SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
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Coahuila y Tejas-Index
Law Decree of 1823
(Translated from the Spanish)
To Don José Manuel de
Herrera, Minister of Interior and Exterior Relations.
AGUSTIN, by Divine Providence, and by the Congress of
the Nation, 1st Constitutional Emperor of Mexico, and Grand Master of the Imperial Order
of Guadeloupe; To all who shall see these presents, Know Ye, That the Junta Nacional Instituyente of the Mexican Empire, has
decreed, and we sanction the following:
The Junta Nacional Instituyente of the Mexican Empire,
being convinced by the urgent recommendations of the government, of the necessity and
importance of giving to the empire a general law of colonization, have thought it proper
to decree as follows.
Art. 1. The government of the Mexican nation will
protect the liberty, property, and civil rights of all foreigners, who profess the Roman
Catholic apostolic religion, the established religion or the empire.
Art. 2. To facilitate their establishment, the executive will distribute lands to them,
under the conditions and terms herein expressed.
Art. 3. The empresarios, by whom is understood those who introduce at least two hundred
families, shall previously contract with the executive, and inform it what branch of
industry they propose to follow, the property or resources they intend to introduce For
that purpose; and any other particulars they may deem necessary, in order that with this
necessary information, the executive may designate the province to which they must direct
themselves; the lands which they can occupy with the right of property, and the other
circumstances which may be considered necessary.
Art. 4. Families who emigrate, not included in a contract, shall immediately present
themselves to the Ayuntamiento of the place where they wish to settle, in order that this
body, in conformity with the instructions of the executive, may designate the lands
corresponding to them, agreeably to the industry which they may establish.
Art. 5. The measurement of land shall be the following establishing the vara, at three
geometrical feet, a straight line of five thousand varas shall be a league; a square, each
of whose sides, shall he one league, shall be called a sitio; and this shall be the unity
of counting one, two, or more sitios; five sitios shall compose one hacienda.
Art. 6. In the distribution made by government, of lands to the colonists, for the
formation of villages, towns, cities and provinces, a distinction shall be made between
grazing lands, destined for the raising of stock, and lands suitable for farming, or
planting, on account of the facility of irrigation.
Art. 7. One labor shall be composed of one million square varas, that is to say, one
thousand varas on each side, which measurement shall be the unity for counting one, two or
more labors. These labors can be divided into halves and quarters, but not less.
Art. 8. To the colonists whose occupation is farming, there cannot be given less than one
labor, and those whose occupation is stock raising there cannot be given less than one
Art. 9. The government of itself, or by means or the authorities authorized for that
purpose, can augment said portions of land as may be deemed proper, agreeably to the
conditions and circumstances of the colonists.
Art. 10. Establishments made under the former government which are now pending, shall be
regulated by this law in all matters that may occur, but those that are finished shall
remain that state.
Art. 11. As one of the principal objects of laws in free governments, ought to be to
approximate, so far as is possible, to an equal distribution of property, the government
taking into consideration the provisions of this law, will adopt measures for dividing out
the lands, which, may have accumulated in large portions, in the hands of individuals or
corporations, and which are not cultivated, indemnifying the proprietors, for the just
price of such lands to be fixed by appraisers.
Art. 12. The union of many families at one place, shall be called a village, town, or
city, agreeably to the number of its inhabitants, its extension locality, and other
circumstances which may characterize it, in conformity with the law on that subject. The
same regulations for its internal government and police shall be observed as in the others
of the same class in the empire.
Art. 13. Care shall be taken in the formation of said new towns, that, so far as the
situation of the ground will permit, the streets shall be laid off straight, running north
and south, east and west.
Art. 14. Provinces shall be formed whose superficies shall be six thousand square leagues.
Art. 15. As soon as a sufficient number of families may be united to form one or more
towns, their local government shall be regulated, and the constitutional Ayuntamientos and
other local establishments formed in conformity with the laws.
Art. 16. The government shall take care, in accord with the respective ecclesiastical
authority, that these new towns are provided with a sufficient number of spiritual
pastors, and in like manner, it will propose to congress a plan for their decent support.
Art. 17. In the distribution of lands for settlement among the different provinces, the
government shall take care, that the colonists shall be located in those, which it may
consider the most important to settle. As a general rule, the colonists who arrive first
shall have the preference in the selection of land.
Art. 18. Natives of the country shall have a preference in the distribution of land; and
particularly the military of the army of the three guarantees, in conformity with the
decree of the 27th of March, 1821; and also those who served in the first epoch of the
Art. 19. To each Empresario, who introduces and establishes families in any of the
provinces designated for colonization, there shall be granted at the rate of three
haciendas and two labors, for each two hundred families so introduced by him, but he will
lose the right of property, over said lands, should they not have populated and cultivated
them in twelve years from the date of the concession. The premium cannot exceed nine
haciendas, and six labors, whatever may be the number of families he introduces.
Art. 20. At the end of twenty years the proprietors of the lands, acquired in virtue of
the foregoing article, must alienate two thirds part of said lands, either by sale,
donation, or in any other manner he pleases. The law authorizes him to hold in full
property and dominion one third part.
Art. 21. The two foregoing articles are to be understood as governing the contracts made
within six months, as after that time, counting from the day of the proclamation of this
law, the executive can diminish the premium as it may deem proper, giving an account
thereof to congress, with such information as may be deemed necessary.
Art. 22. The date of the concession for lands constitutes an inviolable law, for the right
of property and legal ownership; should any one through error or by subsequent concession
occupy land belonging to another, he shall have no right to it, further than a preference
in case of sale, at the current price.
Art. 23. If after two years from the date of the concession, the colonist should not have
cultivated his land, the right of property shall be considered as renounced; in which
case, the respective Ayuntamiento can grant it to another.
Art. 24. During the first six years from the date of the concession, the colonists shall
not pay tithes, duties on their produced nor any contribution under whatever name it may
Art. 25. The next six years from the same date, they shall pay half tithes and the half of
the contributions whether direct or indirect, that are paid by the other citizens of the
empire. After this time, they shall in all things relating to taxes and contributions, be
placed on the same footing with the other citizens.
Art. 26. All instruments of husbandry, machinery, and other utensils, that are introduced
by the colonists for their use, at the time of their coming to the empire, shall be free,
as also the merchandise introduced by each family, to the amount of two thousand dollars.
Art. 27. All foreigners, who come to establish themselves in the empire, shall be
considered as naturalized, should they exercise any useful profession or industry by
which, at the end of three years, they have a capital to support themselves with decency,
and are married. Those who with the foregoing qualifications marry Mexicans will acquire
particular credit for the obtaining letters of citizenship.
Art, 28. Congress will grant letters of citizenship to those who solicit them in
conformity with the constitution of the empire.
Art. 29. Every individual shall be free to leave the empire, and can alienate the lands
over which be may have acquired the right of property, agreeably to the tenor of this law,
and he can likewise take away from the country all his property, by paying the duties
established by law.
Art. 30. After the publication of this law, there can be no sale or purchase of slaves
which may be introduced into the empire. The children of slaves born in the empire shall
be free at fourteen years of age.
Art. 31. All foreigners who may have established themselves in any of the provinces of the
empire, under permission of the former government, will remain on the lands which they may
have occupied, being governed by the tenor of this law, in the distribution of said lands.
Art. 32. The executive, as it may conceive necessary, will sell or lease the lands, which
on account of their local situation, may be the most important, being governed with
respect to all others, by the provisions of this law.
This law shall be presented to his Imperial Majesty, for
his sanction, publication and fulfillment Mexico, 3d January, 1823, 3rd of the
independence of the empire.
Juan Francisco, Bishop of Durango, President
Antonio de Mier, Member and Secretary
Juan Batista Arispe, Member and Secretary
Therefore, we order all tribunals, Judges, Chiefs,
Governors, and all other authorities, as well civil, as military, and ecclesiastical, of
whatever class or dignity they may be, to comply with this decree, and cause it to be
complied with, in all its parts, and you will cause it to be printed, published, and
circulated. Given in Mexico, 4th January. 1823. Signed by The Emperor.
National Colonization Law
The Supreme Executive Power provisionally appointed by
the General Sovereign Constituent Congress. To all who shall see and understand those
presents; Know Ye that the said Congress has decreed as follows:
Art. 1. The Mexican nation offers to foreigners, who
come to establish themselves within its territory, security for their persons and
property, provided they subject themselves to the laws of the country.
Art. 2. This law comprehends those lands of the nation, not the property of corporations,
or which can be colonized.
Art. 3. For the purpose the Legislatures of all the States, as soon as possible, form
colonization laws, or regulations for their respective states, conforming themselves in
all things to the constitutional act, general constitution, and the regulations
established in this law.
Art. 4. There cannot be colonized any lands comprehended within twenty leagues of the
limits of any foreign nation, nor within ten leagues of the coasts, without the previous
approbation of the general supreme executive power.
Art. 5. If for the defense and security of the nation, the federal government should deem
it necessary to use any portion of these lands, for the construction of warehouses,
arsenals, or other public edifices, they can do so, with the approbation of the general
congress, or in its recess, of the council of government.
Art. 6. Until after four years from the publication of this law, there shall not be
imposed any tax whatever, on the entrance of the persons of foreigners, who come to
establish themselves for the first time in the nation.
Art. 7. Until after the year 1840, the general congress shall not prohibit the entrance of
any foreigner, as a colonist, unless imperious circumstances should require it, with
respect to the individuals of a particular nation.
Art. 8. The government, without prejudicing the objects of this law shall take such
precautionary measures as it may deem expedient, for the security of the confederation, as
respects the foreigners who come to colonize.
Art. 9. A preference shall be given in the distribution of lands, to Mexican citizens, and
no other distinction shall be made in regard to them except that which is founded on
individual merit, or services rendered the country, or under equal circumstances, a
residence in the place where the lands to be distributed are situated.
Art. 10. The military who in virtue of the offer made on the 27th March, 1821, have a
right to lands, shall be attended to by the states, in conformity with the diplomas which
are issued to that effect, by the supreme executive power.
Art. 11. If in virtue of the decree alluded to in the Last article, and taking into view
the probabilities of life, the supreme executive power should deem it expedient to
alienate any portion of land in favor of any officer, whether civil or military of the
federation, it can do so from the vacant lands of the territories.
Art. 12. It shall not be permitted to unite in the same hands with the right of property,
more than one league square of land, suitable for irrigation, four square leagues in
superficies, of arable land without the facilities of irrigation, and six square leagues
in superficies of grazing land.
Art. 13. The new colonists shall not transfer their property in mortmain (manus muertos).
Art. 14. This law guarantees the contracts which the empresarios made with their families
which they bring at their own expense, provided they are not contrary to the laws.
Art. 15. No person, who by virtue of this law acquires a title to lands, shall hold them
if he is domiciled out of the limits of the republic.
Art. 16. The government in conformity with the provisions established in this law, will
proceed to colonize the territories of the republic.
Mexico, 18th August, 1824
CAYETANO IBARRA, President
PEDRO DE AHUMADA, Member & Secretary
MANUEL DE VILLAY COCIO, Member & Secretary
Therefore we command it to be printed, circulated and
Members of the Supreme Executive Power
NICOLÁS BRAVO, VICENTE GUERRERO, MIGUEL DOMINGUEZ
State of Coahuila and Texas 1825
The Governor provisionally appointed by the Sovereign
Congress of this State. To all who shall see these presents; Know that the said Congress
have decreed as follows.
Decree No. 16. The Constituent Congress of the Free,
Independent and Sovereign State of Coahuila and Texas, desiring by every possible means,
to augment the population of its territory; promote the cultivation of its fertile lands;
the raising and multiplication of stock; and the progress of the arts and commerce; and
being governed by the Constitutional act, the Federal Constitution, and the basis
established by the National Decree of the General Congress, No. 72, have thought proper to
decree the following LAW OF COLONIZATION:
Art. 1. All Foreigners, who in virtue of the general
law, of the 18th August, 1824, which guarantees the security or their persons and
property, in the territory of the Mexican Nation, wish to remove to any of the settlements
of the state of Coahuila and Texas, are at liberty to do so; and the said State invites
and calls them.
Art. 2. Those who do so, instead of being incommoded, shall be admitted by the local
authorities of said settlements, who shall freely permit them to pursue any branch, of
industry that they may think proper, provided they respect the general laws of the nation,
and those of the state.
Art. 3. Any foreigner, already in the limits of the state or Coahuila and Texas who wishes
to settle himself in it, shall make a declaration to that effect, before the Ayuntamiento
of the place, which he selects as his residence; the Ayuntamiento in such case, shall
administer to him the oath which he must take to obey the federal and state constitutions,
and to observe the religion which the former prescribes; the name of the person, and his
family if he has any, shall then be registered in a book kept for that purpose, with a
statement of where he was born, and whence from, his age, whether married, occupation, and
that he has taken the oath prescribed, and considering him from that time and not before,
Art. 4. From the day in which any foreigner has been enrolled, as an inhabitant, in
conformity with the foregoing article, he is at liberty to designate any vacant land, and
the respective political authority will grant it to him in the same manner, as to a native
of the country, in conformity with the existing laws of the nation, under the condition
that the proceedings, shall be passed to the government for its approbation.
Art. 5. Foreigners of any nation, or a native of any of the Mexican states, can project
the formation of any towns on any lands entirely vacant, or even on those of an
individual, in the case mentioned in 35th article; but the now settlers who present
themselves for admission, must prove their Christianity, morality and good habits, by a
certificate from the authorities where they formerly resided.
Art. 6. Foreigners who emigrate at the time in which the general sovereign congress may
have prohibited their entrance, for the purpose of colonizing, as they have the power to
do, after the year 1840, or previous to that time, as respects those of any particular
nation, shall not then be admitted; and those who apply in proper time, shall always
subject themselves to such precautionary measures (if national security, which the supreme
government, without prejudicing the object of this law, may think proper to adopt relative
Art. 7. The government shall take care, that within the twenty leagues bordering on the
limits of the United States of the North, and ten leagues in a straight line from the
coast of the Gulf of Mexico, within the limits of this state, there shall be no other
settlements, except such as merit the approbation of the supreme government of the Union,
for which object, all petitions on the subject, whether made by Mexicans or foreigners,
shall be passed to the superior government, accompanied by a corresponding responding
Art. 8. The projects for new settlements in which one or more persons offer to bring at
their expertise, one hundred or more families, shall be presented to the government, and
if found comformable with this law, they will be admitted; and the government will
immediately designate to the contractors, the land where they are to establish themselves,
and the term of six years, within which, they must present the number of families they
contracted for, under the penalty of losing the rights and privileges offered in their
favor, in proportion to the number of families which they fail to introduce, and the
contract totally annulled if they do not bring at least one hundred families.
Art. 9. Contracts made by the contractors or undertakers, Empresarios, with the
families brought at their expense, are guaranteed by this law, so far as they are
comformable with its provisions.
Art. 10. In the distribution of lands, a preference shall be given to the Military
entitled to them, by the diplomas issued by the supreme executive power, and to Mexican
citizens who are not Military, among whom there shall be no other distinction, than that
founded on their individual merit, or services performed for the country, or in equal
circumstances, a residence in the place where the land may be situated; the quantity of
land which may be granted, is designated in the following articles.
Art. 11. A square of land, which on each side has one league or five thousand varas, or
what is the same thing, a superficies of twenty-five million varas, shall be called a
sitio, and this shall be the unity for counting one, two, or more sitios; and also the
unity for counting one two or more labors, shall be one million square varas, or one
thousand varas on each side, which shall compose a labor. The vara for this measurement
shall be three geometrical feet.
Art. 12. Taking the above unity as a basis, and observing the distinction which must he
made, between grazing land, or that which is proper for raising of stock, and farming
land, with or without the facility of irrigation, this law grants to the contractor or
contractors, for the establishment or a new settlement, for each hundred families which he
may introduce and establish in the state, five sitios of grazing land and five labors, at
least the one half of which, shall be without the facility of irrigation; but they can
only receive this premium for eight hundred families, although a greater number should be
introduced, and no fraction whatever, less than one hundred shall entitle them to any
premium, not even proportionally.
Art. 13. Should any contractor or contractors in virtue of the number of families which he
may have introduced, acquire in conformity with the last article, more than eleven square
leagues of land, it shall nevertheless be granted, but subject to the condition of
alienating the excess, within twelve years, and if it is not done, the respective
political authority shall do it by selling it at public sale, delivering the proceeds to
the owners, after deducting the costs of sale.
Art. 14. To each family comprehended in a contract, whose sole occupation is cultivation
of land, one labor shall be given; should he also be a stock raiser, grazing land shall be
added to complete a sitio, and should his only occupation be raising of stock, he shall
only receive a superficies of grazing land, equal to twenty-four million square bars.
Art. 15. Unmarried men shall receive the same quantity when they enter the matrimonial
state, and for foreigners who marry native Mexicans, shall receive one fourth more; those
that are entirely single, or who do not form a part of some family whether foreigners or
natives, shall content themselves with the fourth part of the above mentioned quantity,
which is all that can be given them until they marry.
Art. 16. Families or unmarried men who, entirely of their own accord, have emigrated and
may wish to unite themselves to any new towns, can at all times do so, and the same
quantity of land shall be assigned them, which is mentioned in the two last articles; but
if they do so within the first six years from the establishment of the settlement, one
labor more shall be given to families, and single men in place of the quarter designated
in the 15th article shall have the third part.
Art. 17. It appertains to the government to augment the quantity indicated in the 14, 15,
and 16th articles, in proportion to the family industry, and activity of the colonists,
agreeably to the information given on these subjects by the Ayuntamientos and
Commissioners; the said government always observing the provisions of the 12th article, of
the decree of the general congress on the subject.
Art. 18. The families who emigrate in conformity with the 16th article shall immediately
present themselves to the political authority of the place which they may have chosen for
their residence, who, finding in them the requisites, prescribed by this law for new
settlers, shall admit them, and put them in possession of the corresponding lands, and
shall immediately give an account thereof to the government; who of themselves, or by
means of a person commissioned to that effect, will issue them a title.
Art. 19. The Indians of all nations, bordering on the state, as well as wandering tribes
that may be within its limits, shall be received in the markets, without paying any duties
whatever for commerce, in the products of the country; and if attracted by the moderation
and confidence, with which they shall be treated, any of them, after having first declared
themselves in favor of our Religion and Institutions, wish to establish themselves in any
settlements that are forming, they shall be admitted, and the same quantity of land given
them, as to the settlers spoken of in the 14th and 15th articles, always preferring native
Indians to strangers.
Art. 20. In order that there may be no vacancies between tracts, of which, great care
shall be taken in the distribution of lands, it shall be laid off in squares, or other
forms although irregular, if the local situation requires it; and in said distribution, as
well as the assignation of lands for new towns, previous notice shall be given to the
adjoining proprietors, if any, in order to prevent dissentions and law suits.
Art. 21. If by error in the concession, any land shall be granted, belonging to another,
on proof being made of that fact, an equal quantity shall be granted elsewhere, to the
person who may have thus obtained it through error, and he shall be indemnified by the
owner of such land, for any improvements he may have made; the just value of which
improvements, shall be ascertained by appraisers.
Art. 22. The new settlers as an acknowledgment, shall pay to the state, for each sitio of
pasture land, thirty dollars; two dollars and a half for each labor without the facility
of irrigation, and three dollars and a half, for each one that can be irrigated, and so on
proportionally according to, the quantity and quality of the land distributed; but the
said payments need not be made, until six years after the settlement and by thirds; the
first within four years, the second within five years, and the last within six years,
under the penalty of losing the land for a failure, in any of said payments; there are
excepted from this payment, the contractors, and Military, spoken of in the 10th article;
the former with respect to lands given them, as a premium, and the latter, for those which
they obtained, in conformity with their diplomas.
Art. 23. The Ayuntamiento of each municipality (Comarca) shall collect the above
mentioned funds, gratis, by means of a committee appointed either within or without their
body; and shall remit them as they are collected, to the treasurer of their Funds, who
will give the corresponding receipt, and without any other compensation than two and a
half per cent, all that shall be allowed him; he shall hold them at the disposition of the
government, rendering an account every month of the ingress and egress, and of any
remissness or fraud, which he may observe in their collection of all which, the person
employed, and the committee, and the individuals of the Ayuntamientos who appoint them,
shall be individually responsible and that this responsibility may be at all effectual,
the said appointments shall he made viva voce, and information shall be given thereof
immediately to the government.
Art. 24. The government shall sell to Mexicans and to them only, such lands as they may
wish to purchase, taking care that there shall not be accumulated in the same hands, more
than eleven sitios, and under the condition, that the purchaser must cultivate what he
acquires by this title within six years, from its acquisition, under the penalty of losing
them; the price of each sitio, subject to the foregoing condition, shall be one hundred
dollars, if it be pasture land; one hundred and fifty dollars, if it be farming land
without the facility of irrigation; and two hundred and fifty dollars if it can be
Art. 25. Until six years after the publication of this law, the legislature of this state,
cannot alter it as regards the acknowledgement, and price to be paid or land, or as
regards the quantity and quality, to be distributed to the new settlers, or sold to
Art. 26. The new settlers, who within six years from the date of the possession, have not
cultivated or occupied the lands granted them, according to its quality, shall be
considered to have renounced them, and the respective political authority, shall
immediately proceed to take possession of them, and recall the titles.
Art. 27. The contractors and Military, heretofore spoken of, and those who by purchase
have acquired lands, can alienate them at any time, but the successor is obliged to
cultivate them in the same time, that the original proprietor was bound to do; the other
settlers can alienate theirs when they have totally cultivated them, and not before.
Art. 28. By testamentary will, made in conformity with the existing laws, or those which
may govern in future, any new colonist, from the day of his settlement, may dispose of his
land, although he may not have cultivated it, and if he dies intestate, his property shall
be inherited by the person or persons entitled by the laws to it; the heirs being subject
to the same obligation and condition imposed on the original grantee.
Art. 29. Lands acquired by virtue of this law, shall not by any title whatever, pass into
Art. 30. The new settler, who wishing to establish himself in a foreign country, resolves
to leave the territory of the state, can do so freely, with all his property; but after
leaving the state, he shall not any longer hold his land, and if he had not previously
sold it, or the sale should not be in conformity with the 27th article, it shall become
Art. 31. Foreigners who in conformity with this law, have obtained lands, and established
themselves in any new settlement, shall be considered from that moment, naturalized in the
country; and by marrying a Mexican, they acquire a particular merit to obtain letters of
citizenship of the state, subject however to the provisions which may be made relative to
both particulars, in the constitution of the state.
Art. 32. During the first ten years, counting from the day on which the new settlements
may have been established, they shall be free from all contributions, of whatever
denomination, with the exception of those which, in case of invasion by an enemy, or to
prevent it, are generally imposed, and the produce of agriculture or industry of the new
settlers, shall be free from excise duty, Alcabala, or other duties, throughout every part
of the state, with the exception of the duties referred to in the next article; after the
termination of that time, the new settlements shall be on the same footing as to taxes
with the old ones, and the colonists shall also in this particular, be on the same footing
with the other inhabitants of the state.
Art. 33. From the day of their settlement, the new colonists shall be at liberty to follow
any branch of industry, and can also work mines of every description, communicating with
the supreme government of the confederation, relative to the general revenue appertaining
to it, and subjecting themselves in all other particulars, to the ordinances or taxes,
established or which may be established on this branch.
Art. 34. Towns shall be founded on the sites deemed most suitable by the government, or
the person commissioned for this effect, and for each one, there shall be designated four
square leagues, whose area may be in a regular or irregular form, agreeably to the
Art. 35. If any of the said sites should be the property of an individual, and the
establishment of new towns on them, should notoriously be of general utility, they can,
notwithstanding, be appropriated to this object, previously indemnifying the owner for its
just value, to be determined by appraisers.
Art. 36. Building lots in the new towns shall be given gratis, to the contractors of them
and also to artists of every class, as many as are for the establishment of their trade;
and to the other settlers they shall be sold at public auction, after having been
previously valued, under the obligation to pay the purchase money by installments of one
third each, the first in six months, the second in twelve months and the third in eighteen
months; but all owners or lots, including contractors and artists, shall annually pay one
dollar for each lot, which, together with the produce of the sales, shall be collected by
the Ayuntamientos, and applied to the building of churches in said towns.
Art. 37. So far as is practicable, the towns shall be composed of natives and foreigners,
and in their delineation, great care shall be taken to lay off the streets straight,
giving them a direction from north to south, and from east to west, when the site will
Art. 38. For the better location of the said new town, their regular formation and exact
partition of their land and lots, the government on account of having admitted any
project, and agreed with the contractor or contractors, who may have presented it, shall
commission a person of intelligence and confidence, giving him such particular
instructions as may be deemed necessary and expedient and authorizing him under his own
responsibility, to appoint one or more surveyors, to lay off the town scientifically, and
do whatever else that be required.
Art. 39. The Governor in conformity with the last fee bill, Arancel, of notary
public's of the ancient audience of Mexico, shall designate the fees of the commissioner,
who in conjunction with the colonists shall fix the surveyor's fees; but both shall be
paid by the colonists and in the manner which all parties among themselves may agree upon.
Art. 40. As soon as at least forty families are united in one place, they shall proceed to
the formal establishment of the new towns, and all of them shall take an oath, to support
the general and state constitutions; which oath will be administered by the commissioner;
they shall then, in his presence, proceed for the first time, to the election of their
Art. 41. A new town, whose inhabitants shall not be less than two hundred, shall elect an
Ayuntamiento, provided there is not another one established within eight leagues, in which
case, it shall be added to it. The number of individuals which are to compose the
Ayuntamiento, shall be regulated by the existing laws.
Art. 42. Foreigners are eligible, subject to the provisions which the constitution of the
state may prescribe, to elect the members of their municipal authorities, and to be
elected to the same.
Art. 43. The municipal expenses, and all others which may be considered necessary, or of
common utility to the new towns, shall be proposed to the Governor, by the Ayutamientos
through the political chief, accompanied with a plan of the taxes, arbitrios, which
in their opinion may be just and best calculated to raise them, and should the proposed
plan, be approved of by the Governor, he shall order it to be executed, subject however to
'the resolutions of the legislature, to whom it shall be immediately passed with his
report and that of the political chief, who will say whatever occurs to him on the
Art. 44. For the opening and improving of roads, and other public works in Texas, the
government will transmit to the chief of that department, the individuals, who in other
parts of the state, may have been sentenced to public works as vagrants, or for other
crimes; these same persons may be employed by individuals for competent wages, and as soon
as the time of their condemnation is expired, they can unite themselves as colonists, to
any new settlement, and obtain the corresponding lands, if their reformation shall have
made them worthy of such favor in the opinion of the chief of the department, without
whose certificate, they shall not be admitted.
Art. 45. The government in accord with the respective ordinary ecclesiastics, will take
care to provide the new settlements with the competent number of pastors, and in accord
with the same authority, shall propose to the legislature for its approbation, the salary
which the said pastors are to receive, which shall be paid by the new settlers.
Art. 46. The new settlers as regards the introduction of slaves shall subject themselves
to the existing laws, and those which may hereafter be established on the subject.
Art. 47. The petitions now pending relative to the subject of the law, shall be dispatched
in conformity with it, and for this purpose they shall be passed to the Governor, and the
families who may be established within the limits of the state, without having any land
assigned them, shall submit themselves to this law, and to the orders of the supreme
government of the Union, with respect to those who are within twenty leagues of the limits
of the United States of America, and in a straight line of the coast of the Gulf of
Art. 48. This law shall be published in all the villages of the state; and that it arrives
at the notice of all others, throughout the Mexican confederation, it shall be
communicated to their respective legislatures, by the secretary of this state; and the
Governor will take particular care, to send a certified copy of it, in compliance with the
16th article of the federal constitution, to the two houses of Congress, and the supreme
executive power of the nation, with a request to the latter, to give it general
circulation through foreign states, by means of our ambassadors. The Governor pro tem of
the state will cause it to be published and circulated.
Saltillo, 24 March, 1825
Signed, RAFAEL RAMOS Y VALDEZ, President
JUAN VICENTE CAMOS, Member & Secretary
JOSÉ JOAQUIN ROSALES, Member & Secretary
Therefore I command all Authorities, as well Civil as
Military and Ecclesiastical, to obey and cause to be obeyed, the present decree in all its
RAFAEL GONZALES, Governor
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT of the State of Coahuila and Texas.
Instructions by which the Commissioner shall be
governed, in the partition of lands to the new colonists, who may establish themselves in
the State, in conformity with the colonization law of the 24th of March, 1825.
Art. 1. It shall be the duty of the commissioner,
keeping in view the contract which an empresario may have entered into with the
government, and also the colonization law of the 24th March. scrupulously to examine the
certificates or recommendations which foreign emigrants must produce from the local
authorities of the place where they removed from, accrediting their Christianity,
morality, and steady habits, in conformity with the 5th article of said law, without which
requisite they shall not be admitted in the colony.
Art. 2. In order to prevent being imposed on by false recommendations, the commissioner
shall not consider any as sufficient, without a previous opinion in writing as to their
legitimacy, from the empresario, for which purpose they shall be passed to him by the
Art. 3. The commissioner shall administer to each of the new colonists, the oath in form,
to observe the federal constitution of the United Mexican States, the constitution of the
State, the general laws of the Nation, and those of the State which they have adopted for
Art. 4. He shall issue in the name of the state, the titles for land, in conformity with
the law, and put the new colonists in possession of their lands, with all legal
formalities, and the previous citation of adjoining proprietors, should there be any.
Art. 5. He shall not give possession to any colonists who may have established, or who may
wish to establish themselves within twenty leagues of the limits of the United States of
the North, or within ten leagues of the coast, unless it should appear that the supreme
government of the nation had approved thereof.
Art. 6. He shall take care that no vacant lands be left between possessions, and in order
that the lines of each one may be clearly designated, he shall compel the colonists,
within the term of one year, to mark their lines and to establish fixed and permanent
Art. 7. He shall appoint tinder his own responsibility the Surveyor, who most survey the
land scientifically, requiring him previously to take an oath truly and faithfully to
discharge the duties of his office.
Art. 8. He shall form a manuscript book of paper of the 3d stamp, in which shall be
written the titles of the lands distributed to the colonists, specifying the names, the
boundaries, and other requisites, and legal circumstances; and a certified copy of each
title shall be taken from said book on paper of the 2d stamp, which shall be delivered to
the interested person as his title.
Art. 9. Each settler shall pay the value of the stamp paper used in issuing his title both
for the original and copy.
Art. 10. This book shall be preserved in the archives of the new colony, and an exact form
of it shall be transmitted to the government, specifying the number of colonists with
their names, and the quantity of land granted to each one, distinguishing that which is
farming land, with or without the facilities of irrigation, and that which is granted as
Art. 11. If he shall select the site which may be the most suitable for the establishment
of the town or towns, which are to be founded agreeably to the number of families
composing the colony, and keep in view the provisions of the law of colonization on this
Art. 12. After selecting the site destined for the new town, he shall take care that the
base lines run north and south, east and west, and he will designate a public square one
hundred and twenty varas on each side, exclusive of the streets, which shall be called the
principal or constitutional square, and this shall be the central point from which the
street shall run, for the formation of squares and blocks in conforming with the model
Art. 13. The block situated on the cast side of the principal square, shall be destined
for the church, curate's house, and other ecclesiastical buildings. The block on the west
side of said square shall be designated for public buildings of the municipality. In some
other suitable situation a block should be designated for a market square, another for a
jail, and a house of correction, another for a school, and other edifices for public
instruction, and another beyond the limits of the town for a burial ground.
Art. 14. He shall on his responsibility cause the streets to be laid off straight, and
that they are twenty varas wide, to promote the health of the town.
Art. 15. Mechanics, who at the time of founding a new town, present themselves to settle
in it, shall have the right of receiving one lot a piece without any other cost than the
necessary stamp paper for issuing the title, and the light tax of one dollar annually for
the construction of the church.
Art. 16. The lots spoken of in the preceding article shall be distributed by lot, with the
exception of the empresario, who shall be entitled to any two lots he may select.
Art. 17. The other lots shall be valued by appraisers according to their situation, and
sold to the other colonists at their appraised value. In case there should be a number of
applicants for the same lot, owing to its situation or other circumstances which may
excite competition, it shall be decided by lot as prescribed in the preceding article; the
product of said lots shall be appropriated to the building of a church in said town.
Art. 18. He shall in unison with the empresario, promote the settlement of each town by
the inhabitants belonging to its jurisdiction, who take lots in it, and cause them to
construct houses on said lots within a limited time under the penalty of forfeiting them.
Art. 19. He shall form a manuscript book of each new town, in which shall be written the
titles of the lots which are given as a donation or sold, specifying their boundaries and
other necessary circumstances, a certified copy of each one of which on the corresponding
stamp shall be delivered to the interested person as his title.
Art. 20. He shall form a topographical plan of each town that may be founded, and transmit
it to the government, keeping a copy of it in the said register book of the colony.
Art. 21. He shall see that at the crossing of each of the rivers on the public roads,
where a town is founded, a ferry is established at the cost of the inhabitants of said
town, a moderate rate of ferriage shall be established to pay the salary of the ferryman
and the cost of the necessary boats, and the balance shall be applied to the public funds
of the towns.
Art. 22. In places where there are no towns and where ferries are necessary, the colonists
who may be settled there shall be charged with the establishment of the ferry, collecting
a moderate ferriage until such ferries are rented out for the use of the state. Any
colonist who, wishes to establish a ferry on the terms above indicated, shall form an
exact and certified account of the costs which he may be at for the building of boats, and
also an account of the produce of the ferry, in order that when said ferry is rented out
for the use of the state, be shall have a right to receive the amount of said expenses
which had not already been covered by the produce of the ferry, which for the present he
Art. 23. He shall preside at the popular elections mentioned in the 40th article of the
colonization law for the appointment of the Ayuntamiento, and shall put the elected in
possession of their offices.
Art. 24. He shall take special care that portions of land granted to the colonists by
article 14, 15 and 16, shall be measured by the surveyors with accuracy, and not permit
any one to include more land than is designated by law, under the penalty of being
Art. 25. Should any colonist solicit in conformity with the 17th article of the law an
augmentation of land beyond that designated in the preceding articles on account of the
size of his family, industry, or capital, he shall present his petition in writing to the
commissioner stating all the reasons on which he founds his petition, who shall transmit
it to the Governor of the state, together with his opinion, for which opinion he shall be
responsible in the most rigid manner, in order that the Governor may decide on the
Art. 26. All the public instruments, titles, or other documents, issued by the
commissioner, shall be written in Spanish; the memorials, decrees, and reports of the
colonists or empresarios on any subject whatever, shall be written in the same language,
whether they are to be transmitted to the government, or preserved in the archives of the
Art. 27. All public instruments or titles of possession, and the copies signed by the
commissioner, shall be attested by two assistant witnesses
Art. 28. The commissioner shall be personally responsible for all acts or measures
performed by him contrary to the colonization law or these instructions.
A Copy--Saltillo, September 4th, 1827
TIJERINA & ARCINIEGA. Secretaries of the Legislature
A Copy, JUAN ANTONIO PADILLA, Secretary of State.
SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
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