Great river: the Rio Grande in North American history by unknow

Great river: the Rio Grande in North American history by unknow

Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: New York, Rinehart
Published: 1954-03-15T05:00:00+00:00

ties in the transportation of merchandise into the interior; its contiguity to the frontier; and its importance as a military port, claim the consideration and protection of the general Government. . . ." It was a touching view of a town that was beaten either by dust or downpour the year round, along a river that was either an exhausted meander of last waters among sand bars or a wide sailing flood.

Such extremes brought to mind the condition of the colony amidst its opposing hopes and frustrations. To lead the way forward through them called for nerve. "It has," said Austin, "it has been my policy to slide along without any noise." It was galling that in his task he met with difficulties not only from the Mexicans, but from among his own people, and he was ready with another bitter opinion. "I fear (judging by my own experience) that the predominant traits in the North American character are ingratitude, selfishness, and avarice. The people of this Colony have caused (what I formerly said was impossible) a shade of misanthropy to pass over me. . . ." Of himself he had few doubts. "I can with truth and clear conscience say that none of the sordid and selfish motives which influence the mass of adventures had any weight in determining me to attack the wilderness. I commenced on the solid basis of sound and philanthropic intentions and of undeviating integrity." But when the Government pressed him to follow one course, and his people another, he suffered. Did people not know how he toiled for them? Lonely and isolated by his severe temperament and his flatness of spirit—the wages of rationalism—it seemed that he must at times reach for popularity by sudden changes of belief. Swayed by opinions contrary to his, and that he despised, he must contradict himself in crisis after crisis on the major issues of his world—slavery, statehood, independence itself.

"Our situation is extremely delicate and interesting," he told his sister in 1831, in an odd mixture of passion and objectivity. "To remain as we are, is impossible. We have not the right kind of material for an Independent Government and an union with the United States would bring Negro Slavery—that curse of curses, and worst of reproaches, on civilized man; that unanswered, and unanswerable, inconsistency of free and liberal republicans"—and yet he had brought slavery with him. "I think the Government will yield, and give us what we ought to have. If not, we shall go for Independence"—the. very idea of which he denied indignantly when addressing suspicious Mexican officials— "and put our trust in our selves, our riffles, and—our God. Adios."

It was true that the confusions all about him were greater, more


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