Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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AUSTIN, Stephen F., pioneer, born about 1790; died in Texas, 27 December 1836. He was the son of Moses Austin, an enterprising pioneer from Connecticut, who in 1820 obtained from Mexico authority to colonize 300 families in Texas, but died before the project could be accomplished. Stephen obtained a confirmation of the grant, and, haying already selected the present site of Austin, he founded what soon grew into a thriving settlement. He was entitled to a large tract for each 200 families induced to settle, and proved himself an able diplomatist by inducing unmarried young men to pair off together and call themselves families. In this way he soon acquired a large tract of fertile land, and, being clothed with almost absolute authority, he practically ruled the whole community, and successfully fought the warlike tribes of Indians in the vicinity. In 1833 the American settlers, were so powerful that they became uneasy under Mexican rule, and Austin went so far that he was arrested and imprisoned for several months. On his liberation in 1835 he took part with the revolutionists, was appointed commander-in-chief, and straightway undertook to expel the Mexicans, sending for General Sam. Houston to lend his aid. In November of that year he was sent as commissioner to the United States to secure recognition from the government at Washington. In this capacity he acted with prudence and patience, and in his opinion could even then have obtained recognition of Texan independence had he been properly provided with credentials. In July 1836, he returned to Texas to prosecute the work, but died without witnessing the result of his labors.
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