The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 12, July 1908 - April, 1909

Plan for an Institute at San Felipe.

PLAN OF STEPHEN F. AUSTIN FOR AN INSTITUTE
OF MODERN LANGUAGES AT SAN
FELIPE DE AUSTIN.1
MATTIE AUSTIN I-IATOICHER.
One of the public questions that appealed most strongly to
Stephen F. Austin, who was deeply interested in every subject
relating to the welfare of the colonists under his care, was that
of public education. As soon as he had been relieved of the
heaviest burdens connected with the organization and direction
of the government of his colony by the formation of an ayuntar-
miento, he began to work out a plan for the establishment of an
academy or college at San Felipe de Austin, and he did not
abandon the project until the more pressing matter of discord be-
tween the colonists and the Mexican government demanded his
attention. First, he had to try to bring harmony into the ranks
of the colonists who, until this time, had allowed sectional dif-
ferences to prevent them from establishing a school of any kind.
Then it was necessary to interest the Mexican government in order
that the school might be placed upon a legal basis and be endowed
with lands from the public domain. In the hope of accomplishing
this aim, he drew up during his term of service as deputy for
Texas in the Congress of Coahuila and Texas, the preliminary
draft of a decree, providing for the establishment of an Institute
of Modern Languages at San Felipe, to be presented to that body
for its adoption.2 Although the plan fell through, the subject is
of considerable interest as showing the troubles of a pioneer in the
cause of public education in Texas.
'A paper read at the Annual Meeting of the Texas State Historical Asso-
ciation, March 2, 1908. All materials made use of in the preparation of
it are to be found in the Austin Papers in the archives of the University
of Texas.
'There are two rough drafts of this decree with no essential differences.
I have followed the more complete copy. The document is undated, but
was probably written while Austin was serving as deputy (1831-1832).
It was certainly prepared after his election to office; for in the first draft
of the preliminary remarks accompanying the decree he refers to himself
as deputy.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 12, July 1908 - April, 1909. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101048/. Accessed September 17, 2014.