Cover image for Stephen F. Austin, empresario of Texas
Stephen F. Austin, empresario of Texas
Cantrell, Gregg, 1958-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven [Conn.] : Yale University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 493 pages : illustrations, maps, portraits ; 25 cm
General Note:
"Published in cooperation with the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F389.A942 C36 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Stephen F. Austin, the Father of Texas, has long been enshrined as an authentic American hero. This biography brings his private life, motives, personality and character into sharp focus, revealing a driven man who successfully mixed effort and cunning, idealism and pragmatism.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

While Stephen F. Austin has long been revered as the "father of Texas," his image as an austere, bland organizer has denied him the passionate affection many Texans feel for the more colorful "man of action," Sam Houston. Cantrell has provided an interesting and better-rounded picture in the first full-length biography of Austin in more than 70 years. While Cantrell is generally effective in linking the man to the great events swirling around him, he is clearly intent on concentrating primarily on Austin's personality. Austin is revealed here as an attractive but complex and frustratingly enigmatic figure. He was obsessed with personal success, but he also had a strong sense of public responsibility. He seemed deeply committed to Jacksonian democratic ideals, but he often despised ordinary men of lower social status. He regarded slavery as a curse, yet insisted the institution was vital for the survival of Texas. For both historians and general readers, this is an engrossing study of an important and, surprisingly, often-neglected icon. --Jay Freeman

Library Journal Review

Cantrell (history, Hardin-Simmons Univ.) has written the first major biography of Austin, the "Father of Texas," since Eugene C. Barker's Life of Stephen F. Austin (1925). Unlike his predecessor, who gave readers a sterile rendering of Austin, Cantrell seeks to understand this complex individual. The result is a biography in the truest sense as it follows Austin from his childhood to his death. Cantrell examines Austin in the context of his time and place but does not get distracted by the multiplicity of events surrounding the subject of his research. Cantrell's prose is lively and engaging, but ever the historian, he makes excellent use of primary sources in the United States and Mexico. While not all may agree with the conclusions Cantrell draws, e.g., that Austin offered lukewarm support to slavery, this remains a compelling and engaging account that will appeal both to the lay reader and scholar. Highly recommended.√ĄDaniel D. Liestman, Kansas State Univ. Lib., Manhattan (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Stephen F. Austin has been revered as the Father of Texas, a man who labored assiduously and selflessly from 1821 until his death in 1836 to promote the settlement of Mexican Texas by Anglo-Americans. When it no longer seemed viable for Texas to remain within the political sphere of Mexico, Austin worked to create the Republic of Texas. Cantrell's biography modifies the adulation of Austin without diminishing his significance. Cantrell reveals a complex person who represented many of the characteristics of Jacksonian Americans: ambition, idealism, materialism, racism, and ethnocentrism. He also demonstrates that Austin, who was well educated and politically skillful, does not fit the stereotype of the crude and unlettered frontiersman. This book makes an important contribution to biography, to Texas history, and to the history of the American West. It should stand as the definitive biography of Austin, clearly superseding Eugene C. Barker's The Life of Stephen F. Austin (1925). Explanatory endnotes and an extensive bibliography enhance the value of this well-written and informative book. Upper-division undergraduates and above. L. B. Gimelli; Eastern Michigan University