Texas Almanac, 1952-1953 Page: 42
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42 TEXAS ALMANAC.-1952-1953.
advertising the enterprise in the United
States. First settlements were made late in
1821 at Columbus on the Colorado and Wash-
In the meantime, the separation of Mexico
from Spain deprived the project of legal
status and Austin made a hurried trip to
Mexico City to close a deal with the new
central government. There he found little but
confusion. Besides the struggle between the
adherents of republican and monarchal forms
of government he found the National Con-
gress deadlocked over establishment of a
general colonization policy. It was soon after
this act was passed, in January, 1823, that
he was able to come to a new agreement
which confirmed his grant.
Under the new law the government con-
tracted with empresarlos or agents for the
introduction of families. Under the law the
empresario could obtain grants on contracts
for introducing no fewer than 200 families of
colonists. Hie was given wide authority over
his colonists in the matters of establishing
commercial centers, maintenance of militia
and administering justice. It was this em-
presario system under which the colonization
of Texas made extraordinary strides during
the next decade.
Austin's colony grew rapidly and San Felipe
de Austin (in present Austin County) was
laid out on the Brazos as the seat of govern-
ment in the colony.
First 300 Families.
Austin's first grant was for 300 families.
This quota-known as "the First Three Hun-
dred," and having a place in Texas history
somewhat similar to that of the Jamestown
and Plymouth settlers in United States his-
tory, was soon filled and Austin was given
new grants, and the bounds of his colony
extended. More than 1,000 land titles were
issued to Austin in the next decade and
population of his colony grew to upward of
5,000. Among these first families were many
who were later prominent in Texas history,
including Moses Austin's grandsons-Guy M.,
William Joel and Moses Austin Bryan.
Austin was the most successful of the em-
presarios, but there were a number of others
that were fairly successful. Green De Witt,
also of Missouri, obtained a grant and intro-
duced several hundred families west of the
Colorado, founding the town of Gonzales in
1825. Another empresario was Hayden Ed-
wards who received a grant for settling 800
families around Nacogdoches. Other Ameri-
can empresarios were Benjamin Milam, Gen.
James Wilkinson, Sterling Clack Robertson,
Joseph Vehlin, Robert Leftwich, David Burnet
and the firms of McMullen and McGloin and
Power and Hewitson. There were also several
Mexican empresarios, notably Martin de Leon
who settled a number of families on the
Guadalupe, founding Guadalupe-Victoria, the
present Victoria. Lorenzo de Zavala was an-
other Mexican empresario who was to play
an important part in the later history of
Although none of these enterprises was as
successful as that of the astute and indus-
trious Austin, there was rapid growth of
population and by 1836 Texas had probably
A,000 to 50,000 colonists.
THE TEXAS REVOLUTION
The swift course of events between 1821
and 1836 which brought, first, a flood of
Anglo-American immigration pouring into
Texas with approval of Mexican authorities,
and then precipitated revolt which threw off
Mexican sovereignty, has raised an issue
among historians, and the good faith of the
American colonists in Texas has not always
been permitted to go without question.
The Texas Revolution came, in the light
of usual historical development, rather nat-
urally and logically. The Texas of that day
was a land of indefinite boundaries on the
border line between Latin and Anglo-America.
Mexico itself had only recently thrown off its
Spanish yoke, and, in its new-found inde-
pendence, entered a period of confusion with
few parallels. Mexican history of the 1821-36
period was a series of revolutions which
made consistent policy in any matter impos-
sible. The matter of a colonial policy in
Texas was a political issue among the war-
ring factions at the Mexican seat of govern-
Furthermore, Texas was geographically iso-
lated from the center of Mexican commercial
and political control. Mexico City was 800
miles distant from San Antonio and a vast
wilderness lay between the latter and the
nearest Mexican cities of importance. On the
other hand, it was easy to direct Texas com-
merce toward the nearby and friendly United
States, either overland or through the con-
venient port of New Orleans. A wise colonial
policy on the part of Mexico might have
overcome these difficulties; certainly it would
have long postponed the crisis that arose
after a brief interval of colonization.
Inconsistent Mexican Policy.
There is sufficient material in the record
to show that most of the early colonists came
to Texas in good faith and were willing to
become permanently citizens of the Republic
of Mexico. Certainly Stephen F. Austin did
everything possible to maintain the status
under which he had contracted to bring set-
tlers to Texas. Most of his colonists seem to
have been with him in sentiment, at least in
the.earlier stages of the growing controversy
when wise statesmanship at Mexico City
might have changed permanently the course
of historical development in the region be-
tween the Sabine and Rio Grande.
However, it must be said that there were
those Americans who came to Texas looking
backward. Possibly there was no actual con-
spiracy to wrest Texas from Mexico, but
there were some who were not adverse to
adding oil to any flame of discontent. The
Mexican National Government unwisely did
much to fan the flame.
Unfortunately, several incidents arose to
heighten suspicions at Mexico City. As early
as the latter part of 1826, trouble developed
between American and Mexican settlers at
Nacogdoches. Hayden Edwards had been
given a grant at Nacogdoches, where Gil
Ybarbo and his followers had lived for several
decades. A conflict arose and Mexican author-
ities at San Antonio decided in favor of the
Mexican settlers. Edwards organized the
Republic of Fredonia and declared Texas
independent of Mexico. Though Edwards was
\ quickly driven out, his action was cause of
disquiet at Mexico City.
As a result of this and other developments,
the liberal colonization policy was reversed.
In 1829 a decree was issued freeing slaves,
which brought protest from American set-
tlers in Texas who were largely cotton grow-
ers from the slave states of the South. This
difficulty was settled by revocation of the
proclamation. It was followed immediately.
however, by even more definite measures to
stop Amnerican immigration into Texas.
Provisions of Law of 1830.
In April, 1830, the Mexican Congress en-
acted a law forbidding further settlement of
Americans in Texas excepting in two colo-
nies, providing for establishment of Mexican
convict colonies in Texas, and levying duties
on all foreign imports and establishing cus-
toms houses. By this legislation it was hoped
to lessen the growth of American population,
accelerate that of Mexican population and
break up the growing commerce with the
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Texas Almanac, 1952-1953, book, 1951; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117137/m1/44/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.