Translation:The White Terror in Texas/a2

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The White Terror in Texas and my escape  (1862)  by Jean-Charles Houzeau, translated from French by Wikisource

Matamoros (Mexico), 13 May 1862.

I had to flee after having lost everything, to not be hanged in terror, as abolitionist. I had a rough trip from San Antonio to here. I found a true friend in the American consul. I have started a bit of gardening, and I am studying with a constant curiosity the half-savage people of Mexico, who still comprise many individuals who have lived a wandering life.

I have lost my collections, I had to burn almost all my papers. All my notes relating to the Society of the South, although very moderate, were tainted with abolition (or, if you prefer, equity) that did not fit in the times. I had the delicacy, perhaps exaggerated, not to ask for the safekeeping from any of my friends, for fear of compromising them. These friends had already done so much for my escape that I did not dare ask for more…


Our position in Texas was awful. Today is the coup de grace, and if I had not managed to get out, I believe that I could no longer do. The border at the Rio Grande is entirely guarded. The mail post… if you can call by this name an organized swindle, which does not take to destination one letter in ten… the post does not bring me anything from San Antonio, and even if it did carry out its duty, I would not find anyone at the moment to pick up a letter in Brownsville. (There is no exchange with the Mexican service.)

Ah! my dear S.… with what satisfaction I escaped the sphere of oppression and tyranny! The story of this unholy uprising "for the extension and perpetuation of slavery," will never be completely written. Nobody has been able to see and hear everything. My heart is filled with indignation. What blindness, what a rage! And now New Orleans was taken : Well, could you understand this madness, you who live far from the events? Before their surrender, the planters burned their cotton, their sugar, their steam cotton presses, the refineries… Granted, it was theirs; they did not want those confiscated and that the booty go enrich their enemies. But — shame and crime — there are those who burned their slaves! Judge hence the degree of dementia or fury which they had reached. They preferred to burn their blacks than to see them free. Those who are guilty of this atrocity, which has no parallel in history, especially as it does not involve enemies; those who are guilty of this misdeed gathered the harmless blacks, ordered them to enclose themselves in the workshops, locked the doors, and then the fire did its work, while the masters were watching the exits, to fall by bullet the child, the elderly, the woman who would jump off a roof, risking their life, to escape the anguish of the pyre.

I am not talking about the theft of banks, which deposits were brought to the army. It was, I think, a hundred million francs, but what is one hundred million to the price of the slaughter of servants who, by the sweat of their brow, won the bread of those infamous masters. — What is sacrificed in lives and values ​​in this terrible war is impossible to tally. We have seen people combat with courage, fanaticism, for causes otherwise perfectly fair, at least justifiable. I would have understood the planter fighting to ensure compensation in case of abolition, or fighting for a gradual emancipation, spread over twenty or fifty years. But I cannot explain stubbornness pushed to rage in order to establish, to impose, that which is unjust, impossible, inhuman, absurd, disapproved, judged, condemned by all religions, all philosophies, all systems, all countries, I mean the "universal and perpetual slavery." This revolution will be remembered as a great feature of modern history, not only because it precipitates the emancipation of American slaves, but because it will provide one of the greatest examples of social monomania, a furious monomania contracted long under the influence of the despotic spirit and vanity.