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Special Message

January 18, 1837

To the Senate of the United States.

In compliance with the resolution of the Senate dated the 16th instant, I transmit a copy and a translation of a letter addressed to me on the 4th of July last by the President of the Mexican Republic, and a copy of my reply to the same on the 4th of September. No other communication on the subject of the resolution referred to has been made to the Executive by any other foreign government, or by any person claiming to act in behalf of Mexico.


The President of the Mexican Republic to the President of the United States.

COLUMBIA, IN TEXAS, July 4, 1836 .

His Excellency General ANDREW JACKSON,

President of the United States of America.

MUCH ESTEEMED SIR: In fulfillment of the duties which patriotism and honor impose upon a public man, I came to this country at the head of 6,000 Mexicans. The chances of war, made inevitable by circumstances, reduced me to the condition of a prisoner, in which I still remain, as you may have already learned. The disposition evinced by General Samuel Houston, the commander in chief of the Texan army, and by his successor, General Thomas J. Rusk, for the termination of the war; the decision of the President and cabinet of Texas in favor of a proper compromise between the contending parties, and my own conviction, produced the conventions of which I send you copies inclosed, and the orders given by me to General Filisola, my second in command, to retire from the river Brasos, where he was posted, to the other side of the river Bravo del Norte.

As there was no doubt that General Filisola would religiously comply, as far as concerned himself, the President and cabinet agreed that I should set off for Mexico, in order to fulfill the other engagements, and with that intent I embarked on board the schooner Invincible , which was to carry me to the port of Vera Cruz. Unfortunately, however, some indiscreet persons raised a mob, which obliged the authorities to have me landed by force and brought back into strict captivity. This incident has prevented me from going to Mexico, where I should otherwise have arrived early in last month; and in consequence of it the Government of that country, doubtless ignorant of what has occurred, has withdrawn the command of the army from General Filisola and has ordered his successor, General Urrea, to continue its operations, in obedience to which order that general is, according to the latest accounts, already at the river Nueces. In vain have some reflecting and worthy men endeavored to demonstrate the necessity of moderation and of my going to Mexico according to the convention; but the excitement of the public mind has increased with the return of the Mexican army to Texas. Such is the state of things here at present. The continuation of the war and of its disasters is therefore inevitable unless the voice of reason be heard in proper time from the mouth of some powerful individual. It appears to me that you, sir, have it in your power to perform this good office, by interfering in favor of the execution of the said convention, which shall be strictly fulfilled on my part. When I offered to treat with this Government, I was convinced that it was useless for Mexico to continue the war. I have acquired exact information respecting this country which I did not possess four months ago. I have too much zeal for the interests of my country to wish for anything which is not compatible with them. Being always ready to sacrifice myself for its glory and advantage, I never would have hesitated to subject myself to torments or death rather than consent to any compromise if Mexico could thereby have obtained the slightest benefit. I am firmly convinced that it is proper to terminate this question by political negotiation. That conviction alone determined me sincerely to agree to what has been stipulated, and in the same spirit I make to you this frank declaration. Be pleased, sir, to favor me by a like confidence on your part. Afford me the satisfaction of avoiding approaching evils and of contributing to that good which my heart advises. Let us enter into negotiations by which the friendship between your nation and the Mexican may be strengthened, both being amicably engaged in giving being and stability to a people who are desirous of appearing in the political world, and who, under the protection of the two nations, will attain its object within a few years.

The Mexicans are magnanimous when treated with consideration. I will clearly set before them the proper and humane reasons which require noble and frank conduct on their part, and I doubt not that they will act thus as soon as they have been convinced.

By what I have here submitted you will see the sentiments which animate me, and with which I remain, your most humble and obedient servant,


The President of the United States to the President of the Mexican Republic.

HERMITAGE, September 4, 1836 .


SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 4th day of July last, which has been forwarded to me by General Samuel Houston, under cover of one from him, transmitted by an express from General Gaines, who is in command of the United States forces on the Texan frontier. The great object of these communications appears to be to put an end to the disasters which necessarily attend the civil war now raging in Texas, and asking the interposition of the United States in furthering so humane and desirable a purpose. That any well-intended effort of yours in aid of this object should have been defeated is calculated to excite the regret of all who justly appreciate the blessings of peace, and who take an interest in the causes which contribute to the prosperity of Mexico in her domestic as well as her foreign relations.

The Government of the United States is ever anxious to cultivate peace and friendship with all nations; but it proceeds on the principle that all nations have the right to alter, amend, or change their own government as the sovereign power--the people--may direct. In this respect it never interferes with the policy of other powers, nor can it permit any on the part of others with its internal policy. Consistently with this principle, whatever we can do to restore peace between contending nations or remove the causes of misunderstanding is cheerfully at the service of those who are willing to rely upon our good offices as a friend or mediator.

In reference, however, to the agreement which you, as the representative of Mexico, have made with Texas, and which invites the interposition of the United States, you will at once see that we are forbidden by the character of the communications made to us through the Mexican minister from considering it. That Government has notified us that as long as you are a prisoner no act of yours will be regarded as binding by the Mexican authorities. Under these circumstances it will be manifest to you that good faith to Mexico, as well as the general principle to which I have adverted as forming the basis of our intercourse with all foreign powers, make it impossible for me to take any step like that you have anticipated. If, however, Mexico should signify her willingness to avail herself of our good offices in bringing about the desirable result you have described, nothing could give me more pleasure than to devote my best services to it. To be instrumental in terminating the evils of civil war and in substituting in their stead the blessings of peace is a divine privilege. Every government and the people of all countries should feel it their highest happiness to enjoy an opportunity of thus manifesting their love of each other and their interest in the general principles which apply to them all as members of the common family of man.

Your letter, and that of General Houston, commander in chief of the Texan army, will be made the basis of an early interview with the Mexican minister at Washington. They will hasten my return to Washington, to which place I will set out in a few days, expecting to reach it by the 1st of October. In the meantime I hope Mexico and Texas, feeling that war is the greatest of calamities, will pause before another campaign is undertaken and can add to the number of those scenes of bloodshed which have already marked the progress of their contest and have given so much pain to their Christian friends throughout the world.

This is sent under cover to General Houston, who will give it a safe conveyance to you.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Andrew Jackson, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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