Stephen F Austin to Mary Austin Holley, 08-21-1835

Summary: Texas must become a slave state and ultimately ought to belong to the United States. Desires a great immigration

New Orleans, August 21, 1835.

My Dear Cousin,

I am, as you will see by my date, once more in the land of my birth, and of freedom— a word I can well appreciate. I shall leave here in a day or two for Texas. I wished to have taken a trip up the river, and thence to the north but shall have to defer it until spring. I have been so long absent from home, that my affairs there are behind hand, and require my attention.

The situation of Texas is daily becoming more and more interesting, so much so, that I doubt whether the Government of the United -States, or that of Mexico, can much longer look on with indifference, or inaction. It is very evident that the best interests of the United States require that Texas should be effectually, and fully, Americanized—that is—settled by a population that will harmonize with their neighbors on the East, in language, political principles, common origin, sympathy, and even interest. Texas must be a slave country. It is no longer a matter of doubt. The interest of Louisiana requires that it should be, a population of fanatical abolitionists in Texas would have a very pernicious and dangerous influence on the overgrown slave population of that state. Texas must, and ought to become an out work on the west, as Alabama and Florida are on the East, to defend the key of the western world—the mouths of the Mississippi. Being fully Americanized under the Mexican flag, would be the same thing in effect, and ultimate result, as coming under the United States Flag. A gentle breeze shakes off a ripe peach. Can it be supposed that the violent political convulsions of Mexico will not shake off Texas so soon as it is ripe enough to fall All that is now wanting is a great immigration of good and efficient families, this fall and winter. Should we get such an emigration, especially from the western states—all is done—the peach will be ripe. Under this view: and it is a correct one, every man of influence in the western States, who has the true interests of his country at heart, ought to use every possible exertion to induce such an immigration. They can get lands; now is the accepted time, and none too soon. The door is still open for them to come in legally. The government of Mexico can not complain—it has invited immigration.

Gen: Sant[a] Anna told me he should visit Texas next monthas a friend. His visit is uncertain—his friendship much more so. We must rely on ourselves, and prepare for the worst. A large immigration will prepare us, give us strength, resources, everything. I do not know what may be the state of public feeling in Texas, but presume they mean to avoid all collision with Mexico if possible to do so, and be also ready to repel attacks should they come. This is my opinion. A great immigration from Kentucky, Tennessee etc, each man with his rifle or musket, would be of great use to us—very great indeed. If they go by sea, they must take passport from the Mexican Consul, comply with all the requisites of the law, and get legally into the country, so long as the door is legally open. Should it be closed it will then be time enough to force it open—if necessary. Prudence, and an observance of appearances must therefore be strictly attended to for the present. Here, I figure to myself, you start, and exclaim, "Dios mio; my cousin Stephen has become a very Mexican politician in hypocrisy." not so; there is no hypocrisy about it. It is well known that my object has always been to fill up Texas with a north American population; and, besides, it may become a question of to be, or not to be. And in that event, the great law of nature—self preservation—operates, and supersedes, all other laws.

The cause of philanthrophy and liberty, also, will be promoted by Americanizing Texas. I am morally right, therefore, to do so by all possible, honorable, means.

In all countries, one way or another, a few men rule society. If those few were convinced of the great benefits that would result to the western world by Americanizing Texas, they would exert their influence to promote that object, and in so doing use such arguments as would best effect it, without letting anything transpire in the public prints to alarm the Mexican Government, or place that of the United States in the awkward necessity of taking any steps, as a friend of Mexico, under the treaty etc.

If there was any way of getting at it, I should like to know what the wise men of the United States think the people of Texas ought to do. The fact is, we must, and ought to become a part of the United States. Money should be no consideration. The political importance of Texas to the great Western world, from the influence it may one day have on Louisiana, is so great, that it can not fail to have due weight on all reflecting men, and on Gen Jackson and the Senate, in particular. The more the American population of Texas is increased, the more readily will the Mexican Government give it up, also, the more the people of Texas seem to oppose a separation from Mexico, the less tenacious will they be to hold it. This seems paradoxical, but will cease to appear so when you consider that strange compound the Mexican character. If Texas insisted on separating, and it should be given up in consequence, it would appear as if they yielded to force, or fear, and their national pride would be roused. They are a strange people, and must be studied to be managed. They have high ideas of National dignity should it be openly attacked, but will sacrifice national dignity, and national interest too if it can be done in a still way, or so as not to arrest public attention. "Dios Castiga el escandolo mas que el crimen," (God punishes the exposure more than the crime) is their motto. This maxim influences their morals and their politics. I learned it when I was there in 1822, and I now believe that if I had not always kept it in view, and known the power which appearances have on them, even when they know they are deceived, I should never have succeeded, to the extent I have done in Americanizing Texas.

To conclude—I wish a great immigration this fall and winter from Kentucky, Tennessee, every where, passports, or no passports, any how. For fourteen years I have had a hard time of it, but nothing shall daunt my courage or abate my exertions to complete the main object of my labors—to Americanize Texas. This fall, and winter, will fix our fate—a great immigration will settle the question.

S F Austin.