Stephen F Austin to Carlos Garcia, Minister of Relations, 08-01-1833

Summary: Argument supporting claims of Texas to separate statehood. Separation from Mexico would be a calamity, but continued union with Coahuila would be worse.

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Austin to Minister of Relations

For the better explanation of the representation of Texas, soliciting that she be admitted as a state of the Mexican Federation, I present the following bases on which are founded her rights to be a state.

1st. She possesses sufficient qualifications, and the people of Texas have manifested their desire to be a state.

2nd. The natural right that she has always had of organizing herself as a state, and of occupying her rank as such, at the side of her sisters the other states, on account of having been a distinct province at the time of the independence.

3rd. The guarantee of the law of May 7, 1824.

4th. The right that is guaranteed to her by the system adopted by the Mexican Republic, of promoting her welfare, and of securing her interior prosperity and tranquility by an adequate organization of her local government.

5th. The duty, and the interest of Texas, of cementing and assuring her permanent union with the Mexican federation.

6th. The right that all people have of saving themselves from anarchy and from utter ruin.

Explanation of these "bases"

1st. The declaration of the people of Texas that they have the elements sufficient to form a state, and the fact that they are ready to be charged with the expenses and responsibilities of the interior administration is proof that they are in a condition to figure as a state, because it is very evident that they would not have solicited such a thing if they were not satisfied of their capacity physical and moral, to sustain the administration and to fulfill all the duties of a state. For a better explanation of this point I refer to the statistical report which is hereto attached.

2nd. The provisional union of Texas with Coahuila by the law of May 7, 1824, was without the formal or cordial consent of the people of Texas, or of her deputy in the general constituent congress; and that union could not destroy the natural and primitive right of Texas to organize as a state when in the opinion of her inhabitants their necessities might require it.

The natural rights of Texas in this particular are recognized in the said law by the fact that the union with Coahuila is conditional and provisional, and not positive and permanent.

Texas does not recognize, nor can recognize, that she has to ask the approbation of three-fourths of the states of the federation, in order to be admitted as a distinct member of the Mexican family. This right always has belonged to her and does belong to her and if the exercise of the right has been postponed until now it has been by voluntary consent of her inhabitants, and not because they have believed, or believe, that their union with Coahuila has weakened it in the least particle. It is a natural right, and as such it is imprescriptible, sacred, and inviolable, and cannot be destroyed except in case the people of Texas should abandon it, and this they have never done.

Texas does not admit the principle that Coahuila has a voice or consent in the question of her right to be erected into a State; nor can she ask of Coahuila as a favor what belongs to her by right and by justice.

Texas does not desire a hand's breadth of the territory of Coahuila. If there is a doubt concerning the division line of the old provinces of Coahuila and Texas, or other peculiar questions, they must be settled between those two states in a friendly manner or in conformity with the laws governing such cases.

3rd. The law of May 7, 1824, is very clear and well defined, and recognizes the natural right of Texas of erecting herself into a state, and concedes to her the privilege of manifesting to the general congress her desire to be a state, when in the opinion of her inhabitants she has the elements to figure as such. That law does not contain the provision of asking the approbation of three- fourths of the states before congress shall consider the petition of Texas to be admitted as a state; and Texas considers herself in the same situation as to the formalities of her admission as was occupied by Nuevo Leon, Durango, and Chihuahua in their time; with the difference that there is a guarantee, a solemn contract between the nation and Texas that she will be formed into a state when she possesses the qualifications to figure as such.

4th. The glory of the federal system consists in the fact that no other form of government invented by the wisdom of men, has been able to meet the local necessities of each angle of an immense country, and at the same time to unite the physical and moral force of all parts in a national center in order to work in mass, in defense of their liberty and independence.

The objects of this system are clearly defined in the paragraph of the discourse directed by the general constituent congress to the Mexican people, which begins with the words, "The federal republic has been and ought to be the fruit of their discussions," etc. These same principles are recognized in Article 26 of the Constitution of the state of Coahuila and Texas, which says, "the object of the government of the state is the happiness of the individuals who compose it, understanding that the end of all political society is no other than the welfare of its associates."

The petition of Texas is sanctioned and supported by all these fundamental principles, because it is very evident that Texas cannot be governed by Coahuila, and consequently " the welfare of the associates " imperiously demands that she be made a state.

5th. The inhabitants of Texas desire to cement and strengthen their union with the Mexican federation, and it is their most important interest and their duty to do it.

There is no individual in Texas who is not convinced that the greatest misfortune that could happen to him would be the separation of that country from Mexico: neither is there any one who does not know very well that her union indirectly by means of Coahuila is in the highest degree precarious and liable to be broken without great difiiculty.

It is known by certain things, positive facts, that Coahuila cannot govern Texas; and the latter cannot remain, and will not remain in harmony or quietude united with the former.

Another truth is, that it is useless to try to subject or regulate Texas by military force.

That country has to be governed by moral force, and her union with Mexico strengthened and established by the principles of the federal system, and those of the century in which we live.

In conformity with these principles the object of the government is, the happiness and prosperity of the people, and " the welfare of the associates." If these objects are fulfilled in Texas, she will be united to Mexico by bonds much stronger than those which could result from an army of fifty thousand men.

Interest is the most powerful bond that operates upon the actions and desires of humanity. By the application of this fundamental principle to Texas, all erroneous ideas vanish in a moment, and also the false rumors that may have existed concerning the danger of the Mexican territory in that country.

The interests of Texas are, to cement her union with Mexico, and to have a local government as a state of this federation.

These interests are the natural bonds that unite and always will unite Texas to the Mexican federation. But the last is of so much importance, and so indispensably necessary to the " welfare " and " happiness " of that people, that it cannot be omitted or delayed. Consequently if there were no way of obtaining it without breaking the bonds of the union with Mexico, it would then be the interest of Texas to attempt her separation.

This point has been discussed and examined with much frankness in Texas; and the opinion is formed and established upon very solid, unalterable foundations, because it has been the result of much reflection; that opinion is, that it would be a misfortune to be separated from Mexico, but that it would be a greater misfortune not to be erected into a state, so as to be able to organize her local government. There are well founded fears that Texas may have to suffer the first misfortune in order to save herself the last; and these fears have had a dominating influence in the desire for separation from Coahuila, for the purpose of reconciling with one voice all the local interests of Texas with her permanent union with the Mexican federation.

I have said, and I repeat it, it is not the interest of Texas to separate herself from Mexico, even if she had full liberty to do it. If the Government should wish to know the reasons on which this opinion is founded, I will present them in a separate paper, and in the same I will demonstrate that the true interest of Coahuila and of all the republic demands that Texas should be made a state without any delay.

6th. This is a dark and very gloomy point. Texas is to-day exposed to separation from Mexico—to being the sport of ambitious men, of speculators and reckless money-changers, of seditious and wicked men, of wandering Indians who are devastating the country, of adventurers, of revolution, of the lack of the administration of justice and of confidence and moral strength in the government. In short, for the want of government that country is already at the verge of anarchy.

If one proceeded in accordance with the laws of the state of Coahuila and Texas, a respectable man would not be safe either in person or property; nor would the capitalist be secure in his capital. If crime is punished, it has to be done extrajudicially without paying attention to the laws and forms established, and this affords a dangerous example to society and a subversion of the moral strength which the government and the laws ought to have. On the other hand, if crimes go unpunished, the vices are unbridled and all the safeguards of society are destroyed.

For a long time the people of Texas have rested in regard to their personal security and that of their property, rather upon the virtues which exist in the honor of the mass of the people than upon the administration of the laws.

To suppose that such a state of affairs can continue would be to venture much; in short, it would be to suppose an impossibility.

If the only radical remedy which these evils admit is not applied without delay, that of establishing Texas as a state, it will fall into anarchy; and whence it will go from that is not in the power of man's judgment to say, or what injury will result to the frontiers of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas, for it is very certain that the Indians will take advantage of the occasion to begin hostilities and depredations, and thousands of adventurers will be set in motion.

A state of anarchy in Texas would also cause confusion upon the frontiers of Louisiana and Arkansas; and in such case the probability is great that the government of the north would take posession of Texas in order to preserve order upon their frontiers as it did in the case of the Floridas.

All this and incalculable other evils would be avoided by establishing Texas as a state.

I cannot imagine anything more urgent for the exercise of extraordinary powers than this, since by its exercise in this matter the integrity of the territory may be preserved, Texas and her inhabitants may be saved—and a new and strong column may be raised to sustain the great edifice of the Mexican federation.

In view of what was set forth in this paper and of the representation of Texas, I beg that Your Excellency, the Vice President, may be pleased to make use of the extraordinary powers to decree that Texas shall form a state of the Mexican federation, and that she may proceed without delay to organize as such.

Mexico, August 1, 1833.

Stephen F. Austin.

To His Excellency the minister of Relations, Don Carlos Garcia.