The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 Volume 1

20

Laws, Orders and Contracts

many of the settlers who would be unable to pay any thing at least for
many years; neither did they make allowance for the incalculable loss
on payments in produce, and property, at double, and treble, its cash
value; neither were they competent to make any calculation at all, as
to the amount which he had spent, and was still compelled to spend,
to complete the titles, and keep the local government in progress and
safety; for on these subjects they had no data, nor any opportunity of
procuring them. It will also be remembered that an opinion prevailed,
that Austin's authority was almost absolute; and that most of the settlers
were strangers to him, and to each other, and uninformed as to
the nature of the government as it then existed. They understood, in
general terms, that is was a republic, but they did not reflect that is was
an infant republic, just springing into existence, and that there had not
been time to form the constitution, and complete the organisation and
details of all the various departments. Acdded to all this, innumerable
embarrassments arose in the selecting, surveying, and distributing lands,
owing to the rambling and unse-tled diposition of some of the emigrants,
and to the want of more specific and fixed rules on the subject,
in the colonisation law, and also to the envy and jealousies which grew
out of the extensive powers that were granted to Austin and the commissioner,
by the 9th article of the colonisation law, and by that part
of the decree of 1Sth February, 1823, which speaks of an increase of
quantity. When all these things are duly considered, and also that duty
to themselves and families, required the settlers to be cautious about incurring
pecuniary responsibilities; abundant reasons may be discovered
why they should think that causes for jealousy and complaints against
Austin existed; they doubtless thougbt they were right, and acted accordingly.
A candid and impartial review of the whole matter, therefore, leads
to the conclusion, that the settlers have done their duty, and have been
much clearer from internal dissensions, than could be expected, under
all the circumstances. They have uniformly been unshaken in their
fidelity, and ready and willing to discharge their obligations as lexican
citizens; they have borne, with the most inflexible fortitude, all the privations
to which their situation exposed them, and have contributed
largely in laying a foundation for the future prosperity of Texas, by
commencing the settlement of its wilderness. The idea, which appears
to be entertained, by some persons in the United States, that the early
population of Texas is composed of fugitives from other countries, is
totally incorrect and unjust. It was natural to suppose that some fugitives
might enter the country, and measures were taken at an early day,
both by the government and by Austin, so far as his authority extended,
to shield Texas from that evil. He expelled several from this colony in
1823-24, under the severest threats of corporal punishment if they returned,
and in one instance, he inflicted it. This is mentioned for the
sole purpose of proving, that there could not have been many of that
class here, for Austin had no force but the militia, which was composed
of the settlers themselves. As regards the general morality and hospitality
of 'the inhabitants, and the commission of crime, this settlement
will bear a favorable comparison with any county in the United States,
however celebrated for its exemption from such crimes.
If, having escaped many perils, is to be considered as a presage, that
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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 December 27, 2014.