In 1835, following the incident in Gonzales that spawned the "Come And Take It" flag, the people of Liberty, Texas, met and drafted a letter to the rest of Texas. In this letter they addressed the prevailing debate over whether the independence of Texas would violate the oath that they had all taken to the Mexican Federal Constitution.
Given today's decision by the Obama Administration to completely abrogate the Constitution and unilaterally grant blanket amnesty to large number of illegal aliens, I felt it important to revist this important letter from our history.
It asks us the question: "Are we the same Texans that forged our Republic?"
Here is the text of that letter:
The committee of safety for the municipality of Liberty, in the exercise of the functions delegated to them, feel it their duty to address their fellow-citizens of the municipality, on the present interesting nature of our public affairs.
The committee are sensible that many worthy and patriotic citizens have been opposed, on principles which they esteemed sound and correct, to a rupture with the authorities of Mexico. The committee know how to appreciate such opposition and the motives from which it proceeds. But they would earnestly solicit such as still adhere to an opposition which may have been innocent, and even praise-worthy in its origin, to reconsider the subject, and to inquire whether the present situation of the country does not essentially change the ground on which their opposition was predicated. The committee are free to declare that they, too, were advocates for peace, while peace was practicable on terms compatible with the welfare, the honor, and the future safety of Texas, and of the constitution which we have all sworn to support and obey. The hope of such a peace has departed, without leaving a single ray of light to guide the most credulous in the indulgence of it. We, therefore, call upon all such, to abandon an opposition which, however commendable in its origin, can now have no application to the circumstances of the country. Right principles never change; but, in the application of principles to facts, there are many modifications. The federal constitution and the constitution of the states have been violently destroyed, and the actual powers of the government are usurped by the military, who are exercising them with the wonted cruelty and recklessness of the rights of citizens that has always characterized the dominion of the sword.
Of those of our fellow-citizens who regard the sanctity of their oaths of allegiance and allege it as a reason for opposing their countrymen now in arms, we would enquire what is the obligation of that oath? Most clearly, it is to support the federal and state constitution. But where are those constitutions? They have been rent to atoms, and their scattered fragments are to be traced, in lines of blood, beneath the trampling of the usurper's cavalry, on the plains of Zacatecas.
Texas is but pursuing the noble, unsuccessful example of that high minded state. She has resolved to sustain a legitimate government, or to perish in the attempt; to oppose the tide of military and ecclesiastical usurpation, and to roll it back upon the unholy league. And she looks with confidence for the aid of her adjacent sister states, who have already experienced the bitterness of military misrule. For this purpose the sword is already drawn; our fellow-citizens are in the field, the banner of liberty is unfolded, and the high example of lawful resistance to unlawful usurpation is exhibited in the gleam of their rifles and the thunder of their cannon, before the walls of San Antonio.
The committee would, therefore, affectionately appeal to such of their fellow-citizens as are still holding back from the good work, in the language of the holy prophet, 'Why halt ye between two opinions?' If the constitution be the object of your allegiance, then rise up, like men, and support the constitution. If Santa Anna and his military vassals be the government you desire, then avow yourselves the degraded minions of an unprincipled and infuriated despotism. The contest is for liberty or slavery; for life or death; for the tranquil possession of the country we have redeemed from barbarism, or a forcible ejectment from it. It admits of no neutrals.
Those who are not for us are against us. Those who refuse to save the country cannot hope to participate in the benefits of its salvation. Our numbers are few, but they are a band of heroes, and fear not the issue. Union is always important. The concurrence of every citizen is desirable. The few who still maintain their opposition are not dreaded; their number is small, their influence insignificant. But 'Texas expects every man to do his duty.'
The door of conciliation is open, and all are invited to enter. They will be received with cordiality, the past forgotten, and the future only will be regarded. The times are critical, the emergency is pressing, and calls for promptitude and energy. Texas is at war; and every citizen who shall be found in practices inimical to her interests will be dealt with according to the utmost rigor of military law.
The committee urge these things, not in the spirit of dictation, but of friendly admonition; not to alarm, but to convince and to allure every misguided citizen into the path of duty, of interest, and of honor. The aged and the infirm who cannot take the field can contribute of their substance; the young, the robust, and the gallant, are exhorted to repair to the camp, to unite with their brethren in arms, and to exhibit themselves the worthy descendants of the heroes of 76. Horses, arms, and ammunition are wanted, steady hands and brave hearts are wanted to repel the storm of desolation that lowers over our beautiful country. Let no man hold back too long; there is danger in delay: there is mischief in disunion: there is safety, happiness, and a speedy peace in a united, prompt, and decisive exertion of our strength. The committee would repeat the motto of the gallant hero of Trafalgar, 'Texas expects every man to do his duty.'
There are some key lessons to be learned from this that can be applied today:
1) If the government has violated the Constitution then the oath has been broken.
2) There is no neutral ground.
3) There is danger in delay.
4) Peace and victory are achieved through decisive exertion of our strength.
5) There is an expectation that EVERYONE will participate.