Texas: American Expeditions and Settlement
American Expeditions and Settlement
By the early 19th cent. Americans were covetously eyeing Texas, especially after the Louisiana Purchase (1803) had extended the U.S. border to that fertile wilderness. Attempts to free Texas from Spanish rule were made in the expeditions of the adventurers Gutiérrez and Magee (1812–13) and James Long (1819). In 1821 Moses Austin secured a colonization grant from the Spanish authorities in San Antonio. He died from the rigors of his return trip from that distant outpost, but his son, Stephen F. Austin, had the grant confirmed and in Dec., 1821, led 300 families across the Sabine River to the region between the Brazos and Colorado rivers, where they established the first American settlement in Texas. Austin is known as the father of Texas.
The newly independent government of Mexico, pleased with Austin's prospering colony, readily offered grants to other American promoters and even gave huge land tracts to individual settlers. Americans from all over the Union, but particularly from the South, poured into Texas, and within a decade a considerable number of settlements had been established at Brazoria, Washington-on-the-Brazos, San Felipe de Austin, Anahuac, and Gonzales. The Americans easily avoided Mexican requirements that all settlers be Roman Catholic, but conflict with Mexican settlers over land titles resulted in the Fredonian Rebellion (1826–27).
By 1830 the Americans outnumbered the Mexican settlers by more than three to one and had formed their own society. The Mexican government became understandably concerned. Its sporadic attempts to tighten control over Texas, including restricting slavery (which Mexico abolished in 1829), had been hampered by its own political instability, but in 1830 measures were taken to stop the influx of Americans. Troops were sent to police the border, close the seaports, occupy the towns, and levy taxes on imported goods. The troops were withdrawn in 1832, when Mexico was again in political upheaval, but the Texans, alarmed and hoping to achieve a greater measure of self-government, petitioned Mexico for separate statehood (Texas was then part of Coahuila). When Austin presented the petition in Mexico City, Antonio López de Santa Anna had become military dictator. Austin was arrested and imprisoned for eighteen months, and Texas was regarrisoned.
Sections in this article:
- Industry in the Late Twentieth Century
- Oil, Industrialization, and World Wars
- The Late Nineteenth Century
- Civil War and Reconstruction
- The Texas Republic and U.S. Annexation
- Independence from Mexico
- American Expeditions and Settlement
- Spanish Exploration and Colonization
- Government, Politics, and Higher Education
- Places of Interest
- West Texas
- High Plains
- Blackland Prairies
- Rio Grande Valley
- Gulf Coast
- East Texas
- Facts and Figures
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