In 1830, American-born John Davis Bradburn, a colonel in the Mexican army, was ordered to establish a new garrison on Galveston Bay. The post was called Anahuac and became the center of unrest for several years.
Bradburn's task was to help "Mexicanize" Texas by enforcing limits on future immigration from the United States and forcing Americans already in Texas to pay Mexican tariffs and abide by Mexican laws.
American settlers were outraged when Bradburn and customs collector George Fisher began to collect duties from all the ships on the Brazos River and in Galveston Bay. Another factor in their outrage stemmed from attitudes towards slavery. Mexico prohibited slavery, and Bradburn gave asylum to runaway slaves at his garrison. American slave catchers tried to retrieve the slaves from Bradburn, but he refused.
William B. Travis, a young lawyer, and his partner Patrick C. Jack, were hired by a slave catcher to bring a legal case against Bradburn for return of the slaves. Travis tried to trick Bradburn into believing that a force from Louisiana was on the march to recover the slaves. A disgusted Bradburn arrested Travis and Jack and placed them in an old brick kiln for safekeeping.
In this letter, Monroe Edwards, a local slave smuggler, writes to newspaper editor Robert M. Williamson about plans to attack Bradburn and rescue Travis and Jack.
Eventually, the Mexican authorities removed Bradburn and released all prisoners taken during the disturbances at Anahuac and Velasco. As every Texas schoolchild knows, William B. Travis would go on to command the Alamo and die at the famous siege in 1836.
Monroe Edwards to Robert M. Williamson, May 24, 1832
A few days after you left
there was a report circulated by Mr Hall of the
Brazos that there was a body of armed men on the
Sabine on their march to this place for the
purpose of rescuing the 2 runaway negros [sic] that
Bradburn has under his protection.
This report turned out to be untrue it however allarmed [sic]
Bradburn very much and caused him to make a great
many preparations for the expected [?] foe. [A]bout the
time he was under the greatest degree of allarm he
recd two letters[,] the one perporting [sic] to be from
a creature by the name of McLaughlin a well
known Sycophant of Bradburns. This letter turned
out to be a Hoax: and Suspision [sic] immediately
alighted on Travis as the prime instigator of this
letter. Bradburn being very much mortafied [sic] at
the hoax played of [sic] upon him had Travis arrested
immediately. Our mutual friend P.C. Jack
being anxious to see what they intended to do with
Travis went with him to Bradburns quarters where
they had an interview. Some words past [sic] between
Bradburn and themselves and he ordered them to
the Calibozo [calabozo: Spanish for jail] forthwith. Mr Morgan here interposed
and offered to pledge every particle of property
he had in the world if they could be admitted the
bail[.] [A]ll kinds of terms were rejected and they
have been kept in close confinement ever since