Authoritative Biography by Award-Winning Historian Gregg Cantrell Includes New Preface
AUSTIN, TX — The Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), the state’s longest running publisher of books about Texas history, is proud to offer a reprint edition of Stephen F. Austin: Empresario of Texas, Gregg Cantrell’s path-breaking and authoritative biography of the “Father of Texas,” who led the successful colonization of Texas by the “Old Three Hundred” original immigrant families from the United States.
Cantrell’s portrait goes beyond the traditional interpretation of Austin as the man who spearheaded American Manifest Destiny. Cantrell portrays Austin as a borderlands figure who could navigate the complex cultural landscape of 1820s Texas, which was then a part of Mexico. His command of the Spanish language, respect for the Mexican people, and ability to navigate the shoals of Mexican politics made him an effective advocate for his colonists and later for all of Texas.
When conflicts between Anglo colonists and Mexican authorities turned violent, Austin’s relationships with Mexican officials deteriorated, and war erupted between Texans and Santa Anna’s army. Overshadowed by the military hero Sam Houston, Austin came in a distant third in the election for president of the Republic of Texas and died soon after at the age of forty-three, just six months after Texas gained its independence. Decades after his death, Austin’s reputation and accomplishments were resurrected, and he became known as the “Father of Texas.”
Stephen F. Austin emerges from these pages as a shrewd, complicated, and sometimes conflicted figure. According to Dr. Stephen Aron, Professor of History at UCLA, “Stripping away the myths that have long surrounded (and shrouded) Stephen Austin, Gregg Cantrell has written a first-rate biography that gives readers a balanced—and better—appreciation of a man who did so much to shape the history of Texas, Mexico, and the United States.”
Gregg Cantrell is the Erma and Ralph Lowe Chair in Texas History at Texas Christian University. He is the author or editor of numerous books and articles on Texas history, including Feeding the Wolf: John B. Rayner and the Politics of Race, 1850–1918 (2201). He is also a past president of the Texas State Historical Association and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.
Stephen F. Austin: Empresario of Texas is available at the TSHA online store for $19.50.