What If Texas
Archives reveal not only why past decisions and actions were taken; they also show opportunities lost, roads not taken, and plans unfulfilled. Researchers and the public alike benefit from the documents demonstrating what happened as well as those framing what might have been.
Samuel F.B. Morse to Memucan Hunt, March 1, 1838. Texas Legation (U.S.) Correspondence, 2006/385-6, pages 517-520, Front of Page and Back of Page. Samuel F.B. Morse to Governor Sam Houston, August 9, 1860. Sam Houston Letter, 2-23/1059, Front of Page and Back of Page.
In 1838, Samuel Morse offered to give the Republic of Texas exclusive rights to his Electro-Magnetic Telegraph. Texas never acted on that offer, so in 1860, Morse revoked it. Morse’s device allowed for the simple transmission of complex messages across telegraph lines and by 1866, a line stretched across the Atlantic Ocean from the U.S. to Europe. The telegraph laid the groundwork for the communications revolution that led to later innovations like the telephone, fax machine and Internet. Selected by Jelain Chubb, Texas State Archivist. How might our history and our methods of communications have changed, if Texas had taken Morse up on his offer? Click or tap on thumbnails and links for larger images.
Although Texas expected annexation to the United States, it spent nine years as an independent nation because of Union opposition to adding another slaveholding state. With Mexico hoping to reclaim Texas, the Republic turned to other foreign powers, such as Britain, to help maintain peace. While Britain did so for economic gain, it also sought to end slavery in Texas, which is discussed in this letter by Ashbel Smith, the Texian charge d’affairs in London. Selected by Richard Gilreath, Reference Archivist. Had Texas remained independent and entered the orbit of the British Empire, the history of North America may have looked very different. Click or tap on thumbnail and links for larger images.
On November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas. The holdings of the Texas State Archives include the program, tickets, and speeches that President Kennedy was to give in Austin the day after his assassination. Selected by the Exhibits Committee. Click or tap on thumbnails for larger images.
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