The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, July 1924 - April, 1925 Page: 27
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Influence of Slavery in the Colonization of Texas
and Austin might therefore be suspected of expressing himself
for effect more strongly than he felt; but he wrote the same to
Richard Ellis, a wealthy planter of Alabama, who was both slave
owner and colonist, and to S. Rhoads Fisher, who had returned
to Philadelphia, after a reconnaissance, to take his family to
Texas. He requested Ellis to publish his letter in Alabama
papers and suggested that Fisher furnish articles of a similar
tone to Pennslyvania papers. The continued introduction of
slaves under peonage contracts he did not consider inconsistent
with this attitude: "This provision [the contract law] will be
highly useful to the country without the least danger of doing
any harm for no one will be willing to risk a large capital in
negroes under contracts with them, for they are free on their
arrival here, and can only be held to labor by contracts, as serv-
ants are all over this nation, and in other free countries."0s
The reply of the Alabama gentleman is not at hand, though
most of them ultimately found their way to Texas; but Fisher
was not of two minds about the matter. Though not then a slave
owner, he believed that the territory must continue to draw its
population chiefly from the southern states and that unrestricted
introduction of slaves for at least five years was all important.69
No doubt the actual settlers were of the same opinion. In this
particular Austin was a voice crying in the wilderness.70 What
pressure may have been brought to bear on him we do not know,
but very soon he turned again to the impossible task of trying to
persuade the government to change its policy. With Teran he
opened the subject as early as February, 1831; with Alaman,
secretary of relations, cautiously, on March 21. Alaman evaded,
but Teran replied frankly. He did not doubt, he said, that the
admission of slaves would hasten the settlement and development
"Austin to Henry Austin, June 1, 1830; to Leaming, June 14 (two
letters); to Ellis and others, June 14; to Fisher, June 17. Austin
Papers, MS. See also Austin to Piedras, June 28, 1830; and to Perry,
July 4, 14, 1830. Ibid.
"Fisher to Austin, August 14, 23, 1830, Austin Papers, MS.
70Austin wrote Mrs. Mary Austin Holley, July 19, 1831 (Austin Papers,
MS.) : "Negroes can be brought here under indentures, as servants, but
uot as slaves. This question of slavery is a difficult one to get on with.
It will ultimately be admitted, or the free negroes will be formed by
law into a separate and distinct class-the laboring class. . . . Either
this or slavery in full must take place. Which is best? Quien sabe?
It is a difficult and dark question.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, July 1924 - April, 1925, periodical, 1925; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101087/m1/31/: accessed January 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.