Stephen F Austin
Cantrell began his career in the field of history as a lecturer at TAMU in ’86, then spent 15 years working as an assistant and later an associate professor at a variety of notable universities around Texas. In 2001, Cantrell got his first job as a professor. Cantrell currently resides in Fort Worth where he works as a history professor at TCU. Cantrell is a well-rounded historian.
Besides spreading his knowledge through teaching, Cantrell is a published author of articles, essays and books, belongs to a number of organizations and committees, and serves as a speaker at conferences around Texas. Stephen Fuller Austin was a strong believer in Manifest Destiny. It was his duty to expand Texas westward and bring Anglo-Americans into Mexican Texas. In 1821, the young empresario set out to Americanize and expand the region between the Brazos and Colorado River, which entailed serving as a middleman (mediator) between the Anglos and the Mexicans.
His first step in accomplishing this daunting task was to act as a liaison and learn to communicate efficiently between the two groups. Austin had responsibilities aside from acting as a liaison, “he was responsible for recruiting settlers, surveying and issuing land titles, enforcing laws…” (106) Austin began his work immediately both culturally and politically. As a cultural mediator, Austin’s first plan of action was to learn and master the Spanish language. The language barrier would prevent him form conducting necessary business and building relationships with the Mexican government.
In 1822, Austin traveled to Mexico City where he fully submerged himself in the language and was nearly fluent within weeks. Austin’s next duty as a cultural mediator began the following year upon arriving back in Texas. Austin preached to the newly settled Anglos the importance of the Roman Catholic religion. Austin enforced the religion by reminding the people to “respect the Catholic religion with all that attention due to its sacredness and to the laws of the land.
Politically, Austin, despite his reserved nature, made it a priority to build relationships among the Tejanos. He developed an especially personal bond with Jose Antonio Navarro after Brown, Austin’s youngest brother passed away due to yellow fever, and later with Erasmo Seguin during the 1835 Revolution. Austin’s most prominent moment as a political mediator occurred during the Fredonian Rebellion. In 1825, Austin and his militia joined forces with chief Jose Antonio Saucedo as they marched to Nacogdoches.
Together, they put an end to the rebellion that began when Haden Edwards received the go ahead to bring 800 settlers into the Nacogdoches area that was already occupied by Anglo and Tejano settlers. Many years later, on April 6, 1830, Austin did more work as a mediator. After a shady law was passed that stirred up conflicts between the Tejanos and Anglos of Texas, Austin “counseled calmness and continued loyalty toward Mexico,” (108) which in turn landed him a spot in prison. By this point, Austin was begging for peace in Texas.
Stephen F. Austin earned his nickname “Father of Texas” by playing a major role in the colonization and “invasion” of Anglo-American Texas. Austin’s loyalty, dedication and desire for peace made his invasion possible. Austin’s powerful skills as a mediator drove him to success; “Austin’s career demonstrates the very real potential for political, economic, and social cooperation across racial and cultural lines. ” (105) Austin will always be remembered in Texas’ history for the great work he did for our state.