Anglo-American Colonization

Anglo-American colonization in Mexican Texas took place between 1821 and 1835. Spain first opened Texas to Anglo-Americans in 1820. Its policy did not allow foreigners in its territory, but Spain was unable to persuade its own citizens to move to remote and sparsely populated Texas. There were only three settlements in the province of Texas in 1820: Nacogdoches, San Antonio de Béxar, and La Bahía del Espíritu Santo (later Goliad), small towns with outlying ranches.

The Anglo-Americans liked Texas because the land was inexpensive. Undeveloped land in the United States cost $1.25 an acre for a minimum of 80 acres, or $100. In Texas, each head of a family could get 4,605 acres for about four cents an acre, or $184. This amount was later lowered by state authorities.

Another reason that the Anglo-Americans settled in Texas was because they believed that the United States would buy eastern Texas from Mexico. Many people believed that eastern Texas was part of the Louisiana Purchase and that the United States had “given” it away to Spain in exchange for Florida in the 1819 Adams-Onis Treaty. The Texas pioneers believed that annexation would encourage immigration and people would want to buy their land.

A third reason for Anglo settlement was that Mexico and the United States did not have a shared agreement for creditors to collect debts or to return fugitives. Texas was a safe haven for the many Mississippi valley farmers who did not pay their loans when agricultural prices dropped at the end of the War of 1812 and bankers wanted immediate payment. Faced with losing their property, men loaded up their families and belongings and headed for the Sabine River, where creditors could not follow and they had the opportunity to start over.

Source: Anglo-American Colonization
Copyright © Texas State Historical Association

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