Promised Land: Solms, Castro, and Sam Houston's Colonization Contracts

Promised Land: Solms, Castro, and Sam Houston's Colonization Contracts

Promised Land: Solms, Castro, and Sam Houston's Colonization Contracts

Promised Land: Solms, Castro, and Sam Houston's Colonization Contracts

Synopsis

In 1842, Sam Houston, president of the new Texas Republic, wanted four things: peace with Mexico, peace with the native population, financing from Europe, and productive settlers for his vast, new country. He issued colonization contracts in an effort to meet all these objectives, but only two of President Houston's contracts actually resulted in permanent settlement.
Promised Land provides a close examination of the circumstances surrounding the colonization contract issued to Henri Castro of France and the contract assumed by Germany's Adelsverein.

Excerpt

Since 1997 an abiding tenet of the Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life has been to present books of meticulous research that illuminate life—predominantly in the East Texas region—not only as it once was but also as it is. Although the Rayburn Series continues to focus on a wide range of topics centering on the northeast section of the Lone Star State, at times we must stretch the geographical boundaries in order to accommodate pertinent works that examine the forces and individuals that have had an inexorable influence on the people who inhabit the region. Jefferson Morgenthaler’s Promised Land: Solms, Castro, and Sam Houston’s Colonization Contracts is such a book: one that charts the early political, economic, and personal struggles of those with personal and diplomatic interests in Texas while simultaneously reminding readers of the cultural diversity that continues to influence the state and each of its distinct regions.

Although East Texas might be viewed as a quilt stitched from varied social and ethnic fabrics, it likewise contains threads that hold together the entirety of the state. Morgenthaler points out that even as a republic, Texas’s debt-ridden economy depended heavily on the cotton and cattle trades, both of which have markedly shaped both the state and region. Still, the republic’s economic woes were so dire that they jeopardized Texas’s security. While Morgenthaler deserves great credit for his achievement in tracing the mindset of the men responsible for colonizing Texas, as well as for presenting their very thoughts and actions, he also merits appreciation for astutely capturing numerous instances where romanticism and pragmatism collided—forging in the process settlements that would greatly affect Texas history.

Morgenthaler’s choice of title is apt, an allusion to a paradox of sorts: a place where the material reality of land deeds meets immaterial aspirations. That this “promised land” served an array of underlying motives held by Europeans such as Solms and Castro and those whose names are perhaps less familiar, notably Saligny and Kennedy, offering them the hope of a personal value beyond sheer currency, indicates the complexities surrounding these settlements. Furthermore, Morgenthaler offers an important reminder that the past serves to elucidate—if not explicate—the present.

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