Stephen F. Austin, Military Address to the Inhabitants of the Colony, January 22, 1827
Under the empresario system, Austin successfully settled his colony with 300 families, who became known as the Old Three Hundred. Building on his success, he obtained three more contracts and settled 900 additional families on his own, plus 800 more in partnership with Samuel Williams.
The empresario system was not always orderly or without conflict. A dispute broke out between the Mexican government and Haden Edwards, an empresario in the Nacogdoches area. Edwards, Austin, and others had worked together for years to improve business relations with Mexico. But Edwards also resented Austin, whom he believed had claimed the best lands and expanded at the expense of other empresarios.
All empresarios were required to honor previous Spanish and Mexican land grants. Edwards posted notices in his territory that anyone who could not produce proof of their claims would have their land taken away and sold to Edwards' settlers. This angered the old settlers, and an on-going feud developed between Edwards's new settlers and people who had already been living in the area. Finally, the Mexican authorities became disgusted with the constant complaints from the old settlers and with the belligerent attitude of Edwards and his brother, Benjamin. They revoked the Edwards grant in October 1826.
Edwards and his settlers were outraged and resolved to take control of the area by force. In December 1826, they issued a declaration of independence, calling their new republic Fredonia.
The Mexican government sent troops to the area to restore order. Austin sided with the government and sent militia from his colony to assist in putting down the rebellion. When the Mexican militia and those from Austin's colony reached Nacogdoches on January 31, 1827, the revolutionists fled and crossed the Sabine River without a shot being fired.
Stephen F. Austin, Military Address to the Inhabitants of the Colony, January 22, 1827. Mirabeau B. Lamar Papers #67. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Page last modified: August 19, 2011