Stephen F. Austin
|4th Secretary of State of Texas|
October 22, 1836 –December 27, 1836
|Preceded by||William Houston Jack|
|Succeeded by||James Pinckney Henderson|
Stephen Fuller Austin
November 3, 1793
Wythe County, Virginia, United States, present-day Austinville, Virginia
|Died||December 27, 1836 43) (aged|
West Columbia, Brazoria County, Republic of Texas
|Cause of death||pneumonia|
|Nationality||American, Spanish, Mexican, Texian|
|Relations||Richard Austin (colonist)|
|Parents||Moses Austin, Mary Brown Austin|
|Known for||Being the "Father of Texas"|
Stephen Fuller Austin (November 3, 1793 – December 27, 1836) was an American empresario. Known as the "Father of Texas", and the founder of Texas,he led the second, and ultimately, the successful colonization of the region by bringing 300 families from the United States to the region in 1825.
An empresario was a person who had been granted the right to settle on land in exchange for recruiting and taking responsibility for settling the eastern areas of Coahuila y Tejas in the early nineteenth century. The word is Spanish for entrepreneur.
Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.
The Old Three Hundred were the 297 grantees, made up of families and some partnerships of unmarried men, who purchased 307 parcels of land from Stephen Fuller Austin and established a colony that encompassed an area that ran from the Gulf of Mexico on the south, to near present-day Jones Creek, Brazoria county Texas, Brenham in Washington County, Texas, Navasota in Grimes County, and La Grange in Fayette County. Moses Austin was the original empresario of the Old Three Hundred and was succeeded by his son, Stephen F. Austin, after his untimely death.
Born in Virginia and raised in southeastern Missouri, Austin served in the Missouri territorial legislature before moving to Arkansas Territory and later Louisiana. His father, Moses Austin, received an empresario grant from Spain to settle Texas. After Moses Austin's death in 1821, Stephen Austin won recognition of the empresario grant from the newly independent state of Mexico. Austin convinced numerous American settlers to move to Texas, and by 1825 Austin had brought the first 300 American families into the territory. Throughout the 1820s, Austin sought to maintain good relations with the Mexican government, and he helped suppress the Fredonian Rebellion. He also helped ensure the introduction of slavery into Texas despite the attempts of the Mexican government to ban the institution. He led the initial actions against the Karankawa people in this area.
Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States located between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most populous city, and Fairfax County is the most populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth's estimated population as of 2018 is over 8.5 million.
Missouri is a state in the Midwestern United States. With over six million residents, it is the 18th-most populous state of the Union. The largest urban areas are St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia; the capital is Jefferson City. The state is the 21st-most extensive in area. In the South are the Ozarks, a forested highland, providing timber, minerals, and recreation. The Missouri River, after which the state is named, flows through the center of the state into the Mississippi River, which makes up Missouri's eastern border.
The Territory of Arkansas, officially the Territory of Arkansaw, and commonly known as the Arkansas Territory or the Arkansaw Territory, was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from March 2, 1819, to June 15, 1836, when the final extent of Arkansas Territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Arkansas. Robert Crittenden was the Secretary until 1829 and the de facto Governor, preparing Arkansas for statehood.
As Texas settlers became increasingly dissatisfied with the Mexican government, Austin advocated conciliation, but the dissent against Mexico escalated into the Texas Revolution. Austin led Texas forces at the successful Siege of Béxar before serving as a commissioner to the United States. Austin ran in the 1836 Texas presidential election but was defeated by Sam Houston. Houston appointed Austin as secretary of state for the new republic, and Austin held that position until his death in December 1836.
The Texas Revolution was a rebellion of colonists from the United States and Tejanos in putting up armed resistance to the centralist government of Mexico. While the uprising was part of a larger one that included other provinces opposed to the regime of President Antonio López de Santa Anna, the Mexican government believed the United States had instigated the Texas insurrection with the goal of annexation. The Mexican Congress passed the Tornel Decree, declaring that any foreigners fighting against Mexican troops "will be deemed pirates and dealt with as such, being citizens of no nation presently at war with the Republic and fighting under no recognized flag." Only the province of Texas succeeded in breaking with Mexico, establishing the Republic of Texas, and eventually being annexed by the United States.
The Siege of Béxar was an early campaign of the Texas Revolution in which a volunteer Texian army defeated Mexican forces at San Antonio de Béxar. Texians had become disillusioned with the Mexican government as President and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's tenure became increasingly dictatorial. In early October, 1835, Texas settlers gathered in Gonzales to stop Mexican troops from reclaiming a small cannon. The resulting skirmish, known as the Battle of Gonzales, launched the Texas Revolution. Men continued to assemble in Gonzales and soon established the Texian Army. Despite a lack of military training, well-respected local leader General Stephen F. Austin was elected commander.
Sam Houston was an American soldier and politician. An important leader of the Texas Revolution, Houston served as the 1st and 3rd president of the Republic of Texas, and was one of the first two individuals to represent Texas in the United States Senate. He also served as the 6th Governor of Tennessee and the seventh governor of Texas, the only American to be elected governor of two different states in the United States.
Numerous places and institutions are named in his honor, including the capital of Texas, Austin in Travis County, Austin County, Austin Bayou, Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Austin College in Sherman, and a number of K-12 schools.
Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County, with portions extending into Hays and Williamson counties. It is the 11th-most populous city in the United States and the 4th-most populous city in Texas. It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States, the second most populous state capital after Phoenix, Arizona, and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2017 estimate, Austin had a population of 950,715 up from 790,491 at the 2010 census. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,168,316 as of July 1, 2018. Located in Central Texas within the greater Texas Hill Country, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis on the Colorado River, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lake Walter E. Long.
Travis County is a county in south central Texas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,024,266; the estimated population in 2017 was 1,226,698. It is the fifth-most populous county in Texas. Its county seat is Austin, the capital of Texas. The county was established in 1840 and is named in honor of William Barret Travis, the commander of the Republic of Texas forces at the Battle of the Alamo.
Austin County is a county in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 28,417. Its seat is Bellville. The county is named for Stephen F. Austin, who facilitated the Anglo-American colonization of Texas and is known as the "Father of Texas".
Stephen F. Austin was born in the mining region of southwestern Virginia (Wythe County) in what is known as Austinville today, some 256 miles (412 km) southwest of Richmond, Virginia. He was the second child of Mary Brown Austin and Moses Austin; the first, Eliza, lived only one month. On June 8, 1798, when Stephen was four years old, his family moved west to the lead-mining region of present-day Potosi, Missouri, 40 miles west of the Mississippi River. His father Moses Austin received a sitio from the Spanish government for the mining site of Mine à Breton, established by French colonists. His great-great-grandfather, Anthony Austin (b.1636), was the son of Richard Austin (b.1598 in Bishopstoke, Hampshire, England), he and his wife Esther were original settlers of Suffield, Massachusetts, which became Connecticut in 1749.
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, usually from an ore body, lode, vein, seam, reef or placer deposit. These deposits form a mineralized package that is of economic interest to the miner.
Wythe County is a county located in the U.S. state of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 29,235. Its county seat is Wytheville.
Austinville is an unincorporated community on the New River in southern Wythe County, Virginia, United States. New River Trail State Park runs through Austinville, and Shot Tower Historical State Park is located nearby. The town is the birthplace of Stephen F. Austin, for whose family it is named.
When Austin was eleven years old, his family sent him back east to be educated, first at the preparatory school of Bacon Academy in Colchester, Connecticut. He studied at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, from which he graduated in 1810.After graduation, Austin began studying to be a lawyer, reading the law with an established firm.
Bacon Academy is a public high school in Colchester, Connecticut, in the United States.
Colchester is a town in New London County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 16,068 at the 2010 census. In 2010 Colchester became the first town in Connecticut, and the 36th in the country, to be certified with the National Wildlife Federation as a Community Wildlife Habitat.
Transylvania University is a private university in Lexington, Kentucky, United States. Transylvania was founded in 1780, making it the first university in Kentucky. It offers 36 major programs, as well as dual-degree engineering programs, and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Transylvania's name, meaning "across the woods" in Latin, stems from the university's founding in the heavily forested region of western Virginia known as the Transylvania Colony, which became most of Kentucky in 1792. Transylvania is the alma mater of two U.S. vice presidents, two U.S. Supreme Court justices, 50 U.S. senators, 101 U.S. representatives, 36 U.S. governors, the one Confederate President, and 34 U.S. ambassadors, making it a large producer of U.S. statesmen. Its medical program graduated 8,000 physicians by 1859. Its enduring footprint, both in national and Southern academia, makes it among the most prolific cultural establishments and the most storied institutions in the South.
At age 21, he was elected to and served in the legislature of the Missouri Territory. As a member of the territorial legislature, he was "influential in obtaining a charter for the struggling Bank of St. Louis."
Left penniless after the Panic of 1819, Austin decided to move south to the new Arkansas Territory.He acquired property on the south bank of the Arkansas River, in the area that would later become Little Rock. After purchasing the property, he learned the area was being considered as the location for the new territorial capital, which could make his land worth a great deal more. He made his home in Hempstead County, Arkansas. Two weeks before the first Arkansas territorial elections in 1820, Austin declared his candidacy for Congress. His late entrance meant his name did not appear on the ballot in two of the five counties, but he still placed second in the field of six candidates. Later, he was appointed as a judge for the First Circuit Court. Over the next few months, Little Rock did become the territorial capital. But Austin's claim to land in the area was contested, and the courts ruled against him. The Territorial Assembly reorganized the government and abolished Austin's judgeship.
Austin left the territory, moving to Louisiana. He reached New Orleans in November 1820, where he met and stayed with Joseph H. Hawkins, a New Orleans lawyer and former Kentucky congressman. He made arrangements to study law with him.
During Austin's time in Arkansas, his father traveled to Spanish Texas and received an empresarial grant that would allow him to bring 300 American families to Texas,they would be called "The Old 300." Moses Austin caught pneumonia soon after returning to Missouri. He directed that his empresario grant would be taken over by his son Stephen.
Although Austin was reluctant to carry on his father's Texas venture, he was persuaded to pursue the colonization of Texas by a letter from his mother, Mary Brown Austin, written two days before Moses Austin would die.Austin boarded the steamer, Beaver, and departed to New Orleans to meet Spanish officials led by Erasmo Seguín. He was at Natchitoches, Louisiana, on June 31, 1821, when he learned of his father's death. "This news has effected me very much, he was one of the most feeling and affectionate Fathers that ever lived. His faults I now say, and always have, were not of the heart."
Austin led his party to travel 300 miles (480 km) in four weeks to San Antonio with the intent of reauthorizing his father's grant, arriving on August 12. While in transit, they learned Mexico had declared its independence from Spain, and Texas had become a Mexican province, rather than a Spanish territory. José Antonio Navarro, a San Antonio native with ambitious visions of the future of Texas, befriended Stephen F. Austin, and the two developed a lasting association. Navarro, proficient in Spanish and Mexican law, assisted Austin in obtaining his empresario contracts. In San Antonio, the grant was reauthorized by Governor Antonio María Martínez, who allowed Austin to explore the Gulf Coast between San Antonio and the Brazos River to find a suitable location for a colony. As guides for the party, Manuel Becerra and three Aranama Indians, went with the expedition.
Austin advertised the Texas opportunity in New Orleans, announcing that land was available along the Brazos and Colorado rivers. 1,280 acres (520 ha) at twelve and a half cents per acre. Farmers could get 177 acres (72 ha), and ranchers 4,428 acres (1,792 ha). In December 1821, the first U.S. colonists crossed into the granted territory by land and sea, on the Brazos River in present-day Brazoria County, Texas.A family of a husband, wife, and two children would receive
Austin's plan for an American colony was thrown into turmoil by Mexico's gaining independence from Spain in 1821. Governor Martínez informed Austin that the junta instituyente, the new rump congress of the government of Agustín de Iturbide of Mexico, refused to recognize the land grant authorized by Spain. His government intended to use a general immigration law to regulate new settlement in Mexico. Austin traveled to Mexico City, where he persuaded the junta instituyente to approve the grant to his father, as well as the law signed by the Mexican Emperor on January 3, 1823.
The old imperial law offered heads of families a league and a labor of land, 4,605 acres (1,864 ha), and other inducements. It also provided for the employment of agents, called empresarios , to promote immigration. As an empresario, Austin was to receive 67,000 acres of land for each 200 families he brought to Texas. According to the law, immigrants were not required to pay fees to the government. Some of the immigrants denied Austin's right to charge them for services at the rate of 12.5 cents/acre (31 cents/ha).
When the Emperor of Mexico, 4,428 acres (1,792 ha), with the stipulation that he must pay the state $30 within six years.Agustín de Iturbide, abdicated in March 1823, the law was annulled once again. In April 1823, Austin induced the congress to grant him a contract to bring 300 families into Texas. He wanted honest, hard-working people who would make the colony a success. In 1824, the congress passed a new immigration law that allowed the individual states of Mexico to administer public lands and open them to settlement under certain conditions. In March 1825, the legislature of the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas passed a law similar to the one authorized by Iturbide. The law continued the system of empresarios, as well as granting each married man a league of land,
Austin laid claim to rich tracts of land near bays and river mouths populated by the Karankawa. The Karankawa relied on these bays for the fish and shellfish that provided their winter protein sources and thus were fiercely protective of that land.Austin wrote upon scouting the land that extermination of the Karankawa would be necessary, despite the fact that his first encounter with the tribe was friendly. He spread rumors among the settlers of cannibalism and extreme violence of the Karankawa, sometimes more specifically the Carancaguases. Research has suggested that these accusations of cannibalism were false, possibly caused by confusion with another tribe, and that the Karankawa were horrified by cannibalism when they learned of it being practiced by shipwrecked Spaniards. Austin's stories primed the colonists to believe that the Karankawa would be impossible to live among, and may have contributed to the Skull Creek massacre in which an Karankawa village was razed and 19 Kawankawa Indians were killed. After the massacre Austin continued to encourage violence both against and between the Indian tribes, culminating in 1825 with his order for all Kawankawa to be pursued and killed on sight.
By late 1825, Austin had brought the first 300 families to his settlement, the Austin Colony; these 300 are now known in Texas history as the Old Three Hundred. Austin had obtained further contracts to settle an additional 900 families between 1825 and 1829. He had effective civil and military authority over the settlers, but he was quick to introduce a semblance of American law - the Constitution of Coahuila y Tejas was agreed on in November 1827. Also, Austin organized small, informal armed groups to protect the colonists, which evolved into the Texas Rangers. Despite his hopes, Austin was making little money from his endeavors; the colonists were unwilling to pay for his services as empresario and most of his revenues were spent on the processes of government and other public services.
During these years, Austin, a member of Louisiana Lodge No. 111 at Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, sought to establish Freemasonry in Texas. Freemasonry was well established among the educated classes of Mexican society. It had been introduced among the aristocracy loyal to the House of Bourbon, and the conservatives had total control over the Order. By 1827, Americans living in Mexico City had introduced the United States York Rite of Freemasonry as a liberal alternative to the established European-style Scottish Rite.
On February 11, 1828, Austin called a meeting of Freemasons at San Felipe to elect officers and to petition the Masonic Grand Lodge in Mexico City for a charter to form a lodge. Austin was elected Worshipful Master of the new lodge. Although the petition reached Matamoros, and was to be forwarded to Mexico City, nothing more was heard of it. By 1828, the ruling faction in Mexico was afraid the liberal elements in Texas might try to gain their independence. Fully aware of the political philosophies of American Freemasons, the Mexican government outlawed Freemasonry on October 25, 1828. In 1829, Austin called another meeting, where it was decided that it was "impolitic and imprudent, at this time, to form Masonic lodges in Texas."
He was active in promoting trade and currying the good favor of the Mexican authorities, aiding them in the suppression of the Fredonian Rebellion of Haden Edwards. Some historians consider the Fredonian Rebellion to be the beginning of the Texas Revolution. Although "premature ... the Fredonian Rebellion sparked the powder for later success." For this event, Austin raised troops to fight with Mexican troops against the Texas rebels. With the colonists numbering more than 11,000 by 1832, they were becoming less amenable to Austin's cautious leadership, and also, the Mexican government was becoming less cooperative. It was concerned with the growth of the colony and the efforts of the U.S. government to buy the state from them. The Mexican government had attempted to stop further U.S. immigration as early as April 1830, but Austin's skills gained an exemption for his colonies. He granted land to immigrants based on 640 acres (2.6 km2) to the husband, 320 to the wife, 160 for every child, and 80 for every slave.
Slavery was a very important issue to Austin, one he called "of great interest" to him.Austin was a periodical slaveowner throughout his life; however, he had conflicting views about it. Theoretically, he believed slavery was wrong and went against the American ideal of liberty. In practice, however, he agreed with the social, economic, and political justifications of it, and worked hard to defend and expand it. Despite his defense of it, he also harbored concerns that the long-term effects of slavery would destroy American society. He grew particularly concerned following Nat Turner's rebellion, stating:
"I sometimes shudder at the consequences and think that a large part of America will be Santo Domingonized in 100, or 200 years. The idea of seeing such a country as this overrun by a slave population almost makes me weep. It is in vain to tell a North American that the white population will be destroyed some fifty or eighty years hence by the negroes, and that his daughters will be violated and Butchered by them."
While Austin thought it would be advantageous some day for Texas to phase out of slavery, up until the Texas Revolution he worked to ensure that his colony's immigrants could bypass the Mexican government's resistance to it.Doing so ensured the population growth and economic development of his colony, which was primarily dependent on the monocropping of cotton and sugar.
Arguing that the loss of slaves would be ruinous to the colony, he arranged for his settlers to receive eighty acres of land for each slave they brought with them to Texas. In August 1825, he recommended that the state government allow immigrants to bring their slaves with them through 1840, with the caveat that female grandchildren of the slaves would be freed by the age of 15, and males by age of 25.His recommendation was rejected.
In 1826, when a state committee proposed abolishing slavery outright, 25 percent of the people in Austin's colony were slaves.Austin's colonists, mostly pro-slavery immigrants from the south, threatened to leave Texas if the proposition passed, while prospective Southern immigrants hesitated to come to Texas until slavery was guaranteed there.
Austin conceded that the success of his colony was dependent on slavery.Without slaves, the colonists would lack the mass labor to cultivate the land, which would stall the pace of immigration needed to develop and increase the value of the land, which would deflate the economy and motivate his colonists to leave.
Austin went before the legislature and pleaded that, at the least; his original 300 colonists should be allowed to keep their slaves.He argued against the "bad faith" of freeing them, demanded reparations to slaveowners for every slave emancipated by the state, warned that the loss of slaves could leave some colonists destitute, and reasoned that freeing them would not only leave his settlers alone in the harsh Texas environment, but would also expose them to the discomfort and nuisance of living amongst freed slaves, who would become vagrants seeking retribution upon their former owners. While he waited for the legislature's verdict of his request, Austin went into a deep depression over the issue and sent his brother, Brown Austin, to further lobby the legislature on his behalf.
In March 1827, the legislature signed Article 13 into law. Despite the law complying with some of his requests, Austin called it "unconstitutional." He contested the law as it freed the children of slaves at birth, established a six-month grace period before fully emancipating all slaves in the state, and included provisions to improve the conditions of slaves and transitioning freedmen.Austin –– who had been so effective in persuading the legislature, however, that the author of Article 13 (before its passage) requested to withdraw it –– helped his colonists evade the law by advising them to legally supplant the word "slave" with the words "workingmen," "family servants," and "laborers," and by working to pass a decree that banned freedmen from Texas and forced emancipated slaves to work for their former slaveowners until the accrued "debt" (e.g. clothing, food), incurred for their own enslavement, was worked off.
In 1828, Austin petitioned the legislature to guarantee that slaveowners, immigrating to Texas, could legally "free" their slaves before immigrating, and contract them into a lifetime term of indentured servitude, thereby avoiding recognizing them as slaves.He lobbied to help his colony elude Vicente Guerrero's 1829 attempt to legally emancipate slaves in the province, and to bypass the government's effort to prohibit slavery when it passed the Law of April 6, 1830. In 1830, Austin wrote that he would oppose Texas joining the United States without guarantees that he should "insist on the perpetual exclusion of slavery from this state [Texas]." In 1833, he wrote:
Texas must be a slave country. Circumstances and unavoidable necessity compel it. It is the wish of the people there, and it is my duty to do all I can, prudently, in favor of it. I will do so.
In May 1835, Austin's colonists learned that Mexico's tolerance for the evasions of slaveowners was drawing to a close, with its proposal of new abolition legislation.Alarmed, and with Austin imprisoned in Mexico for pushing for independence, colonists turned against the Mexican government, calling it "oppressive" and a "plundering, robbing, autocratical government" without regard for the security of "life, liberty or property." Resisting the impact a changed slavery policy would have on economic growth, and fearing rumors of Mexico's plan to free the slaves and turn them loose upon the colonists, shortly after Austin returned from Mexico, he and his colonists took up arms against the Mexican government. Austin later gained U.S. Government support for his revolution when he wrote to Senator Lewis F. Linn and pleaded that Santa Anna planned to "exterminate" all of the colonists and fill Texas "with Indians and negroes [freed slaves]."
The application off the immigration control of the introduction of tariff laws had done much to dissatisfy the colonists, peaking in the Anahuac Disturbances. Austin became involved in Mexican politics, supporting the upstart Antonio López de Santa Anna. Following the success of Santa Anna, the colonists sought a compensatory reward, proclaimed at the Convention of 1832—resumption of immigration, tariff exemption, separation from Coahuila, and a new state government for Texas. Austin did not support these demands; he considered them ill-timed and tried his hardest to moderate them. When they were repeated and extended at the Convention of 1833, Austin traveled to Mexico City on July 18, 1833, and met with Vice President Valentín Gomez Farías. Austin did gain certain important reforms; the immigration ban was lifted, but a separate state government was not authorized. Statehood in Mexico required a population of 80,000, and Texas had only 30,000.
Believing that he was pushing for Texas independence and suspect that he was trying to incite insurrection, Austin was arrested by the Mexican government in January 1834 in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico. He was taken to Mexico City and imprisoned. No charges were filed against him as no court would take jurisdiction. He was moved from prison to prison. He was released under bond in December 1834 and required to stay in the Federal District. He was fully freed under the general amnesty in July 1835 and in August 1835 left Mexico to return to Texas via New Orleans.
In his absence, a number of events propelled the colonists toward confrontation with Santa Anna's centralist government. Austin took temporary command of the Texian forces during the Siege of Béxar from October 12 to December 11, 1835. After learning of the Disturbances at Anahuac and Velasco in the summer of 1835, an enraged Santa Anna made rapid preparations for the Mexican army to sweep Anglo settlers from Texas. War began in October 1835 at Gonzales. The Republic of Texas, created by a new constitution on March 2, 1836, won independence following a string of defeats with the dramatic turnabout victory at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, and the capture of Santa Anna the following morning. He was then imprisoned.
In December 1835, Austin, Branch Archer, and William H. Wharton were appointed commissioners to the U.S. by the provisional government of the republic. On June 10, 1836, Austin was in New Orleans, where he received word of Santa Anna's defeat by Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto. Austin returned to Texas to rest at Peach Point in August. On August 4, he announced his candidacy for president of Texas. Austin felt confident he could win the election until two weeks before the election, when on August 20, Houston entered the race. Austin wrote, "Many of the old settlers who are too blind to see or understand their interest will vote for him." Houston carried East Texas, the Red River region, and most of the soldiers' votes. Austin received 587 votes to Sam Houston's 5,119 and Henry Smith's 743 votes.
Houston would appoint Austin as the first secretary of state of the new republic; however, Austin only served approximately two months before his death.
In December 1836, Austin was in the new capital of Columbia (now known as West Columbia) where he caught a severe cold; his condition worsened. Doctors were called in, but could not help him. Austin died of pneumonia at noon on December 27, 1836. He was at the home of George B. McKinstry, near what is now West Columbia, Texas. He was 43. Austin's last words were "The independence of Texas is recognized! Don't you see it in the papers?..." Upon hearing of Austin's death, Houston ordered an official statement proclaiming: "The Father of Texas is no more; the first pioneer of the wilderness has departed." Originally, Austin was buried at Gulf Prairie Cemetery in Brazoria County, Texas. In 1910 Austin's body was reinterred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.
Austin never married, nor did he have any children. He bequeathed all his land, titles, and possessions, to his married sister, Emily Austin Perry.
The late actor John Carter played Austin in the 1969 episode "Here Stands Bailey" of the syndicated television series Death Valley Days , hosted by Robert Taylor not long before Taylor's own death. In the story line, the hardy, cantankerous pioneer James Briton "Brit" Bailey (Paul Fix) and his wife, Hannah (Rosemary DeCamp), make their final settlement in southeastern Texas after having overcome many obstacles over the years. Now they face Austin's order that they leave their land; however, Austin has a change of heart and asks them to stay. Bailey dies with his final wish of interment standing upright facing west, hence his grave marker, "Here Stands Bailey Facing West."
While Stephen F. Austin and his sister Emily have each been subject of biography, they are descended from several generations of noteworthy people, including: Moses Austin (father—biography published by Trinity University Press),Abia Brown (grandfather), Joseph Sharp (great grandfather), Isaac Sharp (great, great grandfather), Anthony Sharp (great, great, great grandfather—biography published by Stanford University Press). Accordingly, history records noteworthy social contribution in each generation of Stephen's family dating back to the early seventeenth century.
...generations of Texans have come to revere Austin as the Father of Texas...
The Republic of Texas was a sovereign state in North America that existed from March 2, 1836, to February 19, 1846. It was bordered by Mexico to the west and southwest, the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast, the two U.S. states of Louisiana and Arkansas to the east and northeast, and United States territories encompassing parts of the current U.S. states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico to the north and west. The citizens of the republic were known as Texians.
The Fredonian Rebellion was the first attempt by Anglo settlers in Texas to secede from Mexico. The settlers, led by Empresario Haden Edwards, declared independence from Mexican Texas and created the Republic of Fredonia near Nacogdoches. The short-lived republic encompassed the land the Mexican government had granted to Edwards in 1825 and included areas that had been previously settled. Edwards's actions soon alienated the established residents, and the increasing hostilities between them and settlers recruited by Edwards led Victor Blanco of the Mexican government to revoke Edwards's contract.
Moses Austin was an American businessman and pioneer who played a large part in the development of the lead industry in the early United States. He was the father of Stephen F. Austin, one of the earliest American settlers of Texas, which was at the time part of Mexico.
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James Kerr was a doctor, politician, Senator in Missouri, soldier, surveyor and Congressman in Texas who was active in the establishment of the Republic of Texas.
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Green DeWitt was an empresario in Mexican Texas. He founded the DeWitt Colony.
Juan Jose Maria Erasmo Seguin was a prominent citizen and politician in San Antonio de Bexar in the 19th century. From 1807 until 1835, Seguin served as head postmaster of San Antonio, Texas. After Mexico achieved independence from Spain, Seguín was named the sole representative from Texas to the constitutional convention. He helped to draft the Constitution of 1824 and was a major influence in the addition of a general colonization provision. Seguín assisted Stephen F. Austin in choosing land for the first colony of American settlers to immigrate to Texas. He later supported the Texas Revolution, providing political as well as material support.
De León's Colony was established in 1824 in northern Coahuila y Tejas state of the First Mexican Republic, by empresario Martín De León. It was the only ethnically Mexican colony founded during the Mexican period (1824-1835) that is located within the present-day U.S. state of Texas.
The Colonization Law of August 18, 1824 was a Mexican statute allowing foreigners to immigrate to the country.
Robertson's Colony was an empresario colonization effort during the Mexican Texas period. It is named after Sterling C. Robertson, but had previously been known by other names. It has also been referred to as the Nashville Colony, after the Tennessee city where the effort originated, the Texas Association, the Upper Colony, and Leftwich's Grant, named after early colonizer Robert Leftwich. The eventual contract spread over an area that includes all or part of thirty present-day counties in Texas.
Samuel May Williams was an American businessman, politician, and close associate of Stephen F. Austin. As a teenager, Williams started working in the family's mercantile business in Baltimore. Later he traveled to South America and learned to conduct business in Spanish. He returned to the United States, this time to New Orleans, working there as a merchant, where he also learned French. About three years later he left New Orleans in debt, fleeing to Mexican Texas in 1822. Stephen F. Austin hired Williams for his colony in 1824, clerking and later adding the title of secretary to the ayuntamiento. He worked for Austin for several years.
The Lake Creek Settlement was a settlement in Stephen F. Austin's Second Colony located in Mexican Texas and later the Republic of Texas. The Lake Creek Settlement was located between the West Fork of the San Jacinto River (Texas) and the stream known as Lake Creek in what is today western Montgomery County, Texas. In July 1837, the town of Montgomery, Texas was founded in the middle of the Lake Creek Settlement.
The Dressing Point massacre refers to the murder in 1826 of 40-50 Karankawa people in Mexican Texas near present-day Matagorda at the mouth of the Colorado River by a party of European-American colonists. It was part of a pattern of colonist attacks against Native Americans in the area after the former began to encroach on native lands, and conflicts arose over use of the territory. Ultimately the Karankawa ceded their territory to the European Americans, and were dispersed to other areas, became day laborers, were forced into slavery, or killed. By 1860, no free Karankawa remained here.
The Skull Creek massacre refers to the murder of at least 19 Karankawa people in Mexican Texas by a company of white colonists in February 1823. Before 1823, there were few settlers of European heritage from the United States in the state of Texas. With the formation of the First Mexican Republic in 1823 and the opening of Mexican Texas to colonists from the United States, white people began to settle in the state. The subsequent pushing of Native Americans off of their land, combined with Native American raids on the new settlers' cattle, led to deep hostility and conflict between the two groups.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Stephen F. Austin .|
| Texas Commissioner to the United States|
1835 - 1836
served alongside William H. Wharton and Branch T. Archer
unique post for support of
William Houston Jack
| Secretary of state of the Republic of Texas |
J. Pinckney Henderson
| President of the Convention of 1832 |