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TEXAS AND ITS PEOPLE.
struck by private hands, commemorative of the event, of the exact size given in the engraving below. The words are not quite correctly quoted.
lina, and their coadjutors in crime in other Cotton-growing States. That province had been a State of the Union only little more than fifteen years, when these bold bad men set up the banner of revolt. Its Governor, the venerable Samuel Houston, the hero of its war for independence, in 1836, and the real founder of the State as a sovereign commonwealth, adhered to the Union. He had been elected by almost ten thousand majority,' but the Legislature was filled with disloyal men. By these and others, immediately after the election of Mr. Lincoln, he was urged to either call the Legislature to a special session, or else a State Convention. He knew how mischievous the action of the Legislature and of such a convention would be at that very critical time, and he
THE DIX MEDAL.
steadily refused. The great mass of the people of the State were with him in sentiment; and as late as at the middle of December, there was an enthusiastic Union Several young
demonstration at Austin, the capital of the Commonwealth. men drove through the streets, with the "Star-spangled Banner" floating over each carriage. They were greeted with loud cheers from the citizens; and on the 23d, an immense Union meeting was held there, when a pole, ninety feet in hight, was erected, and the National flag was thrown to the breeze from its top. The crowd was composed of men, women, and children, many of whom had come from afar to greet the old flag, and to hear the airs of "Hail Columbia" and "Yankee Doodle" played by the band of musicians and sung by patriotic young women. It was a bright and joyous day in Texas, and the hearts of the lovers of the Union were made glad.
flags were sent to General Dix by General Butler, who wrote, saying: "When I read your instructions to shoot on the spot any one who should attempt to haul down the American flag, my heart bounded for joy. It. was the first bold stroke in favor of the Union, under the past Administration."-General Butler in New Orleans: by James Parton, page 67.
1 In 1859, the politicians of Texas nominated a State ticket pledged to favor the reopening of the African Slave-trade, one of the prime objects of the conspirators in the Gulf States, in plotting against the Union. It was headed by Hardin R. Runnels, a Mississippian. The people were alarmed by the movement, and when Sam. Houston took the field as an independent Union candidate for Governor, they rallied around him, and he was elected by an overwhelming majority.
KNIGHTS OF THE GOLDEN CIRCLE.
That 23d of December, 1860, was almost the last bright day vouchsafed for Texas during years of civil war that ensued. At that moment there was a deadly enemy to free institutions and the most sacred rights of man working secretly in the vitals of the Commonwealth, and sapping the citadel of its life. This was an organization known as Knights of the Golden Circle, formed primarily, it is asserted, for the destruction of the nationality of the Republic, the seizure of the richest provinces of Mexico and the island of Cuba, and the establishment of an empire with slavery for its corner-stone. That empire was to be included in a golden circle, as its projectors termed it, having its center at Havana, in Cuba, with a radius of sixteen degrees of latitude and longitude, and reaching northward to the Pennsylvania line, and southward to the Isthmus of Darien. It would include the West India Islands and those of the Caribbean Sea, with a greater part of Mexico and Central America. The organization composed of the Knights of the Golden Circle was the soul of all the “fillibustering" movements from 1850 to 1857; and when these failed, its energies were concentrated to the accomplishment of one of its prime objects-the destruction of the Union. At the time we are considering, two adventurers (George W. Bickley and his nephew) were busily engaged in the establishment of "castles" or lodges all over Texas, creating a powerful band of secret plotters against the Government, and receiving, as rich compensation for their work, all the initiation-fees paid by members. These "castles" included many members of the Legislature and active politicians in all parts of the State. Sixty of these irresponsible men, early in January, 1861, called a State Convention, to meet at Austin on the 28th of that month; and a single member of the Legislature issued a call for the assembling of that body at the same time and place. Already a system of terrorism had been inaugurated, and there was general alarm.'
Under the management of the Knights of the Golden Circle, or "K. G. C.," as they styled themselves by initials, and the disloyal judges of the State, an election of delegates to the Convention was held. The whole movement seemed so ridiculous,-so illegally and harmlessly revolutionary, -that the great body of the people regarded it as a farce, and not one-half of the voters of the State appeared at the polls. Alas! it proved to be the beginning of a bloody tragedy.
Governor Houston now felt it his duty to take measures to counteract these revolutionary movements. He summoned the Legislature to meet in extraordinary session on the 22d of January, for the purpose, primarily, of considering the "Federal relations" of the State, and, secondarily, to provide against Indian hostilities and the wants of an exhausted treasury.
The Legislature and the revolutionary Convention met at the appointed times. The former betrayed the liberties and rights of the people by the adoption of a joint resolution declaring the election of delegates to the latter as proper, and recognizing the Convention as a legally constituted body.
1 Secession Times in Texas: by J. P. Newcomb, editor of the Alamo Express, page 6. Concerning this Order, we shall have much more to observe hereafter. It is authoritatively asserted that it was founded by John C. Calhoun and other South Carolina conspirators, in the year 1835.
* As early as the beginning of December, it had been asserted in the National Senate that men were hanging from the trees in Texas because of their Union sentiments! See quotation from Clingman's speech, on page 79.
TEXAS ORDINANCE OF SECESSION.
Governor Houston protested against the assumption of any powers by the Convention beyond the reference of the question of secession to the people.
The Revolutionary Convention assembled in the Hall of the House of Representatives, at Austin, on the 28th of January. One of the chief managers was John H. Reagan, a judge, who afterward became the "Postmaster-general" of the so-called "Confederate States of America." McQueen, a commissioner from South Carolina, was there to assist in working the machinery. It was easily managed, for it was so well constructed that there was but little friction. Of the one hundred and twenty-two counties in the State, not one-half were represented. The whole affair was a stupendous fraud upon the people. But what cared the representatives of the Oligarchy for the rights and privileges of the people? Their whole movement in the Slave-labor States, since the Presidential election, had been in contravention of those rights.
On the 1st of February the Convention, by an almost unanimous vote, passed an Ordinance of Secession. There were one hundred and sixty-six voices for it, and only seven against it. It declared that the National Government had failed "to accomplish the purpose of the compact of Union between the States," falsely charging that it had not furnished the inhabitants of Texas with protection against Indian depredations on its frontiers, when a large portion of the Army had been, and then was, actually employed in that very work. They charged that the National Government would no longer uphold the slave system. This was their chief grievance, and therefore they abrogated, in the name of the people of Texas, the Ordinance of Annexation adopted on the 4th of July, 1845. They talked of a "resumption of sovereign powers" with some propriety, for Texas is the only State of the Union that ever really possessed them, as an absolutely independent Commonwealth. They also did what the politicians in the other "Seceding States" refused to do, namely, decreed that the ordinance should be submitted to a vote of the people. But the merit of this seeming concession to the popular will was counterbalanced by the most outrageous usurpation and practical denial of the rights of the people. They appointed a day for the delivery of the popular verdict so early (February 23) that there could be no opportunity for a public discussion of the Ordinance. This, however, was a slight affront compared to two others, namely, the appointment of a "Committee of Safety," and of delegates to the Montgomery Convention.
The "Committee of Safety" was simply a powerful revolutionary machine for the purpose of carrying on effectually a system of terrorism already begun. That Committee at once appointed two of its number (Devine and Maverick) commissioners to treat with General Twiggs, then in command of the National troops in Texas, for the surrender of his army and the public property under his control. The Committee also managed the voting on the Ordinance of Secession, on the 23d of February, so adroitly, by means of misrepresentations and the arguments of the rope and fire-brand, that the voice of a really loyal people appeared in favor of secession by an alleged majority of over twenty-three thousand.
Having completed the preliminary work of treason, the Convention adjourned to meet again on the 2d day of March. In the mean time General Twiggs, as we shall observe presently, had fully performed his allotted part
FIRMNESS OF GOVERNOR HOUSTON.
in the conspiracy, and given the State over to the absolute rule of the Secessionists; and when the Convention again assembled, its work was easy. The votes of the people on secession were counted on the 5th, and when the result was announced by the President there was great cheering, and he proceeded to declare Texas to be an independent State. On the following day the Convention instructed its delegates at Montgomery to ask for the admission of their State into the "Southern Confederacy," and appointed a committee to inform Governor Houston
of the new political relations of the Commonwealth. To these communications the Governor replied, in substance, that the Convention had transcended its powersand that its acts were usurpations. He promised to lay the whole matter before the Legislature, which was to assemble on the 18th, until which time he should consider it his duty to perform the functions of his office regardless of all alleged changes.usmine abiaJzna >i
The reply of the Governor produced great excitement in the Convention, and it was believed that he had issued orders
for assembling the militia of the State to resist the action of that body. By an ordinance passed on the 8th, it defied his authority, and then he appealed to the people in a stirring address, which strengthened the hearts of the Union men of the State. He recounted his services and his difficulties, and complained bitterly of the usurpations of the Convention, which had "transferred the people, like sheep, from the shambles," from the Union to an unlawful league. He loved Texas too well, he said, to do aught that should kindle civil war on its soil, and he should not attempt, under the circumstances, to exercise his authority as Governor, nor would he take the oath of allegiance to the "Southern Confederacy.""
My worst anticipations," said the Governor, "as to the assumption of power by this Convention, have been realized. To enumerate all its usurpations would be impossible, as a great portion of its proceedings have been in secret. This much has been revealed:
It has elected delegates to the provisional council of the Confederate States, at Montgomery, before Texas had withdrawn from the Union, and who, on the 2d day of March, annexed Texas to the Confederate States, and constituted themselves members of Congress, when it was not officially known by the Convention until the 4th of March that a majority of the people had voted in favor of secession. While a portion of these delegates were representing Texas in the Congress of the Confederate States, two of them, still claiming to be United States Senators, have continued to represent Texas in the United States Senate, under the administration of Mr. Lincoln, an administration that the people of Texas have declared odious and not to be borne. Yet Texas has been exposed to obloquy, and forced to occupy the ridiculous attitude, before the world, of attempting to maintain her position as one of the United States, and at the same time claim to be one of the Confederate
"It has created a Committee of Safety, a portion of whom have assumed the executive powers of the Government, and to supplant the executive authority, have entered into negotiations with Federal officers. This committee, and commissioners acting under it, have caused the Federal troops to be removed from posts in the country exposed to Indian depredations, and had them located with their arms and field-batteries on the coast, where, if their desire is to maintain a position in the country, they can not only do so successfully, but destroy the commerce of the State. They have usurped the power to draw these troops from the frontier; but though in possession of ample stores, munitions of war, and transportation, have failed to supply troops in the place of those removed. As a consequence, the wail of women and children is heard upon the border. Devastation and ruin has thus come upon the people; and though the Convention, with all the means in its power, has been in session two weeks, no succor has been sent to a devastated frontier.
"The Committee of Safety has brought danger instead of safety. It has involved the State in an enormous
REVOLUTION IN TEXAS.
On the 20th, the Convention proceeded to depose Governor Houston and other State officers who refused to take the new oath. The disloyal Legislature sanctioned the measure, and on the 21st, the seals and the archives of the Commonwealth were resigned into the hands of Lieutenant-Governor Clarke, who assumed the functions of Provisional Governor, and who speedily issued a proclamation, forbidding all intercourse with the people of
the Northern States.
Texas was now under the absolute control of the secessionists, and they managed public affairs with a high hand. They persecuted every proclaimer of Union sentiments; and Houston himself actually renounced his allegiance to his Government, and, descending from the proud patriotic position which he at first assumed, became a maligner of the President, and used the vocabulary of treasonable speech with great fluency. He declared that he was loyal so long as there was any loyalty left in Texas. So early as the 18th of May, in a speech at Independence, he recognized the validity of the "Southern Confederacy," and recommended obedience to its government. In September following, he found it necessary to explain his position, which he did in a long letter, in which he declared that "Union" and "reconstruction" were obsolete terms. "If there is any Union sentiment in Texas," he said, “I am not aware of it." He charged Mr. Lincoln and his Cabinet with the crime of usurping the powers of Congress and waging war against "Sovereign States," thereby absolving their allegiance to the National Government. He also charged that they had, "with more than Vandalio malignity and Gothic hate, sought to incite a servile insurrection in Missouri." He denounced the President as an invader of Virginia, and declared that the South could never unite with the North, and that the latter could never subjugate the South. The course of Governor Houston was a painful assurance to the people of Texas that the heel of a vile despotism was too firmly planted upon their necks to give them any, hope of relief while the war continued, and they sat down to wait with faith and patience for the hour when Right should triumph and they should be redeemed.
We have now noted the principal events connected with the so-called secession of seven Cotton-growing States, namely, South Carolina, Florida,
expense for an army, where no army was needed, and left unprotected those who needed protection. It has exposed the State to ridicule, and wounded the chivalry and historic pride of the people, by sending an army of over a thousand men to attack a single post upon the Rio Grande, which has been permitted to defy them, until such time as its commander saw fit to withdraw. It has assumed to appoint agents to foreign States, and created offices, military and civil, unknown to the laws, at its will, keeping secret its proceedings.
"This Convention has deprived the people of a right to know its doings, by holding its sessions in secret. "It has appointed military officers and agents under its assumed authority.
"It has declared by ordinance that the people of Texas ratify the constitution of the provisional government of the Confederate States, and has changed the State Constitution and established a test oath of allegiance to the Confederate States, requiring all persons now in office to take the same, or suffer the penalty of removal from office; and, actuated by a spirit of petty tyranny, has required the executive, and a portion of the other officers at the seat of government, to appear at its bar at a certain hour and take the same.
"It has assumed to create organic laws, and to put the same in execution. It has overthrown the theory of free government, by combining in itself all the departments of government, and exercising the powers belonging to each. Our fathers have taught us that freedom requires that these powers shall not be all lodged in, and exercised by, one body. Whenever it is so, the people suffer under a despotism.
“Fellow-citizens, I have refused to recognize this Convention. I believe it has derived none of the powers which it has assumed, either from the people or the Legislature. I believe it guilty of an usurpation, which the people cannot suffer tamely, and preserve their liberties. I am ready to lay down my life to maintain the rights and liberties of the people of Texas. I am ready to lay down office rather than yield to usurpation and degradation."