Stephen in Texas. This was supposedly due to

Stephen F Austin, one of the most if not the most successful
empresarios in Texas, was a very important historical figure. If not for his
father’s and his actions and ideals, we could all be speaking Spanish and be
living in the country of Mexico. Even though now part of the United States,
Texas is still a one-of-a-kind state. The original colonists, the Old 300, are
the ones who started it all.

The Old three hundred were part of a solution to one of New
Spain/Mexico’s greatest problems. In 1803, the United States had bought the
Louisiana Purchase from France. Mexico had only three major settlements in
Texas. This was supposedly due to regular attacks from the Indians, and from
the absence of precious metals. The low population density of Texas led to many
Americans illegally immigrating to Texas. Spain had tried to start a population
buffer against both problems by offering 2000 acres to anyone that was willing
to take up ranching. This solution failed due to the space in between the
ranches. In a last effort to keep illegal Americans off their land, Mexico
offered land to any American that would respect their laws and constitution to
create a population buffer. Spain was recovering from the Peninsular War, and
dealing with Mexico’s demand for independence. Texas was at the bottom of their
priorities list. So, Moses Austin took advantage of the situation. Austin saw
opportunity in the free land in Texas, and famously rode a gray horse to San
Antonio to obtain a grant. The governor of Texas refused to give Austin the
desired grant. Luckily for Austin, his old friend, Felipe Enrique Neri Baron de
Bastrop, was coming on other business. They met outside, and Austin asked him
to plead his case to the governor and see if he could pull some strings. With Bastrop
at his side, Austin was successful in obtaining an empresario grant. Now an
empresario, Moses Austin rode home. He died shortly afterward. In his will, his
grant was entitled to his son, Stephen F Austin. Stephen Austin followed in his
father’s footsteps to make his dream come true. He traveled to New Orleans,
where advertised free land in Texas to anyone that would come. Another
incentive besides having free land was immunity to taxation for six years. He
hired a ship to take the settlers to the mouth of the Colorado River. He traveled
to his site over land. Unfortunately, the ship only made it to Brazos, and in
the time it took him to travel back, his grant had been voided when Mexico
gained its independence from Spain. He traveled to Mexico City to have his grant
reapproved, and he had to wait for more than a year, due to the new government
having more troublesome matters of internal organization and such. Eventually,
the approved his grant, and he was named empresario. He was permitted to bring
in 300 families from the US into Texas. Austin picked up the settlers and
brought them to his colony. Austin later obtained another two grants, putting
his colony up to 900 families. This was easily one of the biggest, if not the
biggest colony in Texas.

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Even though Austin was only allowed to bring in people of
good character, some lacking this still made it through. Some just wanted a new
life. Others wanted the free land. These were all major causes of people
immigrating to Texas. You may be thinking, “What is Austin doing? He’s
completely breaking the rules.” Well, due to Austin’s high standard, only four
people were illiterate. He also allowed unmarried men to come to his colony in “families”
of two or three.