Repeal of the 400 Sitio Sale
Unbridled Land Speculation & Centralism as Causes of the Texas Revolution
191. MEXICO (Republic). LAWS (April 25, 1835). [Decree of the central government of Mexico declaring invalid the decree of the legislature of Coahuila y Tejas of March 14, 1835, which authorized the sale of 400 sitios, as being contrary to the colonization law of August 18, 1824] [At top] Primera Secretaria de Estado. Departamento del Interior. [text commences] El Exmo. Sr. Presidente interino de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos se ha servido dirigirme el decreto que sigue. “El Presidente interino de los Estados-Unidos Mexicanos, á los inhabitantes de la República, sabed.... Art. 1o. “El decreto de la Legislatura de Coahuila y Tejas de 14 de Marzo del presente año, es contrario en sus artículos 1o. y 2o. á la ley de 18 de Agosto de 1824....” [Mexico, 1835]. [Signed and dated in type at end]: México Abril 25 de 1835. Gutiérrez Estrada. Broadside on laid paper with watermark. Folio (29.4 x 20.7 cm). Creased at center where formerly folded, small hole in lower left blank margin, otherwise fine. Rare and important.
First edition. Eberstadt, Texas 162:471. Streeter 833: “This law also prohibited further colonization contracts by the boundary states until rules for such contracts were established.” Streeter, The Only Located Copies of One Hundred Forty Texas Pamphlets and Broadsides 71 (the revised edition of Streeter’s Bibliography locates two copies; we have had another copy as well, in addition to a Toluca edition).
By this decree, Santa-Anna and the central Mexican government declared invalid the previous, controversial action of the Coahuila y Tejas government authorizing the sale of 1,771,000 acres of Texas lands. It also suspended all further colonization contracts of any kind in Texas. Under that decree of March 14, 1835 (see Streeter 821), vast tracts were granted to John T. Mason and others, allowing them much more land and easier conditions than those imposed on Stephen F. Austin’s colonies. Some idea of the reaction of the Austin’s colonists may be inferred from comments by Stephen F. Austin in his letter to Samuel May Williams, written from Mexico on April 15, 1835: “The legislature at Monclova has involved matters in a beautiful tangle by the cursed law authorizing the Govr. to dispose of 400 leagues of land as he pleases. I fear this law will [cre]ate much more discontent in Texas [tha]n anything which has happened- nothing could have been more imprudent- It will produce restrictions and in short everything bad can be imagined” (Austin Papers, Vol. III, p. 62). The Texas Constitution of 1836 specifically declared void the controversial Coahuilatecan 400 sitio sale, stating that “each and every grant founded thereon is, and was from the beginning, null and void.”
The central government’s repeal of land largesse by the Coahuilatecan legislature caused distress of another sort. With the passage of this repeal law, many Anglos in Texas concluded that such arbitrary actions against local government entities and the unrelenting dictatorship of President Antonio López de Santa-Anna reflected the death of the republicanism and liberalism of the Constitution of 1824, under which they had united with the Mexican nation. ($600-1,200)
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