Stephen F Austin to Texas Gazette, 07-03-1830

Summary: Calming popular apprehension over the law of April 6, 1830.

We this day publish a translation of the law passed by the National Congress, on the 6th of April last, and also, the official letter of his Excellency General Manuel de Mier y Teran, to the Empresario of this colony.

By an attentive perusal of the law it will be seen, that the privileges granted in it relative to the coasting trade, and to the introduc- tion of provisions and lumber free of duty into the ports of Galveston and Matagorda are of the highest importance to the prosperity of Texas, and must tend most efficiently to promote its rapid advancement.

The encouragement offered for the establishment of manufactories is also important, and there cannot be a doubt that many enterprising capitalists will turn their attention to that branch of industry. Perhaps no country combines more real advantages than are presented in Texas for the establishment of cotton and woolen factories. The raw material of the best quality can be raised in the greatest abundance, and cheaper than in any other part of North America. Our soil yields the most luxuriant growth of cotton of the best quality. Our natural pasturage for sheep, in the undulating and hilly sections in the northern parts of Texas, are surpassed by none in any country; and countless thousands of them may be raised, with no other expense than a few shepherds. Provisions may be easily produced. Good situations for machinery, with water, steam, or ox power are numerous. Our harbors are sufficient for all the purposes of commerce. Our communications with the Mexican ports are open and unembarrassed. The markets, in those ports, are the best in the world, for the sale of cotton or other woolen goods, such as might be manufactured in Texas. In short, all that nature and a liberal and munificent government can do has been done, and nothing is now wanting but capital, enterprise and industry.

The 10th. article of the law clearly secures the rights of the colonists who are already settled. It also guarantees the rights of all the emigrants who are comprehended in the contracts of empresarios whose colonies are established, and permits the full completion of such contracts, to the full number contracted for. So that emigration to the colony is not stopped as was erroneously rumored. The settlers who are not comprehended in any colony, may also be provided for, as will be seen by reference to the powers granted to the General Government [Commandant] in the 3rd article.

The official letter of his Excellency General Teran, the commissioner of the General Government, under the 3rd article, is very clear and explicit, as to the interpretation of the law, and as to the just and liberal views of the General Government, under whose instructions he is acting.

The name of this distinguished patriot and scientific general is closely connected with some of the most interesting events in Mexican history. A soldier under the banner of freedom from the first epoch of the revolution, he has uniformly been a firm defender of the rights of his countrymen. As a legislator in the first constituent congress, his voice was raised in opposition to despotism and in favor of a free, liberal and constitutional government. As secretary of war he established system and organization in the army after the convulsions of the Emperor's short reign. At Tampico the invaders of his country sank before his military genius, and received from his humanity that protection and succor which their prowess could not secure to them. As commandant general of the eastern military department and commissioner of the General Government for regulating the colonies of Texas and establishing new ones, he will provide for the defense and permanent security of Texas from the Indians, and lay a foundation for such additional colonial establishments and maritime towns and fortifications as may be necessary to advance its prosperity.

The section of country east of this colony and particularity the Nacogdoches and Ais districts, demand the prompt attention of government. The land affairs of those sections require adjustment, and a totally different organization of the local government is much needed. Instead of having the whole civil and judicial power of the local government vested in alcaldes elected annually, it would be better to have a separate partido laid off with a chief of partido, and in addition to the alcaldes there ought to be a juez de letras, or judge learned in the law, appointed in the manner prescribed in the constitution, with a salary to insure a man of talents and qualifications. It is sufficient to merely know how the local government of that section of country is and always has been organized to understand the causes of all the little local difficulties which have arisen there. It cannot be supposed that an alcalde annually changed and elected by popular vote from the mass of a people speaking a variety of languages and who are themselves in general ignorant of the laws should be capable of discharging so important and responsible a position as that of a judge, whose jurisdiction embraces the investigation of all matters of controversy and all criminal cases without limit. Under three hundred dollars his jurisdiction is final, over that sum there is the right of appeal to the supreme court at Saltillo, six hundred miles distant. The alcaldes, however, cannot give final judgement in any important civil case and in no capital criminal case, without first consulting the assesor general, or attorney general who lives at Saltillo. It is very evident that such a system cannot secure to the people, nor to the government the benefits which organization and regular administration of the laws are designed to produce. The objections to the present alcalde system will apply more or less to every part of the state, and are very evident. They are severely felt here as well as elsewhere, for although the public tranquility has never been interrupted in this colony from its first establishment up to the present time, yet great individual inconvenience is daily experienced from this mode of administration of the laws.