Testimonio (certified copy) of Stephen F. Austin's Second Empresario Contract
Contract to bring 500 families to Mexican Texas
Often called "The Father of Texas," Stephen F. Austin carved out his place in history by bringing thousands of settlers to Mexican Texas from the United States. In the 1820s, Austin and his father, Moses, became land speculators, or empresarios, and negotiated four contracts with the Mexican government to sell property in Texas.
The agreements benefitted both sides. The settlers were looking for cheap land, and the Mexican government (newly independent from Spain) needed to populate their Texas frontier and increase tax revenues. As part of the land grant process, settlers were required to convert to Catholicism and to take an oath of allegiance to Mexico.
At the time this contract was signed on June 4, 1825, Austin had already settled 300 families (known as the Old Three Hundred) within a colony along the Brazos and Colorado Rivers. This contract gave him the right to bring in an additional 500 families and locate them in settlements in the area between Galveston Bay and Matagorda Bay and stretching north towards Bastrop and Washington-on-the-Brazos. Because writing materials were in short supply, the contract is written on surplus stamped revenue paper from the reigns of Spanish Kings Charles IV (reigned 1788-1808) and Ferdinand VII (reigned 1808), as indicated by the seals on the left side of the paper.
Texas General Land Office, Archives and Records Program, Austin
12 3/4" Length X 8 3/4" Width
This artifact is not on view.