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Texas | Columns

TURTLE BAYOU RESOLUTIONS

by Archie P. McDonald, PhD
Archie McDonald Ph.D.
Turtle Bayou originates just west of Raywood in Liberty County and flows, eighteen miles away, into Lake Anahuac. Angry Texans camped near that bayou in June 1832, trying to figure out how to gain the release of William Barret Travis and Patrick Jack, who had been arrested in Anahuac by Mexican post commander Juan David Bradburn.

Lawyer Travis had gotten into trouble with Bradburn when he represented a Texas slave owner seeking runaway property in Texas. Bradburn at first denied the slaves were there, later admitted they were, but that he would not release them without proof of ownership. The man engaged Travis to represent him while he went home for proof. Bradburn ordered Travis' arrest when he tricked Bradburn into thinking that the man had returned in the middle of the night with an army. When Mexican soldiers arrested Travis, his partner objected so strenuously that he was arrested, too. Then Bradburn announced the men would be sent under escort to Mexico for trial.

Other Americans gathered at Turtle Bayou, near Anahuac, to plan how to prevent Travis and Jack from military trial. While there, they adopted the Turtle Bayou Resolutions as a statement about why they were defying the government.

The reason was simple: Bradburn represented a military regime that had set aside the Constitution of 1824, under which the Americans had been admitted to Texas legally. If the government succeeded, their presence land titles. Taking advantage of a revolt against that same government being led by Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the four Turtle Bayou Resolutions denounced, the usurpers, declared their support for Santa Anna and states' rights, pledged on their honor to see the issue resolved, and invited other Americans and Tejanos to join them in the effort.

When adopted, the resolutions remained unsigned, but when a copy was presented to Col. Jose Antonio Mexia, Santa Anna's representative, when he came north to find out what the Americans were doing, the names of Wyle Martin, John Austin, Luke Lesassier, William H. Jack, Hugh B. Johnston, Francis W. Johnson, and Robert M. Williamson had been affixed to it.

Travis and Jack were released when Col. Jose Piedras arrived in Anahuac and saw that the Americans had more guns than did he and Bradburn. Travis and Santa Anna encountered each other four years later at the Alamo.


Archie P. McDonald, PhD
All Things Historical
March 22 , 2005 column
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers
(Provided as a public service by the East Texas Historical Association. Archie P. McDonald is director of the Association and author of more than 20 books on Texas.)



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