Mexican plans for Texas revolution in 1835 and the Amphictyonic Council (Henson)

1835 Sep-Nov: Mexican federalists and Amphictyonic Council attempt to create a separate northern federation

While the Texans made plans to resist General Cós, Zavala’s federalist friends in New Orleans met on September 3 and 4 to plan the defeat of Santa Anna. Former Vice President Gómez Farías and his family had arrived in the Crescent City on August 29, four days after Austin left for Texas. Mexía and the others welcomed him and organized a meeting of the Amphictyonic Council for September 3. The name came from ancient Greece: amphictyons (deputies) represented their neighborhoods at meetings of a league of states at Delphi or Thermopylae. The New Orleans group included both Mexican federalists and Anglo Americans who were united by commercial interests and freemasonry. Mexía outlined a plan to attack Tampico and rally federalists to attack Santa Anna. He already had tentative financial backing from some Louisiana capitalists, provided he could guarantee the sale of Texas to the Louisiana interests. Texas would be made an independent state, temporarily under the guidance of the United States, until “a new republic of the South” could be organized that included the north Mexican states.”

[90] Gómez Farías thought the plan impractical and did not like the idea of severing Texas even temporarily, saying that the Mexican people would not understand. He recommended that Mexía’s proposed invasion be postponed. But the supporters of the scheme argued the invasion was in the interest of all lbierals, which brought Gómez Farías reluctantly into the fold.

The meeting on September 4 debated the issues of bringing “true liberty” to the United States of Mexico. A two-thirds majority approved seven articles: Gómez Farías, Mexía, and Zavala would lead the effort to return the federal system and liberalism to Mexico. Gómez Farías was the nominal head while Mexía, as head of the Federal army, was to recruit met in Louisiana and later the civic militias of Tamaulipas and other Mexican states. Zavala would direct the Texans in an uprising to draw attention and Santa Anna’s army away from Mexía’s landing at Tampico. Amnesty would be offered to all except Santa Anna and his ministers, who would be executed. Mexía would petition Congress to reform the 1824 Constitution by restricting the power of the clergy and the military, while freedom of religion would be established along with land reform. United States citizens, as a reward for their support, could enter Mexico without passports and be exempt from one-third of the import duties. Thirty-seven men signed the document, but their names did not appear in the December newspaper article published in Mexico City, the only known record of this meeting. Seemingly the Amphictyons had a spy in their midst.

Zavala and Mexía must have discussed the plan in July, because the wording used some of Zavala’s phrases. Moreover, his questions to the Columbus committee about support for independence fit the scheme. There was sufficient time for Zavala to tell Mexía about his cool reception, but perhaps Mexía and even Zavala believed that the Texans would rally in time.

Margaret Swett Henson, Lorenzo de Zavala: The Pragmatic Idealist (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1996). 89-90.

“I should have thought he was of Spanish origin” – complexions and passing as white (Johnson)

Walter Johnson, Soul By Soul, 156.

Some slaves, however, were “too white to keep.” […] So, too, Robert, who boarded the steamboat that carried him away from slavery and new Orleans as a white man. “I should have thought he was of Spanish origin,” remembered one of his fellow passengers, “he was a man of clear skin and dark complexion.” But more than the way Robert looked, the other passengers remembered the way he acted: “he was very genteely dressed and of a very genteel deportment”; “he had more the appearance of a gentleman than a plebeian”; and, almost every witness noted, “usually seated himself at the first table, high up, and near the ladies.” Robert, it turned out, had once been a waiter, and he used the skills he had learned as a slave, the gentility and sociable palate of the server, to make his way into the confines reserved for the served. […] Robert made it as far as Memphis before being arrested and sent to the slave market in New Orleans, where he very shortly died.