Stephen F Austin to Mary Austin Holley, 11-17-1831

Summary: Methods and motives and difficulties in settling Texas. Confidence in justice of Mexican Government. Wishes now to advertise Texas and settle Irish, Scotch, German, Swiss, and French immigrants.

Nov: 17,1831

Dear Cousin,

I wrote you a scrawl some days since, (I do not recollect the date) when I was quite debilitated, and with rather a feverish brain, and really have no clear recollection of the contents of my letter, but doubt whether I answered all the inquiries contained in yours of 2nd November.

I am pleased with the idea of some publication that will make the world acquainted with Texas, as Texas and its inhabitants deserve.

When I explored this country in 1821, it was a wild, howling, interminable solitude from Sabine to Bexar. The civilized population had not extended beyond the margins of the Sabine in that quarter; and was confined, on the west to the towns or villages of Bexar and La Bahia (the latter is now called Goliad) which were isolated military posts. I found the country so much more valuable than I expected that the idea of contributing to fill it with a civilized and industrious population filled my soul with enthusiasm. I can with truth, and with a clear conscience, say, that none of the sordid and selfish motives which influence the mass of adventure[r]s had any weight in determining me to attack this wilderness. I commenced on the solid basis of sound and philanthropic intentions, and of undeviating integrity. I asked the favor of the new government of Mexico—that is, permission to settle this country, and become one of its citizens. What I asked was granted. I became a Mexican Citizen. From that moment, honor, the sanctity of an oath, gratitude—all bound me to Mexico and her interests. Never have I for one moment, deviated from the line of duty which those obligations imposed on me. And, I attribute my success (for I may say with pride I have been successful) to this circumstance. Should this Government ever attempt to trample upon us, however, honor, duty, justice, the approbation of all good people of all good Nations, will point out the course for us to adopt. But, I have no fears— not the most distant of such an unhappy event. But few of my native countrymen understand me, my character, motives, or principles. An earnest desire to benefit all; in short, more good will, and confidence in mankind than [was] deserved, have often led me into mistakes verging on weakness, and exposed me to the impositions of the crafty and designing.

A thorough knowledge of the Mexican character, the policy of the Government and the feelings of the mass of the people towards foreigners convinced me at an early day that Texas must be settled silently, or not at all. Hence it is that I was progressing here for years, and rearing a flourishing settlement in this country, and it was unknown even in parts of Louisiana, the adjoining State, that such a thing existed. The circumstances are now changed, and it is time to bring out my ward and introduce her to the world.

The emigration of North Americans is now totally prohibited. I wish to start an emigration of English, Irish, Scotish, German, Swiss, French, any civilized people; the three first are the best from the unity of languages, similarity of character etc: A work on Texas would do much good in Europe especially in Great Britan I think a little exertion would set in motion an English emigration of respectability, and as I am authoiized, in company with another, to introduce eight hundred families, Europeans, besides my former contracts, I feel a great interest on this subject- I have no North American prejudice against the English, on the contrary I only remember that our ancestors were English.

There is a gentleman here from Virginia Doctor Branch T Archer of Richmond, a relation of the Congress [man] Archer, with whose character you are no doubt acquainted. He arrived in July, and talks of writing a history of us, and has been to Bexar collecting materials relating to the country generally.

As soon as I can I will try to spend some time with you at Bolivar, and will give you all the information I can. After I have seen Gen : Terran I can form a more certain opinion of the future policy of the Government, and shall be better able to answer the proposed queries of the " British Geographical society" —certainly with more satisfaction than at present.

I shall not leave for Saltillo until I am fully restored in strength, which will not probably be sooner than 1st February. This will give me a week to spend with you for this reason I omit many things I have to say until then. I rode out yesterday in a carriage the first time I have left my room. In a week I hope to be at Anahuac, and if I can hire a boat will go thence to Chocolate and then to Bolivar

I am a houseless bachelor and have no accomodations to offer you, but my sister can furnish you a room in a Texas Cabin—with Texas fare—and an affectionate welcome. Hope promises better things for next year, though as for me, a tree, or a tent, with blankets and plenty of fat wild meat—, I am satisfied.

I congratulate Henry on the near prospect of seeing his family. We have been scattered before the four winds of Heaven. Texas will bring our dispersed family together, and afford us competence, and—a home. To me the idea is truly grateful.

S F Austin.