As an independent nation from 1836 to 1846, the Republic of Texas sent diplomatic representatives to form legations (a type of embassy) in several foreign capitals, including London, Paris and Washington, D.C.
“Gen’l Houston” engraving opposite page 354, from John M. Niles, History of South America and Mexico, with a Complete View of Texas, Hartford, Connecticut, 1838.
The Texas legation in Washington wrestled with many issues, including boundaries of Texas, relations with Mexico and Native Americans, and annexation to the United States. With the latter goal accomplished in 1845, the legation office closed. Charles Mariner, the acting Texas Secretary of State, directed that the correspondence and records of the legation be sent to Austin where they would be preserved by the state. He asked Sam Houston, newly elected U.S. Senator from Texas, to see to the matter. Instead of depositing the records in Austin, Houston took them to his home in Huntsville.
Eventually, the papers passed into the custody of Houston’s son Andrew Jackson Houston (1854-1941), and subsequently to granddaughters Ariadne and Marguerite. In 1961, the LaPorte, Texas home of the two sisters was destroyed by a fire after being severely damaged by Hurricane Carla. Fortunately, most of the historic documents inside the house were rescued from the blaze.
In 1973, the descendants of Sam Houston donated more than 4,800 of his papers to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. These records became known as the Andrew Jackson Houston Collection, in honor of Houston’s son, who had cared for the records most of his life. Among them are approximately 250 official documents created or received by the Republic of Texas legation to the United States between 1839 and 1845.
The Republic of Texas Legation Papers are returned to the people of Texas through the efforts and collaboration of the following partners:
Mary Ralph Lowe
Texas Christian University
Texas State Historical Association
Office of the Texas Attorney General
Texas State Library and Archives Commission