Moses Austin is one of the most important figures in the history of Texas. Austin is considered to be the father of the prolific lead industry in the late 18th and early 19th century America. He was the first person to be granted permission by the Spanish colonialists to introduce Anglo Americans into the colony. He was born in October 1961 in Durham, Connecticut and his son, Stephen Austin is considered to be one of the pioneer settlers in Texas. Austin was a member of the Austins of American family. He is also remembered for establishing an Anglo American settlement on the western banks of river Mississippi (Gracy, pg 8).
In his early life, Austin abandoned his father’s business, which was very successful in tailoring, farming and tavern keeping and started his own business of selling dry goods. He started his own business at the age of twenty one in Middletown but later moved to Philadelphia where he partnered with his brother. While in Philadelphia, he got married to Mary Brown with whom they had five children among them Stephen Austin who furthered his fathers dream of ‘the Texas Venture’ after his death. His ambitions as a business man saw him establish more business entities in Virginia.
In Richmond, he founded the Moses Austin and company. This marked the beginning of Austin’s fortune when the state of Virginia awarded him the contract of roofing the state capitol with lead (Gracy, pg 11). Because the state encouraged Austin, who had partnered with his brother in the contract to use the local lead in the project, he was able to gain control over the state’s rich deposits. With the assistant of smelters and miners from Europe, he was able to introduce efficiency in the American lead industry.
The expertise he introduced transformed the American lead industry into leading economy in the 18th century. After gaining control of the lead mines, he founded the Austinvile in 1792. Due to problems encountered in the Virginia capitol contract, Austin thought about the rich lead deposits controlled by the Spanish in Louisiana. He toured the mines in mid 1790s and sought to gain control over some of the mines. He was granted part of the lead mines and instituted the Anglo Americans settlement western banks of river Mississippi, the first such settlement (Gracy, pg 78).
Due to the rising New England Calvinist in America in the late 18th century, where those who were able to manage the resources better got the lion share, Austin took advantage of the situation and employed his expertise learnt from European smelters and miners to aggressively expand his lead business. He was successful in gaining control of the entire lead mines in the region where he created an immense wealth. His influence in the American lead industry was evident until the revolutionary heavy machinery after the civil war transformed the lead industry.
The war of 1812 negatively affected the economy of the United States due to the resultant depression. Austin and other powerful individuals tried to find a solution to the problem but their attempts failed which affected Austin financially. These unsuccessful attempts inspired Austin’s dreams of settling and starting business in Texas, which was a Spanish state. This was an aggressive move to save his holding from collapse. He was able to obtain permission from the Spanish colonists in San Antonio.
His meeting with the governor and Baron de Bastrop is considered to be the most important turning point in the history of Texas. Previously, Austin and Bastrop had made some attempts to meet but they were not successful. The two discussed the prospects of the colonization plan and they requested for permission from the governor. By the end of 1820, the governor had authorized the plan (Warren, pg 27). Unfortunately, during his visit to Texas, Austin was adversely affected by the cold and wet weather and contracted severe pneumonia.
Although his health had deteriorated significantly by the time he got home, he learned of the approval for the colony from higher authority. This made him neglect his well being and devolved himself in accomplishing the Texas venture. For this reason, he was not able to live for more than two mouths after the permission was granted. Before he died, he instructed his son, Stephen Austin to accomplish his Texas venture as it was planned (Cantrell, pg 28). By accomplishing the dreams of his father, Stephen Austin is considered the father of Texas.
He founded the first Anglo American settlement in Texas. He also founded the Texas colony as it was planned by his father before his death in 1821. Although he made many attempts to persuade the government in Mexico to establish the state of Texas within the Mexican confederation which failed, he was jailed in 1833 for attempting to establish a separate state of Texas without the concert of the Mexican government. However, he was released two years later and inspired the Texas revolution in 1835.
Due to his success in founding the state of Texas by furthering his father’s dream, the city of Austin was named after him (Cantrell, pg 28). Work Cited Cantrell, Gregg, Stephen F. Austin: Empresario of Texas, New Haven: Yale University Press (2002). Eugene C. Barker, ed. , The Austin Papers 3 vols. Washington: GPO, 1924–28 Gracy, David B. , Moses Austin: his life. San Antonio, TX: Trinity University Press, (1987) Warren, Betsy. Moses Austin and Stephen F. Austin: A Gone to Texas Dual Biography, Houston, TX: Hendrick-long Pub. Co. (1996).
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