The Trans-Nueces Country
THE OFFICIAL BOUNDARY of the little Republic of Texas was set by the first session of the First Congress of Texas on December 19, 1836, through a resolution presented by Thomas Jefferson Green, representative from Béxar. The boundary was defined as "beginning at the mouth of the Sabine River and running west along the Gulf of Mexico three leagues from land, to the mouth of the Río Grande, thence up the principal stream of said river to its source, thence due north to the forty-second degree of north latitude, thence along the boundary line as defined in the treaty between the United States and Spain to the beginning." Thus, Texas had two frontiers to defend. One frontier -- the Indian -- extended from the Red River on the north along the edge of the great prairie to the Río Grande, a distance of some 500 miles; the other -- the Mexican -- stretched from the vicinity of Presidio del Río Grande to the mouth of that stream, an approximate distance of 325 miles. It is the latter frontier that is the principal concern of this study.
In spite of the Texan claim, however, the area between the Nueces and the Río Grande, long regarded under Spanish law as a part of the province of Nuevo Santander and under Mexican law as a part of the states of Tamaulipas and Coahuila and often referred to by both Spaniards and Mexicans as El Desierto Muerto, was after 1835 virtu-
1. Francis R. Lubbock, Six Decades in Texas: or Memoirs of Francis Richard Lubbock, p. 91; Laws of the Republic of Texas, I, 133-134.
2. I. J. Cox, "The Southwest Boundary of Texas," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, VI (1902-1903), 95-96; William C. Binkley, The Expansionist Movement in Texas, 1836-1850, pp. 7-10. "Los limites de Téjas son ciertos y recondidos: jámas han passado del Río de las Nueces; y sin embargo, el ejército Americano ha salvado la linea que separa a Tamaulipas de aquel departamento." (Translated: "The limits of Texas are certain and recognized; never have they extended beyond the river Nueces; notwithstanding which, the American army has crossed the line separating Tamaulipas from that department.") Francisco