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and among them the famous Robert Potter, of North Carolina, who has been here some months.  On the volunteers offering to vote they were refused by the judges, which caused an angry excitement.  The company was drawn up with loaded rifles, and the First Lieutenant, Woods, swore that the men should vote, or he would riddle the door of the Stone House, where the election was held, with rifle balls.  The Captain, who had only arrived the night before, had not yet resumed the command of the company, and determined not to interfere, but to let the company and the judges fight it out.  The citizens were then called on to decide by a count of heads whether the volunteers should vote or not, and on being polled the Constitutionalists outvoted the Independents some thirty votes.  On this the Mexicans set up a shout of triumph, which enraged the volunteers, and it was feared they would fire on the citizens.  Judge Hotchkiss and myself interfered to restrain them.  I addressed them publicly, and attempted to convince them that by the law of the country and the ordinance under which the Convention was held, they had not the right to vote -- or that it was at least a questionable right; that it was unbecoming in them, coming into the country as soldiers, to be stickling at the threshold for political rights; that it was derogatory to their character to be mingling in the political and personal squabbles of the country, contrary to all the principles of Republicanism, and destructive of the freedom of elections, for soldiers with arms in their hands to interfere in elections; exhorted them to abstain from violence, reserve their weapons for the enemies of the country, etc.  I think the address was effective, although Mr. Potter attempted to neutralize it by a short reply, ad captandum, appealing to the passions of the men, and exhorting them to persevere in their determination to vote, etc.  They were also addressed by Col. Rusk, one of the candidates, who stated that the judges were reconsidering the subject, and would announce their determination after dinner.  Mr. J. K. Allen[29]  also said a few words, exculpating Lt. Woods from some charges that had been raised against him.  After dinner it was announced that the volunteers might vote if they chose.  They had in the meantime consulted, and unanimously resolved that they would not vote, at which I was much gratified.  I was more gratified at hearing it said by a citizen that I had been the means of preventing bloodshed.  But the volunteers, with the waywardness of children, reconsidered their determination, and subsequently all voted.  They were all day under arms, and frequently marched to and for, with drum and fife, before the door of the Hastings -- a shameful spectacle, which I never before witnessed.  But, notwithstanding all, the Constitutionalists carried the day by a considerable majority.  The polls, however, are to be opened again tomorrow.


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The Diary of William Fairfax Gray, from Virginia to Texas, 1835-1837
Copyright 1997 William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies
Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas