The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 Volume 1

for Austin's Colony.

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now appear, some of the poorer class, who were most benefitted by that
system, joined in it. The mass of the settlers who have paid any thing,
paid it in cows, at twenty to twenty-five dollars a head, corn at two or
three dollars a bushel, which property, thus received, has been sold
for two-thirds less than it was received at to raise cash, it being necessary
to resort to all manner of shifts, to raise the means of keeping up the
local government, and managing along the settlers, so as to prevent them
from running headlong into anarchy and confusion. It will be remembered
that Austin was not supported by the strong arm of government;
there never was one soldier stationed in the colony; and for the first
four years there were not fifty in all Texas, nor within five hundred miles
of it; that he had not the aid of general laws, printed and published in
the language of the settlers, by which to restrain them, or guide himself;
and that he was not even left to the uncontrolled dictates of his
own judgment; for, in that particular, he was absolutely subject to the
commandant general, and governor of Texas, or to the land commissioner,
who was united with him, all of whom, except the last, had seen
but little of North Americans. except under unfavorable circumstances,
and knew but little of their real character or habits: he had, therefore,
to resort to such resources as circumstances would permit. In the absence
of specific laws, there are two modes of governing-one by force,
the other by reason and mild measures. The latter course, perhaps, was
most congenial with his disposition, even if the other had been in his
power; he adopted it, and has been censured by some for following it
to the extent he did. His task was rather difficult; he was isolated, destitute
of funds, and inexperienced; no disinterested advisers could approach
him, for it was the interest of each one to get all he could for
himself; and he may have committed many errors; he has, however, the
consolation of having succeeded in the enterprise, a thing which nd
other, who has attempted it, has done; he has uniformly received the
approbation of government; and within the last two years has also received
manifestations of confidence from the settlers, themselves, in
general; which to him is the most gratifying testimonial that could possibly
be offered; for they ought to be the best judges of his acts. having
witnessed them all, and been immediately interested.
The foregoing remarks relative to the palyments on land, and to the
local government of the colony, are made, in order to correct some erroneous
impressions that at one time prevailed on the subject. It is no
more than justice that the matter should be placed in its true light; and
it is equally just, that the conduct and motives of the settlers should be
noticed, lest, from what has been said, some should be inclined to censure
them; for any such censure would be unmerited. It will be rememibered
that these settlers had always been accustomed, from their
infancy, to see all the laws and orders of government printed and published:
that none of them understood the Spanish language; and that
there were no translators but Austin and the secretary; and consequently
that every thing had to pass through, and from them; that there
was no way of publishing any thing except by manuscript copies. Also,
it was natural, as regards the twelve and a half cents per acre, for the
settlers to make a gross calculation of the amount, that all the land distributed
in the colony would come to, and suppose that all that sum
was to go into the pockets of Austin, for they made no allowance for
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Gammel, Hans Peter Mareus Neilsen. The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 Volume 1. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth5872/. Accessed March 27, 2015.