Today in Texas History – May 3

From the Annals of the Crazed – In 1997, members of the so-called “Republic of Texas” surrendered to authorities ending an armed standoff where two people were held hostage.  The ROT movement was started by Richard McLaren, a well-known trouble-maker in west Texas, who based the claims of the ROT on his flawed research regarding the Civil War.  McLaren believed that because Texas voted to leave the Union in 1861, it still met qualifications under international law as a captive nation of the United States after being defeated in that war.  This conveniently ignored the fact that the actual Republic of Texas ceased to exist when Texas became a state in 1845.

Before the stand-off in west Texas, the ROT had split into three factions. McLaren continued to lead one group, while David Johnson and Jesse Enloe,  and Archie Lowe and Daniel Miller  led two rump movements.  In 1997, McLaren and his followers kidnapped Joe and Margaret Ann Rowe holding them hostage at the Davis Mountain Resort. McLaren demanded the release of ROT member in exchange for the release of the Rowes.  The stand-off with local police and Texas Rangers in force generated considerable media interest with more than 100 reporters and crew encamped at a roadside park near Fort Davis.  Ultimately, McLaren’s wife convinced him to surrender peacefully after a week.  After surrendering, McLaren and four other Republic of Texas members were convicted and sent to prison. Two  members of the group, Richard F. Keyes III and Mike Matson, eluded capture at first.   However, Matson was killed in a shoot-out with Texas Rangers two days later.  Keyes remained on the lam until September and was later was convicted of burglary with intent to commit aggravated assault and sentenced to 90 years in prison.

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