Texas — The following letter from a gentleman of respectability now in Texas, to Mr. Moseley of this vicinity, has been politely furnished us for publication, and as it contains facts, ascertained from personal observation, that will, no doubt, be interesting to many of our readers, we cheerfully give it an early insertion.
PROVINCE OF TEXAS.
TOWN OF AUSTIN, October 2nd, 1830.
My Dear Sir, — Your son Robert having solicited me to favor you with a short history of that portion of the habitable earth, properly called Texas; I the more freely avail myself of this opportunity of doing so, as the truth of every fact I submit may be fairly treated by you, on the return of a number of respectable citizens from Nashville, who are now in this place. — I have resided in the country nearly four years, and have been active in collecting all the information to be relied on, relative to this, my adopted country; and shall give it you as such, under the hope and persuasion, that it will carry conviction with it, until the leading parts are refuted or at least controverted. Texas then embraces a very extensive territory, and a single glance at the map will be sufficient to indicate the great advantages derivable from its local position in point of soil and commercial facilities. It is bounded on two sides by the United States of America, and extends, as it were like a peninsula into that nation. The intercourse between the two republics by water along the coast, is easy and safe, and three or four day's sail will take you from the coast of Texas, to the mouth of the Mississippi, to Vera Cruz, to the South, or to the Havanna. The land communication between the republics, is also equally easy, being open on the whole extent of the Louisiana and Arkansas frontiers, and susceptible of good roads leading into Opelousas, Attakapas and the upper settlements of Arkansas territory on the Red river; and also to New Mexico, Chihuahua, New Leon and the other Mexican states lying to the west. The West Indies lie in front, and an immense extent of Mexican coast to the South; thus presenting channels of commerce in every direction. The climate of Texas is mild, salubrious and healthy. It lies between lat. 28 deg. and 34 North, and is greatly favored by pleasant and refreshing sea-breezes during the summer months. The country is intersected by four rivers, that are navigable from one hundred to four hundred miles, to wit: the Netchez, the Trinity, the Brasos and the Colorado, besides a great number of smaller streams, that afford good navigation a shorter distance, and the great abundance of its creeks and living springs, taken in connection with topographical characters, presents more extensive facilities for canalling, than can be found on an equal surface in any part of North America.
Texas forms an immense, inclined plane, the apex of which is the highland south of the Red river, where its principal rivers have their source. From this summit the inclination is towards the south-east and surprisingly uniform. The surface is beautifully undulating to within about sixty miles of the coast, where it becomes level, and some parts of the north-western section is hilly, particularly at the heads of Colorado and Gaudaloupe (sic) rivers, though the general feature of an inclined plane is observable throughout; for the hills to not form leading ridges so as to impede the flow of water to the south-east; neither are the undulations greater than are necessary to render the country dry, healthy and beautiful. The hills gradually lessen till they lose themselves in the level strip that borders on the coast, which is from forty to eighty miles wide.
The whole of this tract of country (strange as it may appear in this latitude) is, without exception, free from marsh or lakes even down to the sea-beach.
The soil on the rivulets and creeks, is of the first quality of alluvial & heavily timbered; between these, the country is entirely prairie though level and rich and of dark complexion. The timbered bottom lands are from two to fifteen miles wide, a small portion or strip of which is subject to inundation in extreme high freshets, but the floods are not frequent, and owing to the comparative shortness of the steams soon subside. The undulating country comprises by far the greatest portion of Texas. It is timbered and prairie land, conveniently interspersed, and abounding in good springs, and creeks of pure water; and the same observation as to the water; applies to the healthy country on the Colorado and Gaudaloupe. The level region is evidently alluvial and of recent formation, and the undulating region presents numerous evidence of secondary formation.
The pasturage of Texas is also surprisingly abundant all over the whole country, and good both summer and winter, and every species of domestic animals incident to the comfort and convenience of man, more easily reared in Texas, than elsewhere, that is populated by North Americans. There is also positive proof that Texas possesses many beds of good iron and lead oar, (sic) and it is said that copper, silver and gold have been found in the hilly region of the Colorado in small quantities, but no experiments in mining has as yet been made by the Colonists; for two reasons; one is that the supposed mines of the precious metals are in the Indian territory, and another, the principal reason is the want of capital.
Nature seems to have formed Texas for a great agricultural, manufacturing and commercial country. It combines in an eminent degree all the elements necessary for those different branches of industry. It possesses about 70,000 square miles of good sugar lands south of lat. 30 and coast of the river Nuesis, whidch is the present western boundary of Texas. This river is about eighty miles east of the Rio Grande or Bravo del Norte. The northern and high parts of the country are well adapted to the cultivation of wheat and small grain, and the streams afford great facilities for water works and irrigation. The whole country produces cotton of the first quality, acknowledged in New Orleans to be equal, and in Liverpool, to be superior to Red river or Louisiana cotton. The tobacco and indigo of Texas are also superior quality, the latter of which is a spontaneous growth of the country in the poorest parts — & in addition to these, the climate and soil are congenial to the culture of the olive, the vine and other fruits and productions of a temperate southern latitude.
The country on the Sabine, Netchez, and Trinity rivers abound in good pine, and some cypress and cedar, though the two latter are not abundant and live and the other species of oak and North American timber are sufficiently abundant in every part of the country except the South-Western section bordering on the Nuesis, which is thickly timbered. Texas possesses three large and important bays, to wit: — Galveston, Malagorda, and Arransaso. The Trinity and San Jacinto rivers discharge into the first; the Colorado, La Bacha, Gaudaloupe, and San Antonio rivers into the second, and the Nuesis into the third. — The two first of these bays has never less than twelve feet water over the bar at the entrance at the lowest tide, and the last from eight to nine feet, the whole affording good anchorage and safe harbors. The Brassos river, which is the largest in the country (a singular phenomena indeed) discharges itself directly into the Gulf fifty miles west of the entrance of Galvetton, and from six to twelve feet over the bar, as both tide and channel vary. The Sabine and Netchez rivers discharge into an oblong lake or bay into which there is an entrance of eight feet water. Less than thirty miles canalling would connect all these bays from the east to Arransaso to the west, and one mile canalling would connect the Brassos river with the western extremity of Galvezton bay by means of a deep tide-water bayou.
The Mexican nation, with a degree of liberality unequalled by any under the sun, have opened this fine country to the enterprising and industrious of all nations. Lands are granted to emigrants for almost nothing. The price requisite to obtain them is actual removal, and settlement and unquestionable evidence of good moral character and industrious habits. Indeed, without such evidence, no one is admitted to the privileges of settlers. Thus, you have something like a general view of Texas. I will now confine myself to Austin's Colony. In the winter of 1820 or 21, Moses Austin, Esq. of Missouri, visited Texas and obtained permission from the Spanish authorities to introduce and settle three hundred families from the United States. This gentleman died on his return to Missouri, and the enterprise was immediately taken up by his eldest son, Stephen F. Austin. In the summer of 1821 or 2, young Austin visited Texas, and after making the necessary arrangements with the Governor of the Province, he returned to Louisiana; and in December of the same year arrived on the Brassos with a part of the families he was authorize to colonize. As soon as the independent Government was established and organized, young Austin visited the city of Mexico, where h acquired a knowledge of the Castilian language, and at the same time obtained a full confirmation of his grant by the National Congress of Mexico.
Texas at this time was an entire wilderness with the exception of the old Spanish posts of San Antonio de Berear and La Bahia, and they were poor and inconsiderable villages, reduced to wretchedness and misery by the arbitrary and cruel measures of the Spanish general Aradondo after the defeat of the republicans on the Medina in 1813, and by the subsequent Indian war with the Commanches and other tribes. Between the Sabine and San Antonio, there were not at that time more than twenty souls of civilized inhabitants, and they were confined entirely to the banks of the former stream. The country was occupied in every direction by wandering bands of Commanches, Lepaus, Whacos, Tancawas, Tawacanys, Karankawas, and other Indians. — The Spanish power to be sure was prostrated, but much doubt and uncertainty prevailed as to the final result. Public opinion and parties vacillated between monarchy, aristocracy and republicanism. No aid was there fore to be expected by the colonists from the government; and indeed it would seem that even vain hope could have offered but few inducements to enter the wilderness of Texas with families of women and children such unpropitious circumstances. But however arduous the enterprise, it seems that Col. Austin, and the families who embarked with him, fully understood their situation, and the risks and perils they would necessarily be compelled to undergo in the accomplishment of so grand an object. — They had confidence in themselves and relied upon that confidence alone, for safety, protection and success
Independent of this, the alarming and exaggerated rumours that went abroad relative to the sufferings of the first settlers, greatly impeded the progress of the new settlement and increased Austin's difficulties in procuring emigrants. True as it is, they suffered much; I am creditly informed that they did not take bread for six months, and that their only hope for subsistence was the game of the forest until they raised their first crop. The vessels sent by Austin from New Orleans with provisions and supplies were lost on the coast, and plundered by the Karankawa Indians. But great as the obstacles were that opposed these adventurers in their new settlement in the wilderness of Texas, still their fortitude and perseverance were greater, and success has fully rewarded their toils. Austin's colony at this time contains about six thousand inhabitants and is flourishing rapidly. The settlers are beginning to reap the fruits of their labor and industry. They have opened extensive farms, and the produce of the soil far exceeds their most sanguine expectations. A number of mills and cotton gins are in operation, and several more are building. About fifteen hundred bales of cotton and eighty hogsheads of sugar will be made this season. Commerce begins to enliven the shores of our rivers, and peace and plenty every where prevail. There probably is not at this time, on the habitable globe, such an opening for agricultural industry and enterprise as in Austin's colony. — Land of good quality may be had in large tracts by emigrants of good character, that will enable a man of large family to settle all his children around him. The cost will not exceed five cents per acre including surveying, office fees and all other charges whatever, and five and six years are given to pay a part of that in.
Those who emigrate now will have none of the difficulties of the first settlers. Provisions are cheap and abundant, and roads are opened. The Indians are driven back and at peace, and actual experiment of nine years has fully tested the healthiness and value of the country. The government is settled on the true basis of Republicanism. The constitution is formed, and the political machine goes on smoothly, and North Americans on their arrival in this country, will be surprised to find that this government is modelled so exactly after that of the United States, that no material variation of fundamental principles is discoverable. The new settlers are represented, and enjoy every civil privilege that reasonable men could ask for. Those who are here are satisfied and say that this is the most munificent government they ever lived under.
Slavery is prohibited by the constitution, but contracts made with servants or hirelings in foreign countries are guarantied as valid in this state by a special act of the legislature passed in May 1828. The general character of the settlers of Austin's is that of moral, industrious good citizens. The local government has been administered without the aid of one solitary soldier to enforce obedience — Crimes, rioting, and those disorders incident to a new country, are almost unknown in Austin's colony, and impartial men will say, that no new settlement on any frontier of the United States, can boast of more good order, morality, and subordination than Austin's colony. It has been a rule with Col. Austin from the beginning, to receive none but good men, and to drive away bad ones, and he will now receive none who do not present evidence of good moral character from the local authorities of the place which they remove from. Honest men of large families and little or no capital, cannot do better than to emigrate to Texas. Col. Austin is authorized to settle a large number of families, and his well known standing with the Mexican government, his experience in colonization, his uniform devotion to the interests of the settlers and to the accommodation of honest poor men, as well as to the general prosperity of the country, qualify him better to succeed, than any other now engaged in enterprizes of this kind. He was the first who attempted to colonize in Texas — he opened the way and has devoted ten years of the prime of his life to this great object. His present poverty, as to monied capital or disposble (sic) means, affords an unquestionable and honorable proof, that he has been influenced more by the general good and prosperity of the settlers and country in general, than by any views of individual profit; for had the revers of this been his object, he has had abundant opportunities of speculating, but he could not embrace them without neglecting what he deemed to be his duty to his settlers.
The success of Austin's colony in the wilderness of Texas, under the disadvantages and difficulties that opposed such an enterprise, affords a most striking and highly honorable example of North American enterprise, perseverance and fortitude. It has paved the way for the settlement of the whole of this fine and heretofore unknown and uninhabited country. — Your's respectfully.
"Province of Texas. Town of Austin." The National Banner & Nashville Whig, December 1, 1830, p. 3, col. 2