The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 22, July 1918 - April, 1919 Page: 8
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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
prescribed for the latter as commissioner. It yielded much less
than his contracts with the colonists would have done, but it
avoided friction between them and the political chief. The colo-
nization law which the legislature passed in 1825 recognized the
justice of Austin's position and authorized empresarios to collect
a fee from their settlers in addition to the generous premium of
land allowed by the state.'"
A few of the colonists were already grumbling because they saw
Austin granting three, four, and five leagues to some while he
allowed them only a paltry 4,600 acres. They were ignorant of
Spanish and knew nothing of his powers except what he or his
secretary and the commissioner Bastrop told them. Might he not
be imposing upon them and exploiting them for his own advantage ?
Had he any authority either to grant land or govern the colony?
The political chief's interference in the matter of the fees helped
to strengthen their suspicion, and uneasy whispers increased to a
respectable rumble of discontent. The political chief assured them
that Austin's authority was ample in every respect, but the excite-
ment subsided slowly and did not disappear until Austin convinced
the leaders of his power by arresting them and threatening to send
them to San Antonio for trial. The threat and a heart to heart
talk were sufficient, and they soon became his staunch support-
ers.'6 Austin ascribed much of his trouble to the colonists'
ignorance of the language, their exercise of the sacred American
right to abuse a public official, and the absence of definite laws.
You know [he wrote in 1825] that it is innate in an American
to suspect and abuse a public officer whether he deserves it or not.
I have a mixed multitude to deal with, collected from all quarters,
strangers to each other, to me, and to the laws and language of the
country. They came here with all the ideas of Americans and
expect to see and understand the laws they are governed by, .
Could I have shown them a law defining positively the quantity
of land they were to get and no more and a code of laws by which
they were to be governed I should have had no difficulty-but they
saw at once that my powers were discretionary, and that a very
great augmentation to their grants could be made, and thus the
"For this paragraph, Ibid.; also a, very excellent dicussion of the same
subject by Lester G. Bugbee in "Some Difficulties of a Texas Empresario,"
Publications of the Southern History Association, April, 1899, pp. 97-101.
'"Ibid., and Bugbee, as cited, 101-109.
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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/m1/16/: accessed June 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.