Stephen F Austin to S Rhoads Fisher, 06-17-1830

Summary: Politics of Mexico settling, but no hope of permanent quiet. Policy has apparently changed toward colonization. Reasons for change partly in imprudence of Poinsett and suspicions of the United States. Discussion of colonization of Texas with Swiss and Germans, exclusion of slaves, final independence of Texas if Mexico disintegrates. Suggests that Fisher discuss such topics in Philadelphia papers. Austin emphatically opposed to union with the United States.

San Felipe de Austin June 17 1830


S Rhoads Fisher Esqr.

My dear Sir, I have just recd yours of 2d inst requesting information as to the political aspect of affairs in this country; the course which the Govt are pursuing towards the settlers; and ask- ing my advice as to the removal of your family here the ensuing fall.

In relation to the first,—it is rather difficult to say what is the real state of things at present at the seat of Govt in Mexico. So far as can be infered from the public prints, things are more settled than they have been for some time, and Bustamante appears to sit more quietly in the Presidential chair than he did. Genl Bravo has defeated the force that was in the field near Áccapulco in support of Guerrero and the latter seems to be a fugitive. Perhaps it would be safe to say that no certain calculations can be made as to the political affairs of the capital, or as to what changes may take place in the form of Govt, or whether any. I am inclined to think that none will be made, altho, there seems to be a party in favor of a central Govt.— In this colony all is peace, harmony, and union—more than ever has been: The prospects of crops are very good and promise abundance.

On the 2d point— The policy of this Govt seems to have changed as to colonization in Texas, as you may see by the 11th article of the law of 6th of April last, which prohibits emigration from the U. S.— The 10th Article of that law however declares that no variation shall be made in the colonies already established This completely covers my colony, for it is established, and no legal impediment can be interposed to the emigration of the colonists who properly belong to my contracts, neither do I believe that any will be.

If an opinion can be formed from the public prints, this law has been produced by a chain of circumstances, some of which are the following. Mr. Poinsett became very unpopular, as it seems, and the prints of Mexico are teeming with the most bitter invectives against him. This odium seems to have extended to the American people and Govt, to a considerable degree. The charges (so far as they can be infered from Newspapers for I see no proofs) are that Mr. P. intermed[dled] with the internal affairs of Mexico—that he formed and organised political parties—that he fomented disunion—that his object in doing so was to defraud this Govt, out of Texas. In proof of this they say that as soon as all Mexico was thrown into convulsions by the virulence of the Yorkino (founded as is said by P—) and the Escoses parties, the Jackson papers of the U. S. Simultaneously vociforated " we must have Texas" - That P— was concerned in the grantsof Exiter [Exter] and Zavala , for colonizing in Texas, this caused a suspicion by inference, that as he was the agent and representative of the U S. that Govt was also secretly a colonizer, and had improper views as to this country. To all this the little imprudences and silly expressions of some of the settlers on the frontiers of Texas and elsewhere, have been added, greatly magnified, and construed by some into disobedience, or a wish to be disobedient etc, etc,—To these matters, have also been superadded reports, that the present representative of the U. S. Govt to Mexico, was sent especially to purchase, Texas from Guerrero, while he had Dictatorial powers, and was under the control of Zavala, who it is known was under that of Poinsett—The time when this offer is said to have been made is also noticed, that is when the nation was pressed for money, and in distress owing to the Spanish invasion, internal divisions etc. etc. Perhaps I hazard nothing in saying that causes may be discovered in this train of circumstances, in connection with others, which would have roused the suspicions of any people, and more particularly when it is remembered that the north is a giant, and Mexico a new and not firmly organised Govt, and also that the U. S. have silently, as it were, extended their dominion over the vast regions of Louisiana, Missouri, Oregon etc.

I give you this detail in order that you may form some idea of the apparent causes, of the change as regards Colonization in Texas— Some on the other hand say that it proceeds from British influence or from a desire to exclude foreigners and liberal principles, as a stepping stone to the establishment of a central republic, and aristocracy, or a monarchy. The free admission however of all other foreigners, into Texas except North American, and of the latter every where else in the nation seems to contradict this idea.

1— Queries: will not the true prosperity and happiness of Texas be more effectually promoted by a Swiss, French, German, and English population , than by an American one, nature seems to have intended Texas for a vineyard to supply America with wine.—

2— Is not Slavery a curse which must lead to the total ruin and butchery of all southern slave countries, and is it not the duty of the Mexican Govt, and the true interest of every citizen of Texas to keep this country clear of it— A few years more and Mexico will be the only resting place left for the whites South of Illinois, unless the blacks are exterminated by a general massacre by the Whites; and afterwards excluded from being brought into the country— In a century more either the whites, or the blacks must cease to exist in the southern States, or they must intermarry and all be placed on an equality.—

3— Is it not rather unkind in the U. S. to try to extend its vast and unwieldy frame over a part of the territory of its neighbor? and is it not impolitic and dangerous even to the integrity of that nation to enlarge its limits any farther—?

4— Will not Texas be equally prosperous as a State of the Mexican confederation?

5— If this Govt, totally falls into ruin and this nation should be split up into separate republics, will not Texas be better independent, than as a part of the U. S.

6— Can Texas ever be attached to the U S. without becoming a slave state, and does not phylanthropy and the happiness of so large a portion of the human race, as can be supported here, imperiously demand, that slavery should be forever excluded from it ?

7— Is it not a duty which the U. S., as being the most powerful owes to its weaker neighbor to step forward and make a full fair and candid examination of the causes which have produced the present excitements in Mexico against her citizens, and if any of them or her public agents have been in fault to make it apparent—

8— Is it not the duty of the U. S. even to overlook any little jealoucies which the Mexicans may have manifested, and to pursue a conciliatory, rather than a harsh course?—

I think that an able and prudent pen that understood the character of the Mexicans, might do much general good by discussing the above queries in a prudent and masterly manner in the Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore etc papers— the national Gazette would be a good paper for such a discussion—.

News paper publications of the character of "Americanus," " Patriot " etc added to the train of circumstances which I have stated- have done great harm to the interests of Americans in Mexico- publications of an opposite character would do much good, by removing the impressions now prevalent in Mexico that all those publications proceed from the Govt, and that the object is to excite the American people to rush into Texas and take it right, or wrong.—

It has always been my policy to keep Texas out of the news papers, but it has been dragged in by others and it must now be kept in, but the other side of the question must now by discussed—that is to say, that it ought not to he attached to the U. S. but remain attached to Mexico— it might be stated in favor of this (with reference to the interests of Texas) that the coasting and internal trade and manufacturing advantages will afford more benefits, than anything which could be gained by an union with the North, in fact that nothing will be gained by the union but the admission of Slavery and that it would be a curse etc, etc,— And with reference to the interests of the U. S. it may be truly urged that, an extention of territory to the S. W. would cause a seperation of the union etc, etc, etc—

I recommend this matter to your attention you will of course see its vast importance, and its great delicacy— An excitement has been written up against the U. S. and Americans in Mexico— the object is to write it down—by removing the causes of jealouscy, and soothing the feelings of the Mexicans and even tickling their vanity in a judicious manner—

As regards my own individual views and objects I will give them to you with the most perfect frankness and candor. It has been, and is, my ambition to redeem Texas from the wilderness, and to lay a solid foundation for its future prosperity. I do not believe that, that object can be effected by any kind of union with the U. S. for such an union would of course intail slavery on this fair region, which may be made the Eden of Americasatan entered the sacred garden in the shape of a serpent— if he is allowed to enter Texas in the shape of negros it will share the fate of Eden,— We have been well treated by the Mexican Govt, and we are bound by our oaths to be faithful to it— I will loose my life before I will forfeit that obligation or do aught which my duty as a Mexican citizen forbids—. I wish to see a foundation laid here for the happiness of posterity, as well as for that of the present generation— I have no kind of views or ambition for office, neither am I avericious— my constitution is much broken and I wish for peace and quiet retirement on a stock farm

Perhaps you might embark some able and prudent person on the right side of the Texas question in Philadelphia—or in other words on the side of justice and general phylanthropy and peace. I am totally incompetent to such a task, and besides it would do more good in the papers of the U. S. than here, for the excitement was gotten up there and there it ought to be put down-

Timothy Flint (the western review) at Cincinnatti would be a master hand. I had an acquaintance with him in St Louis many years ago If you go there you may if you chuse shew him this letter, but as confidential.

Governments like individuals are often moved by trifles— It may seem to us a silly idea that this nation can be operated on by news paper publications in the U. S.—but such is the fact (as regards Texas) for it has been deeply operated upon to our prejudice by Americanus and Patriot etc, etc—

My dear Sir let me beg of you to be prudent in the management of this matter (if you move in it at all)— Lord Chesterfield (I believe it was) said that a man had more to fear from imprudent friends than from the bitterest enemies— I am not anxious on my own account— my health warns me that my days are drawing to a close, but I have been the means of drawing many families to Texas, and their present and permanent welfare and happiness is very dear to me, and costs me many anxious hours and days— The object, of bringing forward such a country as this, is an immence and an hon- orable one, it requires infinitely more talents and more strength of constitution than I possess, and I wish to enlist some efficient aid.

I send you a publication made in Mexico by which you can see the general tone in that quarter.

As regards the removal of your family I have to say that my brother in law James F. Perry left here three weeks since to bring his, and I have this day written to him to come on in the fall and not mind what he sees in the public papers.

This is the best answer I can give to your 3d enquiry

Should you see my relative Thos. F. Learning please remember me to him

I returned from Bexar a few days since, all is well with the State authorities- no news from Bowie or your petition— The Govt are encouraging Manufactories as you can see by the law of 6 april— write me often, our coasting trade is open for foreign vessels

S. F. Austin [Rubric]

By a pacific and just course I have brought forward this colony to what it is-— the same course cannot fail to continue the advancement of its prosperity— some visionary men think that a civil war would lead to the independence of Texas— perhaps it might—but admitting it would, I have one objection to it which with me is conclusive and paramount—it would he unjust—this is not my only objection, there are hundreds, but this one is enough—

The settlers here are really well off, and are satisfied—the only worm that now works in their heads is that no more emigration is to come they are not to have Slaves etc—a prudent course will remove all these difficulties— We must prove to this Govt, by our conduct that we deserve its confidence—we must get in Swiss, and Germans and I think that if you could excite some educated, common sence, practical men of those nations to come and view this country; it would be the means of paving the way for a great emigration— our country men in general want slaves-— this is a troublesome question to get on with, they must be reasoned with and brought round by degrees and prudence— The minds of the people here at this time are very quiet and settled, but one imprudent measure on the part of Govt, would have a dreadful effect-— This must be closely watched and guarded against if possible and harmony and peace preserved

I send you a copy of my letter to the Alabama Gentlemen who were out here last fall and contracted to emigrate— I have, requested them to publish it in Tuscumbia papers—they may not do it owing to what I have said about Slavery—if they do not you can if you chuse, exercise your judgement and publish it or not, as you think best, in some Philadelphia paper— write me your candid opinion as to the course of policy which I have indicated in this letter— if you disapprove of it—state your reasons—and suggest alterations— Try and pry into old Hickorys cabinet so far as to know what they wish to do as regards Texas, how they feel towards this nation—tho. I cannot believe that they can have any hostile feelings for I know of no just motive—

I have scribbled a long letter—too long to Sacmt en limpia, and must send it all blotted and scratched etc. I have a rough copy of it—a correct translation of the Voz de la patria, might serve as a text, to preach from, for it will shew that hostile feelings do exist in Mexico, it will then be natural enough to ask, why they exist?—

S. F Austin [Rubric]

Do you know Mr. McQueen of New Orleans— he writes well I am told and intends removing here exercise great judgement in enlisting prudent and safe men as writers on this subject, S. Williams has a son