The Texas State Historical Associationis pleased to offer a reprint edition of Stephen F.Austin: Empresario of Texas, Gregg Cantrell’s path-breakingbiography of the founder of Anglo Texas. Cantrell’s portrait goesbeyond the traditional interpretation of Austin as the man whospearheaded American Manifest Destiny. Cantrell portrays Austin as aborderlands figure who could navigate the complex cultural landscapeof 1820s Texas, then a portion of Mexico. His command of the Spanishlanguage, respect for the Mexican people, and ability to navigate theshoals of Mexican politics made him the perfect advocate for hiscolonists and often for all of Texas. Yet when conflicts betweenAnglo colonists and Mexican authorities turned violent, Austin’saccomodationist stance became outdated. Overshadowed by the militaryhero Sam Houston, he died at the age of forty-three, just six monthsafter Texas independence. Decades after his death, Austin’sreputation was resurrected and he became known as the “Father ofTexas.” More than just an icon, Stephen F. Austin emerges fromthese pages as a shrewd, complicated, and sometimes conflictedfigure.
GREGG CANTRELL received his PhD inhistory from Texas A&M University. He holds the Erma andRalph Lowe Chair in Texas History at Texas Christian University, isa past president of the Texas State Historical Association, and amember of the Texas Institute of Letters.