How can the life of one relatively unknown man change our understanding of Texas history and the American West? Peter Ellis Bean, a fairly minor but fascinating character, casts unexpected light on conflicts, famous characters, and events from the time of Mexican rule through the years of the Republic.
Bean’s role in Mexico’s revolution against Spain and his service as an agent of the Mexican government, especially as Indian agent in eastern Texas, provide an unusually vivid picture of Mexican Texas, as well as new information about the Indians in his region. More explosively, Jackson’s research on Bean’s career as Indian agent casts doubt on the traditional characterization of Sam Houston as a friend to the Texas Indians. Bean’s career shows Houston as a rival for the loyalty of the Indians during Texas’ rebellion against Mexico, a rival who made false promises for military and political gain.