Power-Hewetson Colony: Interpreting the Irish's Importance in Refugio and Aransas Counties and the Texas Revolution


    This page discusses the political and economic changes that Mexico, Coahuila y Texas, and Ireland experienced from 1820 to 1835, which contributed to the colonization of Coahuila y Texas and allows a better understanding of the creation of the Power-Hewetson Colony.


    In 1821, Mexico declared its independence from the reign of the Spanish monarchy and began focusing on colonizing its territories through empresario contracts.  Empresarios and their colonies played a significant role in the populating Mexico’s territories, because for an immigrant to gain land grants in any territory of Mexico the individual had to be a member of an empresario colony.  Empresario Stephen F. Austin colonized an area of Coahuila y Texas with three hundred families, which is best known as the Old Three Hundred.  The government also created most colonization laws to populate the territory with European immigrants such as Irish families, while preventing citizens of the United States from overrunning and annexing the territory. 

Coahuila y Texas  

    The Mexican Constitution of 1824 combined the two separate provinces of Coahuila and Texas to form one state Coahuila y Texas.  Coahuila y Texas had many different groups of people living within its borders such as Native Americans, Spaniards, Mexicans, Europeans, and Anglo-Americans.  Yet, the land of Coahuila y Texas remained vastly unpopulated with the exception of a few developing towns, ranches, colonies, forts, and missions, such as the La Presidio Nuestra Senora de Loreto de La Bahia and the Mission of Nuestra Senora del Refugio.  Once the Mexican government approved of several empresario contracts Coahuila y Texas became populated with various ethnic groups from Europe such as Irish. 


    From 1820 to 1835, Ireland’s political and economic changes influenced many Irish citizens to immigrate to new countries such as Mexico.  The political freedom of Irish Catholics seemed to improve with the passing of Catholic Relief Act of 1829, an act that provided Catholics eligibility for offices in parliament, but the Catholics still had political restrictions.  The Irish economy forced many Irish to immigrate, because of the high unemployment and overpopulation.  The Corn Laws and enclosure system kept many Irish from owning their own land, which motivated Irish families to leave their home for other countries that had an abundant amount of land where they could be successful.


1.   How is the colonization of Coahuila y Texas different or similar to other countries, such as the United States?

2.   Do you know any other empresarios other than Stephen F. Austin?

3.   Can you relate to the colonists who would leave their homeland for better opportunities in a new place?

    The Texas soldiers need to be remembered as individuals to understand the reasons Irish immigrants moved to Mexico and fought for independence from Mexico. 

Secondary Sources

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The Life of Stephen F. Austin, Founder of Texas, 1793-1836: A Chapter in the 
    Westward Movement of the Anglo-American People
. Austin: The Texas State Historical Association, 1925.

Benson, Nettie Lee. “Texas Viewed from Mexico, 1820-1834.” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 90, no.
     3 (January 1987): 219-291.

Campbell, Randolph B. Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State. New York: Oxford University Press, 

Cantrell, Gregg.  Stephen F. Austin: Empresario of Texas. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 

Davis, Graham. Land! Irish Pioneers in Mexican and Revolutionary Texas. College Station: Texas A&M 
    University Press, 2002. 

Hale, Charles A. Mexican Liberalism in the Age of Mora, 1821-1853. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University
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Hoppen, K. Theodore. Ireland Since 1800: Conflict and Conformity. London: Longman, 1989.

Huson, Hobart. Refugio: A Comprehensive History of Refugio County from Aboriginal Times to1953, Vol. 
    I Aboriginal to 1861
. Woodsboro, Texas: The Rooke Foundation, Inc., 1956. 

Jackson, Alvin. Home Rule: An Irish History, 1800-2000. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

MacLachlan, Colin M. and William H. Beezley. El Gran Pueblo: A History of Greater Mexico, Vol. I 1821-1911
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McCaffrey, Lawrence J. The Irish Question: Two Centuries of Conflict. 2nd ed. Lexington: The University 
    Press Kentucky, 1995.

McCartney, Donal. The Dawning of Democracy: Ireland 1800-1870. Dublin: Helicon Limited, 1987.

Miller, Kerby A. Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America. New York: Oxford
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Nackman, Mark E. A Nation Within A Nation: The Rise of Texas Nationalism. Port Washington, New York: 
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O’Grada, Cormac. Ireland: A New Economic History 1780-1939. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994.

Reichstein, Andreas V. Rise of the Lone Star: The Making of Texas. Translated by Jeanne R. Willson. College
     Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1989.

Rodriguez O., Jaime E., ed. Mexico in the Age of Democratic Revolutions, 1750-1850. London: Lynne Rienner 
    Publishers, 1994.

Wasserman, Mark. Everyday Life and Politics in Nineteenth Century Mexico: Men, Women, and War. 
Albuquerque: The University of New Mexico Press, 2000.

Weber, David J. The Mexican Frontier, 1821-1846: The United States Southwest Under Mexico. Edited by Ray
     Allen Billington and Howard R. Lamar. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982.
Created By: Kaitlin E. Wieseman
August 2011