In the 1820s, entrepreneurial Americans like Stephen Austin saw the Mexican state of Texas as a bountiful promised land. He sent letters back to the States seeking immigrants and promising cheap, good quality farm land.
Austin's message arrived as the U.S. was recovering from an economic depression, the Panic of 1819. Hundreds of debt-ridden settlers signed on, agreeing to convert to Catholicism, become Mexican citizens, and provide proof of upstanding character. In return, they gained Texas land, amnesty from debts -- and the challenges of frontier life.
Would you move to an unknown frontier, sight unseen, if it meant you would be free of debt?