Texas Legation Records (1836-1845)
The Texas Legation Records are a collection of some 250 documents created and received by the officials who maintained the official Texas Legation at Washington, D. C., from Dec. 1836 until Dec. 1845, when Texas was annexed into the United States. The records comprising the collection cover primarily the years 1836 to 1839 and consist mainly of the dispatches that passed between the Texan Government and its commissioners and chargés d’affaires at Washington, and of the notes exchanged by that Government and the United States chargés in Texas.
Through the efforts of a number of state entities, organizations and individuals, this collection, which had been in private hands since 1845, came home to the Texas State Archives in 2006.
Under the terms of their return, the Legation papers have been on loan to Texas Christian University since their return to state custody. The Legation papers will return to their permanent home, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, in January 2013.
Contact the Public Information Office for more information.
The Texas Legation Records contain about 250 documents. Many of the original documents in the collection have never been seen by scholars or the general public. Of particular importance are the original copies of specific general and private orders that were signed and sent by then Secretary of State Stephen F. Austin to Texas Chargés d’Affaires William H. Wharton instructing him on how he was to proceed with gaining the official recognition of the independence of Texas and the annexation of the country to the United States. Another extremely significant document is a copy of the Treaties of Velasco signed three weeks following the defeat of the Mexican forces at the Battle of San Jacinto. Other documents deal with a variety of topics including boundary issues, Native Americans, relations with Mexico, the Texas Navy, and financial arrangements for loans, bonds, etc.
Based on records in the State Archives, following the close of the Legation Office in 1845, the newly elected U. S. Senator Sam Houston was directed to “obtain control over the books, papers, etc. belonging to the Legation of the late Republic of Texas” that had been placed with the Office of the U. S. Adjutant General in Washington, D.C., following the close of the Legation. Houston did acquire custody of the records but, rather than depositing them with the Texas Secretary of State in Austin, he took them to his home. The records were passed down to Sam Houston’s son, A. J. Houston, and at an undetermined time came to be in the custody of other individuals. The records survived Hurricane Carla and a house fire in 1961.
In March 2006 the Texas State Historical Association was offered the opportunity to auction the right of a donor to select a state-approved institution to exhibit and provide researcher access to the collection for five years in accordance with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s rules for the loan and exhibition of state archives. The collection has been conserved through the efforts of private donors and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The documents were placed at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, for five years, beginning winter 2006. Following the end of their loan to TCU, the Legation records will return to the Commission for permanent retention in the Texas State Archives.
We've selected a few documents to highlight here; however, all of the documents in the Texas Legation Records will be digitized. For additional information, contact 512-463-5514. Please credit the Texas State Library and Archives Commission when reproducing the images.
Signed and certified copies of the public and private Treaties of Velasco, signed by David Burnet and Santa Anna, following the defeat of the Mexican forces at the battle of San Jacinto (Nov. 18, 1836). Credit line: "From the collections of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission."
Letter from W.F. Delano to William H. Wharton, describing and providing a diagram of a new type of cannon shell. He offers it for the use of the Texas Army and Navy (Mar. 1837). Credit line: "From the collections of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission."
This letter is a good example of the conservation work being performed to preserve burned documents. The burned edge has been stabilized with a special backing to prevent the paper from flaking away. This kind of conservation work is very expensive, and a generous donor underwrote the cost to conserve the burned documents in this collection.
Letter from J. Pinckney Henderson to William H. Wharton and Memucan Hunt, ordering them to negotiate with Santa Anna for an exchange of prisoners (Jan. 12, 1837). Credit line: "From the collections of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission."