“Aiding or inciting a slave insurrection was not defined specifically as a crime until surprisingly late in the development of Texas’ slave code” (Campbell)

1854: Tex. state law passed to punish aiding, planning, or inciting a slave rebellion–N.B. proximity to Columbus expulsions &c.

Aiding or inciting a slave insurrection was not defined specifically as a crime until surprisingly late in the development of Texas’ slave code. An act of December, 1837, provided the death penalty for free blacks found guilty of “insurrection, or any attempt to excite it,” but no law encompassing whites as well as blacks and specifying aiding, planning, or inciting a slave rebellion was passed until 1854. The crime was punishable by death until a revision of the state’s penal code in 1858 reduced the penalty to a prison sentence of ten years to life. “Insurrection of slaves” was defined as an “assemblage of three or more, with arms, with intent to obtain their liberty by force.” After 1858 the law also provided a penalty of five to fifteen years in prison for any person who tried to render a slave “discontented with his state of slavery.”[13]

Randolph B. Campbell, An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar Institution in Texas, 1821-1865. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press., 102.

 

  1. [13]Gammel (comp.), Laws of Texas, III, 1511; Oldham and White (comps.), Digest of the General Statute Laws, 539. Oliver C. Hartley (comp.), A Digest of the Laws of Texas (Philadelphia, 1850), the most recent digest made before a general revision began in the mid-1850s, had no law specifying penalties for inciting slave insurrection.

“an iron bridge which has been furnished by the Gachupines in Mexico for the purpose of crossing the Rivers of Texas” (Seguín)

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From Juan Seguín
To President Sam Houston
Camp Vigilance, River San Antonio, March 9, 1837

By a private of this corps (a Mexican by birth to whom I had given permission to go to the other side of the Nueces to catch mesteñas [mustangs]) I have learned the following information– He states that in his perambulations he went within six leagues of Matamoras and there remained some days at the Ranch of a Relative of his who is a person known to me and considered friendly to our cause. He left there on the 2d of this month and on the day previous to his departure the relative above alluded to returned to that Ranch from Matamoras and stated to my informant that there were then in that place six thousand troops under the command of Genl. Bravo with sixty pieces of artillery and an immense train of baggage including an iron bridge which has been furnished by the Gachupines in Mexico for the purpose of crossing the Rivers of Texas–[…]

Juan N. Seguín, A Revolution Remembered: The Memoirs and Selected Correspondence of Juan N. Seguín, edited by Jesús F. de la Teja (Austin, Texas: State House Press, 1991), 157.