Stephen F Austin to Israel Waters, 07-30-1829

Summary: Thanking him for a bottle of rum distilled in Texas. Thinks the manufacture of spirits bound to develop in Texas. Would be opposed to it but for the fact that spirits will be imported if not made in Texas.

Austin July 30. 1829

Mr Israel waters.

sir I have recd your letter of 23 int. together with a bottle of rum made by you at Mr. Martin Varners this is the first ardent spirits of any kind that was ever made in this colony, and I beleive it to be the first that was ever made in Texas. The distillery of rum from molasses is destined at no distant period to become a source of great wealth to this country, for besides supplying the home consumption, there will be a great and increasing surplus for exportation— As the first who has attempted to establish a branch of industry which must ultimately be the means of giving profitable imploy to thousands of hands and of drawing thousands of dollars into the country, Mr. Varner is certainly entitled to great credit for his entrprise—

Philanthropy cannot but weep at the incalculable mass of human misery and degradation which the use of ardent spirits heaps upon mankind, and were it possible to exclude it from our country for ever, the first who attempted to introduce it would be ranked by me on a level with the fiend who first introduced sin into the garden of Eden, but like sin, the use of spirits pervades the whole civilised world, (savages and barbarians are not sufficiently civilized to brutalise in this refined way) and Philanthopy has no consolation, other than that derivable from the hope that the sound judgement and moral rectitude of man will restrain the use of spirits to proper and safe limits.

I am therefore not displeased to see this branch of business commenced. Spirits will be imported and if not manufactured in the country, money will be sent out to import it, and it is better that the money which is thrown away by the drunken and worthless part of our citizens should go into the pockets of our own distillers, than into the pockets of foreigners

For these reasons I accept of the present of the bottle of Rum which you have sent me, and in return wish Mr Varner and yourself success and prosperity in your distillery

Stephen F. Austin