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La Frontera Vieja
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By Michelle Ong

Before the Texas Revolution, Anglos rebelled against the Spanish and Mexican governments for independence due to a number of personal grievances. The leaders of these movements assumed they would receive American rights in a foreign land.


In 1819, Spain and the United States signed the Transcontinental Treaty to determine the western boundary of Louisiana and transfer Florida to the United States. Many Anglo-Americans saw the treaty as the U.S.'s acknowledgement of Spain's ownership of Texas and the United States' preference of Florida over Texas. One of these Anglo-Americans was James Long, who planned to form a new republic. He occupied Nacogdoches with three hundred followers, set up a civil government on June 23, 1819, and wrote a Declaration of Independence. He declared that the new government would see land at fifty cents an acre, comparatively cheaper than land in the United States that was $2 an acre to attract more American settlers. But during a trip to Galveston, Spanish troops captured some of his men and scattered the rest. Long established a new civil government at Bolivar Point on Galveston Bay but was accidentally killed while traveling to Mexico City.


A clash between new and former settlers caused the formation of the Republic of Fredonia. Hayden and Benjamin Edwards held a contract to settle the area around Nacogdoches for 800 families. Former settlers of the area arrived claiming a return to their settlements. Edwards ordered all the settlers to prove their claims. The settlers appealed to the San Antonio government to reclaim their land and later to the state of Coahuila-Texas's capital, Saltillo. San Antonio sided with the settlers and Saltillo¹s Governor Victor Blanco cancelled the Edwards¹ grant.

On December 16, 1826, unfazed by the decisions of San Antonio and Saltillo, Benjamin Edwards declares independence for the Republic of Fredonia. The Edwards' ally with the Cherokee and promise them land north of the Camino Real. Hayden Edwards traveled to Louisiana to gather support.

Meanwhile, Stephen F. Austin mobilizes a militia with Mexican troops to march against the new Republic. Fredonia loses the Cherokee alliance and Hayden Edwards receives no support from Louisiana. Very few shots are fired and the land is returned to the state. It was later apportioned to David G. Burnet, Joseph Vehlein, and Lorenzo de Zavala.

In 1825, Joel Roberts Poinsett attempts to buy Texas for John Quincy Adams with an offer of $1 million. Due to the Fredonian rebellion, Mexico is suspicious and hostile to Pointsett, declaring that Texas cannot be bought.


In Anahuac, an overbearing commandant Colonel John Davis Bradburn, from Kentucky, jails two colonists: attorneys Patrick Jack and William Barret Travis for trying to capture two runaway slaves from Louisiana. Other colonists rebel against Bradburn's autocratic rule, gathering at Turtle Bayou, and send men to borrow the cannon from nearby Brazoria. Meanwhile, Colonel Jose de las Piedras marches to Anahuac to suppress the rebellion. The colonists gathered at Turtle Bayou claim they are only rebelling against Bradburn and not against Mexico in the Turtle Bayou Resolutions of June 13, 1832. The prisoners are released and the commandant leaves Texas.

During this time, General Antonio López de Santa Anna began revolting against the Bustamante government to maintain the federalist Constitution of 1824. Federalism would allow Anglos more control on the state level. On hearing this news, the colonists at Turtle Bayou declare support for Santa Anna.

The men sent to retrieve the cannon attempt to ship their cannon to Anahuac after the Turtle Bayou Resolutions. Lieutenant Colonel Domingo de Ugartechea blocks their passage. A fight breaks out on June 26, 1832, later known as the Battle of Velasco, but Ugartechea and Piedra's men choose to side with the colonists and Santa Anna. Jim Bowie accepts their surrender and the troops leave Colonial Texas. At Brazoria, another squadron with Stephen F. Austin and General Jose Mexia lands to suppress the independence movement, but also choose to support the movement.

These early independence movements did not foreshadow an independent Texas. Instead, James Long, Hayden and Benjamin Edwards, rebelled against the state because of personal grievances. James Long was part of a disgruntled group against the Transcontinental Treaty that left Texas under Spanish rule. The Edwards brothers only declared independence because they did not want to lose their land. Finally, the Turtle Bayou revolt arose from the wrongful imprisonment of Patrick Jack and William Barret Travis and the oppressive rule of Colonel Bradburn.

When Santa Anna began his revolt against the Mexican government, he called for a return of the Constitution of 1824. Anglo-Americans sided with him because the Constitution of 1824 partly resembled the U.S. Constitution. Under it, Mexico was organized as a federal republic of nineteen states and four territories. Government power was divided among the executive, legislative and judicial branches. The Constitution also created a bicameral legislature with two senators and one deputy for each state. The President and Vice President were elected by the state legislature for a four-year term. The President was also given extreme powers to use in an emergency state. Future presidents would use these powers to create dictatorships.

The Constitution of 1824 would allow Anglo-Americans rights they previously held while living in the United States. Equal rights became their rallying cry, causing Anglo-Americans to wish for separate statehood from Coahuila to create a predominantly Anglo-American Texas. A separate state would enhance their representation in the Mexican legislature. They echoed the same grievances of American colonists wanting representation in the British Parliament.

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