The French Intentions With Texas 4 pages

Texas History

French Intentions With Texas

Both Spain and France were major European Powers during the Age of Discovery, roughly after 1600. Spain, of course, annexed Mexico and much of Central and South America, while the French concentrated on the Great Lakes region and south down the Mississippi. In 1682, for instance, Vavelier and La Salle journied down the Mississippi and with 300 soldiers and the support of King Louis XVI established the Louisiana Territory. The Spanish were continually wanting to expand their territory in the New World, seeing this as a way to also dominate Europe. They were wary of French intentions in the Mississippi region, and between 1686 and 1691 sent a total of 9 expeditions from New Spain (Mexico) to Texas, four by sea and two by land, to search for the French.

The French, in particular, just as they would do further north, enlisted the aid of the native populations against the French. Through bribery and intrigue, they told the native tribes lies about the French and pursued as many allied relationships as possible along the Mississippi basin. Talon and Meunier stayed with many of the Indian tribes, but continued to advocate for French interests.

From the Spanish perspective, the importance was moving into Texas through most of the 1700s to establish several missions and maintain a buffer between Spanish and French Territory. In fact, San Antonio was established as a way station between the missions and nearest Spanish Settlement. The Spanish settlements, though, because a target for at least three decades of Apache attacks, at least until 1749. It was not until 1785 when the Spanish made peace with the Comanche that there was any degree of safety in the area.

France, then, formally relinquished its claim to Texas in 1762 when French Louisiana was ceded to Spain and Texas was no longer necessary as a buffer zone. In 1799, Spain gave Louisiana back to France, and then Napoleon sold the territory to the United States.

Part 2 — What were some of the problems of the missions found by the Spanish in Texas?

Essentially, the Spanish missions were an advance expiditionary force under the guise of religion that would settle the Texas (and California) areas so that Spain could claim control of the areas. The missions were set up as small towns, with military protection and settlers (agriculturally based, etc.) surrounding the areas. They were strategicially placed as outputs and manned by Domincans, Jesuits, and Frnaciscans to spread Christianity to the Native American tribes — with the added benefit of settling the frontier. Ecologically, the missions introduced European livestock, fruits, vegtables and industry into the region. However, the missions were designed to be set up as close as possible to Spanish style and culture. In order to bevome Spanish citizens, then, any native Americans had to learn to speak Spanish, vocational skills, and adopt the culture of their new masters. In addition, the strictness of Catholicism was seen as a way to gather more control over the native populations by making the missionaries part of the State culture of assimilation rather than trusting this to civilians and soldiers.

However, as word began to spread that there was land available, more and more settlers arrived and turned the missions into small towns, then into cities. The settlers also demanded protection from the Native American tribes, who saw this incursion as an invasion. The Native Americans could also not understand the unsustainable agricultural practices used by the Spanish and settlers, and felt that their land and way of life was being threatened. This was particularly true of the Apache and Cado, who responded by raiding the missions, raiding settler wagon trains, and creating havoc for the Spanish.

Part 3 — Trouble between Spain and the United States 1803-1821.

When the United States purchased Louisiana from Napoleon in 1803, they also viewed the agreement as including Texas. There had been several decades of chaos between France and Spain in the area, and as one of the least populated provices of New Spain, had fewer native Spanish to maintain control. In addition, hostile native tribes discouraged many Mexican settlers from moving north, while many American settlers saw this as a tremendous opportunity for inexpensive land.

Mexico attained independence from Spain in 1821, but had issues with civil war and felt it could not allow the U.S. To overpopulate Texas. President Polk’s U.S. policy of Manifest Destiny was pushing American interests west, and more and more settlers arrived into the Texas area that were not Spanish speaking or culturally anything but Northern European. After Mexico gained independence, it could also not afford to police Texas and protect the settlers from Indian raids. The U.S. then found ways to do so, further allying the area towards the U.S. The issues were ones of economic and cultural destiny, who would control what, and how effective the U.S. could be in annexing Texas. The Spanish feared that the Anglos would over-settle the area and take it over — and actually, that is exactly what the plan was — that Texas was a logical part of the Louisiana purchase and, because of settlement and development, a rightful U.S. territory and eventual state.

Part 4

1. The Indians considered the French better allies because the French tended to be less heavy handed in tryin got change native cultures, insist upon the natives learning French, and trying to convert them into a settled, agraian, Christian life. Instead, the French often lived with the tribes, took wives, had children, and were able to pay the natives in goods that the natives wanted.

2. The Apache, at least for a time after 1749, were willing to accept Chrsitan conversion and the protection of a mission in order to stop raids by the Comanche. The Apache wanted military protection by the Spanish, whom they believed had superior weaponry and tactics, in exchange for work in and around the missions.

3. The Neutral Ground, or Neutral Strip was a part of western Louisiana that was a disputed area between Spanish Texas and the United States specifically after the Louisiana purchase. The local military of both countries agreed to leave the Neutral Ground temporarily outside the jurisdication of either country from 1806 to 1821.

4. Politically, the 7 Years War saw Spain and France fighting as allies, and caused the eventual ceding of Louisian to Spain because of economic and social sacrifies. Spain had maintainted the missions as a buffer against French expansion, but also was in trouble financially. King Charles III, in 1766, sent an inspector, the Marques de Rubi, to tour the region and make a recommendation, which took over 2 years. His view was that the mission system was expensive and ineffective, and that since there was no longer a French threat, Spain should abandon East Texas and withdrawl settlers and troops to San Antonio.

5. Some of the native tribes in the Texas region switched from only hunting to hunting-gathering largely due to the incoming settlers, the decimation of the buffalo, raids from other native tribes, and the inability to stop the pressures from both the settlers and other tribes who were both trying to decimate their populations. In addition, numerous diseases from the European killed numerous native tribes, and the smaller and unsophisticated populations could no longer maintain a viable hunting culture.


Apache Indians. (2006). Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved from:

French-Spanish Rivalry In Texas. (2007). National Humanities Center. Retrieved from:

Haley, J. (2006). Passionate Nation: The Epic History of Texas. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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