Stephen F Austin to Samuel M Williams, 04-09-1832

Summary: Retail law passed over governor's opposition. Political conditions prevent relief to settlers in east Texas. Prudence and moderation, however, will bring relief in the end.

[From Williams Papers, Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Tex.]

Leona Vicario 9 April 1832

Dr Sir.

I arrived here Sin Novedad, on the 5 and took my seat on the 6th. Nothing has been done except the ley de comercio, which I presume you have seen. The Govr opposed it very violently and returned it, but the legislature approved it a second time, only three voted against it. Aguirre, Fuentes, and Figueroa. It will do the colonies no material harm, for not many of them have ever retailed goods out of the colony. In principle it is unconstitutional, but nothing need be said on that ground at present.

The Governor is decidedly in favor of the colonists, he will sustain them if they act prudently, and had it not been for this Santana business he would have taken some measures relative to the Trinidad de la Libertad affair, but to notice it now would be adding fuel to the flame of discord that threatens the ruin of the confederation. The opinion of many who are opposed to the ministers, and of all who are opposed ton Santana is, I that his real object is centralismo. The Ministers are suspected to have the same views. The real federalists are therefore opposed to the ministers and support Santana so far as to insist on their removal, but there they will stop, and if Santana still persists all parties will [be] united against him except his personal friends and he will fall. Tamaulipas is in great confusion. Santana is besieged in Vera Cruz—all the rest of the nation is quiet.

On my arrival here I found rumors in great abundance relative to Texas—that it had separated and declared independence etc. etc. The Govr did not believe anything of the kind, and I have fully satisfied him, on that subject, he is in favor of the memorial and will recommend it when it returns through the Chief of Department— he thinks it will be granted if no imprudence is committed by the colonists. There will be a change of ministers, an express who arrived last night from Mexico, I am told brought news that it had been finally determined to change all the ministers. The Memorial will therefore reach Mexico with the Govrs recommendation in the right time, just after the new cabinet is formed, and whilst reform is the order of the day. The object is a very important one, and it is best to bear almost any thing rather than jeapordise all by rashness and ill timed passion and imprudence. All the wild sayings and gabbling over cups and speeches etc at Brazoria have been circulated over this country with wonder full augmentations. The fact is that the great majority of the thinking and intelligent part of the people in the towns I passed through and in this place are in favor of the colonists but they fear the settlers will ruin themselves by their imprudence. If they are unjustly oppressed and can so make it appear the majority of the whole nation will be in their favor, but if the reverse of this is the case, and they fly into a fit of passion for slight causes the whole nation will be against them.

The advice I have reed, from a high source is, as follows— " Harmonize as much as possible with the military—give no cause for disgust—be calm and never shew any passion—never use threats or harsh language. The Alcalde or Ayuntamto. ought to keep an exact and detailed account of all the oppressive acts of the military or revenue officers and report the same to the Chief of Department. Any one who is illtreated by a military or revenue officer ought to exhibit proof of the same to the Alcalde who ought to report it immediately to the Chief of Department. No violence must be used on any pretext—no imprudent talking etc."

Better advice could not have been given and if properly followed will produce favourable results. Do try and impress this on everyone, and especially on those in Brazoria who are rather warmer than they ought to be, tho perhaps not much more so than rigid justice requires.

Some men in the world hold the doctrine that it is degrading and corrupt to use policy in anything. Without saying whether I approve of this doctrine or not, I do say that there is no degradation in prudence and a well tempered and well timed moderation. The absolute freedom of speech that is used in the U. S. of the North is unknown in this country and hence it is not properly understood, and for this reason just complaints when made in harsh language are construed into rebellion etc. etc. As a general rule all over the world Language and Acts, must be regulated in a great degree by circumstances and characters

Genl Teran has evidently been deceived very much by the arts and management of Fisher but he will soon be convinced of that, if he is not already, and all will end right.

Some amendments to the colonization law are proposed—they are not very unfavourable—the quantity of land is proposed to be reduced to half a Sitio for those who exhibit proof that they have at least 100 head of Ganado Mayor—those who have not that quantity are only to get one labor—the price is proposed to be increased a little etc. I doubt whether anything will be done with it this session. The members do not harmonize amongst themselves. The prospect is good that nothing will be done by this Legislature except the retail law.

I presume that Ugartachea is in Brazoria—remember me to him— his sister Mrs. Ibarra is in good health and all the family.

The memorial to divide the municipality will be passed to the house tomorrow—there seems to be no objection to it— you can read this letter to whoever you think proper— remember me to Sarah,

S. F. Austin

Shew this to John Austin