Treaties of Velasco

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The Treaties of Velasco were two documents signed at Velasco, Texas (now Surfside Beach, Texas) on May 14, 1836, between Antonio López de Santa Anna of Mexico and the Republic of Texas, in the aftermath of the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. The signatories were Interim President David G. Burnet for Texas and Santa Anna for Mexico. The treaties were intended, on the part of Texas, to provide a conclusion of hostilities between the two belligerents and to offer the first steps toward the official recognition of the breakaway republic's independence.

Santa Anna signed both a public treaty and a secret treaty, but neither treaty was ratified by the Mexican government because he had signed the documents under coercion, as a prisoner. Mexico claimed Texas was a breakaway province, but it was too weak to attempt another invasion. The documents were not even called "treaties" until so characterized by US President James K. Polk in his justifications for war some ten years later, as Representative Abraham Lincoln pointed out in 1848.[1]

Public treaty[edit]

Article 1st

General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna agrees that he will not take up arms, nor will he exercise his influence to cause them to be taken up against the people of Texas, during the present war of Independence.

Article 2nd

All hostilities between the Mexican and Texan troops will cease immediately both on land and water.

Article 3rd

The Mexican troops will evacuate the Territory of Texas, passing to the other side of the Rio Grande del Norte.

Article 4th

The Mexican Army in its retreat shall not take the property of any person without his consent and just indemnification, using only such articles as may be necessary for its subsistence, in cases when the owner may not be present, and remitting to the commander of the army of Texas or to the commissioner to be appointed for the adjustment of such matters, an account of the value of the property consumed--the place where taken, and the name of the owner, if it can be ascertained.

Article 5th

That all private property including cattle, horses, negro slaves or indentured persons of whatever denomination, that may have been captured by any portion of the Mexican army or may have taken refuge in the said army since the commencement of the late invasion, shall be restored to the Commander of the Texian army, or to such other persons as may be appointed by the Government of Texas to receive them.

Article 6th

The troops of both armies will refrain from coming into contact with each other, and to this end the Commander of the army of Texas will be careful not to approach within a shorter distance of the Mexican army than five leagues.

Article 7th

The Mexican army shall not make any other delay on its march, than that which is necessary to take up their hospitals, baggage [---] and to cross the rivers--any delay not necessary to these purposes to be considered an infraction of this agreement.

Article 8th

By express to be immediately dispatched, this agreement shall be sent to General Filisola and to General T. J. Rusk, commander of the texian Army, in order that they may be apprised of its stipulations, and to this and they will exchange engagements to comply with the same.

Article 9th

That all Texan prisoners now in possession of the Mexican Army or its authorities be forthwith released and furnished with free passports to return to their homes, in consideration of which a corresponding number of Mexican prisoners, rank, and file, now in possession of the Government of Texas shall be immediately released. The remainder of the mexican prisoners that continue in possession of the Government of Texas to be treated with due humanity -- any extraordinary comforts that may be furnished them to be at the charge of the Government of Mexico.

Article 10th

General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna will be sent to Veracruz as soon as it shall be deemed proper.

Nonratification by Mexico[edit]

Although Gen. Vicente Filisola began troop withdrawals on May 26, the government of President José Justo Corro in Mexico City resolved, on May 20, to disassociate itself from all undertakings entered into by Santa Anna while he was held captive. Mexico's position was that Santa Anna had no legal standing in the Mexican government to agree to those terms or negotiate a treaty;

Santa Anna's position was that he had signed the documents under coercion as a prisoner, not as a surrendering general in accordance with the laws of war. In fact, he had no authority under the Mexican Constitution to make a treaty, and in any case, the treaties were never ratified by the Mexican government.

Noncompliance by Texas[edit]

Santa Anna was not given passage to Veracruz. He was kept as a prisoner of war ("clapped in irons for six months", he later claimed) in Velasco and, later, in the Orozimbo plantation, before being taken to Washington, D.C., in the United States to meet with President Andrew Jackson (ostensibly to negotiate a lasting peace between Mexico and Texas, with the USA acting as mediator). Sailing on the frigate USS Pioneer, the guest of the U.S. Navy, he did not arrive in Veracruz until February 23, 1837.

Outcome[edit]

Because the provisions of the public treaty were not met, the terms of the secret agreement were not released until much later. Although a fait accompli since mid-1836, neither the independence of Texas nor its later annexation by the U.S. was formally recognized by Mexico until the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War that resulted from the annexation and recognized the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte) as the Mexico – United States border.

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