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Stephen F. Austin dies

December
27
1836

On this day in 1836, Stephen F. Austin, the founder of Anglo-American Texas, died at the age of forty-three. Austin had taken over his father's colonization scheme when Moses Austin died in 1821. He began the Anglo-American colonization of Texas under conditions more difficult in some respects than those that confronted founders of the English colonies on the Atlantic coast. He saw the wilderness transformed into a relatively advanced and populous state, and fundamentally it was his unremitting labor, perseverance, foresight, and tactful management that brought that miracle to pass. Some contemporaries criticized his cautious policy of conciliating Mexican officials, and Austin was initially a reluctant supporter of Texas independence, though he led volunteers against the Mexican army during the Texas Revolution and served as a commissioner to the United States on behalf of the provisional government. He ran unsuccessfully for president of the Republic of Texas in September 1836, but accepted the office of secretary of state from the victorious Sam Houston. Shortly before his death, Austin wrote, "The prosperity of Texas has been the object of my labors, the idol of my existence--it has assumed the character of a religion, for the guidance of my thoughts and actions, for fifteen years."

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