The “Treaties of Velasco” Celebration

Journey back to the incredible summer of 1836 and events were exciting along the shores of Port Freeport (formerly the Brazos River) at the Gulf of Mexico. A new nation had just signed the Treaty of Velasco at Surfside Beach (previously Velasco) with the self-proclaimed glorious Napolean of the West, ruler Antonio de Lopez Santa Anna recognizing the truly independent Republic of Texas. The previous rulers of Mexico had long desired a buffer civilization between northern Mexico and the Commanche raiders of the north and now they had created a mess of hornets. Soon, even the highly feared Comanche would come to respect the hard charging Texas Ranger with Walker Colts on their sides.

Surfside Beach would remain the nation’s de facto capital until October 1836 and the government was hard at work establishing order. Given this precarious location upon the coast, the Texas Revolutionary battle-hardened Texas Navy would be based at Surfside Beach and Quintana with four refitted schooners to protect the young nation’s Provincial Government and coast against seaborn raiders and piracy. Also, a Republic of Texas battery, the Texian-built Fort Velasco stood guard at the Port’s entrance to fortify the administrative seat and secure its warships at dock.
Soon, more discovery will follow!

A Gathering Storm

In the fall of 1835, “the winds of war” were gusting across the Texas Colonies. Firebrand William B. Travis had crossed paths with one Colonel Bradburn of Santa Anna’s command in Anahuac and had been incarcerated. Angry colonists from across the land gathered to demand and win his release, even violently if warranted. Heavier armament was deemed necessary, and a cannon was requested from the Brazoria settlement. The citizens’ efforts to deliver the howitzer though would be impeded by Santa Anna’s garrison at Surfside Beach (Velasco), an overnight engagement would ensue, 112 riled Texans would prove victorious, and the opponents would be sent packing to their homeland from which they came. Sensing the deteriorating turn of events unfolding Mr. Stephen F. Austin, the gentlemanly and most influential statesman, chartered a diplomatic mission to possibly mitigate the spreading flames, but for all his well-intentioned efforts, he would be imprisoned upon his arrival in Santa Anna’s Capital, suffer disease in the deprecated, morose environment of captivity and only gain his release after 20 months of purgatory. Now, to add insult to injury as his party approached the harbor at Surfside Beach in the confines of the schooner San Felipe, Santa Anna’s sloop of war the Correo Mexicano was churning through the waters at maximum speed to intercept the Texas vessel in an act of piracy. Luckly for Austin’s sake, an experienced, capable, and daring Captain Thomas McKinley would recognize favorable sailing conditions and direct his vessel over the Brazos River Bar to the safe refuge of the Texian port. Passengers and cargo would quickly be exchanged for fighting men and weapons and the San Felipe along with the Steamboat Laura would embark to confront the menace. Pursuit and a naval engagement would ensue as the Correo Mexicano attempted an escape, but nevertheless, she would be commandeered by the gallant Texians. Upon return of the spoils of the first Texian naval victory to the Surfside Beach docks, Diplomat Austin would recognize that Texas must be freed from the despot Santa Anna’s rule and that the “San Felipe Incident” at Surfside Beach had absolutely closed all other avenues of resolution leaving only war.

The Day of Destiny

Yes, the Texians under the leadership of General Sam Houston had vanquished the self-proclaimed Napolean of the West, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, and his forces at San Jacinto, but now, in May 1836, the excitement brewed at Surfside Beach (formerly Velasco). Approximately 3,000 angry and vengeance enthralled, soon to be former colonist had gathered along the shores of Port Freeport (formerly the Brazos River) in remembrance of those surrendering troops who had been cruelly and unmercifully executed at both the Alamo and Goliad. Shouts of “Remember the Alamo!” and “Remember Goliad!” once again reverberated through the skies. Those gathered clamored for a “mob style” justice to be adjudicated upon the fallen dictator, but ole Sam had been keenly aware of the prevailing sentiment and kept his quarry safely confined in a Texian naval vessel off the coast. Today on May 14, the quivering, almost cowardly tyrant was to be brought ashore to execute the treaty for which served as the only reason his hide had been spared.

Needless to say, there was a heavily armed presence at Surfside Beach that day as General Houston nor the Texian Provincial Government could take any chances. Santa Anna was heavily guarded as he was led from the docked Texian warship “The Invincible” to the “Brown-Hoskin’s Tavern,” the de facto home of a new nation’s capital seat of government led by one Mr. Davd G. Burnet. On this date, Mr. Burnet and Santa Anna would sign two treaties – one public and the other private. The Treaty of Velasco would establish Texas as a free independent republic and Mexico would grant its recognition through its chosen leader. In ensuing years, the Treaty would be recognized by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and the Republic of the Yucatan. Furthermore in 1848 in defense of an invasion of its borders from the south, this Treaty would provide a legal justification for the United States of America to declare war upon Mexico and claim all territories west of Texas to the Pacific Ocean in a perceived pursuit of manifest destiny. Few foresaw that the California Gold Rush and the Miner 49er would be just around the corner. Now stop and consider that those events would all be set in motion upon the outcome of a gathering at a tavern in Surfside Beach, Texas – the last of the interim locations of The Republic of Texas’ Provincial Government. On Saturday, May 18th, 2024, the citizens of southern Brazoria County will celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Velasco with cannon fire, a reenactment, music, rations, and refreshments. Mark the date.

English (left), Spanish (right)
Articles of an agreement entered into, between His Excellency David G. Burnet, President of the Republic of Texas, of the one part, and His Excellency General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, President General in Chief of the Mexican Army, of the other part.Articulos de un convenio celebrado entre S. E. el Gral. en Gefe del Ejercito de operaciones Presidente de la Republica Mejicana D. Ant. Lopez de Santa Anna por una parte, y S. E. el Presidente de la Republica de Tejas D. David G. Burnet por la otra parte.
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.
Articulo 1o
El Gral. Ant. Lopez de Santa Anna se conviene en no tomar las armas ni influir en que se tomen contra el Pueblo de Tejas durante la actual contienda de Independencia.
Article 2nd
All hostilities between the mexican and texian troops will cease immediately both on land and water.
Articulo 2o
Cesaran inmediatamente las hostilidades por mar y tierra entre las tropas Mejicanas y Tejanas.
Article 3rd
The mexican troops will evacuate the Territory of Texas, passing to the other side of the Rio Grande del Norte.
Articulo 3o
Las tropas Mejicanas evacuaran el territorio de Tejas, pasando al otro lado del Rio Grande del Norte.
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.
Articulo 4o
El Ejercito Mejicano en su retirada, no usara de las propiedades de ninguna persona sin su consentimiento y justa indemnizacion, tomando solamente los articulos precisos para su subsistencia no hayandose presente los duenos y remitiendo al Gral. del Ejercito tejano o a los comisionados para el arreglo de tales negocios, la nota del valor de la propiedad consumida, el lugar donde se tomo, y el nombre del dueno si se supiere.
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.
Articulo 5o
Que toda propiedad particular incluyendo ganados, caballos, negros esclavos, o gente contratada de cualquier denominacion q. haya sido aprehendida por una parte del Ejercito Mejicano, o que se hubiere refugiado en dicho Ejercito desde el principio de la ultima invacion, sera devuelta al Comandante de las fuerzas Tejanas, o a las personas que fueren nombradas por el Gobierno de Tejas para recibirlas.
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.
Articulo 6o
Las tropas de ambos Ejercitos beligerantes no se pondran en contacto, y a este fin el Gral. Tejano cuidara q. entre los dos campos medie una distancia de cinco leguas por lo menos.
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.
Articulo 7o
El Ejercito Mejicano no tendra mas demora en su marcha, q. la precisa para lebantar sus hospitales, trenes, etc. y pasar los rios, considerandose como una infraccion de este convenio la demora q. sin justo motivo se notare.
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.
Articulo 8o
Se remitira por expreso violento este convenio al Gral. de Division Vicente Filisola y al Gral. T. J. Rusk, Comte del Ejercito de Tejas, para q. queden obligados a cuanto les pertenece y q. poniendose de acuerdo convengan en la pronta y debida ejecucion de lo estipulado.
That all texian 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.
Articulo 9o
Que todos los prisioneros tejanos q. hoy se hayan en poder del Ejercito mejicano, o en el de alguna de las autoridades del Gobno. de Mejico, sean inmediatamente puestos en livertad y se les den pasaportes para regresar a sus casas, debiendose tambien poner en libertad por parte del Gobno. de Tejas, un numero correspondiente de prisioneros Mejicanos del mismo rango y graduacion y tratando al resto de dichos prisioneros Mejicanos q. queden en poder del Gobno. de Tejas con toda la debida humanidad, haciendose cargo al Gobno. de Mejico por los gastos q. se hicieren en obsequio de aquellos, cuando se les proporcione alguna comodidad extraordinaria.
General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna will be sent to Veracruz as soon as it shall be deemed proper.
Articulo 10
El Gral. Ant. Lopez de Santa Anna sera enviado a Veracruz tan luego como se crea conveniente.

The contracting parties sign this Instrument for the above mentioned purposes, by duplicate, at the Port of Velasco this fourteenth day of May 1836.
Y para la constancia y efectos consiguientes, lo firman por duplicado las partes contratantes en el Puerto de Velasco a 14 de Mayo de 1836.
David G Burnet
Ant. Lopez de
Santa Anna
Jas Collinsworth,
Sec of State
Bailey Hardeman,
Secy of Treasury
T W Grayson, Atty General
Ant. Lopez de
Santa Anna

David G Burnet
Jas Collinsworth,
Secretary of State
Bailey Hardeman,
Secy of Treasury
T W Grayson, Atty General

Note: The above Spanish text for the Public Treaty of Velasco was transcribed for Lone Star Junction by Galen Greaser, Austin, Texas.

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