The Mercer Colony in Texas, 1844-1883
THE MERCER COLONY IN TEXAS, 1844-1883
NANCY ETHIE EAGLETON
THE INCEPTION OF THE MERCER COLONY
The Congressional Act of February 4, 1841, granting land to
immigrants, reversed the land policy of the Texas Republic, un-
der which free gifts of land had been made direct to settlers; and
it authorized grants less liberal, whereby settlers were required
to settle upon land and occupy it for not less than three years
and cultivate not less than ten acres. This act further restored
"the Mexican policy of granting land to empresarios who con-
tracted to settle a specified number of families and individuals"
in return for which the empresario would receive premium lands
for complying with his contract.' This reversal of policy was one
of many made by the Congresses of the Republic in their efforts
to secure adequate legislation for a sparsely settled country, un-
recognized and threatened by Mexico, and inhabited by hostile
Indians. An accumulating debt, foreign relations, partisan poli-
tics, and the individualism of a frontier spirit complicated legis-
lation and obstructed a consistent policy.
President Lamar, whose administration (December, 1838-
December, 1841) had been harassed by Indian depredations and
by a growing debt, "entered into the contract for what became
known as Peters' Colony, in North Texas, August 30, 1841, which
was altered November 20, 1841, and by President Houston, on
July 26, 1842." The purpose of this contract was to colonize the
wild lands of the Northwest.2 By the law of February 4, 1841,
and the contract of August 30, 1841, an association, the Texan
Emigration and Land Company, was organized with W. S. Peters
at the head. Among others whose names were associated with
Peters in the contract was Daniel J. Carrol, an Englishman.3 It
appears that Charles Fenton Mercer was appointed to solicit
1Aldon Socrates Lang, Finanoial History of Publio Lands in Texas, 95,
96. Published as Bulletin of Baylor University, XXXV, Number 3, July,
'John Henry Brown, History of Texas, 1685-1892, II, 280.
3Texas Documents, Miscellaneous, 1836-1850. Texas State Library.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 40, July 1936 - April, 1937. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101099/. Accessed May 23, 2015.