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A Little Texas History Known as

A Little Texas History
Known as "The Father of Texas," Stephen F. Austin established the first Anglo-American colony in the Tejas province of Mexico and saw it grow into an independent republic.

It was Austin's father, Moses Austin, who took the first steps toward establishing an American colony in Spanish Tejas. In 1820, he traveled to San Antonio to petition for a land grant, and in 1821 received approval to settle 300 American families on 200,000 acres. But Moses Austin died before completing his plans and responsibility for establishing the colony fell to Stephen.

Austin selected a site on the lower Colorado and Brazos rivers, and settled his colonists there in January 1822. Almost at once he faced opposition from the newly independent Mexican government, which refused to recognize his father's land grant since it had been made under Spanish charter. Austin traveled to Mexico City to correct this situation, and using skillful diplomacy secured a new law confirming his right to colonize the land and designating him as the new colony's empresario or administrative authority.

The Mexican constitution of 1824 gave the people of Texas rights similar to those enjoyed at the time by the citizens of the United States. To encourage development, the Mexican government licensed promotes, called empresarios, to attract settlers to Texas. Each empresario was given a specific area, or grant, and contracted with the government to introduce a certain number of families into his area within 6 years. Each family moving into the colony could receive approximately 4,500 acres. All of the land, including the areas not used, belonged to the government and not the empresario, but he would receive a premium of approximately 22,000 acres for all of his work if a at least 100 families settled in his grant.

Then tensions began to rise between the new settler and the Mexican government who saw the Anglo influx as a threat to their power. And every new Mexican government attempted to increase control over Texas.  Despite growing friction between the American immigrants and the Mexican government, Austin continued to believe that most disputes could be worked out within the Mexican system. Accordingly, he sought to ally himself with Mexican liberals seeking a limited but efficient government and the separation of church and state. His efforts to work out problems within the Mexican system, however, would ultimately proved futile.

In 1830, Mexican officials passed a law prohibiting further American immigration into Tejas, hoping in this way to limit American influence over the region. Austin found a loophole that allowed him to continue expanding his colony, but the law stirred resentment among his colonists, who began calling for a separate state government in Tejas, which was then under the jurisdiction of the neighboring state of Coahuila. Against Austin's advice, they framed a constitution for the proposed state of Texas at the San Felipe Convention in 1833, and had Austin carry it to Mexico City, along with a list of demands for redress of grievances.

Austin had mixed success with the Mexican government. President Antonio López de Santa Anna agreed to repeal the 1830 law against further American immigration, but he refused to grant the request for statehood. He also had Austin imprisoned for a time on suspicion of inciting an insurrection.

Even after his release in July 1835, Austin still thought an alliance with Mexican liberals was the best option for Americans in Texas, but the outbreak of the Texas Revolution at Gonzales on October 1, 1835 left him little choice but to support the drive for independence. He took command of the attack on Mexican troops led by Juan Sequin at San Antonio, and then in late 1835 began to act as commissioner to the United States, traveling to Washington to seek military support and the eventual annexation of Texas by the United States. He also sought to rally public support for Texas in speeches delivered along his route.

War for Independence began in  late 1835 and one of the first Major battle was at the Alamo in San Antonio were for 13 days, less than 200 Texans held off an army of more than 5,000 men. The alcalde of San Antonio, an eyewitness to the last day of the battle, recorded: "The deadly fire of Travis' artillery resembled a constant thunder. At the third charge of 830 (Mexican soldiers) only 130 were left alive. The gallantry of the few Texans who defended the Alamo was really admired by the Mexican army. Even generals were astonished at how dearly victory was bought." The Alamo fell on March 6th, 1836. In addition to the 182 Texans who died, approximately 1500 of the best Mexican soldiers were killed and another 500 seriously wounded. The Texans in the Alamo were fighting to protect the rights outlined in the Mexican constitution of 1824 and never knew that Texas had declared its independence 4 days earlier.

S.F. Austin's efforts in Washington proved unsuccessful, however, and he returned to Texas in June 1836, shortly after the Texas War for Independence had been won at San Jacinto. In the fall, he was defeated in a bid for the presidency by Sam Houston, but he served as secretary of state until his death on December 27, 1836.

After the Texas victory at San Jacinto, Santa Anna, on behalf of his Mexican Government, signed the Treaties of Velasco, which recognized the Rio Grande as the southern and western border of Texas. On December 19th, 1836, the Congress of the Republic of Texas set the boundary as the Rio Grande from its mouth to the source, and thence a line running north to the 42nd parallel. This area included what is now parts of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado, including Santa Fe, Taos and Aspen.

In December of 1836 the new government of Texas met at Columbia, and the First Congress accepted the suggestion of David Burnet, first president of the Republic of Texas, to recognize a new design for the "National Flag" of Texas. Under this flag Texas was recognized by the United States of America as a sovereign and independent nation.

Santa Anna's army of over 6,000 men swept across Texas to Lynch's Ferry, a gathering point for retreating Texas settlers. Santa Anna led on column onto a narrow peninsula surrounded by San Jacinto Bay and Buffalo Bayou and set up camp. The Texas army rushed to the opportunity, marching nearly all night and at dawn of the next day were on the edge of the grassy plains of San Jacinto. After brief skirmishes, the Texans advanced at 4 o'clock on the afternoon of April 21st, 1836, With cries of "Remember the Alamo" and "Remember Goliad," they charged into the Mexican camp. The attack was so sudden that the battle was over in less than 20 minutes. Of the original Mexican force of over 1500 men, 630 were killed on the spot, 208 were wounded, and 730 were captured. Only 743 Texans were in battle: 6 were killed and another 25 wounded, including Sam Houston. Santa Anna was captured, and the war was over. By early June the entire Mexican army had crossed the Rio Grande, and Texas was free! The Capitol  was established in Austin in 1839.

Meeting in the village of Houston in 1839, the Third Congress of Texas approved a new design for the country's flag. Under this banner the Republic of Texas was officially recognized by France in 1840 and England in 1842. The French built a legation in Austin which still stands. On February 19th, 1846, this last flag of the Republic of Texas became the state flag of Texas and 3 months later the United States declared war on Mexico.

Texas remained an independent republic for 9 years until its annexation to the United States in 1845, making it the 28th state to join the Union. This led to the Mexican War which was fought and won by the United States with Mexico over the annexation of Texas. By the 1850's the east Texas territory was one of the most prosperous and rapidly growing plantation regions of the south. President Taylor, seeking to resolve a major boundary dispute between New Mexico and Texas, granted the disputed region to New Mexico while compensating Texas through federal assumption of its state debts.

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