Recently posted quotes:

"There is no distinctly American criminal class - except Congress." Mark Twain (1835-1910)

“Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.” -Will Rogers (1879-1935)

"Stability in government is essential to national character and to the advantages annexed to it." -James Madison (1751-1836)

"Liberty must at all hazards be supported." -John Adams (1735-1826)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Changing Values and Attitudes – 28 Mar 11

The changing attitudes and values isn’t something that takes place overnight. A shift in this area of human nature usually takes place over an extended period of time, if at all. That’s what the experts tell you.

Regarding values, I have to differ with the experts. I know that shifts in values can take place in a manner of weeks. I’ve seen an individual’s whole outlook on his worth to society change drastically – I do mean drastically. Sometimes I have seen these changes take place almost over night and sometimes I have seen it take just a bit longer. I’m gonna relate to you the story of one particular individual where I observed a change that was so miraculous that his supervisors had trouble fathoming the change.

In the first section I ever had the chance to lead during my tenure in the Army, I had an individual named PFC Conway. PFC Conway was a draftee and was going nowhere and getting there very fast. My guy Conway was a young black kid from the area known as Upper Harlem, a impoverished district of New York City. He came from nothing, had nothing and was headed toward more of the same. His attitude wasn’t especially BAD, but it wasn’t the BEST either. The NCOs (two white and one black as it just so happens) in the section sorta tolerated Conway. He received more than his share of the shit details and slogged his way through them as best he could – not great results, but just barely getting by – sorta really flying under-the-radar.

A little background is relevant here. The platoon my section was assigned to was authorized thirty-seven vehicles. My section had five of the thirty-seven (1, ¼ ton Jeep [incidentally the oldest military vehicle in the state of Alaska], 2, ¾ ton Cargo Truck (pick-ups) and 2, 2 ½ ton Cargo Trucks (box trucks). At I have mentioned before in other correspondence, only five of the thirty-seven vehicles would start and run long enough to move to our new motor pool – a travel of less than ¼ mile. Not one of the vehicles assigned to my section would even start. It was late November, almost December, when the occurrence that I will relate took place. We had a mission to perform and vehicle maintenance wasn’t getting the attention it deserved – this was my thinking at the time.

Having just been attached to a Transportation unit, I knew this wasn’t gonna go over well and figured my best bet was to get ahead of the problem. My section had been allotted a commercial vehicle from the post transportation motor pool for our daily travels – re-supplying the brigade. I decided it was best to turn in that vehicle as soon as I was sure two of my own vehicles were consistently running, one of the 2 ½ tons for sure. I then spent some time at the unit maintenance shop seeing that my vehicles received some attention. Within a couple of days the maintenance officer had two running. I was now ready to try to get by on my own with my assigned vehicles – sorta novel approach, don’t you think?

I ask who had driver’s licenses and not one of those assigned to my section had a military license. I directed the NCOIC to send some of the guys to get a license as soon as we could possibly do so. You might already guess who got selected as the first to be the first tested – someone who would not be missed – ever-dispensable Conway.

The next afternoon Conway came back in from driver’s school. Actually the classes were taught by several of the transportation platoon NCOs and there wasn’t very much to it as I later learned. At any rate Conway had passed and had been issued a military driver’s license – a surprise to all. I called PFC Conway into my office and discussed the situation with him. I laid it all out: “Conway. I am assigning you to be the driver of the 2 ½ ton Cargo Truck we just got running yesterday.” I sat back awaiting his response.

Conway replied: “Sir, I’m from New York City and I ride either the subway or the bus. I’ve never driven a vehicle before in my life until this morning. And then I only went around the parking lot just once.”

“Well Conway, now you’re it. You’re our driver.”

You might guess what kind of look I received. He wasn’t happy – not in the least. You could see the gears turning, figuring. He was now gonna spend more than his share of time in the Alaskan cold. There would be a lot of early mornings - cleaning off his truck and performing on-your-back maintenance in the snow under the truck. It just wasn’t gonna be pleasant any more. He had had it pretty good up to that point – shit details notwithstanding. He was the goof-off that got by because of the perception of a bad attitude.

He had never fit in with the rest of the section; eleven other guys, none of which were black – a mixture of white or Hispanic. Now his role was changing. He might no longer be under-the-radar.

A couple weeks after our discussion and into PFC Conway’s new responsibilities, the section was detailed to send a contingent of four on a huge winter exercise in the Fairbanks area. Well, as Conway was the only driver I had and our mission had to continue at Fort Richardson, Conway could not go – somebody still had to make the daily resupply trips. This one condition seemed to light just the slightest fire in Conway’s eyes. The guys deployed north would have a pretty rough time. They would be sorta step children to the rest of the unit deployed - but would survive. Conway had a pretty easy two weeks – picking up supplies and delivering them here and there while he was inside his toasty warm 2 ½ ton three hundred miles south of the harsh times of his section mates.

A couple of months passed by and Conway with HIS vehicle were available every day. Oh, others eventually got their license but Conway was always the first out to get HIS truck every morning and ready to go.

I eventually had another occasion to sit and discuss with him how he and HIS truck were doing. Right outta the blue he said: “Sir, I never had my own car. Man, if the guys on the block could just see me now.” He was as happy as any one individual could be. He looked different; his uniform was sharp and pressed everyday. He was proud of what he was doing; particularly when he was driving HIS truck.

Within the next month, I managed to get Conway promoted to Specialist Fourth Class. This brought a fairly significant pay increase to boot – not a whole lot you realize; after all it was the Army in the early 70s. But you couldn’t touch SP4 Conway with a ten foot pole. I’m serious.

Conway’s values had changed for the better, first by changing for the worse. But they had changed. Right along with his values, his attitude had improved just as fast.

I can go on and on relating situation after situation and troop after troop; civilian workers also who’s values were changed by just the slightest bit of responsibility.

Long story short, values can be changed right along with attitudes and beliefs. All things considered, values may actually be the easiest to change when the right circumstances present themselves. The right guy and the right set of circumstances.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Extra Right Hand - 25 Mar 11

Have you ever wished you had just one more hand to help you get the job done?

Early in my career I did and was fortunate enough for one to come along at just the right time. Things probably couldn’t have worked out better if I had planned them myself.

I was a struggling young 1st Lieutenant in the Army in Alaska when this wondrous event took place. I was in charge of the Supply Platoon in the 172nd Support Battalion in support of the 172nd Infantry Brigade (Separate & Light) assigned to Fort Richardson, Alaska. I say it was a wondrous event largely because I still wonder why I was so lucky to have been the beneficiary. Trying to remember back to that time a real long time ago is tough so I’m gonna just wing it. I believe I got lucky in the late summer of 1971; it could have been later than that, but it doesn’t really matter for what I’m trying to get across.

At the time of my arrival, I had been assigned the position of Asst-Section Leader of the Class II & VII Section within the Supply Platoon. There was a Transportation 2LT holding the position at the time as there were no open slots for a TC officer currently. This situation didn’t last but a week or two. After arriving in command on 03 Nov 1970, the platoon was detached from our parent company (B Company – Maintenance and Supply) and attached to the 49th Transportation Company to form a provisional Supply and Transportation company to support the brigade’s operations on 17 Nov 1970. This, by-the-way was the first of several provisional (or test) units I would be assigned to during my military career.

The Supply Platoon was authorized a total of 70 personnel, four of which were officers (3 commissioned and 1 warrant) with the remaining 66 enlisted. As I mentioned there were two of us in the section and the sole remaining officer was the platoon leader, a 1LT at the time – he will remain nameless for reasons you will understand later. On the 21st of November I became the Section Leader as our TC 2LT was transferred to our new unit command – this left only the platoon leader and myself as the only officers of the 42 personnel in the 70 man platoon. I was not to see the warrant officer (ammunition supply) until some three years later shortly before leaving the command. Of course you understand that the main reason we were so short of personnel was that the Viet Nam exercise was still being conducted in South East Asia.

By the second week in January, the platoon leader had disappeared. I say disappeared as I don’t know what happened to him and never heard of his subsequent disposition. The cause became apparent very soon. The command was in the middle of a visit by the Army Audit Agency – a very scary occurrence if you have never experienced one. Come to find out, the platoon leader had been privy to the misappropriation of petroleum stocks and was in cahoots with several enlisted personnel also in the platoon – they disappeared about the same time. The audit agency had uncovered this not very long after arriving. This was a bad situation to say the least and I began to wonder what I had got myself into. These guys were going to jail and not just any jail; it was gonna be a federal jail.

In any event, the battalion assigned a 1LT from the Brigade Supply office as the platoon leader – I guess their thinking was that it would be better to have someone with some Alaskan time under their belt than a greenhorn just up from the Lower 48 without one winter of experience. I didn’t have anything to say about the matter; just a new 2LT and no real close associations whatsoever at the time.

Our new platoon leader, having been assigned to a staff element the entire time he had been in the command, had zero troop experience and this began to grind on all concerned. He didn’t want to be there either – my take was that he was actually scared of the accountability issue. I say this due to the fact that when battalion had to place a new Accountable Officer on orders, they chose me instead of him. I asked for edification but never received a good answer.

Here I was: in charge of a section with half the staff to operate it, accountable for all the supplies flowing into the brigade (excluding repair parts) and not in command of three quarters of the personnel or the supplies//transactions, a very junior Quartermaster officer in a unit ripe with Transportation officers (a commander, an XO and four platoon leaders) – outnumbered very much so, and a platoon leader that was getting on everybody’s nerves.

By summer our platoon leader had managed to get transferred to the major command and was again back into a staff position. I learned of this during a walk-around in the back yard of the unit motor pool with my new Company Commander – the original commander having been reassigned also.

This situation left me as the only (school trained) Quartermaster officer in the company. There was one other in the battalion but he was not to remain much longer as he was soon to be released from the service. There were two other Quartermaster officers in Brigade Supply but the were recent branch transfers from the Infantry and had no idea whatsoever about accountability, supply and support operations or how to accomplish the related functions. We were not in great shape at all.

By this time MY platoon was down to 33 total personnel (1 officer – me – and 32 enlisted). I might mention that we had 37 vehicles to maintain plus a hoard of various support equipment. Our supply//support mission included (1) ration (food), (2) general equipment, (3) bulk petroleum and packaged oils and lubricants, (4) construction and barrier material, (5) ammunition, and (6) major end items (trucks, trailers, tanks, etc). There was no lack of support requirements to fulfill – it never let up. We were always on the go.

I was compared once to a lighthouse: in a continuous turn from one problem ,situation or support mission to the next. This is when the best possible thing that could have happen did happen. The transportation platoons received more replacements than they had authority to hold on to – how this took place, I never found out. You might say there was a lot of a lack of goings-on on my part – that’s just the way it was. My platoon sergeant showed up one morning with four replacements for the five personnel we had just seen rotate outta the command – all were school trained truck drivers - one of which was actually a truck driver in civilian life – and all were draftees.

The platoon sergeant recommended that three of the four go to the petroleum section and we make the fourth the platoon headquarters driver – an authorized position that had not been filled during my tenure. I went along with his recommendation. That’s how PFC Frank Lefevers, Jr. became my driver. Yah, it took a long time to get here but you have to understand the situation to understand the impact of Frank.

Previously I mentioned that we had 37 vehicles and 33 personnel – that’s where our numbers still remained when Frank joined the platoon. I might add here that when the unit was attached to the 49th TC, only five of the 37 vehicles were able to move from our B Company motor pool to the 49th motor pool under their own power. One of the no-goes was my jeep – the very same one that Frank was now assigned to drive. We had constant problems keeping it going – I later learned that my jeep was the oldest transportation asset in the entire command.

It was within the first week that Frank had remedied the no-go jeep. He assisted the other drivers with getting the remaining vehicles up-to-snuff. Before you knew it they were all going and Frank was still a PFC – not enough time in to be promoted to SP4 yet.

Frank took on a conglomeration of little tasks relieving me of some of the run-here and do-that stuff that had previously taken a lot of my time. I did these because I didn’t have the personnel or assets to get them done otherwise.

I spent our time together mentoring Frank on our mission and the common sense of doing what was right under particular circumstances. This logic was not hard to get across as Frank had a great understanding of life in general and a very high degree of integrity – I was lucky. Frank could look at things and know right away if they were right or wrong. Now don’t get me wrong, Frank had not the authority to act in my stead; only the knowledge to report back to me the circumstances he observed – after all we were in the Army. Many times Frank would return from a observation visit I had ask him to conduct and deliver me back to the problem post haste so I could correct what needed to be – many times.

I believe that Frank became the conduit from disgruntled platoon members to me because the others could see the integrity he had and they were sure he wouldn’t misrepresent a situation – only insure that I was inadvertently carried by the problem in the normal course of our daily activities. I figured this out early but never let on – it was to my advantage to do so.

As soon as it was possible I made sure Frank was promoted to Specialist 4th Class.

I recall one situation in February of 1974 during a deployment from FT Rich to Fort Greely, way up in the interior, a convoy distance of some 355 miles. This routinely required an overnight at a halfway stop over point. But in this situation, we were a week ahead of the main body moving up the road and constituted a convoy of our own two vehicles and four tractors and trailers from our sister transportation platoon. I also might mention that by this time I had developed a fairly high distrust and dislike of truck drivers in general – that is, with the exception of one – until this very day those feeling still hold pretty true.

Due to some unfortunate happenstances during our travel we ended up traveling an additional 259 miles (a total of 594 miles overall) and taking 36 hours to complete our journey. The only driver to remain behind the wheel the entire time was Frank Lefevers, Jr. – the only one. The others drivers slept and lazed about while Frank, our platoon sergeant and I maneuvered up and back, over and over again ferrying disabled vehicles attempting to finish our travel with those we started with. He never once asked for relief – by the way, there wouldn’t have been any to give. Upon arrival at Ft Greely, we still had to set up our bivouac area and report back to battalion that we had arrived – this taking another four hours or so. (see my story “Up and Back and Up Again” for complete details – when published). I would challenge anybody to match Frank’s durability and stamina during this undertaking.

After a year or so, Frank’s reputation became know throughout the battalion and I had my share of challengers for his services. From the Battalion Commander to my own Company Commander – they all wanted him to be their driver. They recognized his value. I managed to convince every one of them that I needed him more than they did and Frank echoed that same notion – he liked where he was and treasured it. Frank held this same position, my driver and close confidant, until such time as I left the platoon after having been promoted to captain and having to do so some three years after arriving.

I wouldn’t have traded Frank Lefevers, Jr. for any other individual I served with during the entire twelve years of my military career – not one. By far the best extra Right Hand I ever had.

Left to right: Frank, Crumbliss, Me, Fitzsimmons and Hoey

I realize this has been longer than usual, but sometimes it’s required.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Social Security Trust Fund Contributions - 22 Mar 11

We’ve all heard quite a lot about the Social Security Trust Fund in the news lately. I had to laugh the other day when reading the article, “What Social Security trust fund?’” written by Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post (13 Mar 11) when he said such things as:

(1) “The claim is a breathtaking fraud.” (Referring to the Obama administration’s claim – “As Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew wrote in USA Today just a few weeks ago, the trust fund is solvent until 2037. Therefore, Social Security is now off the table in debt-reduction talks.”)

(2) “The Social Security trust fund is fiction.”

(3) “So the Social Security trust fund contains – nothing.”

(4) “The lockbox, the balances, the pieces of paper, amount to nothing.”

Now I don’t know if all this is true or not. This is not my beef. I’ve got my feet planted and I’m barking up another tree. Although, if you are depending on the Social Security Trust Fund to be there when you retire, as I am; this is most likely very important to you. Most of us probably have the very same outlook – we hope it’s out there!

But, no. I’m gonna head in another direction entirely.

Upon departing the military after twelve years, I spent the next twenty-five working in various manufacturing industries throughout more than several locals in Texas. A great many of you out there have done so also and may be familiar with what I am about to address. I positive you will be.

Over and over again, I saw members of the workforce that I just knew, in my military mind, could not possibly be citizens and may not, for that matter, have the correct documentation. Upon addressing the problem to my local Human Resource constabulary, I routinely received the same answer: “We have a procedure to check and their paper (driver’s license, etc) looked good and so did their Social Security card.” These employees always had a friend already employed who vouched for them and helped them get their job. Invariably, everywhere I worked this was the case.

Well OK, their paper looked OK. So what’s the beef?

I’ll tell you what’s the beef. My problem is that I don’t know “where’s the beef?” Even Carla wants to know. Every payroll on everyone of those papers-looked-good individuals money was withheld and sent off to the Social Security Administration. The employer also paid his fair share into the “Trust Fund.”

So, if let’s just say some of those Social Security Numbers (SSNs) were real account numbers, but most likely didn’t actually really belong to the local-current-card-holder. So, why didn’t something happen?

Let’s assume that the original holder was alive and kickin’. Wouldn’t the Social Security Administration notice that they were getting contributions from two separate employers and addresses. They can’t be that dense up there in Washington, can they? You probably have an opinion on this already.

And in the case of an individual who had become deceased at some point earlier, either before receiving payments or after payments had been stopped upon death; wouldn’t you think they would notice that also? I do.

I know there are those of you out there that know of what I speak. I know you know individuals who fit the mold that I address here. They are everywhere in our workforce. At the numbers the authorities assume exist undocumented within our borders, they would have to be. Maybe the term documented is where the confusion comes in. If they hold a Social Security card; are they now documented?

As best I can tell, the Social Security Trust Fund should show a SURPLUS. If my theory be true, just if; where’s the beef?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring Break note - 19 Mar 11

I want to apologize for the lack of posts recently. I have been under family visitors for the spring break week plus since last Friday. we have been so busy that I have had zero time and not much more energy at the end of the day to put any words down.

I will get back to it just as soon as recuperation has finished.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Leadership, what leadership? I’m disappointed – 08 Mar 11

I’m gonna have to get up on my soap box today. I’m disappointed in our legislative leadership and the rest of our state leadership in general. I just wanta rant ‘bout it. This, most likely should be preceded by a short history lesson – bear with me please – it shouldn’t take long.

Texas designed its government after that which most of those that came before us was used to – the government in Washington, D.C. And they should have done so as it had worked so good for some fifty plus years at the time of their Declaration of Independence in 1836. Of course they had to redo the whole shebang after the events of the 1860s – probably a good idea then also. The current constitution has been in place since 1876; with a few amendments.

The Founding Fathers (USA) set up the US Constitution after the failed experiment with the Articles of Federation; opting for a strong central government with some very effective checks and balances. The chief of these was the division of power between the three branches of government: the executive, the legislative and the judicial. The Founders wanted the government to be responsive to the populous but realized that the whim of the majority carried with it a problem that needed to be offset by deep rooted senior logic. Therefore they set the terms of those members in the three branches to be different to counter balance this fear of radical whims of the populous.

The house members, representatives, are elected every two (2) years. This insures that the current feelings of the electors are heard. The president’s term runs for four (4) years, twice that of the representatives; thus insuring that the majority think through the voting process when electing the chief executive. The senators are elected to terms of six (6) years; half again as long as the president. The supreme court justices are appointed (not elected) for life terms; a result that is many times the length of the other three (even combined).

The longer terms were to give the much needed (or so they thought at the time) wisdom of a longer viewpoint to the proceedings of the entire process of government and preclude the back and forth of the popular look of the majority.

The Texas State Constitution is just a little different, but not by much. The governor serves a two (2) year term, where the president serves four (4). The representatives serve the same two (2) year term. The senators serve a four (4) year term and the Supreme Court justices serve a six (6) year term: they are elected instead of appointed as the US Supreme Court Justices are. The basic point here is that the senior leadership still resides in the same branch; it’s just a wee bit shorter in duration. The state Senate is still supposed to be the un-upheavalbe source of leadership.

This being the case; I ask you why are our state Senators acting like they are members of the state House of Representatives? This is not their role – it never has been. So what has predicated the reversal of roles.

As a (usually) Republican; I find myself having to side with the Democrats on issues. This is largely due to the nature of legislation that is currently being generated in the Senate instead of the House. It has been left to the House to see that the “strange” (sometime just plain “weird”) legislation does not see the light of day as laws.

Why is this element of Texas leadership not standing up to their jobs? I don’t want to hear this “guff” about no more taxes, voter ID, required sonograms, use or not use the rainy day fund, new text books or the theory of evolution and guns on campus. Most of all that is just slight-of-hand and not really good slight-of-hand at that.

I want to hear that they have fixed the budget. I want to hear that they have fixed the education shortfall and upgraded the State Board of Education (SBOE) outlook on their role. I want to hear that they have moved on from the petty “rebel rousing” talk that they seem to think is the answer to getting re-elected the next time. I want all this stuff to be past tense – put it all behind us and move on to the twenty-first century where the rest of us are scrapping to just get by and survive. This is what we deserve. This is what we elected them for – but won’t again if they don’t come with us into the twenty-first century.

I think we need to promise them that! Do you have an opinion? I, for one, would like to hear it.

I came across this picture of one of our leadership and thought I would share it with you.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Texas Independence Day – 02 Mar 1836 - 175 Years Strong – 02 Mar 2011

Over the years I have read many things: books, pamphlets, regulations, technical manuals and documents. Some I come back to just every now and then. Some I come back to at least once a year. Two that fall into this latter category I have appended here.

When I was instructing during my Army career, I found every opportunity I could when the subject was leadership, to work in the first addendum. You will not find a better source of literary leadership, I think, anywhere else in the world – it gets the job done and the point across.

By reading through the documents that follow you will quickly learn why we have such a strong heritage within ourselves as Texans. Those that set our course did the best job they could and we try to live up to it every day of our lives. I am proud to say that my lineage goes back to those that had the courage to move here under Mexican rule, later declare themselves independent and fought for that independence.

Take your time and read through each. See if you can recognize any of the names listed as signers. Maybe a relative or two will pop out at you.

William B. Travis’ letter from the Alamo

Send this to San Felipe by Express night & day

The People of Texas and All Americans

Commandancy of the Alamo—
Bejar, Fby. 24th 1836—

To the People of Texas & all Americans in the world—

Fellow citizens & compatriots—I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna— I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken— I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & every thing dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch—The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country—Victory or Death

William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. comdt

P.S. The Lord is on our side— When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn— We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves—

The Texas Declaration of Independence : March 2, 1836

The Unanimous Declaration of Independence made by the Delegates of the People of Texas in General Convention at the town of Washington on the 2nd day of March 1836.

When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.

When the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed, without their consent, from a restricted federative republic, composed of sovereign states, to a consolidated central military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the everready minions of power, and the usual instruments of tyrants.

When, long after the spirit of the constitution has departed, moderation is at length so far lost by those in power, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms themselves of the constitution discontinued, and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons, and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet.

When, in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abdication on the part of the government, anarchy prevails, and civil society is dissolved into its original elements. In such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation, the inherent and inalienable rights of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases, enjoins it as a right towards themselves, and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness.

Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind. A statement of a part of our grievances is therefore submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step now taken, of severing our political connection with the Mexican people, and assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth.

The Mexican government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American population of Texas to colonize its wilderness under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America.

In this expectation they have been cruelly disappointed, inasmuch as the Mexican nation has acquiesced in the late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers us the cruel alternative, either to abandon our homes, acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood.

It has sacrificed our welfare to the state of Coahuila, by which our interests have been continually depressed through a jealous and partial course of legislation, carried on at a far distant seat of government, by a hostile majority, in an unknown tongue, and this too, notwithstanding we have petitioned in the humblest terms for the establishment of a separate state government, and have, in accordance with the provisions of the national constitution, presented to the general Congress a republican constitution, which was, without just cause, contemptuously rejected.

It incarcerated in a dungeon, for a long time, one of our citizens, for no other cause but a zealous endeavor to procure the acceptance of our constitution, and the establishment of a state government.

It has failed and refused to secure, on a firm basis, the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.

It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.

It has suffered the military commandants, stationed among us, to exercise arbitrary acts of oppression and tyrrany, thus trampling upon the most sacred rights of the citizens, and rendering the military superior to the civil power.

It has dissolved, by force of arms, the state Congress of Coahuila and Texas, and obliged our representatives to fly for their lives from the seat of government, thus depriving us of the fundamental political right of representation.

It has demanded the surrender of a number of our citizens, and ordered military detachments to seize and carry them into the Interior for trial, in contempt of the civil authorities, and in defiance of the laws and the constitution.

It has made piratical attacks upon our commerce, by commissioning foreign desperadoes, and authorizing them to seize our vessels, and convey the property of our citizens to far distant ports for confiscation.

It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a national religion, calculated to promote the temporal interest of its human functionaries, rather than the glory of the true and living God.

It has demanded us to deliver up our arms, which are essential to our defence, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable only to tyrannical governments.

It has invaded our country both by sea and by land, with intent to lay waste our territory, and drive us from our homes; and has now a large mercenary army advancing, to carry on against us a war of extermination.

It has, through its emissaries, incited the merciless savage, with the tomahawk and scalping knife, to massacre the inhabitants of our defenseless frontiers.

It hath been, during the whole time of our connection with it, the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions, and hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrranical government.

These, and other grievances, were patiently borne by the people of Texas, untill they reached that point at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. We then took up arms in defence of the national constitution. We appealed to our Mexican brethren for assistance. Our appeal has been made in vain. Though months have elapsed, no sympathetic response has yet been heard from the Interior. We are, therefore, forced to the melancholy conclusion, that the Mexican people have acquiesced in the destruction of their liberty, and the substitution therfor of a military government; that they are unfit to be free, and incapable of self government.

The necessity of self-preservation, therefore, now decrees our eternal political separation.

We, therefore, the delegates with plenary powers of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and declare, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, Sovereign, and independent republic, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent nations; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the Supreme arbiter of the destinies of nations.

Richard Ellis, President of the Convention and Delegate from Red River.

Charles B. Stewart, Tho. Barnett, John S. D. Byrom, Francis Ruis, J. Antonio Navarro, Jesse B. Badgett, Wm D. Lacy, William Menifee, Jn. Fisher, Matthew Caldwell, William Motley, Lorenzo de Zavala, Stephen H. Everett, George W. Smyth, Elijah Stapp, Claiborne West, Wm. B. Scates, M. B. Menard, A. B. Hardin, J. W. Burton, Thos. J. Gazley, R. M. Coleman, Sterling C. Robertson, James Collinsworth, Edwin Waller, Asa Brigham, Geo. C. Childress, Bailey Hardeman, Rob. Potter, Thomas Jefferson Rusk, Chas. S. Taylor, John S. Roberts, Robert Hamilton, Collin McKinney, Albert H. Latimer, James Power, Sam Houston, David Thomas, Edwd. Conrad , Martin Palmer, Edwin O. Legrand, Stephen W. Blount, Jms. Gaines, Wm. Clark, Jr., Sydney O. Pennington, Wm. Carrol Crawford, Jno. Turner, Benj. Briggs Goodrich, G. W. Barnett, James G. Swisher, Jesse Grimes, S. Rhoads Fisher, John W. Moore, John W. Bower, Saml. A. Maverick (from Bejar), Sam P. Carson, A. Briscoe, J. B. Woods, H. S. Kimble, Secretary

One day during a break, my Dad and I were walking around the grounds of Washington on the Brazos and he and I picked up numerous HUGE acorns – this is the only one I have left from that day. At the size demonstrated here, is it any wonder that BIG things resulted from that one little niche in the bend of the river. By the way the rumor is that the blacksmith that rented the building where everything took place was never paid his $75 rental fee – go figure!