Charles Douglas to Stephen F. Austin, 02-26-1824

Summary: Monroe doctrine. England and the United States. Wants Austin's influence in helping Leftwich obtain colonial grant for Tennessee company. Depression in the United States. Banks.

Murfresborough Feb 26th 1824

Rutherford County St[ate] Tennessee

Dr Sir

Much time has passed and many important political changes have been effected since we parted. I hope they are all for the best and will eventuate in the establishment of rational liberty in your country. It is difficult to say how the late unhappy change in old Spain will effect you; but we have hope for the best and are anxiously looking to the british Govt. for her final decision upon this important question. Judging from the bold and energetic language used by our President in his late Message to Congress upon the subject of the presumed future conduct of the allied sovereigns, relative to the subjugation of the South American States, and from the tone of the english ministerial prints, we belive their is an understanding between us not only in opinion, but also as respects our future conduct.

Is it rational to suppose that England, possessing such decided commercial advantages over every other nation will consent to sacrifice all her fair prospects of a permanent and profitable market for her commodities, merely for the sake of maintaining a good understanding with those govts whose principles and policy she so much dislikes ? We think not, and therefore conclude she will from interest as well as principle not only agree with us in opinion, but if necessary maintain her decision by a resort to arms. If this opinion is correct you have nothing to fear from the consequences of foreign invasion, for I am certain that the naval power of the two govts united, can effectually prevent them from ever disturbing your repose. I believe if England protests against the allied powers interfering in the political affairs of your country and declares her determination to oppose every such plan that this together with our declaration will be sufficient to prevent them from attempting to make any serious efforts.

Situated as you are it is a great misfortune that the people are not more united. That there is not more disinterested patriotism among them; and that your leading men are not more feelingly alive to the real wants and prosperity of the nation. Action, virtue and decision of character are now very necessary requisites in the conduct of your rulers and none ought to be elevated to stations of power or honor without they possess them. If there is a bourbon party among you it ought at all events to be destroyed such a party united with the church might do you a great deal of injury. I hope your congress will soon frame a good constitution and that the provinces will not be backwards in adopting it then and not till then will you be able to effectually suppress insurrection or repel invasion. I want you to be united in your councils and actions to cultivate friendship among yourselves and with other nations especially with those whose forms of govt most resemble your own. I sincerely wish you well, and consequently take the liberty of giving a little advice, I hope you will receive it as coming from a friend who sincerely loves you individually and is warmly interested in the prosperity of the Nation to which you, at present belong.

I have been in this country ever since April last during which I have not heard a solitary word from my friends in Mexico! Loftwich has not yet returned and nobody has heard anything from him for several months past we are afraid he is dead. If you should happen to hear anything about him let me know. I am very anxious that the government should make us a grant because I think it would be a benifit to us here, and to them, and to yourself individually. If a grant was made, there are so many of us interested that we could procure a great number of settlers who would immediately remove to the country and commence active operations, this would undoubtedly enhance the value of your own, as well as our lands. If you think with me (and no doubt you do) I want you to do all you can with the govt for us. Your influence with it is very considerable, and if you will exert it for us I have no doubt but you can do us a great deal of good. I want you to write to our friend Don Ignacio de Cubas upon the subject of my land business and urge him to exert himself to procure a grant as soon as possible, and to send it directed to this place. I believe that 3 or 4 hundred respectable families might be procured here, without any difficulty who would immediately remove to the country.

I have not heard a word from you since my arrival in the United States only through the medium of newspapers, although I have written you several letters directed to your friend in New Orleans in which I particularly requested you to write to me and to direct your letters to this place. I hope upon the reception of this you will promptly answer it and let me know all about your present situation and the prospects of your settlers. Do give me a particular description of your country as respects its soil, climate, health etc. It is said by some that there is a great scarcity of timber, that it is badly watered, that the banks of the rivers and small streams are low and at particular times subject to inundation; and that during the croping season you suffer much for the want of rain. These are important items of information for an agriculturist and as you know all about it I want you to be particular in your statements respecting the truth or falsehood of these reports. I want you also to inform me which is the cheapest and best way for families to remove from this to your country. I know you will correctly toll me all about it, I therefore boldly make the request. Everything here remains in Statu quo. Business of every kind is dull and the people are heels over head in debt. Our banking institutions are still playing their old games and the people are such wretched fools as to quietly submit to their abominable impositions

Every species of property is verry low, and although our legislature has from time to time been trying to relieve the people, yet all their plans have the effect of plunging them still deeper into difficulties. So much for legislative relief systems in time of pecuniary embarrisment.

Feb 5th [sic] I have just read in a northern paper accounts from Mexico up to Nov 24th which state that the Congress have just reported the plan of a constitution in many respects similar to ours here. I hope in God that the provinces will adopt it; and immediately proceed to organize a regular govt in compliance with its provisions. I was sorry to see that the roman catholic is the established religion and none other tolerated. This will have a bad effect upon the minds of many good but weak people in the U.S. and (I am afraid) will verry much discourage emigation to your country. But a poor is better than no constitution and I only hope that the good sense of your congress will so amend that clause as to at least allow other sects freedom of conscience even if they make the catholic the established religion.

Do write to me immediately upon the receipt of this and give me all the information I have requested and as much more as you please; it will all be more than acceptable.

Chas. Douglas

Stephen Austin Esqr