Stephen F Austin to F W Johnson, Daniel Parker, D C Barrett, J W Robinson, Wyatt Hanks, P Sublette, Asa Hoxey, 12-22-1835

Summary: Urging strict adherence to the Mexican Federal Union. Independence would entail maintenance of standing army

Quintana, December 22, 1835.

Dear Sirs: We expect to get off to-morrow in the Wm. Robbins; Archer, the two Whartons and myself and several other passengers.

There has been a great deal of low intrigue in the political maneuvering of a party who I am at last forced to believe have their own personal ambition and aggrandizement in view, more than the good of the country. These men have operated on Archer until they have made him almost a political fanatic, preaching a crusade in favor of liberty against the city of Mexico, the only place short of which the army of Texas ought to stop, etc.

The Mexicans say that it is rather curious that the people of Texas should fight against military rulers, and at the same time try to build up an army that may, in its turn, rule Texas as it pleases. I think it probable there will be some thousands [of] volunteers from the United States in a few months. They nearly all wish to join the regular army on the basis of volunteers. What shall we do with so many? How support them? I fear that the true secret of the efforts to declare independence is, that there must then be a considerable standing army, which, in the hands of a few, would dispose of the old settlers and their interests as they thought proper.

The true policy for Texas is to call a convention, amend the declaration of the 7th of November last, by declaring Texas a State of the Mexican Confederacy under the basis laid down in the fifth and other articles of said declaration of the 7th of November, form a constitution and organize a permanent government. Every possible aid should be given to the Federal party in the interior; but it should be done as auxiliary aid, in conformity with the second article of the declaration. By doing this the war will be kept out of Texas. This country will remain at peace. It will fill up rapidly with families, and there will be no great need of a standing army. I believe that the combinations in the state of Tamaulipas are very extensive to form a new republic by a line from Tampico, west to the Pacific, and it is probable that the capitulation at Bexar was made to promote that object. In short, it is much easier to keep the war out of Texas, than to bring it back again to our own doors. All that is necessary is for us not to do any king that will compel the Federal party to turn against us, and if they call on us for aid let it be given as auxiliary aid, and on no other footing.

This takes away the character of a national war, which the government in Mexico is trying to give it, and it will also give to Texas just claims on the Federal party, for remuneration out of the proceeds of the custom houses of Matamoros and Tampico, for our expenses in furnishing the auxiliary aid. But if Texas sends an invading force of foreign troops against Matamoros, it will change the whole matter. Gen. Mexia ought to have commanded the expedition to Matamoros and only waited to be asked by the Provisional Government to do so.

I repeat: It is much easier to keep the war out of Texas and beyond the Rio Grande, thah to bring it here to our own doors. The farmers and substantial men of Texas can yet save themselves, but to do so they must act in union and as one man.

This, I fear, is impossible. In the upper settlement Dr. Hoxey is loud for independence. Of Course he is in favor of a large standing army to sustain it, and will no doubt be ready to give up half, or all, of his property to support thousands of volunteers, etc., who will flood the country from abroad.

It is all very well and right to show to the world that Texas has just and equitable grounds to declare independence; but it is putting the old settlers in great danger to make any such declaration, for it will turn all the parties in Mexico against us. It will bring back the war to our doors, which is now far from us, and it will compel the men of property in Texas to give up half or all to support a standing army of sufficient magnitude to contend with all Mexico united.

S. F. Austin.

[To F. W. Johnson, Daniel Parker, D. C. Barrett, J. W. Robinson, Wyatt Hanks, P. Sublette, Asa Hoxey.]