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Auction 14: Americana

Lots 10-12: Stephen F. Austin Autographs & Manuscripts

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Austin Signs as Commander in Chief of the Texas Volunteer Army

10. AUSTIN, Stephen F. Document signed, written in a secretarial hand and signed by Austin in full and with title and paraph: “S. F. Austin, Comd. in Chief.” Letter of passage for David B. Macomb to attend the Consultation, giving particulars on Macomb’s service. November [12?], 1835. 1 p., 12mo, contemporary docketing on verso: “1 to 14. Nov | Consultation | 15 to 7 Dec. | Convention.” Paper browned, modern archival repairs at folds (no losses), remains of old red wax seal.
    This document written in the early phase of the Texas Revolution is signed by Stephen F. Austin in his brief but highly effective role as commander in chief of the Texas volunteer army. It is exceedingly difficult to obtain letters of this type, from this period and locale, that do not present provenance and authenticity issues. The present document is not in the Texas Army Papers, Austin’s Order Book for 1835, Austin Papers, etc. This is probably Macomb’s retained copy. The document was reviewed by the State of Texas, and no claim was made. Austin’s signature as commander in chief is rare. He was appointed to the post only on October 11, after the Battle of Gonzales, and surrendered his responsibilities on November 24, when he became Texas commissioner to the U.S. and departed for New Orleans, whereupon Edward Burleson became commander. This pass is an interesting example of Austin’s sometimes unsuccessful efforts to introduce true military discipline and practices into the fractious force that the army was at the time.

     On November 12, Austin, as commander of the volunteers, had declared that no one could pass the lines without a letter of passage. As the dockets indicate, Macomb probably used the pass to attend both the Consultation and the “Convention,” although the latter probably refers to the General Council, which in December called for the Convention, which did not actually meet until February 1836. November 1835 was a particularly perilous and dangerous time for the Texians, and the security measure that Austin takes here, involving even a trusted comrade, is indicative of the dangers that were present, not only from Mexican forces but also potentially from spies and deserters. Hostilities in the Texas Revolution are generally agreed to have commenced with the October 1-2, 1835, Battle of Gonzales, where the Texians were victorious. At the time this pass was issued, the Texas forces had already in late October established a defensive position along the San Antonio River, and it was probably these lines through which this authorization allowed Macomb to pass.
David B. Macomb (?-1837) was a crucial figure in the success of the Texas Revolution. Unfailingly supportive of the Texian cause, he served in many capacities and, although unsuccessful in some endeavors, such as raising funds for ships and cannon in New York, he did manage to recruit volunteers to serve in Texas and otherwise raise money and provide supplies for the revolution. Macomb was appointed assistant adjutant and inspector general of the Texas Army on November 11, 1835 (see Austin’s Order Book for 1835). At the Consultation, Macomb signed both the declaration of war against Santa Anna and the provisional Texas constitution. See Handbook of Texas Online (David B. Macomb).

Tenth Texas Imprint

11. AUSTIN, Stephen F. [Printed form for promissory note completed in manuscript commencing]: $50.00 San Felipe de Austin, [6th April 1830, in Samuel May Williams’s handwriting] Having been Received by S. F. Austin, as One of the Settlers under His Contracts with Government, in Conformity with the Terms Published by Him, 20th November, 1829;––I Promise to Pay to Said S. F. Austin.... [San Felipe de Austin: G. B. Cotten, 1829]. 1 p., oblong 16mo. Signed by Samuel Hinch (see Virginia Taylor, The Spanish Archives of the General Land Office of Texas; Austin: Lone Star Press, 1955, p. 197). Verso docketed by Samuel May Williams: “311 Saml Hinch.” Age-toned, generally very fine. Apparently this claim was never perfected. Ironically, the form is dated April 6, 1830, the date of the Mexican law prohibiting further Anglo colonization in Texas.

    First printing of an early Texas imprint relating to Austin’s colony. Streeter 10 (locating three copies: two in Texas and one at Yale): “Delivery of this promissory note was the fourth of the steps...taken by an immigrant in acquiring land in Texas. This form for a promissory note follows the terms outlined in Austin’s Notice of November 20, 1829.... Austin, after having had Cotten print for him on November 20 the Notice and the certificates of admission, had these forms for a promissory note printed on November 30.”

Signed by Stephen F. Austin & Four Prominent Tejanos

12. Austin, Stephen F., Ramón Músquiz, José Antonio Baldomero Navarro, José Miguel de Arciniega & José Gaspar María Flores de Abrego. Manuscript in Spanish recording the election of Juan Martín de Veramendi and Rafael Manchola as representatives to the Coahuila y Tejas legislature, signed by the named parties (Austin signing “Estevan F. Austin” with his rubric below). San Fernando de Béxar, September 5, 1830. 1 p., folio, with manuscript note at top: “Sello 4o una cuartillo,” which is signed “Flores” (i.e., José Gaspar María Flores de Abrego), with his rubric below. The notation of fourth seal indicates this was a copy made for public posting or other such purposes. Because of the scarcity of sealed paper, which was required for copies, officials often had to resort to manuscript certifications like the present one, signed by Flores. Paper uniformly browned, a few clean splits and minor chips to lower margin (touching only one letter), a very good example of Austin’s signature in its Spanish form, and on a document of historic substance. This document has been reviewed by the State of Texas, and it is not on the State Missing List or believed to be alienated from the official archives.
    The content and gathering of signatures of Stephen F. Austin and Tejano luminaries make this an especially important document for Texas while it was still part of Mexico. Although Stephen F. Austin’s name and role in Texas independence are so well-known as to need no further comment, his fellow signers here have often been overlooked or underappreciated. Each of the four Tejanos signing here was instrumental in his own way in achieving Texas independence.

    Músquiz (ca. 1797-?), merchant and political figure, established a business in San Antonio in 1823, became involved in the political scene in Béxar, served as political chief of the Department of Texas in 1828, lobbied in favor of Anglo-American colonists, and mediated disputes between the Texas colonists and Mexican authorities. Músquiz was present at the fall of the Alamo and assisted in identifying the bodies of the Alamo defenders. See Handbook of Texas Online (Ramón Músquiz).
    A native son of San Antonio, José Antonio Navarro (1795-1871) participated in the 1813 Gutiérrez-Magee expedition, supported Austin’s colonization venture, represented Texas both in the Coahuilatecan and national legislatures, signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, participated in the Texas Revolution, afterward served as an advocate for wronged Tejanos, joined the Texan–Santa Fé expedition, served as the sole Hispanic delegate to the convention for annexation in 1845, helped write the first constitution of Texas as a state, and defended the right of Texas to secede from the Union in 1861. He was too old to join the Confederacy, but sent four of his sons to serve. Navarro County was named in his honor. See: Eugene C. Barker, “Native Latin American Contributions to the Colonization and Independence of Texas,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 46 (April 1943); Handbook of Texas Online (José Antonio Navarro); and Louis W. Kemp, The Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence (Houston: Anson Jones Press, 1944, pp. 235-243).
    José Miguel de Arciniega, legislator, military explorer, and alcalde of San Antonio de Béxar, acted as an investigator-spy on behalf of Mexico between 1816 and the early 1820s. He checked on possible illegal immigration of Anglos into Texas in 1816 (ironic considering the modern context) and investigated Richard Field and his possible plot to form an alliance with Texas tribes against Mexican authority. He served with the provincial deputation of Texas, which allowed abandoned mission lands to be distributed to settlers. He held elected offices in the 1820s and 1830s and took over as political chief when Músquiz fell ill. Arciniega was appointed land commissioner for Stephen F. Austin’s colonies in November 1830, laid out the town of Bastrop in 1832, and received a Spanish grant of 48,708 acres in 1835. General Cos chose Arciniega to be his interpreter in negotiations for the surrender of Béxar in December 1835. See Handbook of Texas Online (José Miguel de Arciniega).
A native of San Antonio, Gaspar Flores de Abrego (1781-1836) proved a strong ally of Stephen F. Austin and his colonists. He was one of thirty-five signers of an 1835 anti-Centralist memorial drafted at the meeting, considered to be the first strictly revolutionary meeting in Texas. At a January 1836 meeting of soldiers and citizens to address concerns about Santa Anna and Mexican intent with regard to Texas, Flores served on a committee that included James Bonham, James Bowie, and Juan Seguín. As the Texas Revolution progressed, Flores and Seguín took charge organizing the safe exit of families into East Texas. See Handbook of Texas Online (José Gaspar María Flores de Abrego).

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