DescriptionSam Houston Autograph Letter Signed. One page, 9.5" x 7.75", January 2, 1836, Washington[-on-the-Brazos], to Major Joseph Bonnell at "Fort Jesup Louisiana." When General Houston wrote this letter, Santa Anna's large Mexican army was on its way to stamp out the growing revolution in Texas. Interested in strengthening his ties with the U.S. Army gathered thirty miles west of the Louisiana-Texas border at Fort Jesup, Houston writes Major Bonnell, "If my friend Capt. Allen should meet you, he will hand you this note. Treat him as a friend. I look anxiously for you at Head Quarters. God speed you I pray."
The letter's recipient, Major Joseph Bonnell, was serving at Fort Jesup under General Edmund P. Gaines, commander of the southwest military division of the U.S. Gaines had been sent to the western Louisiana fort by U.S. Secretary of War Lewis Cass with orders to frustrate the flow of U.S. citizens into Texas to join the Texas army. Gaines was to remain neutral, though many Texans - with Houston likely among them - hoped the general, who had sympathies for the Texas cause and had an amiable relationship with General Houston, would supply aid. General Gaines did help by persuading some local Indian tribes to remain neutral and not join the Mexican cause. In one instance, he sent Major Bonnell to the Caddo Indians. During Bonnell's mission, he uncovered evidence that Mexican envoy Manuel Flores was attempting to convince the Caddo to fight for the Mexicans. The tribe, rebuffing Flores, decided to remain neutral. Exactly two months after this letter was written from Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas delegates gathered there and declared independence from Mexico, thus establishing the Republic of Texas. This letter, containing a superb example of Sam Houston's signature with paraph, was part of a scrapbook, likely begun by W. L. Rodman in 1872, which contained other important early Texas letters and documents. Glue residue on the verso bleeds-through to recto. The signature remains sound. Remnants of the red seal rest above the address. Very good.
General Houston's "friend", Captain John M. Allen (?-1847), had enlisted in the Texas Army in December 1835. When he made this journey to Fort Jesup, he was an infantry captain in the Texas army serving under Houston. He later fought alongside the general at the Battle of San Jacinto and, in the summer of 1836, became a Texas naval captain. He served as Galveston's first mayor from 1839 through 1847. Though the details of Allen's visit to the U.S. fort are not known, Allen, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, would have made a trusted and skilled agent for Houston.
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