Stephen F Austin to Samuel M Williams, 06-15-1832

Summary: Tariff politics. Teran against foreigners, but favors repeal of law of April 6, 1830. Smuggling. Galveston Bay & Texas Land Co.

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

Matamoros June 15—1832

Dr Sir.

I left Saltillo on the 12th May—thence by Monterrey, Pelon, Linares, Victoria to the Hacienda del Cojo, the head quarters of Genl Teran 20 leagues back of Tampico, thence by Soto Marina here. Genl Mason accompanied me to this place, and we both intended to have gone to Texas, but the fatigues of so long a journey as the one we have just made through excessive heat and drought in an almost uninhabited country, has worn us both down very much—he has concluded to embark for N. York from here, and I shall return to Saltillo to wait the meeting of the Legislature in September, consequently shall not reach home untill October.

Mr Alexr Greaves, who came directly here from Victoria proceeds to Texas. I have told him to go direct to your house—he is the most useful man for an office I have ever seen in this country—rigidly moral, industrious, and in every respect worthy of confidence—his knowledge of the Spanish is most accurate—you will discover that his general knowledge of human nature and of mankind is not quite as extensive as that of some men, but his judgement in general is very correct. I think him a very worthy man-—a better man could not be found for the Secretary of the Ayto either of Austin, or of Brazoria.

I send you the law extending the privilege of introducing certain articles free of duty in Texas for two years—it is not as extensive as we need. I wish the Ayto. to petition again on this subject, and ask for a modification of this new law, so as to leave out whiskey and lumber from the law, and include all tools made of iron and wood used for farming or the trades—furniture—carte and waggons—iron and steel—cotton baging and bale rope.

It will not do to go any farther, and nothing else ought to be included or mentioned in the petition. Send one original copy to Genl Teran and one to the Minister of Hacienda—also let the Ayto. write an official letter to Bradburn, Piedras, and Elosua, enclosing the memorial, and requesting each of them to give his opinion in writing to the Comt Genl Teran on the subject. If their opinions are all favourable Teran will also support it, and the measure will succeed. Also request father Muldoon to write to his friends on the subject.

The news papers will have informed you of the political state of affairs in Mexico—we have no information here as to who are to compose the new ministry. Some think the revolution will stop with the removal of the ministers, others are confident it will not. I think myself that not much quietness can be expected untill after the Presidential election is over—and even then—-quien sabe.

Genl Teran has gained much credit with moderate men for avoiding bloodshed—but he has also lost with the same men, and with everyone except fanatic fools and old Spaniards, for the manner in which he has spoken of foreigners in his letter to Moctezuma written from here, and his Altamira proclamation both of which you have seen published, the latter begins " Ya lo habéis visto." I sincerely believe that neither of those papers contains his real sentiments as to foreigners—but most people are in the habit of judging of a man by what he says, and not by what he thinks, and for this reason I think those two papers will do the Genl great harm both at home and abroad. They will also irritate the other party excessively, for they contain a direct charge that the Santana party are the mere tools of foreigners, which is certainly an incorrect charge.

The Genl was greatly perplexed, and overwhelmed with affairs when I saw him at the cojo. He had just retreated from Tampico— had just heard of the removal of the ministers—was not in very good health, and in a camp in the midst of his army, of course not in a situation to talk much about Texas matters—however, we had considerable conversation on the subject. He expresses great interest for the prosperity of the settlers—is in favor of repealing the 11 Article of the law of 6 April and of extending the commercial privileges. He told me that he had sent on Fishers resignation to the Govt, to be acted on by the President as he might deem proper etc. etc.

If harmony and confidence can be maintained between the merchants and settlers and the local officers of the custom house and of the army at Brazoria, all will get on very well. Some one reported to Genl Teran that there were more goods imported into Brazoria in October and November last, than had entered the port of Matamoros for one year—this was the real cause of his sudden trip to Texas last Novr when he took out Fisher.

He says that what the Settlers need for their own use is of no consequence, and if goods could be prevented from being taken from Texas to the interior, no custom house would be established there for many years—but he says that the importations there for the purpose of the interior trade reduces the revenue of of this port, and defrauds the Govt. etc. I told him that the person who made such a report to him stated what was false. He said that every indulgence would be allowed on all articles for the necessary use of the settlers, but that the utmost rigor would be used as to light and fancy dry goods, suitable for the interior trade. By the by this interior trade has never been carried on from Brazoria or Galveston—it is a loosing business at best, and I hope for the future our merchants will let it alone. It is more important at this time to encourage the farmers than the merchants.

I shall go to Monterrey and try to enlist some friends there who have influence in Mexico to use it with the new administration in favor of a repeal of the 11 Article of the law of 6 April. I have every confidence that, that law will be modified. I shall probably be in Saltillo in July where I shall expect letters from you, giving me the news as to how the colony is getting on. I hear you had a very wet spring and have fine prospects for crops.

Genl Mason has succeeded in part in getting the New York Company business arranged, and I think they will go on with the settlement of those colonies by europeans.

Remember me particularly to Padre Muldoon and all others. These long trips in the sun through such a wilderness as this country totally destitute of every comfort for the traveller, are truly wearisome to the body, to the health, to the patience and to the mind, but if I can do any good to the colony I shall feel myself well compensated for all.

S. F. Austin [Rubric]

[Addressed:] Mr. Sam M. Williams San Felipe de Austin