The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, July 1924 - April, 1925 Page: 4
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
and the subject did not arise in connection with his petition. In
August, 1821, Stephen F. Austin arrived at San Antonio and
asked permission to carry out the contract of his father, who had
died in June. It was granted, and he presented to the governor
a plan for distributing land to the colonists in proportion to the
size of their families. According to this fifty acres were allowed
for each slave, and the governor approved. Later Austin increased
the amount to eighty acres.4 By now, however, Mexico was free
of Spain. Would the new government confirm this contract? And
what would be its attitude toward slavery? Doubts occurred to
Governor Martinez after Austin returned to the United States to
bring out colonists and, upon seeing Austin again in the spring of
1822, he suggested a trip to Mexico City to have the grant affirmed.
Austin reached the capital on April 29. Applicants were already
besieging the government for colonization contracts in Texas) and
a national colonization policy was under consideration. From this
the subject of slavery was inseparable and, torn between the con-
flicting sanctities of liberty and property, congress found it difficult
to make a decision.6 The first bill emerged from committee and
came up for discussion on August 20. A member introduced it
in a flowery speech, declaring that the committee had labored to
frame a law for "producing those beneficent effects which we have
admired in a neighboring nation, whose advancement in popula-
tion and in territorial wealth has no example in the annals of the
world." The passage of this law, he said, would be like the break-
ing of an overstrained dyke and colonists would inundate the coun-
'Austin to Antonio Martinez, August 18, and October 12, 1821, in Eugene
C. Barker, The Austin Papers, I, 407, 418, Report of American Historical
Association, 1919, II. Martinez's reply (August 19) is translated in
Wooten (ed.), A Comprehensive History of Texas (Dallas, 1898), I, 472.
The superior authorities disapproved the plan and method of distribution
but without regard to the slavery provision.--Gaspar Lopez to Martinez,
December 15, 1821, Austin Papers, I, 448.
"'Benjamin Mailan [Milam] and three companions"; Andrew Erwin
and Robert Leftwich of Tennessee; two Europeans, one wishing to settle
five thousand Irish, and the other eight thousand German colonists; while
General James Wilkinson applied soon afterward. See Actas del Congreso
Constituyente Mexicana (Mexico, 1822) la folio, 67, 89, 2a folio, 36, 37;
Mateos, Historia Parlementaria de los Congresos Mexicanos (Mexico,
1857), I, 312; Austin to Joseph Hawkins (about May 1, 1822), Austin
Papers, I, 504; T. (or J.) Reilly to Hawkins, April 26, 1822, Ibid., I, 498.
'The provisional legislative body that preceded the constituent congress
was unable to pass a law on either subject. For debates on slavery see
Diario de la . . . Soberana Junta Provisional Gubernativa del Im-
perio Mexicana, etc. (Mexico, 1821), 47, 56, 125-126, 285.
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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/m1/8/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.