Convention of 1832

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The Convention of 1832 was the first political gathering of colonists in Mexican Texas. Delegates sought reforms from the Mexican government and hoped to quell the widespread belief that settlers in Texas wished to secede from Mexico. The convention was the first in a series of unsuccessful attempts at political negotiation that eventually led to the Texas Revolution.

Mexican Texas

Mexican Texas is the historiographical name used to refer to the era of Texan history between 1821 and 1836, when it was part of Mexico. Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821 after winning its war. Initially, Mexican Texas operated similarly to Spanish Texas. Ratification of the 1824 Constitution of Mexico created a federal structure, and the province of Tejas was joined with the province of Coahuila to form the state of Coahuila y Tejas.

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.


Under the 1824 Constitution of Mexico, Texas was denied independent statehood and merged into the new state Coahuila y Tejas. After growing suspicion that the United States government would attempt to seize Texas by force, in 1830 Mexican President Anastasio Bustamante enacted the Law of April 6, 1830 which restricted immigration and called for customs duty enforcement. Tensions erupted in June 1832, when Texas residents systematically expelled all Mexican troops from eastern Texas.

1824 Constitution of Mexico

The Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1824 was enacted on October 4 of 1824, after the overthrow of the Mexican Empire of Agustin de Iturbide. In the new constitution, the republic took the name of United Mexican States, and was defined as a representative federal republic, with Catholicism as the official and unique religion. It was replaced by the Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1857.

Coahuila y Tejas former Mexican state

Coahuila y Tejas was one of the constituent states of the newly established United Mexican States under its 1824 Constitution.

Anastasio Bustamante President of Mexico

Anastasio Bustamante y Oseguera was president of Mexico three times, from 1830 to 1832, from 1837 to 1839 and from 1839 to 1841. A Conservative, he first came to power by leading a coup against President Vicente Guerrero. Bustamante was deposed twice and exiled to Europe both times.

The lack of military oversight emboldened the colonists to increase their political activity. On October 1, 1832, 55 political delegates met at San Felipe de Austin to petition for changes in the governance of Texas. Notably absent was any representation from San Antonio de Béxar, where many of the native Mexican settlers ( Tejanos ) lived. The delegates elected Stephen F. Austin, a highly respected empresario , as president of the convention.

San Felipe, Texas Town in Texas, United States

San Felipe, also known as San Felipe de Austin, is a town in Austin County, Texas, United States. The town was the social, economic, and political center of the early Stephen F. Austin colony. The population was 747 at the 2010 census.

Tejano resident of the state of Texas culturally descended from the original Spanish-speaking settlers of Texas and northern Mexico

Tejanos are the Hispanic residents of the state of Texas who are culturally descended from the original Spanish-speaking settlers of Tejas, Coahuila, and other northern Mexican states. They may be variously of Criollo Spaniard or Mestizo origin. Alongside Californios and Neomexicanos, Tejanos are part of the larger Chicano/Mexican-American/Hispano community of the United States, who have lived in the American Southwest since the 16th century.

Stephen F. Austin American empresario, slaveholder, namesake of Austin, Texas

Stephen Fuller Austin was an American empresario. Known as the "Father of Texas", and the founder of Texas, he led the second, and ultimately, the successful colonization of the region by bringing 300 families from the United States to the region in 1825.

Delegates passed a series of resolutions requesting, among other things, a repeal of the immigration restrictions, a three-year exclusion from customs duties enforcement, permission to form an armed militia and independent statehood. They also voted themselves the power to call future conventions. Before the petition could be delivered to Mexico City, the political chief of Texas, Ramón Músquiz, ruled that the convention was illegal and annulled the resolutions. In a compromise, the ayuntamiento (city council) of San Antonio de Béxar drafted a new petition with similar language to the convention resolutions and submitted it through proper legal channels. Músquiz forwarded the new document to the Mexican Congress.

Militia generally refers to an army or other fighting force that is composed of non-professional fighters

A militia is generally an army or some other fighting organization of non-professional soldiers, citizens of a nation, or subjects of a state, who can be called upon for military service during a time of need, as opposed to a professional force of regular, full-time military personnel, or historically, members of a warrior nobility class. Generally unable to hold ground against regular forces, it is common for militias to be used for aiding regular troops by skirmishing, holding fortifications, or irregular warfare, instead of being used in offensive campaigns by themselves. Militia are often limited by local civilian laws to serve only in their home region, and to serve only for a limited time; this further reduces their use in long military campaigns.

Don Ramón Músquiz (1797–1867) was the Governor of Coahuila and Texas from 1830 to 1831 and in 1835. He promoted the expansion into Texas and peaceful relations of its population, regardless of their nationalities.

<i>Cabildo</i> (council) Spanish colonial, and early post-colonial, administrative council which governed a municipality

A cabildo or ayuntamiento was a Spanish colonial, and early post-colonial, administrative council which governed a municipality. Cabildos were sometimes appointed, sometimes elected; but they were considered to be representative of all land-owning heads of household (vecinos). The colonial cabildo was essentially the same as the one developed in medieval Castile.


In 1821 several of Spain's former colonies in the New World won their independence and banded together to create a new country, Mexico. The Constitution of 1824 established Mexico as a federalist republic comprising multiple states. Sparsely populated former Spanish provinces were denied independent statehood and instead merged with neighboring areas. The former Spanish Texas, which marked Mexico's eastern border with the United States, was combined with Coahuila to form the new state Coahuila y Tejas. [1] To assist in governing the large area, the state was subdivided into several departments; all of Texas was included in the Department of Béxar. [2] With the formation of a new state government, the Texas provincial governing committee was forced to disband, [3] and the capital was moved from San Antonio de Béxar to Saltillo. [4] Many Tejanos —native Mexican citizens who lived in Texas—were reluctant to give up their self-rule. [3]

New World Collectively, the Americas and Oceania

The New World is one of the names used for the majority of Earth's Western Hemisphere, specifically the Americas, and Oceania.

Federalism political concept

Federalism is the mixed or compound mode of government, combining a general government with regional governments in a single political system. Its distinctive feature, exemplified in the founding example of modern federalism by the United States under the Constitution of 1787, is a relationship of parity between the two levels of government established. It can thus be defined as a form of government in which there is a division of powers between two levels of government of equal status.

Spanish Texas

Spanish Texas was one of the interior provinces of the Spanish colonial Viceroyalty of New Spain from 1690 until 1821.

The bankrupt federal government was unable to provide much military assistance to the settlers in Texas, who faced frequent raids by native tribes. Hoping that an influx of settlers could control the raids, in 1824 the government appointed empresarios to encourage families from the United States and Europe to settle in Texas. [1] However, as the number of settlers from the US and other non-Spanish-speaking areas increased in Texas, Mexican authorities became apprehensive that the United States might wish to annex the area, possibly using force. [5] [6] On April 6, 1830, the Mexican government passed a series of laws restricting immigration from the United States into Texas. The laws also cancelled all unfilled empresario contracts and called for the first enforcement of customs duties. [5]

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 settling the eastern areas of Coahuila y Tejas in the early nineteenth century. The word is Spanish for entrepreneur.

General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's revolt against the Mexican government gave the Texians an excuse for their own rebellion. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna 1852.jpg
General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's revolt against the Mexican government gave the Texians an excuse for their own rebellion.

The new laws angered both Tejanos and recent immigrants (Texians). [7] Stephen F. Austin, a well-respected empresario who had brought the first group of American settlers to Texas, warned Mexican President Anastasio Bustamante that the laws seemed designed to destroy the colonies. [8] Texas's two delegates to the state legislature, both Tejanos, were so vocal in their opposition that one of them was expelled from the legislature. [7] Austin was elected to fill his seat, and in December 1830 he left for Saltillo. [9]

Implementation of the laws led to much tension within Texas. Much to the displeasure of the colonists, a new military post was established in Anahuac to begin collecting customs duties. The commander of the post, Colonel Juan Davis Bradburn, often clashed with the locals over his strict interpretation of Mexican law. In June 1832, colonists armed themselves and marched on Anahuac. As a result of these Anahuac Disturbances, Bradburn was forced to resign. [10]

The small Texian rebellion coincided with a revolt led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna against Bustamante's centralist government. [11] The chaos in the Mexican interior and the Texian success at Anahuac emboldened other Texas settlers to take arms against garrisons throughout eastern Texas. [12] Within weeks, settlers expelled all Mexican soldiers from eastern Texas. [13] Free from military oversight, the settlers began to increase their political activity. [14]


Buoyed by their success, Texians organized a political convention to persuade Mexican authorities to weaken the L830. [15] On August 22, the ayuntamiento at San Felipe de Austin (the capital of Austin's colony) called for each district to elect five delegates. [16] Although Austin attempted to dissuade the instigators, elections were held before his return from Saltillo. Sixteen communities chose delegates. [15] The two municipalities with the largest Tejano population, San Antonio de Béxar and Victoria, refused to participate. [17] The majority of the elected delegates were known as relatively even-tempered. Many known agitators, such as James Bowie and William B. Travis, were defeated. [15] Tejanos did not have a large presence at the convention, largely due to the boycott by the Béxar and Victoria municipalities. Convention organizers invited several prominent Tejanos from these towns to attend, but all declined. [17]

Stephen F. Austin was elected president of the convention. Stephen f austin.jpg
Stephen F. Austin was elected president of the convention.

On October 1, 1832, 55 delegates met in San Felipe de Austin; [17] attendance may have been diminished due to the short notice. [18] The gathering marked the first time residents from each of the colonies had convened to discuss common goals. [17]

The convention was called to order by John Austin, one of the alcaldes of San Felipe de Austin. [19] In his remarks, John Austin laid out four key points that the convention needed to address: the "misrepresentations" made by "enemies of Texas" that the settlers desired independence from Mexico, [20] an appeal of the restrictions on immigration from the United States, a method to grant land titles to residents in certain areas of the province, and reduction of tariffs on many imported items. [21] The first order of business was the election of officers. Stephen F. Austin and William H. Wharton, a known hothead, were nominated to lead the convention; Austin won, 31–15. [17] [21] Frank W. Johnson, who had led the armed resistance at the Anahuac Disturbances, was elected secretary. [22] In his acceptance speech, Austin praised the delegates for exerting their constitutional rights to petition the government. [21]

Over the next six days, the delegates adopted a series of resolutions requesting changes in the governance of Texas. [15] Historian Eugene Campbell Barker suggests that the discussions would likely not have concluded so swiftly unless the delegates had done "considerable preparation before the meeting". [23] Several of the resolutions were designed to stimulate the local economy. Delegates requested that customs duty enforcement be delayed until 1835 and that citizens be granted a method to remove corrupt customs officers. Resolutions encouraged that land titles be issued more quickly and that public lands be sold to raise money for bilingual schools. [15] Delegates from Nacogdoches asked that the government take a firmer hand in preventing new settlers from encroaching on lands that had previously been promised to native tribes. [22] After explaining that law-abiding potential citizens were being excluded from Texas while disreputable squatters continued to stream illegally in, [23] the delegates asked for the repeal of the prohibition on immigration from the United States. Furthermore, they requested permission to raise a militia, ostensibly for protection from marauding native tribes. The most controversial resolution asked that Texas become an independent state, separate from Coahuila. [15] The separation request was added by a vote of 36–12. The motion included as justification the fact that Coahuila and Texas were very dissimilar in climate and economy and mentioned that Texas's limited representation in the state legislature made it very difficult to enact laws that specifically addressed the needs of its citizens. [24] Delegates insisted that independent statehood was not a pretext for secession from Mexico. [23]

After approving the list of resolutions, delegates created a seven-member central committee to convene future meetings. [25] [Note 1] The central committee would be based in San Felipe "for the purpose of circulating information of events of importance to the interest of the people". [26] In addition, each municipality was asked to create a committee of correspondence and safety. [15] The sub-committees would keep in close contact with the central committee because "united our strength and resources are more than adequate to our defense in any possible event. Disunited, we may become an easy prey, even to a handful of cowardly invaders." [27]

The convention adjourned on October 6 after unanimously electing Wharton to deliver the resolutions to the state legislature in Saltillo and to the Mexican Congress in Mexico City. [28] [29] Just before the group dispersed, Rafael Manchola, the alcalde (mayor) of Goliad, arrived. He was the only delegate from Goliad and the only Tejano to appear at the convention. [15] Manchola volunteered to accompany Wharton at his own expense—he and other delegates thought the expedition might have more success if a Tejano was also involved. [30] Days later, Austin wrote that "we have just had a convention of all Texas, native Mexicans and foreign settlers—all united as one man". [28]


Following the convention, much of the unrest in Texas subsided. Austin believed the public was calmed simply by having the opportunity to air their grievances. Before the list of concerns could be presented to the state and federal governments, Ramón Músquiz, the political chief, or head, of the Department of Béxar, ruled that the convention was illegal. [31] This type of activism was traditionally forbidden in Texas. [Note 2] [32] The law directed that citizens should protest to their local ayuntamiento (similar to a city council), which would forward their concerns to the political chief. The political chief could then escalate the concerns to the state or federal government. [17] Because the colonists had not followed this process, Músquiz annulled their resolutions. [31] The ayuntamientos at San Felipe, Nacogdoches, Gonzales and Liberty half-heartedly apologized for their participation, and Wharton's mission was cancelled. [33]

The lack of Tejano representation and the San Antonio de Béxar residents' refusal to participate fostered a perception that only newcomers to Texas were dissatisfied. [22] Austin agreed to meet with the political leaders in San Antonio de Béxar to persuade them to support the resolutions. These Tejano leaders, including Erasmo Seguin, largely agreed with the result of the convention but opposed the methods by which the resolutions had been proposed. The Tejano leaders urged patience; Bustamante was still president and would not look favorably on a petition from Texas settlers who had sided with his rival, Santa Anna. [25]

Austin and the Tejano leaders agreed to a compromise. Because San Antonio de Béxar was the seat of the Department of Béxar, its ayuntamiento drafted a petition containing similar language to the convention resolutions. [31] The petition was endorsed by the ayuntamientos at Goliad, San Felipe, and Nacogdoches [34] and then given to Músquiz, who forwarded it to the Mexican Congress in early 1833. [31] Although Músquiz had publicly supported the petition, he secretly included a note to the Coahuila y Tejas governor warning that this might be a precursor to secession. [35]

The political leaders also agreed to Austin's stipulation that if the federal government refused to address the petition within several months, Texas residents would form their own state government, essentially declaring independence from Coahuila, if not from Mexico. [31] The central committee elected by the convention was too impatient to wait long. In late December, the committee called for a March election for delegates to the Convention of 1833. [34] The second convention reiterated some of the previous concerns and took additional steps to declare Texas an independent state, further concerning Mexican authories, who feared this was a step towards Texas joining the United States. [36]

The Mexican government attempted to address some of the concerns identified by the conventions of 1832 and 1833. In November 1833, part of the Laws of April 6, 1830 were repealed, allowing Americans to immigrate legally to Texas. [37] Several months later, Texas was granted increased representation in the Coahuila y Tejas legislature. Several American legal concepts, such as trial by jury, were introduced to Texas, and English was authorized as a second language. [38] Unimpressed with these compromises, some Texas residents continued to campaign for independent statehood. Rising tensions eventually led to the Texas Revolution, which began in October 1835. [39]

See also


  1. The central committee was composed of Johnson, James B. Miller, Stephen F. Austin, Lewis Veeder, Robert Peebles, Wylie Martin, and William Pettis. (Gammel (1898), p. 496.)
  2. Neither Spain nor Mexico had allowed this type of activism.

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  1. 1 2 Manchaca (2001), pp. 164, 187.
  2. Ericson (2000), p. 33.
  3. 1 2 de la Teja (1997), p. 83.
  4. Edmondson (2000), p. 72.
  5. 1 2 Henson (1982), pp. 47–8.
  6. Morton (1947), p. 33.
  7. 1 2 Davis (2006), p. 77.
  8. Davis (2006), p. 76.
  9. Davis (2006), p. 78.
  10. Henson (1982), pp. 95–102, 109.
  11. Davis (2006), p. 85.
  12. Henson (1982), p. 108.
  13. Davis (2006), p. 86.
  14. Davis (2006), p. 89.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Davis (2006), p. 92.
  16. Gammel (1898), pp. 477–8.
  17. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Davis (2006), p. 91.
  18. Gammel (1989), p. 478.
  19. Gammel (1878), p. 480.
  20. quoted in Gammel (1898), p. 480.
  21. 1 2 3 Gammel (1898), p. 481.
  22. 1 2 3 Steen, Ralph W. (2010-06-12), "Convention of 1832", Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association, retrieved 2009-02-03.
  23. 1 2 3 Barker (1985), p. 349.
  24. Barker (1985), p. 350.
  25. 1 2 Barker (1985), p. 351.
  26. quoted in Gammel (1898), p. 494.
  27. quoted in Barker (1985), p. 351.
  28. 1 2 Davis (2006), p. 93.
  29. Gammel (1898), p. 500.
  30. Huson (1974), p. 64.
  31. 1 2 3 4 5 Davis (2006), p. 94.
  32. Winders (2004), p. 49.
  33. Barker (1985), p. 352.
  34. 1 2 Davis (2006), p. 95.
  35. Barker (1985), pp. 351–352.
  36. Vazquez (1997), p. 67.
  37. Vazquez (1997), p. 68.
  38. Vazquez (1997), p. 69.
  39. Vazquez (1997), p. 72.