Henry Austin to Stephen F Austin, 03-04-1831

Summary: Plans to interest capitalists in cotton mills in Texas. His own plans for railroad and a contract to furnish liveoak timber for British Navy.

New Orleans March 4th 1831

Col S F Austin


My dear Sir

I wrote you two long letters by the last vessels to Matamoros, chiefly on my own subject. The main object of this is to acquaint you with some propositions made to me here which I think may be directed to the interests of the Colony and also to your own. Mr N A Ware of Philada who has lately sold his plantation on this river proposes to invest forty thousand dollars in a cotton manufactory in the colony, provided he can have permission to do so, a piece of land for the establishment and your countenance and support to the enterprise. He says Mr Boys reports having obtained the exclusive right for Texas, in consideration of establishing a cotton mill at Bexar which he is now going about. I do not believe this to be true, you can ascertain. Mr Ware does not propose to go out immediately himself but to send a confidential and experienced man to erect the establishment, in whose name the location might be made. I have told him I thought it probable yon would be much pleased to have such an establishment erected and so far from seeing any difficulty in obtaining permission, I had no doubt you would give it all the encouragement in your power, and obtain for him an encreas'd grant of land proportionate to the magnitude of the enterprise say 5. 6 or more leagues, perhaps as far as 11 He then said if you would do so he would send in immediately a thousand spindles with the force and capital necessary for the operation, and a sufficient number of young negroes under indentures to secure the permanent running of the mill, and give you such a share of the net profits as you should judge reasonable for obtaining an encreas'd quantity of land (over one league) say one eighth or one tenth. He would prefer erecting the mill on a water course to use water power if it could be done in a secure and healthy position without going too far from the coast otherwise would use steam. I think it would be desirable to have it near S. Filippe if practicable to encourage the growth of cotton in that quarter and help build up the town on the subject oflocation you can give him the best advice. He appears to be a sound man and has a large capital laying idle

Mr William Taylor our late Consul at Vera Cruz is now here Mr Ware was introduced to me by him. Mr Taylor has retired from Mexican business with forty or fifty thousand dollars and appears to be at loss how to invest his money. Mr Ware proposed to him to join in his Texas manufacturing project, which he immediately assented to, and desired me to request of you to address a copy of your letter to Mr Ware, to him. Mr Ware will leave this for Philada in four or five weeks and as it is uncertain how long I shall remain here, as I only wait advices from you to determine my future course; I have told him I would request you to write directly to him on the subject and at foot I give you his address also that of Mr Taylor.

This is not a new project of Mr Wares, he has given his attention to the subject for some time and has better information respecting the colony than any man I have ever met with.

On my own subject, I shall get to the Colony in some mode if my solicitation be granted and shall not engage in anything until I know the fate of it. My wish would then be to go to England if I could raise capital enough, to make arrangements for a direct trade,—to procure my equipment and goods at the first European cost, with english artizans and laborers to erect my buildings etc at a cheap rate—and at the same time see what could be done with live oak timber, rail road etc. If a contract could be made for supplying live oak for His Majestys Dockyard it would throw great wealth into the Colony. There is a rail road building here, such an one might be built in the Colony at an expense of 3,000$ pr mile, 3/4 of which expense would be in the Iron ways, which might be dispensed with; a railroad of live oak would not cost over 1,000$ per mile. I wish you would advise me of your intentions respecting the Hawkins lands, it occurs to me that if you were to set off the lands on the east side of the river it might interfere materially with any arrangement for live oak—besides circumstances might render it advisable to purchase their right or the lands when set off Who is their agent here ?

Europe is in a very disturbed state and in all probability we shall soon have a general war there, revolution in Spain and very possibly in Ireland if not in England, These circumstances will drive a large amount of European capital and labor to this side of the ocean if matters can be managed in the colony to preserve tranquillity and security and the policy of the Govt continues to be liberal Texas will spring into importance with astonishing rapidity.

Henry Austin

I give you the address of Mr. W on the envelope