The Republic of Texas - Prelude to War

The Turtle Bayou Resolutions

In June 1832, a group of Anglo-American settlers staged a rebellion against Mexican rule in the town of Anahuac, near Galveston. John Davis Bradburn, a Virginia-born soldier of fortune who had become a lieutenant commander in the Mexican army, had been appointed by Mexico to establish the town two years earlier in order to collect tariffs and duties, stop smuggling, and bring unruly Texans under Mexican law.

William B. Travis, a newly arrived young lawyer from Alabama, led the opposition to Bradburn and Mexican rule. Travis and his law partner started what they called a "civil militia," supposedly to fight Indians but in reality to organize a military force that could fight Bradburn and his garrison.

Bradburn arrested Travis and other leaders of the opposition, leading to an armed uprising by Travis's friends in order to free him. Travis's friends captured some Mexican cavalrymen and held them hostage for a day in hopes of exchanging them for Travis and the others. When Bradburn ordered a counterattack against the rebels, they withdrew to an area known as Turtle Bayou, near the ranch house of James Taylor White, one of the first cattlemen in Texas. Here they released the Mexican captives and waited for reinforcements from the Brazos settlements.

While they were waiting at Turtle Bayou, the rebels drafted a set of resolutions explaining their actions. Ironically in light of later events, they identified themselves with the cause of Antonio López de Santa Anna, who was leading a so-called reform movement against the administration that had appointed Bradburn. In the Turtle Bayou Resolutions, the rebels first articulated ideas that would become central to the Texas revolutionary movement, including allegiance to the Mexican constitution of 1824. The resolutions were published in a Brazoria newspaper in July 1832.

In the meanwhile, Colonel José de las Piedras marched to Bradburns's relief from Nacogdoches. After speaking with some of the insurgents, he decided that the situation was explosive and had been handled badly and relieved Bradburn of command. Shortly afterwards, the Anglo-Americans brought enough intimidation to bear on the Mexican garrison that Mexico decided to retreat. The rebels had won a temporary victory the summer of 1832.

Turtle Bayou Resolutions, 1832 Click on image for larger image and transcript.
The Turtle Bayou Resolutions, June 13, 1832.



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Page last modified: November 4, 2020