08/18/05 - slavery in texas

In today's excerpt - slavery was outlawed in Texas in the decades leading up to the Texas War for Independence. Nevertheless, Texas settlers migrating from the U.S. openly practised slavery. This was the key reason that these Texas settlers wanted independence and were not immediately welcomed as a new state by the U.S.  Historical facts that Texas schoolbooks gloss over or omit even today:

"In the 1850s, the question of escaped slaves would be a rock on which the American union broke; in the 1830s, the same question commenced the fracturing of the Mexican federation. Though slavery was illegal in Mexico, the state and federal governments tolerated subterfuge by which immigrants from the United States, before entering Texas, compelled their slaves to sign long-term indentures. The affected blacks—many of whom had no idea what they were signing, or even that the laws in Mexico were different from those in the United States—were technically not slaves but in practice were as bound as ever. The fact that Mexico City was far away abetted the Texas slaveholders in their fraud, as did the fact that, in this form, the bound service of blacks didn't differ much from the bound service of Mexico's many (largely Indian) peons. The result was a flourishing slave system in everything but name—and often even in name. A traveler to  Texas in 1831 was surprised at how openly slavery was practiced. Describing visits to various houses between Brazoria and San Felipe, he wrote, 'At some of these houses, as in many of those in Texas generally, we found one or more negroes, held as slaves, although the laws of Mexico forbid it. The blacks are ignorant; the whites are generally in favor of slavery and ready to sustain the master in his usurped authority; the province is so distant from the capital, and had been for some time so little attended to by the government, that the laws on this subject were ineffectual. Negroes are even publicly sold. ...


H.W. Brands


Lone Star Nation: The Epic Story of the Battle for Texas Independance


Anchor Books, a division of Random House


Copyright 2004 by H.W. Brands


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