Texas Independence Day, March 2 – fly your Texas flag today

March 2, 2014

Texans writing the Texas Declaration of Independence, 1836

In a meeting hall at Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texans meet to write the Texas Declaration of Independence, released March 2, 1836; image from Portal to Texas History

So, put some barbecue in the smoker, get a Shiner for you and your pet armadillo, sit back and enjoy the holiday.  If you’re near Washington-on-the-Brazos, go to the ceremony.  You’d better be sure you’ve got plenty of Blue Bell Ice Cream.

What?  You don’t get the day off?  You know, Texas schools don’t even take the day off any more.  (In 2014, of course, it’s a Sunday.)

I thought things were going to change when the Tea Party got to Austin and Washington?  What happened?

For Texas Independence Day, it’s appropriate to fly your U.S. flag — or your Texas flag, if you have one.

Original Manuscript, Texas Declaration of Independence - Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Original Manuscript, Texas Declaration of Independence, page 1 – Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Text from the image above:

The Unanimous
Declaration of Independence
made by the
Delegates of the People of Texas
in General Convention
at the Town of Washington
on the 2nd day of March 1836

When a government has ceased
to protect the lives, liberty and property
of the people, from whom its legitimate
powers are derived, and for the advance-
ment of whose happiness it was inst-
ituted, and so far from being a guaran-
tee for the enjoyment of those inesti-
mable and inalienable rights, becomes
an instrument in the hands of evil
rulers for their oppression.

[Complete text, and images of each page, at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission site.]

Resources for Texas Independence Day

Resources at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub

More:

This is mostly an encore post.


Texas Independence Day, March 2

March 2, 2011

Texans writing the Texas Declaration of Independence, 1836

In a meeting hall at Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texans meet to write the Texas Declaration of Independence, released March 2, 1836; image from Portal to Texas History

So, put some barbecue in the smoker, get a Shiner for you and your pet armadillo, sit back and enjoy the holiday.  If you’re near Washington-on-the-Brazos, go to the ceremony.  You’d better be sure you’ve got plenty of Blue Bell Ice Cream.

What?  You don’t get the day off?  You know, Texas schools don’t even take the day off any more.

I thought things were going to change when the Tea Party got to Austin and Washington?  What happened?

 

Original Manuscript, Texas Declaration of Independence - Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Original Manuscript, Texas Declaration of Independence - Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Text from the image above:

The Unanimous
Declaration of Independence
made by the
Delegates of the People of Texas
in General Convention
at the Town of Washington
on the 2nd day of March 1836

When a government has ceased
to protect the lives, liberty and property
of the people, from whom its legitimate
powers are derived, and for the advance-
ment of whose happiness it was inst-
ituted, and so far from being a guaran-
tee for the enjoyment of those inesti-
mable and inalienable rights, becomes
an instrument in the hands of evil
rulers for their oppression.

[Complete text, and images of each page, at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission site.]

Resources for Texas Independence Day

Resources at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub


Texas Independence Day, March 2

March 2, 2009

The place to be today is Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Site, looking back 173 years.

Here on March 2 of that year [1836], 59 delegates signed the six-page document that declared the Republic of Texas free and independent of Mexico.

As related in the Dallas Morning News, it was a fretful time in Texas.

The convention delegates actually gathered on March 1, 1836, a month after they were elected and sent to Washington, a growing town on the Brazos River less than 100 miles northwest of what now is Houston.

The convention within weeks would adopt a constitution amid a swift series of events. While they were meeting, Travis and his men were killed at the Alamo. And just over another month later, Gen. Sam Houston’s army would defeat the Mexicans in the famous Battle of San Jacinto.

And, just in time for this year’s celebration, researchers announced they have recovered a document lost from the Texas State Archives for a century, the order for copies of the Texas Declaration to be copied and printed.  Jim Bevill found the scrap of paper placed haphazardly in a file now housed at Southern Methodist University (SMU).

Michael Paulsen Chronicle  Author Jim Bevill found the order issued on March 2, 1836, for the first copies of the Texas Declaration of Independence in a collection donated to the Southern Methodist University library. The order had long been missing from the state archives

Author Jim Bevill found the order issued on March 2, 1836, for the first copies of the Texas Declaration of Independence in a collection donated to the Southern Methodist University library. The order had long been missing from the state archives. Photo by Michael Paulsen, Houston Chronicle

Bevill was doing research for his upcoming book, The Paper Republic, a history of the Republic of Texas from the viewpoint of economics rather than the usual military perspective.

The new Texas government was desperately short of money. Investors in New Orleans refused to give the fledgling country a loan until Texas officially declared independence from Mexico.

The document Bevill found was an order sent to San Felipe to have printers make five handwritten copies and 1,000 printed copies of the declaration.

Hope you have a good Texas Independence Day.  We have grades due.

See also:

Resources:


Can Texas split itself into five states? Is West Virginia legal?

September 15, 2008

Elektratig has found a legal scholar with a wild bent who has penned a couple of scholarly articles designed to give heart to conspiracy nuts, anarchists and radical libertarians.

One article [by Michael Stokes Paulsen], “Let’s Mess With Texas,” actually was published in the Texas Law Review in 2004, arguing the case that the odd treaty negotiations/statehood legislation that led to Texas becoming part of the U.S. in 1845 included a clause that would allow Texas to split itself into as many as five states.  The authors speculate as to chaos this would cause in U.S. politics.  The article is available in a free download from SSRN.

The other, “Is West Virginia Unconstitutional” was published in the California Law Review. It offers a good history of the creation of West Virginia from the northwestern territory of Virginia in 1863, when the pro-Union counties of the northwest part of the state declared a government in exile and consented to the Union’s partition of Virginia.

Both stories pose interesting questions for government classes, U.S. history classes (especially with regard to the Civil War), and possibly for Texas history classes, though the discussions may not seem germane to the 7th grade minds it would need to entertain.

Both articles breezily discuss history in a wry, humorous way.  A lot more history for high school students should be written this way.

I can’t find it at the moment, but it seems to me that most authorities determined Texas’s right to self-partition expired when the state tried to secede in 1861, and, in any case, did not survive the readmission process subsequent to the end of the war and reconstruction. Although Texas U.S. Rep. John Nance Garner (future vice president under FDR) threatened to exercise the clause in 1930 to fight a tariff he didn’t like, it’s unlikely Texans would consent to lose their bragging rights to being bigger than anybody else in the Lower 48.  The issue is generally considered dead to Texans, if not in law.

Plus, there isn’t enough hair in the Lone Star State for four more Rick Perrys.

If you think history can’t be fun, you haven’t read this stuff.  Go check it out.

Resources:


Handbook of Texas on-line

June 20, 2008

Question: Where do you find good Texas history in a hurry?

Answer: The Handbook of Texas.

Question: What about Texas history on-line?

Answer: Same thing, different format:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Will’s Texas Parlor. Crossposted at the Wayback Machine.


Bogus history: Engraved in stone

March 3, 2008

Quotes from patriots engraved on the walls greet visitors to the Texas State History Museum in Austin.

Unfortunately, in one case the engraved quote is now known to be bogus, a piece of fiction originally created for a children’s book.

Kent Biffle’s weekly article on Texas History in the Dallas Morning News reports the story:

Scholarly sleuth James E. Crisp will formally reveal to historians this week a jarring error literally carved in stone at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.

In the sweeping lobby of the 6-year-old museum, a few steps from the state Capitol, visitors read on the wall stirring words of Tejano hero José Antonio Navarro:

“I will never forsake Texas and her cause. I am her son.”

The quote is a permanent feature of the museum – or was. Dr. Crisp says Señor Navarro (1795-1871) didn’t utter those words. But he will tell us who did.

Dr. Crisp reports his findings at the 2008 convention of the Texas State Historical Association, in Corpus Christi.

Read the rest of this entry »


Saving Texas’s only natural lake

August 3, 2007

Aptly named, Salvinia molesta threatens to choke Caddo Lake to death. As Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in Texas, and a site of outstanding beauty and great natural treasure, the friends of Caddo Lake are fighting back.

Spraying Salvinia molesta on Caddo Lake - NY Times photo by Michael Stravato

The New York Times features a lengthy story on the lake and the fight to save it in this week’s Science section (July 31, 2007 – Science is part of the Times every Tuesday).

Every Texas social studies teacher should know Caddo Lake and its stories as well as anything else. It’s the stuff memorable classes are made of.

1. It’s the only “natural” lake in Texas, though it is formed by a dam. The “only honest lake in Texas,” in the local lingo. The original lake was formed by a monumental log jam on the Red River, probably trees blown down by a massive hurricane several hundred years ago.

2. Caddo Lake is named after the Caddo Tribe, the tribe whose word for friend, “tejas,” gave the state its name. (See my earlier post on Caddoland.)

3. Caddo Lake straddles what was once “no man’s land,” or the Neutral Territory, a buffer zone between English/French, then American, and Spanish, then Mexican settlements. It was a haven for criminals, scalawags, filibusterers and revolutionaries. The area plays a large role in the decades of fighting to steal Texas from the Spain, and later from Mexico. Texas history is much better understood when one knows the lake.

4. Caddo Lake once was the means to make Jefferson, Texas, a port city. Until Col. Shreveport dynamited the logjam that made the lake in 1873, Jefferson was a bustling center of commerce. Today Jefferson boasts some wonderfully preserved historic remnants of that era, many converted to bed and breakfast inns, a great weekend getaway. Fishing is good, photography is great.

5. Ladybird Johnson was born nearby, and her family still lives in the area.

6. The Hughes Tool Company had its beginnings on Caddo Lake, where Howard Hughes, Sr., tested his drill bit, “the rock eater,” designed to cut through mud and rock to where the oil was; this is the home of the fortune that Howard Hughes, Jr., inherited, to build to one of the greatest fortunes in the world. That the younger Hughes was a rake, a mechanical genius, an air pioneer, daring movie producer, and weird as hell only makes the story better. Hughes named his movie production company after the lake, Caddo Productions.

6. Contrary to most of Texas’s political leanings, local people around Caddo Lake have rallied to efforts to protect the lake and conserve its rare beauty. The area is designated for protection as a Ramsar Treaty critical wetlands site — a designation that most conservative Texans ridicule and fear (at one point the Texas Republican Party platform opposed conservation easements to protect the lake bizarre). Latter-day Caddoans welcome the designation, and when we toured the area they sang the praises of Don Henley, the rock and roll musician who is aiding their efforts to save the lake. It’s an odd combination for any political work — uniquely Texas. (Here’s your chance to play the Eagles for your classes, teachers!)

7. When it comes to Texas botany, zoology, and biology in general, Caddo Lake provides the local angle for water quality, water shortages (one proposal is to steal water from the lake for Texas cities far away), wildlife management, and of course, the invasion of exotic species.

8. Everything about this area screams Texas quirkiness. Uncertain, Texas? An often-told story (accurate?) is that when the town applied for a post office, there was a dispute about what to call the town. The fellow who filled out the application wrote “uncertain” in the blank for the town’s name — and that’s how the U.S. Postal Service approved it. Another story holds that the name “Uncertain Landing” caught on because the landing was treacherous mooring for boats. You got a better story about your town’s name? I doubt it.

Save the article from the Times, teachers! You’ll be glad you have it later this year.

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True story: Yellow Rose of Texas, and the Battle of San Jacinto

April 15, 2007

After suffering crushing defeats in previous battles, and while many Texian rebels were running away from Santa Anna’s massive army — the largest and best trained in North America — Sam Houston’s ragtag band of rebels got the drop on Santa Anna at San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836. Most accounts say the routing of Santa Anna’s fighting machine took just 18 minutes.

San Jacinto Day is April 21. Texas history classes at Texas middle schools should be leading ceremonies marking the occasion — but probably won’t since it’s coming at the end of a week of federally-requested, state required testing.

Surrender of Santa Anna, Texas State Preservation Board Surrender of Santa Anna, painting by William Henry Huddle (1890); property of Texas State Preservation Board. The painting depicts Santa Anna being brought before a wounded Sam Houston, to surrender.

San Jacinto Monument brochure, with photo of monument

The San Jacinto Monument is 15 feet taller than the Washington Monument

How could Houston’s group have been so effective against a general who modeled himself after Napoleon, with a large, well-running army? In the 1950s a story came out that Santa Anna was distracted from battle. Even as he aged he regarded himself as a great ladies’ man — and it was a woman who detained the Mexican general in his tent, until it was too late to do anything but steal an enlisted man’s uniform and run.

That woman was mulatto, a “yellow rose,” and about whom the song, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” was written, according story pieced together in the 1950s.

Could such a story be true? Many historians in the 1950s scoffed at the idea. (More below the fold.) Read the rest of this entry »


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