A Guide to the Stephen F. Austin Collection
Stephen Fuller Austin (1793-1836), son of Moses Austin, was born on November 3, 1793, near his father's lead mines in Virginia. Educated in Kentucky, Stephen went to work in his father's business and served in the Missouri state legislature. Stephen and the family suffered a major financial set-back with the failure of the Bank of St. Louis, so he moved from Missouri to Arkansas to speculate in real estate and other business ventures. He was appointed circuit judge in Arkansas but soon decided to study law in New Orleans. While there, he learned of his father's efforts toward Anglo settlement of Texas, and planned to work with his father on this new enterprise. The untimely death of Moses Austin left Stephen to carry on the colonization plan, and in August 1821 he received permission from the Spanish governor to continue the work begun by his father.
Stephen returned to New Orleans and began promoting the new colonies along the Brazos and Colorado Rivers in Texas, with the first settlers streaming into the area in late 1821. Soon thereafter Mexico gained independence from Spain, forcing Austin to travel to Mexico City to salvage his colonial arrangements. The new agreement ushered in the era of the empresario, while Austin spent much of his time coordinating the allotments of land, mapping and surveying the territory. Accused of inciting insurrection among the colonists, Austin was taken prisoner and spent much of the period between 1834 and 1835 in Mexican prisons. Though he generally favored a moderate approach to relations with the Mexican government, Austin returned to Texas and was a leading figure in the revolutionary movement that eventually led to Texas independence from Mexico. Austin served briefly as Secretary of State for the new Republic of Texas, but died soon after his appointment at the age of forty-three.
Letters, scrapbook, and related material concerning Stephen F. Austin
Stephen F. Austin Collection, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Detailed Description of the Papers