, WPA Slave Narratives, Louisiana; Edward E. Baptist, the Civil War (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 191 219.
167 between the United States and Mexico. Scholars have estimated that about 4,000 slaves escaped to Mexico in the 1850s. While the exact number of runaways is debatable, it was still high enough to threaten intended destination as Mexico. The Civilian and Galveston Gazette published a lengthy article taken from the Houston Telegraph in which it reported the observations one Anglo Tex an, W. Secrest, made about the presence of runaways on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande. Secrest estimated that 270 slaves crossed the ferries at Eagle Pass and Laredo in 1850. He claimed that at least 1,800 runaways from Arkansas had crossed through the border towns and lived in Mexico with 500 Texas slaves. The Civilian settlement on our immediate border than any at the North, and one which cannot be he San Antonio correspondent related the story of an African American thief who had been arrested that week along land Texas Almanac warned settlers that the counties along the Rio 32 Some Texas newspapers lamented the lack of protection for slavery in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848. This did not, however, stop masters from marching down 32 Mexico Border,1810 Journal of Social History 38, no. 3 (Spring 2004), 709 710,717. Reynolds, Texas Terr ors 24; Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West 1528 1900 (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1998) 54 57; Galveston Weekly News October 7,1856.
168 to the border to retrieve their runaway property. During the latter half of the 1850s, the Texas Rangers functioned as a bord er patrol and helped to enforce the boundaries that Anglo slaveholders sought to create in order to control their slave populations. Others crossed the border to capture runaways, but without much success. 33 Mexican state officials did not look kindly on ar med bands of strange Anglos arriving unannounced and invading their northern frontier. On the other hand, some Mexicans worked as slave catchers, allying themselves with the east Texas planters. 34 n the tone of the slavery in Texas has been carried in a wholesale way, into the neighborhood of Mexicans, it has been found necessary to treat them as outlaws . and forbidden, on pain of no less punishment than instant death, to return to the vicinity of the plantatio between General Bravo and Sr. Bustamente in 1836, Mexican concerns about country, the interests of the new colonists, the revolts which they stir up among the 33 Campbell, Empire for Slavery 62 64; John Solomon Ford, R (Austin: University of Texas State Gazette (April 1856); John Hope Franklin, The Militant South, 1800 1861 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1956). 34 Vaqueros in Blue and Gray (Austin: State House Press, 2000) 2 4.
169 35 The Mexicans living in the area had long viewed the Anglo settlers as greedy and accused them of unfair treatme nt. Policing the Borders and Dominating the Others Although the Rio Grande was several hundred miles from cities such as Galveston and Houston, the rural communities located on the Texas coastal plains and port towns worried about the different populations supported military presence to police them. In the aftermath of the U.S. Mexican War, Anglo Texans reaffixed their racial constructions on those Mexicans living and working within Texas as well as those living directly acr oss the border. In fact, at times it seemed as if the war had not settled anything at all with continued conflicts between Mexican and Anglo border towns and competition amongst Mexican and Anglo merchants. Tensions along the border were a potent reminder of the resistance of Mexicans against Anglo rule, suggesting that the U.S. Mexican War did not end tidily. Much like other American wars before and after, it had ended chaotically and with much uncertainty. Gulf southerners fought to reinforce their super iority and maintain the narrative of expansion into Latin America even as slaves, Mexicans, and Native Americans continued to push against that discourse. On May 13, 1851, the Galveston Weekly News published several letters from Brownsville and Roma, two such border communities experiencing skirmishs between Mexican troops and Anglo militiamen. It is difficult to piece together the exact series of events that led to the particular firefight. While one letter stated that Mexican troops fired on Roma merchan ts for exporting cowhides to Mexico, another from Brownsville 35 Leclerc, Texas and Its Revolution 75.
170 claimed that Roma citizens crossing the border to attend a dance in the town across the on both sides of t vaguely considered as degenerate and degraded Spaniards; it is, at least, equally correct to think of them as improved and Christianized difference between Africans and Mexi positions whose color and physiognomy would subject them, in Texas, to be sold by the sheriff as negro estrays who cannot be allowed at large without detriment to the Mexican, an unconquerable antagonism of character, which will prevent any condition of 36 Anglo Texans feared that lower class Mexicans sympathized with the plight of enslaved African Americans and thus helped to funnel them across the Mexican border. Farther into the int erior, communities such as San Antonio attempted to curtail displays of Mexican culture such as bullfights and cock fights while also monitoring the entry of Mexican peoples from outside the community. In 1854, a letter to the editor of the Gazette actuall y celebrated Mexican 36 Olmsted, A Journey Through Texas 454 455.
171 arrangements to move out of the country all they have and settle with their families on 37 Anglo status, coupled with their simultaneous denigration of Mexican migrant laborers, created a class aspect to the developing internal social boundaries and geopolitical borders in Texas. The Galveston Weekly News the Gulf Coast and throughout the state well informed about life in the western frontier town, and focused much of his attention on Mexicans withi n the city, often describing murders and crime involving the Mexicans who migrated in and out of the city. While riding through the countryside in the vicinity of San Antonio, Olmsted observed instances of elite Mexicans directing their slaves to work alon gside Mexican laborers on Texas slaveholding society, as an Anglo American, he also participated in creating a distinction between Mexican social classes by conflating elite Mexicans with notions of 38 Just as slaveholders in Galveston sought to restrict the movement of free blacks and slaves on the island, Anglos in western Texas also tried to limit the mobility of Mexicans. El Bejareno, 37 Olmstead, A Journey Through Texas 321; Texas State Gazette February 7, 1854; Texas State Gazette, February 13, 1854. 38 Robert W. Johannsen, To The Halls of Montezumas: The Mexican War in the American Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989); Louis A. Perez Jr., On Becoming Cuban: Identity, National ity, and Culture (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999); The War of 1898: The United States and Cuba in History and Historiography (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1998). These works all discuss similar trends in race and class in Anglo outlooks toward Latin American peoples.
172 reported that the town of Seguin in central Texas had decided to expel all Mexican laborers from the county. Vigilantes destroyed carts belonging to Mexican teamsters and drove Mexican families from the area. El Bejareno commented on the irony created by this situation. The expulsion of Mexicans may have preserved the stability of Anglo mastery over the local slave populations, but it forced planters to transport their cotton crop to San Antonio, where Mexican teamsters were available to haul the crop down to Port Lavaca on the Gulf Coast. 39 Curtailing the movement of Mexicans throughout the state continued throughout the decade. Suspicion of German immigrants also grew with continued immigration. Because of anti Mexican and anti German attitudes, during the 1850s the Know Nothing Party enjoyed a brief surge in popularity. Texas Know Nothings addressed many of the same anti Catholic and anti immigrant issues as did their counterparts in the North. In the mid 1850s, the San Antonio Know Nothings sought to make it harder for Tejanos to participate in politics by discontinuing the practice of publishing government documents in Spanish and German. Meanwhile, Anglos in the Tex as hinterlands also scrutinized German communities and their attitudes towards slavery. All of this put Gulf ports such as Galveston in an awkward position. The city was home to a large number of German immigrants and one of the main sites of German immig ration. In Galveston, the Know Nothing party often focused its ire on issues concerning the construction of railroads from Galveston to the western counties. These accusations were given credibility in 1854, when, during a yearly festival, many German 39 El Bejareno April 25, 1855.
173 repr esentatives from towns across the state stood together to criticize slavery. 40 Spanish speakers asserted the right to remain culturally Tejano while being American citizens, just as Germans in Galveston and Houston also asserted their heritage through celeb rations and associations. In these places where different ethnic groups converged, instances in which Mexicans, Germans, and Anglos fought over control of space and society, demonstrating the fluidity and permeability of the Anglo language of expansion. T hroughout 1855, Sam Houston made several speeches in Texas about the subject of American nativism. In Washington, Texas, a small town near the coast several miles north of Galveston, he spoke to an audience where years earlier he had witnessed the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Although the local Houston moderated the anti immigrant stance of the Know Nothings by arguing that it was no more anti immigra nt than the Whig or Democratic Party. At a barbecue in the guaranteed to them, the focused on the imperiled western border in order to legitimize his decision to oppose the Nebraska bill in front of his Texan audience. 41 His fixation on the frontier was not unique. 40 The article in the San Antonio Ledger was found in the Texas State Gazette February 24, 1855; Texas State Gazette October 14, 1854; Ibid, April 7 1855; Ramos, Be yond the Alamo 227 229; El Bejareno. Texas State Gazette June 23, 1855; Texas State Gazette San Antonio Ledger July 7, 1854; w El Ranchero July 28, 1856. 41 Dale Baum, The Shattering of Texas Unionism Nothing Mass Barbecue At Austin, November 23, Writings of Sam Houston v. 6, 201, 209 234; The Texas Ranger and Lone Star August 11, 1855.
174 By 1849, t he U.S. army had constructed a line of forts in an attempt to maintain the fragile peace that Houston and Comanche leaders had constructed. The conduct of the army in west and south Texas became a subject of controversy for those throughout the state and i n the Gulf Coast towns. The Houston Telegraph criticized their policy He does not need more troops, but he should response the Galveston Weekly News who issued a proclamation to the Indians, threatening them with severe chastisement service against t 42 Albert Sidney Johnston hoped that his plantation, which was near Galveston, would make it easy to sell and alleviate him of his debts, but this did not occur. He then went on to plant sugar and cotton in the hopes of turning a significant profit, bu t could not make enough to completely pay off his debts. In 1853, Johnston reenlisted in the army as paymaster before becoming colonel in the Second Cavalry, one of two forces designed to patrol the western Texas borderlands and Indian Territory. In 1855, Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis created four regiments to patrol the Texas frontier. In a report published in the Galveston Weekly News Davis recommended the establishment of new posts west of the Mississippi, and in Texas especially, where the majority The army had been instructed to scout locations for fortifications along the Rio Grande. After the border had been determined, it now had to be protected, and, like the 42 Galveston Weekly News December 24,1850.
175 Gulf itself, white settlers within the borderland s felt that it require both a patrolling force as well as forts. The Second Cavalry was perhaps the most celebrated among these, were primarily from the South. Among them wer e several who would serve as Confederate generals during the Civil War: Albert Sidney Johnston, Edmund Kirby Smith, Robert E. Lee, and John Bell Hood. When Johnston was placed with the regiment in 1855, the Texas legislature celebrated his involvement due primarily to his service in that region during the years of the Republic. Johnston worked as paymaster in Austin for several years before he was assigned to the regiment. He traveled hundreds of miles on his route, often in the frontier to which Davis assi gned the regiment. He, his wife Eliza, and several of their young children had been out with the here am I soldiering, my gude man appointed Colonel of the Second Regim ent of Cavalry, a new Regiment just enlisted. We are on the march with 850 man for the Texas y filled with hostile Indians 30 to 40,000 in charge at a time and an escort of only 4 men all that can be spared from these badly manned frontier posts, this offers a great temptation for 43 Much of the anxiety displayed by tho se in West Texas as well as those along the coast stemmed from the feeling that they were improperly protected and policed. Shortly after the war the Houston Telegraph and Texas Register 43 "Journal of Eliza G. Johnston," October 10 November 11, 1855, Albert Sidney and William Preston Johnston papers, Manuscripts Coll ection 1, Louisiana Research Collection, Howard Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University, New Orleans.
176 y criticized the posts and trading houses remain close to the settlements, there will always be danger 44 It took them several months to reach San Anton io. During this period Eliza recorded their experiences in her journal, and counted the number of miles they being on the march with the military. Federal soldiers and scatt ered forts guarded a 1,000 that overlooked the Rio Grande. In August, Johnston wrote an acquaintance explaining his regiment had driven the Comanche farther back into the inter ior of the Indian country, and though many may have celebrated the seeming peace, it could not last. taking the chance of chastisement. If they choose, therefore, it need only be a question 45 The malleable nature of racial constructions and the experience of expansion at the ground level in the U.S. Mexico borderlands had many comparisons and connections to those found within the Gulf of Mexico. In the late 1850s, frustration and hostility best described the state of relations between Indians, settlers, federal and local governments. The federal government dictated Indian policy, but the state government controlled the public land that Indians often inhabited. When the federal government took over relations with Native 44 Houston Telegraph and Texas Register April 2, 1848. 45 ASJ to _____, August 8, 1855, Johnston Papers.
177 Americans, the state no longer saw any need to maintain an Indian policy. This meant that Texas could sell the land on which Indians lived, but had no power to deal with the individual Native Americans Eventually, the convoluted relationship between Indians, state and federal governments, and Texas land, frustrated the state legislature to the point that it eventually adopted its own policies towards Native Americans. The relationship between the feder al government and Mexicans, land, and citizenship also remained murky in the decade before the Civil War. On many occasions Texans living in west Texas lashed out at both governments for failing to protect their lands. 46 Conclusion With the increase in sl aves in Texas, worries about Mexicans and Tejanos amplified, but the direction of Anglo anxiety changed during the 1850s. Anglo Texans refocused much of their attention and suspicion on immigrants and Mexicans within Texas. Caught in the middle of these la to turn their frontier town into a big Gulf port city. Unlike Pensacola, which pinned its future prosperity on military fo hinterlands and connection between the Gulf and borderlands would provide future economic growth. Racism toward Latin American peoples evolved, as did the centrality of slavery to southern expansion. The belief that Anglos should venture farther into Latin American territory gained increased popularity at the same time that Texans were attempting to find their place within the larger Gulf Coast community. 46 Buegner, 106 111; Fehrenbach, 294.
178 American calls for the annexation of Cuba gre w more insistent in the 1850s, and southerners were among the most vocal proponents. Chapter 6 explores the impact of the racialization of Mexicans and the narrative of the U.S. Mexican War a fundamental part of the discourse of territorial expansion in th e 1850s had on propaganda surrounding the filibustering expeditions. This powerful discourse converged with racial ideas concerning the place of French and Spanish Creoles in the Gulf of Mexico. Southerners in New Orleans would come to contrast Cuban Creol es with Mexicans during the filibustering expeditions in 1851; those living within Texas created images of Galvestonians supported Cuban annexation as much as New Orleanian s. filibusters, and in 1850 a party of 250 men left Galveston and Corpus Christi to participate in Cuban filibustering. Texas Governor Peter Hansborough Bell addressed a large meeting in Galveston calling for the immediate annexation of Cuba to the United Stats. Later in 1851, Governor Sam Houston traveled to New Orleans where he Cuban annexat ion. As they fought to establish their place within the Gulf South, world. 47 established, but the expansio nists there focused on their standing within the larger world and their connections to Cuba. All three port cities, Pensacola, Galveston, and 47 Fornell, The Galveston Era 193 194.
179 New Orleans provide different avenues through which we can understand how it was that the Gulf South viewed and ex perienced the outside world during the antebellum period. In New Orleans, Anglo Americans from the middle and upper South mingled with a multitude of different peoples from Europe and Latin America. In the aftermath of the war, the city played host to Cuba n exiles and became an alternate site of struggle between Cubans and Spanish colonial authority. They had helped to annex Texas, fight the U.S. Mexican War, now they would be the staging ground for Cuban revolution.
180 CHAPTER 6 FILIBUSTER FORAYS: THE CUBAN FILIBUSTERING EXPEDITIONS AND RACIAL RHETHORIC IN NEW ORLEANS Introduction Texas States Times At the top of interest over the last decade. The editor of the Times must be had this session or not at all Southern Democrats such as John C. Calhoun supported Cuban annexation despite not having favored war w 1 While Galvestonians focused most of their expansionist efforts in dominating the Texas hinterlands, New Orleanians concentrated on pursuing the annexation of However, in the 1850s New Orleans became the staging ground for the next phase of territorial expansion into Latin America when filibusters set sail for the island intent on sparking a revolution. In th e aftermath of the U.S. Mexican War, several military expeditions to expeditions conducted in the early 1850s is the central focus of Chapter 6. It explores the manner in which local racializations of Creoles in New Orleans and Cuba, as well as 1 Texas State Times January 6, 1855.
181 the narrative of the U.S. Mexican War, shaped the discourse of the Cuban annexation in the 1850s. Two seemingly divergent narratives, one of Creoles in the Gulf of Mexico, another of American victory over Mexico, converged to paint a broader picture of the The drive to but fantasies elsewhere, and that they would be restricted by an increasingly antislavery North in their ability to expand further into the Southwest borderlands. In the past fe w decades, scholarship on the filibustering expeditions has undergone a significant transformation. The filibusters were often thought of as curious side stories to the larger narrative of American antebellum history. Robert E. May has been instrumental in rethinking their importance, motivations, and consequences. His work, and the work of other scholars, has revealed the crucial part that these expeditions played in the history of territorial expansion, which provides a foundation for my inquiries here. I deas about race were central to the perpetuation of these expeditions, and my work here reveals that they were far more nuanced than has been generally considered. The Gulf South did not view all Latin Americans and their countries in the same way. Mexico was valued for its land, but not necessarily for its people. Cuba was valued for its land, its crops, its slaves, and to an extent, its Creole slaveholders. 2 2 Robert E. May, The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire, 1845 1861 2 nd ed. (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002), 4 6; Robert E. May, nderworld: Filibustering in Antebellum
182 Chapter 6 begins by establishing the many ways in which Anglos, both American and European, viewed New Orleans and Cuban Creoles, and the ways they sought to establish themselves amidst the onslaught of American southern culture and power. Anglo southerners worked to erase Creoles of color from their depiction of the New Orleans Creoles, and did the sa me when it came to those living in Cuba. Erasing racial mixing from the idea of Creoles allowed Anglo southerners the ability to find some sense of commonality with Cubans, and coexist with Creoles in New Orleans. The process by which New Orleans Creoles w ere first imagined provided the foundation for later conceptions of Cubans during the expeditions. To explore these issues Chapter 6 focuses on the inclusion of Pierre Soul, a French immigrant, into the Creole community, and a case study concerning the ab duction of a Cuban Creole exile by the Spanish consul. Following from a study of these imaginings and events, I then considers the idea that victories in Mexico led expansionists to include the vision of Cuban Creoles as people in need of Anglo American gu idance. Newspapers and Cuba. Aside from the discourse, veterans and young men eager to become involved in the next stage of territorial expansion participated in the e xpeditions to Cuba in order to establish a connection between filibustering and the war. Chapter 6 ends by noting the shift away from overwhelming support of militaristic expeditions as the Gulf South began America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002); John Hope Franklin, The Militant South 1800 1861 ( Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970), 105 115; Charles H. Brown, Agents of Manifest Dest iny: The Lives and Times of Filibusters (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1980); Tom Chaffin, (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996); Amy S. Greenberg, Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 31 32, 14 8 151; Matthew Pratt Guterl, American Mediterranean: Southern Slaveholders in the Age of Emancipation (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2008), 85 86,90 113.
183 to support the purchase of Cuba through the Osten d Manifesto, but also notes that hope for a future including Cuban annexation grew dim and was soon overtaken by the division between North and South. A small Cuban exile contingent, among them Narciso Lpez espoused annexationist views believing that Cub a fared better under United States authority rather than under their Spanish rulers. Using newspapers that reprinted letters allegedly written by annexationist on the island, and clandestine meetings with Creole exiles, advocates of annexation in the U.S. made the case that Cubans were eagerly awaiting a revolution. Yet, as the filibusters discovered, Cuban Creoles remained much more ambivalent about the United States and its involvement in the fight for Cuban freedom. The first expedition into Cuba ended a bruptly and without revolution. The filibusters landing in Cuba on May 19, 1850, quickly chased back onto their ships by Spanish troops, were arrested when they arrived back in the United States. Lpez and his accomplices were acquitted. He immediately beg an to plan a second expedition, which landed in August 1851. But this ended in death and disaster when Lpez and several of his men were executed. Shocked New Orleanians responded by rioting, targeting symbols of Spanish colonial power. In the nineteenth of extending debate in an attempt to delay or prevent a vote. During the eighteenth and through military force without any governmental sanction. The alternate meaning of the
184 Lpez in that way. 3 Lpez conquer the is land across the Florida Straits. Lpez belonged to a community of Cuban exiles who worked within the Anglo American context of territorial expansion. from French and Spanish colonial settlers, especially when differentiating themselves from the Anglo Americans who had moved into the region after the Louisiana Purchase. Some historians insist that this group of people only began using the term as a cultural marker in the afterm ath of U.S. settlement. The free people of color who also descended, in part, from Europeans had taken to calling themselves Creoles as well, yet Anglo Americans preferred to use the term to refer to only whites of European descent within Louisiana. During the 1850s the social, political, and physical mobility of gens de couluer was severely curtailed as southern Anglos attempted to enforce their notions of a strictly bi racial slave society. The modicum of liberties, which they gained under the code noir, would be challenged in New Orleans and elsewhere in the Gulf South during this period. As in the Gulf South ports, Creoles in Cuba were not solely of European descent. A long tradition of intermingling created a racially mixed society that often challenge d Anglo American racial sensibilities. However, Cuba was by no means a paradise free from racial inequality and injustice. Quite the opposite: Many of the early attempts at Cuban independence depended on the Creole, or Criollo to use the 3 May, xi.
185 equivalent Spanish term interested in an independent Cuba had to assure planters that slavery would not be abolished. Criollo, mulatto, negro, indio, and other terms used to define and differentiate peoples within Latin America spoke to the complex class and racial system that had developed over centuries of colonization and enslavement. Louisiana also inherited French notions of race from its colonial forefathers. The Gulf of Mexico was far more racially complex th an many Anglo Americans were willing to admit. 4 Ties between Cuba and New Orleans extend far back into the history of both, and in this period of intense territorial aggrandizement, the complex cultural and racial connections become evident. Anglo America ns within the Gulf of Mexico negotiated these complex racial structures, using them to their advantage. While they often saw themselves as kindred spirits to Cuban and French Creoles, they maintained a sense of superiority over both. Through the processes of Texas annexation and war, Mexicans came to be depicted as inferior to Anglo Americans. Cuban Creoles, meanwhile, were not necessarily considered inferior but they were not denigrated to the extent of Mexicans. 5 Spain played its part in the shaping of ra cial identity and the use of expansionist discourse during this period. Spanish authorities warned that filibustering 4 Alice Moore Dunbar Creole: The History and Legacy of Sybil Kein, ed. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000), 3 42; Shirley Elizabeth Thompson, Grace Elizabeth King, Creole Families of New Orleans (New York: McMi llan Company, 1921), 3 8; Frank R. Villafana, (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2012), 7 21, 95 103; Ada Ferrer, Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation, and Revolution, 1868 1898 (Chapel Hill: University of Nort h Carolina Press, 1999). 5 Rebecca J. Scott, Degrees of Freedom: Louisiana and Cuba After Slavery (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2008), 1 20; Daniel E. Walker, No more, No More: Slavery and Cultural Resistance in Havana and New Orleans (Minne apolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004); Edward Bartlett Rugemer, The Problem of Emancipation: The Caribbean Roots of the American Civil War (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008).
186 and revolution would bring the pox of race war and U.S. economic domination upon the houses of Creole sugar planters. 6 New Orleans and It s Creoles By 1850, the year of Narciso Lpez the third largest port in the nation, and the largest in the South. Its population had grown steadily since its incorporation into the United States and stood at 115,00 0. By 1850, color. This economic boom resulted from the emergence of the steamboat packet trade, which, after the late 1830s, began ferrying goods and passengers from to wns and cities with Anglo Southerners rubbing elbows with German immigrants, free African Americans, African American slaves, and the ever present Creoles of the city. At the close of the 1840s, settlers, gold seekers, cotton, sugar, and travelers moved in and out of the city as steady as heartbeats pumping the lifeblood of commerce through the ed with backwater port in the hinterlands of the colonial French empire, the city grew steadily. 7 6 Caryn Cosse Bell, Revolution, Romanticism, and the Af ro Creole Protest Tradition in Louisiana, 1718 1868 ( Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press 1997), 65; Ada Ferrer, Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation, and Revolution, 1868 1898 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999); Alice Moore Dunbar N People of Color (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000), 8 11; Adam Rothman, Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South (Cam bridge: Harvard University Press, 2005). 7 Benjamin Moore Norman, Norman's New Orleans and Environs, Containing a Brief Historical Sketch of the Territory and State of Louisiana, and the City of New Orleans, From the Earliest Period to the Present Time: Pr esenting A Complete Guide to All Subjects of General Interest in the Southern Metropolis; with a Correct and Improved Plan of the City, Pictorial Illustrations of Public Buildings, Etc. (New Orleans: B.M. Norman, 1845), 71; Henry Rightor, Standard History of New Orleans, Louisiana, Giving a Description of the Natural Advantages, Natural History, Settlements, Indians, Creoles, Municipal and Military History,
187 In 1836, in an effort to relieve social and political tensions betw een the Americans and Creoles of the city, New Orleans was separated into three municipalities. The old town or city proper what would one day be known as the French Quarter made up the largest part of the first municipality. This was where the majority of and a ge neral council, with the mayor overseeing all three. 8 Many refugees from Saint Domingue first lived in Cuba before being deported and ending up in New Orleans. By this time the Creoles of French and Spanish ancestry shared the city with Anglo Southerners a s well as the many French and German immigrants who had begun to migrate. They had their own newspapers, markets, and schools, many of which existed within the first municipality. For New Orleanians of the 1850s, especially those Anglo Southerners who atte economic markets, this was a world filled with different racial and ethnic groups, trade in slaves, cotton, and sugar, and much anxiety. As with territorial expansion, municipal expansion and consolidati on was fraught with as much peril as it was promise. New Orleans and Cuba remained entwined throughout the first half of the 19 th century as a result of slavery, economic markets, and to some extent politics. Past 1845 Mercantile and Commercial Interests, Banking, Transportation, Struggles Against High Water, the Press Educational, Literature and Art, the Churches, Old Burying Grounds, Bench and Bar, Medical, Public and Charitable Institutions, the Carnival, Amusements, Clubs, Societies, Associations, etc (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1900), 127. 8 Jim Fraiser, T he French Quarter of New Orleans (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2003), 153 155.
188 slave prices remained similar the two major slave markets, though they remained slightly lower in Cuba than in the United States. With merchants strongly encouraging expansion to Latin America, especially Cuba, New Orleans became a hotbed of militaristic expansionism. During the Mexican Ameri can War steamboats and the transportation of cotton had been complicated by the demands of the army, which also needed transport of troops to Mexico. In 1851, Alexander Jones, writing about the economic and social state of Cuba during the filibustering exp editions, estimated that roughly $114,000,000 in exports per year the majority leaving from New Orleans made their way through the Gulf of Mexico. Jones believed that the entire extent of trade in imports and exports from the Mississippi and California was an estimated $200,000,000. Thus, the majority of trade was in exports of sugar and cotton from the Mississippi, most of which passed through New Orleans on its way out into the Gulf. Jones, a journalist who advocated Cuban annexation, feared that this tra de would be domination by stronger naval forces from England and France were used to advance ne the mounting threat to New Orleans trade posed by the advance of canal and railroad transpor tation, which could and was beginning to redirect trade of the Mississippi back toward the Atlantic coast ports. 9 9 Laird W. Bergad, Fe Iglesias Garcia, and Maria del Carmen Barica, The Cuban Slave Market, 1790 1880 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 146 149; Alexand er Jones, Cuba in 1851 Containing Authentic Statistics of the Population, Agriculture and Commerce of the Island for a Series of
189 Essentialized images of Gulf South Creoles allowed Anglo Southerners to interpret the racial identity of white Cubans in a way that separated them from black and enslaved Cubans as well as from the notion of hybridity, which so many southern whites found repugnant. They had begun crafting this image since the early nineteenth century when Americans began moving into Louisiana en masse. Those wh o traveled to New Orleans always commented on the Creole people. 10 Though in most of the U.S. South notions of racial identity were framed around oftentimes challenged t his simple racial binary. Early in the nineteenth century, while Americans migrated into the new state of Louisiana, tensions between the Anglo Americans and their Creole counterparts stemmed from issues over language and custom. 11 While the United States p ress often conflated Cuban Creoles with the Spanish colonial government, Cubans moving to New Orleans settled in a community with an already established notion of Creole people due to the presence of French and Spanish white Creoles and Creoles of color. 12 In 1834, while traveling through the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, Harriet Martineau, wife of a British naval officer, observed the interactions of the French and Americans living in New Orleans. She noted that the division between the American and Fre Years, with Official and Other Documents in Relation to the Revolutionary Movements of 1850 and 1851 (New York: Stringer & Town send, 1851), 154. 10 Full Enjoyment of Their Liberty: The Free Women of Color of the Gulf Ports of New Orleans, Mobile, and Pensacola 1769 11 Sybel Klein, Creole: The History and Lega (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000), xiii xv. 12 Rodrigo Lazo, Writing to Cuba: Filibustering and Cuban Exiles in the United States (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005), 150 157.
190 for their liberal use of rouge and pearl powder. Yet, this did not stop the Americans from attempting to emulate from Philadelphia to make herself as French as possib le by these disagreeable 13 Eliza McHatton Ripley, a woman from an elite slaveholding family who spent her youth in New Orleans, remarked fondly on her memories of the French and Spanish Creole families who lived near her during her childhood in the 1840s and 1850s, but was also careful to keep the division between Anglo Southerners and Creoles. She unending source of interest to a wide awake American girl to see, l isten to, and talk with For travelers, Creoles were part of the cityscape, and while their interactions with southerners were an amusement to travelers, they also signaled the manner in which Creoles continued to find a place for themselves within the city and the state. 14 Whether indifferent or hostile, the French and Spanish Creoles of New Orleans were often depicted as a dyin g race. Anglo Southerners in the region portrayed them as in decline, just as the Anglo Saxon newcomers were on the rise. In 1845, Benjamin 13 Harriet Martineau, Retrospect of Western Travel (London: Saunders and Otley, 1838), 150. 14 Eliza Ripley, Social life In New Orleans 173 174; Guterl, American Mediterranean 28 29, 90 91. Guterl is right to consider southerners in a Caribbean and Latin A merican context in that these areas possessed slave owning aristocracy classes as well, but it is equally important to keep in mind the conscious boundaries that white southerners drew between themselves and outsiders, even outsiders perceived as allies.
191 Norman Moore, the owner of a bookbinding and printing office, published a guidebook for the crescent city in which h e detailed its municipalities, neighborhoods, and peoples. In comparing the first and second municipalities where the majority of Creoles and Americans lived, Moore revealed American notions of the differences between these s Moore called the French Quarter, was composed of described as being three to f our stories high with lots of embellishment. The public that the Frenchmen rarely ventured into the American part of the city, but that when they amount of construction happening in St. Mary. Emphasizing the gleaming structures and granite fronts, Moore, like many interested in emphasizing the importance of Americans to the growth of the c ity, focused on the progress of the second municipality. Throughout his observations Moore consistently referred to the Creoles and their city. This being the basis f or his description of New Orleans as a place more at home in a foreign country than in the United States of America. Moore widened his definition of Creoles to include all those who were born in the city, but stated that the French and Spanish were the ori ginal inhabitants of the region. Not all authors used such a wide definition. Despite differing definitions, Moore others, and, with strangers, enter into business
192 have risen to the astonishment and confusion o f those of the ancient regime, who live in a kind of seclusion within the limits of the city proper -to whom beautiful and extensive blocks of buildings have appeared in the morning, as though they had sprung up by 15 In 1851, on the eve of the filibustering expeditions, the San Antonio Ledger populated primarily by the French Creoles. The sight of the old homes drew their exist, of the time when, where rows of warehouses and blocks of brick buildings now fill the eye, swaying cane field, the white cottages of the negroes and the picturesque San Antonio Ledger compared the houses built by the Creoles and those built by the more recent Anglo American residents. Whether in jest or not, the comparison of the houses, neighborhoods, and public works buildings denoted the American perception of the Creoles as being a people of the past who had been brought to heel by the industrious new race of men that populated New Orleans in the 1850s. 16 15 Norman, Norman's New Orleans and Environs 65 78. 16 San Antonio Ledger October 16, 1851.
193 Pierre Soul, a French immigrant, moved to the city at the same time that America ns had begun to settle there after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Soul became one of most celebrated Frenchmen in Louisiana. At the time of the Lpez expeditions, Soul served as a U.S. Senator for Louisiana. Originally born in a small village in the Fre nch Pyrenees, like Lpez and many Cuban Creoles, Soul experienced both exile and imprisonment for opposing the government and supporting revolutionary activities. He was imprisoned several times during his youth. The first arrest was for conducting anti B ourbon activities. He was pardoned in 1818, but was again arrested during his time as a law student for publishing revolutionary articles in Paris. In 1825 he escaped and traveled from Great Britain to Haiti and finally settled into a new life as a lawyer in New Orleans. The Creole community welcomed him as one of their own. Soul came to support expansionist policies during his first term as senator in 1847, when he sat for a brief six months as a Democrat from the state that had given him shelter after h is dramatic journey. About his inclusion in the Creole community Alfred Mercier, a -the most beautiful & to his adopted country; the birth of a son finished identifying to the soil of La. & from then on 17 ty within the Gulf of Mexico. 17 Alfred Mercier, Biographie trans. by Marietta Millet of New Orleans, in Pierre Soul Papers, Mss. 401, 1044, 1085, 2028, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Co llections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, La.
194 When he arrived in New Orleans, Soul spoke very little English, which was quickly becoming the most commonly used language in the city. Soul learned it as quickly as he could, and became a master of oratory in both language s which, as one later biographer put it, gave him incredible influence with the French and Spanish Creoles of the city. 18 As Americans encroached further on Creole property and power within the city, many gathered together to protect their interests in New Orleans, Soul citizens of french origin, he disputed the ground piece by piece with the anglo americans, as orator in the meetings. This mission accomplished, the two peoples shake hands and Soul found 19 By 1850, Soul was in the midst of his second Senate term during the height of the filibustering mania in New Orleans, which coincided with the political fights over the extension of slavery into the newly gained territory. It was rumored that he cared very little for the opinions of those in New Orleans about the package of bills that created the response to t hese supposed insults newspapers in Louisville, Kentucky, vilified Soul, to the United States and tells, the people of one section of our country that they should 18 F. Gallidardet, New World. He was the only one of our compatriots who came to be so popular in the United States that he became a S enator at Washington, having declaimed with the most eminent orators, and having been given the honor of representing his adopted country as Special Envoy and Plenipotentiary minister in a Louisiana Liberte Nos. 19, Pierre Soul Papers, Ap ril 22,1870, 25. 19 F. Galliardet, Louisiana Liberte, Nos. 19, Pierre Soul Papers, 26.
195 not tol erate the residence among them of the countrymen of another section is beyond 20 The criticism lobbed at Soul focused entirely on the idea that an outsider, a foreigner, h ad dared to criticize Americans. His critics charged that he wrongly emphasized the divide between North and South, ratcheting up sectional tensions. Yet, if Soul had actually stated these views than he had also related his own sectional preferences and i dentity as both French and Southern, but not entirely Americanized, which challenged the notion that Creoles and immigrants, would eventually become Americans. about the mixing accepted willingly the future fusion or the population of La. And of the Anglo American race, he saw there one of the providential decrees to which reason commands us to nor the genius of the Mother country; for they could demonstrate on evoking the past, to construct the St. Louis Hotel, which became a symbol of the Creole community in called the affairs from the side of the Franco 21 The French and Spanish Cre ole community underwent a variety of changes during the antebellum era, and the shifting definitions of Creole identity, as well as the 20 Trenton State Gazette November 18, 1850. 21 Alfred Mercier, translated by Marietta Millet, Biographie 44 50, Pierre Soul Pape rs.
196 Anglo of the excitement over the Cuban expeditions, Cuban Creoles were cast as a weakened race as well. However, their weakness then became a justification for the expeditions, Saxon Americans to their aid. The presence of exiles in the immigrant neighbor hoods in New Orleans provided an immediate example of Cuban Creoles that required American assistance. Struggles Between Cuban Creoles and Spain Come to New Orleans During the 1850s, Cuban Creoles also experienced dramatic changes. The arrival of exiles in to the United States, including Narciso Lpez was the result of tensions within Cuban colonial society. New Orleans became another site of tensions abduction, ensuing cou rt case, and its aftermath demonstrate how Cubans saw New Orleans as a possible refuge from Spanish persecution. It also illustrates the extent to which New Orleanians became invested in seeing Spain removed from power in Cuba. Juan Garcia Rey served as ja iler in the Real Caracel in Havana for five months before March 1849, when he aided two inmates who had allegedly taken part in a Creole plot to create an uprising. On March 31, 1849, he and one of the other inmates sailed to New Orleans, where they took s helter in various boarding houses throughout the city. Rey hid among other Cubans in the city cigar shop, but Carlos de Espaa, the Spanish Consul, eventually learned that he was hiding in the city, arrested him, and shipped him back to Havana. Hearing of the arrest, possible assault, and abduction of Rey, Mayor Abdiel Crossman promptly wrote de Espaa, requesting more information. De Espaa responded with two letters. The first was a cordial note that invited the Mayor to his home for a private discussion about the matter. The second, sent a day
197 and insulting his honor by implying his involvement in the arrest of Rey. Eventually, de Espaa was arrested on charges of abd uction. 22 from the recorder of the Second Municipality and asked to be taken back to the United n ewspapermen treated the trial as another example of Spain denigrating American authority. 23 colonial presence so close to U.S. borders, and its burdensome rule over the island. Reviewi New York Daily Times New Orleans correspondent recalled the efforts of Cuban Times correspondent accused the U.S the abduction of Juan Francisco Rey. 24 The Daily True Delta called the outcome of the 22 Phillip Thomas Tucker, and Loreta Janeta Velazquez (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2002), 20 21. 23 Juan Rey Garcia, translated by Daniel Scully, Abduction of Juan Francisco Rey: Narrative of Events From Hi s Own Lips, From The Time He Left Havana, In Company With Villaverde and Fernandez, Until His Return to the United States, Embracing a Relation of What Occurred on His First Departure From Havana; the Intrigues and Violence by which His Abduction was Accom plished in New Orleans; His Voyage Back to Havana on the Mary Ellen; His Imprisonment There, and His Imprisonment There, and His Release and Return to the United States, Together with a Compilation of the Testimony in the Preliminary Investigation Before J udge Bright and Commissioner Cohen, a Review of the Same. (New Orleans: New Orleans True Delta Office, 1844), 8 12. 24 Lieut. Marcy Mr. Bradford News from Havana New York Times August 30, 1852.
198 arguing that several were close friends of de Espaa. The paper declared that the selection of the jury to try the issue between de Espaa and the United States only proved that the tr of it; the tone of the papers defending the Spaniard, and laboring to defeat the 25 New Orleanians questioned the vana industry and trade just as much as their ties to de Espaa himself. Newspapers claimed there was nothing wrong in these connections, but the choice of men with such ties did smack of conspiracy. The irony here was that scarcely half a year later, pro annexationist news organs would support a militarized expedition to conquer Cuba, and ties with Havana would be celebrated in the city. The de Espaa/Rey case occurred during the planning of the second Lpez expedition, and both Rey and Lpez existed with in a larger power struggle of Cuban nationalism and Spanish colonial rule as well as the shifting space of Creole within New Orleans. The American newspapers were also involved in this power struggle and used it to foster further support for Cuban annexati on. The Delta of State has dared to tamper with the admi nistration of our laws, and in order to conciliate a power, contemptible for its imbecility to the whole of Europe, has covered 26 To many Cuban annexationists, the sovereign ty of the United States had been defied, 25 New Orleans Daily True Delta December 16, 1849. 26 New Orleans Daily True Delta, December 22, 1849.
199 its borders weakened by this action in New Orleans. Newspapers in New Orleans used example of their cruelty because of the manner in which they treated Rey. In addition to challenging the sovereignty of the United Sates, the Delta also believed that the federal government had also overstepped its boundaries by interfering with what it felt was a city matter, not a federal issue. The de Espaa case occurred in the midst of what many in the city had come to see as a series of instances in which the Spanish government often depicted as an inherently effeminate and weak body, had triumphed over the United States, a nation of strong Anglo Saxon citizens. These events would help shape the depiction of Cubans and the Spanish. The bitterness exhibited by the press hinted at the expectation that Spaniards were supposed to lose and Americans win. The value of Cuba as an additional slave state ma Cuban annexation proved to be an intensely divisive issue for Cuban exiles as racial and economic issues through westward expansion, for man y Cubans the issue of U.S. expansion and imperialism left several possibilities and questions. Many Cuban exiles, including a revolutionary junta operating in both New York City and New Orleans, vigorously lobbied for intervention, generally supporting fil ibustering. There were, however, many others within Cuba as well as in the exile community, who believed that total independence would not come with American domination. Cubans, interested in wresting Cuba from Spanish control, thought that encouraging Ame for territory in Latin American might help them in their cause, and that even if it meant
200 becoming a state rather than an independent country at least they would be a part of nation based on republican ideals. Others viewed U.S. interes t in Cuba as an immediate threat, and an exchange from one colonial power to another. 27 The Expeditions Take Shape Narciso Lpez spent his entire adult life drifting throughout South America and the United States. The son of a wealthy merchant, he was born in 1797 and grew up in Lpez experienced his first brush with revolution. Ironically, Lpez ended his time in Venezuela by fighting victory in Venezuela over the Spanish, Lpez migrated to Cuba, where he soon turned against Spain. Lpez attempted to find his place in Cuban society through various business ventures, and each failure soured his fealty toward independence, and eventually favored annexation by the United States. After an early bid to begin an armed uprising in Cuba in 1847, Lpez narrowly escaped a rrest by immigrating to the United States and settling among the Cuban immigrant community in New York City. 28 Lpez his inability to rise through the ranks of the army and maintain a go vernment 27 Rodrigo Lazo, Writing to Cuba: Filibustering and Cuban Exiles in the United States (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005); Walter Johnson, River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2013), 330 366. 28 Chaffin, Fatal Glory 37 39. Thomas W. Wilson, An Authentic Narrative of the Piratical Descents upon Cuba Made by Hordes from the United States by Nar ciso Lopez, a Native of South America; To Which Are Added Some Interesting Letters and Declarations from the Prisoners, with a List of Their Names (Havana 1851), 5 7.
201 appointment in Cuba. Spurned by Spain, he turned against them and became a Cuban revolutionary. His charisma allowed him to connect with those around him, which made it easy for him to gain followers. Lpez spent his life carefully navigating the different cultures found in Venezuela, Cuba, New York, and New Orleans. 29 Lpez attempted an earlier expedition in 1849 with a part of his expedition leaving from New York, and another ship leaving from Mississippi. Unfortunately, for him and his expedition the filibusters, some 600 departing from the Gulf, were stopped by a U.S. Naval blockade dissolved. Conflating the histories and peoples of Texas, Mexico, Cuba, and Spain the Mississippian proclaimed that the Spanish rulers of Cuba belonged to the same race as the Mexican federales revolutionaries, the Mississippian not only used the memory of Texas to incite similar outrage against Spain, but also linked ideas about the Spanish to those of the Mexicans who were consistently denigrated as mixed race. Eager not to miss the new expansi onist opportunity that had dropped into their laps via Lpez the Vicksburg Whig re 30 Evident in the staging of Narciso Lpez racialized bo undary between the American participants and their Cuban Creole 29 Chaffin, Fatal Glory 2; Wilson, Authentic Narrative 1. 30 Jackson Mississippian Sept ember 14, 1849, November 9, 1849, December 12, 1849; Vicksburg Whig September 4, 6, December 6, 1849. Robert E. May, John A. Quitman: Old South Crusader (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985), 236 237; Freehling, Secessionists at Bay 353 3 56.
202 counterparts, while still engendering public sympathy for the Cubans living on the island. To do this the filibusters painted the Cuban Creoles as tragic figures. Anglo southerners believed Cu bans loved America and needed Anglo American support and guidance. During the early months of preparation for the expedition, men interested in taking part traveled to New Orleans to meet with Lpez Francis Boggess recalled that be put in charge of the Cubans and all to be perfect in military 31 Those favoring Cuban annexation often cast the Cuban Creole population as a downtrodden and oppressed people, impoverished due to the excesses of an antiquated imperial ruler. Anne xationists consistently differentiated the Cuban Creoles from the Spanish government. In contrast, during the U.S. Mexican War soldiers as well as newspapers often viewed lower class Mexicans as oppressed and degraded due to the excesses of the upper class 32 In discussing Cuba, New Orleans newspapers and filibusters viewed Cuban Creoles similarly. In considering a history of Cuba published during the expedition, the Daily True Delta New Orleans Picayune merchants who claimed that all of Cuba was in favor of independence and annexation. 31 Francis Calvin Morgan Boggess, A Veteran of Four Wars, The Autobiography of F.C.M. Boggess: A Record of Pioneer Life and Adventure, And Heretofore Unwritten History of the Florida Seminole Indian Wars (Arcadia, Florida: Champion Job Rooms, 1900), 20. 32 Robert Johannsen, To the Halls of Montezumas: The Mexican War in American Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988) 164 167.
203 Th ese American observers assumed that the oppressed Cuban natives would rise up in rebellion as soon as the filibusters landed. 33 Cuban newspapers that supported or were controlled by the Spanish government focused much of their attention on the racial discou rse behind U.S. interest in the annexation of Latin American countries. These newspapers became the most outspoken opponents against U.S. interests in the Caribbean and South America. The Spanish government used annexation and U.S. expansion as a warning a gainst Cuban independence partially by lobbing accusations against Narciso Lpez and the filibusters intending to sail to Cuba. They also used the age old nightmare of slave insurrections as tools to keep Cuban Creoles from revolting. Like their counterpar ts on the southern mainland, Cuban Creoles feared their slaves and, despite the absence of a strict black/white racial binary, also feared the prospect of race wars. Ever present and always shaping racial fears of the planter classes in both the Gulf South and Cuba, the recent history of Saint Domingue remained useful for causing action or in action. New Orleanians did not often view Cuban slaves as a threat to their own slave populations or to their plans to conquer Cuba. Filibuster expedition supporters d id not seem to contemplate the possible involvement of slaves in Cuba or their reaction to these invasions. Cuban slaves became a part of the fabric of an idealized Cuban landscape racial mastery perpetuated. As discussed in Chapters 2 and 3, this was similar to the way that Mexicans and Native Americans had become part of the natural setting of Texas during the process of annexation. So too did Cubans, and especially Cuban slaves, fade into 33 New Orleans Daily True Delta April 13, 1850; New Orleans Daily Picayune May 1, 1850.
204 the background. While the construction of Cuban Creole identity as prostrate victims became a central aspect of the rhetoric of the armed expeditions, another important thread was the way in which the Mexican American War bolstered enthusiasm for continued expansion into Latin America. In 1850, while planning the second expedition to Cuba, Lpez targeted not only Anglo Southerners interested in expansion, but also Mexican American War veterans. Throughout the months leading up to the second expedi tion, Lpez circulated throughout the Gulf South states seeking support. Sitting in the front parlor of the Lpez offered command of the filibuster army to John A. Quitman, a veteran of the Mexican American War, and ardent pr o South expansionist. Lpez even hinted at the possibility that Quitman might rule over a Cuban republic. Later, Quitman wrote to a former aide de camp in the U.S. Mexican War: island in military expedition to Cuba, where he would become prime minister. His spirit often a soldier. 34 Quitman originally formed his opinions of Latin America and expansion before the war in Mexico, where h e observed the people as he marched through the villages and towns of northern Mexico. He exchanged many letters with his family back in Mississippi relating his opinions of them, which were either dismissive or hostile. He had 34 John Quitman to Mansfield Lovell, March 15, 1850, Quitman Papers.
205 written an acquaintance livi U.S. take any real notice of what lay beyond the warm water of the Gulf Coast. Quitman eventually restrained these fantasies of Cuban invasion and rule. He chose to remain in Mississippi, though he supposedly aided Lpez in preparing his expedition. That it was done in secrecy mak involvement in these preparations, but Quitman did put Lpez in touch with his friend, John Henderson, then working in New Orleans as a lawyer. Through both men, Lpez was able to make contact with others in the city who were able to help him outfit his growing army. 35 Although promoting Cuban independence was one of the purported motivations for the filibusters in 1850, annexation to the United States remained the root cause. The Spanish colonial government used the threat of U.S. annexation against Cuban independence. An April 1850 article taken from El Diario de la Marina questioned the wisdom of following the Americans into the fray of revolution and territorial aggrandizement. The paper answered the optim ism of American expansion by arguing that aggrandizement had been the ruin of Rome and Carthage. It warned readers that the United States of imposing the yoke of its own civilization on other Latin American countries. This critique predicted the 35 J.F.H. Claiborne, ed., John A. Quitman: Life and Correspondence 2 vols. (New York: Harper and Brothers, Publishers, 1860), II, 53 57; New Orleans Daily Picayune April 24, 1850; Freehling, Road to Disunion 23 25.
206 downfall of the United States at the hands of its own territorial greed, but it also warned that American territorial aggrandizeme nt would not bring independence, but merely another form of colonialism. El Diario linked the filibusters with the soldiers of the U.S. Cuban independence. 36 Its views o f both the war and the expeditions added yet another layer of interpretation to the meaning of the U.S. Mexican War which emphasized the rule. Articles in the Havana pape and support of filibustering expeditions. The authors went on to accuse American or English merchants of starting ru industries. It warned their readers, who doubtless were not only Cubans but also American port city residents, tha t the filibusters were little more than pirates, undisciplined, ill equipped and led by a canalla a scoundrel. Meanwhile, the paper declared, the well trained and outfitted Spanish army lay in wait for them, and the Cuban people remained loyal to the crow n, which had watched over them, guided them, and allowed them to prosper for over three hundred years. The number of exiles then living in United States cities such as New York and New Orleans, and the excitement over the Juan Rey Francisco case, betrayed 36 El Diario de la Marina April 11, 1850.
207 reality. Yet the Havana newspaper maintained that the filibusters would be unable to As he prepared to sail for Cuba in May 1850, Lpez addressed his fellow filibusterers with a proclamation outlining their mission. He tied the expedition to American participation in the U.S. the men of the field of Palo Alto and Churubusc o, or brethren and worthy peers of the Mexican War, he predicted that the patriotic Cuban people would rise up against the Spanish once the filibusterers unveiled the tri color f lag of independence on Cuban shores. The Buena them. In describing the types of men Lpez aimed to recruit, Francis Boggess, a filibuster, stated that the expeditions were to be made up entirely of U.S. Mexican War veterans. He commented on the thousands of unemployed discharged soldiers who would willingly engage in the expeditions despite the dang er. As the expedition set sail, the New Orleans True Delta surmised that three 37 By emphasizing connections between the war and the expeditions, Lpez and the Delta further shaped the expectati on that they would be successful in their attempts. Lpez beginning of organization for insurrection, and menaced by Spain's perpetual threat of converting into a worse than San Domingo, t he richest and loveliest of Islands beneath 37 New Orleans Daily True Delta May 12, May 17, 1850.
208 been compelled to wait and long for the hour when a first nucleus for their revolution shall be afforded them by a gallant band of sympathizing friends, like that which I Lpez went so far in his planning of Cuban independence as to assure his American born soldiery that their first order of bus iness would be to create a provisional constitution, founded on example to the Cubans and the entire world. He promised them laurels and victory in Cuba, and beyond tha t, perhaps most importantly, he claimed he wished that when it Cuba will never fail generously to bestow on those to whom she will owe the sacred and Lpez cast the Cubans as people in need of American assistance, prepared to repay their aid with material gains. American aid meant the migra tion of Anglo American settlers to the island. Cuban Creoles would play a very small part in their own liberty, and in the annexation process according to this vision of the future. 38 Lpez thus linked the rhetorical context of the expeditions to its econom ic reality of expansion into Latin America. The rhetoric of the filibustering expeditions emphasized the freedom of Cuban Creoles, however Lpez could not escape the expectation that Cuban revolution and annexation meant more territory for the South. 38 Narciso Lpez
209 The f ilibusters landed in Cardenas on May 19, 1850. Lpez went ashore with 520 men, and they spent most of that day walking through the town like tourists, greeting people and drinking. The invaders were polite enough to pay for what they consumed. The Filibus tero an anonymous author of a memoir recalling the events of Lpez expeditions, recalled Lpez once the filibusters had taken control of it. Yet the Creoles at Cardenas did not aid the men at al l. According to the filibuster, Lpez hardly knew what to think of their lack of enthusiasm. It seemed impossible for Lpez to reconcile their unwillingness with the Filibustero described Lpez and th mutinous. It was plain to them that the Creoles in Cardenas, at least, felt no disposition to revolt; that their sympathies, or what was more probable their fears, were with t he Lpez persisted in his conviction that Creoles in other parts of Cuba remained ready to support the expedition and its attempts at sparking a revolution. He had recei ved letters claiming allegiance and felt that those beyond Cardenas would bolster Lpez continued in the campaign, pressing forward to Matanazas, a town further north along the coast. The author of Life of General Narciso Lpez depi longer believed that the Cubans desired freedom from Spain, and that if they did, the Creoles claimed, they would be the ones to free themselves. The filibuster claimed that Lpez
210 another step until we see something on the part of the Creoles besides promise s. They must take the next, and then we will go to their assistance; otherwise, we shall not 39 Toward the end of that first day, they heard the sound of advancing Spanish troops, and the thrill of the expedition soon ended. The Spanish advan ced on the town and quickly routed the filibusters. Boggess recalled that Cubans had been glad 40 Many of the men quickly made it back to the ship, though their troubles were not ov er. The Spanish chased the filibusters back across the Florida Straits. Lpez disbanded the expedition before it arrived in Key West, and the men returned to the main land. U.S. Naval Agents waited for them in Florida and arrested as many as possible desp ite the efforts of Key West citizens to hide several of them. Lpez returned through Charleston, but eventually was arrested and put on trial along with several others for violation of U.S. Neutrality Acts. In the aftermath of the expedition, El Diario de la Marina rejoiced with news of the news of Spanish victory. It celebrated the bravery of the Spanish army battalions that marched off to do battle with the invading piratas and malvados who landed on the Cuban shore. The Diario published personal account s from Cardenas, detailing the events of the past few days, the behavior of the army, and the rosters of the valiant battalions, which had overrun Lpez aking it clear that Cuba remained 39 A Filibustero, Life of General Narciso Lopez: Together With a Detailed History o f the Attempted Revolution of Cuba, from its First Invasion at Cardinas, Down to the Death of Lopez, at Havana (New York: Dewitt & Davenport, Publishers, 1851), 13 14. 40 F.C.M. Boggess, A Veteran of Four Wars, The Autobiography of F.C.M. Boggess: A Record of Pioneer Life and Adventure, And Heretofore Unwritten History of the Florida Seminole Indian Wars (Arcadia, Florida: Champion Job Rooms), 24 25.
211 part of Spain and that the glory of victory went to the Spanish empire. They also announced that the tranquility of the island had returned quickly after the filibusters left, and consistently praised the patriotism of the Cubans in Cardenas. 41 In New Orleans, the Picayune effect of the failure of the expedition, argued th e Picayune would be to impair confidence in the efficacy of American help. The paper lamented that the skill and Mexican War which the events at Cardenas of the United States to remain victorious in foreign countries. 42 The Cuban press vehemently denounced the expedition. Referring to the g oals of the expedition, El Diario their laws, shaming it and making it appear on the face of the Earth like an outlaw gua procl manner in which the Spanish used their own form of racial ideology to combat Anglo 41 Diario de la Marina May 18, 1850; ibid. May 22, 1850. 42 New Orleans Daily Picayune May 29, 1850.
212 Sax emphasized their long and prestigious history in the region. 43 Despite the obvious evidence demonstrating that starting a revolution in Cuba was no easy task and that Creole pa rticipation was by no means guaranteed, enthusiasm for the expeditions in the United States continued. Even as the filibusters went to trial, support for the expeditions did not wane, and newspapers often defended Lpez proved strong and resilient in 1850. Mexican War, and his ire concerning the battles being waged in Congress over southern expansion and the fate of the Mexican cession, revealed his feelings toward the South and its plac e in the U.S. movement into Latin America. In 1850, the trial of the failed Lpez culpability, and the Compromise of 1850, dominated correspondence amongst the Quitman family. John Quitman was in Jackson, Mississippi, se rving as governor while his family was dispersed across both North and South. But his children and wife her brother, eager to learn about his involvement and expressing he r anxiety. Earlier, in March 1850, Louisa wrote concerning the possibility of his involvement with the Cuban expeditions. She refused to lend any credit to the statements made against her brother, but they continued to make her uneasy. She was fearful that his political opponents would use the accusations to speak out against him and other southerners. His wife Eliza wrote to him to celebrate July 4 th 43 El Di ario de la Marina May 3, 1850.
213 44 Quitman allowed his expansionist fantasies t o get the better of him worries over his involvement in the expeditions, as well as his fantasies concerning quences and its connection with the expeditions. For soldiers, the war shaped their expectations of the filibustering expeditions as much as the rhetoric in the newspapers shaped the public expectations of the expeditions. By February 1851, Quitman had ret urned to New Orleans to stand trial for contributing money to, and meeting with the filibusters. His sister again wrote, Lpez and the expeditions. The story quickly shifted away from Lpez a nd his efforts to help the between himself and Lpez It was then, as she had sus pected from the start of the known best to the projectors of it, while at the same time it afforded a vent for their spite 45 Some New Orleanians celebrated Q uitman and his expansionist ideas, and condition of the country is so perilous, and my position so expendable that my mind is much and deeply agitated upon the subject.. .I am now fully satisfied that no southern statesman can . discharge his duties to his country, without subjecting his name, his 44 Louisa R. Quitman to John Quitman, March 3, 1850, Quitman Family Papers #616, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Eliza Quitman, July 4, 1850, Quitman Family Papers 45 Louisa to John Quitman, August 5, 1850, Quitman Family Papers.
214 daughter, also named Louisa, stating target for the Federal Government and the North. 46 Eventually the charges against Quitman were dropped due to lack of evidence, but he was forced to resign as Mississippi governor. The Houston Democratic Telegraph and Texas Register display the power of the Federal government that has been attempted since the days of 47 During the excitement of the Lpez article in his denounced the notion that only republics were obsessed with territorial aggrandizement, but noted that republics, and the United States in particular, seemed t o possess a clear talent for violent expansion into new territory. With the U.S. Mexican War, claimed which her institutions and positions peculiarly inclined one of war and c onquest! According to DeBow, the nation possessed an insatiable appetite for new territory, for a universal empire. Yet DeBow felt it important to call attention to the fact that this expedition did not bode well for the Americans currently living on the island, fearing that the colonial authorities might place restrictions on them, and noting that daily the battle of the U.S. Mexican War. 46 John to Louisa Quitman, September 21, 1850, Quitman Family Papers. 47 John to Louisa, Quitman Family Papers, March 14, 1851.
215 The U.S. Mexican War shaped both cri tiques of and justifications for the of expansion and the discourse surrounding it. While the discourse relied on highly racialized visions of future conquest based on su ccessful past expansionist projects, the reality of the process often disrupted the economy and society that Gulf South expansionists were attempting to secure. 48 During the trial, the Daily Delta published a history of the expedition as a defense for Lpez errantry on record h aving a right to leave home and go to Cuba, California, Hungary, Italy, or anywhere person of Gen. Lpez Lpez to American conception s of Cuban desires, the Cuban independence movement, and the Cuban people as a whole. 49 In response to doubts about the filibustering expeditions, supporters such as John Henderson, Lpez believe in the importance, 50 They had received information from the island claiming that the Creoles were fully 48 w 9, no. 2 (August 1850), 164 177. 49 J.C. Davis, The History of the Late Expedition to Cuba, by One of the Participants (New Orleans: Job Office of the Daily Delta 1850) 2 3. 50 John Henderson to John A. Quitman, Nov. 6, 1850, Quitman Family Papers; New Or leans Daily Picayune April 15, 1851; Mobile Daily Register April 18, 1851.
216 in high spirits; the utmost confidence was reposed by the heads of the expedition in the valor of the Americans; nothi ng was wanted but a field in which to display their prowess, On July 3 rd Joaquin de Agnero y Sanchez, and a small band of Creole men who Death to the Spaniar citizens were only waiting for the word to rise up in revolution, but again, this was not the case. Either because of fear or miscommunication, only fifteen citizens heeded Agnero El Filibustero reported that this lack of enthusiasm disturbed Agnero y Sanchez, but he continued his attempts, with little success, to rouse the people of Principe. The next day revolutionary forces made yet another attempt at creating an uprising, this time outside of town in the hills of Najassa, just beyond the city of Principe. Here they drew a larger group of supporters, but remained small in comparison to the 400 they had been expecting. Despite these setbacks they unfurled their f lag of independence and read aloud their declaration. This lack of support on the part of the Cuban Creoles plagued the campaign and finally came to affect the views that many Americans held concerning the Creoles of Cuba and the process of expansion. Cuba n reluctance as well as Lpez filibusters. The federal court acquitted Lpez He immediately began planning a third and expeditio ns, but acquittal did suggest to those interested in joining the filibusters that no
217 real harm would come to them if they took part. As the ships arrived at Bahia Honda in Cuba, Gulf newspapers excitedly announced Lpez rumors of revolution in Cuba. Many of the revolutionaries who Lpez had been in contact with on the island sent word to other possible hotbeds of revolutionary activity. The message came back that Creoles at Puerto Principe would support the filibusters a nd they had made a demonstration there on the 4 th of July, when a declaration of independence was read aloud to the people. This, the filibusters hoped, would inspire others across Cuba to rise up against the Spanish. However, news from Cuba was shoddy and incomplete, making it difficult for those within the Gulf of Mexico to know exactly what was happening to the filibusters. At one point the Pensacola Gazette all but proclaimed Lpez and his men victorious, claiming that a Spanish commander had offered L pez concessions and that Spanish soldiers daily joined Lpez 51 Yet in reality Lpez middle of a revolution disintegrated when the planned uprisings failed to materialize. During one of the final battles between Spanish tr oops and the filibusters, the Spanish army took 51 members of the filibustering expedition prisoner, including Lpez and planned to execute them. As the rest of the filibusters retreated, Boggess claimed that some men who were left behind, were forced to live in hiding on an abandoned sugar plantation for years before they could escape to the mainland. The Cubans living around the plantation thought the men were ghosts haunting the old place. 52 51 Pensacola Gazette August 20, 1851; Daily Picayune August 19, 1851; Daily Alabama Journal August 25, 1851. 52 Boggess, A Veteran of Four Wars 30; Johnson, River of Dark Dreams 330 331.
218 Lpez oast as letters from prisoners arrived in New Orleans and were published in the newspapers. One filibuster simply asked his friends to think of him often and asked his wife to never August 16, 1851, Spanish troops removed 51 of Lpez held and executed them by firing squad. By the time many of the letters were published in the newspapers, the young men of the expedition were already dead. On Sep tember 1, 1851, Lpez was also executed. 53 In New Orleans and Mobile, public outrage developed into violence and targeted destruction. Citizens sympathetic to Lpez and his men attacked symbols of Spanish culture and society. Residents targeted cafes, cigar shops, and wrecked the Spanish newspaper La Union as well as property belonging to the Spanish consulate. 54 In the United States, Lpez and the other filibusters who had been executed became martyrs for the expansionist cause and Cuban freedom. When the C uban exiles and Lpez supporters learned about the execution, the Junta and its supporters regarded Lpez minded, noble hearted patriot, and the tears they gave 55 Lucy Halcombe, a young woman in Texas, penned a novel that blended fact and fiction, effectively spinning both into the fabric of legend. She wrote of Lpez ther 53 Alabama Daily Journal August 27, 1851; New Orleans Picayune August 27, 1851; Alabama Daily Journal September 3, September 5, 1851; Civilian and Galveston Gazette August 25, 1851. 54 The Daily Picayune August 22, 1851; Alabama Daily Journal Aug ust 25, 1851. 55 A Filibustero, Life of General Narciso Lopez 29.
219 to American citizen soldiers. 56 The outcome of the expeditions was startling and horrifying for many who had hoped that Cuban annexation was finally within reach. It al tered the discourse of expansion by separating the narrative of the U.S. Mexican War from the annexation of Cuba. The connections between past wars and the present struggle for Cuba were no longer as seemlessly connected. The loss of the expeditions and th e executions also went against the very idea of American superiority over Latin American and Spanish peoples. This was not what had happened in the U.S. Mexican War, and the connections between the filibusters and the war slowly fell away from remembrances of the expeditions. Lpez was memorialized, but expansionists no longer compared the Cuban fiasco with the U.S. Mexican War. Remembering the end of the expedition, Boggess lamented Lpez bitterness views of Creoles did emerge out of the expeditions, interest in Cuba did not diminish and the v ision of them as a weakened people requiring Anglo American rescue persisted. Reaction to the lack of Cuban support in both expeditions reflected a sense of confusion stemming from the belief that all Creoles on the island supported annexation. As a resul t, views on Cuban Creoles became much more ambivalent. 57 The San 56 Lucy Halcombe Pickens, The Free Flag of Cuba, or, The Martyrdom of Lopez A Tale of the Liberating Expedition of 1851 (New York: DeWitt & Davenport, 1855). 57 Boggess. A Veteran of Four War s 31.
220 Antonio Ledger newspaper like hideous vampires, suck away for their own support vampires, suck away for their woman de fact that the many within the Gulf South were embittered by the outcome of the expeditions the Ledger and wrathful owner -a galley slave under constant goad . the sons and daughters of Cuba, in the midnight hour, when the brutal oppression is asleep, go to the beach. They ask, too the many exiles whom tyranny has driven away to this dear soil to bestir 58 For several years afterward in New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf South, Cuban Creoles and white southerners commemorated Lpez eath and sought to keep the memory of the expeditions alive. Citizens of New Orleans held memorials for Lpez despite the fact that his body was never returned to Louisiana. In New Orleans, the cathedral bells rang on Wednesday, September 1, 1852, much the way they had when the city first learned the news of the death of Lpez and the prisoners. Friends were asked to go and pay tribute to General Lpez Picayune again related the commemoration of Lpez 1853. 58 San Antonio Ledger August 19, 1852.
221 During the 1854 commemoration many of the speeches were recorded in small pamphlets that could be purchased throughout the city. John S. Thrasher, one of John Lpez and the relations between the U.S. and Cuba, which he viewed as being intrinsically linked as a result of Lpez revolution. When Thrasher addressed the crowd, he talked about Lpez and the heroism of his men who had all been executed several years ago. However, througho races that lived in Latin America and the Anglo Saxon race in the United States. perfect dem noblest sentiment that can animate the heart of man; liberty and the elevation of the t embedded in his call for North American and South American unity along remnant o f the Spanish power in the New World, was reserved the glorious task of avoiding the errors of her elder sisters, and of initiating the true theory of their memorial, and ann sympathies, more resources and means ready to be sacrificed for the cause of Cuban independence than Narciso Lpez had in 1851; and never more clearly than to day has the [Spanish] Government reveal ed its fears and its impotency to maintain its unjust 59 59 John S. Thrasher, Addresses Delivered at the Celebration of the Third Anniversary in Honor of the
222 The speeches given at the 1854 commemoration revealed several new narratives that began to emerge concerning Anglo visions of Latin American nations and the part Cuba was expected to play in that vision. They also shed light on the manner in which Cuban exiles appropriated Lpez for their own ends and included him in their pantheon of revolutionaries despite the fact that he had worked to complete Anglo American expansionist projects. For t hem he fought for Cuban independence. While for the Americans he fought for Cuban annexation. Within the Gulf of Mexico, Latin American peoples participated in the shaping of discourse regarding American expansion as much as Anglos did, and like the Gulf S outh, Cubans were willing to use expansionism to their own ends. Conclusion New Orleanians may have begun to question the strategy of unsanctioned armed expeditions to annex Cuba, but gaining the gem of the Antilles remained a major goal for Gulf South expansionists and Cuban annexationists throughout the country. Amidst all of the memorializing and commemorating of Lpez purchasing Cuba from Spain gained traction within Gulf Coast society, just as it did in the U.S. government This concern did not stop John Quitman from attempting to organize his own filibustering expedition in 1853, for which he was brought up on charges yet again. In 1854, he and two of his associates was fined several thousand s of Cuban revolution and statehood continued and seemed impossible to stifle. 60 Martyrs for Cuban Freedom (New Orleans: Sherman, Wharton, & Co., 1854), 3 4; Gaspar Betencourt, ibid, 6. 60 Dec ree, Circuit Court Document, July 7, 1854, Quitman Family Papers.
223 Through his involvement in both local city affairs and his senatorial duties, Soul became interested in Cuban annexation, yet the prospect of armed expeditions and filibusteri ng did not appeal to him. His involvement in U.S. efforts to purchase Cuba demonstrated his belief that annexing Cuba was paramount. 61 His efforts eventually lead him to journey to Spain to try to arrange a treaty over Cuba. Many felt he Spanish people and the courts thought of him as a filibuster. The filibustering expeditions affected the possibilities of Cuban annexation and gave Spain a ready accusation to level against Ameri can overtures. In 1854 Soul, James Buchanan, and William L. Marcy helped to create the Ostend Manifesto, which they hoped would be the final push the U.S. would need to annex Cuba. While the manifesto was supported in the Gulf as in many other parts of t he South, the North and Europe reviled it. In the U.S. it quickly became swept up in other events. While the Gulf South had been captivated by the drama of filibustering, sectionalism increased in the United States. As Lpez sailed for Cuba for the first t ime, the Compromise of 1850 was passed. As Soul, Buchanan, and Marcy crafted their manifesto, the Kansas Nebraska Act wound its way through Congress, and soon led to the outbreak of violence between antislavery and proslavery supporters. Beyond the border s of the South the manifesto caused a severe backlash as many antislavery of the government and perpetuate slavery throughout the nation. Fights between North and Sout h had begun to overshadow interests in Latin America. Yet, in the Gulf South 61 Journal of Southern History 21, no. 2 (May, 1955): 204 205.
224 the developing debate concerning sectionalism still remained couched in the discourse that expansionists created over the past twenty years. New Orleans and the Gulf region contin ued to view their choices through a multifaceted prism of defense, economic security, revolution, annexation, territorial aggrandizement, and independence all of which contributed to the borderland nature of the Gulf. In the case of its relationship to Cub a this meant that Americans living in the annexationists and anti annexationists, and Spanish diplomats. Anglos in the Gulf South were forced to navigate these complex communities perhaps more carefully than those living in other parts of the South. The clear debate about Cuban annexation blurred significantly within Gulf Coast communities. So, too, did the debate over secession, as will be seen in Chapter 7. Cuba cont North. An glo American conflict on the U.S. Mexico border made the Gulf South appear even more vulnerable. Whether they were pro secessionist or anti secessionist, Gulf course of actio n. What would secure their continued expansion into Latin America? territory? Or would it become the threatened coastline of a new nation? In 1854, many of these questions had not yet been fully formed, but as they took shape the Gulf South remembered the struggles of its past and wondered about its future.
225 CHAPTER 7 EXPANSION AND SECESSION IN THE ANTEBELLUM GULF COAST In troduction her brother John Quitman in 1850. Ten years later, on August 4, 1860, t he Civilian and Galveston Gazette published a letter supposedly written by Republican conspirators in lieved that these conspirators intended to destroy southern merchants and millers, and use preachers and teachers to instruct Texans on the evils of slavery. The supposed -that is, free Tex After they accomplished their goal, the imagined conspirators planned to connect the have the aftermath of the U.S. Mexican War, unfettered expansion into Latin Amer ica still seemed wholly possible. By 1854, with the deaths of Narciso Lopez and the filibusters in Cuba, and the virulent backlash against the Ostend Manifesto, further expansion appeared threatened. In the tension filled years leading up to secession, ne wspapers and citizens in the Gulf ports used the language of expansion to provide a context for the sectional debates mounting within the nation. While the borders of the South were always imperiled in some way, the world beyond them always seemed to hold the
226 promise of continued expansion, but as the decade came to a close, that world held more threats than it did hopes. 1 Throughout the 1840s and 1850s the fissures that eventually caused the southern states to secede evolved along with the process of expan sion, and the push for additional territory caused many of those deep divisions within the Union that caused many southerners to support secession. In the years leading up to the Civil War, southerners in the Gulf South constructed narratives tied to the e xperience of expansion. Whether secessionist or unionist, they asked the same questions, but came up with very different answers. Chapter 7 explores the manner in which southern expansionists in the Gulf, unionist and secessionist alike, used this discours e to debate the virtues of secessionism and unionism in the years leading up to the secession. The years before 1861 demonstrate the manner in which rhetoric in the Gulf South began to shift away from expansionism to secession. Southerners used events taki ng place in the Caribbean and on the U.S Mexico border to imagine how secession might affect their region. In the Gulf South, the experiences of expansion, both positive and negative, collided with the growth of southern sectionalism, and in many ways shap ed it. 2 Fears concerning the security of the U.S. Mexico borderlands and the fate of slavery in Cuba combined to create a potent mixture of borderland conflict that shaped the nature of debate concerning the idea of secession. In light of Anglo Southerners completely control the former and purchase the latter, the world beyond the borders of 1 Louisa Lovell Charbourne to John A. Quitman, August 5, 1850, Quitman Family Papers #616, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Civilian and Galveston Gazette August 14, 1860. 2 Matthew Pratt Guterl, American Mediterranean: Southern Slaveholders in the Age of Emancipation (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010); Robert E May, The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire, 1854 1861 (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002).
227 the South seemed to reject expansionist overtures in much the same way that northerners rejected their entire society. As was discussed in Chapter 6, Lati n Americans, Native Americans, and African Americans within Mexico and the U.S. Mexico borderlands fought back against the narratives that Anglo southerners sought to impose on them. In so doing, they forced Anglo Southerners to question the viability of t hose narratives at the same time that they questioned their place within the nation. Thus, in 1861 Southerners were forced to ask how best to continue their interests in Latin America, and whether it was even possible to do so. The increase in sectionalis t sentiment in the late 1850s revealed the extent to which these narratives were called 3 Although the Gulf South port communities became bastions of expansionism, the region was heavily divided when it came to secession. In Texas, Sam Houston, previously an avid supporter of territorial expansion, threatened his political career and his reputation as a founding father of Texas in an attempt to stave off the secessionist movement. In Galveston, secessionists eventually ruled the day, but there was also a strong undercurrent of unionism on the part of German immigrants, and white Galvestonians who found supporting secession problematic. New Orleans was also heavily divided along political and class lines. Pensacolians found enemies in the form of the soldiers and sailors who inhabited the forts and naval yard, which had once been their salvation. Merchants in the region had cultivated trade connections with both planters an d other merchants and factories within the North, England, and Latin 3 Andre M. Fleche, The Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in th e Age of National Conflict (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012), 69 71; William A. Link, Roots of Secession: Slavery and Politics in Antebellum Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003); James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985).
228 America. During the heyday of antebellum territorial expansionism these connections worked for these groups and helped to justify interests in Latin America, however secession taxed these connections. 4 Chapter 7 addresses several main themes discussed throughout this study, examining how they shaped the context of secession. It focuses primarily on the years just before the 1860 election, and considers fears of European intervention, anxie ty concerning the complex racial order of the U.S. Mexico border in Texas, and the importance of Cuba and its continued significance in the Gulf South. Other issues such as the Kansas Nebraska Act, the collapse of the two o n Harpers Ferry, and the election of Abraham Lincoln remain central to the narrative of secession, but by examining the context in which secession emerged in the Gulf of Mexico other aspects of that narrative come to light. Cuba, Europe, and Past and Pres ent Fears Throughout the antebellum period, Anglo southern expansionists viewed European intervention as one of the most significant threats to their commerce and territorial expansion into Latin America. The annexation of Texas and attempted conquest of C uba had been partly justified by the possibility of Great Britain influencing the development of slavery in both. In each instance, expansionists justified annexation based on the notion that their inclusion would shore up the South against British politi cal influence. During the late 1850s, Gulf expansionists became concerned with England 4 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (New York: Verso Publishing, 1983), 6 7; William W. Freehling, Road to Disunion: Secessionists Triumphant, 1854 1861 (New Yo rk: Oxford University Press, 2007), 5: 145 185; Earl Wesley Fornell, The Galveston Era: The Texas Crescent on the Eve of Secession (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1961), 265 301; Frank Towers, The Urban South and the Coming of the Civil War (Charlottes ville: University of Virginia Press, 2004); George F. Pearce, Pensacola During the Civil War: A Thorn in the Side of the Confederacy (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000), 1 27.
229 and their attempts to stop the African slave trade in the French West Indies and Cuba. In order to emphasize the threat of growing northern opposition to southern expans ion, they focused on the fear of English search and seizure of American ships as well as their efforts to stop French and Spanish importation of Africans. In Cuba, Martinique, and the West Indies these southerners recognized a story parallel to their own. 5 America came as a shock. Albert Sidney Johnston wrote to his son, remarking on the oppostion to the South while he was stationed in San Francisco. In a frustrated and bewildere Sou th whole heartedly supported American expansion. 6 Many often emphasized this destiny in order to side step the issue of sectionalism or denigrate the side supporting it. fight to remain a part of the narrative ultimately removed them from it. In the mid 1850s, the Gulf South continued to reafirm its interests in issues surrounding Cuba, but also in the U.S. involvement in stopping the slave trade. By the time that James Buchanan was elected president in 1856, he had been involved in both 5 Freeling, Road To Disunion 148 186; Sylviane A. Diouf, Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007); Ronald Takaki, A Pro Slavery Crusade: The Agitation to Reopen the African Slave Trade (New York: Free Press, 1971); D on E. Fehrenbacher, The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government's Relations to Slavery (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001); Karen Fisher Younge, Civil War History 54, no. 4, (December 200 8): 430 ; Walter Johnson, River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2013), 395 422. 6 Albert Sidney Johnston to William Preston Johnston, September 9, 1856 Albert Sidney and William Preston Johnston pap ers, Manuscripts Collection 1, Louisiana Research Collection, Howard Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University, New Orleans.
230 the U.S. Mexican War and the Ostend Manifesto, which further shaped his ideas about U.S. foreign policy concerning the Caribbean and Mexico. Buchanan was not only an advocate of expansion but through his positions as foreign minister, secretary of state, and president he was able to turn much of the rhetoric of Manifest Destiny into actual policy much the way Polk had before him. Under the Buchanan administration, the African and Gulf squ adrons became more aggressive in stopping slavers leaving Africa. As a result of U.S. participation in the restriction of the trade, many ships carrying slaves also began flying U.S flags. There had been a number of American vessels and slave importers tha t did continue to participate illicitly in the trade. In response to an incident in which a British vessel captured an American vessel and searched it, Lewis Cass, Secretary of State, wrote a report on the subject, which was published in the New Orleans Di aly Picayune worrying that the navy would be forced to search every American vessel sailing in the Caribbean. 7 The Picayune said to Mr. Buchanan, a few days ago, by a gentleman whose opinion be asked as to the best remedy for brightened up at the idea which went home to one of his warmest feelings and 8 Aside from being a crude joke referring to the bloody attacks taking place in Kansas, it was also a reminder of the importance of Cuba to expansionists such as Buchanan. 7 "Search and Seizure of American Vessels. Official Papers," New Orleans Picayune May 28, 1858, May 29, 1858. 8 Frederick Moore B inder, James Buchanan and the American Empire, (Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press, 1994), 10; New Orleans Picayune January 13, 1858.
231 In his annual message in 1858, Buchanan summed up the current state of American interests in Latin Ame expanding into Cuba, Mexico, and Central America. His speech also revealed an intense frustration over the lack of U.S. control and authority in South America. Buchanan accused the Spanish of the same charges Polk once leveled against the Mexican Government, claiming that Spanish officials insulted the national flag, seized importation of African slaves. Buchanan claimed, colonial condition, is a constant source of injury and annoyance to the American make. From the position of the Gulf Coast, inte rvention on the part of U.S. citizens was both discourse and reality. They continued to assert their Anglo Saxon superiority and authority within these regions. However, the British navy that patrolled the Gulf in search of slave traders again signaled a w eakening of Anglo American commerce and a hindrance to territorial expansion, which the region still valued. In a speech given to the Baconian Society graduating class in 1858, Ashbel Smith spoke about the threats of sectionalism and Great Britain, which challenged the continued expansion of the nation. The Houston Weekly Telegraph advertised the speech as one of the closing acts of the evening, and they greatly looked for ward to seeing what Smith had to say. 9 Smith, a member of the founding generation of Texas, was a physician from North Carolina who had lived in 9 Houston Weekly Telegraph June 2, 1858.
232 throughout the 1850s. Smit h began by discussing the seizure of American ships in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Cuba. Though Smith was still largely against which he accused of having insulted the South. His speech was essentially a critique of the North and the British in their efforts to limit southern expansion in the Gulf of Mexico. Smith cautioned those who would put faith in and has been indiscriminately whispering through unknown to was the claim that if the South separated from the North then they would find an ally Smith declared. He then accused newspapers such as the New York Tribune of being paid off to tell northerners the opposite, citing as evidence a London Times announcement in 1856 that sym John Charles Frmont Smith invoked the past to give the present context, by recalling the War of 1812, as he closed his speech. Over the past decades the South had become enamored with the growth of the co tton trade, and territorial expansion of the South was accomplished, in part, to provide more room for more cotton. For Smith though, the expansion of the nation into the Gulf South meant more than the growth of a commodity. In his closing statement he rem -cotton served a most excellent purpose on the 8th of Jany 1815. It was in bags arranged in 10 In the aftermath of the speech, one of the 10 1926, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin, Box 2G237.
233 attendants wrote a letter to the e ditor of the Houston Telegraph was the great value of national power in connexion with our present domestic 11 Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, expansionists in the region frequently recalled the War of 1812 as a way t Britain. During the years before the secession, national events such as the Revolution and the War of 1812 also became reminders of unity and fealty to the nation. For those living within the Gulf South, the victory in the battle of New Orleans signified a strong anti British sentiment. By connecting cotton with the British in this way, Smith signaled that he in no way supported British involvement in domestic political issues such as slavery, desp The Civilian and Gazette interests, and reminded its readers that Thomas Jefferson had also been in support of the purchase of Cuba by reprinting a lengthy letter written by Jefferson on the subject. Gazette d annexation along with the idea of seizing Northern Mexico, encompassed the still 12 Despite the fact that Buchanan vilified the slave trade, in April 1859 the Civilian and Gazette remarked on the positive aspects of it and used Cuba as their example. In 11 Houston Weekly Telegraph July 14, 1858. 12 Civilian and Galveston Gazette August 3, 1858.
234 from Africa, but have never yet seen one who de Gazette the British Colonies furnished an example of the effects of the abolition of slavery in the the State receives from the institution of d omestic slavery, or doubts that the negroes are better off in this condition than they are in a state of freedom, whether in the West their control when the U nited States annexed Texas, which hinted at the idea that it could be their decision again if they separated from the Union in some way. 13 Although the Civilian and Gazette viewed the idea of separation from the Union with fewer objections than Smith had in Great Britain, past efforts at expansion, and past wars to frame their ideas about the current trend toward sectionalism in the South. Others in the Gulf used aspects of French and Spanish slave ry within the West Indies, as a way to discuss sectionalism and the centrality of slavery to the South. In so doing, they emphasized the connection between slavery, expansion, and the perpetuation of Southern society. Gulf South expansionists joined other Southerners in the hopes that Cuba would help assure their place within the United States at such a critical time. During the Charleston Convention the Democratic Party resolved to 13 "Mr. Jefferson and Cuba," Civilian and Gazette August 3, 1859, April 8, 1859.
235 be 14 The West Indies provided a view of the future of the South if it did not expand and instead let the North have its way over the state of slavery in the nation. Picayune produ ced an article revealing these complex connections. The paper urged its readers to stay abreast of the interest to this country, and needs to be well studied and heeded wel l, by considerate and patriotic men, now that heated enthusiasts and calculating demagogues are clamoring for the putting into force of the theories of which Europe is deploring the Picayune felt that the attempts of the French Africans from what they viewed as a barbarous existence by enslaving them provided an excellent example of the benefits of slavery. 15 While the central questions of slavery remained that of whether or not it would be allowed in new states, the experiences of the Gulf South and the struggles between slaveholding European nations and Britain provided an additional context for this most fundamental issue. Thus revealing the way that national and international issues intersected with the experiences of those living in the Gulf South during the prior two decades. Newspapers charted the comings and goings of slavers in the Caribbean, reporting how they attempted to avoid run ins with British vessels. In 1858 the Picayune reported that Cuban slavers wer e refitting out of Campeache in the Yucatan because there were no English cruisers present and the authorities there seldom inquired over 14 "Platform of the National Democracy," The Crisis !, August 1, 1860. 15 "The Negro Question, French and English," New Orleans Times Picayune February 3, 1858.
236 16 At the end of the decade, Cuba became both a place to wa tch and a place that might become a part of the United States. Interest in annexing Cuba remained of central importance to expansionists in the Gulf of Mexico, but it also became an example of what might happen to them if the slave trade were to be reopene d or remained closed. The Caribbean became a kind of test case for those who guarded against disunion and for those who in some way advocated it. In the relationship between England, France, Spain, and Cuba that played out over the questions of slavery and the slave trade, the same questions so bitterly fought over in the U.S. between the North and South, the South saw every possible outcome of these questions. 17 Despite approving the continued importation of slaves into the West Indies in April 1859, the N ew Orleans Picayune published a brief article speaking out against those who recommended the reopening of the slave trade in the U.S. It believed that most southerners supported the slave trade simply because northerners found it offensive, rather than out of an actual belief that reopening the trade would bring the South any real prosperity. And these same men, wrote the Picayune become possessed with this idea as the remedy for an thousand fancied ills, are ready to declare, if the laws declaring the slave trade piracy be not repeated, the South must 18 In this light, the slave trade would hinder the more important issues to endanger 16 New Orleans Picayune January 13,1858. 17 New Orleans Picayune July 30, 1858. 18 New Orleans Picayune April 17, 1859.
237 of a cquiring if possible by honorable means, the Island of Cuba -of exercising a predominating influence in Central America -and reconstructing the distracted that the South desperately needed territorial development to open new fields of consumption and enterprise, and not as a reason to open up the slave trade. In laying out alternate views of the slave trade as a threat to Southern territorial expansion, it envisioned a fut under debate in Congress. 19 Paying attention to the issues between France and England became o ne way that southerners shaped their views of the importance of their own system of slavery and the opposition against it during the years leading up to the 1860 presidential election. Rejecting the Filibusters Towards the end of the decade, ideas about fi libustering changed as much as ideas about the slave trade. Due to the outcomes of the filibustering expeditions in Cuba and the defeat of William Walker, who took over Nicaragua in 1856, many southern expansionists in the region began to pull away from su pporting armed attempts to start revolutions in Latin America. Instead they focused more of their attention on purchasing these countries. William Preston Johnston related a story concerning his father and a younger officer in the second cavalry. Albert ga ve the young man advice when he 19 Ibid.
238 learned that the soldier was about to enlist in a filibustering campaign. As the gentlemen and with them the chance for name and fame will soon bring on a sectional co llision between the States of the Union, in which every in part, from the fact that the two most spectacular filibusters to Cuba and Nicaragua did not end with the ann exation of either country. Narciso Lopez was executed in 1851 forced back to the United States in 1857. The end of the decade found Walker still trying also stemmed from his career in the military, which was considered the legitimate force in the process of terr itorial expansion. 20 As the campaigning for the national and state elections got underway in 1860, John Reagan, a U.S. Senator from Texas, issued a circular discussing the central issues facing Texas and the South. Among them was a rejection of the filibust ering strategy that so many southerners had once enthusiastically supported. In the circular country to rob and murder the people of neighboring nations, with whom we a re at peace, either for territory or other booty, and whether in the name of liberty, or of the 20 William Preston Johnston, The Life of General Sidney Johnston (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1878), 196; May, 47 50.
239 te government seizing Cuba forcibly. Reagan reminded his readers that if any other nation interfere with their rights. Reagan asserted that he supported further acquisition of slave territory even beyond Cuba by similar means, which like many southern expansioni sts, preservation of the Union by increasing their power to resist the sectional fanaticism that it was a critical issue for Texans just as it had been for New Orleanians, and also presented voters with the view that Cuba could only be purchased by the Union and would also help maintain unity against the onslaught of sectionalism. 21 Sam Houston, an avowed unionist, used the Cuban slave trade as yet another way to explore what would happen if the country were to adopt such measures. He open the African slave trade and the South will be deluged with laves would plummet, and slaves would become emancipation would inevitably result in destruction of the northern free labor force by making labor so cheap that workers w ould be unable to feed themselves and their families, and Houston claimed that further importation of slaves would result in a cotton 21 Civilian and Gazette April 26, 1859.
240 glut on the market thereby lowering the overall price of the crop. Even freight prices would go up due to the large number of Africans the South imported. 22 For Houston, the idea of importing slaves from Africa as Cuba had done would mean nothing but ruin for the South and the nation. In 1860 Richard Henderson, editor of the Galveston Civilian and Gazette began publishing a c ircular called The Crisis! fire eaters across the South. James Chestnut described the affects of abolitionism in the territories and what it would do to the South. Chestnut spoke about the South as a whole, but in places like Galveston or the other small port towns along the Texas coast, Texans read evidence of these movements along the U.S. Mexico border. If abolition same dir e prospects that Houston saw if they began they import slaves as had colonies in the West Indies. Chestnut also felt that the South would lose its pride of place among the slaveholding societies in the western hemisphere, as the best among them. Those stat as would be without parallel . Cuba and Brazil would be beneficiaries of the first i among us of the South; we turn with loathing and disgust from their mock 23 While this may have been mere abstraction for men of the upper South, it was a dire vision of the future for the Gulf South that was grounded in the real 22 "Speech of Hon. Sam Houston at Nacogdoches, Saturday July 9, 1859," Civilian and Gazette July 26, 1859. 23 "Speech of the Hon. James Chestnut, Jr. of South Carolina" The Crisis! September 9, 1860.
241 international tensions that existed within the region. The contest of territory between North American nation states and between the United States and its old colonial rivals such as En gland, France and Spain played out in the communities of the Gulf South. Cuban exiles hid in New Orleans, Pensacolians saw ships that monitored the British in the Caribbean, Galvestonians once armed men bound for Mexico, and one of its own sons waged war location at the center of expansion. 24 Despite the fact that Chesnut and Houston were on opposite sides of the sec ession question they nonetheless used the same language to speak about their views. While Cuba still remained the elusive prize, it also became a symbol for many southern fears during the mounting uncertainty of the time. Cuba and the West Indies were used southerners thinking they could risk the possibility of staying in a Union under a president who did not bow to the will of the slave power. Cubans would rise up and become the real po had their way. A fearful tone emerged, one that had been quieted and drowned out by the strong expansionist narratives of the past. But the reality of the setbacks as seen through the losses taken by the filibustering expeditions could no longer be held back by the visions of territorial acquisition. They had conquered Mexican territory, but the possibility that it would be lost to the South became very real in the late 1850s, and Cuba was not any closer to being annexed or freed from Spain. Native American and 24
242 enemies of slavery drawing down on them from all sides. Continued conflict between Mexicans and Anglos created an additional level of complexity to the choice of secession. Southerners had to decide which course of action might allow them to continue their pursuit of Cuba. With the disaster of filibustering fresh in the minds of Gulf South expan sionists, the purchase of Cuba seemed like a more favorable route. Only the United States could orchestrate such a feat. However, options. In terms of the U.S. Mexico bo rder, the question remained the same. Which would secure it best? Leaving the nation or staying in it? In the late 1850s it seemed that only the federal government, primarily through the use of army patrols, would ensure that expansion of Anglo Americans i n Texas could continue unencumbered. However in 1859, the eruption of the Cortina War challenged that belief at the same moment that it seemed the government might be taken over by antislavery powers intent on isolating the South and destroying its society The State of the Border In addition to the issue of coastal defenses, which primarily focused on Cuba and the West Indies, the defense of slavery and settlement in the Texas borderlands also played a central role in the construction of the secession deba te. In 1859, a series of border skirmishes occurred between Mexicans and Anglos, which horrified many southerners within the Gulf of Mexico. By the election of 1860 these matters became part of the debate over secession. Secessionists cast their decision t o support separation as a process that followed in the footsteps of the Founding generation.
243 Secessionist Texans also looked back through their history by reawakening loyalty to the Republic of Texas. 25 prevailing notions the United States and Mexico in two different lights, which elucidated the changing nature of expansionist narratives concerning Latin America. First, h e emphasized dictators, and governments that came to power after independence, and the struggles for liberal reform in the 1850s, which he believed contributed to the lack of pro tection for between the U.S. and Mexico amounted to little more than a dead letter. Secondly, he focused on the state of the U.S. r relations bands of hostile and predatory Indians . lawless Mexicans from passing the border along the border, and accused the local governments of northern Mexican states of being helpless to stop them. 26 Throughout the 1850s the growth of settlement, slaver y, and cotton within Texas heightened anxiety over the security of the U.S. Mexico border and the West Texas 25 Anne Rubin, A Shattered Nation: The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy, 1861 1868 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005), 2 3. 26 "President's Message," Civilian and Galveston Gazette December 15, 1858.
244 and a host of local conflicts between Anglos and Mexicans p osed additional questions concerning the Union for Gulf South citizens. The Civilian and Gazette recorded an exchange between several senators concerning the Indian appropriations in which Illinois Representative Owen Lovejoy moved to strike down an approp riation for maintaining Indian reservations in Texas, and the Oregon and Washington territories. Texas representative, Guy Bryan, opposed the amendment on the grounds that he feared what would happen if Native Americans in Texas were allowed to leave the r wanted continued assistance from U.S. armed forces. The Civilian and Galvest on Gazette mass of the responsible portion of the community look to the United States as their only 27 The mention of both of these issues at the close of 1859 stemmed f rom the American incursions on their borders, violence between their own communities dominated the debate over Texan border defenses throughout the closing months of 1859 In the summer of 1859, an altercation between an elite ranchero, Juan sparked a series of violent clashes that resulted in the First Cortina War. In the years since the U .S. Mexican War, Cortina had run aground of a group of Anglo judges and attorneys in Brownsville who he accused of appropriating lands from Tejanos in the 27 "Texas and the Union," Civilian and Galveston Gazette January 25, 1859.
245 county. During September and November, Juan Cortina and an armed group of supporters numbering forty to eighty men occupied the town of Brownsville, a pleaded with Mexican officials in Matamoros for help. They crossed the river and negotiated with Cortina, who agreed to evacuate the town. However, tensions remained high throughout the fall and several armed bands of men from Brownsville targeted 28 A letter written by a Brownsville citizen to the Picayune in October related the elite and officials from Matamoros, would join Cotina. In November the paper argued that American troops sho uld string Cortina up no matter where they found him, whether on the American side of the Mexican side of the Rio Grande. The Picayune urged Congress to take measures to authorize the President to send in troops to occupy both sides of the river due to Mex condition of Mexico leaves us no alternative now but to take care of ourselves, our country and our countrymen, without expecting anything from any of the governments as Rangers were called in and chased Cortina and his company which had grown to 400 men from the region. The Rangers defeated Cortina on December 27, 1859, and he fled across the river, hiding in Mexico. 29 Although the federal government regarded this as a victory, many Texas newspapers castigated 28 Houston Weekly Telegraph October 12, 1859. 29 New Orl eans Picayune October 19, 1859, November 18,1859.
246 federal troops for their inability or unwillingness to cross into Mexico to capture Cortina and his men. 30 Events such as the Cortina War of 1859, coupled with Harpers Ferry, led many Anglo Texans to view the U.S. M exico border as a hostile place filled with to slavery as a way to infiltrate the cotton belt and inspire slave insurrection. All of these events contributed to the compl ex nature of the choices of secession and Union in the Gulf South. As Buchanan had stated, the border region was inherently unstable. The extent to which the government worked to maintain the racial order of the region remained a central issue to the Gulf states. 31 which, though differing in the commission of the overt act, events have had counterparts 32 To many Texans, promises of border security went unmet from 1857 to 18 59. In the 1859 election year, Sam Houston ran as part of the Opposition Party and hoped to win favor with the Mexican and German communities by appointing Angel Navarro, a Mexican Texas from a well respected Tejano family, as his lieutenant governor. As a 30 Montejano, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas 32 33; DeLeon, They Called them Greasers 53 San Antonio Ledger March 9, 1860; Thompson Vaqueros in Blue and Gray 17 23; San Antonio Ledger November 19, 1860. 31 Houston Weekly Telegraph January 4, 1860. 32 Texas State Gazette November, 12,1859; Marten, Texas Divided 15.
247 borders, Houston won the gubernatorial election of 1859. 33 A female correspondent, Volumnia, wrote to the Austin State Gazette in December 1860, espousing loyalty to the state o there committed are only the offspring of the fiendish Indians that swarm upon our 34 When Volumnia urged the unionist men of Texas to stop and ponder, she revealed the fears associated with threats to the borders in the state by both Mexicans and Native Americans. Both unionists and secessionists emphasized the s. Where secessionists saw no help from the federal government, and therefore saw no reason to remain in the Union, unionists saw the U.S. military as the only way to ward off these threats and establish an order that benefited Anglo and southern social an d cultural structures. Throughout this period, the U.S. Mexico border became an example of what was happening, how the federal government did not appear to be interested in protecting southerners living within the borderlands or their economic interests. The actual process of secession took shape in a variety of different ways throughout the region. Each was Citizens in all three Gulf Coast communities studied here held mee tings and each one experienced by all, each city experienced secession in ways that were similar to those 33 Baum, The Shattering of Texas Unionism 86 87. 34 Austin State Gazette (December 29, 1860).
248 of other southern communities, which perhaps made them more like other southerners than had their prior experience with expansion. Yet the diversity of the populations including immigrants, as well as the presence of the military also shaped the outcome of secession. The Gulf South Chooses Territorial expansion into Latin Am erica was largely disrupted as Gulf citizens joined their southern neighbors in debating secession. Many of the communities along the Gulf Coast that had been centers of expansionist thought now became centers of secessionist debate. While they became caug ht up in the frenzy of the moment, the changes that had taken place in the cities through the antebellum period from the different groups of people that had immigrated to the cities, and their position on a vulnerable coastline, shaped the process of seces sion in each city much the same way that it had once shaped expansion and the discourse that evolved to maintain it. John Breckenridge won the lower South states, and all of the Gulf South states seceded early, following South Carolina in January and Febru ary. In Galveston, as in the rest of Texas, the choices that citizens faced possessed an additional level of complexity, because Texans considered the possibility of returning to an independent Republic, in addition to choosing whether or not to stay in th e Union or go with its southern sisters and form a southern confederacy. Galveston, like many other cities along the Gulf, was quite heavily divided over the issue of secession. William Pitt Ballinger, a real estate lawyer in Galveston, had a law office in the city which quickly became a center of debate in 1859, as his acquaintances argued over the possible outcomes of election. According to Ballinger, several of his friends argued for hours over the topic of secession, and many unionist friends determined
249 held meetings at the market, which Ballinger attended though found disheartening as the voices of the secessionists grew louder. At both meetings Ballinger made a point to remain quiet, perhaps feeling the tensions rising within the city between the two factions. Anglo southerners were not the only ones considering the choices that secession posted. For immigrants in the port cities secession meant they would be i n a wholly new country. Many German immigrants came to the Gulf Coast intent on escaping European wars and revolutions. Now the country they had entered as a refuge looked to be collapsing as well. While these issues were not directly tied to the discourse of settlement. Germans within Galveston were largely Unionist as were most Germans within the state. Germans had a difficult choice in the gubernatorial election, the unionist ch oice was Sam Houston whom Germans had come to dislike because of his past nativist connections with the Know Nothings. In a moment of desperation, the Know Nothings attempted to woo Germans away from the Democratic Party, charging that the pro slave trade Growing German support of Houston caused him to reject his nativist past, which he did in a letter to Ferdinand Flake, editor of the German newspaper Die Union Hardin pponent and the incumbent governor, accused Houston of pulling published a letter in the Houston Telegraph long sought for the c ountry which guarantees us that full share of political and religious
250 liberty denied us at home. We found that blessed country in this great Union, and this Schneider wrote th at Germans in Galveston did not believe in a northern and southern being destroyed. 35 In April, Democrats met at a convention in Galveston and created a platform that lea ned toward secession, arguing that Texas had the right to annul its compact with the Union, and support its southern sisters in their course of action. meetings to consider union or disunion. The coastal town of Indianola reported the the courthouse where the meeting was held. The Lone Star flag led the way, and citizens held banners emblazoned these conflated the memory of Texas independence and Texas sovereignty with the argument for southern independence in 36 Many Texans believed that neither the Union nor the Confederacy were good choices, and that Texas should go back to being a Republic. the Republic of Texas can be sustained in independence, and u nless we can better our condition materially, we for one, should be in favor of standing aloof. Self protection is the first law of nature, and the great law of States. In none of these alternatives can we be made to occupy the humiliating position to whic h a submission to an abolition 35 William Pitt Ballinger Diary, July and August 1859, William Pitt Ballinger Papers, 1832 1947, Galveston and Texas History Center, Galveston, Texas, 50 Houston Telegraph July 13, 1859. 36 The Bellville Countryman November 21, 1860; Indianola Courier November 24, 1860.
251 37 The Telegraph participated in a debate taking shape in Anglo Texans again invoked a sense of nationalism ass ociated with the original construction of Texas as a nation state. It reminded readers about their successful experience with secession when Texas broke off from Mexico. Public meetings continued all throughout the summer months, and politics consumed Gal vestonians lives much the way that talk of trade and expanding ugust, Ballinger spoke at a large meeting, giving what he called a public demonstration of his views might affect his growing law practice. The Daily Delta advertised me etings in which representatives from Texas would be present, and asked 38 Whereas in the small community of Galveston the German support of unionism was a visible presence, in New Orleans the immigra nt population was much more divided. The New Orleans Picayune posted a letter to the editor taken from the New Orleans Creole in which they claimed that principal German newspapers were unionist, an editor, E.L. Bolitz sent a letter to the Creole He wrote South that a change of our naturalization laws is essential to our safety? We are nourishing in the South lately made citizens who join the abolition conspirator against 37 Houston Telegraph January 11,1860. 38 "The Meeting to Night," The Daily Delta May 12, 1860.
252 -meaning 39 As senator, Pierre Soul was a much more public supporter of Union than the German newspaper editors of Galveston and New Orleans. He had long professed loyalty to his state as well as loyalty to the nation. During his time as a senator, after he gave a speech on the African slave trade, Henry Clay denounced him by leveling Soul its walls and degenerates into collision or rupture, a profound sentiment that I owe to my adopted country orders me to abstain and to leave its destinies to its native children and Soul opposed secession, but had always been loyal to Louisi ana. During issues that had arisen since the U.S. Mexican War and how the South had handled each one by opposing them, but never leaving the Union. When California entered th e Union, many southerns had opposed its entrance as a free state. Soule claimed that past and recent services as to disown that fearless and indomitable champion of po Soul supported the Union, he eventually sided with Louisiana when it seceded from the Union on January 26, 1861. 40 39 The Washington American August 3, 1856; New Orleans Picayune August 1, 1856. 40 F. Gaillardet, World. He was the only one of our compatriots who came to be so popular in the United States that he became a Senator at Washington, having declaimed with the most eminent orators, and having been given the honor of representing his adopted country as Special Envoy and Plenipotentiary minister in a Louisiana Liber te, Nos. 19, pg 33 Louisiana History: The Journal of Louisiana Historical Association 6, no.1, 82.
253 When secession came, it quickly consumed New Orleans in the way that the U.S. Mexican War had done. Maria Craig wrote a letter to her sister Franny Levrich, the arrival of the military. She was concerned that mail between North and South might eets are filled with large Military Companies; and composed of the very Flower and Chivalry of Louisiana -thousands have left for Fort Pickens, and 41 The men Craig observed were intent on taking contr ol of the military fortifications there. The Gulf South had once lobbied hard for federal government appropriations to improve the forts and naval yard in Pensacola, but after secession southerners were intent on removing one of the ense posts from the Union. For Pensacolians, the experience of secession brought about glimmerings of the the 1850s. The region was hit with several yellow fever epidemics similar to those that affected Galveston, New Orleans, and Mobile. The epidemic of 1853 proved to be especially bad, and no one could ever be sure if it was the town or the naval yard which had caused it. Interaction between the town and the naval yard di minished after the outbreaks of yellow fever. As the town recovered, life began returning to its normal pace, however by then sectionalism began to overtake the expansionist rhetoric of the past. However, secessionists were outspoken in Pensacola. Immediat ely after Abraham 41 Maria Craig to Franny Leverich, April 28, 1861, Franny Leverich Eshleman Craig collection Manuscripts Collection 225, Howard Tilton Memorial library, Tulane University, New Orleans.
254 would address disunion. One naval officer remarked that it appeared as though all 42 During the early days of J anuary, Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer then in charge of the U.S. army at Fort Barrancas, quickly recognized that Fort Pickens was much more easily defensible, and a prime target for secessionists. William Chase, who had overseen construction at the forts and helped to bolster the Pensacola economy, He quickly moved to capture forts McRee and Barrancas as well as the naval yard. On January 8, 1861, a group of local men from Pensaco la under his command attacked Fort Barrancas. Fighting in the late night darkness, the Federal soldiers within the fort his forces back to Fort Pickens. On that same da y Slemmer destroyed 20,000 pounds of gunpowder at Fort McRee, spiked the guns at Barrancas, and evacuated 51 soldiers and sailors to Fort Pickens. Despite the size and enthusiasm of the secessionist meetings, West Florida provided the largest number of de legates to the secession convention who urged postponing the final decision until other southern states seceded. Urging patience was common in the days after South Carolina seceded in December. Going against convention delegates that urged patience, the mo re ardent secessionists at the convention dominated the proceedings, and Florida seceded on January 10, 1861. On two separate occasions, January 15, 1861 and January 18, 1861, Slemmer Slemmer 42 Quoted in Tracy J. Revels, (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2004), 10.
255 managed to hold onto the fort until April when it was reinforced by other U.S. forces. As a result, Fort Pickens became one of the few fortifications in the Gulf South that remained in Union hands through the duration of the war. 43 In July, after t he battle of Bull Run, some of the first bodies came back to New Orleans; Pierre Soul received a letter that requested his presence at the funeral of a dear friend. James Trudeau wrote him, asking that he be there as a representative of, e united in purpose to see triumphant the ideas and principles of our Confederate States, in one word all the true patriots of the South, to render a last tribute 44 After Texas entered the United States in 1845. The port cities of the Gulf became the that permeated the ir present and the ideas about their future had shaped the debate over secession in the years before 1860, and many of the changes that took place in the region throughout the antebellum period contributed to the many ways that Gulf southerners experienced secession. Their place along the borders of the South would come to shape their experience of the Civil War just as it had shaped their experience of the U.S. Mexican War. Conclusion Secession caused many to reassess their views of the Caribbean and Lati n America. It also called into question the way they viewed their communities and their 43 Ernest F. Dibble, Ante Bellum Pensacola and the Military Presence (Pensacola, Mayes Printing Company, 1974), 115 141. 44 James Trudeau to Pierre Soule, July 8, 1861, Pierre Soule Papers, Mss. 401,1044,2028, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libr aries, Baton Rouge, La.
256 place within the South. It caused people to dust off old ideas or question those they thought fundamental and incontrovertible. As the country went to war, William Pres ton lessons on Greek and Roman political philosophy. On July 7, 1861, Johnston wrote on the cov true, But these times of convulsion and change, of turmoil and disaster, of despotism and anarc hy, of wild speculation and wilder experiment, it becomes us as reasoning beings 45 Both he and his u nion and the army he had served for the majority of his adult life, he chose to follow the state that he had made his home, rather than the nation he fought to expand. Albert Sidney Johnston died at the battle of Shiloh on April 6, 1862. Several years prio r to the outbreak of Civil War, James Buchanan discussed the paths that U.S. Latin American relations should take. While he was not the sole creator of foreign policy toward Latin America, his speech pointed the way towards what concerning the region after the Civil War. He worried over how the border would protect settlers moving into the Southwest where there was, reference to Central America, he beli eved that the routes across the isthmus were of 45 "Will Democracy Ultimately Prevail" Manuscript, Volume 2, William Preston Johnston, Albert Sidney and William Preston Johnston Papers.
257 a deep and direct interest, that these communications shall be rendered secure from interruption . it could not be pr etended that these States would have the right to arrest of geopolitical borders and expansion into Latin America shaped the discourse of secession in 1861. They us ed their unique geographic location and interests in the Caribbean and Mexico to attempt to understand what future lay beyond the decision to secede. The growing debate over secession added a layer of paranoia and anxiety over a society already traumatize d and frustrated with the failures of expansion into countries such as Cuba and the territories of the Mexican Cession. Southerners on the margins of the South helped to shape the borders of the region, which in turn defined the South as a distinct part of civil war was a complete unmooring of southern culture. It reverberated throughout society far beyond the realm of political discourse where it began. Unlike many other national, state, and local processes, mounting sectionalist sentiment caused many within the South, both unionists and secessionist, to reevaluate their world. Secessionists and Unionists often asked the same questions, but arrived at completely different answers. While the p olitical process provided the forum through which to debate their issues, the prospect of leaving the Union weighed heavily on southerners southward migration of people not only shaped the issues they cared about, but also how they spoke about them. The viability of slavery within their society and within the
258 were interpreted through the nex us of past fears and conflicts concerning the expansion South birthed a nation from its regional boundaries, southerners within the Gulf of Mexico again reimagined their comm unity. They gave new meaning to their borders and the world that lay beyond them, as they became a part of the rebellious Confederate States of America.
259 CHAPTER 8 THE VIEW FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO emed even more uncertain than it had when the United States annexed Texas in 1845. While it was impossible for the residents of the Gulf South to know what would happen as a result of annexation and expansion, they felt confident that expansion represented the path to prosperity and security, so long as the nation continued to pursue its interests in Latin America. The annexation of Texas and the U.S. Mexican War had secured immense tracks of land, feeding the hopes of Gulf southerners. After the war it see med as though Cuba would become the next slave state in the Union; even Central America seemed within reach. However, the failure of filibustering in Cuba and Central America called this imagined future into question. Secession eventually overshadowed the interests in Latin America as the nation faced the great uncertainty that accompanied world defined the experiences of all these events. The antebellum Gulf Sout h lay at the center of a multitude of connections, and exploring those ties is at the heart of this study. The connections that existed between the South, Latin America, the southwest borderlands, and the Atlantic World can all be viewed from the Gulf of M exico. Gulf ports were deeply affected by these ties. Those multiple linkages facilitated expansionism during the 1840s and 1850s. They also brought a bi racial society into contact with multi racial and multi ethnic societies, and
260 these connections in par t shaped the discourse used to understand and define expansion within the region. 1 The Gulf of Mexico provides a valuable window into the transnational connections of the United States in the nineteenth century. It has been my aim to contribute to scholars hip that explores the complexity and importance of the Gulf of Mexico, and to show the need for continued and extensive study of a region that has always played a key role in the history of the Americas. While the Lower Mississippi Valley was a vital route for trade, political discourse, and cultural transmission, it was the Gulf ports through which goods, people, and ideas entered and exited the American South. The connections that developed between the Gulf South and Latin American evolved from early effo rts at colonial and American expansion. Of all the populations that lived in the Gulf of Mexico, Anglo Americans were among the newest. Spanish and French colonial powers sought control of the region, which had helped solidify their power in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The ports they founded aided the development of trade and protection. Americans later exploited these early ties between North and South America. Through their efforts to dominate the region, we see these transplants from the mid dle and upper South question aspects of their own society and culture. By 1845, American born New Orleanians, both free and slave were confronted with the presence of immigrants, free people of color, and Creoles. Yet its diverse 1 Jessica Adams, Michael P. Bibler, Just Below South: Intercultural Performance in the Caribbean and the U.S. South (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007); Edward L. Ayers, ed, All Over the Map: Rethinking American Regions (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univer sity Press, 1996); Richmond F. Brown, Coastal Encounters: The Transformation of the Gulf South in the Eighteenth Century (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007); Nathalie Dessens, Myths of the Plantation Society: Slavery in the American South and the West Indies (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003); Felipe Fernandez Armesto, The Americas: A Hemispheric History (New York: The Modern Library, 2005); Sean Kelley, Los Brazos De Dios: Plantation Society in the Texas Borderlands, 1821 1865 (Bato n Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010).
261 populations and the immens e value of its markets made it integral to the process of expansion in the Gulf of Mexico. The smaller port towns also had diverse populations its proximity to the Ca ribbean meant that the presence of European naval powers in the region played a significant role in how Pensacolians saw themselves and the world around them. Galveston became the central port of arrival for European immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s. Cit exporter in part drove their interest in maintaining connections between themselves and the Texas hinterlands as well as asserting Anglo social order along the borders of the young state. Throug h these connections the Gulf ports provide a glimpse into local perspectives on the national narrative of expansion, but they also reveal their integral part in this story. Without the expansion of colonial powers, the Gulf ports would not have existed, an d their presence on the Gulf of Mexico made American expansion into the region and beyond possible. The discourse of expansion gave voice to all these dreams, imagined futures, ory seem wholly possible. Expansion and conquest in Latin America was not only a dream or an imagined future, but it was also viewed as the answer to many of the problems that plagued the South during the antebellum period. Beyond the standard argument tha t more land meant more room for excess slave populations and yeoman farmers was the
262 terri torial expansion quickly became a fundamental part of that discourse, thus shaping Mexican War then provided the impetus for the filibustering of the 1850s. However, in Texas it became apparent that the war meant to settle differences between the U.S. and Mexico only served to further destabilize the region with the added population of Anglo settlers alo ng the borders. Throughout the antebellum period, Anglo southerners living in these communities were consistently forced to question and evaluate what it meant to be American, southern, and white. The southerners who migrated to the Gulf of Mexico brought with them constructions of race that emphasized a strict difference between black and white. The Spanish and French colonial past of the Gulf of Mexico provided a different understanding of race that included mixed race people as well as free African Ameri cans. Anglo Americans worked to define multiracial people in ways that they could understand and that fit within their familiar biracial social structures. Creoles in New Orleans were depicted as white, despite the fact that Creoles of color made up a port ion of the Creole community. Those living in the Gulf South created racial constructions of Mexicans and Cuban Creoles to further the project of expansion. Mexicans were often depicted as mixed race and Cubans were depicted in a similar fashion as Creoles in New Orleans. Racial rhetoric surrounding the Lopez expeditions emphasized their European ancestry. Depictions such as these allowed for varied responses to expansion into these different countries. Mexico was conquered through war, and Cuba would have b een liberated through revolution if the Lopez expeditions had succeeded.
263 When those efforts failed, the United States attempted to purchase Cuba, but those efforts were also unsuccessful. That this effort failed was in part due to growing antislavery oppos ition to the idea of Cuban annexation and continued southern expansion. In the years before secession, many expansionists in the Gulf South who had once supported filibustering to Latin America now denounced the practice as piracy, much the way the Spanish had during the Lopez expeditions. Cuba, Texas, and Mexico continued to play integral roles in the discourse of expansion towards the end of the 1850s. While secession is not the central focus of this study, the growth of sectionalist sentiment in the Sout h and the breakup of the Union did have an impact on the process of expansion in the Gulf of Mexico. In the Gulf South, fears concerning growing Northern opposition to southern expansion and slavery were connected to anxiety over English efforts to stop th e slave trade and continued interests in Cuban annexation. Both Unionists and secessionists in the Gulf region used these concerns to frame their arguments over which better served the South. Unionists often used Cuba and the reopened slave trade as exampl es of what might happen to the South if southerners supported sectionalism. Secessionists saw the opposite, but both interpreted the possible outcomes of secession through the lens of Cuba and its relations with England. Anglo Americans living in Texas wo rried that slaves would escape to Mexico, exacerbating the instability of the border. Texans also worried that abolitionists were attempting to infiltrate the state and turn locals against slavery. Many of the individual expansionists studied here were rel uctant secessionists. Sam Houston, Albert Sidney Johnston, and Pierre Soul espoused unionist views early on, and Houston, who served
264 as governor in 1860, tried to stop his state from seceding. Eventually, the Gulf South states seceded, and, like many othe r southerners, these men supported their state over revealed additional levels of complexity to the connection between expansion and rhetoric. During the years leading up to secession their words and actions demonstrated that support of southern expansion did not automatically mean support for southern secession. Throughout the antebellum era the Gulf South faced many questions similar to those faced by other southerners d uring and after the Civil War. As southerners shared in the difficulties and anxieties brought about by war, they were forced to evaluate fundamental aspects of their society much the way that the Gulf South had wrestled with similar issues during their ma d grab for Latin American territory. Questions concerning the security of slave populations and the stability of the institution came to the forefront in the South during the Civil War as African Americans escaped to Union lines and won their freedom. Thro ugh secession and Civil War southerners interrogated they looked out at the world beyond them. The Civil War was fought throughout much of the South, and while the U.S. Me communities, the evidence of the war through the presence of soldiers, sailors, and arms had brought the war with Mexico to their doorstep. 2 2 James Oakes, The Ruling Race: A History of American Slaveholders (London: W.W. Norton, 1998); James L. Roark, Masters Without Slaves: Southern Planters in the Civil War and Reconstruction (New York: W.W. Norton, 1977); Chandra Manning, What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War (New York: Vintage Books, 2007); Drew Gilpin Faust, Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1996); Stephanie M.H. Camp, Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004).
265 On April 19, 1861, the U.S. navy imposed a blockade on the C and the Atlantic ports. The connections created through the Gulf of Mexico played a role in the blockade. The U.S. Navy had once patrolled the Gulf and Caribbean in support of southern commerce and conducted blockades against foreign enem ies. With the South as the enemy, the navy worked to keep southern ships from leaving the ports. Southern blockade runners dashed across the Gulf of Mexico, hoping to evade Union ships as they headed for neutral ports in the Caribbean where British supplie rs were based. England provided supplies while southern blockade runners traded high dollar commodities such as cotton, sugar, and tobacco. Mexico also served as a route through which southerners attempted to export cotton and import supplies. In the after math of the war, some southerners chose exile rather than surrender and escaped to Latin America. They wound up in Mexico, Cuba, and Brazil where many tried to resurrect their decimated society with little success. 3 After the Civil War, United States troop s again marched through Latin America in an attempt to gain political influence and territory. During the Spanish American War the United States used notions of Cubans that had once been used during the Lopez expeditions and Cuban annexationist movement. M any of the early racial constructions of Latin Americans during the antebellum period persisted; these were formulated through the experience of expansion in the Gulf of Mexico. During the latter half of the nineteenth century and the twentieth century, An glos in Texas and the Southwest continued to view Mexicans and Mexican Americans as racially mixed mongrels who 3 James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (New Y ork: Ballentine Books, 1988), 313 314, 378 383; Matthew Pratt Guterl, American Mediterranean: Southern Slaveholders in the Age of Emancipation (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2008), 73 113; Dawsey, Cyrus B., and James M. Dawsey. The Confederad os: Old South Immigrants in Brazil Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1995
266 were often times barely considered human. They became subject to the same Jim Crow laws that circumvented African American freedom in the South. These later uses of race to support Anglo American dominance at home and abroad were founded in the earlier territorial expansion of the antebellum period. Within the Gulf of Mexico they were also place in the ever changing world that lay just beyond the horizon. 4 4 Louis A. The War of 1898: The United States and Cuba in History and Historiography (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998) 3 7, 39 40; Matthew Frye Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876 1917 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000), 6 7; Neil Foley, The White Scourge: Mexicans, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Texas Cotton Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 3 7.
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292 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Maria Angela Diaz was born in Austin, Texas. She attained her bachelor of arts in history at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro in May 2007. She graduated from the Univ ersity of Florida with her Master of Arts in history in 2009, and went ABD in 2010. She received her Ph.D from the University of Florida in the summer of 2013.