tv Slavery Laws in Texas Mexico During the 1830s CSPAN November 24, 2018 11:44pm-12:01am EST
website,nquiry on our www.c-span.org, where we archive all of our programs. this is american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. in 1829, mexico abolished slavery. the republicater, of texas declared independence from mexico and the institution of slavery expanded. a historian talks about the tension along the mexican, texan border. host: joining us from san is a professor
of history at the university of southern california. if you can, take us back to the early 1800s, the issue of slavery in mexico and in texas. mr. rather: most people -- prof. baumgartner: most people are thaty interested to hear slavery existed in mexico at that time. there was a huge presence of slavery in mexico during the colonial. . was diminishing and importance of a national devel in mexico, it remaine very important regionally, especially in the north near texas. and in the south where plantation owners were growing sugar. a sense ofou give us
just how prevalent it was? prof. baumgartner: it is hard to give exact numbers. in the wake of independence, the mexican government abolished all distinctions. not include any information about race or status. at the time of independence, there were about 10,000 slaves in mexico. in the years after mexico one independence, the anglo americans imported thousands more. a much smaller population than in the united states. but for slaveholders, their slaves were important investments. host: so they were considered property? prof. baumgartner: exactly. host: where did they come from.
they weregartner: often descendents of that original population of african slaves who were brought over during the colonial. . the slaves and taxes were primarily being brought from the united states into this new region. host: let's talk about what was called the republican -- republic of texas. what was happening there? in 1836, thetner: republic of texas declared its independence from mexico. it passed a constitution that this allowed the government from ever interfering with slavery. the mexican government saw that and decided to take a very
different stance with respect to slavery. the mexican government had never recognized the independence of texas. even though the mexican government -- army had been defeated. they believed by abolishing slavery, that they would be able to encourage and slaves people in texas to revolt or escape, undermining the independence of texas. an added bonus to abolishing slavery for mexico was that the british government was or not tog whether recognize the independence of texas and support it. the mexican government believed that by abolishing slavery and
creating this difference between texas and mexico, that they would make britain come out on their side. do you am curious, how go about researching this topic? where do you go for information? what has surprised you the most? prof. baumgartner: that is a great question. can be in mexico. but they do not have very much at all. the mexican government promoted the idea that there was no real racial differences between people in mexico. cases of texasl slaveholders coming into mexico trying to kidnap their fugitive slaves. there are newspapers. legislative debates in mexico.
are a number of diplomatic records in the united states, great britain, france talking aout that decision on and -- larger international stage to abolish slavery. host: if you are a slave in mexico and they abolish slavery and you cross the border into texas, what happened to those individuals? did they know what they were getting into? most slavesrtner: in mexico who were freed stayed in mexico. i have not come across any evidence of slaves going into texas. ofre was a large number enslaved people from texas who were escaping into mexico to try to win their freedom there. that in itself is a complicated story because there is a difference between us polishing
abolishing slavery within your own nation and then promising freedom to escape people. policy andadopt a which enslaved people or fugitive slaves from any other nation could win their freedom and mexico after 1849. in 1857, mexico adopted a constitution that enshrined that principle in the law of the land. host: this may be an obvious question. what was mexico doing rights that the u.s. was not doing? compare the two countries. prof. baumgartner: it's an interesting question. one that is very complicated. for all that mexico did to abolish slavery, there were still many colors of labor practices and mexico,
particularly in southern mexico. indigenous slavery in northern mexico. debt servitude. paradise ofot this free labor by any means. but it was making serious legalizedo undermine slavery and away the u.s. was not. so, although to do still not easy, when you have a smaller slave population. if you have 10,000 slaves in mexico, you have at the eve of the civil war 3 million slaves in the u.s. respects, the economic differences between the two and the difference in slave population rate it easier for executor go to act upon the revolutionary ideals upon which it had declared its independence. the same ideals the u.s. had.
can you explain one case you have been looking into where a texas slave owner wanted to go back to mexico to retrieve a slave? i neverumgartner: expected to work on this topic. the reason i came across it was i was working and the state archives and northeastern mexico and came across a set of letters between local town councils that told a really remarkable story. in 1851, a texan slaveholder had come to texas and kidnapped a man he claimed as his slave. a young boy had seen this kidnapping and ran to the town council to report it. the town councilman there settled their horses and rode after the kidnapper and his slave. they came across the two in a rural area.
the slaveholder pulled out his six shooter but the town councilman drew first and the slaveholder fell dead. freed.ve was frayed -- disappointed to not bring him to justice. instead, they brought his corpse. it surprised me because i come alike many of your viewers, had no idea that slaves were much lesso mexico, that mexican citizens and authorities were risking their own lives to protect them. host: are there remnants of places in mexico or texas where the slaves are prevalent? or places you have gone to to better understand what was happening during this time. ? there is aartner:
community in northern mexico that is primarily a black community made up of the descendents of fugitive slaves and black seminoles. that community is now many generations removed from the story. an important early 20th century historian went there and conducted oral histories with the descendents of those enslaved peoples. archives to try to reconstruct some of the lived experience of those fugitive slaves in mexico. host: are you able to determine how the slaves in mexico were treated compared to the slaves in texas or elsewhere here in the u.s.? it isbaumgartner:
difficult because of the reason i mentioned earlier. many of the official documents do not include information about race. we do know there were two routes that fugitive slaves tended to take when they reached mexico. the first was to join the , the indian group from florida who were then removed to indian territory and a branch of them decided to move to mexico. they made a deal with the mexican government that they would defend the border. in exchange for land. many of the fugitive slaves would bring -- joined the black seminoles in these military colonies. there, they were able to maintain their cultural traditions. there were more separated from the mexican communities around
them. the other routes that some fugitive slaves took was actually to find work in northern mexico on haciendas, and households. they often took spanish names and learned spanish. they married people in the community and became very integrated into those communities. each of those options came at a cost. the ones who joined the military against had to fight any attacks. the people who became integrated into mexican life gave up some of their cultural traditions in the process. the experience of fugitive slaves in mexico is not always a great one. but it was rosy compared to slavery. why this particular topic
of expertise? why did it interest to so much? that is anartner: exxon question. i have always been interested in borderlands. when i went to the university of oxford, i had the pleasure of working with a historian of hisco who, even though interest was in the mexican revolution, was willing to work with me on the u.s.-mexico border. so in some sense it was just by virtue of the people i was with. but it has since become, i have stayed with this topic because it has so much relevance to contemporary issues. we often think of mexico as a place that people are escaping from. but this history shows us that
in the 19th century that mexico was a place where people were escaping to because mexico had made a major intervention into the history of abolition and freedom in north america. host: could this turn into a book? prof. baumgartner: it is being published as a book. hopefully it will be coming out in 2020. host: thank you very much for your time. we appreciate it. prof. baumgartner: thanks so much. it was great to be here. caller: you are watching american history tv. only on c-span3. >> next on lectures in history, abram van engen of washington university in st. louis teaches a class of how the pilgrims became part of t u