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Title Austin Papers. Series I: Volume I, Part 2
Date 23 Apr 1812 - 2 Dec 1820
Document Type Correspondence
Reference 2Q407, Box 1, Folder 2
Library / Archive Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin
Collection Name Austin Papers
Description Miscellaneous papers belonging to the Austin family. Includes correspondence of Moses Austin, predominantly shared with his children and wife, discussing voyages, emigrant settlements in Texas and the need to purchase various items of clothing and textiles. Letters from his wife also refer to the declaration of war. There are also diary excerpts belonging to Moses Austin describing his journey from Natchez to Washington, the country explored and availability of land there.
Series Description The collection consists primarily of the personal and official records of Moses Austin (1761-1821) and his son Stephen F. Austin (1793-1836) who carried out his father's plan for the Anglo colonization of Mexican Texas. Included is material related to the history and early peregrinations of the Austin family, especially their years in Missouri; their business activities, including the lead mines, store and banking investments; the pursuit of both men for permission to colonize and Stephen F. Austin's management of the resulting colony; the events leading up to the Texas Revolution and then the Revolution itself and the first few months of the Republic of Texas. There is also a small cache of later family correspondence on historical topics.
Biographical Note / History Moses Austin (1761-1821) was born October 4, 1761, in Durham Connecticut. He married Mary Brown in 1785 and the couple had five children, including Stephen Fuller Austin. Moses founded his own dry goods company (Moses Austin and Co.) and in 1789 won the Virginia state contract to provide a lead roof for the new capitol building. His innovative business and mining strategies earned Austin credit for founding the lead industry in the United States. Though he amassed a considerable fortune from his lead mining ventures, the failure of the Bank of St. Louis sent Austin into debt, so he devised a plan to colonize Spanish-controlled Texas with Anglo settlers. He travelled to Texas and won the approval of the Spanish governor in 1820, but his health soon failed. Suffering from pneumonia contracted in Texas, Moses Austin died on June 10, 1821. His final wishes were that his son, Stephen, carry on with his plans to colonize Texas. Stephen Fuller Austin (1793-1836), son of Moses Austin, was born on November 3, 1793, near his father's lead mines in Virginia. Educated in Kentucky, Stephen went to work in his father's business and served in the Missouri state legislature. Stephen and the family suffered a major financial set-back with the failure of the Bank of St. Louis, so he moved from Missouri to Arkansas to speculate in real estate and other business ventures. He was appointed circuit judge in Arkansas but soon decided to study law in New Orleans. While there, he learned of his father's efforts toward Anglo settlement of Texas, and planned to work with his father on this new enterprise. The untimely death of Moses Austin left Stephen to carry on the colonization plan, and in August 1821 he received permission from the Spanish governor to continue the work begun by his father. Stephen returned to New Orleans and began promoting the new colonies along the Brazos and Colorado Rivers in Texas, with the first settlers streaming into the area in late 1821. Soon thereafter Mexico gained independence from Spain, forcing Austin to travel to Mexico City to salvage his colonial arrangements. The new agreement ushered in the era of the empresario, while Austin spent much of his time coordinating the allotments of land, mapping and surveying the territory. Accused of inciting insurrection among the colonists, Austin was taken prisoner and spent much of the period between 1834 and 1835 in Mexican prisons. Though he generally favoured a moderate approach to relations with the Mexican government, Austin returned to Texas and was a leading figure in the revolutionary movement that eventually led to Texas independence from Mexico. Austin served briefly as Secretary of State for the new Republic of Texas, but died soon after his appointment at the age of 43.
Theme(s) Motives for Emigration; Arrivals: Ports and Early Experiences
Places Durham, North Carolina, Washington, Connecticut, Herculaneum, Jefferson County, Missouri, Austinville, Wythe County, Virginia, Texas, Natchez, Mississippi, New Orleans, Louisiana, Ontario County, New York, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States; Geneva, Switzerland; Belize
Nationality American; Spanish; American Indian; French; European
Ships South Hampton
People Kenner, William; Austin, Moses (1761-1821); Bryan, James; Austin, Stephen Fuller (1793-1836); Rich, James; Austin, Emily (b1795); Brown, Mary; McDonald, Edward; Austin, James; Laforge, Alexander Pierre; Tennille, George
Keywords family, children, timber, transportation, slavery, labour, clothing, customs, travel, finance, expenses, housing, mining, settlement, business, textiles, furniture, shopping, emigration scheme, emigration, landmark, farming, push factors, earthquake, flood, cotton, agriculture, livestock, trade, women, religion, education, War of 1812, health and sickness, conflict, accounts, cargo, commerce, coffee, ship building, shipwreck, manufacturing, industry, statistics, insurance
Additional Information Please note: Some of the metadata for this document has been taken from the Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin catalogue.
Language English; Spanish
Copyright Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin