Stephen F Austin to Inhabitants of Colony, 06-07-1825

Summary: Explains his authority under the Government, declares that he is willing to have a public investigation of his acts under this authority and has asked for one, but that the procedure of Buckner is illegal and harmful to the colony. Therefore he has ordered his arrest fortrial at Bexar. Documents to support his statements.

To the Inhabitants living within the limits of this jurisdiction.

Fellow Citizens, I have regretted to see that a Spirit of discontent and contention has manifested itself in a few individuals of this colony since its first commencement.—A rigid adhereance to the instructions of the government would have compelled me long since to have noticed such disturbances of the public peace; but actuated by a hope that reason and reflection would lead them back to that path of subordination to the laws from which passion had unfortunately drawn them, I forbore to exercise the authority vested in me in such cases.—Unfortunately, my forbearance has been misconstrued, and has produced the opposite effect to that which was hoped for and expected.—It has been attributed to timidity, to a consciousness that I lacked authority, or, to a conviction that I had violated the instructions of the Government and to many other things of this nature.—.—

The public peace is now disturbed, and the minds of many of the settlers publicly disquieted by the acts of these contentious men. It has therefore become an imperious, tho' a painful duty, to change the mild course which has heretofore regulated my conduct, and to bring them before the tribunals of the Government to answer for their conduct.—.—So many misrepresentations, (arising probably from misconceptions,) have been propagated relative to my acts, as well as to those of other officers of the Government who were united with me in the organization of this new colony, that, I owe it to myself, as well as to every quiet and well-disposed settler, to request a public investigation of all my acts and conduct of a public nature, since I came to this Nation.—.—I approve of the principle that every public officer is amendable to the law for his official acts.—It is the only solid basis upon which free institutions can rest.—I hold myself responsible for mine, and have already requested, and shall again, and again request of the Government, that they should be publicly examined. I recognize also, as one of the dearest privileges of freemen the principle, that, every person has a right to seek redress of grievances, and, lawfully to meet, and petition the Government for that purpose, and I would ever be ready to lend my feeble aid at any such meeting.—properly convened for the public good.

An invitation for a Meeting has been made and secretly circulated by an individual whose turbulent and refractory disposition has long disturbed the peace and public order, purporting to have for its object an investigation of my authority, and with a view " to shake off the Yoke and disperse that dark cloud that has so long kept the settlers in darkness."

As regards this Meeting, I will merely observe that, it has been proposed in open violation of the laws of the land, and particularly that of the 10th January 1824, for those laws require an application to the constituted authorities; and no such application has been made. This invitation proposes "to shake off the yoke." What yoke? the words have but one meaning—they are plain, and the inference direct, which is the Yoke of the Government.—.—

Fellow Citizens, are you prepared to join any man in an open rebellion against the government under which you have voluntarily sought a settlement? Which has received you with every public mark of confidence and favour? Are you aware of the fatal influence it will have on your future prosperity, as well as the obstacles it will create against the admission of new settlers, to impress on the Government the idea, that, the Americans are disposed at the very moment of their entrance into the country,—while yet at the threshold and even before their full reception is completed and they are received in all the rights of Citizenship, to array themselves in opposition to the authorities placed over them? and to doubt, suspect and distrust the good faith of the Government, by declaiming, that, the officers appointed by it are without authority, and therefore ought not to be obeyed?—

I know that it is unnecessary for me to caution you against compromiting yourselves in any such acts, for I know, that, you will never do it unless misled or drawn into error without reflection, and this is the only reason why I now allude to the subject, and not because I ever believed that any well disposed man would knowingly engage in any act not sanctioned by the laws of the Country. If the object of the discontented persons be an investigation of my conduct by the Government, I hope they will be gratified, for, as I before said, I have petitioned the Government for such an investigation ; and I now declare that I will give a pasport to any person who applies for it who wishes to proceed to the Government for the purpose of entering complaints against me, and that, I will myself sign any petition respectfully drawn up requesting an investigation of my conduct by the Government, and that such investigation may be public and at this place in order to give every man an opportunity to come forward and exhibit his proofs.—

My duty, however, and the positive orders of the Government, relative to such cases, imperiously demand, that, open acts of insubordination tending to disturb the public peace should be noticed.—I have therefore issued an order for the arrest of the turbulent individual before alluded to and shall send him to the Government to be disposed of as it may deem just.—

As regards the fees ordered to be paid by the settlers on their lands, I have to state, that, they were fixed by the official order of the Governor of Texas, published on the 20th- May 1824, and sanctioned by the most Excl- Provincial Deputation, who ordered them to be exacted as will appear by their official letter dated 21st Sept. 1824, A translation of which is hereto annexed.—The Governor informed me that they were in conformity with the fee bill established by the ancient audience [audiencia] of Mexico, and other laws then in force; Whether they are legal or not, the establishment of them was not my act; it was the act of the highest authority of the then Province of Texas, and that authority most positively commanded me to collect them, and my duty as an officer compelled me to obey the order.—

As regards the quantity of land to be distributed to individuals, very great discretionary powers were lodged by the Government in the Commissioner and myself, as will appear by reference to the original concession, which, together with all the documents relative to my authority, are at all times open in my office for inspection, and an extract of which is annexed to this communication.—

Whether any person who applies to be received as a settler, has a right to dictate to the officers of Government how much land they are to receive, and in what way the discretionary powers vested in those officers are to be exercised—and whether I am bound as the founder of this colony, (Empresario) to receive every foreigner who applies, and satisfy all his desires, or, submit to their unreasonable complaints and misrepresentations.—And whether those who, for such causes disturb the public peace of the settlement by their disorganizing clamours, are not liable to the severest punishments of the laws—and whether the colonization Law itself, and the authority granted to the commissioner and myself, as the legal organs of the Government, do not, of themselves make a distinction; and contemplate that a very great one should be made in the distribution of land to the new settlers, according to their respective situtions, are questions, which reason, and the Laws must decide.

The investigation of my conduct already solicited by me, and which I now invite, will however elucidate these as well as all other points. If, in my official capacity I have done wrong the remedy is in the law—if those who have questioned the legality of the order of the Government of Texas relative to the fees required of them on their lands, and who refuse to obey it, have done wrong, the remedy is also in the law—and an opportunity is now presented to apply this remedy as justice may require. The investigation sought for by me will therefore at once show the settlers the nature and extent of the authority vested in me. All they have now to do is to support the authority of the Government, discountenance the turbulent, and separate themselves from them, and quietly wait the result, under the firm assurance, that, the Government will be equally prompt in protecting the rights of every good Citizen as in punishing the refractory.—

By doing this, no one implicates himself in any manner, the public order is not disturbed by illegal meetings, and the Government must acquit every peaceable settler of any participation in such disorganizing acts—and also by adopting this course, even the discontented will obtain what they profess to seek, which, is, an investigation of my conduct, and obtain it legally without incurring responsibility or blame,—.—Therefore in virtue of the authority vested in me by the Government as the civil and Military chief of this jurisdiction I call on all the Inhabitants and other persons within its limits, to unite in the support of the laws and protection of the constituted authorities of the Government, and I command them to hold themselves in readiness at all times to suppress any acts of insubordination, or others, tending to disturb the public peace; hereby forbidding all meetings unauthorized by the laws, or unsanctioned by the proper authorities, under the penalties prescribed by the laws of the state and of the nation to which we belong.

San Felipe de Austin, Jun 7th 1825.

Stephen F. Austin [Rubric]


The supreme executive Power appointed provisionally by the Sovereign Mexican Congress to all who shall see these presents, Know Ye, That considering the great evils resulting to the people from the abuse of unpopular Meetings, "Juntos" to treat of subjects which are deemed by them of importance when each one of the constituted authorities has its limits, and attributions designated, and the course which they' are to pursue in the different cases that may occur pointed out We Have Thought Proper to resolve as a general principle.

1st That all meetings, " Juntos " or unions of whatever class they may be which are not authorized by the Laws are positively prohibited, and those who in violation of this decree, form them, altho' they may have been invited to attend them, whether private citizens, " paisanos " Military or Ecclesiastics shall be punished severely, and without reprieve for having committed a crime according to the respective laws.—.—.—

2nd Also it is prohibited [that] the Corporations and authorities whose powers are designated by the laws shall meet in one Body to deliberate for the purpose of making representations, and to take resolutions which are without the scope of their Power.—.—

3rd Also when in the case provided for in the last article a corporation exceeds its powers, it shall be responsible agreeably to the established laws.

4th This Decree shall be communicated to the General Staff, and commandants, Generals and local commandants, and to the Political Chiefs for its exact and punctual comp[l]yance.—

Therefore, We command all persons to Execute and obey this Decree in all its parts.

Mexico January 10th 1824

Signed Alaman

[Translation of an official letter from the most excellent deputation of Texas.]

The Baron de Bastrop commissioner of the Government of this province for the organization of your Colony and to issue the titles of possession to its inhabitants, has paid to this Provincial Deputation One thousand dollars which he collected from some of those individuals on account of the payment which they must make on the lands they receive; declaring, that, two years had been granted to those inhabitants counting from the first of next December for the payment of Eleven thousand Dollars which remains due for the value of said lands, (which is the $30 each League mentioned in the fee bill,) and also for the fees belonging to him as the commissioner, the whole payable in two anual installments within the time above specified, and also for the amount of Sealed paper.—Although this arrangement is not in conformity with the orders that were communicated by the Government to the said Commissioner; this corporation accepts of it under the positive requisition, that the said Commissioner [is] responsible for the collection of that sum, and when it is concluded his commission shall cease, for which reason it is inclispensible that at the time of delivering the letters to those inhabitants you exact from each one of them an obligation for the sum total which they are to pay as well for the value of the lands granted them, as also for the fees of the commissioner and other expences securing them by the lands they receive for which object you will form a Book in which the said Mortgages or obligations must be entered.—

God and Liberty San fernando de Bexar 21st [September] 1824

Jose Antonio Saucedo

Miguel Arsiniega, Secy.

To D. Col. Stephen Austin.

A true Translation from the original,

Austin [Rubric]

[Translation of the Treasurers Receipt.]

As treasurer of the Public funds of this Province I have received of the Baron de Bastrop Commissioner of the Government for the same Province for the organization of the Colonial establishment undertaken by Stephen F. Austin on the Colorado and Brazos Rivers—One thousand dollars which he collected of the inhabitants on account of the fees they are bound to pay to the aforementioned funds for the value of the sitios of land which have been granted to them, and for the security and acknowledgement of the sum I give the present receipt signed with my own hand in this district of San Antonio this 16th day of September 1824 Acknowledged by the chief of the same Province.

Signed Miguel Arsiniega.

$1000 Acknowledged Saucedo

True Translation

Austin [Rubric]

[Extracts from the Decree of the Emperor of Mexico dated 18th of February 1823 and confirmed by the Sovereign constituent Congress and supreme Executive Power of the Mexican nation on the 11th and 14th of April the same year after the dethronement of the Emperor.]

"That in conformity with the law of colonization there may be " distributed to each colonist the head of a family one Labour, or " one sitio, according to the industry he may profess, offering to in- " crease the quantity of land for all those who may have a large " family, or who may deserve it by the establishment of any new " species of industry, or the perfection of those already known, or "by other circumstances that may be useful to the Province or " Empire, understanding that to the Colonist who, besides occupy- " ing himself in farming, also dedicates himself to the raising of " stock, there may be given one sitio and one Labor in conformity " with the eighth article of said law.—. —. "as regards the second point Austin is authorized, accompanied " by the Governor of Texas, or a Commissioner appointed by him, to " divide, and mark out, and put each of the new Colonists in posses- " sion of the quantity of land above indicated, and to issue to each " one his title in the name of the Government, for which purpose and "the others indicated in the concession,—certified copies shall be " remitted to the said Governor.—.— " And finally, He is authorised to organise the Colonists in a body " of National Militia to preserve the interior tranquility, giving " an account of all things to the Governor of Texas, and acting under " his orders, and those of the Captain General of the Province, and "until the Government of the settlement is organised, he is also "charged with the administration of justice Settling all differences "which may arise between the inhabitants and preserving good "order and tranquility giving an account of any remarkable event " that may occur, to the Government.—

Note The documents containing the authority and Power vested in me, and the instructions of the Government, are very lengthy, they were fully explained at the meeting of the 5th June last year and are at all times open for public inspection

Stephen F. Austin [Rubric]