Stephen F. Austin to Colonists, 08-06-1823

Summary: Announcing confirmation of his grant and his authority with the commissioner to issue titles. Terms of payment for the land. Colonists must allow him to direct their relations with the Government. Must respect Catholic religion. Indians.

Colarado River House of Mr Castlemans

August 6 1823.

Fellow Citizens,

I have once more the pleasure of addressing you a few lines from the Colorado— My absence has been protracted greatly beyond my calculations and has been in the highest degree unpleasant to me, as it has retarded the progress of the most favourite enterprise I ever engaged in in my life; but I now flatter myself with the hope of receiving a full compensation for the difficulties I have encountered by witnessing the happiness of those who compose this Colony. I assure you that if my own private and personal interest had been the only incentive to induce me to persevere I should probably have abandoned the enterprise rather than surmounted the difficulties produced by the constant state of revolution in which the country has been, since my arrival in the city of Mexico. But I was animated by the gratifying hope of providing a home for a number of meritorious citizens and of placing them and their families in a situation to make themselves happy the balance of their lives. One of the greatest pleasures a virtuous mind can receive in this world is the consciousness of having benefited others, this pleasure I now have in prospect. The titles to your land is indisputable—the original grant for this settlement was made by the Spanish Government before the Revolution, it was then confirmed and the quantity of land designated by the decree of the Emperor Agustin Iturbide on the 18th of February last, and the whole was again approved and confirmed by the Sovereign Congress of the Mexican Nation on the 14 of April last after the fall of the Emperor. The titles are made by me and the Commissioner of the Government, and are then perfect and complete for ever, and each settler may sell his land the same as he could do in the United States.

All that depends on me, towards the advancement of the Colony will be executed in good faith, so far as my abilities extend, and with all the promptness in my power: but to enable me to benefit them to the full extent that I wish, it is necessary that the settlers should have confidence in me, and be directed by me I have a better opportunity of knowing what will be advantageous to them as regards their conduct and intercourse with the Government than any of them could have had, and I feel almost the same interest for their prosperity that I do for my own family—in fact I look upon them as one great family who are under my care. I wish the settlers to remember that the Roman Catholic is the religion of this nation, I have taken measures to have Father Miness [Maynes] formerly of Nachitoches, appointed our Curate, he is a good man and acquainted with the Americans—we must all be particular on this subject and respect the Catholic religion with all that attention due to its sacredness and to the laws of the land.

I have so far paid all the expenses attending this enterprise out of my own funds. I have spent much time and lost much property on the coast in my absence—I am now engaged in surveying the land and must pay money to the surveyors and hands employed besides which I have to pay the expenses of the Commissioner, and heavy expenses attending the completion and recording of the titles. A moments reflection will convince the settlers that all this cannot be done without some aid from them, but as regards this point they may expect all the indulgence possible. Those who have the means must pay me a little money on receipt of their titles; from those who have not money I will receive any kind of property that will not be a dead loss to me, such as horses, mules, cattle, hogs, peltry, Furs, bees wax, home made cloth, dressed deer skins, etc. Only a small part will be required in hand, for the balance I will wait one, two, and three years, according to the capacity of the person to pay—-In fact I will accomodate the settlers to the greatest extent in my power. I think that those who know me can state that my disposition is not to oppress any man; it is a pleasure for me to benefit my fellow citizens and I will sacrifice my own interest rather than distress them for one cent of money. But I have many sacred duties to attend which cannot be executed without money. The most of what I receive from the settlers will be applied for their own benefit, and I think they must all agree that it is also my duty to provide for my own family, and that in justice I ought to be compensated for the losses and fatigues I have sustained in this business, particularly when my labors secure handsome fortunes to my followers. I could exact the payment of all the expenses in hand before the titles are delivered, but shall not do so, the settlers may all rely on the terms above stated The smallest quantity of land a family will receive is one thousand yards square which may be increased by me and the Commissioner without limit in proportion to the size of the family.

Young men must join and take land in the name of one. All thus united will be ranked as one family, they can then divide the land amongst themselves—

I shall proceed immediately to the mouth of this River, and on my return go to the Brazos The settlers have now nothing to fear, there is no longer any cause for uneasiness, they must not be discouraged at any little depradations of Indians, they must remember that American blood flows in their veins, and that they must not dishonor that noble blood by yielding to trifling difficulties. I shall adopt every possible means for their security and defence, I have brought some powder from Bexar, a part of which will be sent to Capt. Robison for the use of the militia when needed—Let every man do his duty, and we have nothing to fear—Let us he united as one man—discord must he hanished from amongst us, or those who cause it will meet with most severe treatment

Hoping to meet you soon in peace and happiness, I am Resptlly your friend and fellow citizen

Stephen F. Austin [Rubric]

To J. H. Bell Andw Robertson Abner Kuykendall and other settlers on the Brazos River