Santa Anna's Captivity From the Life of Santa Anna by Clarence Wharton, 1926 (edited)




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Santa Anna's Captivity

From the Life of Santa Anna by Clarence Wharton, 1926 (edited)

When Santa Anna approached Houston after the Battle of San Jacinto, General Houston was lying wounded under a large oak tree A short dialogue ensued. El Presidente Santa Anna threw himself on Houston's mercy, advising that since Houston had conquered and captured the Napoleon of the West, he could afford to be merciful. After negotiations Santa Anna sent a dispatch to the rest of the Mexican Army in Texas:

"I have agreed with General Houston for an armistice (peace treaty) and the war will cease forever."

Two treaties were prepared for Santa Anna, known as the treaties of Velasco.

A public treaty which stated: "All hostilities will cease, and Santa Anna would not cause arms to be taken up against the people of Texas."

The secret treaty stated: "That El Presidente should be sent home at once to Vera Cruz, Mexico and that he would prepare things in Mexico so that a commission sent by the Texas government should be received, and that by means of negotiations all differences between Texas and Mexico should be settled and independence of Texas acknowledged. The Rio Grande was agreed upon as the boundary."

These bargains arranged, El Presidente embarked on a schooner named the Invincible at the mouth of the Brazos on June 3, 1836, bound for Vera Cruz. He was quite happy at having traded these treaties for his life, and issued a happy farewell address to the Texas people. There was a tremendous outcry in Texas at this time for Santa Anna’s execution, and the provisional government had great difficulty in keeping order. A few hours before the schooner sailed, a ship came into the Brazos from New Orleans, bearing a company of soldiers from the United States for the war in Texas. After the news of San Jacinto's outcome was spread to the U.S. there was a rush of adventurous people who wanted to participate in the war, and these newcomers determined that the Mexican President should be kept in Texas. They defied the provisional government, and boarded the Invincible before it could set sail, and forcibly took possession of El Presidente with the purpose of having him tried and shot. He was taken up the Brazos river to the Phelps plantation, about 30 miles from Velasco, and kept there during the summer and autumn.

A rumor was spread that an attempt was to be made to rescue him, and indeed such a plan was in progress, and he was put in irons and chained to a live oak tree. Santa Anna’s imprisonment under these circumstances weighed so heavily upon him that he became melancholy.

The first congress of the Republic of Texas assembled at Columbia on the Brazos in October, and the fate of the captive president was a great question on which was debated in both houses. The leaders in congress were in favor for his execution, and if the matter had been left to a vote, he would no doubt have lost.

But General Houston, who had been elected President of Texas in September, 1836, had determined that to spare his life was the right thing to do. Andrew Jackson, President of the United States, had written Houston, urging that he be released. In November, while the congressmen at Columbia were debating the fate of the "illustrious prisoner," President Houston cut the debate short by deciding to send him to Washington with an escort. Well armed, the escort party and Santa Anna left the Brazos on the 25th of November, 1836, and rode toward the Lynchburg crossing of the San Jacinto, and near the sunset hour on a November day they rode across the battlefield. El Presidente turned and cast a long and remorseful look at the scene of his greatest disaster.

Santa Anna did not want to go to New Orleans, for the Texan spirit of revolution was so strong there that he feared for his life, and they rode through northern Louisiana to the Mississippi River, where they took a passing steamboat up the 'Mississippi to the Ohio, and up the latter river to Louisville, Ky., which place they reached on Christmas day, 1836. News that the Mexican president was passing through the country excited lively interest, and crowds were gathered at each stopping place for a look at him. Everywhere he was treated with the utmost courtesy and curiosity.

In Washington, he visited President Jackson. The real story of Santa Anna's trip to Washington has never been widely known. There was a fight in the American Congress, upon the recognition of Texas' independence. Jackson's administration was coming to a close and he was to be succeeded the following March by Martin Van Buren who was very conservative about the recognition of Texas, or any other act that would bring on war with Mexico.

President Houston of Texas thought that it would help the situation if Santa Anna would go in person to Washington and say to President Andrew Jackson that Mexico did not intend to make an effort to reconquer Texas. This would be an answer to the critics in Congress who were urging that the recognition of Texas would be considered an unfriendly act by Mexico. Because of this guarantee Jackson was able to recognize Texas. It was one of the conditions of Santa Anna's release that he should do this, and though he was supposed to be freed when he left Texas under an escort, in fact he was a still a prisoner until he left Washington.

He carried out his part of the bargain and in private conversations with President Jackson gave the message that he had been sent to deliver and this was a powerful aid to the recognition of Texas which was accomplished during the last hours of the Jackson administration.  Santa Anna was speedily as possible set sail for home. He was sent to Vera Cruz on the United States frigate Pioneer, as the guest of the American Navy.

El Presidente landed at Vera Cruz on his return from Washington and the Texas campaign on February 23, 1837, an absence of a little more than one year, and went direct to his plantation, where he announced his retirement from public life.

While he was away, his old enemy, Bustamente, whom he had overthrown and sent into exile in 1832, had returned, and in June, 1837, while Santa Anna was at his plantation, Bustamente was elected President of Mexico for a five-year term. Santa Anna remained on his plantation for the next two years, planning a return to power and overthrowing Bustamente once again.

Name_______________________________ Period___________

Santa Anna's Captivity Questions

All Questions should be answered in complete sentences.

1) What did the Treaty of Velasco give Texas?

Public Part:

Secret Part

2) What was the general feeling on what should be done with Santa Anna by the majority of Texans? Why did Sam Houston disagree with these feelings?

3) What caused Santa Anna to not return to Mexico when the Provisional Government tried to send him to Vera Cruz, Mexico on the Schooner Invincible?

4) What guarantees did Sam Houston and U.S. President Andrew Jackson want from Santa Anna before he was allowed to go back to Mexico? What did this allow President Jackson to do regarding Texas?



5) What had changed in Mexico since Santa Anna had left? What did Santa Anna do once he returned?


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