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Stephen F. Austin and dog, Cano In 1820, Spain opened all Spanish lands to settlement by foreigners. News of this opportunity reached the United States, extended to the frontiers, and stirred the interest of Moses Austin, who along with thousands of Americans, had suffered great financial loss during the depression of 1819. An opportunity to recreate a lost fortune incited Moses Austin to action. He requested permission from Spain to settle 300 families and, in January of 1821, Spain granted Austinís application. Moses Austin died five months later, bequeathing his dream of a colony in Spanish territory to his son, Stephen.

After Mexico gained its independence from Spain in August 1821, Stephen Fuller Austin successfully sought permission to fulfill the grant originally presented to his father by Spain. Austin published the terms of colonization in Texas and invited colonists from the United State to settle on land located on the Brazos and Colorado Rivers.

No sooner did Austin receive permission from Spain to colonize than colonists first began arriving in late 1821. By 1836, the Anglo population had reached 20,000. The African American population had grown to around 5,000, and most of the population was slaves. The Tejano population had increased to about 6,000. American Indian tribes numbered in the hundreds in Texas during this period. Some tribes include the Tawakonis, Caddos, and Cherokees in the east; Comanches in north, central and west; Karankawas on the Texas coast; Tonkawas in central Texas; and Wacos in north central.

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