Fredonia Rebellion
Nacogdoches, Texas, the center of "Republic of Fredonia".
Date December 21, 1826 – January 31, 1827
Location Nacogdoches, Mexican Texas
Result Mexican victory
Mexico.jpgMexico FredoniaRebellionFlag.pngFredonian rebels
Commanders and leaders
Guadalupe Victoria Haden Edwards

Flag of the Fredonia Rebels

The Fredonian Rebellion (December 21, 1826 – January 23, 1827) was the first attempt by white Anglo settlers in Texas to secede from Mexico. The settlers, led by Empresario Haden Edwards, declared independence from Mexican Texas and created the unrecognized Republic of Fredonia near Nacogdoches. The short-lived republic encompassed the land the Mexican government had granted to Edwards in 1825 and included areas that had been previously settled. Edwards's actions soon alienated the established residents, and the increasing hostilities between them and settlers recruited by Edwards led Victor Blanco of the Mexican government to revoke Edwards's contract.

On December 15, 1826, a group of Edwards's supporters essentially invaded Nacogdoches, seizing the Old Stone Fort.  On December 21, they declared the former colony to be the new Republic of Fredonia, and took control of the region by arresting and removing from office several municipality officials affiliated with the established residents. Supporters declared their independence from Mexico. The nearby Cherokee tribe, led by Chief Richard Fields and John Dunn Hunter, initially signed a treaty to support the new republic. However, Mexican agent Peter Ellis Bean and respected Empresario Stephen F. Austin convinced tribal leaders to repudiate the rebellion.

On January 31, 1827, a force of over 100 Mexican soldiers and 275 militiamen from Austin's colony marched into Nacogdoches to restore order. Haden Edwards and his brother Benjamin fled to the United States. The Cherokie, in a show of faith to the Mexican government, condemned Fields and Hunter to death. Adolphus Sterne, a local merchant who'd helped provide weapons to the rebellion, was arrested and sentenced to death but later paroled instead.

While the Fredonia Rebellion was a dismal failure, the Mexican government took a number of steps to prevent further uprisings, including an increased military presence in Texas and a reduction in immigration from the United States. These measures ratcheted the tension between the Texas colonists and the government, and helped spark the Texas Revolution nearly a decade later.

Fredonian Rebellion in "Hail! Hail!"[]

In mid-1934, while visiting Nacogdoches, Texas, the Marx brothers were transported back through time to December 15, 1826, on the eve of the Fredonian Rebellion. While trapped, they inadvertently rewrote history for the worse, as the Republic of Fredonia became the nucleus for a country that maintained slavery well into the 20th century.

In 1934 when the Marx Brothers (Leonard, Arthur, Julius, and Herbert) visited Nacogdoches after their train detoured there en route to New Orleans. The four were struck by lightning, but weren't killed. Instead, they were sent back in time to December 15, 1826.[1]

They quickly made the acquaintance Adolphus Sterne, the merchant who'd provided arms to the Fredonian rebels. They told him who they were and that they were residents of 1934.[2] Julius Marx informed Sterne that the the Fredonian Republic was doomed, although he couldn't recall Sterne's fate. The idealistic Sterne was outraged. He argued that since the four knew how it failed, they could help the Fredonia Rebellion succeed. Despite having only the most limited knowledge of Fredonia, Julius, seeing no other options, agreed, much to the horror of his brothers.[3]

The next day, Haden Edwards and his men arrived. The group went out to watch them seize the Old Stone Fort after a short gun battle. Sterne was enthusiastic about the victory, and the future republic it would create; Julius was more cautious.[4] Not long after, Sterne brought the brothers to Edwards and told him who they were. Julius promised to help Fredonia as much as possible, and told Edwards what happened in the future. Edwards accepted the Marx Brothers' offer of help, promising them that they'd never want for anything if they succeeded, and promising to murder each of them with his bare hand if they deceived him.[5]

The brothers and Sterne rode out to meet with Cherokee leaders Richard Fields and John Dunn Hunter. Fields had very little Cherokee blood, and Hunter had none at all. But both were well integrated into Cherokee culture and the white man's ways, and so the Cherokee followed them. Fields greeted them when they arrived, and Sterne explained who the Marx Brothers were and why they were there to meet. Fields agreed to listen and summoned Hunter.[6]

The group ate a supper of grits and armadillo before talks began. Once again, Julius explained that he and his brothers were from 1934 and offered coins to prove it. A full-blooded Cherokee named Eightkiller also looked at the coins. All saw dates from the 1920s, and Eightkiller observed the "clock" on Julius' wrist as being far more advanced than anything he'd ever seen. Based on this, the Cherokee were tentatively convinced the Marx Brothers were telling the truth. Julius then explained that in the Marx Brother's historical record, the Mexicans convinced the Cherokee not to back Fredonia, and the rebellion failed. He further explained that, despite the Cherokees' change of heart, the Mexican government still mistrusted them, and that Fields and Hunter were hanged in the spring of 1827 as a result. Julius withheld the fact that the Cherokee people themselves did the hanging. Fields reasoned that if they threw in with Fredonia, they had to go all the way. Eightkiller pointed out that they could also just flat out refuse to help now, as well. The Cherokee began discussing in their own language their next course of action.[7]

In order to sway the Cherokee, Sterne explained the white and red strips of the Fredonia flag symbolized whites and Indians working together. In response, the Marx Brothers sang the Freedonia anthem from Duck Soup. The Cherokee weren't wholly receptive to these idealistic exclamations. When Eightkiller asked what the best course of action was, Julius simply stated that sitting back as they had in the original timeline didn't work, but he made no guarantees as to what would happen if they backed Fredonia all the way. While the Cherokee had reservations about trusting Haden Edwards, the realized that the didn't really trust the Mexicans either, and so opted to back Fredonia, even chanting "Hail! Hail! Fredonia!".[8]

The group stayed with the Cherokee for the next several days. Warriors started joining the band. On Christmas Day (a day even the Jewish Marx brothers wistfully observed), word came that the Mexican envoy, Peter Ellis Bean was on his way to convince the Cherokee to stay away from Fredonia. Fields reiterated his resolve to ignore Bean given his and Hunter's fate. Sterne explained to the Marx brothers that Bean was an American filibuster who was now a Mexican citizen, with a wife on either side of the border.[9]

Bean arrived on December 27. He'd received information about the Marx brothers, and was immediately dismissive of them. Julius began goading Bean in response, reciting the playground song "Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit". While it didn't exist in 1826 yet, every English-speaker quickly understood the gist. For good measure, Eightkiller even translated for some of the Cherokee warriors present. One made a fart-noise with his mouth. Bean also understood Cherokee, and this act made him even angrier. However, Julius took things too far by slapping Bean in the face. Bean immediately declared that Julius had challenged him to a duel. As the challenged party, Bean selected pistols, and declared the duel would be at sunup the next day.[10]

Sterne agreed to be Julius' second, and even provided him a pistol.[11] After a relatively sleepless night, Julius and Sterne went out to meet Bean. Sterne provided Julius the pistol, which he loaded and prime with great care. Bean and Julius agreed to the final rules of ten paces, and one shot only. As the sun came up, Sterne confirmed that Bean's honor could not be satisfied any other way, and the duel commenced.[12]

Luck was on Julius' side, although Sterne's care with the pistol probably helped. Bean turned and aimed faster, but his gun misfired. Julius took aim at Bean's chest and fired. His gun discharged, hitting Bean in the chest. The wound was not immediately fatal, and Bean took an hour and a half to die. While Sterne congratulated Julius, Julius was vomited in horror, having never killed a man before. Over the course of Bean's slow death, Julius was able to come to grips with the duel to some extent.[13] Bean's death insured that the Cherokee would stay in the Fredonian camp, as the Mexican government would not believe that the Cherokee were blameless. Richard Fields announced that the warriors would head to Nacogdoches after they buried Bean.[14].

With the Cherokee secured and Bean dead, Sterne and the Marx brothers realized they now needed to get Stephen F. Austin's support. In mid-January, the five rode to San Antonio to meet with him. On the ride, Julius told Sterne broadly that anti-Semitism was still present in 1934, although not as in the U.S. While he didn't go into much detail about Hitler's Germany, he did say that things in Germany were not so good for the Jews, a revelation that puzzled Sterne. Julius also told Sterne that slavery was outlawed in the future, in part because of technology (as Sterne guessed) and in part for simple ethics. Sterne agreed in the abstract, but wondered about the "stupid" people, the "lazy" people, and the "inherently inferior" people, such as blacks. When Julius pointed out the Jews were also deemed as inferior, Sterne brushed the notion aside, as Jews were still white. Julius, remembering when and where he was, let it go at that.[15]

They were about half-way to San Antonio when they ran into the Mexican-Texan army encampment. Sterne decided to go into the camp, believing, correctly, that he could find Austin and secure a meeting. To Sterne's surprise, Austin was also more inclined towards Fredonia than Sterne had expected.[16] The next morning, with a simple disguise of a period-appropriate hat, and a simple act of looking like stragglers, they were able to find Austin. He was particularly interested in Julius since he was the one who killed Bean. When he asked for more proof of the Marx brothers' identity, Julius showed Austin his wristwatch, and Austin agreed to listen to what Julius had to say. Julius admitted he didn't know what would happen if Austin sided with Fredonia, but that because he didn't in the world that the Marx brothers came from, Fredonia failed. Julius further described the coming Texas Revolution in 1835, the American Civil War, and the end of slavery. Austin was sickened by the prospect of "nigger equality" (although Julius privately admitted that blacks still weren't equal even after slavery). Austin decided that the future Julius described should not come to pass, and so decided to back Fredonia, even though he had little use for Haden Edwards.[17]

At Julius' suggestion, Austin decided to wait until the night to attack the Mexicans. While The Texans outnumbered the Mexicans, the Mexicans had more canons and gunpowder. Austin realized that a night attack would removed the Mexicans' advantage. For the rest of the day, Austin met with his fellow Texans and planned the attack. Julius had no role in this, and so spent the remainder of the day wondering if he'd done the right thing. He ultimately decided that this course of action was better than being robbed and murdered.[18]

That night, Austin asked Julius if he and his brothers wanted to join the attack. Realizing their limitations, and still feeling bad about Bean's death, Julius politely declined on the grounds that none of the Marx brothers had the skills to be of use. Austin accepted this answer, and sent off the Texans. Shortly after, Julius and Austin heard the sounds of the battle. Soon, it was over, and Austin was informed that the Texans had captured Lt. Colonel Mateo Ahumada. He and Ahumada briefly had words, with Ahumada plainly disappointed in Austin's treachery. However, Ahumada gave his parole to Austin, as did the remaining Mexican soldiers, and Austin sent them home.[19]

Austin's men, Sterne and the Marx brothers headed to Nacogdoches.  When they arrived, Austin and Haden Edwards both began making efforts secure U.S. involvement in Texas.[20]

Th Marx brothers attempted to integrate into the new country. However, when the first spring storm arrived, all four went out and managed to be struck by lightning. They arrived in the 20th century, but in a town the didn't immediately recognize. They found a flag painted in the window. The flag consisted of fifteen red stars on a white St. Andrew's cross on a blue field. The business was a slave-catching company, licensed by the "Confederal government" in 1909.[21]

See also[]

  • Confederate States of America, a failed attempt at creating an independent nation comprised 13 southern states between 1861 to 1865. Fredonia eventually evolves into the "Confederal government" similar to the Confederacy complete with a flag comprising of a white St. Andrew's Cross with 15 red stars.


  1. Ibid., loc. 178-223.
  2. Ibid., loc. 235-268.
  3. Ibid., loc. 374-391.
  4. Ibid., loc. 444-492.
  5. Ibid., loc. 492-523.
  6. Ibid., loc. 523-583.
  7. Ibid., loc. 583-666.
  8. Ibid., loc. 666-696.
  9. Ibid., loc. 689-739.
  10. Ibid., loc. 739-782.
  11. Ibid., loc. 782.
  12. Ibid., loc. 803-847.
  13. Ibid., loc 847-867.
  14. Ibid., loc. 867-877.
  15. Ibid., loc. 877-929.
  16. Ibid., loc. 929-981.
  17. Ibid., loc. 991-1032
  18. Ibid., loc. 1032-1042.
  19. Ibid., loc. 1042-1113.
  20. Ibid., loc. 1133-1192.
  21. Ibid, loc. 1234-1264.