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Moses Austin dies


On this day in 1821, Moses Austin died in Missouri. Austin, born in Connecticut in 1761, was the first man to receive permission to bring Anglo-American colonists into Spanish Texas. In 1798, while consolidating his position as a pioneer in the American lead industry, he established the first Anglo-American settlement west of and back from the Mississippi River, at modern Potosi, Missouri. When the Bank of St. Louis, which he had helped found, failed in 1819, Austin found himself in financial difficulties and developed a plan for settling American colonists in Spanish Texas. He traveled to San Antonio in 1820 seeking permission for his plan. Spurned by Governor Antonio María Martínez, he chanced to meet an old acquaintance, the Baron de Bastrop, who returned with him to the governor's office and convinced Martínez to endorse the plan and forward it to higher authorities. On the trip out of Texas, Austin contracted pneumonia. Shortly after he reached home, he learned that permission for the colony had been granted, but he lived barely two months more. It was his deathbed request that his son, Stephen F. Austin, take over the colonization scheme.

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