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. It set the southern boundary of Texas at the Rio Grande, including the Nueces Strip for Texas.

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]

The public treaty consisted of ten articles, and was to be published immediately.

  1. Personal undertaking by Santa Anna not to take up arms, or encourage arms to be taken up, against the people of Texas in the war of independence .
  2. Cessation of hostilities, on sea and land, between Texas and Mexico.
  3. Mexican troops to evacuate the territory of Texas, relocating south of the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte).
  4. Mexican troops to refrain from taking property without due compensation, etc., during their retreat.
  5. All property (including horses, cattle etc.) captured by Mexico during the war and negro slaves freed by the Mexican army had to be returned.
  6. The two armies to avoid contact, keeping a distance of five leagues (approx. 27.78 km).
  7. The Mexican army to retreat without tarrying.
  8. Dispatches to be sent to the commanders of the two armies, informing them of the treaty's content.
  9. Mexico to release all Texan prisoners, with Texas releasing the same number of Mexican prisoners of the same rank; all other Mexican prisoners to be retained by Texas.
  10. Santa Anna to be conveyed to Veracruz as soon as 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.


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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