Heritage, 2008, Volume 2 Page: 16
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More pages from the papers of Stephen F. Austin. All of these documents are available for viewing in the Texas General Land Office, Archives
and Records Division, in Austin.
Texas uncontested for nearly two centuries, except for a brief incursion
by the French. Finally, in 1821 Mexico earned its independence
from Spain. Shortly thereafter the province of Texas was united with
the adjoining province of Coahuila to form one of the states of the
new Mexican federation. Saltillo and later Monclova served as the
capitals of the state of Coahuila y Texas. With some restrictions, the
system adopted by the Republic of Mexico gave the responsibility of
supervising colonization and distributing public lands to the individual
states, with some restrictions.
Unlike Spain, Mexico promoted foreign settlement of Texas, in
hopes that development would integrate the frontier province economically
with the rest of Mexico. Anglo-Americans flowed into
Texas by the thousands to colonize and claim title to the cheap
Texas lands. During this same time period, a civil war broke out between
centralist and federalist forces in Mexico. The Anglos, believing
their rights to be infringed upon, joined with federalist Tejano
forces in a revolt against the central government that eventually led
to an independent Texas.
In defining its boundaries, the independent Republic of Texas
claimed land beyond the Nueces River that historically had not
been part of Texas. "The land grants between the Nueces and Rio
Grande have a totally different historical context than those in the
rest of the state," said Greaser. In 1746 the viceroy in Mexico City
sent Jos6 de Escand6n to colonize the Rio Grande Valley, including
modern-day South Texas. Although unknown to most Texans,
Escand6n was the first successful empresario of territory included
in present-day Texas. His efforts led to the founding of the towns
of Mier, Camargo, Revilla (now Guerrero), Reynosa, and Laredo
along the Rio Grande. Due to the shortages of water in the region,
grants were issued in long strips calledporciones. These land parcels
had narrow fronts on the water in order to maximize access points
to the river for ranchers and farmers. Behind the porciones larger
amounts of land were given for grazing, including the largest grant
in Texas, the massive 600,000-acre San Juan de Carricitos located
in today's Willacy and Kenedy counties. "After 1802, Spain limited
the size of land grants to four sitios, which is still more than 17,000
acres," Greaser noted.
Although it claimed the trans-Nueces in 1836, Texas did not
exert de facto jurisdiction in the area until the Treaty of Guadalupe
Hidalgo was signed in 1848 following the Mexican-American
War. By then Texas had agreed to be annexed to the United States,
but the new state was still permitted to retain control of its public
lands. Texas again initiated actions to confirm or validate Spanish
and Mexican land grants, this time in South Texas. Based on
the recommendations of investigating boards, the Legislature confirmed
many of these grants, while the remaining ones were settled
(continued on page 25)
HE RITA GE E Volume 2 2008
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2008, Volume 2, periodical, 2008; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45358/m1/16/: accessed May 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.