Texas Declaration of Independence

The Texas Declaration of Independence was the formal declaration of independence of the Republic of Texas from Mexico in the Texas Revolution. It was adopted at the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 2, 1836, and formally signed the next day after mistakes were noted in the text.

Texas Declaration of Independence
Declaration Broadside from transparency 1909 1 344
1836 facsimile of the Texas Declaration of Independence
CreatedMarch 2, 1836
LocationEngrossed copy: Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Signatories60 delegates to the Consultation
PurposeTo announce and explain separation from Mexico

Background

In October 1835, settlers in Mexican Texas launched the Texas Revolution.

However, within Austin, many struggled with understanding what the ultimate goal of the Revolution was. Some believed that the goal should be total independence from Mexico, while others sought the reimplementation of the Mexican Constitution of 1824 (which offered greater freedoms than the centralist government declared in Mexico the prior year).[1] To settle the issue, a convention was called for March 1836.

This convention differed from the previous Texas councils of 1832, 1833, and the 1835 Consultation. Many of the delegates to the 1836 convention were young men who had only recently arrived in Texas from the United States, in violation of Mexico's immigration ban of April, 1830, although many of them had participated in one of the battles in 1835. The only two known native Texans to sign are Jose Francisco Ruiz and Jose Antonio Navarro. [2] Most of the delegates were members of the War Party and were adamant that Texas must declare its independence from Mexico.[3] Forty-one delegates arrived in Washington-on-the-Brazos on February 28.[3]

Development

The convention was convened on March 1 with Richard Ellis as president.[4] The delegates selected a committee of five to draft a declaration of independence; the committee was led by George Childress and also included Edward Conrad, James Gaines, Bailey Hardeman, and Collin McKinney. The committee submitted its draft within a mere 24 hours, leading historians to speculate that Childress had written much of it before his arrival at the Convention.[5]

The declaration was approved on March 2 with no debate. Based primarily on the writings of John Locke and Thomas Jefferson, the declaration proclaimed that the Mexican government "ceased to protect the lives, liberty, and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived"[6] and complained about "arbitrary acts of oppression and tyranny".[7] Throughout the declaration are numerous references to the United States laws, rights, and customs. Omitted from the declaration was the fact that the author and many of the signatories were citizens of the United States, occupying Texas illegally, and therefore had no legal rights in the government of Mexico. The declaration makes clear that the men were accustomed to the laws and privileges of the United States, and were unfamiliar with the language, religion, and traditions of the nation that they were rebelling against.

The declaration officially established the Republic of Texas, although it was not officially recognized at that time by any government other than itself. The Mexican Republic still claimed the land and considered the delegates to be invaders.

Among others, the declaration mentions the following reasons for the separation:

  • The 1824 Constitution of Mexico establishing a federal republic had been overturned and changed into a centralist military dictatorship by Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna. (From Mexico's viewpoint, lawful elections of 1835 seated many conservative politicians who intended to strengthen the government of Mexico and defend their nation from an invasion of illegal American immigrants. They amended the 1824 constitution by passing the Seven Laws.)
  • The Mexican government had invited settlers to Texas and promised them constitutional liberty and republican government, but then reneged on these guarantees. (It did not mention that many settlers, including the author and majority of signatories, were factually uninvited, illegal trespassers.[8])
  • Texas was in union with the Mexican state of Coahuila as Coahuila y Tejas, with the capital in distant Saltillo, and thus the affairs of Texas were decided at a great distance from the province and in the Spanish language, which the immigrants called "an unknown tongue".
  • Political rights to which the settlers had previously been accustomed in the United States, such as the right to keep and bear arms and the right to trial by jury, were denied. The right to keep slaves was endangered by the 1824 Constitution of Mexico.
  • No system of public education had been established.
  • Attempts by the Mexican government to enforce import tariffs were called "piratical attacks" by "foreign desperadoes".
  • The settlers were not allowed freedom of religion. All legal settlers were required to convert to Catholicism.

Based upon the United States Declaration of Independence, the Texas Declaration also contains many memorable expressions of American political principles:

  • "the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen."
  • "our arms ... are essential to our defence, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable only to tyrannical governments."

Signatories

Washington on the Brazos Monument
Replica of the building at Washington-on-the-Brazos where the Texas Declaration was signed. An inscription reads: "Here a Nation was born".
Wpdms republic of texas
The New Republic

Sixty men signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Three of them were born in Mexico. Fifty-seven of the sixty moved to Texas from the United States.[9] Ten of them had lived in Texas for more than six years, while one-quarter of them had been in the province for less than a year.[8] This is significant, because it indicates that the majority of signatories had moved to Texas after the Law of April 6, 1830, banning immigration, had taken effect, meaning that the majority were legally citizens of the United States, occupying Texas illegally. Fifty-nine of these men were delegates to the Convention, and one was the Convention Secretary, Herbert S. Kimble, who was not a delegate.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 98.
  2. ^ BERNICE, STRONG, (15 June 2010). "RUIZ, JOSE FRANCISCO". tshaonline.org. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 142.
  4. ^ Davis (1982), p. 38.
  5. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 144.
  6. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 145.
  7. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 146.
  8. ^ a b Scott (2000), p. 122.
  9. ^ "Texas Declaration of Independence". sonofthesouth.net. Retrieved 15 May 2015.

References

  • Davis, Joe Tom (1982). Legendary Texians. 1. Austin, Texas: Eakin Press. ISBN 0-89015-336-1.
  • Roberts, Randy; Olson, James S. (2001). A Line in the Sand: The Alamo in Blood and Memory. The Free Press. ISBN 0-684-83544-4.
  • Scott, Robert (2000). After the Alamo. Plano, TX: Republic of Texas Press. ISBN 978-1-55622-691-5.

External links

Andrew Briscoe

Andrew Briscoe (November 25, 1810 – October 4, 1849) was a merchant, revolutionary, soldier, and jurist. He was an organizer of the Texas Revolution, attending the Convention of 1836 and signing the Texas Declaration of Independence. He fought in three major battles, including the victory at San Jacinto. He was the first Chief Justice of Harrisburg County, Texas.

Asa Brigham

Asa Brigham (31 August 1788 – 3 July 1844) was a Texas politician, businessman and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence (1836), which declared independence from Mexico. He served as Texas Treasurer and mayor of Austin.

Bailey Hardeman

Bailey Hardeman (1795–1836) was the first Secretary of the Treasury for the Republic of Texas.

Coleman County, Texas

Coleman County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 8,895. The county seat is Coleman. The county was founded in 1858 and organized in 1864. It is named for Robert M. Coleman, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence and soldier at the Battle of San Jacinto.

Collin McKinney

Collin McKinney (April 17, 1766 – September 9, 1861) was a land surveyor, merchant, politician, and lay preacher. He is best known as an important figure in the Texas Revolution, as one of the five individuals who drafted the Texas Declaration of Independence and the oldest person to sign it.

Edwin O. LeGrand

Although Edwin Oswald LeGrand (1801–1861) was born in North Carolina, he was an original Texan. LeGrand was one of the fifty-seven men who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. He was a San Augustine delegate to the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos and fought in the Battle of San Jacinto. His sister, Mrs. William Colson Norwood, and her family also settled in San Augustine, Texas. LeGrand is buried near San Augustine.

George Childress

George Campbell Childress (January 8, 1804 – October 6, 1841) was a lawyer, politician, and a principal author of the Texas Declaration of Independence.

James Collinsworth

James Thompson Collinsworth (1806 – July 11, 1838) was an American-born Texian lawyer and political figure in early history of the Republic of Texas.

James Power (empresario)

James Power (1788 or 1789 – August 15, 1852) was an Irish-born Texan empresario, politician and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, known for the land grant he received with partner James Hewetson that included the coastal area between the mouths of the Guadalupe and Nueces Rivers, as well as his founding and service as the first mayor of the Aransas City settlement. He often represented Refugio County during statewide conventions. Was part of the Mexican national era

Jesse Grimes

Jesse Grimes (1788–1866) was a Texas pioneer and politician. Before moving to Texas, he fought in the War of 1812. He was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. He served as Senator in the Republic of Texas Congress and in the Texas State Legislature. Grimes County was named in his honor.

Parmer County, Texas

Parmer County is a county located in the southwestern Texas Panhandle on the high plains of the Llano Estacado in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 10,269. The county seat is Farwell. The county was created in 1876 and later organized in 1907. It is named in honor of Martin Parmer, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence and early judge. Parmer County was one of 10 prohibition, or entirely dry, counties in the state of Texas, but is now a wet county.

Perry, Texas

Perry is an unincorporated community in northern Falls County, Texas, United States. It was named after Albert G. Perry, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence.

Richard Ellis (politician)

Richard Ellis (1781 – December 20, 1846) was an American plantation owner, politician, and judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Alabama. He was president of the Convention of 1836 that declared Texas' independence from Mexico and he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Later, Ellis served in the Republic of Texas legislature.

Ellis was born and raised in the tidewater region of Virginia, but he settled in Alabama. He was a member of Alabama’s Constitutional Convention in 1818 and an Associate Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court (1819–1826).Ellis settled in Mexican Texas in 1834, defying the ban on immigration by the Mexican government, establishing a plantation in what is now Bowie County. In 1836 he was unanimously elected president of the Texas constitutional convention that declared independence on March 2, 1836. He also held the convention together for the additional seventeen days needed to draft Texas's constitution. He then served the Republic of Texas as a Senator from 1836 to 1840 in the first four congresses.

Ellis died in Bowie County in 1846, but in 1929, he and his wife, Mary West Dandridge were reinterred in the State Cemetery at Austin, Texas.Ellis County, Texas, is named in his honor.

Robertson County, Texas

Robertson County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 16,622. Its county seat is Franklin. The county was created in 1837 and organized the following year. It is named for Sterling C. Robertson, an early settler who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence.

Robertson County is part of the College Station-Bryan, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Samuel Price Carson

Samuel Price Carson (January 22, 1798 – November 2, 1838) was an American political leader and farmer in both North Carolina and Texas. He served as Congressional Representative from North Carolina.

Samuel Rhoads Fisher

Samuel Rhoads Fisher was the secretary of the Navy of the Republic of Texas.He was born in Pennsylvania on December 31, 1794 and settled in Texas in 1830 with his wife and four children in the Matagorda area. He represented Matagorda Municipality in the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos where he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. President Sam Houston nominated Fisher as Secretary of the Texas Navy and the appointment was confirmed by the Senate on October 28, 1836.A letter to presidential candidate Mirabeau B. Lamar in August 1838 from George Wheelwright urged reconsideration of Fisher for Secretary for the good of the navy and defense of the Republic and Houston suspended Fisher from office in October 1837, to secure "harmony and efficiency". Many in the senate opposed the move and the Senate ordered Fisher's reinstatement on October 18, 1837. This event was a major incident in the early days of the Republic of Texas and added to the severe split between the various factions in the government.

Sam Houston Dixon in "The Men Who Made Texas Free" wrote that "when Mr. Fisher died, Richard Ellis, who was president of the convention which declared Texas independent of Mexico, said from the floor of the Senate: 'In the death of Rhodes Fisher the Republic has lost one of its wisest defenders. He was a man of poise even midst times of stress and excitement. Well do some of us remember his cool and deliberate consideration of our acts at Old Washington, March, 1836; how his voice of caution rang out as men of zeal vied with one another in their precipitous rush to complete their labors of establishing a government and returning to their homes. So earnestly did he plead and so logical was his appeal that we were persuaded to follow his advice........There was nothing of the braggadocio about him and he did not lack courage to express his opinions.'"

Fisher died on March 14, 1839, and was buried at Matagorda. Fisher County, established in 1876, was named after him.

Sterling C. Robertson

Sterling Clack Robertson (1785–1842) was an empresario from Tennessee, during Mexican Texas. He introduced 600 families into Robertson's Colony. Robertson was also an elected delegate to the Washington-on-the-Brazos convention, signing both the Texas Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. He became a Senator during the first two sessions of the Congress of the Republic of Texas.

Texas Independence Day

Texas Independence Day is the celebration of the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. With this document signed by 59 delegates, settlers in Mexican Texas officially declared independence from Mexico and created the Republic of Texas.

It is not, however, an official state holiday whereby offices are closed, but instead a "partial staffing holiday"; state offices are required to be open on that day but with reduced staffing.

William Clark Jr. (1798–1871)

William Clark Jr. (April 14, 1798 – January 3, 1871) was a merchant, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, and a legislator in the Republic of Texas. He is sometimes confused with his son, another Texas state legislator who was also known as William Clark Jr. (1828–1884).

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