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‘Father of Texas’ Under Fire in the City Named for Him

The war on history continues in Texas.

An agency in the city of Austin recently released a memo suggesting renaming numerous streets and roads, removing statues, and generally eliminating references to the Confederacy.

But the recommendations from Austin’s Equity Office didn’t stop with Confederate figures.

Perhaps most absurdly, the memo suggested renaming Austin because Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas” for whom the city is named, owned several slaves and accepted the existence of slavery in the 1820s.

A rather ridiculous and highly inaccurate report from Newsweek, which has not been corrected as of publication of this piece, says Austin was a “former Confederate leader” and founded the city of Austin in 1839.

Both of those “facts” are untrue.

Austin died in 1836 and was not the founder of the city. He never was associated with the Confederacy, which came into being in 1861.

Though these are likely just sloppy factual errors, the labeling of Austin as a Confederate is an illuminating example of where this debate over historical statues and memory is going.

The distinction between “defensible” Founding Fathers and “indefensible” Confederates is blurring as anyone who in any way represents ideas or values not accepted in modernity must not only be denounced, but eradicated from public life.

Stephen F. Austin leaves a complicated legacy to modernity, but no more complicated than most of the founders.

Austin is famous for leading a group of American pioneers to settle in Texas at the behest of the Mexican government, which owned the territory at the time.

After the settlers lived successfully and peacefully for years in the territory, the Mexican government began to curtail their rights for a variety of reasons: fear of their success, ethnic prejudice against whites (an often mutual feeling), and religious bigotry against the largely Protestant settlers who struggled or refused to convert to Catholicism, the official religion of Mexico.

The Mexican government also sought to abolish slavery, which was mostly nonexistent in Mexico at that time, a move that threatened to throw the Texas economy into chaos.

Read the full story from The Daily Signal

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