صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

own opinion, which is very decisive in favor of the claim of Texas to uncommon fertility, Mr. Kennedy calls in the testimony of Humboldt, Mr. Clay, General Pike, Colonel Longworth, Mr. Ward, formerly British chargé d'affaires at Mexico, General Ward, and Colonel Almonte, all of whom agree in thus representing it; after showing upon such authorities and from his own observation, that “for apparent depth, and richness, and capability of raising most of the commodities necessary for animal subsistence and enjoyment, the soil of Texas is not surpassed by that of any country in the Western Hemisphere," he proceeds to an enumeration of the productions to which it is best adapted. Among these the first and most important is the cotton plant, which is undoubtedly to be its great staple, and hereafter to be grown in almost indefinite quantities. For its cultivation, Texas possesses a great advantage over the most favorable portions of the cotton growing country in the United States, in not being obliged to form “ fresh plantations oftener than once in three or four years in the general superiority of the article produced, and the excess in amount of production.” It is said also that the fine Sea Island cotton of Georgia and Carolina may be grown to perfection in the low alluvial lands, bordering on the gulf of Mexico. Our author gives us no statistical account of the number of bales of cotton annually produced in Texas, but we learn from other sources, that it has already exceeded one hundred thousand.

The sugar cane is another plant which is equally certain to become one of the great staples of this rich agricultural region, and one, for the cultivation of which, it possesses like advantages over our own adjoining territory. As yet, the want of sufficient capital and laborers has prevented the Texan planter from growing sugar to any considerable extent.

Next to the above, the most important crop is Indian corn, of which fifty to sixty bushels, and on very good land, seventyfive bushels to the acre, are produced. “Two crops may be gathered annually, the first of which is usually planted in February, the second late in June. A crop of wheat, equal in quality to the finest Kentucky, has been cut in May, on land in western Texas, and the same land has yielded a heavy crop of Indian corn in the ensuing October.”

There is also every reason for believing that Texas will one day be a wine-producing country. Grapes of every variety are found growing spontaneously in many parts of it, and in many the climate is sufficiently mild and uniform for the finer sorts, which will not bear the extremes of either heat or cold.

In addition to the above, the tobacco and indigo plants, the nopal, on which the cochineal insect feeds, the silk mulberry, the sweet potatoe, the vanilla, and most of the fruits of the temperate and tropical regions, every kind of Cereal and of esculent culinary vegetables, may be enumerated among the productions, which, as we learn from our author, the bounty of nature pours forth in great profusion and in great perfection either in some one, or in all the districts of this fertile country;

In recounting the natural riches of Texas, its forests, which constitute one of its principal beauties as well as one of its greatest treasures, must not be omitted. All the varieties of trees which are found in the United States, are here seen in luxuriant growth, and many others peculiar to this region. The live oak is more abundant than in any other equal portion of the western continent, and as our stock of this invaluable timber is nearly exhausted, we shall soon be obliged to rely upon the Texan forests for the supply required both for our war and merchant ships, unless some of the maritime states of Europe should secure the exclusive privilege for themselves, as they will doubtless be desirous of doing. In northern Texas, there is a very extensive chain of forests, called the “Cross Timber,” which forms a most remarkable feature of the country, and is thus described by Mr. Kennedy:

“The Cross Timber is a continuous series of forests, extending from the woody region, at the sources of the Trinity, in a direct line north, across the apparently interminable prairies of northern Texas and the Ozark territory, to the southern bank of the Arkansas river. This belt of timber varies in width from five to fifty miles. Between the Trinity and Red rivers, it is generally from five to nine miles wide, and is so remarkably straight and regular, that it appears to be a work of art. When viewed from the adjoining prairies in the east or west, it appears in the distance like an immense wall of wood stretching

from south tonorth in a straight line, the extremities of which are lost in the horizon. There appears to be no peculiarity in the surface of the ground, over which the Cross Timber passes, to distinguish it from the surface of the adjoining country; but where the country is level, the region traversed by the Cross Timber is level; where it is undulating, and where it is hilly, that also is uneven, conforming, in every respect, to the general features of the adjoining country. The trees composing these forests are not dis


tinguishable by any peculiarity from those which are occasionally found in the adjoining prairies, or in the bottoms bordering the streams which intersect the Cross Timber. Oak, hickory, elm, white oak, post oak, holly, and other trees, are found in it. .. The Cross Timber, in its general direction, does not perceptibly vary from the true meridian.

As might naturally be supposed, it forms the great landmark of the western prairies; and the Indians and hunters, when describing their routes across the country in their various expeditions, refer to it, as the navigators of Europe refer to the meridian of Greenwich."-Vol. i. pp. 101, 102.

Want of room compels us to pass rapidly over the second chapter, which our author devotes to ihe natural history of the country. We learn from it, that secondary and alluvial formations are the great geological characteristics of Texasthat there are numerous indications of gold and silver in the vicinity of the San Saba hills, and that mines of the latter were formerly wrought to considerable extent that iron ore is widely and abundantly distributed throughout the countrythat coal, both anthracite and bituminous, is found in great quantities between the Trinity river and the Rio Grandeand that an inexhaustible supply of salt is furnished by the salt lakes and saline springs and streams, along the coast between the last named river and the Sabine. For a more particular account of its mineral riches, and also of its quadrupeds and other animals, we must refer our readers to the work itself.

The hasty view we have here given of the climate, soil, and productions of this region, is sufficient to show, that with respect to physical advantages, it is entitled to rank among the finest and most favored of the earth. It is now in possession of the descendants of a race which has never failed to turn such advantages to the best possible account; and we know of no reason for supposing that they are in any way inferior to, or able to accomplish less than those from whom they spring; a glance at the history of the settlement of the country by its present possessors, first as a Mexican province, and then as an independent state, will enable us to judge if their characteristic energy is impaired, and what may rightly be expected of them for the future. In pursuing this inquiry, we shall still follow Mr. Kennedy, but not rely exclusively on his authority.

The Anglo-American colonial establishment in Texas had its origin in the grant of a district of country on the Brazos, nearly one hundred and fifty miles square, made to Moses Austin, in the year 1821, by the Spanish authorities in Mexico. Mr. Austin was a man of uncommon enterprise and great ambition, but he could hardly have anticipated the mighty results which we already see must follow from his attempt to plant a colony in this wilderness. The time will come when he will be recognised as the founder of an empire, and an interest be felt in his history not inferior to that which fiction has imparted to the history of the supposed founder of regal Rome. He had to encounter numerous perplexities and difficulties in accomplishing his purpose; but his determined spirit overcame them all, and enabled him by the aid of his friend, the Baron de Bastrop, to obtain a favorable answer to his memorial, asking permission to settle three hundred families in Texas. But his success was not made known to him until it was too late for him to enjoy it; while still uncertain of the result of his petition, he was obliged to depart from Bexar and make a journey to the United States, the fatigues and exposure of which cost him his life, as is set forth in the following touching description of it, by Mr. Kennedy:

“ The journey homeward was attended by extreme suffering and hardship. From Bexar to the Sabine, Texas was then a total solitude, the settlements at Nacogdoches and its vicinity having been destroyed by the Spaniards, in 1819. Robbed and deserted by his fellow travellers, Austin was left alone in the prairies, nearly two hundred miles from any habitation, destitute of provisions and the means of procuring them. In this wretched situation, with nothing to subsist

upon but acorns and peccan nuts, he journeyed onward for eight days, constantly exposed to the weather at the most inclement season, swimming and rafting rivers and creeks, until he reached the hospitable roof of an American settler, twenty miles from the Sabine. Worn down with hunger and fatigue, he was unable to proceed further. His constitution had received a shock from which it never recovered. After recruiting his strength, he resumed his course, and arriving in Missouri in spring, commenced preparation for removal to Texas; but a cold, which had settled on his lungs, produced an inflammation that terminated his existence, a few days after the gratifying intelligence was communicated to him of the approval of his petition by the Spanish authorities at Monterey. He died on the 10th of June, 1821, in his fifty-seventh year, leaving, as a last injunction to his son Stephen, to prosecute his plan of Texan colonization. During a life of vicissitude and activity, Moses Austin maintained a reputation free from the suspicion of dishonor. His energy disappointment could not damp, nor misfortune subdue.”—Vol. i. p. 317.

Stephen Austin, the son, scrupulously obeyed the dying injunctions of his father, and carried into execution his plan of colonization, in spite of all the obstacles which arose from the repeated changes in the Mexican government, and the unwillingness of each successive one to sanction the doings of that which preceded it. It was not until 1823, that the supreme executive power of the now independent state of Mexico, confirmed the original grant made to his father by the Spanish colonial authorities; nor was he able, until the following year, to fill up the colony with the stipulated number of three hundred families. This being effected, Mr. Austin's first object was the regular organization of the colony, according to the provisions of the decree of the supreme government, by which he was empowered “to maintain good order, and govern the colony in all civil, judicial, and military matters, to the best of his ability and as equity might require, until the government should be otherwise organized; the local government being thus committed to him, without the guidance of written laws or specific instructions of any kind.” He then formed a code of provisional regulations in civil and criminal manners, and appointed magistrates, opened a book of record for registering the land documents and title deeds, in which the whole of the titles of the three hundred families in the settlement were recorded and signed by the empresario, the commissioner, and the alcalde, giving them the same validity in law as the originals in the colonial archives. It is hardly to be expected that the administration of any man, however faultless, could give entire satisfaction in such a situation as that in which Mr. Austin was placed ; nor was he exempt from the common lot of leaders in like enterprises, but was harassed with a full share of opposition and obloquy, notwithstanding his persevering endeavors for the general good and the faithful adherence to his engagements. In reply to the many wilful misrepresentations of his own character and that of his associates, we are glad to present to our readers the following unequivocal testimonial in their favor, which we find in the work now before us:

“ Austin, without assistance, civil or military, from the government, had nothing but his own moral influence to sustain his authority. The colony did not contain a single soldier, and for the first. five years there were not fifty in all Texas, nor was any salary or

« السابقةمتابعة »