The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 22, July 1918 - April, 1919 Page: 3
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Stephen F. Austin
the simile, is gathering in the harvest and applying it to the pro-
motion of human happiness. In trying to lead the colony through
these gradations my task- has been one of continued hard labor.
I have been clearing away brambles, laying foundations, sowing
the seed. The genial influences of cultivated society will be like
the sun shedding light, fragrance, and beauty.
Ten years of retrospect no doubt helped him to formulate this
statement of his purpose, but it is perfectly clear that his aim
was in mind from the beginning. To another correspondent he
"My ambition has been to succeed in redeeming Texas from its
wilderness state by means of the plough alone, in spreading over
it North American population, enterprise and intelligence, in do-
ing this I hoped to make the fortunes of thousands and my own
amongst the rest. . . . I think I derived more satisfaction
from the view of flourishing farms springing up in this wilderness
than military or political chieftains do from the retrospect of their
victorious campaigns. My object is to build up, for the present as
well as for future generations. . . . I deemed the object lauda-
ble and honorable and worthy the attention of honorable men."
In some ways the time was ripe for his undertaking in 1821.
The westward movement had crossed the Mississippi and reached
the borders of Texas, and the panic of 1819 and the reorganization
of the land system of the United States in 1820 co-operated to
stimulate emigration to. lands that combined the attractions of
princely abundance, accessibility, fertility, and cheapness that
amounted in effect to a free gift. Austin's greatness, therefore,
consists not in having overcome difficulties of transportation and
communication to induce reluctant colonists to reclaim a distant
and inhospitable land, but in the tact with which, on the one hand,
he governed his independent western frontiersmen, curbing their
intolerance of the "foreigner" and their disgust at his political
ineptitude, while, on the other, he won and held the confidence of
Mexican statesmen, soothing their fear of the disloyalty of the
colonists and the ultimate absorption of Texas by the United States.
Austin stated his problem in a very few words in a letter of 1829:
5Austin to his cousin, Mrs. Mary Austin Holley, January 14, 1832
(copy), Austin Papers, in file of July, 1831.
bAustin to Wharton, April 24, 1829, Austin Papers.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 22, July 1918 - April, 1919, periodical, 1919; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117156/m1/11/: accessed March 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.