Charles Douglas to Stephen F. Austin, 02-15-1825

Summary: Great interest in Texas, but emigration checked by uncertainty on several points: (1) Will freedom of worship be winked at? (2) Are slaves safe? Can they be held as "working servants"? (3) Character of the soil? Climate? Navigation? etc., etc. Political news of United States and of Europe.

Tuscumbia Franklin County North Alabama Feb 15th 1825

Dr Sir

I wrote you a long letter several, months ago and have been anxiously expecting an answer for a considerable time past, but thus far my wishes have not been gratified. I am inclined to think from your silence that the letter miscarried and as a good opportunity offers by a Mr Royal who is about starting for your settlement I embrace it to make a second communication. It would afford me much pleasure to receive from you as an old and highly esteemed acquaintance a long letter filled with information relative to yourself and the country in which you reside. Much interest is excited about your settlement and respectable people here are verry anxious to obtain satisfactory information upon the subject. In order to satisfy this laudable curiosity and to gratify my own private wishes I venture to ask you several questions which will be the easiest and best way of satisfying both, them and myself. I wish to know what the feelings of the Govt are at this time upon the subject of religion. Will it wink at liberty of conscience and permit good and worthy inhabitants to peaceably assemble and worship their God in the way most agreeable to their feelings without evincing any disposition to make proselytes or to interfere with the prevailing religion of the country. This is a subject of vast importance to the people of these U States and has a most powerful effect in preventing respectable families from removing from this to your country. To those who think liberally an exclusive religion presents no formidable difficulties but you are well apprised of the wonderful influence of education upon a subject involving the present and future happiness of Mankind, particularly in a country like this where religious liberty exists in all its purity. The operation of your system [will be alarming?] to our Females whose influence we must submit to in every thing relating to social and domestic happiness. We will not say they renounce the religion of our Fathers or be deprived of the pleasures derived from its doctrines and ceremonies for all other earthly enjoyments. If deprived of these every other object would cease to please and all around would appear dark and dreary. An elysium under such circumstances would be more intolerable than Siberian desserts. You may depend upon it that your exclusive system has a most discouraging effect upon imigration particularly among the more respectable classes of the community. If that first and most obnoxious article could be blotted from your constitution, my word for it, families of respectability and influence would flock to your country from every part of the United States.

Our most valuable inhabitants here own negroes. I am therefore anxious to know what the laws are upon that subject. Can they be introduced as the labouring servants of emigrants? and, when are they free ? They are an important species of property here and our planters are not willing to remove without they can first be assured of their being secured to them by the laws of your Govt.

Inform me about the general appearance of your country, its soil, and climate, particularly in that part of it immediately on or near the sea coast. Is it high and dry or is it low and swampy ? Do springs abound and is it difficult to produce water by digging wells? and is the country as well adapted to sugar cane as to cotton? Are you subject to severe droughts during the summer? What is the size of the Colorado, will it admit of schooner navigation up to your town: and is the land immediately on the river high or low and subject to inundation? How far is your town from the sea coast and would a store of goods to well in it ? What are your most common diseases; are bilious fevers frequent and severe and would a Doctor do well among you? In what way do you dispose of your lands; do you give long credit to purchasers, and how much is the extent that each family can posses? Must they settle it themselves or will you allow them to settle their purchases in the first instance with good and industrious families? My reason for asking this question is that many of our first rate men might be induced to purchase if they were certain that it was not necessary for them to remove untill after their places were well improved and comfortably fixed with houses etc etc—Is your country well timbered, and what is your most common growth ? Please answer these questions and give as much other information as you conveniently can, all which will be very pleasing to me and may probably prove beneficial in its consequences to yourself, as I think, I can be of service to you in procuring settlers that would do honour to any country. A letter coming from you would be considered as official and people would act accordingly. I take the liberty of suggesting the propriety of your having a mail rout immediately established between your Town and Natchitoches, it would verry much facilitate the intercourse and prove advantageous to your settlement. I am anxious to procure a good tract of land immediately on the sea coast, if I could do so I would remove to it with a number of good families. If you know of such a situation where the land is good and where it will be healthy write me all about it. The only national news of importance is the Presidential election. The prominent candidates are General Jackson and Mr. Adams. The tug of war commenced at Washington city on the 9th of this month and how it will end is uncertain. The prevailing opinion in this western country is that Genl Jackson will be elected. This present congress have voted Genl La Fayette $200000 and given him a township of land to be selected by the President of the u States. This is as it should be and has proved to the world that republics are not ungrateful. It is now engaged in perfecting a law for the more effectual suppression of piracy. The law as reported provides for the building of 10 additional sloops of war of 20 guns each to be employed on the West India station. To permit merchantmen vessels to arm in their own defence and allows a provision to such as are wounded whilst defending their vessels, and to make prizes of piratical vessels if they can. It also allows the officers and crews of our National Vessels to pursue and if necessary to land in pursuit of pirates and if the authorities of the Towns in which they secrete themselves attempt to protect them or refuse to give them up after a proper demand has been made to blockade such port or place untill compliance is obtained. This law, I hope, will satisfy Mr. Vives of Cuba and the rascally governor of Po[r]to Rico that we will no longer submit to their infamous conduct. The affairs of Europe are in Statu Quo. Poor degraded Spain is yet convulsed with intestine broils . and groaning under the iron arm of her cruel Monster of a King. The French army is about leaving that unfortunate country and what the consequences will be God only knows. I sincerely hope the nation will react, and if it does I hope all those cursed fanatical monks and tyranical villains who have so long oppressed that people will be quickly made to bite the dust. As to Greece every thing appears encouraging. Her army and Navy have done wonders. The classical ground of Thermopolse has been lately again and again crimsoned by the valor of her modern heroes with the blood of her infidel oppressors and her navy has covered itself with glory under the direction of her Gallant Canaris and other valient Chieftains and has driven, and is now blockading within the dardanells the few remaining ships of the great Turkish fleet. Do answer this by the very first opportunity and give me all the news. As I have nothing more at present to communicate I close by subscribing myself your sincere Friend and Obt Servt

Charles Douglas

Hon Stephen F. Austin

The bearer can tell you all about me and what I am doing I received a letter not long since from Doctor Parrot he is still living in Mexico and is doing well—