Stephen F Austin to Unknown, unknown

Summary: Argument by Austin for repeal of the anti-immigration article of the Law of April 6, 1830.

At the period of Mexican independence in 1821, Texas was uninhabited by a civilized population, except the towns of Bexar and Goliad-— It was infested by numerous bands of hostile Indians who sallied forth at pleasure to rob and desolate the settlements on the rio Bravo, extending their depradations into the mountains to the neighborhood of Monclova and Monterey, and along the coast of Tamaulipas

The system of frontier defence used by the Spanish Govt of establishing military posts or presidios was never an effectual barrier, for when those posts were in their best state of armament, the most that was done was to protect the immediate vicinity without being able to cover the whole country, or prevent the Indians from harassing the frontier settlements, and committing robberies on the public roads

The natural consequence was, that the civilized settlements were limited to the garrisoned towns. A few scanty villages were thus sustained like isolated specks in the midst of a wilderness at an enormous expense to the govt and a great waste of men and money— A country thus situated could evidently yield no revenue in return for the millions expended in its defence; it could not advance much in population or improvement, nor add anything to the physical force of the nation, but on the contrary, weakened it.

It may therefore be said with truth, that under the old system of presidial defence, the whole of that part of the Mexican territory situated north and east of a line from near Soto la Marina on the gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of California was an expence and a dead weight to the government.

The experience of years had already convinced the Spanish authorities of the internal provinces, of the absolute inefficacy of the old system of frontier defence, and that the only effectual and permanent barrier was population, the settlement of the frontier by a hardy and interprising race of people before whom the savages would retire, or become submissive

The result of this new opinion was a total change of the ruinous restrictive system which had for centuries locked up the whole of the Spanish possessions from the rest of the world— The first step that was taken towards the new system of frontier defence was the grant to Moses Austin on the 17 January 1821, to settle a colony of Forth Americans in the wilderness of Texas.

During that year, 1821, the independence was achieved, and the lights of liberal and republican principles shed their benign influence over the whole country. One of the first acts of the new government was to open the door to the emigration of foreigners, the colonization laws were enacted, and emigrants were expressly and earnestly invited to enter. Under the faith and operation of those laws the settlement of Texas was commenced, and its wilderness was rapidly changing its uninhabited state and wild aspect, and yielding to the progress of civilized population, led on by enterprise and perseverance.

The emigrants to Texas, it is well known, have never received any succors from the government—no garrisons were sent to protect them during their infancy from the hostile indians who then filled every part of the country, They have never cost the government one cent—all they have ever recd was permission to settle in the country, and a title for the lands they redeemed from the wilderness, lands that were then valueless to Mexico or to civilized man— Left to their own resources and daring enterprise, they have conquered a wilderness, and made known to Mexico and to the world the true value, and developed the resources, of a large portion of the Mexican territory which was before hid in obscurity,— They have also greatly contributed to the new system of frontier defence by means of population and fully tested its efficacy, for the savages have retired before them, as they will continue to do, if the same system is pursued, until they are reduced to full subjection or settled in villages as agriculturists.

It is certainly a natural and very rational inquiry. What inducements, what incentives, what hopes, could have operated so powerfully upon the minds of the emigrants to Texas, as to have given them fortitude to brave the dangers of savage foes, to dispise the hardships and privations of the wilderness, to support them through tryals and privations at which the stoutest hearts shrink— The cries of their little children even for bread, the well founded fears and despondency of their wives, surrounded as they were the first years of the settlement, by Indians, famine, and sickness and by the dark gloom of moments when even hope almost recoiled from the future?— What impulse of freedom and deeply imbeded hope bore them up and carried them through such difficulties?— Was it the bare expectation of getting a piece of land in a wild wilderness and there living on the mere products of their manuel labor, and degenerating into the habits of wild Indians? No—common sense, and the characters and former habits of those settlers, unite in saying NO— But on the contrary the great and nerving hope that bore them onward, was to redeem this country from the wilderness, and convert it into the abode of civilization, of abundance and happiness, and by that means to repay themselves, their wives and children for the hardships and sufferings of their early settlement, and also to repay the government more than thousand fold for the privilige of settling in Texas, and of making wild lands valuable, that before were valuless—

On what grounds was such a hope as this founded? It was founded on the colonization laws, on the general, liberal and broad invitation given in those laws to the whole world to come and settle in Texas—on the faith of the Govt that such an invitation would not be thus given merely to draw a few unsuspicious emigrants to this wilderness and then to close the door and shut them out forever from their friends and relations, and in fact from the balance of the civilized world, when years of struggling through difficulties had just begun to realize their hopes— Could the first emigrants have supposed that they would have been deprived of the privilege of settling by their sides a son or daughter, an aged father or wid- owed mother, a brother or sister, an old and affectionate friend or neighbor of other days and of other countries, because they did not emigrate on this or on that particular day? Could they have supposed that the general invitation of the colonization laws were mere time serving and temporary expedients which were to be changed without any apparent reason and without any violation of duty on the part of the first emigrants, is it reasonable to suppose that they would have labored as they have done, suffered what they have suffered, to bring forward this country, and give value character, and credit to it? No—they built their hopes on the permanency of the colonizing system, on the faith of the government pledged in their colonization laws, on the broad basis of philanthropy and republican freedom which they supposed had been adopted as the foundation on which the social institutions of Mexico were erected— Those hopes were certainly not entertained without a sufficient cause, and neither are they now destroyed notwithstanding the restrictions which are imposed by the law of 6 April 1830 which totally interdicts the emigration of North Americans for it is confidently believed that those restrictions grew out of peculiar circumstances, party excitements and hasty jealoucies which no longer exist—

It seems to have been received as a correct opinion that the inhabitants of Texas wished to separate from Mexico and unite with the U. S. of the North— It seems that the virulence of party feelings even went so far as to suspect that a friendly and republican govt whose territory is already too great for its population, wished to sieze upon Texas— such opinions and suspicions are evidently at variance with the conduct and avowed wishes of those emigrants, and with the true and substantial interests of Texas, on the one hand; and with the good faith and established policy and principles of the Govt of the U. S., on the other— Texas could gain nothing by a separation from Mexico, except a removal of the ruinous restrictions that now impede its progress in population and wealth, and if those restrictions were taken off, there is not a rational man in the country who would not oppose a separation— The true interests of Texas are to become a State of the Mexican confederation, and this is the desire of its inhabitants— By the law of 7 of May 1824, forming the State of Coahuila and Texas, the latter was only provisionally annexed to the former, untill it possessed the necessary elements to form a state of itself and this very law was another inducement to the emigrants to preserve, for it held out the inducement amounting even to certainty, that Texas would be a State so soon as its population and resources were sufficient. Moral obligation, and interests are the two great cords that bind communities, states and nations together— In no instance can the principle of interest be stronger than in the present one, supposing the restriction against emigration to be taken off

Texas must he an agricultural country, and the most of its agricultural productions will find a much better market in the Mexican ports than in those of any part of the world. The interior trade by land will also be very important. At this time, this trade is principally carried on through Missouri to New Mexico and Chihuahua but the geographical situation of the country and the practicability of roads from the harbors of Texas, evidently indicate that the natural channel of that trade, is from those ports, in preference to the circuitous route by Missouri through a foreign country, subjecting merchandise to a double duty which they would be exempt from if taken from the ports of this nation— The manufactures of Texas abounding as this country does in facilities for their establishment would evidently lose by a separation from Mexico. In fact there is not one interest in Texas that would not be injured by a separation not one that would not be materially benefited by the erection of this country into a state of Mexico.

This being the case, why drive the people of Texas to desperation by a system of restriction, that is at varience with the inducements and well founded hopes first held out to the emigrants, and with the true interests of the country? The 11th article of the law of 6 April 1830 totally prohibits the immigration of North Americans, and suspends contracts previously entered into by the government thereby depriving the present settlers of the consolation of settling there relatives and friends along side of them. It also cuts off all hope of future advancements for years to come and condemns this country to a wilderness. The hope of bringing out emigra[n]ts from Europe, is a faint and distant one, and will require many years and a vast amount of capital to accomplish it. And besides, what security or guarantee have they, in coming here, that they will not also be deprived of the privilege of bringing out their relations and friends after they have suffered years of hardships in preparing a home for them, as the settlers from the U.S. have been by the law of April 6, 1830?

under this view of the subjects, it certainly appears evident that that part of the law of 6 April 1830 prohibiting the immigration of north Americans, is unjust and at varience with the faith and pledges of the Govt and with the true and substantial interests of Texas— That law will not, and cannot prevent the introduction of hundreds and thousand into Texas, who, if they do not receive the sanction of the Govt to remain and acquire real estate, will, as a matter of course, become restive and perhaps, jeopardize the public tranquility But, on the other hand, by opening the door for admission of honest and honorable men of high character and property, the moral influence of such men will correct and direct public opinion, and make the moral tie, as well as that of interest, which does and ought to bind Texas to Mexico indisoluble—