Description

    Three days after becoming President of Texas, David G. Burnet appoints Michael B. Menard to negotiate with the Indians

    David G. Burnet Manuscript Document Signed "David G. Burnet" as President of Texas, one page 7.75" x 9.75". Executive Department, Texas, March 20, 1836. Countersigned "Thomas J. Rusk" as Secretary of War. In full, "To Michael B Menard Esqr. Know ye that I David G Burnet President of the Republick of Texas reposing especial trust and confidence in your valor Patriotism and Conduct have nominated and by and with the advice and consent of my Cabinet have constituted and appointed you the Special Agent of the Government aforesaid for the following Tribes of Indians to wit the Shuanees the Delawares and the Kickapoos all resident in the Department of Nacogdoches and in your intercourse and negotiations with said Tribes of Indians you will be regulated in all respects by the written institutions you may from time to time receive from this Department of the Government." Penned on verso of integral leaf "Indian Agency/Comssr," in unknown hand. Meeting in Washington-on-the Brazos, Texas, from March 1-17, the delegates to the Convention of 1836 wrote and signed the Texas Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the Republic of Texas, named Sam Houston Commander in Chief of the republic's military forces, and organized the ad interim government with David G. Burnet as President. The convention hastily adjourned on the morning of March 17th after it was reported that the Mexican army was approaching. It was on that day that the ad interim presidency of David G. Burnet began. Three days later, somewhere in Texas, Burnet and Rusk signed this document.

    French-Canadian Michael Menard was well-suited to be Special Agent for the Indians residing in Nacogdoches, especially the Shawnees. While working with his uncle in the fur trade in Illinois, he became a resident trader to a band of Shawnees living near Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. Chosen a chief, Menard moved with the Shawnees, first to Arkansas Territory, then, in 1828, to the Red River. He continued trading for skins and furs from the Shawnees as well as other tribes and by 1834, he owned 40,000 acres in Texas. Menard represented Liberty County at the Convention of 1836 and signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. By this document, Burnet appointed him to negotiate a peace treaty with the Shawnee, Delaware, and Kickapoo tribes in northeastern Texas.

    On March 19, 1836, a day before signing this commission, Burnet wrote to Menard. That letter is in the Texas Indian Papers in the Texas State Library and Archives. He told him that he had "been selected as the most suitable person to be found in Texas, for the transaction of business that is equally important and delicate...It is a matter of great importance to secure the entire neutrality at least, of the Indian tribes generally, and especially of such of them as have migrated from the north--your experience in Indian affairs renders it very desirable to have the benefit of Your agency in effecting this object...I must enjoin it upon you to avoid with great caution entering into any specific treaty relating to boundaries...If you could secure the services of even a few confidential men of the Shawnee tribe or any other personally known to you to act as scouts, it would be a valuable acquisition to our forces..."

    A month earlier, Sam Houston had negotiated a treaty with tribes in east Texas reserving areas of land for Indian use. The Convention of 1836 did not ratify the treaty. Good relations with the Indians were crucial to the success of the new republic. Texas was at war with Mexico and could not afford a war with the Indians. This appointment of Menard who had lived with the Shawnees was a way to assure the Indians who felt betrayed that their friendship was of the utmost importance.

    Dampstaining affecting the start of Burnet's signature and throughout does not materially detract from the document's appearance. Overall, in near fine condition. One of the earliest significant Republic of Texas documents to be offered for sale.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    14th Saturday
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