Stephen F Austin to People of Texas, 09-08-1835
Summary: Reporting conditions in Mexico, Santa Anna's determination to abolish the federal system, and necessity of convention in Texas to enable Texans to determine on their attitude toward the change.
speech of colonel austin
I cannot refrain from returning my unfeigned thanks for the flattering sentiments with which I have just been honored, nor have I words to express my satisfaction on returning to this my more than native country, and meeting so many of my friends and companions in its settlement.
I left Texas in
I fully hoped to have found Texas at peace and in tranquility, but regret
to find it in commotion; all disorganized, all in anarchy, and threatened
with immediate hostilities. This state of things is deeply to be lamented;
it is a great misfortune, but it is one which has not been produced by any
acts of the people of this country: on the contrary, it is the natural and
The revolution in Mexico is drawing to a close. The object is to change
the form of government, destroy the federal constitution of
Whether the people of Texas ought or ought not to agree to this change,
and relinquish all or a part of their constitutional and vested rights under
the constitution of
Under the Spanish government, Texas was a separate and distinct local
organization. It was one of the unities that composed the general mass of
the nation, and as such participated in the war of the revolution, and
was represented in the constituent congress of Mexico, that formed the
provisionally, under the especial
guarantee of being made a state of the Mexican confederation, as soon as
it possessed the necessary elements. That law and the federal constitution
gave to Texas a specific political existence, and vested in its inhabitants limited, and only gave
power to the state of Coahuila and Texas to govern Texas for the time
being, but always subject to the vested rights of Texas. The state,
therefore, cannot relinquish those vested rights, by agreeing to the change of
government, or by any other act, unless expressly authorized by the people
of Texas to do so; neither can the general government of Mexico legally
deprive Texas of them without the consent of this people. These are my
An important question now presents itself to the people of this country.
The federal constitution of
This is a subject of the most vital importance. I have no doubts the federal constitution will be destroyed, and a central government established, and that the people will soon be called upon to say whether they agree to this change or not. This matter requires the most calm discussion, the most mature deliberation, and the most perfect union. How is this to be had? I see but one way, and that is by a general consultation of the people by means of delegates elected for that purpose, with full powers to give such an answer, in the name of Texas, to this question, as they may deem best, and to adopt such measures as the tranquility and salvation of the country may require.
It is my duty to state that general Santa Anna verbally and expressly authorized me to say to the people of Texas, that he was their friend, that he wished for their prosperity, and would do all he could to promote it; and that, in the new constitution, he would use his influence to give to the people of Texas a special organization, suited to their education, habits, and situation. Several of the most intelligent and influential men in Mexico, and especially the Ministers of Relations and War, expressed themselves in the same manner. These declarations afford another and more urgent necessity for a general consultation of all Texas, in order to inform the general government, and especially general Santa Anna, what kind of organization will suit the education, habits, and situation of this people.
It is also proper for me to state that, in all my conversation with the
president and ministers and men of influence, I advised that no troops
should be sent to Texas, and no cruisers along the coast. I gave it as my
decided opinion, that the inevitable consequence of sending an armed force
to this country would be war. I stated that there was a sound and correct
moral principle in the people of Texas, that was abundantly sufficient to
restrain or put down all turbulent or seditious movements, but that this
My friends, I can truly say that no one has been, or is now, more anxious than myself to keep trouble away from this country. No one has been, or now is more faithful to his duty as a Mexican citizen, and no one has personally sacrificed or suffered more in the discharge of this duty. I have uniformly been opposed to have any thing to do with the family political quarrels of the Mexicans. Texas needs peace, and a local government: its inhabitants are farmers, and they need a calm and quiet life. But how can I, or any one, remain indifferent, when our rights, our all, appear to be in jeopardy, and when it is our duty, as well as our obligation as good Mexican citizens, to express our opinions on the present state of things, and to represent our situation to the government? It is impossible. The crisis is such as to bring it home to the judgment of every man that something must be done, and that without delay. The question will perhaps be asked, what are we to do? I have already indicated my opinion. Let all personalities, or divisions, or excitements, or passion, or violence, be banished from among us. Let a general consultation of the people of Texas be convened as speedily as posible, to be composed of the best, and most calm, and intelligent, and firm men in the country, and let them decide what representations ought to be made to the general government, and what ought to be done in future.
With these explanatory remarks I will give a toast—
rights and the security and peace of Texas—they ought to be maintained;
and jeopardized as they now are they demand a general consultation of