Stephen F Austin to Thomas F Leaming, 07-23-1831

Summary: Estimate of leading Mexican statesmen and forecast of election troubles of 1832. Gratitude and obligation to Mexico for generosity and his duty toward his colonists. His methods contrasted with those of other contractors. The plan of the Galveston Bay & Texas Land Co. Suggestions for publication.

July 23. 1831

I have recd your kind favr of March 17. and thank you for the information relative to my mothers family— the embarrassments in bringing the suit with Fox to a close are to be regretted, but the law must take its course altho it be that of the slothes If Perry has not sent you the 50 Dolls, you wrote for I will remit it, immediately on receiving information that you have not recd it— I hope that the suit will soon be terminated under the able direction of Mr. Southard for whose character I have always had the highest respect—

Things in this country are very quiet, the Mexican Govt, appears to be settling down upon a more solid basis than heretofore— at least there is peace all over the nation,—the civil dissentions have disappeared— the administration of Bustamte has acquird the public confidence to a great degree, and the probability is that there will be no more convulsiones untill the next presidential election, which takes place in September 1832. How we shall get through that God knows, but we hope for the best— The candidates are not yet fairly before the public I expect however that Alaman, present Minister of state. Generals Teran, Bravo and Santana, will probably be of the number The first never was a military man and is believed to be the most able statesman of the nation, the second the most scientific man that belongs to the army, the third is not much celebrated for common sence, and the last is a sort of Mad Cap difficult to class— The two first and the present vice president Genl. Bustamante have befriended me, and protected my colony in many instances—- They belong to that class of mexican politicians who wish to improve, populate and civilize the nation so far as they dare attempt it particularly Alaman and Teran— It is quite doubtfull whether Bustamante will be a canditate for reelection, some doubt his eligibility on the ground that the president cannot be reelected to a second term untill after an interval of 4 years—others say that he is only vice president and the disability therefore does not apply to him— There is no doubt of his being a very amiable man in his private character— The same may be said with truth of Alaman, and Teran

In this colony matters are getting on very well. The intentions of the Govt, as to the colonies established by me are clearly developed and publically manifested—that is to afford them every aid and protection posible

The principles which have uniformly governed me since I began colonizing in this country in 1821 are so different from those which appear to have influenced others who have attempted colonization in Texas that neither this colony, nor myself ought to be confounded with the others— My object, the sole and only desire of my ambition since I first saw Texas, was to redeem it from the wilderness—to settle it with an intelligent honorable and inter prising people. To make a fortune, a great pecuniary speculation for myself, was and always has been and now is, a secondary consideration with me, When I left my native Govt, and became a citizen of this I considerd that all and every kind of political obligation ceased as to the first, and became fully as binding as to the second, as if this had been my native country.

More than this, I consider that the liberality and confidence with which this Govt, treated the emigrants who came here in good faith, and who conducted themselves with any thing like ordinary decency or common sence, imposed a moral obligation on them to give in return, at least common gratitude— in short my mottoes have been—- The redemption of Texas from the wilderness, Fidelity and gratitude to my adopted country—and to he inflexibly true to the interests and just rights of my settlers. It is my boast to say, that I have never deviated from these general principles, and it is a matter of proud gratification to me that my colony has always possessed the confidence of this Govt.

A fortune I have not made, on the contrary except my land I am poor, but am satisfied, for I have fully succeeded in the main object— If speculation had been my object I should now have been dashing in wealth in Europe or where I pleased, worshipd by the thousands and dispised by the two's or three's (two or three out of a 1000 is perhaps a low estimate of those who would be govd by principle alone when placed in opposition to wealth) Texas would have remaind to this day, what I found it, a wilderness and many of the Capitalists of the U. S. and of England would have been gulled out of their money

Others who have attempted colonization here have wished to make a matter of great and speedy speculation of it. No one who starts on that plan will succeed in doing any thing except to injure this country and throw it back many years. They have faild so far, and strange to say, some of them have wished to throw the blame of their failure on me, and have suspected me of an unfriendly disposition towards them, or towards their interprises, on the ground that competition was disagreeable to me— such a suspicion displays a total want of all correct knowledge of the subject. There can be no competition to my injury with any others who have attempted, or ever may attempt colonizing in Texas. The plan of the New York company for instance is to send out families get the title of a league of land made to each of them, and then bind each one to convey to the company all but a few hundred acres, thus expecting to monopolise the whole country. All of which is illegal and inadmissable—their misconception of the law defeats them, and they attribute their defeat to the interference of others against them. In this colony the settler gets the full amt. of land which the law allows—the expences are light, and a long credit is given to pay the most of them and then they can be payed in part in cattle or other produce of the country which the settler can make off the land he gets before it is due under this system how could the New York company or any others take my settlers from me?— what injury could competition do me?— They do not understand the matter at all for the result would be that all their settlers who could get away would leave them on their arrival here and come to me— besides, most of the emigrants to my colony are men of capital, who bring numbers of indented servants as laborers or a considerable cash capital—

It has been my policy to slide along without any noise. I discoverd on examining Texas, that in point of soil, climate, and natural advantages it was greatly superior to any other part of North America that I had seen, or had any knowledge of. I saw that its value was unknown to this govt, or to any body else. I knew that I would be sufferd to go on undisturbed, because no one believd that there was anything here worthy of attention and I should thus lay a foundation, which could not be broken up by the hungry swarms of speculators who would inundate the country as soon as its value was known. Had all others followed my system and kept Texas out of the newspapers the law of 6 april 1830 would not have been passed prohibiting emigration from the United States. My friends in that country have blamed me for keeping so quiet, and for not adopting the bellows system so much the stile in the north, and making a great blow—by so doing I should have blown away my own foundation as others have done. But the time for keeping quiet as to my colony has now passed, and I shall be benefited by some publications and judicious paragrafs not too long to go the rounds noticing the prosperous and happy situation [of] my colony and its uniformly warm decided and inflexible attachment and adherence to the Mexican Govt, etc, etc.

[Intended by Austin for publication:] It is perhaps a matter of some surprise that the only colony which has fully succeeded in Texas, and which is now in a State of almost unparalelld progressive prosperity should have made so little noise that its existence is scarcely known, to the people of the U. S. we allude to Austin's colony. This probably proceeds from the character of S. F Austin its founder, which is said to [be] naturally retireing and modest, we are informed that when he commenced his settlement in 1821, he adopted certain leading principles from which he has never deviated—which were Fidelity and Gratitude to his adopted Govt.

That his labors should be directed to redeem Texas from the wilderness, rather than to make a fortune for himself—that he would be true to the interests and just rights of his settlers, and never hold out any deceptive or imposing allurements to draw emigration, least many might emigrate without a sufficient previous enquiry as to the country, and afterwards be dissatisfied, and thus greatly injurd

Hence it is that he has slided along silently for ten years and has founded one of the most prosperous settlements perhaps ever known for its age in any country— we are assured by an intelligent gentleman lately from Texas, that this colony is in the highest degree prosperous—-that the emigrants to it in general of the most respectable class the society good—the greatest good order and subordination to the laws prevails, and the people are happy and satisfied with their situation, so much so that they would oppose any change of Govt, and they consider it an honor of which they proudly boast, that they have always deservd and always possessed the confidence of the Mexican Govt.

[Stephen F. Austin.]

[To Thomas F. Learning, Philadelphia, Pa.]