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Twenty-Two Years a Slave, and Forty Years a Freeman by Austin Steward

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_decree_ from the Legislature--which was then in session--forbidding him
to grant any more land, under any pretext. This measure was taken to
prevent the great land speculators from carrying on their swindling
operations in Texas. An act was soon after passed by that body, repealing
all their Colonization laws; and thus every hope that I had so fondly
entertained, and each fair prospect, seemingly so near its realization,
_was instantly blasted and utterly destroyed_! If ever the fortitude
of man was tried, mine was then. If ever stoic philosophy might be
successfully called to the aid of human courage, I felt the necessity
of invoking it upon that occasion. Nearly two years of toil, privation and
peril, have been wasted. My sufferings had been great, though my spirit
soared on the bouyancy of hope. Now the fair superstructure of an
important enterprise, whose ideal magnitude had employed my mind, to the
exclusion of many hardships endured, suddenly vanished from my sight, and
left before me a hideous and gloomy void with no other encouragement than
total disappointment, conscious poverty and remediless despair! What
_should_ I then have done? My health was restored, but my detention and
consequent expenses had been so great that my funds were nearly exhausted.
I came to the country for an important purpose; and I reasoned with
myself thus; although my way is closed in this State, cannot something be
done _elsewhere_? I will not boast of the stoutest heart among men, but
mine _must not quail_. Something further _must_ be done if possible, and
I will try.

In the course of my travels, I had seen a part of the adjoining State of
Tamaulipas, and had been informed that the colonization laws thereof were
liberal. I was even aware that some parts of it are more suitable for the
culture of the sugar cane, than any tract I could have obtained in
Coahuila and Texas. And upon a little reflection, I determined to make
further investigations in Tamaulipas, and had been informed of the State.
As soon as my horse was a little rested, I set out, _alone_, on a journey
of between four and five hundred miles, part of the way through an awfully
mountainous region, and much of it an uninhabited wilderness. I encamped
out almost every night, during the whole journey; very seldom near any
human habitation. I had no fire-arms nor anything to defend myself
against the ferocious beasts of the forest, which I had evidence to
convince me were frequently numerous, and not far distant. In two weeks I
reached the city of Matamoras, in the State of Tamaulipas, quite destitute
of funds, after parting with almost every disposable article belonging to
my wardrobe, &c. The people of this place being all perfect strangers to
me, I did not for a while unfold to them the real object of my visit; but
instead thereof, I opened a shop, and commenced working at my old trade--
the saddling business. I soon got as much work as I could do--supported
myself, replenished my pocket, made some acquaintance with a number of
people, and obtained more information respecting the Colonization laws of
the State. A few weeks elapsed, while I was employed in this way. I then
mounted my horse again, and proceeded to the capital of the State; and
after negotiating for some time with the Governor and Council of the
State, I succeeded in obtaining a grant of land, upon advantageous terms.
I then performed another journey of almost two hundred and fifty miles,
"alone," to Matamoras again; and soon thereafter embarked for the United

My friends will thus perceive that I have not been idle; though much time
has been occupied in my last expedition. I shall not attempt to excite
their sympathy by exhibiting the twentieth part of what I have suffered. I
do not even like to look back upon some of the scenes through which I have
passed. But thanks to a kind and all-sustaining Providence, complete
success has at last crowned my exertions. I strove hard to command it; and
I leave it to others to say whether I have _deserved_ it or not.

The terms upon which I have obtained my grant of land will be noticed in a
public address, which I shall forward with this letter.

Since my arrival in this place, I have been confined by sickness; but am
now convalescent, and shall visit my friends to the eastward, as soon as
circumstances will permit. I cannot close this communication without an
expression of my sincere thanks to those kind friends who rendered me
assistance in defraying the expenses of my last Mexican tour. Their favors
will be most gratefully remembered, and I shall feel myself under
additional obligations to labor for the melioration of the condition of
the poor and suffering _slave_.

In the next number of the "Genius of Universal Emancipation," I shall
insert the names of those who contributed to aid me in the prosecution of
my enterprise; and correct information relative to all proceedings
therein, will be given in the pages of that work, as the business
connected with it progresses.

I am, most respectfully, your Friend,


N. & B. PAUL,

Nashville, 5th Mo., 1835.


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