Stephen F Austin to Sameul M Williams, 01-13-1834

Summary: Announcing arrest for urging organization of State government in Texas. Has opposed annexation of Texas to the United States, but has told Mexican statesmen that they should either reform local abuses in Texas or sell the Province to the United States. Warns against excitement over his arrest. His attitude toward the convention of 1833. Attitude toward territorial government for Texas toward statehood.

[From Williams Papers, Rosenberg Library, Galve&ton, Tex,]

Monterrey Jany 12 1834

S. M. Williams.

On my arrival at Saltillo on the 3 inst. I was arrested by the Comt General on an order from the Minister of War directing that I should be sent back to Mexico to answer an accusation, made, as I understand, by the Govt, of the State of Coahuila and Texas. I leave in a few days for Mexico under an escort as a prisoner. My treatment is very good and I have no cause to complain on that score. I feel under obligations to the Com Genl Don Pedro Lemus, and to the Govr of this State Manual Maria Llanos, also to Col Ugartechea who is the Commandant at this place. They have all treated me in the kindest manner. Lemus expects to visit Texas, and if he should, and I have one friend left in that country, or if there be one out of the thousands whose fortunes I have labored to make, who wishes to do me a favor in return, I request that friend, or that one, to be the friend of Genl Lemus for my sake.

I presume that I am arrested for writing the oficio to the Aytos. of Texas dated 2d of October last. I made some enemies in Mexico for opposing a territory, but I do not believe they have had any hand in my arrest. It has been intimated to me that some enemy, I know not who, had accused me of designs to unite Texas with the U. S. of the north. Such an accusation is false and I disregard it. I have said openly to all persons in Mexico, and to the Govt, itself, that I was of opinion the local Govt, of Texas ought to be organized, or that country ought to be transfered to the U. S. for situated as it now is, it is liable to revolutions and anarchy which may do much harm to the frontiers of both nations, and finally loose Texas and ruin the poor and honest settlers who have labored in good faith to redeem it from the wilderness and make it a valuable portion of the Mexican republic. The real fact is that at this time Texas does not belong to Mexico, nor to Coahuila, nor to the settlers who have redeemed it—it belongs to them in justice and in right that is to the Mexican republic and to the inhabitants of Texas—but in point of fact, it belongs to demagogues, pettyfoggers, visionary speculators and scheamers, to indians to anarchy and discord and confusion—to comprehend all in one word—it is without Government.

I hope there will be no excitement about my arrest. All I can be accused of is, that I have labored arduously, faithfully, and perhaps at particular moments, pationately, and with more impatience and irritation than I ought to have shewn, to have Texas made State of the Mexican Confederation separate from Coahuila. This is all, and this is no crime. But should it be considered otherwise, it will not take me by surprise. Ever since I returned from Bexar a year ago last Decr and found the Convention called in my absence, I have consider'd myself as suspended over the altar of sacrifice. That measure placed me in an awkward position. It compromised me in the highest degree with the people and authorities of Bexar, on the one hand, and with my friends at San Felipe on the other, for altho I had agreed to the calling of a convention before I went to Bexar, I did not expect it would have been done in my absence. I went there to consult with the authorities of that place. I considered that very great respect and deference was justly due to them as native Mexicans, as the capital of Texas, and as the oldest and most populous town in the country. And I knew the importance of getting them to take the lead in all the politics of Texas, besides this, I was personally attached to those people as a sincere friend and wished to act in concert with them. I wished the convention to meet in Bexar, but at that time it was death to any man's popularity to speak in favor of the Mexicans. These things are all pased and had best be forgotten—probably I have no just cause to blame any one but myself for in some things that occured then I was a mere passive actor, when I ought to have been a firm and unbending director. My object was to smother the party spirit and violent and ruinous divisions which I saw brewing in the colony; and as my friendship for the Mexicans and opposition to violent measures was to have been used by my enemies, (who were in fact also the only real enemies to Texas) as the kindling materials, the oil and brimstone to set the flame of discord and confusion ablazing, I thought it best to deprive them of the kindling matter by a passive course. I mistook the means, and committed a great error, but I have learned this lesson in politics, that there is no medium with envy and party spirit, between victory and defeat.

I was always in favor of the State question, but I feared, especially after my trip to Bexar, that it would not succeed unless the people of that place took the lead, and it was arranged for them to do so. The representation and remonstrance of 19 Decr, was the first step, and would have led to all the others, and Texas by this time would have been a State or nearly so, and the discord that I fear has arisen between Bexar and a part of Texas would have been avoided. All was defeated and deranged and Bexar was offended and turned against a measure that it was in favor of. So much for party spirit and envy, or rather for opposition to Austin because he was Austin— he, must be suspected and watched—he, who has labored so many years regardless of personal fatigue or responsability to build up Texas, settle it and make the fortunes of its inhabitants—bien, muy bien. Such is human nature and such it will always be-—I am tired of it and for the future wish to have as little to do with mankind or their affairs as practicable.

If I thought my advice would have any weight, I would say to Texas, you must all harmonise with Bexar and Goliad, that is with the Mexican population. If they petition for a State or a Territory and are seconded by the rest of Texas, the petition will be granted, and I am equally certain that no petition of this kind will succeed that is opposed by that population.

If a victim is required by the Govt I, of course will be the man, for those who have really contributed to precipitate these matters occupy too small a space to be noticed by the Government.

I wish you to send me a certified copy of the representation made last year by the Ayto. of Goliad. I have that of Bexar and need the other to shew that the Mexican population complained even more than the other. Send it under cover to W. S. Parrott and direct all letters for me to him.

The Aytos. of Texas, if they wish to do me justice might state to the Genl Govt what they know of my character and conduct. I do not ask it, if it is done I wish it of their own accord. Such a thing from Bexar would have weight. I must request you to provide me with the means of living in Mexico. I used one of the bills of credit that is one thousand dollars—can I use the other? I can sell bills on Orleans in Mexico for 10 pr. ct. I sold to Parrott—I recd, nothing for any of the claims on Matamoros but am promised something. I presume I shall be five or six months and perhaps a year in Mexico, or I may be sent back to the State Govt who have demanded me of the Comt Genl for what purpose, whether friendly or hostile, I know not. No man has benefited this part of the nation more than I have—in a few years more the frontier of Coahuila will be safe from the indians

Remember me to my friends if I have any and to your wife and the old settlers

S. F. Austin