May 22nd, 1813
I’m writing today on my westward bound travels to Texas. As a government official of Georgia I have been stationed in Texas on the account of settling new borders established by the Louisiana purchase, which, was finalized ten years back, in 1803. As well as my governmental duty I also am inspired to make this move for the agricultural opportunities available with the excess land out in Texas. I reckon I’ll own five times the land I had back in Georgia, where the land is chugged full of people who are all fightin’ for their wages. Like many others movin’ west I see opportunity, but not just opportunity, I see the chance to start anew.
The carriage I’m taking is drawn by two horses and the driver, George Kensler, told me that the expected travel time is around 6 weeks, give or take a few days. I could tell the driver is from Texas, his patriotism is unique from what I’m used to seeing in Georgia. He had one slave, Antonio, doing chores like feeding and cleaning the horses. However, there relationship was more of a friendship, rather than a repressive ownership. I’m sure that on their travels east to pick up travelers Antonio could easily escape as he is much younger and much stronger. Maybe he is just glad to not be working on a cotton mill anymore, I could easily tell he must have worked on one for years from the extensive scars on his hands. Nevertheless, I haven’t seen this type relationship between a slave and their owner before. I wonder if this is common in Texas. Antonio takes my bags and I start to help him but he insists with a smile that I let him do it, so I get in the carriage and we’re off! No looking back. Our first road is the Federal Road, built just a decade ago. It was used for postal purposes but now after the War of 1812 the Federal Road has been frequently used for westward travels. Once we reach its end in St. Stephens I will meet with fellow officer Wiggins to discuss current conflicts with Spain and their Mexican territories out west. After that we’ll take the Natchez road heading straight to Austin, Texas. I’ve got one long journey ahead of me.
In the near future long distance travel will be not only be cheaper, but much more time efficient too. Taking only days to cross many states. This will all made possible by the iron horse, the train. Railroads first arose nine years ago in 1804 with the first locomotive, used to transport goods (3). I believe that soon locomotives will be more commonly used to move people (I can only hope). This of course will only be possible with a wider spread of tracks and higher demand for movement westward. But until then, horse and buggy will serve me well enough.
While traveling I have been reviewing the Louisiana Purchase Treaty. What I find quite noticeable is Article VI, which states: “The United States promise to execute Such treaties and articles as may have been agreed between Spain and the tribes and nations of Indians until by mutual consent of the United States and the said tribes or nations other Suitable articles Shall have been agreed upon.” (4). A fine line of tension exists between the new US territories (established by the Louisiana Purchase) and the Spanish territories previously existing in southwestern America. I’m curious to learn more from officer Wiggins as I will be inhabiting this rugged land surrounded by these savages and Spanyards.
Its been nine days since I left Georgia now. George shouts from his outside carriage seat, where he steers the horses, “I reckon that town there is St. Stephens,”. Me and Antonio make eye contact and simultaneously cheer, “Amen!”. We reach town, tie the horses up and then I proceed to the city hall. As I walk through the pillars preceding the front doors I notice the humidity. Sweat gathers on my brow like the dew grows on grass during cold winter nights. The oak doors creek as I enter the poorly lit facility, as I approach the front desk the miss positioned there kindly brings me to Mr. Wiggins office as if she had been expecting me. I knock twice then enter, “Mr. Wiggins will be with you shortly, he must still be off to the post office. Just have a seat,” the miss told me promptly. I enter the room as she closes the doors. His office reminds me of the one I had back in Georgia, papers scattered on the desk, books packed in shelves and stacked on the floor, and a pipe packed with charred tobacco. I walk over to his desk to see an article that reads, “Spanish Officials of Southwest American Spanish Territory have Conflict with American Explorers”.
The door pops open, I jump, spin around while hearing: “I see you found my office alright,” Mr.Wiggins says, “that article there is from a couple years back but theres still quite a bit of tension with Spanish Territories out in Texas.” I then respond, “well thats precisely what I’m here for. What else could you tell me?”. Mr Wiggins walks over to his desk and takes a seat, glancing over the scatter of documents he had left out.
Mr. Wiggins begins, ” One of the most interesting stories about the conflicts with Spanish territories is that of Former Vice President Aaron Burr and rogue military officer General James Wilkinson. Who both devised a plan to attack Spanish Mexican territory. Which in the end lead to the trial of Burr –”
“Is that tied to the Louisiana purchase?” I blurted, having just read up on the treaty.
Mr. Wiggins continues, “Why yes it is, I forget the article of the treaty but Burr violated the agreement states made that made it necessary to have a treaty in order to seize or purchase land as to prevent serious war or issues within western territories. To make things more of a mess, Wilkinson, Burr’s partner in crime was the one who reported the plans for attack to President Jackson. Anyways its was a bit of a mess but it just goes to show why we call it the Wild West.” (1)
We discuss the west for a while longer, I learn that many issues with Spanish territories lied within the American’s desire to fight, and go to war, to take more land. This lead to laws against starting conflict, It seems to me that the people are getting in trouble with the States for being agressive with the Spanish territories. I hope this won’t lead into any larger issues, I couldn’t imagine a war with the Spanish Mexican territories. Mr. Wiggins and myself agree on our concern as we finish up our meeting, I meet back up with George and Antonio who assure me there is no need to fear the the Spanish Mexican territories, I let the worries go and move on. Next stop Austin, Texas.
- Purcell, Sarah J. “Rising Conflict: 1804–1807.” The Early National Period, An Eyewitness History. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2004. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
- Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America.Edited by Hunter Miller. Volume 2. Documents 1-40 : 1776-1818, Washington : Government Printing Office, 1931.
- Bellis, Mary. “Railroad Invention and History.” About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2013. <http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blrailroad.htm>.
- IMAGE 1: http://www.sonofthesouth.net/texas/westward-expansion.htm
- IMAGE 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana_Purchase