S Rhoads Fisher to Stephen F Austin, 08-23-1830

Summary: Does not agree with Austin's desire to exclude slavery from Texas. The Province must draw its population from the South. Southern men will follow sugar and cotton planting, which demands slaves. Suggests free admission of slaves for five years, then rigid exclusion

Northumberland [Pennsylvania] August 23. 1830

Colonel S. F. Austin

My Dear Sir I again address you in consequence of having received yours of 17th June, tho, my opinion on its leading subject has been anticipated in mine of 14 and 20th Insts: I mean Slavery, that you were in favour of a free population is no surprise to me, believing that every reflecting man of equal intelligence must be so; but I was not prepared to learn that your determination was so decided as you have expressed it at the present juncture— I conceive each member of our little democracy, however inconspicuous his standing, has an unquestionable right to a free expression of opinion, in whatever relates to the policy of the State, and much more of the colony: under this view then, I feel no hesitation in saying that I believe the Interests of the Colony will be essentially injured, should the course of policy,—the non admission of slaves- mentioned in yours of 17th: June be adopted— Most of your Colonists are from Slave-holding States—they have enrolled themselves in your register under the firm conviction that slavery would be tolerated, and that they would be secure in the ownership of those brought by them —-Many others have made arrangements with you to remove, and with an express understanding that they could safely bring their negroes with them.

From your approximity to the Southern States, and from the favorable feeling already pervading her citizens, Texas may fairly anticipate a population from that quarter, more speedy and more numerous than from the northern and Eastern, and this I conceive is at present all important: added to which, do you believe that cane and cotton can be grown to advantage by a sparce white population? or are the whole cane and cotton growing districts of your delightful country to still remain a wilderness of flowers—a waste of richness ? It is impossible! Men remove from their Homes to better their situations, they submit to deprivations and encounter difficulties for the accumulation of wealth; and they will pursue that course of conduct which they believe will the soonest and the most certainly put them in possession of it— they will raise cane and cotton in preference to wheat and oats, when they live in a country peculiarly calculated for it, and as they cannot raise these staples without slave labour, they will raise them with it— there is no country in the world where these articles are grown unless by the assistance of Slaves, or where the population is so dense or so abject as to always place at the option of the proprietor any force commensurate to his wants— on this half of the continent thank God I the latter cannot be the case for centuries; therefore we must either abandon the finest portion of Texas to its original uselessness or submit to the acknowledged, but lesser evil of Slavery— In mine of 14th Inst without being made acquainted with your views, I stated as my opinion the expediency of Texas allowing the free admission of Slaves for -five years: this is a short period of time, but of sufficient length to enable a Southern emigration to introduce as many as would supply the actual wants of the colony— let the law of permission be then repealed and one substituted, making their introduction under any pretense highly penal— as soon as this is the case an emigration will rapidly commence from the South, and their time having expired, the Eastern people will in their turn view Texas as their Home— the very circumstance of it being measurably settled by Southerners which in their opinions is synonimous with wealth will act as a strong inducement to their coming in among us— these men will naturally seek the grain-growing districts, while those from the South will as certainly settle where they can raise sugar and cotten—or suppose a line should be drawn—say the Opelousas road to San Felipe, thence to Bejar— thence, following the Leona Vicario road till it strikes the river Nueces thence following its course to the Mouth— let the district of country lying between this Cordon and the gulf be appropriated to Slaves, and the other side be exempted from them— all parties would thus be suited, and each peculiar soil be brought into requisition— But it is not now necessary to discuss the subject at length; it is one of deep and serious interest, and should be viewed with great deliberation, and without prejudice— were we exclusively a grain-growing State, I should most strenuously cooperate with you in support of the non-slave holding principle; as it is—I must see you before I decide—

Allow me to thank you for the passports; and here I will mention a thing which may be all important to me—I may probably come out in a vessel drawing full twelve feet, having understood there was always at least that water at Paso Cavallo, and sometimes more, and that with this dft. one may readily go up to " Dog Island " even without a pilot: should my information be incorrect you will greatly oblige me by employing Mr. Tone or some one equally qualified to keep a look out from the 20 October—and board any vessel which may be standing for the Pass:

S Rhoads Fisher