The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, July 1951 - April, 1952

Book Reviews

that the break was inevitable, because of the tyranny of certain
Mexican leaders. Austin sought to keep his people from going
against the government, and it was not until he was in the
United States acting as a commissioner that he was willing to
admit the need of a complete break with Mexico.
The author deserves credit for bringing out the character of
Austin, clearly defined, in his activities. His close family rela-
tionships and his happiness in cultured and intellectual society
are brought to the reader. His leadership to the point of sacrifice
for those under his care explains the idealization that places
Stephen Fuller Austin, justly known as the "Father of Texas,"
in the company of other ideal characters in the history of our
nation.
FRANCES DONECKER
The Closing of the Public Domain. By E. Louise Peffer. Stanford
(Stanford University Press), 1951. Pp. xi+352. Appendix
and index. $4.50.
Dr. Peffer, a member of the staff of the Food Research Institute
established jointly by the Carnegie Corporation of New York
and Stanford University, has accomplished her stated objective,
"to relate, on the basis of the sources which are available, the
steps by which the concept of the public domain has veered from
one of land held in escrow pending transfer of title, toward one
of reservations held in perpetuity in the interest of the collective
owners, the people of the United States." A forceful, objective,
and thorough account has resulted; one in which every citizen
of the United States, as an "owner," will find a challenge to his
personal interests. As a cattleman, sheepman, sportsman, oilman,
farmer, miner, lumberman, reclamation or irrigation engineer,
conservationist, politician, or just plain tourist, each one has felt
the results of the successive laws instituted by Congress for the
uses of the nation's public resources.
These laws began with the Homestead Act of 1862, allowing
for settlement of families on 16o-acre tracts, characterizing the
era of "sale" of the public domain. The next phase of "develop-
ment" was instigated by passage of the Reclamation Act in 1902
and liberalizing amendments to the Homestead Act in 1904 and

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, July 1951 - April, 1952. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101139/. Accessed September 18, 2014.