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[151] basis and assurance of Texan independence.

Gen. Houston--who had mean-time returned to the United States to obtain proper treatment for his wounded ankle, and to confer with Gen. Jackson and other friends of Texas--was immediately chosen President of the new republic, and inaugurated, October 22, 1836. In March following, the United States took the lead in acknowledging the independence of Texas, and other nations in due time followed. Expeditions, fitted out in western Texas, were sent to Santa Fe on the north, and to Mier on the Rio Grande, and each badly handled by the Mexicans, who captured the Santa Fe party entire, and sent them prisoners to their capital; but, within her original boundaries, no serious demonstration was made against the new republic by Mexico, subsequently to Santa Anna's disastrous failure in 1836. Meantime, her population steadily increased by migration from the United States, and, to some extent, from Europe; so that, though her finances were in woeful disorder, and her northern frontier constantly harassed by savage raids, there was very little probability that Texas would ever have been reconquered by Mexico.

In August, 1837, Gen. Memucan Hunt, envoy of Texas at Washington, proposed to our Government the Annexation of his country to the United States. Mr. Van Buren was then President, with John C. Forsyth, of Georgia--an extreme Southron — for his Secretary of State. The subject was fully considered, and a decisive negative returned. Mr. Forsyth, in his official reply to Gen. Hunt's proffer, said:

So long as Texas shall remain at war, while the United States are at peace with her adversary, the proposition of the Texan Minister Plenipotentiary necessarily involves the question of war with that adversary. The United States are bound to Mexico by a treaty of amity and commerce, which will be scrupulously observed on their part so long as it can be reasonably hoped that Mexico will perform her duties and respect our rights under it. The United States might justly be suspected of a disregard of the friendly purposes of the compact, if the overture of Gen. Hunt were to be even reserved for future consideration; as this would imply a disposition on our part to espouse the quarrel of Texas with Mexico — a disposition wholly at variance with the spirit of the treaty, and with the uniform policy and the obvious welfare of the United States.

The inducements mentioned by Gen. Hunt for the United States to annex Texas to their Territory are duly appreciated; but, powerful and weighty as certainly they are, they are light when opposed in the scale of reason to treaty obligations, and respect for that integrity of character by which the United States have sought to distinguish themselves since the establishment of their right to claim a place in the great family of Nations.

Gen. Hunt's letter having initimated that Texas might be impelled, by a discouraging response to her advances, to grant special commercial favors to other nations to the prejudice of this, Mr. Forsyth--writing in the name and under the immediate inspiration of the President — responded as follows:

It is presumed, however, that the motives by which Texas has been governed in making this overture, will have equal force in impelling her to preserve, as an independent power, the most liberal commercial relations with the United States. Such a disposition will be cheerfully met, in a corresponding spirit, by this Government. If the answer which the undersigned has been directed to give to the proposition of Gen. Hunt should, unfortunately, evoke such a change in the sentiments of that Government as to induce an attempt to extend commercial relations elsewhere, upon terms prejudicial to the United States, this Government

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