Stephen F. Austin to Governor Rafael Gonzales, 04-04-1825

Summary: First contract for 300 families filled. Three hundred more anxious to come. Many petitions from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Some already arrived, and some on the road. Has expelled some bad characters from the colony, and they have spread damaging reports about the colony. Government will not be deceived. Petition for permit to settle 500 additional families. Argument: (1) The 300 families already settled too weak for adequate defense against Indians—need reinforcements; (2) vacant lands between settlers in his colony should be distributed by himself to avoid conflicting claims; (3) if the port of Galveston is opened, the settlers can not get full advantage from it without additional colonists;(4) the country can only be enriched by foreign trade, and must have more population in order to produce enough commerce to attract foreigners. Suggests that new settlers be allowed to bring slaves and keep them and their descendants as slaves. Otherwise the immigrants will be confined to the poorest class and development of the province will be much delayed.

Citizen Stephen F. Austin, Lieut. Colonel of the National Militia, of the river Brazos and Colorado, Judge ad interim for the administration of justice, and Empresario of this Colony.—Most respectfully represents to your Excellency, that:

having already completed the settlement of the three hundred families which the Supreme Government of Mexico authorized me to introduce into this Province of Texas. Application is made to me daily to receive and settle more families, as colonists, some of which have already arrived here, others are on the road, and have written to me, besides a number amounting to nearly three hundred, who have applied to me from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The only reply I have made at present to them, is, that I would make their applications known to the Supreme Government of the State, Stating to them, that it is out of my power to grant them license or permission to occupy or appropriate any land whatever, in the district under my charge, until the resolution of the Government should be known. Among the applicants, are some few of bad repute, these I have ordered to depart forthwith out of the limits of this Jurisdiction; a measure of Executive Police which circumstances required me to take, to preserve good order, and tranquility among these worthy Colonists, in consequence of which, that class of people are very much irritated against me, and under the excitement, disseminating infinite calumnies, and raising false reports, relative to my conduct and authority; but I feel perfectly secure under the conviction, that the Government, taking into consideration the great injury which would result from the introduction of such characters, will approve the course I have pursued in this instance; thereby preventing such persons from incommoding these Colonist hereafter; and at the same time, promote the progress of this section of the State generally.—I request the Supreme Government of the State of Coahuila and Texas, in its acknowledged goodness to authorize me to settle the additional number of five hundred families on the lands which remain vacant upon the rivers San Jacinto, Brazos, and Colorado, and their tributaries, and on the Island and Bay of Galveston, with full power to expel from this jurisdiction, all persons of notoriously bad character, who in future may immigrate hither. The arguments I offer in support of this petition are:

1st—The number of three hundred families already legally settled is very small to sustain itself against the Savage Indians, who surround us.

2nd—It is important that the settlement of the vacant lands contiguous to, and adjoining those already distributed, should be effected through the same Empresario, or authority who surveyed and distributed the lands to the present Colonists, in order to prevent all clashing or dispute between the new and oldColonists, with regard to their lines and boundaries; likewise, by these means, to form in this town a general and minute Record of all the lands distributed within this jurisdiction; a matter of the greatest importance in preventing hereafter, even the possibility of doubts, or disputes, in relation to titles.

3rd—Should the National Government make a port of entry of Galveston, the advantages of sales which would result therefrom, will not be realized from it unless Colonists settle there, and in its immediate neighborhood, and inasmuch as I was the first who proposed this matter to the Government, I entreat the Government of the State to do me the honor of effecting its settlement, and completing its establishment.

4th—Nothing but foreign commerce, particularly the exportation of cotton to Europe, can enrich the inhabitants of this section of the State; and this cannot be expected without an increase of population, and physical force; for without this, Capitalists will not undertake to enter into it, with vessels of sufficient size, for European Commerce ; and to obtain these great benefits to the full extent that would indubitably result to the nation, by the enterprise and industry of these new colonists, it is in my opinion a matter of the greatest importance, to authorize the emigrants to bring in their Slaves and Servants ; and that the right of property in these servants so introduced, as well as their descendants, be guaranteed to them by law; for with-out this security, we cannot expect colonists with large and competent means, nor can we have hands for the cultivation of Cotton or Sugar; and consequently these fertile lands, instead of being occupied by wealthy planters, will remain for many years, in the hands of mere shepherds, or poor people, who will scarcely raise a sufficiency for the sustenance of their families, without any over-plus of sufficient importance to give an impulse to active foreign commerce.—Therefore, I pray the Government of the State of Coahuila and Texas, to grant me authority to settle Five hundred families more, at the places above mentioned.

Town of San Felipe de Austin, 4th April 1825.

Most Excellent Sir,

Stephen F. Austin.