The Course of Mexican History

By Michael C. Meyer; William L. Sherman et al. | Go to book overview

20
The Loss of Texas and the War
with the United States

DISCONTENT IN TEXAS

Throughout the colonial period Texas was one of the northern provinces of New Spain. It was sparsely populated, and the Franciscan missionaries who penetrated the area found the Indian population intractable. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the Texas territory had fewer than three thousand sedentary colonists and, a hundred years later, only seven thousand. Because the Spanish crown wanted to populate and colonize the territory, in 1821, just prior to the winning of Mexican Independence, the commandant general in Monterrey granted Moses Austin, an American pioneer, permission to settle some three hundred Catholic families in Texas. Austin died and Mexico became independent before the project could be initiated, but Austin’s son, Stephen F. Austin, took up the idea, had the concession confirmed by the new Mexican government, and began the colonization at once. Under the terms of the new concession Stephen Austin was authorized to bring in as many as three hundred families the first year provided that they were of good moral character, would profess the Roman Catholic religion, and agreed to abide by Mexican law. No maximum was set on future immigration into Texas, and, in fact, other concessionaires were awarded similar grants.

The influx of Americans into Texas was tremendous. The land was practically free—only ten cents an acre as opposed to $1.25 an acre for inferior land in the United States. Each male colonist over twentyone years of age was allowed to purchase 640 acres for himself, 320 acres for his wife, 160 acres for each child and, significantly, an additional 80 acres for each slave that he brought with him. As a further enticement the colonists were given a seven-year exemption from the payment of Mexican taxes. By 1827 there were 12,000 United States citizens living in Texas, outnumbering the Mexican population by some

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