Resolutions Ordinances and Decrees
The Congress of the State of Coahuila and Texas decrees as follows:
ART. 1. At the expiration of six months from the publication of the Constitution in the capital of each district, a list of the slaves in the respective municipalities, their age, names, and sex, being distinctly expressed, shall be made in all the towns of the State.
ART. 2. Each Ayuntamiento shall keep a register, wherein they shall keep an account of children (Coahuiltexians) born of slave parents, from the publication of the Constitution, giving notice to government every three months.
ART. 3. All deaths of slaves shall be noted down in said register, of which notice shall be given to government, as specified in the preceding article.
ART. 4. Those who introduce slaves, after the expiration of the term specified in article 13 of the Constitution, shall be subject to the penalties established by the general law of the 13th of July, 1824.
ART. 5. Slaves, whose owners have no heirs apparent according to the existing laws, shall be immediately free on the decase of their masters, and shall not pass to any other kind of succession whatever under any aspect.
ART. 6. The manumission mentioned in the preceding article shall not take place when the master, or his heirs, are poisoned or assassinated by one of their slaves; in that case they shall be subject to the provision of the laws.
ART. 7. In each change of owner of slaves, in the nearest succession, even of heirs apparent, the tenth part of those who are to pass to the new owner, shall be manumitted; the said portion to be determined by lot, before the Ayuntamiento of the municipal district.
ART. 8. Children and parents by adoption shall not mutually inherit slave property.
ART. 9. The Avuntamientos, under their most rigid responsibility, shall take particular care that free children, born of slaves, receive the best education that can be given them: placing them, for that purpose, at the public schools and other places of instruction, wherein they may become useful to society.
ART. 10. Ayuntamientos that shall not be faithful in the fulfillment of this law, shall suffer a fine of five hundred dollars, which the Executive shall order appropriated to the benefit of public schools.
ART. 11. This law shall be first published in this town on the morrow, and in the other towns on the day following the receipt thereof, The same shall be re-published annually on the 16th of September until the year 1840. For its fulfillment, the Governor of the State shall cause it to be printed, published, and circulated.
Given in Saltillo on the 15th of September, 1827.
RAMON GARCIA ROJAS, President. JUAN A. GONZALES, D. S. MIGUEL ARCINEAGA, D. S.
The Congress of the State of Coahuila and Texas decrees the following as additional articles to Decree No. 18 of the 15th of September last.
ART. 1. The slave who, for the sake of convenience, shall wish to change his master, shall be permitted to do so, provided the new master indemnify the former for what the slave cost him agreeably to the conveyance.
ART. 2. The manumission mentioned in the decree aforesaid shall not take place should the owner of the slave be assassinated or poisoned by an unknown hand, or die in any other unnatural way. For its fulfillment, the Governor of the State shall cause it to be printed. published, and circulated.
Given in Saltillo the 24th of November, 1827.
[The same Signers.]
The Congress of the State of Coahuila and Texas, attending to the deficiency of working men to give activity to agriculture and the other arts, and desiring to facilitate their introduction into the State, as well as the growth and prosperity of the said branches, has thought proper to decree: All contracts, not in opposition to the laws of the State, that have been entered into in foreign countries, between emigrants who come to settle in this State, or between the inhabitants thereof, and the servants and day laborers or working men whom they introduce, are hereby guaranteed to be valid in said State. For its fulfilment, the Governor of the State shall cause it to be printed, published, and circulated.
Given at the city of Leona Vicario on the 5th of May, 1828. [The same Signers.]
The Guerrero Decree, which abolished slaveryqv throughout the Republic of Mexico except in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, was issued by President Vicente R. Guerreroqv on September 15, 1829. Guerrero may have acted under the influence of José María Tornel, who hoped the decree would be a check on American immigration, or he may have issued it as a personal measure because his enemies accused him of being partly of African descent. The decree reached Texas on October 16, but Ramón Músquiz,qv the political chief, withheld its publication because it was in violation of the colonization laws, which guaranteed the settlers security for their persons and property. The news of the decree did alarm the Texans, who petitioned Guerrero to exempt Texas from the operation of the law. On December 2 Agustín Viesca,qv secretary of relations, wrote the governor of Texas that no change would be made respecting the slaves in Texas. Though the decree was never put into operation, it left a conviction in the minds of many Texas colonists that their interests were not safe.
Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "GUERRERO DECREE," http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/GG/ngg1.html (accessed January 7, 2005).
(NOTE: "s.v." stands for sub verbo, "under the word.")
January 1st. 1836. NINE O'CLOCK, A. M.
The Council met pursuant to adjournment. The journals of the proceedings of yesterday being read, Mr. Barrett, from the committee on state and judiciary, made the following report accompanied with an ordinance: Report that the committee on state and judiciary affairs, to whom was referred the letters from the committee of safety of Beaumont. Your committee to whom was referred the letter of the committee of safety at Beaumont, having duly considered its contents, and strongly impressed with the necessity of adopting some measures as recommended in said letters to prevent the importation or emigration of free negroes or mulattoes into Texas; being sensible from the experience of other countries, that the residence of such free negroes and mulattoes among us, would prove an evil difficult to be remedied should it once be tolerated. To the slave-holder nothing could be of deeper interest than the timely adoption of some measures that will prove effectually preventive of a course so much to be dreaded in a country, whose soil, from the nature of its productions must be cultivated by slave labor. The infusion of dissatisfaction, and disobedience into the brain of the honest and contented slave, by vagabond free negroes, who denied the society of whites, from necessity or choice, associate with persons of their own color, cannot be too promptly and strongly guarded against. Your committee would therefore recommend the adoption of the following ordinance and decree to be entitled, "An ordinance and decree to prevent the importation and emigration of free negroes and mulattoes into Texas. Be it ordained and decreed, and it is hereby ordained and decreed by the Provisional Government of Texas, that from and after the passage of this ordinance and decree, it shall not be lawful for any free negro or mulatto to come within the limits of Texas, and if any free negro or, mulatto, shall hereafter be found within the limits of Texas as aforesaid, and it shall not appear, that he or she was within said limits prior to the passage of this ordinance and decree, it shall and may be lawful for any citizen of Texas, to apprehend said free negro or mulatto, and take him or her before the judge or alcalde of the municipality in which he or she may be so apprehended, and upon satisfactory evidence being adduced,. that such free negro or mulatto emigrated into Texas, contrary to the' provisions of this ordinance and decree, it shall be the duty of the judge or alcalde, before whom such free negro or mulatto may be brought, to expose him or her te sale at public auction, to the highest bidder, and the proceeds of such sale, after paying one third thereof to the apprehender and defraying the costs and charges, attending the conviction and sale of such free negro or mulatto shall be paid into the state treasury. And it is hereby declared, and made the duty of each judge and alcalde, and of each and every sheriff and other officer of the place, within each and every municipality throughout Texas, so to apprehend and cause to be apprehended all and every such free negro or free negroes, mulatto or mulattoes, offending against the provisions of this ordinance and decree, and that such officer or officers, who shall so apprehend such free negro or free negroes, mulatto or mulattoes, shall be entitled to the same compensation, that is by this ordinance and decree allowed to citizens, who may by such apprehension as aforesaid render the like service. Be it further ordained and decreed, &c.: That it shall not be lawful for any master or owner of any ship or vessel, nor for any other person or persons whatever, from and after the passage of this ordinance, to import, bring or induce, or aid in importing, bringing or inducing, any free negro or mulatto, within the limits of Texas, directly or indirectly,. and if any master or owner of any ship or vessel, or any other person,. or persons, whatever shall import, bring or otherwise induce, or aid or abet in importing, bringing or otherwise inducing, any free negro or mulatto into Texas as aforesaid, he or she so offending shall be, deemed guilty of a misdemeanor at common law, and upon conviction thereof, in any court of record within Texas, shall be fined in the sum of five thousand dollars, and imprisoned, until the same together with the costs and charges of the prosecution shall be paid. Be it further ordained and decreed, and it is hereby further ordained and decreed, &c., that this ordinance and decree shall be regularly given in charge to grand juries throughout Texas, and the Governor be and he is hereby required to have this ordinance and decree inserted three times in the New Orleans Bulletin. The above report being read was adopted, and the ordinance and decree was read the first time, and ordered to a second reading to-morrow.
Whereas, the African slave trade being abhorrent to the laws of God and the feelings of all civilized nations, the encouragement of such inhuman traffic shall be made piracy by the laws of the land, and all persons legally convicted, before the legitimate tribunals. of being hereafter engaged in it, either directly by capturing Africans; or purchasing them out of slave ships, or knowingly from those who may have previously bought them, shall suffer the punishment of death, and such captured persons to be disposed of in such manner as may be hereafter prescribed by congress; Provided, That this article .shall not be construed to prohibit emigrants from bringing their slaves into the country, and that no free people of color shall ever be admitted to reside in the republic after the ratification of this constitution. On motion of Mr. Rusk, The resolution was referred to the committee to draft the constitution. On motion of Mr. Menifee, The Convention adjourned till to-morrow morning at nine o'clock.
Resolution of Plenary Convention concerning, page 872
SEC. 1. All persons of color who were slaves for life, previous to their emigration to Texas, and who are now held as bonded servants or otherwise, shall remain in the like state of servitude in which they would have been held in the country from which they came; provided the person or slave be the bona fide property of the person holding the same, either by purchase or otherwise. Congress shall pass no law to prohibit emigrants from the United States of America, from bringing their slaves with them, and holding them on the same terms and by the same tenure as they were held in the country from which they were brought. Congress shall have no power to pass laws for the emancipation of slaves; nor shall any person holding slaves be permitted to emancipate them, unless he remove them beyond the limits of this republic; unless. in case of meritorious conduct on the part of the slave, and by the consent of the legislature first had and obtained. No free person of African descent shall be permitted to emigrate and reside in this republic, unless by special act of congress, which must specify the person by name. Congress may by legislative acts compel the owners of slaves to treat them with humanity, and provide them with sufficient food. and clothing; and may prevent their introduction as merchandise, or from any other country except that of the United States of America.
SEC. 2. In the prosecution of slaves for crimes, no inquest of a grand jury shall be necessary, but the proceedings thereof shall be regulated by law, except in capital cases; the general congress shall have no power to deprive them of a trial by jury. Any amendment or amendments to this constitution, may be proposed in either house of congress, and if the same be agreed to by a majority of the members of each house, such proposed amendment or amendments shall be entered on the journals with the yeas and nays taken thereon; and it shall be published at least
2. Mr. Fisher of Matagorda, chairman of committee on Naval affairs made the following report on the African Slave trade. "The committee to whom was referred a letter dated Velasco, March 2d, 1836, from Wm. S. Fisher, Collector, beg leave to observe, that the subject matter of said letter is of such a nature as to involve several important legal questions, which your committee do not consider come within the sphere of their duties; inasmuch as the private rights of some of our valued and respected citizens are there.- in involved. Yet your committee feel bound to give it as their opinion, that the introduction of African Negroes, is in contravention of the existing Treaties between most nations, and the existing laws of this land. And your committee have no hesitancy in stating their views and belief of the extreme impolicy of either covertly or directly countenancing a traffic, which has called forth the indignant condemnation of nearly the whole civilized world. It is to that civilized world that we now, in our present struggle look for sympathy, and hope from that sympathy to extract assistance.-Almost every nation has proclaimed against this traffic many years since, and denounced it as "Piracy;" and we are bound to believe from the late Message of his Majesty the King of Great Britain that, he has concluded with Denmark, Sardinia and Sweden, new conventions calculated to prevent it, and was in expectation of receiving a ratification of a similar treaty with Spain-that he was engaged in negotiating with other powers of Europe and South America for similar purposes, and hopes ere long, the traffic will be entirely suppressed. Your committee therefore respectfully suggest that, as a nation just ushered into existence, it most eminently becomes our duty and policy to adapt our measures to the genius and spirit of the age. We must be governed by the opinions of others-we must so regulate our infant steps as to deserve the kind and watchful solicitude of older Nations. But while advocating the broad and abstract principle of justice, let us not by taldng a retrospective view, of a doubtful and exciting question, interfere with or violate the just rights of our citizens. Your Committee therefore in presenting their individual and collective views of the justice and policy of the Traffic'in African Negroes, would respectfully beg that your honorable body discharge them from the further consideration of the subject, as being one which does not properly come under their notice." On motion of Mr. Childress 1000 copies of the report were ordered to be printed. Mr. Ellis laid before the Convention a communication from Edward I-arcourt which was read and referred to the committee on Military affairs.
An Ordinance and Decree to prevent the importation and emigration of Free Negroes and Mulattoes into Texas.
Be it ordained and decreed, and it is hereby ordained and decreed by the General Council of the Provisional Government of Texas, That from and after the passage of this ordinance and decree, it shall not be lawful for any free negro or mulatto to come within the limits of Texas; and if any free negro or mulatto shall hereafter be found within the limits of Texas, as aforesaid, and it shall not appear that he or she was within said limits prior to the passage of this ordinance and decree, it shall and may be lawful for any citizen of Texas to apprehend said free negro or mulatto, and take him or her before the Judge or Alcalde of the Municipality in which he or she may be so apprehended; and upon satisfactory evidence being adduced, that such free negro or mulatto emigrated into Texas contrary to. the provisions of this ordinance and decree, it shall be the duty of the Judge' or Alcalde before whom such free negro or mulatto may be brought, to expose him or her to sale at public auction to the highest bidder; and the proceeds of such sale, after paying one third thereof to, the apprehender, and defraying the costs and charges attending the conviction and sale of such free negro or mulatto, shall be paid into the State Treasury. And it is hereby declared and made the duty of each and every Judge and Alcalde, and of each and every Sheriff and other officers of the Peace within each and every Municipality throughout Texas, so to apprehend and cause to be apprehended all and every such free negro or free negroes, mulatto or mulattoes, offending against the provisions of this ordinance and decree; and that such officer or officers who shall so apprehend such free negro or negroes, mulatto or mulattoes, shall be entitled to the same compensation that is, by this ordinance and decree, allowed to citizens who may, by such apprehensions as aforesaid, render the like service.
SEC. 2. Be it further ordained and decreed, &c., That it shall not be lawful for any master or owner of any ship or vessel, nor for any other person or persons whatsoever, from and after the passage of this ordinance and decree, to import, bring or induce, or aid in importing, bringing or inducing any free negro or mulatto within the limits of Texas, directly or indirectly; and if any master or owner of any ship or vessel, or any other person or persons whatsoever, shall import, bring, or otherwise induce, or aid, or abet in importing, bringing, or otherwise inducing any free negro or mulatto into Texas, as aforesaid, he or she so offending, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor at common law, and upon conviction thereof in any Court of Record within Texas, shall be fined in the sum of five thousand dollars, and imprisoned until the same, together with the costs and charges of the prosecution, shall be paid.
SEC. 3. Be it further ordained and decreed, and it is hereby ordained and decreed, That this ordinance and decree shall be regularly given in charge to Grand Juries throughout Texas; and the Governor be and is hereby required to have this ordinance and decree inserted three times in the New Orleans Bulletin.
This ordinance was passed January 5th, 1836, enrolled and handed over to Governor Smith for approval but never returned.
For the relief of Free Persons of Color. Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas, in Congress assembled, That all free Africans or descendants of Africans, who were residing within the republic of Texas at the date of the declaration of Independence, and their natural issue, are hereby granted and allowed the privilege of remaining in any part of the republic as long as they choose; on the condition of performing all the duties required of them by law.
B. T. ARCHER, Speaker of the house of representatives. JESSE GRIMES, President pro tem. of the senate.
Approved, June 5, 1837. SAM. HOUSTON.
|Extracted from the Gammel's The Laws of Texas website.|