State Archives Unveils Exhibit on Rediscovered Papers from Republic of Texas History
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 • Austin, TX • News Release
The Texas State Archives has unveiled a new exhibit featuring rediscovered papers of the Republic of Texas Legation to the United States. This is a unique collection of documents that captures the pressing diplomatic activities of the short-lived Republic as it grappled with boundary issues, relations with Mexico, and the strenuous path to statehood in Washington, D.C.
Part of the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), the State Archives presents this exhibit in the lobby of the Lorenzo de Zavala Building, 1201 Brazos St., Austin. The public may view the exhibit in person, for free, at any time during the lobby’s operating hours, Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The public may also view part of the exhibit’s contents online at http://bit.ly/tslac-legation
As an independent nation from 1836 to 1846, the Republic of Texas sent diplomatic representatives to form a legation or diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C. The legation wrestled with many issues, among them annexation, Native American raids, and how to finance the government of a new nation. After Texas was annexed by the U.S. in December 1845, the legation office closed. Sam Houston, U.S. Senator from Texas, retained the papers instead of conveying them to the Texas Secretary of State in Austin, and they were passed down to his descendants.
In 1973 Houston’s descendants donated to TSLAC the portion of the legation papers dated from 1839 to 1845. For decades these were the only known records of the Texas legation. The earlier records dating from 1836 to 1839 remained unaccounted for until 2004, when they were offered for auction. TSLAC and the Office of the Texas Attorney General claimed these documents as official state records on behalf of the people of Texas.
Following a temporary arrangement in which the rediscovered legation papers were housed and displayed at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth for five years, the documents entered the permanent collection of the State Archives in Austin in December 2012.
Today the State Archives’ exhibit in the Lorenzo de Zavala Building lobby paints a detailed, diplomatic picture of a struggling new nation. Highlights include an 1836 letter from Stephen F. Austin (Republic of Texas Secretary of State) to the Texas ambassador in D.C., stating that Mexican General Santa Anna has left for D.C. and that copies of the public and secret versions of the Treaty of Velasco are enclosed.
An 1838 letter from the U.S. Secretary of State to Anson Jones notifies the Republic of Texas President that the U.S. received notification that Texas withdrew its proposition to be annexed by the U.S.
In a letter dated March 1, 1838, Samuel F. B. Morse offers the Republic of Texas the exclusive use of the telegraph he invented.
Other documents deal with a variety of topics, including boundary issues, Native American raids, and the Texas Navy.
The Republic of Texas Legation Papers will remain on exhibit until August 30, 2013.
PDF of “Republic of Texas Legation Papers,” a detailed exhibit summary.
Captions 1 and 2: Stephen F. Austin to William H. Wharton, November 25, 1836, stating that Santa Anna has left for Washington, D.C. and that copies of the public and secret versions of the Treaty of Velasco are enclosed.
Caption 3: Samuel F. B. Morse to Memucan Hunt, March 1, 1838, offering the Republic of Texas the exclusive use of the telegraph he invented.