James E. B. Austin to J. H. Bell, 03-16-1823

Summary: Provisions of imperial colonization law. Work of S. F. Austin in its passage. Slavery. Scarcity of corn.

St Antonio de Bexar March 16th /23

Dear Sir,

Some time has elapsed since I have had an opportunity of writing to the settlers on the Brazos and Colorado, but now I have the pleasure of announcing to them that my brother has left Mexico with his business concluded to his satisfaction, the law of colonization has already arrived and I find it much more liberal than I expected.

Some of the items are that you are free from Taxes dutys contributions under whatever name they may be for six years and for six following pay but half that the other inhabitants of the Empire pay—All slaves already introduced and all that are introduced hereafter for the use of the settlement are slaves for life their children are free at the age of 14 years Traffic in slaves is prohibited in toto.

You are all perfectly secure as to your lands all that now remains is the usual paper form and the land is yours forever there are many other very liberal articles which you will see in a short time, the quantity of land is somewhat greater for each family—but all is ovmg to his stay untill the business was concluded if he had not have done so it is extremely doubtful whether the law had been concluded this year—he pressed it every day until at length they concluded it and presented it to the Emperor who sancioned it immediately.

I have understood that my brother left Mexico on the 22d of Jany if so he will be here in a tew days he comes on fully vested with power to secure your lands forever—the gov. tells me that he will send the law of colonization to the Colorado, and the Alcalde thereof will forward it on to you by this conveyance.

We have in this place the greatest scarcity of corn and flour imaginable the council of the town have sent to the Interior for corn but it is not to be had and now they send to the Colorado, If any person should have a little corn to sell either on the Brazos or Colorado they can now sell it for almost what they please and deliver it at their homes.

I expect my Brother every day; I hope that in a short time I shall have the pleasure of seeing you on the Brazos Untill then I remain yours

Jas E. B. Austin [Rubric]

[Addressed:] Josiah H Bell Alcalde on the Rio Brasos.