In Recognition of Texans Who Worked for Equality

In less than 200 years Texas has evolved from a fledging republic to one of the most powerful states in the Union, and easily the most recognizable of them all. Texans have witnessed and fought in the struggle for independence and peace on the frontier and continue to make strides toward racial and gender equality.

The State Archives hold documents and photographs that are integral to documenting our state's social and political history, illustrating the heroic efforts of early Texas settlers, the consequences of Indian and Mexican conflicts, demands for civil rights for African-Americans and Tejanos, and the campaign for women's suffrage.

Our collective future depends upon our ability to preserve and re-examine these records of the past, so that we may see how much closer we have come to equality and what challenges remain.

Tejanos Demand Inclusion in the Republic of Texas

While Tejanos—Texans of Mexican descent—were an important faction in the fight for independence in 1836, the Texas Revolution was largely led by Anglo American immigrants. In the new Republic of Texas, Tejanos found that they constituted a subordinate minority of the population.

Only three of the 56 men who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836, were Hispanic. Two were Tejanos—José Antonio Navarro and his uncle, José Francisco Ruiz. The third was Lorenzo de Zavala, a Mexican liberal who had recently moved to Texas. Zavala went on to serve as the vice president of the republic.

Throughout the time that Texas existed as a republic, only four Tejanos from the Bexar district ever succeeded in gaining election to the Texas Congress. These were Navarro, Ruiz, Juan N. Seguín, and Rafael de la Garza. Language differences and limited educational and economic opportunities further contributed to the marginalization of Tejanos.

Laws of the Republic of Texas were predominately written and disseminated in English, thereby excluding those who spoke and understood only the Spanish language. Seguín's efforts in the Texas Congress led to the passing of a bill that assured the translation of laws into Castilian Spanish.

Muster rolls provided proof of militia service to the Republic of Texas by Tejano men. The one featured here was created by the captain of the company, Antonio Menchaca, as a result of the frustration experienced by many Tejanos in their attempts to claim pensions for their service.

Juan N. Seguín wrote a letter in support of José Almeda's pension claim for service to the Republic of Texas. Almeda served at the Siege of Bexar.

Political underrepresentation continued when Texas formally joined the Union in 1845. Navarro, the only Tejano delegate to the constitutional convention, aggressively fought against early drafts of the constitution that sought the disenfranchisement of the Tejano community.

Letter from Juan N. Seguín to the Texas Comptroller, December 5, 1874. Claim of José Almeda, Republic pension records, Texas Comptroller's Office claim records, 304-383.

 

Guides to archival collections with materials related to early Tejano demands for inclusion:

Memorials and petitions, Texas Legislature, 1836-1937. Card file. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. These records are also available through Ancestry.com as Texas, Memorials and Petitions, 1834-1929. https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/ancestry

This database contains petitions and similar correspondence made to the State of Texas. They include requests for action on civic matters and for aid. You might find documents addressing town incorporations, judicial district changes, appropriations, stock laws, liquor levies, requests for bridges, poor relief, divorce, permission for free blacks to settle in the state, and myriad other items.

Republic pension records, Texas Comptroller's Office claim records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission:

Republic Claims - https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/repclaims/repintro.html

The Republic Claims series of Comptroller's records includes claims for payment, reimbursement, or restitution submitted by citizens to the Republic of Texas government from 1835 through 1846. It also includes records relating to Republic pensions and claims against the Republic submitted as public debt claims after 1846. The files include supporting documents such as vouchers, financial accounts, military records, receipts, notes, or letters.

Texas Adjutant General’s Department records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission:

Army papers - https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/30002/tsl-30002.html

These records include correspondence, reports, orders, legislation, President's proclamations, certifications, contracts, bonds, powers of attorney, letters of credit, receipts, requisitions, vouchers, invoices, IOUs, promissory notes, bills, abstracts, statements, accounts current, returns of public property, returns of ordnance, estimates of funds required, statements of appropriations, inventories of stores and munitions, receipt rolls for employees, bills of lading, lists of notes and monies due, bank drafts, travel vouchers, and lists of stoppages. This subgroup comprises the army correspondence of the Republic of Texas, and records of each of the departments under the Secretary of War: Quartermaster, Subsistence, Ordnance, Purchases, Medical, and Pay, and the Commission for Fortifying Galveston Island. Records date 1835-1846.

Navy papers - https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/30003/tsl-30003.html

These records include correspondence (letters, reports, jacket covers, transcripts, and a journal), requisitions, receipts, invoices, bills, vouchers, surveys of damaged supplies, returns (of provisions, slops and small stores, ships equipment and furniture), statements of disbursements, accounts current, claims, suspended claims, receipt rolls for the payment of advances, invoices of merchandise purchased and shipped, IOUs, statements of purchases at auction, estimates of funds required, registers of Treasury Certificates issued to officers and men for services in the Navy, auditors certificates (letters of credit), abstracts of provisions and cash received, abstracts of suspended vouchers, statements of travelling expenses, and abstracts of claims. They comprise navy correspondence, pursers' records, and other financial records created by, for, or because of the Navy of the Republic of Texas. Dates covered are 1835-1847, 1852, 1855 (bulk 1836-1846).

Ranger records - https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/30027/tsl-30027.html

These comprise the records of the various military organizations known—formally or informally—as "Texas Rangers": Republic Rangers (1839-1846), pre-Civil War Rangers/Mounted Volunteers/Minute Men (1846-1862, and undated), Minute Men (1865-1866 and 1872-1874, undated), Frontier Forces (1870-1874), Frontier Men (1874), Frontier Battalion (1874-1901), Special State Troops/Special Force (1874-1881), and Ranger Force (1901-1935, thereafter administered by the Texas Department of Public Safety). Records include correspondence, monthly returns, scouting reports, records of arrests, and quartermaster records, dating 1839-1975, undated, bulk 1854-1918.

Republic of Texas military rolls - https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/30072/tsl-30072.html

These records consist of muster rolls, payrolls, receipt rolls, and lists of officers and/or men, for the various military and para-military organizations of the Republic of Texas. They date 1835-1846, and undated. Except for some of the Republic rolls which were drawn up after the fact, these military rolls were compiled at the time, usually by the company commanders. The information contained on the rolls varies considerably.

Texas Secretary of State’s Office records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission:

Department of State election returns - https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/30102/tsl-30102.html

The only duty of the Secretary of State specified by the Constitution of 1836 was to receive "returns of all elections for officers who are to be commissioned by the President" (General Provisions, Section 2). These records include election returns, voter lists, poll lists, resignations, notifications of death, appointments to fill vacancies, and associated correspondence. They comprise the county-by-county returns of general, special, and contested elections for Republic of Texas offices, district offices, and county and occasionally municipal offices, plus elections for constitutional and other issues (e.g., annexation of Texas into the United States). Dates covered are 1835-1845.

General correspondence of the Department of State, Republic of Texas - https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/30181/tsl-30181.html

Domestic correspondence, home letters, and correspondence relating to domestic affairs were all created and/or collected by the Texas Department of State, later office of the Secretary of State, during the normal course of business (mostly excluding diplomatic and consular business), and document the non-diplomatic functions of the Department of State of the Republic of Texas, and the Secretary of State's office of the State of Texas. The records date 1822-1859, undated, bulk 1835-1846.

Executive record books - http://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/30057/tsl-30057.html

Each constitution of the State of Texas has required the Texas Secretary of State to keep a fair register of all official acts and proceedings of the Texas Governor and to provide these to the legislature when required. Types of records contained in executive record books include correspondence (mostly outgoing) of the Presidents of the Republic of Texas and Governors of the state, primarily with other Texas and U.S. officials; inaugural and valedictory addresses; executive messages; Indian treaties; proclamations; appointments and resignations; passports; pardons and remissions; extraditions; rewards; reports of state agencies; etc. Some Department of State (later Secretary of State) records are also present, consisting primarily of election returns. These records comprise the executive record books maintained by the Texas Secretary of State, dating 1835-1917.

Jose Antonio Baldomero Navarro documents. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Photocopies of documents pertaining to Jose Antonio Baldomero Navarro of Bexar County, Texas, including legal depositions, the will of Alexander LeRay de Chaumont (accepted by Navarro), and an itemized bill for provisions. The original records were created in 1837, 1840 and 1844. Navarro was a leading Hispanic participant in the Texas revolution.

Jose Antonio Baldomero Navarro papers. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Collection consists of photocopies and typescripts of legal papers and correspondence of Jose Antonio Navarro. The original records are dated 1837-1853.

Juan N. Seguin papers. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Collection consists of correspondence, military rolls, bills of lading, a biographical sketch and a clipping relating to Juan Seguin, Republic of Texas political and military affairs, and the Second Regiment Texas Volunteers, dating 1836-1840, 1872, 1917.

Texans Fight for Civil Rights

Douglass, Neal. [Heman] Sweatt in UT Registration, photograph, September 19, 1950; ( https://www.texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth33840/m1/1/ : accessed June 4, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://www.texashistory.unt.edu ; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public LibraryDouglass, Neal. [Heman] Sweatt in UT Registration, photograph, September 19, 1950; (https://www.texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth33840/m1/1/ : accessed June 4, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://www.texashistory.unt.edu ; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.
 

On June 5, 1950, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Heman Sweatt and opened the door for him to register at the University of Texas School of Law the following fall. Sweatt’s case was an important step in overcoming state segregation of public universities and helped paved the way for the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka verdict, which ruled that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.

The state of Texas operated segregated universities, and African Americans were only allowed entry if a “separate-but-equal” alternative for black students was not available. In response to the Sweatt lawsuit against UT, the state established in 1947 the Texas University for Negroes in Houston as such an alternative. Sweatt and his attorneys took his case to the United States Supreme Court as an argument against segregation.

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission preserves the archive of the state government of Texas and collections of Texas public officials. See below for a list of resources related to Heman Sweatt and his court cases.





 

Guides to archival collections with materials related to Heman Sweatt:

Texas Attorney General Price Daniel records. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission: https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/10264/tsl-10264.html

Texas Governor Price Daniel records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission: https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/10282/tsl-10282.html

U.S. Senator Price Daniel papers. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission: https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/10267/tsl-10267.html

Records, Texas Governor Beauford H. Jester. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission: https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/10240/tsl-10240.html

Campaign files, Records, Texas Governor Allan Shivers. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission: https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/10245/tsl-10245.html

Records, Texas Governor Coke R. Stevenson. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission: https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/10266/tsl-10266.html

Publications in the Commission’s library collections:

Barr, Alwin, and Robert A Calvert. Black Leaders: Texans for Their Times. Austin, TX: Texas State Historical, 1994. [TSLAC Call#: 920 B561]

Lavergne, Gary M. Before Brown: Herman Marion Sweatt, Thurgood Marshall, and the Long Road to Justice. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010. [TSLAC Call#: Z UA380.8 L388BE]

Painter, Theophilus S., Heman Marion Sweatt, and Price Daniel. In the Supreme Court of the United States. October Term, 1949. No. 44. Heman Marion Sweatt, Petitioner, v. Theophilus Shickel Painter, Et Al., Respondents: Brief for Respondents. United States: publisher not identified, 1949. [TSLAC Call#: 378.764 P166I]

Shabazz, Amilcar. Advancing Democracy African Americans and the Struggle for Access and Equity in Higher Education in Texas. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2014. [TSLAC Call #: 378.1 SH11a]

For more information on access to materials at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, please contact SamHoustonCenter@tsl.texas.gov or 936-336-8821. For archival collections and publications at the State Archives in Austin, please contact our Reference staff at ref@tsl.texas.gov or 512-463-5455.

Page last modified: June 25, 2020