Stephen F Austin to Ayuntamiento of San Felipe, 01-17-1834

Summary: Announcing arrest and advising tranquillity.

Monterey, Jan. 17, 1834

To the Ayuntamiento of San Felipe de Austin:

I have been arrested by an order from the minister of war, and leave soon for Mexico to answer to a charge made against me, as I understand, for writing an officio to the Ayuntamiento[s] of Texas, dated 2d October last, advising, or rather recommending that they should consult amongst themselves for the purpose of organizing a local government for Texas, in the event that no remedies could be obtained for the evils that threatened that country with ruin.

I do not in any manner blame the government for arresting me, and I particularly request that there may be no excitement about it.

I give the advice to the people there that I have always given, keep quiet, discountenance all revolutionary measures or men, obey the state authorities and laws so long as you are attached to Coahuila, have no more conventions, petition through the legal channels, that is through the ayuntamiento and chief of department, harmonize fully with the people of Bexar and Goliad, and act with them.

The general government are disposed to do everything for Texas that can be done to promote its prosperity and welfare that is consistent with the constitution and laws, and I have no doubt the state government will do the same if they are applied to in a proper manner.

It will be remembered that I went to Mexico as a public agent with specific instructions, and as such, that it was my duty to be governed by them, and by the general wish of the people as expressed to me. Also, that when I left in April, the general wish did express itself for the separation from Coahuila and the forming of Texas into a state of this confederation. Also, that there was a determination to organize a local government at all hazards, if no remedy could be obtained.

I have in all my acts conformed to this public wish of the people, so far as I was informed of it, and when I despaired of obtaining any remedy, as I did the beginning of October, I deemed it to be my duty as an agent to inform the people so; and believing as I did, that they would organize, I also considered that it would be much better to do so, by a harmonious consultation of the Ayuntamiento[s] than by a popular commotion. These were my reasons for the recommendation given in that officio; also, the result of the civil war was thought to be doubtful.

I understand, and I rejoice to hear it, that public opinion has settled down on a more reasonable basis, and that the most of the Ayuntamientos of Texas have expressed their wish to proceed in a legal manner to seek redress. I ought to have been informed of this change, but I was not, and knew nothing of it to a certainty, untill the 5th of November, so that up to that time I acted under the impressions I had when I left Texas in April. Since then I have not moved the state question.

The past events in Texas necessarily grew out of the revolution of Jalappa, which overturned the constitution and produced the counter revolution of Vera Cruz, which extended over the whole country, and involved Texas with the rest. It is well known that it was my wish to keep Texas, and particularly the colony, out of all revolution, and I tried to do so, but the flame broke out in my absence from Texas, in June 1832, and since then all has been completely disjointed. A current was set in motion by the general events of the civil war all over the nation, and under the circumstances, Texas could not avoid being agitated by it. No one can be blamed in any manner for what has happened since June, 1832, in Texas- it was inevitable—neither was it possible for me to avoid being drawn into the whirlpool. It was my duty to serve the country as an agent if requested to do so; and as an agent it was my duty to obey my instructions as expressed to me.

I have long since informed the Ayuntamientos of Texas of the repeal of the law of April, 1830, and of the favorable and friendly disposition of the government, and by this, I of course rescinded, or annulled, the recommendation of 2d October, for that was predicated on the belief that nothing would be done, and that the result of the civil war then pending was even doubtful, since then all has changed for the better, and public opinion in Texas has become sound, and shaken off the excitement that necessarily grew out of the past agitations.

Under these circumstances the prospects of Texas are better than they ever have been. The national revolution is ended, a constitutional government exists, the people are obedient to the government and laws, everywhere. Be the same in Texas, and have no more excitements, tolerate no more violent measures, and you will prosper and obtain from the government all that reasonable men ought to ask for.

The last year has been one of calamities for Texas, floods, pestilence, and commotions, I hope the present year will be more favorable. I request that you will have this letter published for general information, and also the enclosed copy of the answer given to me by his Excellency the minister of relations. You will see by this answer the very favorable and friendly disposition of the general government to make a state or a territory of Texas, and do everything else within its constitutional powers for the good of that country.

I consider my agency for Texas as terminated, but this will not prevent me from doing all I can for the good of that country, on my own individual responsibility.

Respectfully your most ob't sert.,

Stephen F. Austin.