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Stephen Fuller Austin

Austin, Stephen Fuller, 1793–1836, American leader of colonization in Texas, known as the Father of Texas, b. Wythe co., Va.; son of Moses Austin. He grew up in Missouri, studied at Transylvania Univ. in Kentucky, served (1814–20) in the Missouri territorial legislature, and was studying law in New Orleans when his father died. Stephen took up the plans to colonize Texas and on a journey there (1821) selected the area between the Brazos and Colorado rivers. In Jan., 1822, he planted the first legal settlement of Anglo-Americans in Texas. He later went to Mexico City to have his grant cleared and confirmed by the newly independent Mexican government. Austin's settlements, with the towns of San Felipe de Austin and Brazoria, prospered. Other American colonists poured in. As friction developed over the years with the Mexican government, Austin opposed illegal efforts at Texan independence. He was sent in 1833 to Mexico City to present the settlers' grievances, to ask that Texas be separated from Coahuila, and to get the Mexican immigration law modified. He was accused of treason and imprisoned. On his return to Texas in 1835 he opposed the government of Santa Anna and so forwarded the Texas Revolution. He was sent as one of the commissioners (1835–36) of the provisional government to obtain aid in the United States, was defeated (1836) by Samuel Houston for the presidency of Texas, and served briefly until his death as secretary of state.

See The Austin Papers, 1765–1837 (1924–28); biographies by S. Glassock (1951), E. G. Barker (1925, repr. 1968), and G. Cantrell (1999).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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