Apr 05 2016
In the mid 1850s, both William B. Longworth and large-scale plantation slavery were new to Bexar County, Texas. The slave masters brought their slaves to the Cibolo Valley around 1850. Their arrival was reported in the local newspapers.47 Joseph H. Polley, among the first, arrived in 1847 and settled in Guadalupe County immediately across the Cibolo from Sulphur Springs (now Sutherland Springs). Others followed, acquiring land in the Valley.48
In the Old South the cultural and governmental structure required to hold men in slavery and protect their owners from rebellion had existed for many years. In San Antonio, the county seat of Bexar County, large-scale plantation slavery was a new entity. Slavery enjoyed neither universal popularity, nor the support of local ordinances that accommodated its requirements.
The wealth of the slave masters was comprised largely of the value of their slaves. To protect their property, they demanded that government enforce laws, and create ordinances and agencies that imposed their will on the total population. The slave masters created the “Committee of Ten” a vigilante group to control order in their area.49 Bexar County Commissioners created slave patrols that captured and punished runaway slaves and arrested those that assisted or associated with them.50 The City of San Antonio passed ordinances regulating, not only the behavior of African slaves, but also the behavior of non-Africans in relation to slaves. For the sum of one dollar, the San Antonio City Marshall or assistant Marshall could be hired to inflict a beating on a slave.51