Texas Heritage, Spring 1984

On October 1, 1832 a convention was called for San
Felipe to discuss issues of defense against Indians, requests
for tariff reform, repeal of the law of April 6, 1830
and the possibility of Texas becoming a separate state of
Mexico. The leaders of this convention were from Brazoria
County and were W. H. Wharton, John Austin, Judge
George McKinstry and Charles Sayre. W. H. Wharton
was selected to take the petition to San Antonio to the
governor. He was not able to get a hearing.
On April 1, 1833, in San Felipe, a more rebellious
convention assembled, with about forty new men mingling
with fourteen from the 1832 convention. Fiery Brazoria
countian W. H. Wharton, still angry over his mistreatment
in San Antonio, was elected president. Reaffirming positions
taken in 1832, this convention went farther and wrote
a tentative constitution for a state of Texas separate from
Coahuila. Of the three men elected to take the convention's
minutes to the government, only Stephen F. Austin was
able to go. Distrusted by the authorities, he was thrown
into jail in Mexico City and was held there for about
eighteen months. Wharton and other outstanding citizens
of Brazoria County tried unsuccessfully to negotiate the
release of Austin.
When it became apparent that fighting could not
be avoided, members of the Brazoria militia were at
Gonzales for the "Come and Take It" battle for the
cannon. Stephen F. Austin, W. H. Wharton and Dr.
Branch T. Archer led the siege of Bexar but were recalled
to the consultation at Washington-on-the-Brazos. It was
from here that the trio left for the United States as ambassadors
to secure aid in the fight for freedom. Before leaving
on the assignment in the United States, Dr. Archer was
elected president of the consultation. He stepped down
when Henry Smith of Brazoria was elected the first governor
of Texas.
Col. James W. Fannin left his plantation on the San
Bernard river near Brazoria to march to Goliad to raise an
army to relieve the Alamo. His death and that of his troops
furnished a rallying cry heard at San Jacinto. At the Alamo
the colony on the Brazos was represented by Jesse Thompson,
Green Jameson and Marson Shed. Several groups of
volunteers landed at Velasco, Houston and proceeded up
the river to Brazoria where they were entertained by the
townspeople in the inn formerly owned by Mrs. James
Long, the Mother of Texas.
The citizens responded to the call to arms with units
of the militia, food, and supplies. Samuel May Williams, a
friend of Stephen F. Austin, had amassed a fortune in his
shipping and store operation at Quintana. He contributed
over $100,000 to the fight for liberty. There was no fighting
in Brazoria County but the town of Brazoria was
burned, and the artifacts of the Masonic Lodge were destroyed
by Gen. Urrea as he felt both the town and lodge
were behind the revolt. The original charter was saved, as
it was in the saddle bags of Dr. Anson Jones at San Jacinto.
The treaty which ended the Texas Revolution was
signed at Velasco, located at the mouth of the Brazos.
Santa Anna was held briefly there and then across the river
at Quintana in an effort to protect his life. Later it became
necessary to move him up river to the home of Dr. James
A. E. Phelps at Orozimbo plantation where he was held
until his release. During the period of the revolution, the
capitol was located briefly at Velasco, Columbia, and
Houston before finally ending in Austin.
Leadership from this county was responsible for the
writing of the Declaration of Independence, attributed to
men from the lower Brazos. The same leadership was
present for the drafting of the Constitution. Men of this
section were men of vision. Since this was the area of
major Anglo settlement, truly this was the cradle of Texas.
Dr. W. G. McAlexander

Described by the Texas Handbook, as "the founder
of Anglo-American Texas," and by many historians as
"The Father of Texas," Stephen F. Austin called Peach
Point, his sister's plantation in what is now Brazoria
County, his "only home in Texas." His personal life, as
well as his business life, was bound up with this county. It
was a part of Austin's original colony, the place he had
planned to retire, the site to which he came for rest from
the ceaseless demands placed on him as empresario. The
county was also a primary hotbed of dissension leading to
the Texas Revolution, the location of the first capitol of the
Republic of Texas, and the place Austin was to die while
serving as secretary of state for the Republic. It was here
that he was laid to rest in his family's cemetery - though
his accomplishments and renown
were so great that his remains were
later moved to the state capital.
Although he entered into his
father's dream of colonizing Texas
only reluctantly, Stephen F. Austin
was to think of little else once he
made this commitment. After
learning of his father's death,
Austin traveled to San Antonio
and received authorization from
the Spanish government to carry
on the colonization enterprise,
providing he agreed to assume
personal responsibility for the
colonists' conduct.
Financial conditions in the
United States, along with the vast
amount of land available to settlers
in Texas, contributed to the desire
of many U.S. residents to move
here, and in Autumn, 1821, the
first of Austin's colonists began to Oil portrait of Stephen F. Austin pi
arrive. Mexico had succeeded in c. 1821. Courtesy of Mrs. Raymon
winning her independence from Spain, and Austin was
informed that the provisional government would regulate
immigration through a general law, rather than honoring
the Spanish colonization grants.
Until the establishment of the ayuntamiento in 1828,
Austin had complete authority over civil and military affairs
in his colonies, but allowed the colonists to elect their
own local alcaldes and militia officers. His own duties
during this period were both diverse and arduous, with the
establishment of a land office being the most time consuming
of his tasks.
Other than land, for which the value at that time was
speculative rather than actual, Austin received relatively
little in return for his duties as empresario, and most of this

ainted
d Coo

was eaten away by public expenses which he paid because
no one else would.
As the controversy between the colonists and Mexican
officials heated up, Austin continued to urge patience
and caution. Serving as spokesman to the Mexican government
following two conventions byhe colonists, Austin
managed to achieve some reforms and had started back
to Texas when he was arrested and placed in prison in
January, 1834, on suspicion of trying to incite insurrection.
A general amnesty law finally brought his freedom
in July, 1835.
When he returned to Texas, Austin learned of a call
for a consultation, and in a speech at Brazoria in September,
sanctioned it, and served as unofficial civil head of
Anglo-American Texas until the
Texas Revolution began the following
month. He was elected as
commander of the volunteers gathered
at Gonzales; serving in that
post despite poor health,
until his election as one of three
commissioners seeking recognition
and eventual annexation by the
United States, should Texas
declare her independence.
Following the victory at San
Jacinto, Austin reluctantly acceded
to pleas that he offer himself as a
candidate for president - though
he told his family from the beginning
that he neither wanted nor expected
to be elected to that post. As
he had expected, he was defeated
by the hero of San Jacinto, and
made plans to retire from public
life and conduct his business from
idbyGeorgeCatlininNewOrleans, PeachPoint.
ok. When President Sam Houston
urged him to accept the post of secretary of state, however,
Austin again put aside his personal preferences to
accept the call of duty. He died in that service a few
months later at the age of 43 in West Columbia. His last
words, true to his habit of many years, centered about his
adopted land -- "Texas recognized. Archer told me so.
Did you see it in the papers?"
His body was placed aboard the steamboat Yellowstone
and transported down the Brazos River, then taken
overland to his sister's plantation, where he was laid to
rest in the family cemetery at Peach Point with appropriate
honors.
Marie Beth Jones

Brazoria County Historical Commission

3

Stephen F. Austin
The "Father of Texas"

Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Spring 1984. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45446/. Accessed August 20, 2014.