Stephen F. Austin (1793–1836) was the American frontiersman and empresario who was largely responsible for the colonization and American settlement of Texas. Austin grew up in Missouri, where he served in the territorial legislature. In 1821, Austin took up his late father’s plan to colonize Texas. With a land grant from the Spanish and then independent Mexican government, Austin settled hundreds of families at a colony in the Brazos and Colorado River valley. Austin served as a mediator between the Anglo-American settlers and the Mexican government, but by the early 1830s, Texans began calling for more autonomy from the government. Austin also began advocating for the separation of Texas and in 1833 was arrested and imprisoned by the Mexican government. He was released in 1835 and unsuccessfully appealed to Andrew Jackson’s American government for help. He returned to Texas after Sam Houston’s defeat of Santa Anna, briefly serving as the new republic’s secretary of state before his death in December 1836.

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