Mrs. William L. Cazneau (Cora Montgomery). Eagle Pass; or, Life on the Border. 1852. Ed. Robert Crawford Cotner. Austin: Pemberton, 1966. V-Vi
It was not at "the urgent solicitation of friends" that this volume was given to the press, for nobody was consulted in the matter. Beyond the assurance of the only one who had the "veto power" that he would not object thereto, and the wish of the beloved relative to whom it is dedicated, to see in printed record some shadowings of our border life, the writer never heard or cared for an opinion on this small subject. Still less was it for the pride or profit of authorship, for she was in no wise ignorant that neither could arise to any tempting extent from these crude pages, thrown off without system or premeditation, as the events occurred, or the thought pressed for utterance. They were written, and are published, because the facts existed, and the writer--wishing them known, and seeing no one else disposed to take the trouble--found no better way of giving them to the world.
It may not be true long--and every ray of publicity helps the cure--but it is true now, that the interests of humanity and the honor of the country are utterly neglected on the Rio Bravo frontier. Whether it be from ignorance or inertia, it is certain that a class of the highest officials of the nation closely imitate the Mexican dignitaries of a similar rank, in profligacy of expenditure and profound indifference to the wants of the people.
Our Indian policy is a blot on the very name of Christianity, yet what Senator or what General proposes any change, except, perhaps, something a little more veiled and indirect in our inexorable system of despoilment and extermination?
We have before us abundant evidence of wrong and outrage to American citizens in various parts of Mexico, but we have no evidence that one step of firm, manly and decisive protest has been taken. With Mexico diplomatic compliments cost nothing and mean nothing, for her politicians are just as rich in words, and about as poor in acts, as ours are becoming in these latter days.
Unoffending and free-born residents on our soil have been torn from it by force, and carried with lawless violence into Mexico to be enslaved for debt, and not one victim, at the end of two years' supplication, has been officially demanded or returned to us. So far from it, indeed, that the official record of impunity is given in these pages--to the eternal shame of the public servant who refused to vindicate the outraged majesty of the Union. But it is also true that if a persevering demand is made for justice, the appeal must touch, at last, the popular heart; and then it is to be hoped we shall have done with apathy and evasions, and see these principles engraved in uneffaceable letters on our American policy:--
Free-born citizens shall not be enslaved for debt in Mexico. Americans and their property shall be protected from spoliation. The sanctity of our soil shall be vindicated with firmness.
We know our derelict public servants have failed to do their duty in these matters, and they will continue derelict so long as the people are silent; but they will hasten to amend their ways when the searching blaze of popular inquiry is turned upon their acts. The corruption and imbecility of our officials will grow upon us, until the press is aroused to take up the work and apply the cautery. Before this vague and irresponsible administration of our executive trusts is reformed into something more respectable and trustworthy, we may have to impeach some cabinet officers, and bring legislators under stringent laws of penal accountability; and why not? Why should our best-paid and most learned public servants do with impunity those things for which we would send a poor, untaught, poverty-tempted domestic servant to the penitentiary?
From our own Correspondent.
VERA CRUZ, April 5th, 1847. (1)
The new tariff for the commerce of Vera Cruz and the terms of capitulation are published in the Eagle, a paper which makes its first speech to-day in the English language. …