The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 8, July 1904 - April, 1905 Page: 99
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De Witt's Colony. 99
It is quite true that Mexico was naturally more inclined than
Spain had been to look with favor upon the Anglo-American colo-
nization scheme; and yet it is safe to say that the liberality of the
system that was finally evolved was due far more to the wise and
prudent conduct of Stephen P. Austin, than to any general policy
on the part of the Mexican authorities.
Through the national and state colonization laws just men-
tioned, Mexico opened to foreigners as well as Mexicans all the
vacant lands in Texas, except those within twenty leagues of the
United States and those within ten leagues of the coast of the Gulf
of Mexico. Barring the preference which was to be shown to the
military and to native Mexicans, allowing them first choice, all
were to be treated alike in the distribution of lands. Each im-
migrant was required to prove by certificates from the authorities
of the locality from which he came, his Christianity and good
character. He must then swear to uphold the federal and state
constitutions and to observe the Roman Catholic religion. In
return, the laws guaranteed the security of his person and property,
and permitted him to engage in any honest pursuit. For the first
ten years the new settlements were to be exempt from all taxes
except such as might be levied to repel foreign invasion.1
There were three methods by which persons might secure lands in
Texas-by purchase, by special grant, and through an empresario
(contractor). Those who wished to receive land according to the
first two methods had to appeal directly to the authorities at Sal-
tillo, and then, provided the desired land fell within the grant of
some empresario, to secure his permission. According to the third
method the empresario received a large grant of land by application
to the government, and upon this land he must undertake, by the
colonization law of Coahuila and Texas, to settle at his own ex-
pense within six years a specified number of families, apportion-
ing to each, under regulations provided by law, the amount of land
to which he was entitled." The e'mpresario was to receive a pre-
1 This was the provision of the law of Coahuila and Texas (Gammel, Laws
of Texas, I 44, 45, 104). The imperial colonization law proclaimed by
Iturbide, January 4, 1823, provided that the colonists should be free from
all sorts of taxes, tithes, etc., for six years from the date of the concession,
and that for the next six years they should pay half that was paid by
other citizens of the empire (ibid., 30). When Austin's grant was con-
firmed it was adjusted to this law (ibid., 31-33). The national coloniza-
tion law, August 18, 1824, provided that colonists should be exempted
from all taxes, etc., for four years from the publication of the law (ibid.,
2 The grant, of course, did not confer on the empresario any right of
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Texas State Historical Association. The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 8, July 1904 - April, 1905, periodical, 1905; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101033/m1/101/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.