State remembers Father of Texas

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Texas residents will honor Stephen F. Austin Nov. 3 as Father of Texas Day is celebrated throughout the state.

Numerous places are named after him such as the capital of Texas and Austin County.

Austin was born Nov. 3, 1793 in Virginia. He attended Yale College and afterwards had a variety of jobs that included storekeeper, manager of the family lead mining business, and director of a bank.

The first steps to establish the American colony were taken by Austin’s father, Moses Austin. Moses received approval to settle 300 American families but unfortunately died, so the plans for colony were taken over by Austin.

A site was selected on the Colorado and Brazos rivers and the settlers arrived there in January 1822. Immediately, the colony had problems with the Mexican government because they declined to honor Austin’s land grant. Austin traveled to Mexico City to correct this situation, and using skillful diplomacy secured a new law confirming his right to colonize the land and designating him as the new colony's empresario, or administrative authority according to pbs.org.

Austin occupied a complex and difficult position as intermediary between his colonists and the Mexican government.

According to published reports, Austin had mixed success with the Mexican government. President Antonio López de Santa Anna agreed to repeal the 1830 law against further American immigration, but he refused to grant the request for statehood. He also had Austin imprisoned for a time on suspicion of inciting an insurrection.

Austin was released in 1835 and he still thought an alliance with Mexican liberals was the best option for Americans in Texas, but the outbreak of the Texas Revolution at Gonzales on Oct. 1, 1835 left him little choice but to support the drive for independence. He took command of the attack on Mexican troops led by Juan Sequin at San Antonio, and then in late 1835 began to act as commissioner to the United States.

Austin's efforts in Washington proved unsuccessful, however, and he returned to Texas in June 1836, shortly after the Texas War for Independence had been won at San Jacinto. In the fall, he was defeated in a bid for Texas presidency by Sam Houston, but he served as secretary of state until his death on Dec. 27, 1836.

Austin was known as the founder and "Father of Texas", and was credited with the colonization of the region by bringing 300 families from the United States to the region in 1825.

According to Todd E. Creason, writer of Famous American Freemasons, Austin's last words were "The independence of Texas is recognized! Don't you see it in the papers?..."

Upon hearing of Austin's death, Houston ordered an official statement proclaiming: "The Father of Texas is no more; the first pioneer of the wilderness has departed."

Austin was originally buried at Gulf Prairie Cemetery in Brazoria County, Texas and in 1910 Austin's body was reinterred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.

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