Anahuac Disturbances
The Anahuac Disturbances were uprisings of settlers in and around Anahuac
Anahuac, Texas
Anahuac is a city in the U.S. state of Texas within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area. The population of the city was 2,210 at the 2000 census. Anahuac is the seat of Chambers County and is situated in East Texas.- History :...

, Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 in 1832 and 1835 which helped to precipitate the Texas Revolution
Texas Revolution
The Texas Revolution or Texas War of Independence was an armed conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas. The war lasted from October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836...

. This eventually led to the territory's secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 from Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and the founding of the Republic of Texas
Republic of Texas
The Republic of Texas was an independent nation in North America, bordering the United States and Mexico, that existed from 1836 to 1846.Formed as a break-away republic from Mexico by the Texas Revolution, the state claimed borders that encompassed an area that included all of the present U.S...

. Anahuac was located on the east side of the Trinity River
Trinity River (Texas)
The Trinity River is a long river that flows entirely within the U.S. state of Texas. It rises in extreme north Texas, a few miles south of the Red River. The headwaters are separated by the high bluffs on the south side of the Red River....

 near the north shore of Galveston Bay
Galveston Bay
Galveston Bay is a large estuary located along the upper coast of Texas in the United States. It is connected to the Gulf of Mexico and is surrounded by sub-tropic marshes and prairies on the mainland. The water in the Bay is a complex mixture of sea water and fresh water which supports a wide...

, which placed it astride the trade route between Mexico and Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, and from there to the rest of the United States. In new attempts to curtail smuggling and enforce customs tariffs from the coastal settlements, Mexico placed a garrison there after 1830. American settlers came into conflict with Mexican military officers, and rose up against them. They increased political activity and residents of numerous communities declared support for the federalists, who were revolting against the central government.


After Mexico gained independence
Mexican War of Independence
The Mexican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial authorities which started on 16 September 1810. The movement, which became known as the Mexican War of Independence, was led by Mexican-born Spaniards, Mestizos and Amerindians who sought...

 from Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, it legalized immigration from the United States. Empresario
An empresario was a person who, in the early years of the settlement of Texas, had been granted the right to settle on Mexican land in exchange for recruiting and taking responsibility for new settlers. The word is Spanish for entrepreneur.- Background :...

s were granted contracts to settle immigrants from the United States and Europe in Mexican Texas
Mexican Texas
Mexican Texas is the name given by Texas history scholars to the period between 1821 and 1836, when Texas was an integral part of Mexico. The period began with Mexico's victory over Spain in its war of independence in 1821. For the first several years of its existence, Mexican Texas operated very...

. As the number of Americans living in Texas increased, Mexican authorities began to fear the United States would want to annex Texas. On April 6, 1830 the Mexican government passed a series of laws restricting immigration from the United States into Texas. The laws also canceled all unfilled empresario contracts and established customs houses in Texas to enforce the collection of customs duties. Mexican military officer Juan Davis Bradburn
Juan Davis Bradburn
Juan Davis Bradburn , born John Davis Bradburn, was a brigadier general in the Mexican Army. His actions as commandant of the garrison at Anahuac in Mexican Texas in 1831 and 1832 led to the events known as the Anahuac Disturbances....

, formerly an American citizen, was appointed commander of a new customs and garrison post on Galveston Bay
Galveston Bay
Galveston Bay is a large estuary located along the upper coast of Texas in the United States. It is connected to the Gulf of Mexico and is surrounded by sub-tropic marshes and prairies on the mainland. The water in the Bay is a complex mixture of sea water and fresh water which supports a wide...

. In October 1830 Bradburn established a post atop a 30 feet (9.1 m) bluff at the entrance to the Trinity River. The post became known as Anahuac.

Bradburn was unpopular from the beginning of his tenure. He opposed the efforts of the state land commissioner to grant titles to settlers who lived near Anahuac. The Mexican Constitution of 1824 prohibited immigrants from settling within 26 miles (41.8 km) of the coast, and most of these settlers lived too close to the coast. Although the commissioner was finally able to grant the titles, settlers were angry with Bradburn.

In January 1832, Bradburn received a letter listing 10 men in his jurisdiction who wanted to separate Texas from Mexico. From that point on, "Bradburn became increasingly obsessed about the Anglo-Americans and their intentions, believing that every event was part of a conspiracy to detach Texas." In June 1832, two of Bradburn's soldiers attacked a female settler. Angry settlers tarred and feathered a neighbor who failed to aid her. They demanded that Bradburn turn over the soldiers for a similar punishment. After Bradburn refused, local men organized a militia, supposedly to protect the settlement from the Indians.The only natives in the area were peaceful. Henson (1982), p. 90. Mexican law forbade residents from creating militias, so Bradburn arrested the ringleader Patrick Jack. After Bradburn received death threats, he released Jack.


Tensions between Bradburn and the colonists escalated. Bradburn strongly supported the Mexican law forbidding slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

. In August 1831 he gave asylum to two men who had escaped slavery in Louisiana. The owner retained local lawyer William Barret Travis to represent him in trying to get the slaves returned. In May 1832, Bradburn received a letter, ostensibly from a friend, warning that 100 armed men would come from Louisiana to reclaim the slaves. When Bradburn realized that the letter was a hoax, he arrested Travis for questioning. He intended to send Travis to Matamoros
Matamoros, Coahuila
Matamoros is a city and seat of the surrounding municipality of the same name located in the southwestern part of the state of Coahuila in Mexico...

 for a military trial on charges of attempted insurrection to separate the territory from Mexico. Conviction on this charge would lead to Travis's execution. Unfamiliar with Mexican law, the settlers were outraged that Bradburn could arrest the man without a warrant, a statement of charges, or trial by jury. Most assumed they were still covered by the United States Bill of Rights
Bill of rights
A bill of rights is a list of the most important rights of the citizens of a country. The purpose of these bills is to protect those rights against infringement. The term "bill of rights" originates from England, where it referred to the Bill of Rights 1689. Bills of rights may be entrenched or...


Jack threatened Bradburn, who arrested him again. Travis and Jack then began plotting their escape. They attempted to smuggle letters to David G. Burnet
David G. Burnet
David Gouverneur Burnet was an early politician within the Republic of Texas, serving as interim President of Texas , second Vice President of the Republic of Texas , and Secretary of State for the new state of Texas after it was annexed to the United States of America.Burnet was born in Newark,...

, a fellow instigator; the letters called on Texians to aid them, but stopped short of calling for armed rebellion. Bradburn intercepted the letters before delivery.

Although settlers at first did not get involved, they became alarmed at learning that Bradburn was taking statements from potential witnesses without allowing Travis, Jack, or their legal representation to speak with the witnesses. Jack's brother organized a contingent of men to march from Brazoria to Anahuac. Men began arriving from other villages as well. One of the Brazoria councilmen, John Austin
John Austin (soldier)
John Austin was a Texian settler, one of Stephen Austin's Old Three Hundred, and the Texian commander at the Battle of Velasco during the Anahuac Disturbances before Texas Revolution....

, stopped to consult Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 Domingo Ugartechea
Domingo Ugartechea
Domingo de Ugartechea was a 19th century Mexican Army officer for the Republic of Mexico.-Early years:He served for Joaquín de Arredondo in 1813...

, who commanded the garrison on the Brazos. Ugartechea recommended that Austin request that the men be remanded into civilian custody.

Bradburn's officers explained to Austin and company that the laws prohibited turning the accused men over to civilian authorities. The Brazoria men returned home. After they left, the Mexican officers discovered that their horses had been stolen. They arrested two local men on suspicion of the theft. On hearing of the new arrests, the Brazoria contingent returned to Anahuac. They camped with other angry civilians several miles from Anahuac and elected Frank W. Johnson
Frank W. Johnson
Francis White "Frank" Johnson was a co-commander of the Texian Army from December 1835 through February 1836, during the Texas Revolution. Johnson arrived in Texas in 1826 and worked as a surveyor for several empresarios, including Stephen F. Austin. One of his first activities was to plot the...

 as commander. The group soon captured Bradburn's nineteen cavalry officers, who had been trying to reconnoiter the Texian position.

On June 10, the insurgents occupied buildings in northern Anahuac. Bradburn worried that the armed men wanted to do more than free the American prisoners; he suspected a full-scale revolt. Bradburn had Travis and Jack tied to the ground with weapons pointed at them. Bradburn threatened to shoot both men if the Texians attacked. Travis encouraged Johnson to lead an attack anyway. During the ensuing negotiations, the Texians offered to exchange the cavalry officers for Travis and the other prisoners. Mexican officers agreed to release their prisoners into civilian custody in exchange for the cavalry officers and for the withdrawal of the Texians to Turtle Bayou. Although most of the rebels left Anahuac, between 15 and 30 of them remained scattered through the town. Bradburn believed this violated their agreement and warned that he would begin firing on the village within two hours. Most of the Texians believed that Bradburn had lied to them just to get them out of the buildings they had occupied. Unbeknownst to the Texians at the time, the buildings contained extra ammunition and supplies.

Battle of Anahuac

After hearing Bradburn's warning, the women and children of Anahuac fled the town. Mexican soldiers briefly engaged the men who remained; five Mexican soldiers and one Texian died in the conflict. After the skirmish, the remaining Texians gathered at Turtle Bayou to await the arrival of cannons coming from Brazoria.

On June 13, the Texans adopted the Turtle Bayou Resolutions
Turtle Bayou Resolutions
The Turtle Bayou Resolutions were signed by settlers during the Anahuac Disturbances, which played a role in the secession of Texas from Mexico and the creation of the Republic of Texas....

. In this document, they announced they were federalists who supported rebellious Mexican general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón , often known as Santa Anna or López de Santa Anna, known as "the Napoleon of the West," was a Mexican political leader, general, and president who greatly influenced early Mexican and Spanish politics and government...

. They decried "the present dynasty" that kept them under military rather than civil authority. While the Texans waited for their artillery, Bradburn appealed for reinforcements from Colonel Piedras, stationed at Nacogdoches 200 miles (321.9 km) north, and Colonel Elosúa at San Antonio, about 300 miles (482.8 km) to the west. On June 19, Piedras and about 100 of his men set out to support Bradburn.

John Austin and his men returned to Brazoria for the cannons. On June 20, he called the residents together, and they voted to oppose the centralist government. Austin invited Colonel Domingo Ugartechea
Domingo Ugartechea
Domingo de Ugartechea was a 19th century Mexican Army officer for the Republic of Mexico.-Early years:He served for Joaquín de Arredondo in 1813...

, who commanded the small fort on the Brazos, to join their cause. After Ugartechea refused, on June 26 the Brazoria residents attacked the fort. The action became known as the Battle of Velasco
Battle of Velasco
The Battle of Velasco, fought June 25–26, 1832, was the first true military conflict between Mexico and settlers in Texas. It began when Texan insurgents attacked Fort Velasco, located in what was then Velasco and what is now the present day city of Freeport...

. The next morning, Ugartechea surrendered under an agreement that he and his men would return to Matamoros but leave their artillery behind.

When Piedras was within 30 miles (48.3 km) of Anahuac, he sent a delegation to Johnson, who provided him with a list of grievances against Bradburn. Piedras negotiated a resolution of the conflict. Among the measures to which he agreed were:
  • to reestablish the ayuntamiento at Liberty;
  • to release the civilian prisoners at Anahuac to civilian authorities; and
  • to have Bradburn resign in favor of an officer of his choice.

With Texans' acceptance of the terms on June 28, Piedras marched to Anahuac on July 1.


Bradburn's chosen successor, Lieutenant Colonel Felix Maria Subarán, refused to take his place.Lieutenant Colonel Felix Maria Subarán had been sent to Texas as a political prisoner because he supported the federalist leader Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón , often known as Santa Anna or López de Santa Anna, known as "the Napoleon of the West," was a Mexican political leader, general, and president who greatly influenced early Mexican and Spanish politics and government...

 against the current centralist administration
Centralized government
A centralized or centralised government is one in which power or legal authority is exerted or coordinated by a de facto political executive to which federal states, local authorities, and smaller units are considered subject...

. Bradburn believed that Subarán would defend Texas against any separation attempts. Henson (1982), p. 103.
Piedras took temporary command of the garrison. On July 2, he released the prisoners to the civilian authorities; within a week they were released with no charges filed. On July 8, Piedras left for Nacogdoches. He gave command of the Anahuac garrison to Lieutenant Cortina, previously the third-in-command.

Three days after Piedras left, the bulk of the Anahuac troops declared themselves federalists. The troops were drunk and Cortina, unable to maintain order, asked Bradburn to resume command.Travis and Jack likely supplied the alcohol used to intoxicate the soldiers. The two men then gave rousing speeches encouraging the soldiers to declare themselves federalists. Davis (2006), pp. 85–6. Bradburn refused, instead recommending that Subarán take responsibility.

After an attempt at his assassination was forestalled, Bradburn decided to leave Texas. None of the local ship captains would give him passage. On July 13, Subarán announced he would not guarantee the safety of any officers who supported the centralist government. That night, Bradburn left Anahuac; a hired guide took him on foot to Louisiana. Other officers sought sanctuary with sympathetic locals.

Historians have discussed Bradburn's role. William C. Davis
William C. Davis (historian)
William C. Davis is a professor of history at Virginia Tech University. An expert on the American Civil War, Davis has twice been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He has written more than forty books on the American Civil War and other aspects of Southern history. He was twice nominated for a...

 believes that he "overreacted and made heroes of two local malcontents whose actions their own people otherwise had not been much inclined to sanction". The resulting Turtle Bayou Resolutions
Turtle Bayou Resolutions
The Turtle Bayou Resolutions were signed by settlers during the Anahuac Disturbances, which played a role in the secession of Texas from Mexico and the creation of the Republic of Texas....

, however, encouraged other Texians to follow similar courses. Many communities declared support for Santa Anna. When Piedras returned to Nacogodoches, he discovered citizens were forming militias. He asked the local ayuntamiento to order the militias to disband; they refused and instead formed their own militia. On August 1, the combined militias ordered Piedras to vow support for the federalist revolt. When he refused, the Texians attacked. Several days later, they took Piedras and his men prisoner and "convinced" them to become federalists. With the soldiers' surrender and retreat into the Mexican interior, no Mexican troops remained in eastern Texas. This encouraged the colonists to increase political activity. Soon after, they organized the Convention of 1832
Convention of 1832
The Convention of 1832 was the first political gathering of colonists in Mexican Texas. Delegates sought reforms from the Mexican government and hoped to quell the widespread belief that settlers in Texas wished to secede from Mexico...

, marking the first attempt to gather Texians from each of the colonies to discuss common goals.

1835 Disturbance

A second dispute arose in late June 1835, again over the issue of customs. Andrew Briscoe, a local merchant and boat captain, complained that taxes were not being enforced equally at all ports. He intentionally tested the new commander, Capt. Antonio Tenorio, by loading his boat in a way to increase curiosity of the officials. Briscoe simply loaded his boat with ballast
Sailing ballast
Ballast is used in sailboats to provide moment to resist the lateral forces on the sail. Insufficiently ballasted boats will tend to tip, or heel, excessively in high winds. Too much heel may result in the boat capsizing. If a sailing vessel should need to voyage without cargo then ballast of...

. Tenorio was incensed and arrested Briscoe and his partner DeWitt Clinton Harris. The soldiers escorting Harris and Briscoe shot and wounded another Texian, young William Smith.

Travis played a major role afterward. When news of the arrests were heard in San Felipe de Austin, where radical sentiments were taking hold, the political chief Peter Miller authorized Travis to gather a militia for response. Travis commandeered a vessel at Harrisburg, and sailed for Anahuac with the militia and a cannon. His 25-man force quickly gained surrender of the more than 40 Mexican troops. After disarming them, Travis and the militia freed the Texians and expelled the troops.

Because Travis had acted without broad community support, he apologized to avoid endangering Stephen F. Austin
Stephen F. Austin
Stephen Fuller Austin was born in Virginia and raised in southeastern Missouri. He was known as the Father of Texas, led the second, but first legal and ultimately successful colonization of the region by bringing 300 families from the United States. The capital of Texas, Austin in Travis County,...

, then in Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

. Austin was the most prominent empresario under contract by the Spanish, and later Mexican, governments to oversee the immigration of people to Mexico's frontier. Later that summer, Mexican military authorities demanded the surrender of Travis for military trial. The colonists opposed this.

Travis and Austin continued active in Texas development. Travis died at the Battle of the Alamo
Battle of the Alamo
The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar . All but two of the Texian defenders were killed...

. Austin served as secretary of state for the Republic of Texas for a short time before his own death.
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