33 Moses Austin Facts: The Person Who Led The Industrial Revolution! | Kidadl


33 Moses Austin Facts: The Person Who Led The Industrial Revolution!

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Moses Austin, who played an important part in the development of the lead and mineral industry in the United States, was born in Connecticut.

When Moses Austin received a grant from the Spanish government in the year 1820, he had a full-fledged plan to be the first person to set up an Anglo-American settlement in Spanish Texas. However, he died before he could achieve his dream.

On his deathbed, his last wish to his son Stephen F. Austin was to colonize Texas. Stephen then led a colony that later became sovereign Mexico in 1825. Gradually, the settlers started demanding autonomy and then gained independence from Mexico, which was under President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, and thus established the Republic of Texas. The Republic of Texas was founded on December 29, 1845.

The Biography Of Moses Austin

The famous businessman Moses Austin was born in Durham, Connecticut, on October 4, 1761, to the famous Austin family; his parents were Eunice Phelps Austin and Elias Austin.

In the year 1784, Moses Austin settled in Philadelphia, where he ventured into the 'Bell's Dry Goods' business with his brother Stephen. After his business in Philadelphia, Moses shifted to Richmond, Virginia, where he started a second dry goods store. He met Mary Brown, who belonged to the prosperous iron mining family. The two got married in 1785 and welcomed their first child Stephen F Austin in 1793. After Stephen F Austin, the Austins were blessed with their daughter Emily Austin Perry in 1795 and James Elijah Austin in 1803.

Moses Austin sought to begin a mining business in 1789 and traveled to southwestern Virginia to examine lead mines. By 1791, Moses and Stephen Austin became partners on the Virginia frontier, which is now known as Wythe County, Virginia. Moses and his brother, Stephen, bought Chizzel's lead mines in Wythe County to expand their business. They built a tiny village for their workers named Austinville. At the outset, they were immensely successful. They established various products like smelters, liveries, blacksmith shops, and a contract to roof the new Virginia capitol, which earned him the title 'Lead King.'

Later, Moses Austin and his brother were burdened with huge debts, which led to the collapse of the company. After the business failed, Moses bailed out to avoid imprisonment; this was the custom of debt holders in the U.S. under traditional English law. In December 1797, Austin and a companion traveled to investigate the Spanish lead mines. During the journey, a large snowstorm caused them to get lost, run out of supplies, and end up being 60 mi (96 km) off course, and they eventually reached the Mississippi River. As he traveled through Missouri, Moses Austin met another American who soon became his business partner and translator, John Rice Jones. He also met Commandant François Vallé of Ste. Genevieve who later became a very helpful business partner for Austin. Moses was granted one league of land 4,428 acres (1791 hectares) by the Spanish colonial government in 1798, and in return, he swore fealty to the Spanish Crown and promised to settle a few families in Missouri. He then moved into the Spanish territory of Louisiana and later found the first Anglo settlement west of the Mississippi River, which later came to be known as Potosi. After leaving to salvage the Virginia business, Stephen remained behind, causing a conflict that would last until the end of their lives. Many of Moses' properties were seized by Virginia, and his operations were dismantled. Thomas Jackson and his partners later purchased these properties from Virginia at great discounts and built the Jackson Ferry Shot Tower at this location. It is one of few standing shot towers in the United States.

In 1803, when Missouri became a part of the United States jurisdiction, Austin joined others in an attempt to increase the money supply and became the founder and a principal stockholder in the Bank of St. Louis. However, soon after, the bank failed as an effect of the Panic of 1819, which made him lose all his fortune, after which he sought Spain's help. He then started planning ways for settling an American Colony in Spanish Texas. Austin traveled to San Antonio when the Adams-Onís Treaty clarified Spanish title to Texas. He was seeking permission to bring along his colonists. Later in the year 1820, he went all the way to Presidio San Antonio de Béxar, Spanish Texas. He traveled to San Antonio to present his plans and ideas to Governor Antonio Maria Martinez, a colonel in the infantry regiment of Zamora and the last Spanish governor of Texas, for the colonization of Texas along with Anglo-Americans. He was helped by Baron de Bastrop in convincing the Spanish governor. Baron de Bastrop and Felipe Enrique Neri's money in Texas's Anglo-American settlement made him a renowned Dutch businessman and landowner. The next year, the governor conveyed Austin the news, through his friend named Erasmo Saguin, that he was awarded a land grant and the permission to settle around 300 families in Texas.

Shortly after Austin returned from his trip, he fell sick. Moses Austin died after he returned from Missouri in June 1821. Austin's son, Stephen F. Austin, who would later be known as 'the Father of Texas,' carried out his father's plans for colonization a few years later and created the first Anglo-American settlement in Texas. Moses Austin's property claims were finally settled after his death by the Supreme Court of the U.S. in the year 1885.

The Family of Moses Austin

Moses Austin was blessed with a great, supportive family who together helped Austin achieve his dream to settle in Texas. 

His son, Stephen F. Austin, his daughter, Emily Austin Perry, grandson, Moses Austin Bryan, and his other relatives, all helped Moses Austin in accomplishing his dream and carrying out the plan that he developed for Texas settlement, even though it was after his death. Austin was born to Elias and Eunice Phelps Austin and was married to Mary Brown Austin, who had a great contribution by sending out a letter to her son after her husband's death to fulfill his dying wish and asking her son to take over as the leader of the Texas colony. These letters later became one of the most important letters in Texas history.

His first son-in-law was James Bryan, an American mining entrepreneur, and his second son-in-law was James F. Perry, one of the early settlers of Texas. Moses Austin lost his son, James Brown Austin, to yellow fever in New Orleans in the year 1829, at the young age of 25. According to the Missouri State Archives, Moses lived in a mansion. The Austin House was named 'Durham Hall,' which was obviously named after his birthplace, Durham.

Austin was born to Elias and Eunice Phelps Austin

What was Moses Austin's dying wish?

Moses Austin, unfortunately, could not live to see his colonization plan succeed and died soon after he returned to Missouri. 

Moses Austin, while on his return to Missouri, contracted pneumonia. He could never recover and was still overworking himself in an attempt to settle his financial matters but felt so sick that he was unable to get off of his horse on his own. Austin remained bedridden for days and died about two months later, on June 10, 1821. Just two days prior to his death, he made his dying wish and asked his wife to tell 'dear Stephen' to take over the Texas colony. It all finally came down to Stephen F. Austin to fulfill his father's last wish.

After Austin died, Mary Austin spent the rest of her life in poverty until her death, after which she was carried and buried beside her husband in Potosi in 1831.

What work did Moses Austin have done?

Moses Austin has been an important businessman and a community builder in American history.

From the year 1807, several financial setbacks started to occur for Austin. Firstly, with the prices of lead dropping by almost 40%, a large amount of Austin's lead getting stuck at the port of New Orleans for almost a year and because of the suicide committed by his agent. Apart from the high legal fees from Austin's lawsuits with Smith T, Austin gave his brother a total of $5,000 and asked him to settle old debts. In the year 1812, another large shipment of lead was stuck in a sandbar and was delayed. The price for lead dropped steeply before it could even see a recovered day.

When Austin went bankrupt in the year 1820, he saw a chance of his economic revival in the establishment of a colony in Texas and secured permission from the Spanish government. Since Austin could not really live to see his dreams of the settlement of Texas come true, they were carried out by Stephen F. Austin, who successfully established the colony in Texas that his father dreamed of.

Businessman Moses Autin had a huge part in finding Austinville in Virginia, Washington County, and the cities of Potosi, Missouri, and Herculaneum. He also helped in improving transportation, trade links, as well as mining methods in these regions and brought national attention to the mineral wealth of these places. It was also his idea of colonizing Texas. Once Austin received permission for the colonization of Texas, many people were found to move in and settle here, and in the year 1836, Texas finally gained its independence from Mexico. After nine years, Texas was declared as the twenty-eight state of the U.S. 

Moses Austin is considered an important historical figure in the state of Texas. When an undertaker was instructed to relocate the body of Austin to the Texas State Cemetery local government of Potosi intervened and prevented this from happening. However, Texas decided in the following year to honor Austin by dedicating a statue to him in San Antonio after a long legal battle over Austin's remains. The graveyard of Moses Austin in Potosi remained near where the Durham Hall once stood. 

Moses Austin was a passionate businessman who fought for his dreams until his death, and even after his death, he made sure his son, Stephen F. Austin, continued working for what he established and achieved what he couldn't. When his father died after receiving the empresario grant from Spain and received a nod to settle Texas, the empresario grant was passed down to Stephen from the newly independent state of Mexico. He was also successful in convincing numerous American settlers to move to Texas, and by the year 1825, Stephen successfully brought the first-ever 300 American families into the territory of Texas. He established these 300 colonies in Texas. Steven F. Austin tried to maintain good relations with the Mexican government during the 1820s and suppress the Fredonian Rebellion. He has also helped in ensuring the introduction of slavery into the state of Texas even after strong attempts by the Mexican government in order to ban slavery. He was also the one who led the initial actions against the Karankawa people of this region. The name of the capital of Austin's colony was San Felipe. The city of Austin, in the capital of Texas, was named after Steven F. Austin.

Texas settlers became increasingly dissatisfied with the Mexican government, and Austin suggested conciliation. However, the Texas Revolution erupted as a result of dissent against Mexico. He also successfully led the Texas forces at the Siege of Bexar. In the 1836 Texas presidential election, Austin lost to Sam Houston, who was a new candidate in the race and had only entered two weeks before the polls closed. Austin was made Secretary of State for the new republic by Houston, who served in that post until his death in December 1836. The death of Stephen F Austin, who was settled in Texas in 1836, was caused by a severe cold.

Further information regarding Austin's life is well preserved in 'The Moses and Stephen F. Austin Papers' (1676, 1765-1889), housed at the University of Texas at Austin's Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. These contain both father and son's personal and official records, documentation of colonization attempts, shared relations with the Mexican government, and gradually the founding of the Republic of Texas. These records also contain notes and lists, correspondence, petitions, diaries, maps, certificates, field notes and surveys, broadsides, inventories, proclamations, land grants and deeds, financial and legal papers, reports, as well as newspaper clippings.

Written By
Srija Chanda

<p>An aspiring media professional, Srija is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Mass Communication at St. Xavier's University, Kolkata, after completing her degree in journalism. With experience in PR and social media, she has also honed her leadership skills through her participation in a youth parliament. Srija's interests include devouring books, watching movies, and exploring new places through travel.</p>

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