Stephen F Austin to Central Committee, 07-24-1833

Summary: Reporting incidents of journey. Officials friendly and he hopes for success. Advises organization of State government if petition is denied.

City of Mexico, July 24, 1833.

To the Central Committee:

My letter from Vera-Cruz, dated 3d instant, informed you of the many untoward circumstances that retarded my journey to that place. When I wrote from Matamoras, on the 30th May, I expected to have reached Vera Cruz in Six days, and this place in six or seven more, I left Vera Cruz on the 5th in the stage, and arrived at Jalapa on the 6th, where I received information of the siege of Puebla by Arista and Duran—-and that the road was occupied on both sides of the city of Puebla by their troops, and all communication with Mexico cut off. On the 8th I was told that the stage was allowed to pass the lines, though the danger of robbers was great— and I intended to have proceeded in the stage on the 9th, But on that day a new and unexpected difficulty arose—my passport was from the Commandant General, D. Vincente Filisola, and it was therefore necessary to present myself to the military authorities on the road. At Vera Cruz I called twice (on the 2d, the day I landed, and on the 3d) on the Commandant General of that place, and exhibited my passport. He told me verbally I could proceed on my journey, but did not endorse my passport. Owing to the want of this formality, I was detained at Jalapa by the commandant, and could not proceed until I sent to Vera Cruz, so that I did not reach this place until the 18th inst. Puebla was heroically defended by Gen. Guadalupe Victoria, with the militia of the city, hastily collected for the purpose. The regular troops had all gone over to the other side previously, and left Victoria without any resources except the patriotism of the people of Puebla. With the militia he defeated Arista and Duran in their attempt to get possession of the city; and they retreated to the vicinity of this city. They are now within four leagues, on the retreat, in the direction of Queretaro. Santa Anna is in close pursuit of them, and no doubt is entertained of a speedy termination of the crusaders and the final triumph of the liberal party. I presume you have seen the Plan of Arista and Duran—its basis is Religeon and a large standing Army. They will fail in toto, and the result will be another triumph for Santa Anna and a complete dissolution of the aristocratic party and influence.

I called on the Ministers on the 19th, and they appointed the 23d (yesterday) to have an interview on the subject of my mission. I also called on the Vice-President; my reception was truly kind and friendly, particularly in the interview yesterday with the two Ministers of Relations and Justice, Garcia and Arispe. They were fully informed of the objects of my Mission by my communication from Matamoras through the Commandant Gen. and had received the memorial of the Convention which I forwarded from that place. I explained at large and with some detail the situation of Texas and the necessity of erecting it into a State. The leading points on which I rested our claims were:

First—The wish of the people and their declaration that they possessed the necessary elements to sustain a State Government.

Second—The natural right of Texas to occupy its station alongside of its sisters, the other States of the Confederation. It has always been a distinct member of the Mexican family and as such fought for the Independence, etc., and its being for a time under age did not in any manner weaken its rights now that it was in a situation to enter upon them, etc.

Third—The law of the 7th May, 1824. I positively denied the right of Coahuila to approve or disapprove of our separation. also stated that Texas did not, and would not, recognize the principle that it was necessary to apply to the other states of the confederation for their approbation. We were now entering upon a natural and imprescriptable right, which belonged to us before the formation of the Constitution, and one which the provisional union with Coahuila did not, and could not, weaken in any manner whatever, etc.

Fourth—The duty and the interest of Texas to cement and strengthen its union with the Mexican confederation—the indirect union as an appendage of Coahuila being very precarious, and liable to be broken at any time.

Lastly—The right and the duty of every people to save themselves from anarchy and ruin! On this last point I enlarged very much, as I also did on the 4th. I distinctly stated as my opinion that self-preservation would compel the people of Texas to organize a local government, with or without the approbation of the General Government—that this measure would not proceed from any hostle views to the permanent union of Texas with Mexico, but from absolute necessity, to save themselves from anarchy and total ruin. How such a measure would affect the union of Texas with Mexico, or where it would end, were matters worthy of serious reflection.

I will give the answer of the two Ministers, Garcia and Arispe, as nearly verbatim as I can recollect. I do not pledge myself for the accuracy of the words, but I do for that of the substance:

This Government will examine the pretensions of Texas to become a State of this Confederation, with the most friendly disposition towards the people of that remote section, and in conformity with the broad and liberal principles of the federal system, adopted by the Mexican Republic, We wish to see every portion of the confederation governed in accordance with these principles, and of those of the age in which we live. We admit that Texas has just cause to complain of the Legislature of Coahuila, The people of Texas may therefore expect that their application will be considered, and their just requests granted, so far as it is within The Constitutional powers of the Government to grant them.

The interview was long, and frank. I was requested to put my ideas in writing. They are pretty much all embraced in the Memorial, but I thought it would be better to condense them under separate heads or points.

So soon as I get the Constitution translated and a new translation of the Memorial (the first being defective) I will lay the whole matter before the Government.

I believe that Texas will be a State of this Confederation with the approbation of this Government before long. I form this opinion from the information of many persons of influence, all of whom confirm the friendly disposition expressed by the Ministers. Should I be incorrect in this conclusion there will be but one course, one remedy left, and that is for Texas to adopt the alternative I informed the Ministers self preservation would compel it to adopt. The people therefore must organize without any more applications or delay.

It is pretty well known in Texas that I have pursued conciliation as a system; some think I have adhered to it too long, and too obstinately. I do not think so, placed under the circumstances I was. However, this is a mere matter of opinion and is of no consequence. My conciliatory course has not compromised any of the rights of Texas; on the contrary, it has settled that country, and in times past saved it from many evils. Clamors and importunities could not force me from my old rule. You ought, therefore, to believe that my judgment is now convinced that Texas, in this question of right to become a State, must be uncompromising. I am placed in a situation here to form a more correct opinion as to what course will be best calculated to secure the prosperity of Texas, and its permanent union with Mexico, than I was in that remote section.

I therefore reiterate the opinion, and I place it on the footing of a recommendation, that should our application be refused, Texas ought to organize a local government with as little delay as possible—but always on the basis that it is a part of the Mexican Confederation, a younger sister who adopts this mode of entering upon her rights, now that she is of age, because unnecessary embarrassments are interposed which are unconstitutional, unjust, inexpedient and ruinous.

I also recommend tranquillity and obedience to the laws—these are the first duties of a citizen. Wait for a definite answer. The moment I get one, or am convinced that delay is the object, I will leave here and hasten home to unite in executing the recommendations I have made.

Your Fellow-Citizen and Obedient Servant.

Stephen F. Austin.