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.
To the Inhabitants of the Colony.
The persons who were sent on from the Colony
by the Chief of Department & Military Commandment
to offer peace to the Nacogdoches madmen have
returned without effecting anything. The Olive
Branch of peace that was magnanimously held
out to them has been insultingly refused, and
that party have denounced massacre and
desolation on this Colony. They are trying to
excite all the Northern Indians to murder
and plunder, and it appears as though they
have no other object than this ruin of the
Country. They are no longer Americans, for
they have forfeited all title to that high name
by their unnatural and bloody alliance with
Savages. They openly threaten us with Indian
Massacre and the plunder of our property.
Ought we to hesitate at such a moment?
Shall we hesitate because they were once our
countrymen? No. They are our countrymen
no longer. They have by a solemn treaty
united and identified themselves with
Indians — made common cause with savages,
and pledged their faith to carry on a war of
murder and plunder against the peacible [sic]
inhabitants of Texas. They are worse [?] than
Nations of the forest with whom they are
allied, and it is our duty as men, as Amer-
icans, and as adopted Mexicans to prove to
these infatuated criminals and to the world
that we have not forgotten the Land of our
birth, nor the principles of honor & patriotism we
inherited from our fathers, and that we
are not to be dictated to & driven into crime
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.