Stephen F. Austin

Empresario of Texas
Cantrell, Gregg
Date published: 
November 1999

Stephen F. Austin, the 'Father of Texas', has long been enshrined in the public imagination as an authentic American hero, but one who was colourless and rather remote. This book, the first major biography in more than seventy years, brings Austin's private life, motives, personality, and character into sharp focus, revealing a driven man who successfully mixed effort and cunning, idealism and pragmatism to build an illustrious career.

Gregg Cantrell traces Austin's early life from his privileged boyhood as the son of the Missouri mining baron Moses Austin to his family's humiliating financial downfall after the War of 1812. He tells how in 1821 Stephen Austin inherited his father's daring plan to colonis Spanish Texas. Over the next fifteen years Austin carried out this plan with dazzling success, becoming a consummate manager, exhorter, politician, and diplomat, and playing a central role in the events that led to the Texas Revolution and the establishment of the Lone Star Republic. Within a generation, as a result largely of forces that he helped to set in motion, the United States completed its drive for mastery over the North American continent.