A Little Texas History Known as
A Little Texas
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.