SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
SAUCEDO TO AUSTIN. Bexar 29 de Junio de 1826 Sr. Dn. ESTEVAN F. AUSTIN Muy Sr. mio y mi estimado amigo. Por su atenta comunicacion de 19 del que acaba hé visto con mucha satisfacion el trabajo, que Vá á emprender en beneficio dela patria con el reconocimiento que vá á hacer delos arroyos de, la Baia y dela navividad pa dar una idea exacta de todo al comicionado, y ver si le gustan las tierras al Sor con quien; me dice há contratado la introducion de 190 familias de buenas qualidades y circunstancias, las que supongo seran parte integrante delas que Vmd há contratado para el segundo establecimto Colonial. Para que. Vmd no tenga , dificultad ninguna con el comicionado en la admicion de estas ú otras familias que vengan á radicarse en esa colonia les advirtirá Vmd que deben traher certificaciones delos jueces del Lugar de su procedencia por medio delas que acrediten ser Catolicos y de buena moral, como la Ley y las instrucciones que tiene el govno. del comisionado to prescriven.
Aunque yo tambien soy de opinion que los Wacos y Tahuacanos no bolveran á sus pueblos hasta el mes de agosto ó Sepe con fuerza de comanches y Tahuayases nó debemos estar muy confiados de esto porque no sabemos qual será el resultado dela junta que se dice han ido á hacer varias naciones de las pasificas con las viligerantes, sobre cuyo particular suplico á Vmd se sirva hacer las averiguaciones necesarias y si fuesen dignas de atencion comunicarmelas de oficio.
Tendrs particular gusto en la venida del Sor James Kaer para acordar algunas cosas relativas ala colonia del Sr. Dewit.
Le incluyo á Vmd una carta de Baron para el Empresaro Roberto Letiwith avierta pá que Vmd la lea, y despues la sierre y entregue, a su titulo. Por esa vera Vend el tpo que aun tiene que tardar el citado Baron en venir a concluir los asuntos de su comision, el aspecto que ha tomado en la legislatura el negocio dela Esclavitud, y los motivos porque no se há determinado á dejar su asunto, y retirarse de aquella asamblea.
Tengo presente que en una de mis anteriores encargue a Vmd un par de zapatos de nuebe punts para mi de tacon baj o y creo que sele habiá olvidado.
Puede Vmd vivir persuadido deque como amigo de Vmd cumpliro con ei deber que la Ley mi impone dandole los consejos que mis cortas luces puedan alcansar y mientras se me proporciona esta ocasion quedo Vrnd afmo amo. y servor: q S. M. B. JOSÉ ANTONIO SAUCEDO
JAMES KERR TO AUSTIN. July [15 about] 1826 on Colorado. Col. S. F. AUSTIN. DEAR SIR. You will have heard of the Disaster on the Guadalupe by Mr. Whigtman. I wish to see you but am Confined with the wounded man and Mr. Shields---who is very dangerously ill---Should like, to heare from you and what is to be done etc. I hope to be at St. felippe in 8 or 10 days---Should Dewit have not then arrive[d], I shall set out for St. Antonio---I wish to engage your thoughts on the subject of my establishing on the Rio Bacca. My claim now (as the representative of the Empresario) to settle that River is two fold greater than heretofore) first because there is not Territory sufficient without it; arid secondly because I can not with the force I have sustain the upper settlement Please think of this JAMES KERR
AUSTIN TO SAUCEDO. I conceive it to be my duty to inform your Lordship, that, a few days since, a party of about sixty Comanche and Tahuacano Indians. visited the settlement of the Empresario Green be Witt. In the town of Gonzales in the Guadalupe, they killed one man and wounded another; they destroyed all the furniture of Mr Kerr's house, and stole all the horses they could find. The settlers retreated to this Colony, not knowing what to do; they had a certain quantity of corn sowed, and but for this unfortunate occurrence, their Colony would be in a very thriving condition.
Mr Kerr was absent at the time; so soon as he heard of it he returned to Gonzales with a party of men from Colorado. The Indians' have disappeared; and he writes to me that he will shortly go to Bexar to make his report to your Lordship; in person. God and Liberty. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN. San Felipe de Austin, July 17 1826. (Translation from Bexar Archives in Nacogdoches Archives, Texas State Library)
AUSTIN TO SAUCEDO. I am under the necessity of consulting Your Lordship in relation to a legal case which arose in this jurisdiction, and to request you to give me your instructions as to the mode of proceeding which will be in conformity to the laws of the Country.
One of the colonists behaves so badly toward his wife and family; that she can not bear his ill usage any longer. He is a drunkard and if there are no means of preventing him, will soon squander all the property they have. The family is composed of his wife and three daughters; the property consists principally of slaves, furniture and cattle, to the amount of 7 or 8,000 dollars, all of which belongs to the wife, as is shown by legal titles of possession: He received land here as a colonist, but having neglected to cultivate it as is required by law, he forfeits his right. Now, she wishes to be separated from him and to take possession of her property for her own and her children's support. He refuses to permit her to do so, and threatens to take the negroes to the United States of the North; she is even apprehensive of her personal security. I leave neither jail nor guard, nor the means of securing men of his character and disposition. In his- intoxication lie treats me and the other public officers of this jurisdiction with contempt.
As I am unacquainted with the law in such cases; and the form of proceeding therein, I request your Lordship to instruct me on the subject; and, also to tell me what I have to do with those who, when intoxicated, abuse, and speak contemptuously of the authorities. If such conduct is tolerated, all respect will be lost and good order can not be enforced. The actual cause of these offences is that these men are aware that we have no means of confining them, and they say, the laws do not allow the punishment of flogging, and they have no money to pay a fine. What am I to do with such bad characters, who ought to be punished for disturbing the peace; and appearing publicly in a state of drunkenness. God and Liberty. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN. San Felipe de Austin, July 17th 1826.
JAMES KERR TO AUSTIN. 18 July 1826. DEAR SIR. I have just learnt (Indirectly) that you have old Roe in custody and that you inte(n)ded keeping him so until you should hear my opinion as to what tribe of Indians committed the hostilities on the Guadaloupe etc.
I have to presume that you ear this have been satisfactorily informed by Mr. Wightman on the subject---I however will state that there is not a doubt of its haveing been the Wakows that attacked my house and killd Whightman.
There is some doubt as to the tribe that that party belonged to that attacked Dirben in as much as they had been encamped several Days near the place where they shot at Derbin and tho. they were not trailed from the place, after that they had taken the Horses---yet there was on the next morning a trail discovered by Mr. phillips in the road west of my house and leading to a crossing of the river. He followed it, and discovered that 4 horse and one mule had made said trail and that he believed the mule track to be mine as there was a Gap in one of hir fore feet---Colo. Matson and E. Smith crossed the river some days after and followed said trail to where it took a Direct course for Laberdee---Mr. Smith's statement as to the number of horses and the mule coresponded with what phillips had stated.
I did on the first view of the premisis suspect that the party that fired on Derbin had been of the main body that killd mr. Wightman; but I am of a Different opinion now, and admit a faint probibelity that it was the Tankawas that attacked Derbin. I admit this because they must have been a foot party; the horses, and mule crossing the trail of the other party and that too on a direction to the crossing well known to the tankawas and near to my house; and the trail being made while the due was on, a Monday mor[n]ing.
I am unable to give an Idea relative to Roe. Admit however that his intentions were bad, he has not been with the tankawas since he made threats that I know of; tho I conceive him ameanable to the Laws for those threats in point of "Malice aforethought."
It is as yet uncertain what day I shall see you, but I presume not many---Derbin is on the men[d] ; the other man Mr. Shields I have rather Dispaired of---NOTE. Excuse haste. JAMES KERR. 19th I wrote least night 10 o'clock---now I can rite shields is better. [Addressed] Colo. S. F. Austin St. Felipe de Austin Capt. Dickson.
JAMES KERR TO AUSTIN. Judge Cummin's Colorado 30th July 1826. Dear Sir, I came here this morning---your brother has just left---I shall over take him tomorrow. Dewitt is in the bay or bacca---Several of the people resident of the fort are now here---I have endeavored to ascertain, there intentions---They will no doubt leave the place before the last of next mouth---They will I believe all or nearly so go below---In that case this will, be an out side, and I even doubt whether this place will be occupied long after the fort breaks---
I am somewhat of the opinion that ware you to write to Capt. Burnham and invite him to see you; and you would give him some indulgence in the price and payment of his land that probiblely he would stop here, and station---should he do so it will Induce others to stop Also.
This however is conjecture on my part---tho I think it merits some consideration.
Those people have now growing crops that they flattered themselves would turn in to there acts. sufficient funds to pay the balanse due to you---and under the present circumstances it is not likely that they will realize one Dollar---by them. They are poor and have familys and the loss of a crop is to them a serious thing.
As I have mearly sugested the subject to you for your consideration; I hope you will excuse the freedom I have taken. JAMES KERR
P. S. I would not be understood, as giving to Capt Burnham Indulgences that could not be extended to all eaqual meritorious---but to consult with him as a kind of forman [Addressed:] Colo S. F. Austin Sn felipe De Austin
Mr. Woods. Since I sealed this I have recd a message from Col Dewitt---he is off the mouth of the vacca---and is afraid to land on account of the Indians that are in the neighbourhood. I have therefore to repair to his Assistance Immediately
JAMES KERR TO AUSTIN. Delion's Guadalupe River 8th August 1826---DEAR COLO I have just arrive[d] here on the way to San Antonio, and hope to see your Bro. there. I came by the mouth of the La vacca, where I saw Colo Dewitt, and a number of people, say 40. men, women. and children---all in good health. They wish to get up the river to the red Bluffs.
It can be satisfactorily proven that Delion or his sons, broke up and tore to pieces the little vessel of Dickerson that was Left in, the,Grrsite [Garcitas] Creek last summer and has removed part of the planks to this place and had it stacked up. The ballance of the planks are thrown on the bank of the Creek, to season as is supposed by the citizens here.
I am not very well---have some fever and head Ache---I hope you have, before this recovered your health, and able to attend to business.
I shall make all possible haste in my power, but the hotness of the weather; a poor horse, and bad health makes it quite uncertain when I shall be at San Felipe---JAMES KERR
JAMES KERR TO AUSTIN. 18th August 1826---Early in the morning. On tide water of the Labacca. DEAR SIR. I am about 10 miles up the river, from where it emties into a large arm of the Bay---the river for three or four miles above that place, hugs or bluffs the main land on the N. E side---The marsh I suppose to be about 4 miles wide. The river from the Tascosite road down is verry crooked tho in the main bears S. E.
Adjoining the main land on the west side there is generally fine large deep lakes that communicate with the river.
I have selected a Town cite near the head of the tide---the river at that place appears deep, and is about 25 or 30 yards wide---at the upper end of the cite---at the Lower end, about from 40 to 60 and then widens to distance of about 300 yards.
Timber is rather scarce below the Town cite---tho the land is good to the arm of the bay, and the water not too salt for any kind of cooking except tea and coffee. I have concluded to survey all the land off in Labor tracts, and I believe they will settle whather they have timber or not---Some of which will have little or none. After the river enters the arm of the bay the bank on the E. side bears nearly Southwest and terminates about 8 or 10 miles nearly S. from the shoulder of the main land on the W. side---I saw something resembling a very small Island from the shoulder it bears S. 16° E. the distance to it I made 22 miles 6/10---
The Chicalet emties in about 4 miles below the road the mouth of the Navadad is yet unknown. I am of opinion there is more good land on the E side than on the west.
I should be very glad to get a piece from you, that is situated a few miles below wher I intend to lay off a Town--
I am of the opinion that if this Town Could be Dispensed with by the Empresario, and the same be made by an individual it would be much better---it will require 6 miles on a right line front on the river if laid out under the law; and if by individual 2 or 3 would do---then there could be 9 or 10 Labors more etc---12 Oclock we are now at the Town cite and I have got four of the company to swim the river and hunt for the navadad---we have for 3 days seen smoke in the direction they are going---I am now of the Opinion that the navadad enters the bay by a separate mouth---Two men of my Company told me They had been down the Chickolet to tide water and that tide flowed up it 3 or 4 miles above its junction with the Labacca---all this was false---they both stated that they had marked land in the forks of the same, and when we crossed the Chickolet it did not corispond with the statement they had made, and we presumed that it might be a spring branch---so we neglected examining the labacca for several miles---following a course (as they said) would take us near the head of tide en the Chickolet, and ultimately found ourselves in the main Guadaloupe Prairie---I then changed my course and struck the river about 7 or 8 miles above the town site where I found fine ritch first bottom, some which however overflows---And most excellent second bottom and plenty of good timber---The timber here prevented me from seeing with any satisfaction the E side of the river, further than there appeared to be one continued bottom and well timbered near the river. It has been misting rain while I have been writing and our company is rather in confusion, and I have to fear what I have written will rather confuse then give the information I at first expected---nothing more until the boys return who have gone to hunt Navadad.---
6 Oclock men has returned and state that they traveled East about 4 miles came to a lively runing Creek, went down but a short distance to tide. fine timber on this creek---Good bottom and upland prairie between it and the Labacca---about 2 or 3 miles furder East they seen heavy bodys of timber and which they believe to be the timber of the Navadad say six or seven miles distant from this river and that the timber appeared to bear near a parallel course with the Labacca---this the more confirms me in the belief that this River and the navadad does not unite before they Get into the bay, and very probably their mouths are 5, 6 or 7 miles apart---
I start for Gonzalez in the morning---I will only add that no place on earth can exceed this for beauty---The Elision fields of the Mehometan Paradise never was so delightsome as the Prairies. JAMES KERR. [Addressed:] Colo. Stephen F Austin Sanfelipe De Austin Doctor G D Boyd
JAMES KERR TO AUSTIN. San Antonio 23. August 1826. DEAR SIR. I came here last thursday evening in Company with your Brother and others. your Brother, myself and others of the Company have been very unwell tho we are all on the mend. Capt. Bowen and Mr. Moor are also mending. There is considerable Sickness here amongst the soldiers and inhabitants.
Your Brother has written you relative to the suspension of GenL San Bernardo, and the appointment of your friend Bustemantas to the office of Comt. General in his stead---He has also given you all the information that has been recd here in relation to the Slaves and .Slave Law.
I am happy to learn that you have recovered your health; and regret to hear that Mr. Williams has been so very sick---hope he has ere this recovered.
Delion has Commited some atrocious Outrages on some American travelers who were on the way here on business with the Govt. What the result will be I am not able to say I shall lay the Memorial of Mr. Stout before the Chief to day relative to Delion's ill treating and robing of him.
I find the Chief to be a man of easy access, and is very afible with me It appears that.he (the chief) is Determined to. Consider Delion, An Empresario Over an undefined District for 40 familes; and wishes the bounds between Dewitt and Delion to be agreed on between themselves.
I have proposed to let Delion Go Eastward to the Grassite [Garcitas], and up and Down the Guadalupe for quantity; giving to Dewitt all the Labaca; but he will not make an order to that effect, without the consent of Delion, or the consent of the Commissioner on the part of Delion, who is not yet appointed. It appears to me, that Dewitt will have to appeal to the Govt to obtain his right; this however will I presume Depend on the advice you may give on the subject.
The Chief has promised to furnish the fee bill to me, to Day.
I am much indebted to your Brother for his polite attention, and assistance here.
I have mentioned to the Chief the propriety of inviting fields to partisipate in the War against the hostile Indians; he said that he had written to him to come here and to bring his title papers to land if he had any with a view to assertain the strength of his claim, and to make some arrangements with him in assisting to Defend the frontiers. He requested me to write fields on the subject by the first
opportunity and urge him to come on. The mail leaves here to morrow, and I somewhat expect I shall do so too; but I cannot say when I shall be able to get to San felipe.
You will perceive from reading this that my mind is too weak and, Ideas too scattering to write. A few nights ago I Dreamd that the last object of my hopes was laid beneath the Sod on the Gloomy hill in the prairie near San felipe. This with other difficulties keeps me in Despair
My Respects to Mr & Mrs pettes also Mrs Williams and Wightman. JAMES KERR. [Addressed:] Al Tente Coronl. Estevan F. Austin. En Sn. Felipe de Austin
GREEN DEWITT TO AUSTIN. DR SIR. I mentioned in my letter to you herewith delivered, that I had commenced the building of a boat, for the purpose of lighting or unloading the schooner; which I am bound to have completed; and on leaving New Orleans I neglected to get a whip saw and some files; which I Must beg the favor of you to borrow, and if you have none of your own to use your influence to get for me; and I will have special care taken of her; and returned. Station On Labaca Sept 3rd 1826. G. DEWITT [Rubric] Col STEPHEN F AUSTIN
GREEN DEWITT TO AUSTIN. Station On Rio Labaca Sept 3rd 1826. DR SR. This will inform you have stationed myself for the present on this creek about 6 miles above the head of tide water where I intend settling some 10 or 12, families in the form of a station in order that we may be more secure from the Indians untill we can collect strength enough to venture out on our lands.
I should have written you before this time but have been so undetermined in the place where I would actually settle for the present; and so much occupied in moving out from the bay that I had not time to write you, which neglect I hope you will pardon.
I have contracted for the runing of the schooner Despatch, W. J. Russell, master, for the term of 4 years---she has made her first trip; and is a new vessel only 18 months old; burthen 50 Tons and well Riged, I have also contracted for the building of a flat boat 30 by 12 feet, which is already begun; for which is for the purpose of unloading and lighting the schooner so that she can pass in at the mouth of the Labaca---the schooner will be at the landing a gain in about 3 weeks, with some Emigrants and [al]so some cargo for this country. I have also contracted for the building of a ware house at or near the mouth of the Labaca which will be immediately commenced for the convenience of emigrants and others destined for either of these colonies, that their property and families may have a place of shelter and safety on landing in this vast wilderness.
Mr Kerr has just returned from San Antonio and will be able to give you all the news of that place; touching my business with the Government.
If you should write shortly to Baron De Bastrop I would wish to be particularly remembered to him; inform him what I am doing etc etc and that I will shortly write him lengthly.
When on my way to this country I called at landing of Mr Elias Bates in order to ask for letters for you and your brother; but was informed by Mr John Geizer that none of the family were at home and that Mrs Bates and Mrs Honey were both dead.
I intend visiting you so soon as I can leave this place with safety, when I shall have many things to say and much advice to ask of you, as Empresarios have much trouble to encounter, but I the most of all; your assistance to Mr Kerr has been deeply felt by him and equally so by me. My compliments to Mr Williams G. DEWITT [Rubric]. Col STEPHEN F AUSTIN
SAUCEDO TO AUSTIN. Bexar 21 de Sepe de 1826. SR DON ESTEVAN AUSTIN. Muy Sr. mio y estimado amigo. Por su aprece de 11 del corre soy impuesto de que sobre las aguas de ese Rio hay, un barquito procedente de Nueva Orleans y que á su borda há llegado un señor con algunos artículos de comercio entro los que trahe muchos delos prohibidos por la Ley, y gue.solicita conducirlos á esta Capital para lo que. desea saber si la citada Ley rige ó no en esta parte del Departamento, sobre cuyo particular me ocurre decir á Vmd que la referida Ley, sobre introducion de efectos prohibidos está en exacta observacion, no obstante le gracia de esepcion de derechos concedida por sieté años álos habitantes de, esta Provca, por que aquella recae solamento sobre los frute, efectos y artículos que no estar expresamente prohibidos ni estancados. Con tal motivo siento infinito, no poder ofrecer mi proteccion sobre este asunto á su recomendado, pero si en otra cosa me hallaren util, tendre particular satisfaccion en servirle.
Estoy persuadido dela utilidad y ventajas que deve proporcionar el; establecimto que el Sor Gren Dewit esta formando sobre el arroyo de la Baca para recibir las familias delos Colonos desu empresa, pero por estar situado dentro delas dies leguas eceptuadas en la Ley y por no estar puerto habilitado por el govno el citado arroyo de la Baca como porque tambien falta la concurrencia delos primeros Empresarios para deliverar sobre limites desus respectivas Colonias se presentan algunas dificultades suplico á Vmd que habida consideracion á estas reflecciones sé sirva hacer á los señores Car, y Dewit las observaciones necesarias, para que moderen sus trabajos en el sitado establecimiento respecto que solo devo servir provisionalmto para recibir las familias y utiles necesarios á su empresa.
He savido que el Sor Dn Juan Antonio Padilla se halla enfermo y creo que por ésta razon no habrá contestado á Vmd; yo tambien estoy pendiente desus contestaciones para darlas acerca dela conculta que Vmd me tiene hecha por lo relativo á los derechos que deve cobrar álos Colonos desu segunda empresa.
Los asuntos judiciales sin embargo de la facultad que por su contrata le concedio el govierno, me parte que ya en la actualidad por las instituciones que nos rigen, son agenosa delas atribuciones de su Empleo y para que Vmd se desembarase de ellos puedo sí le parece bien arreglarse al decreto no 18 dela Legislatura del Estado; la que como aun no da la parte judicial de su Constitucion, me parece que nos hallamos en el caso de esperarala para ver en que forma establece los tribunales dejusticia y si no nos combiniese pedir lo que sea propia á nuestras,circunstancias.
Yncluyo á Vmd copia de una carta del Cenador por este Estado Dn. Manuel Ceballós al Baron para lo que pueda servirle en rason á la solicitud que tiene pendiente en Méjico, y de que habla en ella.
No dejaré de comunicarle á Vmd oportunamto las noticias que reciba del Salto relativas al arto 13 proyecto de constitucion, quedando entre tanto de Vmd afmo amo. y servor. q.s.m.b. JOSE ANTONIO SAUCEDO [Rubric]
AUSTIN TO AYUNTAMIENTO OF BEXAR. A letter I have just received from the Empresario Green De Witt, dated from La Vaca Bayou, apprizes me of a disagreeable occurrence which took place there relative to the seizure of a cargo of goods consisting, principally of flour, corn, coffee, whiskey and dry goods, by virtue of the decree of May the 20th 1824, in relation to contraband articles. l understand that this cargo was purchased at New Orleans by its owners for the purpose of assisting the colonists of that Empresario, at the commencement of his establishment, under the impression that the law permitted the introduction of such goods for the consumption of the people of Texas.
I candidly state that with the decree of the Sovereign Constituent Congress, No 141 of September the 29th 1823, and the Colonization law in my hand, I should, without the least hesitation have introduced the same goods that have been seized as well for my own consumption as for the purpose of selling them to the people of Texas. The above mentioned decree clearly declares, in the most specific terms the object and intention of Congress in passing it.
The text of the decree is as follows
"The Sovereign Mexican Congress, taking into consideration the deplorable situation to which the Province of Texas has been reduced by Indian hostilities, and in order to give partial relief to the destitute condition of her civilized people, have determined upon decreeing and do hereby decree, that all goods of what class soever, whether home products, or foreign, introduced in the Province of Texas, for the consumption of her people shall be free from taxes; and the exemption shall continue in force for the term of seven years from the date of the publication of this decree in the capital of said province."
Now the object of that decree was "to give a partial relief to the destitute condition of her people" by granting them certain definite privileges for a limited term; to which Congress considered them entitled in consequence of their sufferings and "the deplorable situation to which they were reduced by Indian hostilities." It is therefore obvious that the object of Congress was to encourage the people of Texas by granting a well determined and clearly defined privilege, an absolute right, without restriction or reservation whatever, except limitation of the term to seven years, during which this favor is to continue; and this very limitation to a specific term, is, in my opinion, indisputable proof that the object of Congress was to grant and guarantee to the people of Texas the full enjoyment and benefit of the privileges of said decree during that term, without any reservation of the power to rescind it by another decree, unless in cases of abuse, or such criminality on the part of her people as would place them without the pale of any law. For instance, if Congress for sufficient reasons had by decree, granted to an individual, (let us suppose a resident of Bexar) an exclusive right or privilege to manufacture powder or paper or to introduce for a limited period certain goods free from taxes; and, subsequently by a general decree, should prohibit the concession of such privileges to any person; can it be supposed that the local authorities of Bexar would consider as annulled by this latter decree, the special favor granted to that individual by the former without any abuse of the privilege on his part?
There cannot exist more general and at the same time more explicit terms, than those of the decree of September the 29th 1823, it says: "all goods of what class soever, whether home products, or foreign;" which includes anything whatever, any production of every part of the world "that may be introduced in Texas." That is to say, not only by her own inhabitants, but by any other person having the right to trade with the Mexicans and to enter their territory. "For the consumption of her inhabitants," that is to say, not only for the consumption of the individual who may introduce them, but, also for the purchaser, if he is a resident of Texas. To pretend that the individual who goes personally to New Orleans, or any other place, to buy flour, coffee, sugar, etc., for his own consumption, has the right to introduce these goods, but not to sell them to his Texian neighbor appears to me to be unjust and oppressive, repugnant to the system that rules us and to the Constitution in every sense, because it amounts .to a declaration that the rich possess rights the poor are not to enjoy; that the rich man, who can take his gold and silver to purchase his necessaries in foreign countries, can introduce whatever he pleases, and live in luxury; while the poor man who ,earns four reals a day by his labor, or by that of his mules, horses, or mares, with which he could each day purchase from a merchant, the flour, sugar, etc., necessary for the subsistence of his family, is deprived of the use of those indispensable articles because he has not a sufficient capital to absent himself from the country and to introduce them expressly for .his own consumption. If a broad construction of this measure is recognized, it appears to me, that the fundamental principles solemnly acknowledged, and guaranteed by the Constitution, that all free citizens are to enjoy equal privileges and to be equal in the eyes of the law, is a nullity and a mockery.
This is a very important matter, particularly to the older inhabitants of Texas, who have been so long exposed to the depredations and hostilities of the Indians. Texas, does not, at present, produce in sufficient quantities for her own consumption, flour, sugar, rice and many other articles; she has not a sufficient number of curriers, shoemakers, hatmakers, tailors and other tradesmen; she has no cloth factories; and cannot expect to have any for some years to come, for want of hands and capital. A communication with the other States which might supply her with these articles, cannot be conducted without an escort of troops for protection against the Indians. All this was certainly well understood by the Sovereign General Congress when they passed the decree referred to, and their object was, obviously, to admit from foreign countries, all the articles required by the people of Texas until she extricated herself from her unfortunate situation. Texas is now in the condition she was at the time of the publication of the decree of September the 29th 1823, and all the motives that urged Congress to grant the privileges contained in said decree, still exist to the same extent. Therefore, taking into consideration the text of the decree, and the evident intention of the Sovereign authority that made it, it appears to me that justice and the welfare of Texas, alike demand that the decree of May the 20th 1824, which prohibits the introduction of certain articles, should not be so construed as to abrogate or in any wise impair, diminish; or change the decree of September the 29th 1823; and, that by virtue of said last mentioned decree, any goods not coming from an enemy's country may be lawfully introduced into Texas by the citizens of any nation at peace and in friendly relations with our Republic; and be sold to the people for their own consumption, agreeably to the letter and spirit of said law of September the 29th 1823, and the intention of the sovereign Constituent Congress which was evidently to grant to the people of Texas the liberty of introducing "all goods of any class whatever, whether home products or foreign," free of taxes for the term of seven years from the publication of the decree at Bexar. Indeed, if we admit the principle that a subsequent law may deprive the people of a portion of that favor we must also admit that they can be deprived of the whole. The law of May the 20th 1824, on prohibited goods, and other laws published subsequently to the decree of September the 29th 1823, establish the taxes to be paid on goods introduced into the Mexican Republic. Now, why are these laws not extended to Texas; and why is it not declared that the goods introduced into Texas shall pay the same taxes as in other sections of the country? Why is the law establishing the tariff of a date posterior to that which exempts Texas from taxes? it occurs to me that it is as natural to give this construction, as to hold that goods are prohibited by a general law published subsequently to the law which grants the particular privilege of introducing them into Texas free from taxes "all goods, whether home products, or foreign." Furthermore the law of May the 20th 1824, males no mention of that of September the 29th 1823, and does not declare that it is annulled. It must also be observed that the law of September the 29th 1823, is a special law, concerning a single province, and not a general law; consequently if the object of Congress at the time of passing the law of May the 20th 1824, had been to annul the prior law, it would certainly have been expressly stated, and be accompanied by a declaration of the reason for its abrogation. Indeed, a particular and special privilege is as sacred a right as that of property, which Congress would never withdraw without well grounded motives, nor without stating their reasons for doing so in the preamble.
The seizure of the cargo at the mouth of La Vaca Bayou is a matter of great importance. As I understand, a part of this cargo was intended for the new settlers, and was necessary for their subsistence; and the other belonged to some merchants of the United States of the North, who came to trade with the Mexicans in Texas, in the belief that the law of September the 29th 1823, was still in force. That seizure withholds from the settlers indispensable provisions; and the citizen of a friendly and allied nation is deprived of his property. He will, undoubtedly, make his complaint to his government, which will inevitably result in disagreeable demands on the part of that government.
The people of Texas, in their present condition, must possess the full
and unrestricted enjoyment of all the privileges that the Supreme Government has been
pleased to grant them. The privilege of introducing any goods is very necessary;
therefore, and considering that they hold this right by virtue of the law of September the
29th 1823, and as I am personally interested in the subject as a resident of Texas, and in
my capacity of Empresario of one of the new colonies, I have made use of the freedom of a
citizen in the expression of my opinion, hoping that your Honorable Body will be pleased
to forward it to the proper authority, in order to remove the doubt that exists in the
interpretation of the decree of September the 29th 1823. God and Liberty. San Felipe de
Austin, November 7th 1826. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN
JAMES KERR TO AUSTIN. Labaca 11. Nov. 1826 2 O'clock p. m. DEAR COLo. I have just Rd and read your of the 8th Inst by Mr. Brackin. I am confined to my Pallet and have been for several Days given out by the spectators---I am now on the mend and by being proped up etc. I have undertaken to write, I have 6 large blisters all raw and runing yellow matter etc.
I came here with my Cart, black man and two white strange Gent. who overtook me on the Colorado, on the.evenig of---1st---found all well, and in good spirits---In a few minutes a man by the name of Smith came under whip, from the Guadaloupe who stated that Delion and son were a Coming with the Indians to cut of the white people as far as the Colorado---It would far exceed the limits of a
letter to detail all he said in relation to Delions threats and those of his son fernander. in fact they were alarming as a person (Unknown to me tho said to be respectable) has as I am informed by the Alcalde here made Oath that Delion had lured the Indians to come and Kill all the Americans here, and Mrs. Trudeau has told me that she hirself will swear that she several times heard Delion aver that he would have Dewitts head and that he would take it tied to his saddle to the Guadaloupe---The many threats; the manner in which they came here; and the persons who made Those threats Gave alarme to the new settlers here and altho I myself are not easily alarmed yet I confess that I scarcely new what to be about; There was no order made to fire from our station untill we were first fired on.
About this time I went to Smith and asked him many questions etc. he then told me that Moncholes of Labihia and his troops were coming on with Delion; I then told the Colo and all the people that would hear me that there was no danger, and that I knew that no Indians were coming and that I felt confident the commendant had orders from Govt etc but the people were still alarmed. Dewitt Often told them they must not oppose Govt and that all orders coming from Govt must and should be obeyed for fear some accident might happen I took a few men in the night and went Some Distance along the road in order to meet the Commendant and to inform him the news that we had heard, and that the people here were afraid he was coming to put them to death without mercy etc When the evening Star Disappeared I came back and again told the men there was no danger and for them to be at rest, that I knew Mr. Moncholes to be an officer, of the Govt and a Gent, and I then went to sleep for the ballance of the night. In the morning the order again was given by the Colo for no man to fire on or offer to fire, without we were first fired on. I and the Colo went down the river to select a place for my camp---when we had got a short distance, a boy came on horse back and told us the indians were coming---we returned on the way to the house when the Colo Asked me to go and meet the Commendant and having my gun, I set it down by a tree and went on foot as fast as I could to meet the troop (Several men from the Station followed me with their ares [arms?] who layed them down and wished I would let them to go with me) which I refused to do and told them as they were strangers etc to go back; that the Commendant and all knew me, and that I was not afraid to go by my self---I did so and meet them some distance from the house and shook hands with several; I told the Commendant that the people here were afraid he had come to kill etc---he told me no that he had Orders from the Chief etc to Dewitt, he road on to the house and demanded the guns to be put away etc, the Colo before I got to the house had meet them, and altho he repeatedly told the men to put away the guns, the men were in such confusion that it was for some time before they could be made to know that they would not be Instantly put to death. the armes were Laid away and on (I believe the next day) they were taken by Delion and put under guard and have since been sent away to await the order of the Chief
The Commendant told me that he expect the arms would all be sent back in a few days etc that he would leave some troops here, to guard us untill the thing would be Determined. He took Dewitt of with him 5 or 6 others---Some times Dewitt was told that he was a prisoner, and at other times that he was free etc. my strength failes and I am obliged to lie down, my head is like a whirl wind and my friend adiew. JAMES KERR [Addressed:] Colo S. F. Austin Sn. Felipe De Austin
Madam Trudeau, Mr. William Smith, and Mr. Wightman set off yesterday for St. Antonio and intended going by the way of Gonzales---Mrs. T---will give evidence to the Chief relative to the Threats of Delion, and they all three will urge the Chief to order all the parties and papers before him: This is what we all wish for, and should Our friend Williams get there I fear no danger, but if he does not get on and the prisners are detained in Labahia etc. an Alcaldes Court opened there for there trial the worst of consequences are to be feared.
I am Conscious you need not be informed the nature of the Courts they have at Delions Town and Labahia
There is a kind of french Doctor who came pasinger on the escambia and who it seems assumes the province of a Mexican officer, and who has exercised greate pomp, dictatorial ship here---he sets up a Claim against powell the owner of the Cargo, for $9.000 and alledges Robery against the Capt. of the vessel etc
the commendant has said that this said Doctor is no Officer,---
It has been through this Doctor that all this trouble has come on us this how[ev]er is my Opinion, and I am farther of the Opinion that the Sd. D. is and has been acting under a bribe etc by some of our neighbours.
Burnett is on the way and will be at the Guadaloupe to night, he was well this morning at the Crossing of the La Baca.
My Dear Colo If there has been any threats Made by any of the Settlers here I am yet Ignorant of them. I can not believe now that any other than, if wantonly, and Out rageously attacked by the Indians or by Delion, as he threatened they would defend themselves etc But no threat that has Came to my knowledge ever was made against the Govt
I am now fateagued and must close etc JAMES KERR
Please write me often
AUSTIN TO SAUCEDO. I observed, that in Your Lordship's letter of the 14th Instant, in answer to my communication relative to the interpretation of the law of September the 29th, 1823, and March the 20th, 1824, You say that "I have declared in favor of the interested party, representing imperatively, and as if I had authority, etc."
I beg that Your Lordship will allow me, as an explanation of my intention to say, that I never will declare in favor of any one who would oppose the law or authorities of the Country, and if some expressions are found in my communication that may display assumption, they did not correctly convey my idea: probably owing to my imperfect knowledge of the language, I have made use of some words the meaning of which is stronger that I supposed it to be. My object was to urge the Ayuntamiento to submit the doubts that seemed to exist as to the correct interpretation of the law of March the 20th 1824, to the proper authority, for my own information, and not with the view to make a representation in regard to De Witt's particular case.
I feel much interest, and I am anxious to see the most perfect harmony
prevailing between the old and new residents, but I take the part of no one in particular;
and I hope that Your Lordship will attribute no expression contained in my communication
to assumption; but, on the contrary, to my wish to settle an important doubt in regard to
the rights and privileges conferred on the people of Texas by the law of September the
291, 1823. Being myself a component part of these people, I cannot help opposing that
which in my opinion, is obnoxious to, or restrictive of these privileges. God and Liberty.
STEPHEN F. AUSTIN. San Felipe de Austin, November 21st 1826.
GREEN DEWITT TO AUSTIN. [About December 1, 1826] Col. STEPHEN F AUSTIN and SAML M WILLIAMS. GENTLEMEN, In consequence of an unfortunate affair and transaction of Mr Thomas Powell who entered my Colony as a Citizen bringing with him his goods and effects among which it appears from the Invoice he had on board a quantity of tobacco which not having recd any instructions from Government respecting the same I gave him no permission to land has put my prospects in jeopardy, without some person capable of explaining in the Spanish Language the true nature of the transaction. I have taken the liberty Gentlemen of soliciting your friendly aid in this transaction. Mr. Powell has been decoyed and treacherously drawn into these difficulties which involves in a certain measure myself and the fate of the Colony, without the aid and assistance of some friendly advice and energy by one Doctr Oliver who was a passenger on board the same vessel and profered his friendship in making Sale of his property, by which means he obtained the confidence of Powell and taking him into the interior and treacherously betrayed him and had through the influence of Martin, De Leon all his property seized which was cleared out, and brought here for the use of the Colony, the whole of which the Doctr. and Martin De Leon as I am informed gave him a general permission to land. Could I be certain that either of you, Gentlemen would be at St Antonio in a Week from Sunday the 5th Instant my embarrassments as it respects this transaction would be at an end; therefore I do earnestly repeat my Solicitation for one or both of you to come and exercise in my behalf those energies and talents which I know that you possess in an eminant degree.
What may be the fate of the property so brought into the Colony I know not, but this I do know, I have exercised all the authority with which I am vested not only in this case but in all others in order to protect the Constitution and laws of the Republic of the State and this department according to my instructions that have been in my power to do, and have never infringed the rights and privileges of government.
I shall be in St. Antonio at the time appointed if living to meet the express order of Don Jose Anto Saucedo the Political Chief of this Department---
The bearer hereof will give you further information concerning our situation
In haste--- GREEN DEWITT [Rubric]
JAMES NORTON TO AUSTIN. La Vaca 13th. December 1826 Col. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN. DEAR SIR, You have doubtless before this time become acquainted with the late unfortunate proceedings at this Station, relative to the property imported to this colony in Schr Escambia from New Orleans; belonging to Mr Thomas Powell of Missouri who had signified his intention of becoming a settler, as well as the person who has been the infamous cause of them in the seizure of said property: but the character of that person is yet unknown to you unless you have been recently informed.
As it respects the personal character of Doctor Oldivar, as he styled himself, previous to his arrival here, I am entirely ignorant, consequently shall allow it to remain in statu quo until those who are acquainted with him more intimately may expose it in a proper manner.
I think however that such perfidy and villany attached to any individual, particularly one who has acted so conspicuous a part in the late transactions in this quarter ought in duty to the community to be exposed to the public and that the aggressor be punished as he deserves. On the 7th day of November last at this station about 4 o'clock P. M. this same Doctor Oldivar made overtures to me
in order to impeach the good character and Reputation of the Empresario of this colony Col. Green Dewitt holding out strong inducements for me to join with him in his overthrow as there were papers in the possession of the Governor as well as charges so strong that they would break the said Empresario: in that case I was told by the said Doctor Oldivar, if I would acceed to his proposal, and in my Official communication to the Governor would recommend him for his good conduct and respectable behaviour while he had command here he would use his influence to obtain for me the office of Empresario, that the Governor was his particular and bosom friend and that he would enlist his influence if I would desert the Colonel's cause and acceed to his nefarious proposals: I need not inform you my feelings or what my reply was to such iniquitous propositions but signified my detestation by telling him that "I had laid the corner stone of my conduct (not to say church) and that the gates of hell should not prevail against it."---I told him however that I should always be happy to have the confidence of the governor and government and should not decline any trust that I might be thought adequate to fill, or that I thought I had abilities to execute its duties, but that I did not aspire to that of Empresario of this Colony.
On the 8th Novr the day on which Citizen Rafael A Manchola the Commandant of the troops left this station I had prepared an official communication to the Governor and on presenting it to the Commandant in order to be forwarded, the said Doctor Oldivar having as I suppose a particular fancy for seeing the contents did in the presence of many witnesses take violently from my hand the said sealed communication and did break the seal of the same. I however again got possession of it, and some little suspicion in consequence of that circumstance. being excited in the breast of the Commandant, Manchola, I read the letter to him, who being satisfied I again offered the letter to his charge which he accepted for transportation to the governor.---In consequence of the Doctors name not being noticed in the said communication, he threatened me and the colony with eternal vengeance.
The reason why I did not before make known to the Governor these circumstances was that I apprehended it would be attributed to maliciousness, a spirit of resentment, or a natural excitement which sometimes exists in the peculiar situation in which I have been placed, and restrained as it were by an a[r]med force.
Suffice it to say that the conduct of Col. Green Dewitt was calm and truly characteristic of his patriotism and loyalty towards the government and always has been since I first became acquainted with him.
Should you deem it prudent and necessary to communicate this to the government you are at perfect liberty to do so, and you would oblige me in that case to have it translated into the Spanish and forwarded with one of your own dictation. JAMES NORTON [Rubric]
Powell brot goods into this country and the Mexicans confiscated them; it is said they afterwards offered to pay him, but I believe they never done so---
SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS