An Independent Republic
Independence was not the universal aim of the revolution that began with the Battle of Gonzales on October 2, 1835. Once it was decided that the path forward for Texas was not as a Mexican state but as its own nation, the General Council of the Provisional Government called for a meeting of delegates on March 1, 1836, at Washington-on-the-Brazos. The Convention of 1836 first outlined the grievances against Mexico in the Declaration of Independence, signed on March 2, and two weeks later described the guidelines of governance in the first Constitution of the Republic of Texas. Written and adopted in haste, the Texas Constitution was a product of the social and economic conditions of the time as well as the legal heritage of Texas, the southern United States, and Mexico. Large sections of the U.S. Constitution along with some aspects of Spanish and Mexican law were incorporated into the document. The constitution was ratified by Texas voters in September 1836.
Texas Declaration of Independence, 1836. Broadside. Mirabeau B. Lamar Papers, #344. TSLAC.
View larger image of The Texas Declaration of Independence, 1836 on our Texas Digital Archive site.
Declaración del Pueblo de Tejas, November 7, 1835. Broadside and Ephemera Collection #497. TSLAC. In November 1835, a Consultation of 58 delegates from Texas municipalities met at San Felipe de Austin to create an interim government. Members named Sam Houston commander in chief and Henry Smith governor. With the help of Lorenzo de Zavala, the group wrote the Declaración del Pueblo de Tejas (Declaration to the People of Texas), which expressed the issues Texans had with the Mexican government. The document was published as a broadside. Broadsides were a communication tool printed and widely distributed to be posted in public locations.
Lorenzo de Zavala, undated. People Collection, 1/102-135. Prints and Photographs. TSLAC. Manuel Lorenzo Justiniano de Zavala y Sáenz (1788-1836) was born in the Mexican state of Yucatán and after his education became involved in government. De Zavala was a Federalist who believed in democracy and was in and out of favor with the Mexican government depending on who was in leadership. He was influential in the Texas Revolution in a variety of ways, including contributing to and translation the Declaración del Pueblo de Tejas, serving as translator between Santa Anna and the Texas government, helping draft the constitution, and was elected vice president of the ad interim government of the republic. He died in 1836 of pneumonia.
Republic of Texas Declaration of Independence, 1836. Manuscript. TSLAC. This original handwritten document was once on continuous display in an alcove at the Texas Capitol after Secretary of State Jane McCallum pulled it from the vault in 1927. In the interest of securing the document and protecting the manuscript from the harm caused by the environment, the Texas Declaration of Independence was moved to the State Archives. View all pages of the Republic of Texas Declaration of Independence. Click or tap thumbnail images to view larger version.
George Childress, photo of miniature on ivory, undated. Prints and Photographs, 1/48. TSLAC. George Campbell Childress (1804-1841) was a lawyer and newspaper editor credited with authoring the 1836 Texas Declaration of Independence. Childress represented the Milam Municipality at the Convention of 1836 and chaired the committee to write the declaration. He went on to serve as a diplomat for the republic to Washington, DC, and opened law offices in Texas. Childress County is named in his honor.
In This Exhibit: Document Spotlight: The Nacogdoches Archives / Treaties of the Republic
Stephen F. Austin and Anglo-American Texas | Art of the Revolution | An Independent Republic
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