Sunday, February 13, 2011

Best Of Texas Tidbits: The Father of Texas

This story was originally posted on November 4, 2010. I thought this would be a good time to rerun this post on Stephen F. Austin since we have been studying the History of Texas leading up to the Texas Revolution.  If you've already read it, it might be worth a re-read to freshen up your memory and make a connection between the man Sam Houston himself called "The Father of Texas", and his role in the Texas Revolution.

 Four and a half months ago when I first started this blog, I wrote a Plus One post about Virginia. I saluted Virginia for some of the great Americans that were born there who went on to do great things for our country. On that day, I left out a man who was a native son of Virginia, and today I could slap a knot on my own head so tall I'd have to tiptoe to scratch it. The man's name? Stephen Fuller Austin. The Father of Texas. I am a dumbass.

I was going to post this yesterday because it was the anniversary of SFA's birth. But the Republican Tsunami was a pretty big deal so I wrote about that instead.

Stephen Fuller Austin was born in Virginia on November 3, 1793. By age twenty one, Austin was a lawyer and a member of the First Circuit Court. During this time, Austin's father, Moses, received an empresarial grant that allowed him to take 300 Americans into Texas. Moses then was traveling back to Missouri when he was attacked and soon contracted pneumonia and died in June, 1821. Upon his death, Moses Austin left his empresarial grant to Stephen. I was a bit surprised to learn that Stephen was, at first, reluctant to carry out his father's dream of colonizing Texas. However, a letter from Ma Austin changed Stephen's mind about it. And thus began the journey of the man who would be the Father of Texas.

The Father of Texas
During his attempt to bring Americans to Texas, Austin wore a path out to Mexico while dealing with the new Mexican government (Mexico had just won its independence from Spain). The rules regarding his land grant seemed to change by the minute. Undeterred, Austin finally got that mess settled and in late 1825, he brought  300 Americans to Texas. This was the first step in Stephen F. Austin being recognized as The Father of Texas. There's some detailed information on the trials and tribulations Austin had to overcome to colonize Texas with American settlers here.

In 1836, when Texas had won its independence from Mexico, Austin threw his name into the hat to be a candidate for the Presidency of the new Republic of Texas. He was the odds on favorite to win the election, but someone else had eyes on that prize. His name was Sam Houston. After his victory at San Jacinto establishing Texas' new status as a sovereign country, Houston won the election in a landslide. Upon taking on his role as President of Texas, Houston named Austin as his Secretary of State, a post he held for only two months. Stephen F. Austin contracted what he thought was a bad cold, but it was actually pneumonia. He died on December 27, 1836. Austin's last words were, "The Independence of Texas is recognized! Don't you see it in the papers!". After learning of Austin's death, President Sam Houston issued this statement, "The Father of Texas is no more. The first pioneer of the wilderness has departed." Austin is gone, Mr. President, but he will for eternity be known as The Father of Texas and his name will be revered by Texans forevermore.

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