Growth of a War Spirit in the West
AS THE MEXICAN INVASION failed to materialize in the spring of 1841, the business of organizing an expedition in Texas was directed toward another point -- Santa Fé. Many eyes in Texas, however, still turned South toward the Río Grande. Lamar's administration saw the only attempt made by the Republic to realize the boundary fixed by the law of December 19, 1836. An ill-advised, preposterous, and inadequately equipped expedition of approximately 321 men left Kenney's Fort on Brushy Creek, twenty miles north of Austin, on June 19, 1841, for Santa Fé. This so-called Santa Fé Expedition, sponsored by President Lamar, the successful candidate of the west in the presidential election of 1838, lacked congressional support and in East Texas was looked upon as "a National outrage", and "as a chimerical project, without force to maintain itself." The expedition, which had been
1. Although Congress had discussed the question of dispatching an expedition to Santa Fé and sending the navy to Yucatán, it had authorized neither action. In outfitting and sending the expedition to Santa Fé, Lamar probably exceeded the authority given the President in the Constitution. To allege that he was merely extending the authority of the government over the area claimed by Texas is not enough, for only Congress had the power "to call out the militia to execute the law, to suppress insurrection, and repel invasion." Certainly no law was being violated by the New Mexicans in 1841 any more than in 1836, when Texas began its claim of jurisdiction over the inhabitants of Santa Fé. Furthermore, the Constitution imposed upon Congress the authority "to provide and maintain an army and navy," and declared that "no money shall be drawn from the public treasury but in strict accordance with appropriations made by law." (Art. 1, sec. 25.) It seems, therefore, a bad policy for the President to have committed the nation to the expenditure of large sums of money in fitting out the expedition to Santa Fé, especially after the matter had been so recently discussed in Congress and not authorized.
2. David S. Kaufman to W. D. Miller, Sabine Town, Aug. 15, 1841, in W. D. Miller Papers, 1833-1860, ms.
3. Telegraph and Texas Register (Houston), Sept. 29, 1841. A subsequent investigating committee of the House found that "the enormous sum of eighty-nine thousand, five hundred and forty-nine dollars and sixty-nine cents" had been drawn