Anahuac Disturbances

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William B. Travis by Wiley Martin.JPG
William B. Travis played a key role in the Anahuac Disturbances of 1832.
Frank W Johnson.JPG
Frank W. Johnson commanded Texan forces during the 1832 Battle of Anahuac.

The Anahuac Disturbances were uprisings of settlers in and around Anahuac, Texas in 1832 and 1835 which helped to precipitate the Texas Revolution. This eventually led to the territory's secession from Mexico and the founding of the Republic of Texas. Anahuac was located on the east side of the Trinity River near the north shore of Galveston Bay, which placed it astride the trade route between Texas and Louisiana, and from there to the rest of the United States. In new attempts to curtail smuggling and enforce customs tariffs from the coastal settlements, Mexico placed a garrison there after 1830. American settlers came into conflict with Mexican military officers, and rose up against them. They increased political activity and residents of numerous communities declared support for the federalists, who were revolting against the Mexican Government.

Anahuac, Texas City

Anahuac is a city in the U.S. state of Texas. The population of the city was 2,243 at the 2010 census. Anahuac is the seat of Chambers County and is situated in Southeast Texas. The Texas Legislature designated the city as the "Alligator Capital of Texas" in 1989. Anahuac hosts an annual alligator festival.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.

Texas Revolution military conflict

The Texas Revolution was a rebellion of colonists from the United States and Tejanos in putting up armed resistance to the centralist government of Mexico. While the uprising was part of a larger one that included other provinces opposed to the regime of President Antonio López de Santa Anna, the Mexican government believed the United States had instigated the Texas insurrection with the goal of annexation. The Mexican Congress passed the Tornel Decree, declaring that any foreigners fighting against Mexican troops "will be deemed pirates and dealt with as such, being citizens of no nation presently at war with the Republic and fighting under no recognized flag." Only the province of Texas succeeded in breaking with Mexico, establishing the Republic of Texas, and eventually being annexed by the United States.



After Mexico gained independence from Spain, it legalized immigration from the United States. Empresarios were granted contracts to settle immigrants from the United States and Europe in Mexican Texas. As the number of Americans living in Texas increased, Mexican authorities began to fear the United States would want to annex Texas. On April 6, 1830 the Mexican government passed a series of laws restricting immigration from the United States into Texas. The laws also canceled all unfilled empresario contracts and established customs houses in Texas to enforce the collection of customs duties. [1] Mexican military officer Juan Davis Bradburn, formerly an American citizen, was appointed commander of a new customs and garrison post on Galveston Bay. [2] In October 1830 Bradburn established a post atop a 30 feet (9.1 m) bluff at the entrance to the Trinity River. The post became known as Anahuac. [3]

Mexican War of Independence armed conflict which ended the rule of Spain in the territory of New Spain

The Mexican War of Independence was an armed conflict, and the culmination of a political and social process which ended the rule of Spain in 1821 in the territory of New Spain. The war had its antecedent in Napoleon's French invasion of Spain in 1808; it extended from the Cry of Dolores by Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla on September 16, 1810, to the entrance of the Army of the Three Guarantees led by Agustín de Iturbide to Mexico City on September 27, 1821. September 16 is celebrated as Mexican Independence Day.

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located on the Iberian Peninsula in Europe. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

Empresario person who had been granted the right to settle on land in exchange for recruiting and taking responsibility for new settlers. The word is Spanish for entrepreneur

An empresario was a person who had been granted the right to settle on land in exchange for recruiting and taking responsibility for new both to settle the eastern areas of Coahuila y Tejas in the early nineteenth century. The word is Spanish for entrepreneur.

Bradburn was unpopular from the beginning of his tenure. He opposed the efforts of the state land commissioner to grant titles to settlers who lived near Anahuac. The Mexican Constitution of 1824 prohibited immigrants from settling within 26 miles (42 km) of the coast, and most of these settlers lived too close to the coast. [4] Although the commissioner was finally able to grant the titles, settlers were angry with Bradburn. [5]

In January 1832, Bradburn received a letter listing 10 men in his jurisdiction who wanted to separate Texas from Mexico. From that point on, "Bradburn became increasingly obsessed about the Anglo-Americans and their intentions, believing that every event was part of a conspiracy to detach Texas." [6] In June 1832, two of Bradburn's soldiers attacked a female settler. Angry settlers tarred and feathered a neighbor who failed to aid her. They demanded that Bradburn turn over the soldiers for a similar punishment. [7] After Bradburn refused, local men organized a militia, supposedly to protect the settlement from the Indians. [Note 1] Mexican law forbade residents from creating militias, so Bradburn arrested the ringleader Patrick Jack. After Bradburn received death threats, he released Jack. [8]

1832 Disturbance


Tensions between Bradburn and the colonists escalated. Bradburn strongly supported the Mexican law forbidding slavery. In August 1831 he gave asylum to three men who had escaped slavery in Louisiana. The owner retained local lawyer William Barret Travis to represent him in trying to get the slaves returned. [9] In May 1832, Bradburn received a letter, ostensibly from a friend, warning that 100 armed men would come from Louisiana to reclaim the slaves. When Bradburn realized that the letter was a hoax, he arrested William B. Travis for questioning. [10] He intended to send Travis to Matamoros for a military trial on charges of attempted insurrection to separate the territory from Mexico. Conviction on this charge would lead to Travis's execution. [11] Unfamiliar with Mexican law, the settlers were outraged that Bradburn could arrest the man without a warrant, a statement of charges, or trial by jury. Most assumed they were still covered by the United States Bill of Rights. [12]

Slavery system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work

Slavery is any system in which principles of property law are applied to people, allowing individuals to own, buy and sell other individuals, as a de jure form of property. A slave is unable to withdraw unilaterally from such an arrangement and works without remuneration. Many scholars now use the term chattel slavery to refer to this specific sense of legalised, de jure slavery. In a broader sense, however, the word slavery may also refer to any situation in which an individual is de facto forced to work against their own will. Scholars also use the more generic terms such as unfree labour or forced labour to refer to such situations. However, and especially under slavery in broader senses of the word, slaves may have some rights and protections according to laws or customs.

Matamoros, Coahuila Municipal seat in Coahuila, Mexico

Matamoros is a city and seat of the Matamoros Municipality located in the southwestern part of the state of Coahuila in Mexico. It lies directly east of the larger city of Torreón, and is a part of Comarca Lagunera, a larger metropolitan area, that includes Torreón Municipality in Coahuila in addition to Gómez Palacio Municipality and Lerdo Municipality in the adjacent state of Durango.

United States Bill of Rights the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution

The United States Bill of Rights comprises the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. Proposed following the often bitter 1787–88 debate over ratification of Constitution, and written to address the objections raised by Anti-Federalists, the Bill of Rights amendments add to the Constitution specific guarantees of personal freedoms and rights, clear limitations on the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and explicit declarations that all powers not specifically granted to the U.S. Congress by the Constitution are reserved for the states or the people. The concepts codified in these amendments are built upon those found in earlier documents, especially the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776), as well as the English Bill of Rights (1689) and the Magna Carta (1215).

Jack threatened Bradburn, who arrested him again. [10] Travis and Jack then began plotting their escape. They attempted to smuggle letters to David G. Burnet, a fellow instigator; the letters called on Texans to aid them, but stopped short of calling for armed rebellion. Bradburn intercepted the letters before delivery. [11]

David G. Burnet early politician within the Republic of Texas

David Gouverneur Burnet was an early politician within the Republic of Texas, serving as interim President of Texas, second Vice President of the Republic of Texas (1839–41), and Secretary of State (1846) for the new state of Texas after it was annexed to the United States of America.

Although settlers at first did not get involved, they became alarmed at learning that Bradburn was taking statements from potential witnesses without allowing Travis, Jack, or their legal representation to speak with the witnesses. [11] Jack's brother organized a contingent of men to march from Brazoria to Anahuac. Men began arriving from other villages as well. One of the Brazoria councilmen, John Austin, stopped to consult Colonel Domingo Ugartechea, who commanded the garrison on the Brazos. Ugartechea recommended that Austin request that the men be remanded into civilian custody. [13]

Bradburn's officers explained to Austin and company that the laws prohibited turning the accused men over to civilian authorities. The Brazoria men returned home. After they left, the Mexican officers discovered that their horses had been stolen. They arrested two local men on suspicion of the theft. On hearing of the new arrests, the Brazoria contingent returned to Anahuac. They camped with other angry civilians several miles from Anahuac and elected Frank W. Johnson as commander. The group soon captured Bradburn's nineteen cavalry officers, who had been trying to reconnoiter the Texan position. [14] [15]

On June 10, the insurgents occupied buildings in northern Anahuac. Bradburn worried that the armed men wanted to do more than free the American prisoners; he suspected a full-scale revolt. Bradburn had Travis and Jack tied to the ground with weapons pointed at them. Bradburn threatened to shoot both men if the Texans attacked. Travis encouraged Johnson to lead an attack anyway. [16] During the ensuing negotiations, the Texans offered to exchange the cavalry officers for Travis and the other prisoners. [15] Mexican officers agreed to release their prisoners into civilian custody in exchange for the cavalry officers and for the withdrawal of the Texans to Turtle Bayou. [17] [18] Although most of the rebels left Anahuac, between 15 and 30 of them remained scattered through the town. Bradburn believed this violated their agreement and warned that he would begin firing on the village within two hours. Most of the Texans believed that Bradburn had lied to them just to get them out of the buildings they had occupied. Unbeknownst to the Texans at the time, the buildings contained extra ammunition and supplies. [18]

Battle of Anahuac

After hearing Bradburn's warning, the women and children of Anahuac fled the town. Mexican soldiers briefly engaged the men who remained; five Mexican soldiers and one Texan died in the conflict. After the skirmish, the remaining Texans gathered at Turtle Bayou to await the arrival of cannons coming from Brazoria.

On June 13, the Texans adopted the Turtle Bayou Resolutions. In this document, they announced they were federalists who supported rebellious Mexican general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. They decried "the present dynasty" that kept them under military rather than civil authority. [19] While the Texans waited for their artillery, Bradburn appealed for reinforcements from Colonel Piedras, stationed at Nacogdoches 200 miles (320 km) north, and Colonel Elosúa at San Antonio, about 300 miles (480 km) to the west. On June 19, Piedras and about 100 of his men set out to support Bradburn. [20]

John Austin and his men returned to Brazoria for the cannons. On June 20, he called the residents together, and they voted to oppose the centralist government. Austin invited Colonel Domingo Ugartechea, who commanded the small Fort Velasco on the Brazos, to join their cause. After Ugartechea refused, on June 26 the Brazoria residents attacked the fort. The action became known as the Battle of Velasco. [21] The next morning, Ugartechea surrendered under an agreement that he and his men would return to Matamoros but leave their artillery behind. [22]

When Piedras was within 30 miles (48 km) of Anahuac, he sent a delegation to Johnson, who provided him with a list of grievances against Bradburn. [22] Piedras negotiated a resolution of the conflict. Among the measures to which he agreed were:

With Texans' acceptance of the terms on June 28, Piedras marched to Anahuac on July 1. [23]


Bradburn's chosen successor, Lieutenant Colonel Felix Maria Subarán, refused to take his place. [Note 2] Piedras took temporary command of the garrison. On July 2, he released the prisoners to the civilian authorities; within a week they were released with no charges filed. [23] On July 8, Piedras left for Nacogdoches. He gave command of the Anahuac garrison to Lieutenant Cortina, previously the third-in-command.

Three days after Piedras left, the bulk of the Anahuac troops declared themselves federalists. [24] The troops were drunk and Cortina, unable to maintain order, asked Bradburn to resume command. [Note 3] Bradburn refused, instead recommending that Subarán take responsibility. [25]

After an attempt at his assassination was forestalled, Bradburn decided to leave Texas. None of the local ship captains would give him passage. [24] On July 13, Subarán announced he would not guarantee the safety of any officers who supported the centralist government. That night, Bradburn left Anahuac; a hired guide took him on foot to Louisiana. Other officers sought sanctuary with sympathetic locals. [26]

Historians have discussed Bradburn's role. William C. Davis believes that he "overreacted and made heroes of two local malcontents whose actions their own people otherwise had not been much inclined to sanction". [27] The resulting Turtle Bayou Resolutions, however, encouraged other Texians to follow similar courses. Many communities declared support for Santa Anna. When Piedras returned to Nacogdoches, he discovered citizens were forming militias. He asked the local ayuntamiento to order the militias to disband; they refused and instead formed their own militia. On August 1, the combined militias ordered Piedras to vow support for the federalist revolt. When he refused, the Texians attacked and the Battle of Nacogdoches commenced. Several days later, they took Piedras and his men prisoner and "convinced" them to become federalists. [28] With the soldiers' surrender and retreat into the Mexican interior, no Mexican troops remained in eastern Texas. This encouraged the colonists to increase political activity. [29] Soon after, they organized the Convention of 1832, marking the first attempt to gather Texians from each of the colonies to discuss common goals. [30]

1835 Disturbance

A second dispute arose in late June 27, 1835, again over the issue of customs. Leading up to this crisis, a large amount of Anglo settlers had immigrated into the Anahuac area. The current commander was reported as being uneasy about the insubordinate attitudes of the locals, and he requested additional military assistance from his superiors. Tensions continued to escalate as some citizens demonstrated with anti-taxation protests and petitions. In addition, a group known as the Citizens of Texas began to meet with the intention of realizing these demands. [31] Andrew Briscoe, a local merchant and boat captain as well as a member of this group, complained that taxes were not being enforced equally at all ports. He intentionally tested the new commander, Capt. Antonio Tenorio, by loading his boat in a way to increase the curiosity of the officials. Briscoe simply loaded his boat with ballast. Tenorio was incensed and arrested Briscoe and his partner DeWitt Clinton Harris. The soldiers escorting Harris and Briscoe shot and wounded another Texan, young William Smith.

Travis played a major role afterward. When news of the arrests was heard in San Felipe de Austin, where radical sentiments were taking hold, the political chief Peter Miller authorized Travis to gather a militia for response. Travis commandeered a vessel at Harrisburg, and sailed for Anahuac with the militia and a cannon. His 25-man force quickly gained surrender of the more than 40 Mexican troops. After disarming them, Travis and the militia freed the Texians and expelled the troops. [32] [33]

Because Travis had acted without broad community support, he apologized to avoid endangering Stephen F. Austin, then in Mexico City. Austin was the most prominent empresario under contract by the Spanish, and later Mexican, governments to oversee the immigration of people to Mexico's frontier. Later that summer, Mexican military authorities demanded the surrender of Travis for military trial. The colonists opposed this.

Travis and Austin continued active in Texas development. Travis died at the Battle of the Alamo. Austin served as secretary of state for the Republic of Texas for a short time before his own death.


  1. The only natives in the area were peaceful. Henson (1982), p. 90.
  2. Lieutenant Colonel Felix Maria Subarán had been sent to Texas as a political prisoner because he supported the federalist leader Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna against the current centralist administration. Bradburn believed that Subarán would defend Texas against any separation attempts. Henson (1982), p. 103.
  3. Travis and Jack likely supplied the alcohol used to intoxicate the soldiers. The two men then gave rousing speeches encouraging the soldiers to declare themselves federalists. Davis (2006), pp. 856.


  1. Henson (1982), pp. 478.
  2. Henson (1982), p. 49.
  3. Henson (1982), p. 51.
  4. Henson (1982), pp. 5862.
  5. Henson (1982), pp. 63, 65.
  6. Henson (1982), p. 87.
  7. Henson (1982), p. 89.
  8. Henson (1982), p. 90.
  9. Henson (1982), p. 95.
  10. 1 2 Henson (1982), p. 97.
  11. 1 2 3 Davis (2006), p. 83.
  12. Henson (1982), p. 96.
  13. Henson (1982), p. 99.
  14. Henson (1982), p. 100.
  15. 1 2 Henson (1982), p. 101.
  16. Davis (2006), p. 84.
  17. Henson (1982), p. 103.
  18. 1 2 Henson (1982), p. 104.
  19. Henson (1982), p. 105.
  20. Henson (1982), p. 106.
  21. Henson (1982), p. 107.
  22. 1 2 Henson (1982), p. 108.
  23. 1 2 Henson (1982), p. 109.
  24. 1 2 Henson (1982), p. 110.
  25. Henson (1982), p. 111.
  26. Henson (1982), pp. 1112.
  27. Davis (2006), p. 86.
  28. Davis (2006), pp. 869.
  29. Davis (2006), p. 89.
  30. Davis (2006), p. 91.
  31. Lack, Paul (1992). The Texas Revolutionary Experience: A Political and Social History 1835-1836. USA: Texas A&M University Press. pp. 20–25.
  32. Looscan, AB., "THE OLD FORT AT ANAHUAC", Southwestern Historical Quarterly Online, Volume 002, Number 1, pp. 21 - 28, accessed 28 Oct 2006
  33. Eugene Barker, Excerpted publications Archived 2007-01-01 at the Wayback Machine

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