Stephen F. Austin to Antonio Martinez, 10-13-1821

Summary: Hundreds from Missouri, Kentucky, and elsewhere want land in Texas. Suggests his own appointment as emigration agent for the Government. Protests against other grants within the limits assigned to him.

Nackitosh October 13, 1821

His Excellency Governor Martinez,

Sir I had the honor of addressing you a letter dated on yesterday, giving an account of my proceedings relative to the new Colony. I now write you on a Subject of deep interest to the progress of the new Settlements in Texas

On my arrival here I found near one hundred Letters from the neighbourhood of where I formerly lived in upper Louisiana (now called Missouri) and many from Kentucky and other places requesting information relative to settling in the Province of Texas, and I am convinced that I could take on fifteen hundred families as easily as three hundred if permitted to do so—

The distance to St Antonio is so great and the journey is considered so hazardous and expensive that men in moderate circumstances are deterred from going in person to apply for permission to settle—and there are many other obstacles in the way, I have therefore thought that the settlement of the Country wd be greatly facilitated, and kind and character of those who emigrate would be much better, if the whole superintendence of the Emigration from the U. S. was intrusted to one agent whose general knowledge of the American character, and particularly of the people of the western country and also of the situation and lands of the Province of Texas would enable him to conduct the formation of the settle- ment with advantage to the Government and satisfaction to the Settlers

Considering that the first effort towards Colonising the Proc. by citizens from the U. S, is made by me, and that after having explored the sea coast I shall have a full Knowledge of the Country, and considering also that the public stations I have filled in M. [Missouri] and A. [Arkansas] (having been for many years a Member of the legislature of the former and one of the Judges of the Court in the latter) has enabled me to form very extensive and general acquaintance with the people of the western country, and also that my former residence for many years under the Spanish Govt, in upper Louisiana has made me some what familiar with the laws and customs I have supposed that I could probably effect as much towards settling Texas with useful citizens as any other man, I therefore respectfully petition that I be permitted to extend the settlements to the Guadaloupe and St Marcos Rivers on the west and to the Trinity and St. Jacinto on the East-

Should this plan for the appointment of a general Commissioner or Agent for the Province be adopted I would respectfully suggest that it would greatly facilitate the objects of the appointment if he was to have pretty extensive discretionary powers as to the distributing of lands, so as to save the delay and expense of applying to the Gv. for instructions relative to each settler and that he be authorized to issue certificates to the settlers stating (under such limits as the Gv. may deem proper) the quantity of land and the place where he is to receive it—these certificates could be a guide to the Surveyor Genl of the Province in laying off the lands, and the returns would thus be all made by the surveyor Genl and the Comr and the Gv would only have those two officers to transact the business with instead of the hundreds that would trouble them if each settler was to apply for himself individually. I would also respectfully suggest that the commissioner be authorized to exact from each settler a sufficient per cent on the land grantd to compensate him for his trouble and expense in attending to the business—

Mr Davidson who returned a few days since from St Antonio informs me that applications have been made for grants of two and three leagues square on the Colorado. I would respectfully suggest to your Excellency that it may create some confusion if grants are made within the tract of country in which my settlement is forming— I have promised the settlers that the first who go on shall have the first choice, and if the same land which they are occupying and actually improving is granted to others without any notice to me, it will involve me in great difficulty with Emigrants, and produce a degree of dissatisfaction amongst them which will have an unfortunate influence with others, in retarding the settlement, I have no objection to the Genm who have applied and should be happy to receive them as settlers, but unless the organization of the colony is confined to one source some confusion will necessarily arise

S. F. A.