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James F. Perry Letter of 1832 Essay

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Updated: Aug 8th, 2021

The letter of James F. Perry written in 1832 and addressed to Mr. Ferguson, Mr. Jones, and Mr. Campbell, bankers from Philadelphia, may be regarded as the highly significant primary source documents. It provides insight into a certain historical period of the United States. In his letter, Perry is focused on financial matters – he and Mr. Austin purchased land that was sold on credit by Mr. Gavock who wants to get his money for the arrangement. Perry explains to financiers the reasons why the money did not arrive at them in time and persuades the banker of his financial responsibility.

James F. Perry was considered to be a prominent citizen and one of the early settlers of Texas. He was involved in the state’s land distribution and plans of the railroad construction in this territory. Regarding his letter, James F. Perry is a businessman who arrived in Texas due to potential trade opportunities and sales prospects in this area. Although his letter is related to specific business affairs, it provides significant information concerning political, social, economic, and cultural aspects of life in the region.

In the 1830s, the economics of Texas was substantively influenced by the disturbing issue of land speculation. The land awarded to certain Americans as grants were sold and bought by partnerships. James F. Perry and Stephen F. Austin, the brother of his wife, were involved in Texas land distribution, and their participation is demonstrated by Perry’s letter that refers to the purchasing of land, as well. San Felipe de Austin mentioned by Perry at the beginning of his letter played a highly significant role in the political establishment of Texas. In 1821, Moses Austin, Stephen’s father, received a contract from the Spanish government that allowed him to establish a colony near the Brazos River with the main settlement named San Felipe de Austin.1

Another significant political aspect that may be traced in the letter of Perry is the tension between Anglo-Americans and Mexicans. “The withdrawing of all the troops from our frontiers by the Santas Ana[sic] party” refers to the confrontation between the government of Antonio López de Santa Anna and Anglo –American volunteers.2 As these circumstances negatively influenced the economic situation in the region, in his letter, Perry expects that the end of opposition and Mexican troops’ removal will encourage further economical development of Texas. In addition, the increasing amount of planted cotton and cattle, the construction of the railway road through the Texas territory, and sugar production stimulated the economical growth of the region as well.

Concerning social and cultural aspects of the region that was primarily focused on agriculture, it is necessary to notice the peculiarities of the letter’s language. As the frontier had a substantial influence on the Spanish-speaking community, it goes without saying that in the 1830s, Anglo-Texans could have certain specific characteristics in their dialect. In his letter, James F. Perry uses such words as “verry,” “probbably,” “inhabitents,” “Messrs,” “support,” and “loose” that differ from modern English words. Moreover, he mixes between uppercase and lowercase letters in the middle of sentences, and uses wrong grammatical construction in comparison with contemporary standards, such as “many more”. These features may highlight not only the individual characteristics of the writer but the peculiarities of Texan dialect at that period of time as well.

Bibliography

De León, Arnoldo. Texas State Historical Association. Web.

James Franklin Perry and Stephen Samuel Perry Papers, Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations, Series G, Part 1, Reel 13, Frames 84-86. Web.

Footnotes

  1. “James F. Perry to Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Jones and Mr. Campell, September 5, 1832,” James Franklin Perry and Stephen Samuel Perry Papers, Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations, Series G, Part 1, Reel 13, Frames 84-86, Web.
  2. Arnoldo De León, “Mexican Texas,” Texas State Historical Association, Web.
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