ANGLOS COLONIZE MEXICO (Illustration) American History Film Legends and Legendary People Social Studies Nineteenth Century Life Famous People History Famous Historical Events

Stephen Austin created this hand-colored manuscript map when he visited Texas between 1821-22.  The original is now an American Treasure at the Library of Congress.  Curators at the Library provide this description of the famous map: “Texas, the sparsely settled northeastern frontier of Mexico, was inadequately mapped when Stephen Austin visited there in 1821-1822 to locate and confirm a colonization grant originally made to his father. As a result of his travels, he prepared a manuscript map showing settlements in eastern Texas, annotated to show vegetation—prairie land in yellow and wood land in green—making it one of the earliest examples of American thematic mapping.”


Ever since Montezuma II superstitiously believed that invading Spainards were descendants of the god Quetzalcoatl, leading to the defeat of the Aztec Empire by Hernando Cortez in 1521, Spain had controlled Mexico.

Exactly 300 years later, an American - Stephen Austin - sought, and received, permission to colonize a portion of Mexico called "Coahuila y Tejas."

The idea to colonize Mexican territory did not originate with Austin. His father, Moses, had come upon hard economic times in the United States, following the Panic of 1819. It was Moses who petitioned the Spanish authorities in Mexico to allow him, and 300 additional Anglo families (called "The Old Three Hundred"), to begin anew on Mexican land.

The plan would benefit both the Spaniards (who hoped for economic growth and protection from hostile Indians) and the colonists (who could inexpensively purchase large tracts of land). Moses, unhappily, contracted pneumonia and died in June of 1821, before colonization began.

On his deathbed, he told Maria, his wife, to have his son Stephen take charge of resettlement efforts.

Keeping the commitment he made to his father, Stephen Austin ultimately settled about 1,000 families in the Texas territory. Mexican law allowed each family to buy 4,428 acres of pasture land and 177 acres of farm land. The average cost was about four cents an acre!

Most of the early settlers were Protestants from the American South. They planned to raise corn, cotton and cattle in the same manner they'd employed before emigrating to Mexico - with slaves on farms and plantations.

There was a brewing problem, however. Although certain exceptions were made for the Texas territory, Catholic Mexico had anti-slavery laws.

A showdown with Santa Anna, who ultimately banished slavery even in Texas, was not far off.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 01, 2004

Updated Last Revision: Feb 07, 2018

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"ANGLOS COLONIZE MEXICO" AwesomeStories.com. Mar 01, 2004. Feb 22, 2020.
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