AUCTION 23

 

The Clash of Pre-Republic Texas Empresarios

Including the Oath of Allegiance for Texas Colonists

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543. [TEXAS COLONIZATION: NASHVILLE COMPANY & ROBERTSON COLONY]. COAHUILA Y TEJAS (Mexican State). Manuscript in English, entitled “Translation of the Papers of the Nashville Company.” Translation of Mexican documents originally dated April 26, 1834, April 29, 1834 (the latter followed by order that the decision be printed and circulated). On p. 3 is a statement of the source of the law in the papers of the Archives dated November 21st, 1834, in the hand of and signed by William H. Steele, Land Commissioner of Nashville and Robertson Colony. Docketed on p. 4 as “Exhibit E,” and “Translation by Judge Chambers of Title to The Nashville Colony Texas. Read 18th,” signed by and in the hand of Thomas Jefferson Chambers (land speculator and first Anglo attorney in Texas). Vertically on p. 4 is a statement about runaway slaves from Texas, also signed and in the hand of William H. Steele. 4 pp. on bifolium, folio (35 x 21.5 cm). Professionally washed, stabilized and repaired, creases where formerly folded relaxed, overall light browning, small losses at some folds, a few spots and stains, split horizontally in two pieces (but professionally rejoined).

     This document relates to the struggle to colonize the upper part of the Brazos River, home to some of the fiercest Indians in Texas, and an equally debilitating rivalry between empresarios Sterling C. Robertson and Stephen F. Austin and his partner Samuel May Williams. The manuscript consists of several parts. The first is a Coahuilatecan congressional decision dated at Monclova, April 26, 1834, authorizing the governor of Coahuila y Tejas to decide the case. The second is Governor Vidaurri’s undated decision voiding Stephen F. Austin and Samuel May Williams’ contract and returning the grant to Sterling C. Robertson, with provisions protecting colonists who had already settled. The third is the law of April 29, 1834 (see Kimball 285 for a slightly different version), by which the congress at Coahuila y Tejas gave Robertson credit for the families introduced onto his tract. The fourth section is a statement by William H. Steele, certifying that the foregoing documents are from original papers in the archives. The next section, also in Steele’s handwriting and signed by him, reviews the tenth article of the colonization law of March 26, 1834, and states that the cost of the league of land (4,428.4 acres) is $95. Vertically on p. 4 is statement: “When a slave runs away from his master & enters the Mexican territory, the law requires that upon application, the authorities there shall deliver him up to his master,” signed and in the hand of William Steele. This section concludes with the text of the oath to be administered to the colonists.

     The congressional communication and Viesca’s decision voiding Austin and Williams’ contract were printed by Robertson in a rare 1834 broadside entitled Land in the Colony of the Nashville Company (Streeter 37). Streeter notes that the broadside “is perhaps the most important single source for what is known in Texas history as the ‘The Robertson Colony Controversy.’“ The present document amplifies the broadside by printing other parts of this controversy, particularly Vidaurri’s decision and the decree, of which no printed copies are known. Finally, this text is important for giving the wording of the oath of allegiance to be administered to the Texas colonists, which reads: “You do solemnly swear that you will support the Constitution of the United Mexican States, the Constitution of the State of Coahuila & Texas and the general laws of the Union & of the State which you have adopted for your Country—so help you god.” Apparently this oath of allegiance to Mexico went out the window when circumstances dramatically changed on March 2, 1836 (see Streeter 165).

     The real estate in question is not inconsiderable, as set out by Malcolm D. McLean in his article on Robertson’s Colony:

The decree of May 22, 1834, awarding the contract to Robertson, confirmed the boundaries as they had been defined in the Nashville Company’s contract of October 15, 1827. Beginning at the point where the road from Bexar (San Antonio) to Nacogdoches, known as the Upper Road, crossed the Navasota River, a line was to be run west along that road to the heights that divided the waters of the Brazos and Colorado rivers; thence on a northwest course along that watershed to the northernmost headwaters of the San Andrés (Little) River; from the said headwaters northeast on a straight line to the belt of oaks extending on the east side of the Brazos north from the Hueco (Waco) village, known as the Monte Grande (Great Forest) and in English as the Cross Timbers, and from the point where that line intersected the Cross Timbers southeast along the heights between the Brazos and Trinity rivers to the headwaters of the Navasota, and thence down the Navasota, on its right-hand or west bank, to the place of beginning. That included all or part of the seventeen counties listed in Leftwich’s Grant, plus the thirteen shown under the Nashville colony, constituting an area 100 miles wide, beginning at the San Antonio-Nacogdoches Road and extending northwest up the Brazos for 200 miles, centering around Waco.

     For a discussion of the tangled history of Robertson’s Colony and Samuel May Williams’ monetary machinations concerning it, see entry [TEXAS COLONIZATION: ROBERTSON COLONY] herein. See Handbook of Texas Online: Thomas Jefferson Chambers (1802-1865); Robertson’s Colony; Sterling Clark Robertson; and William H. Steele.

($750-1,500)

Auction 23 Abstracts

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