Austin's Addresses to Colonists
Austin's Address to Colonists on the Colorado 6 Aug 1823. Colarado River House of Mr Castlemans August 6 1823. Fellow Citizens, I have once more the pleasure of addressing you a few lines from the Colorado--- My absence has been protracted greatly beyond my calculations and has been in the highest degree unpleasant to me, as it has retarded the progress of the most favourite enterprise I ever engaged in in my life; but I now flatter myself with the hope of receiving a full compensation for the difficulties I have encountered by witnessing the happiness of those who compose this Colony. I assure you that if my own private and personal interest had been the only incentive to induce me to persevere I should probably have abandoned the enterprise rather tban surmounted the difficulties produced by the constant state of revolution in which the country has been, since my arrival in the city of Mexico. But I was animated by the gratifying hope of providing a home for a number of meritorious citizens and of placing them and their families in a situation to make themselves happy the balance of their lives. One of the greatest pleasures a virtuous mind can receive in this world is the consciousness of having benefited others, this pleasure I now have in prospect. The titles to your land is indisputable---the original grant for this settlement was made by the Spanish Government before the Revolution, it was then confirmed and the quantity of land designated by the decree of the Emperor Agustin Iturbide on the 18th of February last, and the whole ---was again approved and confirmed by the Sovereign Congress of the Mexican Nation on the 14 of April last after the fall of the Emperor. The titles are made by me and the Commissioner of the Government, and are then perfect and complete for ever, and each settler may sell his land the same as he could do in the United States.
All that depends on me, towards the advancement of the Colony will be executed in good faith, so far as my abilities extend, and with all the promptness in my power; but to enable me to benefit them to the full extent that I wish, it is necessary---31 that the settlers should have confidence in me, and be directed by me I have a better opportunity of knowing what will be advantageous to them as regards their conduct and intercourse with the Government than any of them could have had, and I feel almost the same interest for their prosperity that I do for my own family---in fact I look upon them as one great family who are under my care. I wish the settlers to remember that the Roman Catholic is the religion of this nation, I have taken measures to have Father Miness [Maynes] formerly of Nachitoches, appointed our Curate, he is a good man and acquainted with the Americans---we must all be particular on this subject and respect the Catholic religion with all that attention due to its sacredness and to the laws of the land. I have so far paid all the expenses attending this enterprise out of my own funds. I have spent much time and lost much property on the coast in my absence---I am now engaged in surveying the land and must pay money to the surveyors and bands employed besides which I have to pay the expenses of the Commissioner, and heavy expenses attending the completion and recording of the titles. A moments reflection will convince the settlers that all this cannot be done without some aid from them, but as regards this point they may expect all the indulgence possible. Those who have the means must pay me a little money on receipt of their titles; from those who have not money I will receive any kind of property that will not be a dead loss to me, such as horses, mules, cattle, hogs, peltry, Furs, bees wax, home made cloth, dressed deer skins, etc. Only a small part will be required in hand, for the balance I will wait one, two, and three years, according to the capacity of the person to pay---In fact I will accomodate the settlers to the greatest extent in my power. I think that those who know me can state that my disposition is not to oppress any man; it is a pleasure for me to benefit my fellow citizens and I will sacrifice my own interest rather than distress them for one cent of money. But I have many sacred duties to attend which cannot be executed without money. The most of what I receive from the settlers will be applied for their own benefit, and I think they must all agree that it is also my duty to provide for my own family, and that in justice I ought to be compensated for the losses and fatigues I have sustained in this business, particularly when my labors secure handsome fortunes to my followers. I could exact the payment of all the expenses in hand before the titles are delivered, but shall not do so, the settlers may all rely on the terms above stated The smallest quantity of land a family will receive is one thousand yards square which may be increased by me and the Commissioner without limit in proportion to the size of the family.
Young men must join and take land in the name of one.
All thus united will be ranked as one family, they can then divide the land amongst
themselves I shall proceed immediately to the mouth of this River, and on my return go to
the Brazos The settlers have now nothing to fear, there is no longer any cause for
uneasiness. they must not be discouraged at any little depradations of Indians, they must
remember that American blood flows in their veins, and that they must not dishonor that
noble blood by yielding to trifling difficulties. I shall adopt every possible means for
their security and defence, I have brought some powder from Bexar, a part of which will be
sent to Capt. Robison for the use of the militia when needed---Let every man do his duty,
and we have nothing to fear---Let us be united as one man---discord must be banished from
amongst us, or those which cause it will meet with most severe treatment Hoping to meet
you soon in peace and happiness, I am Resptlly your friend and fellow citizen STEPHEN F.
Austin's Address to Colonists 5 Jun 1824. As the late regulation relative to the expences to be paid On Lands in this Colony has as I am informed caused some Animadversions in a few persons I deem it a duty due to myself as well as to my friends to enter into a full exposition of this subject and to give an explanation of the Steps which I have taken since the first Commencement of this Settlement--- To do this I must necessarily give a short history of this establish from its Origin up to the present time---this will probably be satisfactory to all as it will more clearly shew the efforts that I have made to secure to the settlers the Titles to their lands, and that I have spared neither labor or expence to complete those Titles in a way which will render them safe for ever unless forfeited by a noncompliance on the part of the settlers with the conditions required as to the Occupancy and improvement of the land--- I ask your candid attention to this Statement---Look at the difficulties I have had to surmount, The risks of property, of Life, of all, which I have exposed myself to---Consider the advantages ---which you will receive from my labours, And then let your unbiassed Judgment decide upon my Motives, And say whether I have been right or wrong in the measures which I have adopted--- It is well known to you all that this Settlement was commenced under a permission granted to my Father Moses Austin by the Competent Authorities of the Spanish (government Anterior to the Mexican Revolution--- This permission emanated from the Deputation of the Eastern Internal Provinces at Monterrey And on the 17th of January 1821 was duly approved by Joaquin Aredondo the then Commandant General of said provinces, who Ordered the Governor of this Province Colonel Don Antonio Martinez to send a Commissioner to Nachitoches to meet my Father and conduct him and the families who might Accompany him into the Province--- On the death of my Father I proceeded to Nachitoches And met the said Commissioner who was The Honble Don Erasmo Seguin the present Deputy in Congress from this Province And Accompanied him to San Antonio de Bexar where we Arrived in August 1821
On as full an investigation of the nature of the Grant to my father as the interpretations I received would enable me to make I found that the permission to introduce And settle the 300 families in this Province was complete And that the Governor had authority from the Commandant Genl to designate the quantity of Land for each family--- After much Conversation with the said Governor as to the quantity of Land And As to the place for the settlement he by an official answer to a Letter of mine dated the 191h day of August 1821 Authorised me to promise the quantity of Land stated in my first publication relative to this settlement which was 640 acres for the head of a family, 320 for his wife and 160 for each child etc And also gave me written Authority to explore the Province and select the place for the Colony--- With this object I explored the Guadalupe from the Tuscoset road to its mouth and thence along the Coast untill the Labacca Compelled us to bear up to the road which we followed to the Colorado and explored some distance down it and the Brasos--- The result of this Trip was a determination to settle oil the Brasos And Colorado------ And accordingly oil my arrival at Nachitoches in October I informed the Governor thereof And Also informed him that as the land which I was to receive for myself ---would be no compensation for my labors and expences in an enterprize of such magnitude I must receive something from the Settlers or I could not proceed with the Business Accordingly on my arrival in New Orleans sometime in November I published the terms of settling in this Colony and explicitly Stated that those who settled under the said permission to my Father must pay me 12 1/2 cts per Acre which would be in full for all expences of Surveying and every thing else--- I was particular to make these terms as public as possible that no one might come without knowing distinctly the Conditions of his reception--- They were republished in most of the Western papers And I considered it from that moment in the nature of an absolute contract between me and the settlers---
I Bound myself on the one hand to procure for them a complete Title for a certain specific quantity of Land according to the size of their family for which they were to pay me a certain specific sum which was to be in full for all expences. of Surveying and All others whatever they might be, And all this was done with the knowledge of the then Governor of the Province and besides if I had believed that I had no authority to make any such Contract with the, settlers, would I have laid myself liable to detection by the open frank and public manner in which I avowed the terms of settlement; Would I have published them in the Newspapers when I very ---well knew that those papers were sent to Mexico, to Monterrey, to San Antonio and to an---hundred other places where the Government would see or hear of them--- Or would I myself have sent the paper which contained the terms to the Governor of this Province which I did in Novr. 1821 immediately after it was issued--- Let me ask you as candid men does this look like an intention on my part to deceive or to do an act which I thought was not Authorised to--- Put yourselves in my situation and look at the vast burden of responsibility which has Oppressed me like a. deadly weight ever since, I engaged in this enterprize---An interprize which originated in the active mind and indefatitable perseverance of my much honored and lamented father who, sacrificed his life by the too Ardent pursuit of an object which it was always evident would result more to the credit of the projectors enterprize and perseverance than to his profit And in which the advantages secured to the settler and the benefits accruing to this Province and Government would bear no just proportion to the Compensation which was expected or asked for let it be remembered that at that time this Province with the exception of San Antonio and La Bahia was a desart, that it was interdicted to the American Settler who but a short time before had been driven from it with fire and Sword---, And untill this permission was obtained by my Father, those who emigrated here did so as it were by stealth and without any other security for their property or lives than the Caprice of the Commandants who Governed, for their Emigration was not sanctioned by the Superior Government Consider the difficulties. which my Father must have had to Surmount, to obtain a permission which could never before, be got by any person--- Consider that on his death I assumed upon myself the responsibility not only of Securing to the Settlers Complete titles to their lands, but Also of being personally responsible to the Government for their good conduct--- and look at the labors and probable expences which such An enterprize was Calculated to cost, and Ask yourselves whether any of you would in 1821 have taken upon you the weight of responsibility which I then did? Whether you would have jeopardized your property, hazarded your health, your lives, Your all to make the fortunes of others and been Content to do so without the hope of any greater Compensation than you could give to an individual who joined you as a settler and who would have no responsibility labour or expence to encounter more than the care of his own family--- Would you have been content I ask to do it; or would it have been just that you should have done so? If not can you blame me for making the public declaration in the beginning of this Settlement that the Settlers must aid me by paying a specific sum for the benefits I secured to them; And was there then any thing unjust or improper in such an arrangement in its Origin? If not let us proceed to examine whether any thing Occurred in the progress of the business which rendered an adherence to the Original terms of the Contract with the Settlers improper
When in New Orleans in November I dispatched a Vessel with Men and provisions and tools for the settlement and proceeded oil by land myself to meet her at the Mouth of the Colorado---After a three months trip ---wandering in the swamps and thickets of these Rivers and in waiting at the mouth of the Colorado for said Vessel I gave her up for lost and in March proceeded to San Antonio to inform the Governor that I had Commenced the Settlement and to request him to send with me a Commr to superintend the partition of the land Agreeably to the Arrangement made with him in Aug Ist previous---On my Arrival I was informed by the Govr that in Consequence of the revolution and change of Governmt he felt unwilling to do anything in the business, that he was an European and did not know at what moment he might be removed from office or how the revolution would terminate, in consequence of which lie had determined not to transact any public business except Such as could not be postponed---he Assured me that the Settlers would be safe and that the permission granted to my Father would allways be respected by the Government, but that great delay might arise before they could be legally put in possession of their lands and receive titles therefor---this information was as unexpected as it was mortifying to me---I felt myself bound in honor to Comply fully with my part of the Contract with the Settlers and to procure Complete titles for them to their lands---this was a new and unexpected difficulty which was never Anticipated or even dreamt of by me---I applied to the Governor for advice informing him that I had rather die than not effect what I had promised to the Settlers and that without so much delay as he Anticipated---He advised me to go to Mexico and apply to Congress---One nights deliberation determined me to accept of this advice and on the 15 day of March 1822 1 departed for the City of Mexico---It is needless for me to detail the difficulty I had in procuring funds for this unexpected trip or the immense sacrifices I was compelled to make of the little property I had saved from the wreck of my broken fortunes in the United States, besides which I had to dispose of one half of the lands which I might obtain before I could raise the means of progressing with the enterprize---Suffice it to say that I raised the means at all costs, for success was now no longer Considered by me so much a matter of Speculation as a point of honor to redeem my pledged word to the Settlers---I therefore disregarded my own Interest which the then prospects justified the belief would have been more promoted by an abandonment than a further prosecution of the enterprize---I arrived in the City of Mexico in April without Acquantances, without friends---A Stranger in a City where untill very recently, foreigners were prescribed by the Laws and Discountenanced by the people from prejudice---Ignorant of the Language, of the Laws, the forms, the dispositions, and feeling of the Government, with barely the means of paying my Expences for a few months, and in fact I may say destitute of almost every thing necessary to insure success in such a Mission as I had undertaken, but the integrity of my intentions Added to all this I found the City in an unsettled State, the whole people and Country still Agitated by the revolutionary Convulsion which had just terminated in their emancipation, public Opinion Vacillating as to the form of Government which ought to be adopted Party spirit raging with that Acrimony which political Collision is Calculated to excite And the recently established Governmt almost sinking under its efforts to preserve the public peace and Order In this unfavourable State of things and Surrounded on every side by difficulties I entered upon the Objects of my Mission, formed Acquaintances with the members of Congress, the Officers of Governmt and men of influence And by the 12th of May had my business in a favourable train before the Regency which then Composed the Supreme Executive power of the Nation---And my Memorial was also before Congress and probably would soon have been acted on---But on the night of the 1811 of May a new flame burst from the revolutionary crater whose fires it seemed had only subsided for a time but were not extinguished.
The provisional Government was Overturned, And the Army in the City usurping the Voice of the Nation proclaimed the Emperor and enforced his election by Congress at the point of the Bayonet It is easy to imagine the Commotion which an event of such magnitude was calculated to produce---fear silenced every tongue, but the sullen gloom that bung round the Old and best tried patriots of the revolution portended the Storm that was only Smothered for a time that it might burst with greater effect upon those who had usurped the Nations rights by the forcible establishment of a system of Government which was evidently in Opposition to the will of the majority of the people---The newly established Government foresaw the impending Storm And all their Attention was devoted to such Measures as they thought likely to Avert it---Republicanism was proscribed as a Crime and Republicans Persecuted as Criminals, heavy restrictions were laid on foreigners by decrees regulating the manner and conditions in which they were to enter the Country---they were suspected and watched---in fact the whole Attention of the New Imperial Government was directed to their own Consolidation and preservation---In this state of things individual applications were lost amidst the multiplicity of more important and I may say of personal Interests which occupied the Executive Department---And my Application Coming as it did from a foreigner born and bred a republican and whose Object was to form a Colony within the new Empire of Men who like himself were Also born and bred in that land of liberty where imperial Diadems were only estimated by the intrinsic value of the materials which Composed them and where no Sceptre ruled but the public will, was considered by my friends as a hopeless Object, And I was Advised to save myself from further pecuniary ruin and embarrassment by its Abandonment---My Answer to this was, that my faith was pledged to the Settlers to secure their titles, and that I never would abandon their Interests---that the public Contract made with them to secure their lands should be complied with on my part, if such a thing was possible---Accordingly I presevered through one whole year of Revolution and political Convulsions in Mexico, And After the Congress was dispersed by the Emperor On the 31 of October---the Junta Nacional In8tituyente which was substituted in its stead passed the Colonization Law which was finally Approved by the Emperor and published on the 4th day of Januar 1823---I can without boasting say that my Constant Exertions and importunity with the Members both directly and indirectly through my friends produced this Law, for if it had been delayed a few weeks longer the new revolutionary events of January and February would have prevented its passage at all during that year Immediately After the promulgation of the Colonization Law I urged a decision of my business by the Government, And After passing through the hands of the Captain General of the Internal Provinces Don Anastacio Bustamente and the Council of State who made separate reports on it---The lmperor on the 18 of february 1823 issued the Decree Authorising me to complete the Colony and regulating the quantity of Lands to be distributed to the Settlers in Conformity with the Colonization Law, a translation of which Decree accompanies this Statement---marked A.---As Soon as I received this decree of the Emperor I considered my business finished and prepared to leave Mexico, but the Storm which the forcible proclamation of the Emperor had engendered now burst forth from every quarter and threatened to speedy Subversion of a throne which had been reared in opposition to the public will---New difficulties now presented themselves which I doubted might possibly at some period involve the Interests of the Settlers for whom I had been so long labouring------It was an Avowed principle with the new revolutionists who had raised the Republican flag in opposition to the Imperial that the Emperor was an Usurper, that the Legislative, Body created by him and called the Junta Nacional Instituyente who passed the Colonization Law was illegally Constituted
And that all the Acts of the Imperial Government were void not even excepting those which were Sanctioned by Congress before its dispersion for it was Contended that, that body acted from Coercion and not with the liberty of a deliberative Assembly of the peoples representatives---How far this principle would be recognized by the new Government that was to succeed the Imperial was problematical And as I had Spent so much time and money I determined to await the issue of the then pending revolution And if necessary apply to the new Govt for a Confirmation of the Grant which I had received from the Emperor---Accordingly I waited untill the dethronement of the Emperor the last of March and the final reestablishment of the Congress, And then to remove All doubts which might Arise as to the Competency of the Authority that gave me the Grant I presented a petition to Congress praying them to Confirm the said Grant which was acted on the 10 of April and passed to the Supreme Executive power who were Authorized to confirm it if they thought proper, And on the 14 of April they did by their Decree Confirm it As will Appear by translations of the Said Decrees of Congress and of the Executive power which also Accompanies this Statement Marked B and C.
My Business was now finished by the highest Authority known to this or any other Nation that is governed by the representative System to wit the Sovereign Congress of the people in the free and legal exercise of their functions. And I left Mexico on the 18 of April wanting only 10 days to be One year from my Arrival in it on this Mission---1 took the precaution to have Copies of the documents relative to this Colony passed through the hands of the Commandant General of the Eastern Internal provinces at Monterrey And Also to have them sent direct to the Government of this Province that records of them might remain in the Archives of each As well as in the Secretary of States Office in Mexico to multiply the chances of their preservation in case Accident should ever destroy the records of either of those Offices. I now hurried towards Texas to meet the settlers and inform them of their safety and the happy result of my Mission, relieved from the Oppressive burden which had Come upon my mind for such a length of time---Owing to sundry delays in Monterrey which I could not very well avoid and which were caused by my Anxiety to perfect the work I had so far progressed with I did not arrive in San Antonio de Bexar until July in Company with the new Governor Luciano Garcia who was appointed to succeed Trespalacios---You will perceive by the decree of the Emperor that the lands were to be laid off for the Settlers and Titles given therefor by myself in Conjunction with the Governor of this Province or a Commissioner whom he should name---The Governor appointed the Baron de Bastrop this Comr and we arrived in Company on the Colorado in August---On my arrival the Settlers were publicly notified and informed of the manner in which they were to procure their lands both by the Comr and myself, And I was very particular to inform them all and in the most public manner that the terms originally established by me relative to the cost of their lands must be adhered to---The first Object After my return was to get the Land Surveyed, an object of equally as much importance as the Titles themselves and one which was embraced in my original Contract with the Settlers, for I was bound not only to procure titles for their Lands but also to survey them and pay all other Expences whatever attending the completion of their Titles An Obligation which was binding on me for ever, unless released therefrom by a noncompliance on the part of the Settlers with their part of the said Contract---Before I arrived in the Colony after my return from Mexico I studied the whole subject with all the attention which my feeble capacity would allow me to devote to one of such importance to the settlers as well as to the Government whose interests it was also our duty to promote.
Two plans presented themselves for Completing the settlement One was to let each Settler run his lines as he pleased, and mark them or not, or define his Tract by natural or imaginary boundaries and make out the Deeds accordingly---And only requiring them to pay the Expenses which were due to the Government but by adopting this plan I should as I considered have forfeited my part of tile Original Contract with the Settlers which was to survey and clear out their lands as well as to procure Titles for them, A Contract which I thought I bad no right to change, besides I had seen and we have all seen or heard of the difficulties and confusion which arose and still exists in Kentucky, Tennessee And many other States in consequence of locations being made without actual Surveys, tracts or parts of tracts, when run out were found to interfere with each other and hence arose a source of litigation which has involved hundreds and I may say thousands in the perplexing mazes and hopeless uncertainties of law Suits which after harrassing a family for years and like a Moth devouring its substance finally involved them in ruin and begary
To Comply therefore with my part of the Contract with the Settlers in full And at the same time to save them from even the possibility of difficulty hereafter relative to their lines I determined to survey the Lands regularly and accurately and to continue upon myself the responsibility which my original Contract with the Settlers imposed on me of being personally responsible for the expence of Surveying, for the Expences due to the Governmt and for aII other Expences whatever; expecting that the settlers would comply with their part of the Contract by paying the sum originally stipulated---There were also other considerations which the Adoption or rather the continuance of this plan---The fees due to the Governt would have to be paid in Cash---The Expenses of Surveying if any was done would Also have been burthensome in many instances to the Settlers to advance, besides the first Settlers who had borne all the difficulties of establishing the Country would have then been placed on an Equality with those who came later after all the difficulties were over, provisions were plenty, and the Indians forced into subjection---Whereas the plan which I adopted relative to the payments would have removed all these difficulties and enabled the first Settlers to reap the full fruits of their Arduous labors to the extent the merited, and that without the delay which a different plan would likely have produced. I informed the Settlers on my arrival that I would receive any kind of property from them, And give them their own time to pay it in, at the same time requesting those who were able to do so to aid me all they could, for that I bad so far faithfully Complied with my part of the Contract with them And thought that in justice they ought to do the same towards me---I never said that any one ought to pay one Cent before he received his Title---The new Settlers who came in and who had no privations to undergo in Comparison to the first Settlers I did say ought to malice more prompt payment And in this Arrangement I consulted the Interests of the old settlers, for the sums I should have thus received would have enabled me to have paid a part of the surveying fees, And Governmt on the Lands of the Old Settlers without harrassing them to raise the Money---
From those who did not pay money or some other property that could be used I intended to have taken notes payable in Cotton in yearly installments, of One two or Six years according to the situation of the person---This would not have been oppressive for every one could have paid two or three hundred pounds of Cotton annually without ever feeling it---these notes would have insured a certainty of receiving a specific quantity of Cotton annually And this certainly would have given me credit with some Merchant in New Orleans to advance me Cotton Gins and a Vessel, to prepare and transport to market this as well as all other Cotton made in the Country, and thus in One year the Cotton trade would have been in full Operation which is the principal thing that is to raise us from poverty---Besides Another branch of my plan was to hire as many work---men As I could to build Mills Cotton Gins And Any other Improvements that would have advanced the Country and thus enable those who did not wish to clear their farms immediately and raise Cotton to pay for their land in that way---And in furtherance of this plan I have already Commenced a Mill on the Creek above Town---The Operation of this plan would have been to save the Old Settlers from being harrassed in any way relative to their lands, for a portion of that part of the Expences which they would have been Compelled to advance under a different System would have been paid by the New Settlers---The Land would have all been accurately and regularly run off whereby difficulties both immediate and remote would have been avoided---The Cotton Trade would have been established at once The Country would have been improved by Mills and Machinery without delay. And by these means would have advanced more during the next year than under a different System it probably could have done in four or five.
It has been objected to this that I am making an immense fortune--- A great Speculation out of the Settlers--- Let us examine Carefully this subject by the application of Arithmetical calculation to it and see what appears to be the result--- The Surveying Averaging One League with Another and taking the bends of the Rivers and Oblong Leagues will cost about $70 per League which for 300 would be $21,000--- The Taxes due to the Government independent of the Surveying as fixed by the late regulation is $165.4 Cash on each League which for 300 [is] $49,600.4 making together the sum of $70.600.4 to which I made myself personally responsible for and $49.600.4 of that in Cash to the Government, And for the Whole of which Sum I might have been called on for in one year--- To raise this sum I should have had claims on the Settlers for $555 per League which for 300 would have made $166,500 payable in property at a distant period and in small installments and that property received at double or treble what it would actually bring in Cash for I appeal to you all to say whether I would now get either here or any where else 40, 50 or 60 Dlls for horses which I have received at $100. 120 and 150 Dlls and all other property in the Same proportion--- Independent of this Calculate the risk I run in transporting this property to Market and converting it into Money--- the probability of being Compelled to force Sales at any Sacrifice to raise Money to pay the Surveyors and Government fees--- the time, Cost, and labor expended in the business and the pecuniary responsibility imposed on me by it--- Then add to this the labor and expence incurred by my Father to obtain the original permission, his health destroyed and Life sacrificed--- Also the three years perplexing and fatiguing Labors which I have undergone and the Money expended to perfect the Grant, And to all this Add the vast burden of responsibility which rests upon me, to be Accountable for the good Conduct of the Settlers, And the perplexing task of administering the Civil Government of the Colony, And then Ask yourselves whether you would not rather take your Single League of Land in peace than to receive what I am entitled to together with the 12 1/2 cents an acre And be involved in the Labyrinth of trouble and Vexation and responsibility that I am--- As regards the equivalent which you were to receive for this 12 1/2 cents an Acre, was it not worth it? And if you could not have obtained it any other way would you have been unwilling to pay that Sum for it? And could you or would you ever have obtained it unless through my exertions? I Have been thus lengthy in this exposition because I deemed it my duty to explain to you fully every step I had taken or intended to take in the Business--- You now can form your own Opinion relative to the merits or demerits of my exertions And particularly whether I ought in justice to be charged with illegally and unjustly speculating on the Settlers as I am told I have been by a few, And whether the Conditions made public by me in the beginning of the settlement was not in fact a proposal for a fair And specific, Contract in which I was one Party And All who applied to me for a settlement in this Colony formed the other party? And whether every honorable man ought not to feel himself in Equity bound to that Contract, even if the Government of this Province declared otherwise--- It is a well acknowledged rule that a Man's labor merits reward in proportion to the benefits derived from it, and also that the value of an Article is prized in proportion to the difficulty of obtaining it--- Apply this rule to the present case--- When my Father obtained the permission for this Settlement no other person had ever been able before that time to procure such a privilege, And Altho hundreds of applications have been made no one has ever obtained it since, And the families who have settled in different parts of the Province out of this Colony are at the entire mercy of the Government without the least Security whatever that they will ever get land or even be permitted to remain in the peaceable possession of the places they have chosen--- the privilege therefore procured by my Father and perfected by me was difficult to get for no one had ever succeeded in getting it before him, nor since, And it has cost the life of my Father, More than three years of my labour, A Trip to Mexico, at immense expence, All which was at my own individual risk If therefore the above rule can be applied to this case that an Article is prized in proportion to the difficulty of obtaining it Surely the privileges I have obtained for the settlers of this Colony ought to be prized highly--- And Also if my labors are to be valued in proportion to the benefits which the Settlers receive from them, they are worth Something, that is if it is considered that a League of Land here is of any value--- I therefore cannot help considering that the Contract Originally made between me and the settlers in justice is and ought to be obligatory on both parties And Whether the governor of this Province can properly interfere in my private Contracts, And release the Settlers from all legal obligation to comply with them, is a question Which I shall not enter upon--- If however you admit the principle and say that he can interfere in one private Contract And dissolve it why may he not with equal justice do the same in all? Where is the stopping place? Where is the Security for any man who Contracts to do a certain Specific thing for a fixed sum if the Contract can be dissolved in this manner?
It might however be observed that if the Settlers Consider the Original Contract dissolved on their parts why have not I the same privilege to consider myself also free from all Obligation to procure titles for their lands and say to those who refuse to Comply with the Original terms stipulated with them---Attend to your business Go elsewhere to procure your Titles---I will have nothing more to do with the Business---A thing which I might in justice do, if the Original Contract was disregarded, And which I certainly would do were I to be governed solely by motives of self interest---for it must be evident to you all that if I receive nothing from the settlers a further prosecution of the object would only involve me still more in pecuniary difficulty and ruin for I am to get 22 1/2 Leagues of Land half of which was disposed of in the beginning to raise funds to enable me to effect the object as I before stated which leaves 11 1/4 Leagues to my share---Now suppose that these 11 1/4 Leagues were sold at this time to raise money to replace what I have expended in the Business And to pay the debts I have been obliged to contract with Surveyors and others would it not still leave me in debt to say nothing of my time And labour for more than 3 years past---Whatever may be the determination of the Settlers in this point I hope they will do me the justice to take a full and impartial view of the whole subject and not be too ready to condemn me as a speculator on the poor, a charge which I am told a few discontented Men have made against me And One which I think is unmeritted And which I do hope the reflecting And sound part of the Colony will Pronounce to be unjust---------for my plan so far from Oppressing the poor was Calculated And intended to relieve them---I also wished to do justice to myself and family which it was my duty to do
It is well Known to you all that I have contracted to pay $5 per Mile for the surveying that is Already done And that by the late regulation I am only allowed $27 per League Now let any candid man say whether it would be just for me to suffer this loss, a loss which would be incurred by me solely for the individual benefit of the Settlers---As regards the future surveys much difficulty presents itself, Unless my first plan is still continued for it will be difficult to procure surveyors at $27 per League and I am induced to believe impossible to procure them---The Settlers must therefore be content with imperfect Surveys of their land or aid the surveyors in carrying the chain marking etc.---Another difficulty is that unless the land is regularly run off, so as to join where the nature of the situation will admit of some Confusion may Arise in making locations and the Settlement of a neighborhood be greatly disarranged which might have been Compact, for the Governor has ordered that hereafter no sitio tracts can be run in any other way than in full Leagues ---So that if locations are made so as to leave fractions of 1/4 or 1/2 etc etc of a League between them, those fractions could not be occupied at all untill the public lands were generally disposed of---I wish to make one observation as regards the Surveys generally---Many of you say that you came here to procure Land for your children, if so ought you to get that Land for them in a way that even by possibility might involve them in lawsuits hereafter relative to their lines? And if the surveys are not regularly and fully Completed and marked will it be possible to avoid interference and consequent future litigation and perhaps ruin to yourselves or to your heirs, and is it not better that you should have your land surveyed in full even at any reasonable cost than to locate at random
I will now make a few observations relative to the Civil Government of this Colony And then Close this Statement---The responsibility of the public Order and Administration of justice in this Colony was imposed upon me by the Superior Government as you see by the Decree of the Emperor---This charge is however only provisional as I have always informed you untill the Colony is filled up And you have the members to appoint your Ayuntamientos or representative bodies---The legal jurisdiction of each of these Ayuntamientos As the Governor informs me is five Leagues square when the population Admits of that division---these divisions are called partidos or prescincts And also elect their Alcaldes---A number of these prescincts forms a district, And the Ayuntamiento of the Capital of the District has in some respects a kind of superintendance in a few things over the others, And there is Also appointed a Judge for each of said Districts called in Spanish a Juez de letras or Judge of Learning---In this way this Colony will be organized as soon as it can be done---I wished the Governor to do it when here, but he thought it too soon And promised to do it in the fall I am particularly Anxious to see this arrangement Completed for it will release me from the disagreeable task now imposed upon me and will probably be much more satisfactory to the people as then they will be governed by Men elected by themselves, for these Ayuntamientos are a species of Select Men or Council elected Annually by the people of the prescinct, And the Alcaldes are also elected in the same way
The office I now bold was never sought for by me from choice or inclination but it must have been filled by some one untill the Colony was organized and I thought it would promote the general interests of us all much more to take it myself than to run the risk of having an officer sent here who knew nothing of our language customs or dispositions---I have never sought after appointments And never shall but I deem it the duty of every one to serve his Country when called on to do it so far as his Capacity will admit June 5: 1824. Your fellow Citizen STEPHEN F. AUSTIN [Rubric]
Austin's Address to Colonists 7 Jun 1825 To the Inhabitants living within the limits of this jurisdiction---FELLOW CITZENS, I have regretted to see that a spirit of discontent and contention has manifested itself in a few individuals of this colony since its first commencement.---A rigid adhereance to the instructions of the government would have compelled me long since to have noticed such disturbances of the public peace; but actuated by a hope that reason and reflection would lead them back to that path of subordination to the laws from which passion had unfortunately drawn them, I forbore to exercise the authority vested in me in such cases.---Unfortunately, my forbearance has been misconstrued, and has produced the opposite effect to that which was hoped for and expected.---It has been attributed to timidity, to a consciousness that I lacked authority, or, to a conviction that I had violated the instructions of the Government and to many other things of this nature.
The public peace is now disturbed, and the minds of many of the settlers publicly disquieted by the acts of these contentious men. It has therefore become an imperious, tho a painful duty, to change the mild course which has heretofore regulated my conduct, and, to bring them before the tribunals of the Government to answer for their conduct.---So many misrepresentations, (arising probably from misconceptions,) have been propagated relative to my acts, as well as to those of other officers of the Government who were united with me in the organization of this new colony, that, I owe it to myself, as well as to every quiet and well---disposed settler to request a public investigation of all my acts and conduct of a public nature, since I came to this Nation.---I approve of the principle that every public officer is amendable to the law for his official acts.---It is the only solid basis upon which free institutions can rest.---I hold myself responsible for mine, and have already requested, and shall again, and again request of the Government, that they should be publicly examined. I recognize also, as one of the dearest privileges of freemen the principle, that, every person has a right to seek redress of grievances, and, lawfully to meet, and petition the Government for that purpose, and I would ever be ready to lend in my feeble aid at any such meeting properly convened for the public good.
An invitation for a Meeting has been made and secretly circulated by an individual whose turbulent and refractory disposition has long disturbed the peace and public order, purporting to have for its object an investigation of my authority, and with a view "to shake off the Yoke and disperse that dark cloud that has so long kept the settlers in darkness." As regards this Meeting, I will merely observe that, it has been proposed in open violation of the laws of the land, and particularly that of the 10th January 1824, for those laws require an application to the constituted authorities; and no such application has been made. This invitation proposes "to shake off the yoke." What yoke? the words have but one meaning---they are plain, and the inference direct, which is the Yoke of the Government. Fellow Citizens, are you prepared to join any man in an open rebellion against the government under which yon have voluntarily sought a settlement? Which has received you with every public mark of confidence and favour? Are you aware of the fatal influence it will have on your future prosperity, as well as the obstacles it will create against the admission of new settlers, to impress on the Government the idea, that, the Americans are disposed at the very moment of their entrance into the country, while yet at the threshold and even before their full reception is completed and they are received in all the rights of Citizenship, to array themselves in opposition to the authorities placed over them? and to doubt, suspect and distrust the good faith of the Government, by declaiming, that, the officers appointed by it are without authority, and therefore ought not to be obeyed?
I know that it is unnecessary for me to caution you against compromiting yourselves in any such acts, for I know, that, you will never do it unless misled or drawn into error without reflection, and this is the only reason why I now allude to the subject, and not because I ever believed that any well disposed man would knowingly engage in any act not sanctioned by the laws of the Country. If the object of the discontented persons be an investigation of my conduct by the Government, I hope they will be gratified, for, as I before said, I have petitioned the Government for such an investigation; and I now declare that I will give a pasport to any person who applies for it who wishes to proceed to the Government for the purpose of entering complaints against me, and that, I will myself sign any petition respectfully drawn up requesting an investigation of my conduct by the Government ., and that such investigation may be public and at this place in order to give every man an opportunity to come forward and exhibit his proofs. My duty, however, and the positive orders of the Government, relative to such cases, imperiously demand, that, open acts of insubordination tending to disturb the public peace should be noticed.---I have therefore issued an order for the arrest of the turbulent individual before alluded to and shall send him to the Government to be disposed of as it may deem just. As regards the fees ordered to be paid by the settlers on their lands, I have to state, that, they were fixed by the official order of the Governor of Texas, published on the 20th May 1824, and sanctioned by the most Excl Provincial Deputation, who ordered them to be exacted as will appear by their official letter dated 21st Sept. 1824, A translation of which is hereto annexed.---The Governor informed me that they were in conformity with the fee bill established by the ancient audience [audiencia] of Mexico, and other laws then in force; Whether they are legal or not, the establishment of them was not my act; it was the act of the highest authority of the then Province of Texas, and that authority most positively commanded me to collect them, and my duty as an officer compelled me to obey the order.
As regards the quantity of land to be distributed to individuals, very great discretionary powers were lodged by the Government in the Commissioner and myself, as will appear by reference to the original concession, which, together with all the documents relative to my authority, are at all times open in my office for inspection, and an extract of which is annexed to this communication. Whether any person who applies to be received as a settler, has a right to dictate to the officers of Government how much land they are to receive, and in what way the discretionary powers vested in those officers are to be exercised---and whether I am bound as the founder of this colony, (Empresario) to receive every foreigner who applies, and satisfy all his desires, or, submit to their unreasonable complaints and misrepresentations.---And whether those who, for such causes disturb the public peace of the settlement by their disorganizing clamours, are not liable to the severest punishments of the laws---and whether the colonization Law itself, and the authority granted to the commissioner and myself, as the legal organs of the Government, do not, of themselves make a distinction; and contemplate that a very great one should be made in the distribution of land to the new settlers, according to their respective situtions, are questions, which reason, and the Laws must decide.
The investigation of my conduct already solicited by me, and which I now invite, will however elucidate these as well as all other points. If, in my official capacity I have done wrong the remedy is in the law---if those who have questioned the legality of the order of the Government of Texas relative to the fees required of them on their lands, and who refuse to obey it, have done wrong, the remedy is also in the law---and an opportunity is now presented to apply this remedy as justice may require. The investigation sought for by me will therefore at once show the settlers the nature and extent of the authority vested in me. All they have now to do is to support the authority of the Government, discountenance the turbulent, and separate themselves from them, and quietly wait the result, under the firm assurance, that, the Government will be equally prompt in protecting the rights of every good Citizen as in punishing the refractory. By doing this, no one implicates himself in any manner, the public order is not disturbed by illegal meetings, and the Government must acquit every peaceable settler of any participation in such disorganizing acts---and also by adopting this course, even the discontented will obtain what they profess to seek, which, is, an investigation of my conduct, and obtain it legally without incurring responsibility or blame.---Therefore in virtue of the authority vested in me by the Government as the civil and Military chief of this jurisdiction I call on all the Inhabitants and other persons within its limits, to unite in the support of the laws and protection of the constituted authorities of the Government, and I command them to hold themselves in readiness at all times to suppress any acts of insubordination, or others, tending to disturb the public peace; hereby forbidding all meetings unauthorized by the, laws, or unsanctioned by the proper authorities, under the penalties prescribed by the laws of the state and of the nation to which we belong. San Felipe de Austin, Jun 7th 1825. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN [Rubric]
Mexican Meetings Law from Alaman
10 Jan 1824. [Translation]
1st That all meetings "Juntos" or unions of whatever class
they may be which are not authorized by the laws are positively prohibited, and those who
in violation of this decree, form them, altho they may have been invited to attend them,
whether private citizens, 49 paisanos Military or Ecclesiastics shall be punished
severely, and without reprieve for having committed a crime according to the respective
Austin to Ayuntamiento of San Felipe
on exclusion of criminals from the colony 6 Nov 1830