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The Life of Stephen F. Austin, Founder of Texas, 1793-1836

[ Texas ]

The Life of Stephen F. Austin, Founder of Texas, 1793-1836

A Chapter in the Westward Movement of the Anglo-American People

By Eugene C. Barker

A biography of this prominent Texan.

1969

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Paperback

5.5 x 8.5 | 495 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-292-78421-5

Almost a hundred years after the death of Stephen F. Austin this first full-length biography was published. And for almost a quarter of a century—dividing his time between editing, teaching, textbook writing, and serving in various academic capacities—Eugene C. Barker pursued the study which resulted in The Life of Stephen F. Austin. His accomplishment has long been regarded as a fine example of biography in Texas literature.

CHAPTER I. In the Current of the Westward Movement.
Ancestry and Migrations—Massachusetts—Connecticut—Professor Garrison’s Estimate of the Austins—Their National Importance in American History Unrecognized—Early Life of Moses Austin—His Introduction to Lead Mining—Migration to Philadelphia—To Richmond—Marriage—The Chiswell Lead Mines—Migration to Southwestern Virginia—Lack of Success—Hears of the Lead Mines in Missouri—Liberal Immigration Policy of Spain—Hardships of the Journey to Missouri—St. Louis—The Mines—Business Arrangements—Return Home—Removal to Missouri—Missouri in 1797.

CHAPTER II. On the Missouri and Arkansas Frontier
Austin’s Mine Claim Disputed—His Personal Characteristics—Improvements at the Mines—The Mines in 1804—The Effect of the Louisiana Purchase on Land Claims—On Immigration—Business—Austin’s Family Life—Education of Stephen F. Austin—Of the Younger Children—Financial Embarrassments—Effect of the War of 1812—The Bank of St. Louis—Stephen F. Austin in the Territorial Legislature—In Arkansas—His Equipment for His Career.

CHAPTER III. The Inauguration of Texan Colonization
The Conception of the Movement—Moses Austin at San Antonio—Bastrop Intervenes—The Government of Texas—Austin’s Return to Missouri—Hardships of Travel—Contracts with Emigrants—Death—Stephen F. Austin Carries On—Friendship of Joseph H. Hawkins—Recognized as His Father’s Successor—Reconnaissance and Selection of Site for the Colony—Condition of Texas in 1821—Austin’s Plan for Distributing Land—Popular Interest in His Grant—Partnership with Hawkins—Form of Contract with Colonists—First Settlers—Miscarriage of the Lively—Necessity for a Trip to Mexico—Austin’s Impressions of Mexico.

CHAPTER IV. Austin in Mexico
Review of Mexican Political History—The Situation as Austin Found It—Consideration of a General Colonization Law—Various Delays—First Draft of the Law—Other Applicants for Colonization Contracts—Austin Urges Congress to Confirm His Grant—His Plan for Regulating Indian Relations—Iturbide Proclaimed Emperor—European Applicants—Fears of the Expansion of the United States—Austin again Urges Congress to Act—Letters of Encouragement to the Settlers—Colonization Bill—Gutierrez de Lara——Gómez Farías—Restriction of Settlement to Catholics—The Obstacle of Slavery—Zavala—Postponement of the Bill—Arrest of Deputies—Austin Appeals to Iturbide—The Bill again Postponed—Zavala Proposes Reform of Congress—Iturbide Dissolves Congress and Creates the Junta Instituyeme—Austin again Appeals for Action—The Junta and the Bill—Austin and the Slavery Article—Imperial Confirmation of Austin’s Grant—Fall of Iturbide—Austin’s Grant Confirmed by Congress—Austin’s Standing in Mexico—His Influence on Mexican Constitutional History—His Views on Public Education—His Connection with the Acta Constitutiva—His Views of Mexican Political Development—Austin’s Powers Defined—Effects of His Detention in Mexico.

CHAPTER V. The Establishment of the First Colony
Motives of Emigration—The Westward Movement—Cheap Land—Effect of the Cash System—Of the Panic of 1819—Reports of Migrations—The Opportune Opening of Texas—Widespread Interest in Texas—Queries of Immigrants—Status of Slavery and Religious Toleration—Immigration Checked by Austin’s Detention in Mexico—Numbers in Texas—Local Government—Austin’s Proclamations—Beginning of Friction over Land Fees—Indian Relations—Tonka was—Karankawas—Tahuacanos and Wacos—Militia Organization—Trouble over Land Fees—The Intent of the Law—Austin’s Understanding—The Rising Opposition—The Political Chief Annuls the Fees—Austin’s Protest and Defense of the Fees—Substitute for the Fees—His Public Services—Complaints of Unequal Land Grants—Buckner, Gaines, and Others—Austin’s Forbearance and Tact—Judicial System—Austin’s Civil and Criminal Code—Services of the Alcaldes—Austin’s Defense of the Judicial System against Interference of the Political Chief—Colonists Contribute Corn for Expenses of Congressman—Bastrop Represents Texas in Constituent Legislature—Establishment of Austin’s Capital, San Felipe de Austin—Progress of the Colony—Personal Losses.

CHAPTER VI. The Extension of Anglo-American Colonization
The National Colonization Law—The State Colonization Law—The Provision for Empresarios—Miscellaneous Provisions—The Public Services of Empresarios—Colonization Grants by the State—Austin Foresees Cotton Culture—Applies for a New Contract—Boundaries of His First Colony—The “Little Colony”—The “Coast Colony”—Grants to Burnet, Zavala, and Vehlein—The Form of Colonization Contracts—Rapid Immigration Despite Mexico’s Attitude toward Slavery and Lack of Religious Toleration—Austin’s Colony the Goal of Most Immigrants—Its Development—Sources of Immigration—Procedure in Obtaining Land—Fees—Exclusion of Bad Characters by Austin—His Administrative Duties and General Influence—Land System—Judicial System—Relations with Prominent Mexicans—Local Government—The Land Commissioner—Growing Prestige of Austin among the Colonists and the Reasons for It—The Indian Nuisance Ended—Personal Traits.

CHAPTER VII. The Fredonian Rebellion
The Haden Edwards Grant—The Spanish Settlement of Nacogdoches—The Problem of the Old Inhabitants—Local Government—Edwards Requires Proof of Land Titles—The Policy of the Government toward the Squatters—Edwards’s Lack of Tact—Opposition of the Old Inhabitants—Edwards’s Justification of His Policy—Boundary Conflict with Austin’s Colony—Austin’s Blunt Advice—A Local Election Controversy—The Political Chief Warns Edwards—Edwards Yields under Protest—Rumors of Revolt—Increasing Friction—Austin’s Advice—The Governor Annuls Edwards’s Contract and Orders His Expulsion—Kangaroo Court at Nacogdoches—Austin Attempts to Stay the Revolution and to Soothe the Authorities—The Border Settlers Remain Loyal to the Government—The Cherokees—Austin’s Colony Supports the Government—Bean Prevents Spread of Revolution—Austin’s Services—Suppression of the Revolt—Austin’s Justification.

CHAPTER VIII. The Struggle for Stabilizing Laws
Austin Compares His Labor with that of a Farmer Improving Virgin Land—Statement of Reforms and Improvements Essential to Prosperity—Mexican Tariff System—Exemption of the Colonists—Legalization of the Port of Galveston—Austin Urges Coasting Trade with Mexico and Cotton Trade with Europe—Concessions Needed to Bring This About—Practical Opposition to Coasting Trade by Mexican Port Officers—Rapid Development of Trade with the United States—Establishment of Constitutional Local Government—The First Election—Functions of the Officers—The Jurisdiction of the Ayuntamiento—Austin’s Continued Responsibility—Need of Judicial System—Austin’s Efforts to Obtain One—Defects of the System Provided by the Constitution—The Holtham Case—Seth Ingram and H. H. League—Origin of the First Homestead Law—Austin Proposes a Law to Protect Debtors—Correspondence with Mexican Statesmen—Passage of the Law—Its Beneficent Effect—Austin Dreams of a New Economic System in which Credit Rests Solely on Personal Character—Correspondence with Edward Livingston—Slavery—The Mexican Attitude—Austin’s Changing Views on Slavery—The Federal Law of July, 1824—Austin Begs Exemption from Its Operation for the First Colony—He Outlines a Bill for the State Legislature Allowing Introduction from the United States until 1840—And Providing for Gradual Emancipation by Peonage Contracts with Slaves—Austin Petitions Legislature against Emancipation by State Constitution—Brown Austin Goes to Saltillo to Lobby—Article 13 Recognizes Existing Slavery, but Forbids Further Introduction—Machinery for Its Operation—Austin Moves to Legalize Peonage Contracts between Immigrants and Their Slaves—The Passage of the Law, and Its Operation—Austin Combines Defense of Slavery with Vision of Agricultural Progress—Guerrero’s Emancipation Decree—The Political Chief Withholds Publication in Texas until Petition for Exemption Can Be Filed—Excitement of the Texans—Austin’s Calm Determination—Guerrero Withdraws the Decree for Texas—Austin Urges William H. Wharton to Settle in Texas—Returning Confidence—Great Immigration—Austin’s Reasons for Advocating Restriction of Slavery after Passage of the Law of April 6, 1830—Really Feared Slavery—Hope of European Immigration—But the Colonists Refused to Follow Him—Austin then Turned to Support Views of the Colonists—Explanation of His Apparent Instability—Want of Religious Toleration—Caused Little Active Discontent but an Obstacle to Immigration—Austin Expected Liberalization of the Government to Bring Toleration—His Cautious Treatment of the Subject—Austin’s Personal Religion—His Promotion of Education—Efforts to Obtain Schools.

CHAPTER IX. Austin and His Work as Seen By Himself
Explanation of His Policy—His Love for Texas and His Faith in Its Future—His Feeling of Obligation to the Colonists and His Loyalty to Mexico—His Influence with the Settlers in Harmonizing Differences—His Defense of the Local Government against Ill-informed Criticism—The Wear and Tear of the Years—His Confidence in the Gratitude of the Colonists—The Policy of Loyalty and Aloofness toward Mexico—His Understanding of Mexican Character—Difficulty of Remaining Aloof after 1830—Silence and Tact—His Policy Arouses Criticism of the Impatient Radicals—Map of Texas—Payment of Old Debts—George Tennille Collects on New Madrid Speculations—Anthony Butler’s Claims—The Hawkins Heirs—Lovelace and Wavell—Personal Philosophy.

CHAPTER X. The Law of April 6, 1830
Foundation of the Law in Fear of American Expansion—This Fear Sharpened by Boundary Negotiations of Adams and Jackson—And by Newspaper Forecasts of the Purchase of Texas—Speculations in Texas Lands—Austin’s Condemnation of the Speculators—Poinsett’s Unpopularity in Mexico—Terán the Real Instigator of the Law of April 6—His Recommendations—Military Occupation of Texas—Counter-colonization by Mexicans—Alamán’s Iniciativa—Articles Ten and Eleven—Terán Disapproves—Austin’s Protest against the Law—Letters to Bustamante and Terán—His Argument that Immigrants to His Colony Were Not Excluded—The Government Accepts His Interpretation—Rapid Immigration—Austin’s Efforts to Forestall Popular Excitement over the Law—His Editorials in the Texas Gazette—But He Warns the Government of Its 111 Effects—Military Commandant on the Frontier Checks Immigration—Austin’s Efforts to Remove the Obstacle—Issues Certificates in Blank—Effect of the Law on Other Colonization Enterprises—The Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company—The Nashville Company or Robertson Colony—Austin Declines to Become Involved with These Companies—Neutrality—Execution of the Military Provisions of the Law—Garrisons in Texas—Failure of the Counter-colonization Feature.

CHAPTER XI. The Robertson Colony Controversy
Preliminary Summary—The “Texas Association” or Nashville Company Sends Leftwich to Mexico to Apply for a Grant—Leftwich Gets the Contract in His Own Name—Location West of Austin’s Colony—Welcomed by Austin—Leftwich Transfers the Grant to the Company—Felix Robertson Inspects die Territory—Sterling C. Robertson Accompanies Him—Another Inspection—The Company Seeks Recognition from the Government—Requests Austin’s Assistance—H. H. League—Austin Presents the Company’s Petition and Induces the Government to Grant It—But the Company Remains Inactive—Testimony of Amos Edwards—Of William H. Wharton—The Company Interested in Speculation, not Colonization—Sterling C. Robertson Obtains a Sub-Contract—Robertson’s Arrival in Texas—Contract Annulled by the Law of April 6, 1830—Austin Intercedes for Robertson’s Companions—Presents Robertson’s Petition to Governor—Finds Governor Disposed to Re-grant the Territory to a French Company—History of the French Application—Austin in Partnership with Williams Applies for a New Grant Including the Annulled Nashville Company Grant—Robertson’s Natural Resentment—But Austin Helpless to Aid Him and Acted for the Interest of Texas—Robertson Prepares to Attack the Validity of the Grant to Austin and Williams—Ex Parte Testimony to Prove the Contract Not Affected by the Law of April 6, 1830—Abuse of Austin during His Absence on a Mission to Mexico—Robertson Asks for Annulment of Austin’s Grant and Reinstatement of His Own—Vituperative Statements to Governor and Legislature—Examination of the Facts—The Governor Reinstates Robertson’s Contract, Austin Having Effected the Repeal of the Law of April 6, 1830—Williams’s Ineffective Efforts to Combat Robertson—Robertson Announces Restoration of His Contract with Further Abuse of Austin—Williams Secures Reversal of the Case, but Robertson Refuses to Obey—The Number of Colonists Introduced by Robertson—Location of Eleven League Grants in the Colony and Their Subsequent Unfortunate History—Effect of This on Austin’s Memory—The Purity of His Motives.

CHAPTER XII. Popular Disturbances of 1832
The Military Post at Anahuac—Terán’s Instructions to Bradburn—History of Squatter Settlements in East Texas—Their Origin—Those on San Jacinto Early Incorporated in Austin’s Colony—The Others Assured of Land Titles, but Often Disappointed—Padilla’s Arrest—Madero Stopped by Bradburn from Issuing Titles—Resentment of the Settlers—Austin Advises Patience—Friction over Customs Duties—George Fisher, Collector—His Self-Importance Arouses Unnecessary Opposition—Trouble at Brazoria—Terán Reprimands Austin—But Removes Fisher—Austin Leaves Texas to Attend Legislature at Saltillo—-His Anxiety and Advice: “Fidelity to Mexico”—Bradburn’s Imprudence—The Attack on Anahuac—Disavowed by the People—Battle of Velasco—Civil War in Mexico—Austin Visits Terán—His Efforts to Forestall Friction in Texas—Hears of the Outbreak—Explains the Situation to Terán—Comments on Mexican Political Parties—Letter to Santa Anna—Accompanied Colonel Mexia to Texas—Driven by Circumstances from His Policy of Aloofness—Declares for Santa Anna’s Republican Party—Expulsion of Federal Troops from Terán’s Garrisons—The State Declares for Santa Anna.

CHAPTER XIII. The Conventions of 1832 and 1833
Calling the Convention of 1832—Meeting and Work—Austin President—Petition for Tariff Exemption—For Amendment of Law of April 6, 1830—Relations with the Indians—Titles for East Texas “Squatters”—Primary Schools—Separation from Coahuila—William H. Wharton Elected to Present the Petitions to Government, but Does Not Go—Organization of a Central Committee—Mexican Inhabitants of San Antonio Refuse to Participate in the Convention—Political Chief Demands Repudiation of the Convention and Some Municipalities Obey—Austin Labors for Unity—Correspondence and Travel—Induces Mexicans at San Antonio to Present Vigorous Petition for Reforms—Austin Tells How It Was Done—Hopes to Induce Mexicans to Join in Subsequent Convention if Reforms Are Withheld—Precipitate Calling of Second Convention Defeated this Plan—He Still Labors for Unity—The Work of the Convention—Austin’s Draft of Reasons for Calling the Convention—Provisional State Constitution—Petition for its Approval—Petition for Repeal of Law of April 6, 1830—Austin Elected to Present Demands to Government—His Attitude toward Formation of a State—His Reflections on Independence—Opposed to Annexation to United States—Did He Begin to Change His Mind in 1832?—His Mission to Mexico—Work on the Way at San Antonio and Matamoras.

CHAPTER XIV. The Mission to Mexico: Arrest
Presentation of the Texan Case—The Right to State Government—Statistics—Action of the Government Delayed by Cholera Epidemic—Austin Has Premonitory Symptoms—Alternation of Hope and Despondency—Advises Texans to Organize Provisional State Government—Ayuntamiento of San Antonio Causes His Arrest—He Labors to Prevent Excitement in Texas—His Letters—Frank Statement to Mexican Officials—Solitary Confinement—Mexican Judicial Procedure—Austin Expects the Texans to Petition for His Release—Desperation—Enemies in Texas—Mission for His Relief—Release on Bond—Waiting for the Amnesty Law—“Explanation Concerning Texas”—The Chihuahua Road and Santa Fé Trade—The Fact about Enemies in Texas—Austin Convinced of Necessity of Secession.

CHAPTER XV. Texas During Austin’s Absence
Subsidence of Excitement—Cholera, Floods, and Malaria—Calmness Following Austin’s Arrest—Liberal Reforms by the Legislature—Extension of Local Government—Reform of Judicial System—Almonte’s Inspection of Texas—His Recommendations to the Government—Noticia Estadistica sobre Tejas—Noriega’s Mission to Monclova—Civil War between Monclova and Saltillo Interrupts State Government—Another Convention Proposed in Texas—Opposition of Austin’s Friends Successful—Continued Confusion at the Capital—Waste of Public Lands—Speculators—Clash between State and Federal Authorities in which Texans Sympathize with Federal Government—Dissolution of State Government—Santa Anna Establishing Centralized Government and Destroying Federal System—Revival of Custom Houses in Texas—Clashes at Anahuac—Travis Attacks the Garrison There—Action Disavowed by Public Meetings—Calling of a Consultation to Decide on a Policy.

CHAPTER XVI. Austin Again at the Helm: Beginning of the Revolution.
Popular Relief at Austin’s Return—His “Keynote” Speech Approves the Consultation—He Works for a Full Representation—Intimate View of His Quarters—His Recognition of the Critical Situation and of its Possible End—The Gonzales Cannon—Austin Heads the Volunteer Army—The Army at San Antonio—The Consultation Meets and Elects Austin, Archer, and Wharton Commissioners to the United States—Declaration for the Constitution of 1824—Austin’s Influence—The Mexican Liberals—Austin’s Uncertainty—Final Advice for Independence.

CHAPTER XVII. The Independence of Texas: The End of the Voyage
Sympathy for Texas in the United States—The Commissioners Obtain Loans in New Orleans—Itinerary through the United States—Inability to Negotiate Texan Bonds—Proposal to Nicholas Biddle—Burnet’s Neglect of Commissioners Defeats Efforts for Recognition of Texan Independence by United States—He appoints a New Commission—Austin Returns to Texas—Induces Santa Anna to Appeal to President Jackson for Intervention—Tries to Commit General Gaines to Intervention—Report on the Mission to the United States—Austin’s Colleagues Urge Him to Become a Candidate for the Presidency—The Campaign—Austin Charged with Complicity in Williams’s Land Speculations—His Defeat—His Correspondence with Williams—Reconciliation—Accepts Office of Secretary of State—Plan to Use Santa Anna to Obtain Intervention of the United States—Instructions to William H. Wharton, Agent to the United States—Austin’s Unexpected Death.

CHAPTER XVIII. Epilogue: Significance and Personality

CHAPTER XIX. Bibliography
Index