Rendezvous at the Alamo: Highlights in the Lives of Bowie, Crockett, and Travis

By Virgil E. Baugh | Go to book overview
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chapter 7
More Trouble at Anahuac

I N JANUARY 1835 the Mexican National Congress decided to set up a central authority over the Texas part of Coahuila and Texas. It was an obvious attempt to grind down the Texans, and, with characteristic clumsiness, that government chose an area of greatest irritation to the Texans: the reopening of the customhouses, including the one at Anahuac, from which the Texans had driven Juan Bradburn in humiliating defeat in 1832. As a result of the Texan ports having been free since that time, a contraband trade valued at an estimated $270,000 had developed. The Mexicans also wanted to regain this lost revenue.

Toward the end of January one Capt. Antonio Tenorio arrived in Anahuac with a detachment of thirty-four soldiers to re-establish the customhouse and reopen the fort. These were presidarios or convict soldiers like their predecessors.1 Tenorio's job proved to be no bed of roses. He had all sorts of difficulties from the start -- with paying, provisioning, and arming his troops; with desertions; with bribery and other forms of resistance against the tariff by traders and merchants; and with troubles resulting from his own bungling.

And even without the bitter precedent of a Bradburn, the settlers had reason to complain. Collection of customs at the ports was done unevenly and with the usual corruption. The irritation of having to pay at all was bad enough; but some traders were allowed to smuggle goods in free, some to pay only nominal duties, while others were forced to pay the full tariff. By way of illustration, at the customhouses in Galveston and Anahuac the law was fully enforced, while at Brazoria only tonnage duties were

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