Description

    The first book printed in Texas: Austin's contemporary account of the establishment of the first Anglo-American settlement of Texas

    Stephen Austin: Translations of the Laws, Orders, and Contracts, on Colonization, from January, 1821, up to this time, in virtue of which Col. Stephen F. Austin, has introduced and settled foreign emigrants in Texas, with an explanatory introduction. (San Filipe [sic] de Austin, Texas: Printed by Godwin P. Cotton, November, 1829). First edition of the first book printed in Texas. Octavo (7.5" x 5"). 70, [1, errata] pages. Early gray wrappers. Complete with errata leaf. Some browning, staining and chipping, minor repair to title page. Very good. Housed in cloth chemise and quarter morocco book-back slipcase with five raised bands and lettered in gilt, which in turn is housed in a second custom quarter morocco clamshell case with four raised bands and gilt lettering on the spine.

    The long introduction by Austin is Addressed "To the Settlers in what is called 'Austin's Colony,' in Texas." This is "Austin's contemporary account of the establishment of the first Anglo-American settlement of Texas. The account is buttressed by English translations of the documents and laws relating to the founding of the colony and included the Civil Regulations and Criminal Regulations by which the settlements were governed until February, 1828. It is one of the fundamental Texas books." -Streeter Texas 12.

    In 1821, Stephen Austin's father Moses secured from the Spanish Crown a grant to bring 300 families to settle Texas. Moses died soon after returning to Missouri, and Stephen went to San Antonio that summer and was granted permission to continue the venture. Over the next few years Austin administered this and several additional land grants, thereby establishing Anglo-Texas.

    Austin was by far the most important individual in the early history of Enlish-speaking settlement of Texas. In addition to founding the settlement, he governed it, wrote its civil and criminal code, mediated between settlers and the Mexican government, secured new lands, and brought in more than 1500 families. In his October 19, 1829 letter to José Antonio Navarro, Austin discussed this book: "The work is very essential and there is nothing more necessary and important for the welfare of Texas, for the reason that more of the inhabitants do not understand a word of Spanish and it is entirely impossible to govern a people with laws, whose existence the masses ignore absolutely."

    In the coming years Austin ably represented the people of Texas, who became increasingly dissatisfied with relations with Mexico, until he was imprisoned for a year for inciting revolution. Released in July 1835, Austin was selected to be one of three commissioners to go to the United States to obtain money, arms, and men for the revolution. When he returned in June 1836, Sam Houston and others were being hailed as the heroes of the revolution. Austin lost the new republic's presidential election to Houston, who named him secretary of state. Austin, who died in December 1836 of exposure and overwork, is today known as the Father of Texas.

    VERY RARE. Only 300 copies were printed. Long a famous Texas rarity, Austin's Translations of the Laws has for decades been considered nearly unobtainable. Even in the earliest days of the Republic of Texas, this was a scarce and sought-after book. An advertisement in the Telegraph and Texas Register in November and December 1836 stated: "Wanted. One or two copies of the pamphlet published by Colonel S.F. Austin in 1829, containing translations of the colonization laws, and of Austin's contracts with the government as empresario. Five dollars for each will be given for them on delivery at this office."

    Fewer than a dozen survive in institutions, the number in private hands is even smaller.




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    Auction Dates
    December, 2007
    1st-3rd Saturday-Monday
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