Stephen F Austin to Senator L F Linn, 05-04-1836

Summary: Appealing for aid for Texas from the United States.

New York, May 4, 1836.

Hon. L. F. Linn:

Dear Sir:

Yours of 1st. instant I received to-day on my return from Philadelphia, (where I went, at the solicitation of a committee from there,) in conjunction with my colleagues, Archer and Wharton, to attend a Texas meeting on the 2d.

I presume you have seen in the Philadelphia papers the result of the meeting— (see the Pennsylvania Inquirer, U. S. Gazette, Ledger, etc.) It was very enthusiastic and ardent in the cause of Texas, and was held in a wing of that Temple of Liberty where, in '76, those principles were proclaimed which have ever since been a beacon-light to the benighted and enslaved of all nations. The spirit of '76 was there. That spirit, and hearts of the vast multitude, told them what to do. No cold or selfish influence of policy or of party cast its chilling breath over that meeting.

You ask me what can be done in favor of Texas? Ask your heart, my friend and fellow-citizen, (for such you are in feeling, although an invisible line separates our domicils— ask the noble spirit of your and my fathers— ask every freeman, every philanthropist on earth— ask every man who is not a politician, and who acts from the warm and honest impulses of a patriotic heart, and you will receive a satisfactory answer.

A war of extermination is raging in Texas—a war of barbarism and of despotic principles, waged by the mongrel Spanish-Indian and Negro race, against civilization and the Anglo-American race.

For fifteen years I have been laboring like a slave to Americanize Texas—to form a nucleus around which my native countrymen could collect and grow into a solid body that would forever be a barrier of safety to the southwestern frontier, and especially to the outlet of the western world—the mouth of the Mississippi—and which would be a beacon-light to the Mexicans in their search after liberty.

But the Anglo-American foundation, this nucleus of republicanism, is to be broken up, and its place supplied by a population of Indians, Mexicans, and renegadoes, all mixed together, and all the natural enemies of white men and civilization.

What I have been the means of effecting towards the Americanism of Texas, is of more real service to the protection of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri, than the expenditure of thirty millions of dollars on the fortifications of that frontier; yes, more than a standing army of 10,000 men there would be; and yet it is to be broken up, because the people of Texas have too much of the spirit of their fathers to lay down beneath the feet of military despotism, and debase and damn their blood and their education; it is to be broken up, because it will not do for the United States government to interfere with a usurper, a base, unprincipled, bloody monster, who sets the laws of civilization and of humanity at defiance, who desolates Texas under the bloody flag of a pirate, and whose avowed intention is to excite the Indians and negroes, and crimson the waters of the Mississippi, and make it the eastern boundary of Mexico, (for such an intention has been avowed.) No. This monster cannot be interfered with, because a treaty was made with the federal republic of Mexico, which republic no longer exists.

Oh! spirit of our fathers, where are you? Just and omnipotent God, where is thy influence? Where is the fatherly care and protection of a wise and watchful government that applies cheap and prompt preventives beforehand, in preference to the expenditure of millions for remedies, after an evil has occurred?

But you ask, What preventive can be applied? The answer is plain—Let an army of the United States march into Texas, and say to the pirate Santa Anna, "Stop:" a great and philanthropic and free people will not stand tamely by and see justice, constitutional right, and humanity, wantonly violated at her door—nor can a paternal government tolerate a state of things on its most vulnerable and important frontier, that will, and must bring the bloody tide of savage war and the horrors of negro insurrection within its limits.

It is madness and folly—it is deceiving yourselves and your constituents to believe that the Texas war is not a war of extermination against Anglo-Americans and their principles and interests. The republican party in Mexico are now subdued and crushed: they, by their own acts and misplaced confidence in Santa Anna, have put the sword into his hands to cut their own throats. He has acquired all his power by deceiving the federal republican party of Mexico, and by making blind instruments of them. He is now continuing the same policy, for he has united all the influence and resources of that party against Texas. He and the monarchial party now in power, who have overturned the federal constitution of 1824, know very well that to expect any thing like tranquility, or even comparative security in the enjoyment of their usurpations, they must keep out Anglo-American republicanism, and stop the moral invasion that was spreading over the eastern and internal states (now military provinces) of Mexico. How is this to be done? By exterminating the American population in Texas, and filling that country with Indians and negroes, who (as he thinks) will form an impenetrable barrier from the Sabine river to the Rio del Norte, and thus restore the old Spanish policy, which was "to prevent even a bird from crossing the Sabine river if possible"

And the United States Government are to stand by with its hands folded, over scruples about interposing in the holy cause of humanity, philanthropy, of liberty, and of protection to its own exposed frontier! Oh! I cannot—do not—will not believe it. Of one thing I am certain, the people, the freemen of this nation, will not permit, nor will they tolerate the barbarities and usurpations of a Mexican tyrant. No—they will obey the dictates of their hearts, and fly to the rescue of their countrymen and of free principles. They will, of their own accord, save the bulwark of the whole Southwestern frontier, and Arkansas from the greatest peril that has ever threatened any portion of the United States territory since it became a nation. I do not mean the peril of Mexican invasion—it would be an insult to the people of the United States to call that a peril— I mean the peril of an Indian and servile war—the murder of women and children, and the loss to civilization (at least for some time) of Texas.

I have seen the communication you speak of in the ****. That newspaper seems to lean towards scruples, or party interests, or perhaps to Mexican influence. I do not read or look at any papers of that character. I am, however, willing to believe that they do not properly understand the ORIGIN, PRINCIPLES and OBJECTS of the Texas war, and are acting under Mistaken views, and not from want of principle, or even the common impulses of justice and humanity.

I must, however, say that it looks very badly for men to condemn a whole people who are struggling for self-preservation, before they understand the subject, and analyze it sufficiently to judge of its Moral as well as Political merits.

Let such men take up the history of Mexican misrule in Texas, and all over Mexico; let them inquire into the present state of things in that important nation; let them ascertain whether the present consolidated despotism which exists there, has or has not been established by revolutionary means, by force, fraud, and violence; whether the federal social compact of Mexico, to which the People of Texas bound their allegiance, is not illegally dissolved; whether the People of Texas did or did not oppose this illegal dissolution of their Government, as they were bound by their oaths to do, and whether they did not grimly adhere to THEIR duty and obligations as Mexican citizens, under the Constitution, so long as it existed. Let them read an exposition of the Texas war, made by me at Louisville, Kentucky, on 7th March last, that made in this city by W. H. Wharton, Esq. on the 26th ult. and other documents on this subject. In short, let them understand the question, before they attempt to approve or condemn, and I am confident they can form but ONE OPINION, which is, that the Texians are RIGHT, and that under similar circumstances all freemen ought to, and would have done as they have.

An expression of opinion in Congress, or by the Executive favorable to the cause of Texas, would settle this matter and end this war; it would be a preventive which will cost nothing, and violate no treaty or other obligation, no more than the Greek Revolution did; and it will save the expenditure of millions hereafter, and the loss of thousands of lives. It will do this, because such an expression of opinion would inspire confidence, and thus open the ice-bound chests of money lenders, and enable Texas to procure funds. Men she can get in thousands. The chivalrous West, and the warm-hearted, high-souled South will furnish them; but they must be fed and provided with arms and ammunition, etc.

Pardon me for occupying so much of your time by so long a letter; my heart and soul, my all, and, as I think, the best interests of my native country, and the great principles of liberty, are deeply involved in this subject. I have, in times past, had more kind and charitable feelings for the Mexicans in general, and have been much more faithful to them than they merited. I acted from a sound and honest principle—that of mutually benefiting my native and adopted country, by Americanizing Texas and securing to liberal principles in Mexico a support and a guide in Texas, and at the same time serving my native country by a population there, that would harmonize with their neighbors. But sad and dear bought experience has convincd me that it is in vain to hope for any good from Mexican institutions, or Mexican justice. I am, therefore, for the independence of Texas, and I am so from the soundest principles that move the human heart—those of liberty, justice, humanity, and self-preservation.

Respectfully, your most obedient servant,

S. F. Austin.