Stephen F Austin to Samuel M Williams, 05-08-1831

Summary: Method of handling disturbers in Texas, Errors of empresarios. He alone understood the full purpose of the law of April 6, 1830. Federal Government opposed to the law excluding foreigners from retail trade. Land titles in east Texas.

[From Williams Papers, Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Tex.]

Leona Vicario May 8. 1831

Dr Sir.

I voluntierd to pay the office fees on all the petitions for land pending from Bexar, Goliad and Nacogdoches, and to take on the grants. This has detained me a week longer than I expected as they could not be completed. I am told that they will all be ready tomorrow morning, so that I can start in the afternoon.

The mail of yesterday brought me yours of 19th ult and Lesassier's. I am much gratified to hear that Burnet and wife have arrived he will be a very valuable acquisition I think, that is, provided he keeps cool and always has a good stock of calmness and prudent discretion on board, articles which are dayly becoming more and more necessary in Texas. The sending of the Cotton seed was just as it should be. I am truly pleased that you did not forget it, for you recollect that I was compromised by officio to send a few boxes to La Baca—much better that it was sent to Tampico—close attention to such small matters will do great good. I presume the tonnage duty has been satisfactorily regulated—that is as to the principle that it cannot be collected from one Mexican port to another—if it has not, it will be.

The first part of Lukes letter alarmed me, but I laughed before I finished—who or what is this firebrand he speaks of—Stockton— he can do no harm unless consequence is given to him by putting him in irons, or some other notice of that kind-—you know the people there well enough to know, that a scape gallows, or a dog can be made a great man among them, merely by being opposed by a few decent men and especially by any one in office.

"The abuse of a little brief authority " is in the mouth of every North American and there is not one in 50,000 who are competent to distinguish between, a proper and necessary exercise of authority and its abuse—with the most of them an officer is always wrong- either too undecisive and weak—or too rigid and despotic. Let such firebrands alone, and the good sense of the sound and reflecting part of the colony, will put them down much sooner and more effectually than opposition or irons, by the authorities. If the civil authority had taken hold of Dayton, he would have become popular, altho he was a most perfect jack ass and a scoundrel. However if the civil authority have already intervened, it must sustain itself, firm as a mountain—either hands off in toto, or go the whole.

The clouds which are hanging over the Trinity and eastern part, as well as other parts of Texas will pass away, unless others, and more dense ones are raised by the imprudence and hasty temper of "firebrands." The Empresarios, whose imprudence, and total ignorance or neglect of the law and of their duty has brought all this trouble upon Texas, need not expect much or anything—but the actual settlers are safe, and in the end will all be secure, unless they, themselves entangle matters—your fears as to Boss [Teran?] so far as my colony or Dewitts are totally groundless, notwithstanding appearances. Some gross errors have been committed by some one, as to the rights of actual settlers east of my colony—but they are errors which can be easily corrected, and I have no doubt will be, when the whole subject is properly understood. Things are in reality, not half so bad now, as they were a year ago. Texas has hundreds of friends now who at that time were bitter enemies—all the difference is, that at that time, myself and a very few more, and as to some things I might say, myself alone, knew what was on the carpet, and what the true state of things was—now it is in the mouth of everyone—a ship cannot be turned upon its keel like a top—neither can a govt, a people, or deep rooted prejudices. If I could shut up all the mouths in Texas for one year, I would pledge myself to deliver every man his title within that time. I am much better pleased with the govr than I was—he is an honest man and will go right in the end.

On the 11 of April, dia de celebre memoria, I sent a copy of the retail law, to the minister of relations, with an oficio stating the leading unconstitutional features of that project, and the evils it would give rise to—by yesterdays mail he answers me officially, that on the 22d. the Vice President transmitted my oficio and the copy of the said project to the Chamber of Representatives, with a strong recommendation that some declaratory law should be passed to prevent the states from attacking the constitutional rights of citizens or naturalized foreigners, and also as to the right of the states to regulate commerce

I leave tomorrow for MatamorosChambers and the two Yorks go with me—the prospect for the latter is not very good—tho, not quite hopeless. I have done all I can, and hope to do something for them at Matamoros,

A very absolute order has been issued, which finally settles the point between DeWitt and Deleon. All the families settled by the former, within the original limits of his colony, are to be included as of his contract and Navarro is ordered to give them titles accordingly.

I hope Padre Muldoon is with you before this—remember me to him affectionately. I have great confidence in him—remember me to Burnett and Mrs. W and Elisa, hasta la vista en esa,

S. F. A

Suffer no one at all to select any land in the ten League reserve east of Brazos