John Smith to Stephen F. Austin, 12-25-1825

Summary: Representing friends in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Wants information concerning commercial privileges, religious toleration, and oath of allegiance.

Near Russellville Logan County Kentucky

Decr. 25—1825

Stephen F Austin Esqr.

Sir I have the honour of addressing you via Natchitoches, in behalf of myself and sundry friends who, wish me to explore the Province of Texas, and particularly that part of it comprehended in your grant— I was on Red River last month, and should have proceeded to your Section of the Country, but I was advised to postpone that part of my journey, till the grass grows up in the Spring, and having some friends and relations in this quarter who desired to see me in relation to that Country, I came hither, and am litterally locked up, for the winter I suppose, by the ice and snow—

I have resided for some years past in the States of Mississippi and Louisiana, where the most of my friends abide, and at whose instance I consented to visit your Province

I am instructed to enquire particularly into the following points—to wit

1st Will there be allowed to the citizens, or Subjects of Texas, a free commercial intercourse with the Citizens or Subjects of other nations ?

2d Will Religious toleration be allowed the Emigrants from the United States, so far as to be exempted from the payment of tithes to the established Church, if they should desire it. And to think and act for themselves in matters of conscience? Provided they do not interfere with the Catholic Religion, and with fidelity support the laws of the land, as citizens ought to do? and thereby to enjoy as much Religious liberty as the Protestants have in France, and some other Catholic Countries? Or as the Catholics have in the United States? Or should these previleges in there full extent be refused, we ask for the Privilege of exercising the rights of private judgement in our own houses and neighbourhood? Provided, nevertheless, that our difference in opinion with the Catholics, be a silent one ?

3d We wish you to transcribe the form of the oath you will administer to us—From your letters which we have seen in print, we know your terms of settlement, and are satisfied— Have the goodness to write me as soon as convenient, after the receipt of this, and very particularly on each of the forgoing points, addressed to me at this place

I expect to remain here till next May, and will thank you for any news which you maye please to give me—

John Smith

[Addressed:] Stephen F Austin Esquire Texas—Particular care of the Post Master of Natchitoches