The Declaration of Causes
The growing crisis spurred representatives from various parts of Texas to meet, to examine the situation, and, perhaps, take action. Although the delegates had different ideas about the actual authority granted to this body, the Consultation, as the group was called, met in San Felipe de Austin on November 1, 1835. The delegates discussed two general approaches: a call for Mexico to abide by the Constitution of 1824, thus giving the Texans many of the freedoms they wanted while preventing a war; or an immediate declaration of independence from Mexico so that Texas could chart its own course.
Spirited debate finally resulted in a document that took the first tentative steps toward revolution while leaving openings for Mexico to address the Texans' concerns. Formally called the Declaration of November 7, 1835, the document has popularly become known as the Declaration of Causes. In it, the members of the Consultation listed the causes or reasons that justified Texas in taking up arms against Mexico. First, they had to defend their rights and liberties and the republican principles of the Constitution of 1824, which Santa Anna had discarded. Second, Santa Anna's actions meant that the settlers were no longer bound by the legal agreements made when they settled in Texas. Calling Santa Anna a despot, the delegates stated Texas's right to establish an independent government and to fight the Centralist forces as long as they were present in Texas.
Historian Thomas W. Streeter calls the Declaration of Causes a document second only to the Texas Declaration of Independence in its significance for the state's history. His colleague Eugene C. Barker feels that the declaration was, in fact, a conditional declaration of independence asserting the Texans' right to "withdraw from the union, to establish an independent government" and asserts that the delegates knew in their hearts that an impasse with Mexico had been reached. Other historians such as Paul Lack and David Weber are more concerned about the fence straddling in the document, but all see it as a political statement that justified the Texans actions and the fighting that had already occurred.
The members of the Consultation intended this document to be used. They ordered copies to be printed in both English and Spanish and distributed. The fact that Spanish copies were produced clearly indicates that the Texans wanted Mexico to be put on notice regarding their concerns.
The Declaration of Causes is a statement that reflects the growing case for Texas independence. Preceding the Declaration of Independence by four months, it sets the stage for the final breakdown between Mexico and Texas: giving notice that the hostilities that had already occurred were justified; that Texans were defending their liberties and not acting in aggression toward Mexico.
An English text of the Declaration of Causes is available.