Anglo-American Colonization

The Imperial Colonization Law specified that colonists must be Catholic. Laws enacted in 1824 and 1825 said only that foreigners must be Christian and abide by the laws of the nation.

Mexicans were strongly against slavery, but realistic politicians ignored the system because they wanted the Anglos to produce cotton in Texas. National and state laws banned the African slave trade but allowed Anglo-Americans to bring their family slaves with them to Texas. They could buy and sell these slaves there until 1840. Grandchildren of those slaves were freed when they reached a certain age. In 1829, Mexican President Vicente Ramon Guerrero freed all slaves, but Austin arranged an exemption for Texas.

Austin, as the pioneer empresario in Texas, oversaw administrative and judicial decisions in his settlement. In 1828, the population had grown enough to establish councils, called ayuntamiento, with elected representatives from the settlements. The first council was established in San Felipe and had authority over the entire Austin colony. The remoteness of the court disturbed Anglo-Texans, who wanted accessible courts. The councils acted like a county government. They settled lawsuits, regulated the health and welfare of the residents, surveyed roads, and sold town lots.

Austin also commanded the local militia to defend the colony against Indian raids. His contract area had only a few small Indian villages belonging to groups who wanted only to trade. Other Indians hunted for game and targeted the settlers' livestock.

In 1824, Mexican native empresario Martín De León received permission to establish a town for forty-one Mexican families along the banks of the Guadalupe River. No boundaries were mentioned.

After the passage of national and state colonization laws in 1825, to encourage immigration, settlers were free from national taxes for four years. Owners had to be residents of Mexico. Preference was given to native Mexicans, and the national government could use any portion of land needed for the defense and security of the nation.

Unaware of the colonization grant to De León in San Antonio, Green DeWitt signed a contract in 1825 with the state to settle 400 families on the same area of the Guadalupe River with specific boundaries. Because the colonization laws gave preference to native Mexicans, De León petitioned the state for compensation. The state named land commissioners for both colonies. The commissioners issued titles in 1831, the year DeWitt's six-year contract expired permanently. The boundaries remained unresolved, yet he managed to settle 189 families, including sixteen non-Hispanic families.

The Anglos in Texas spoke only English. Mexican authorities were concerned that Mexico might lose Texas if more Anglo-Americans entered. In 1830 the special exemption from national import duties for Texas pioneer settlers expired. The government sent troops to aid the new customs collectors in collecting these tariffs. This angered Anglo-Texans. They were farmers who did not manufacture anything, and they did not want to pay taxes on necessities. They also didn’t want standing armies and troops in their communities.

Source: Anglo-American Colonization
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