From the Annals of the Republic – In 1842, sailors and marines stationed on the Texas Navy schooner San Antonio mutinied. The SA was anchored in the Mississippi River at New Orleans at the time. Most of the officers were allowed shore leave but sailors and marines were confined aboard because of fear of desertion. Some enterprising New Orleans citizen smuggled liquor to the ensconced sailors and marines who under marine sergeant Seymour Oswalt, began an unsuccessful mutiny demanding shore leave. Lt. Charles Fuller ordered the marine guard to stand ground at which point Oswalt attacked Fuller with a tomahawk. In the ensuing fight, Lt. Fuller was shot and killed. Most of the mutineers fled the ship where they were captured and placed in jail in New Orleans. Louisiana refused to extradite them back to Texas, but a few mutineers who had not escaped the ship met a different fate. The head of the Texas Navy, Commodore Edwin Moore court-martialed some of the remaining mutineers. Three were sentenced to flogging, and four were hanged from the yardarm of the Austin on April 6, 1843. Sgt. Oswalt himself escaped from jail in New Orleans and was never brought to justice. Shortly afterward, the San Antonio was dispatched to Campeche but was lost at sea.
From the Annals of Racism – In 1840, the Congress of the Republic of Texas determined that the presence of any more free black citizens in the Republic was utterly intolerable. As such, the Congress passed the racist Law of February 5. These legislators (which included many of the founding fathers of the Republic) were apparently concerned that the presence of any more than the very few free blacks in the Republic would somehow affect the status of slavery. And after all, the protection of slavery had been a major motivating force for the revolution as slavery was outlawed in Mexico in 1829 by its partially black President Vicente Guerrero. The law declared that all free blacks who had entered Texas after the Texas Declaration of Independence must leave the Republic within two years or be declared slaves for the rest of their lives. Free blacks already in the Republic before Texas independence would continue to have all the rights of their white neighbors – which in practice they did not.
From the Annals of Heraldry – In 1839, the Republic of Texas Congress adopted the Texas national seal consisting of a five point white star on a sky blue background ringed by olive and live oak branches. The Republic’s seal has been modernized but has remained essentially the same to date. When Texas became a state in 1845, the words encircling the main elements were changed from Republic of Texas to State of Texas.
From the Annals of Medicine – In 1837, the Congress of the Republic of Texas established the Board of Medical Censors and authorized it to grant licenses to practice medicine and surgery in the republic. The BMC was composed of one physician from each senatorial district who were graduates of medicine and surgery from accredited colleges and universities. Prospective physicians had to pass a test and pay a $20 license fee. Unlicensed physicians were prohibited from collected unpaid fees in Texas courts. The board was to meet once each year but that proved difficult in frontier Texas. The BMC was disbanded upon statehood and the function is now performed by the Board of Medical Examiners.
From the Annals of “Gunboat” Diplomacy – In 1841, a flotilla of three ships from the Navy of the Republic of Texas left Galveston to provide support for the province of Yucatán in its rebellion against Mexico. Edwin Ward Moore was the commander-in-chief of the Texas Navy. Moore had earlier sailed along the Mexican coast in a failed attempt to speed up peace negotiations between the Republic of Texas and Mexico. Moore returned to Texas and President Mirabeau B. Lamar signed a treaty with the Mexican state of Yucatan to lease of the Texas navy for $8,000 per month and to protect their ports from being a Mexican Navy blockade. Moore’s ships joined the small fleet of the State of Yucatan under the command of former Texas Navy officer Captain James D. Boylan.
The Yucatan rebellion (also known as the Caste War of Yucatan) itself is an interesting and rarely mentioned part of Mexican history. The indigenous Mayans more or less held control of large parts of the Yucatan peninsula for more than 50 years despite numerous efforts by Mexico to assert control.
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.
From the Annals of the Code Duello – In 1837, to Generals of the Texas Army faced off in a duel for command of the Army. Brig. Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston was wounded in the pelvis by Brig. Gen. Felix Huston. President Sam Houston had ordered Johnston to replace Huston as commander of the Texas Army. Huston had attracted a large group of adventurers and undisciplined troops to the Army and Sam Houston believed that under his command the Army would not be able to repel the seemingly imminent invasion from Mexico. Huston was offended by the lack of confidence in his leadership. Even though he professed admiration for ASJ, he felt compelled to challenge him to a duel. Observers claimed that Johnston refused to fire. Johnston’s wound was so severe that he was unable to take command. Some believe that his wound in the duel caused nerve damage such that he was unable to detect that he had been shot during the Battle of Shiloh. ASJ died after the battle from loss of blood – his wound had not been fatal. Huston eventually moved to New Orleans where he opened a law practice and became an ardent secessionist.
From the Annals of the Highways – In 1844, the Congress of the Republic of Texas authorized a commission to oversee the construction of the Central National Road. The CNR was planned to run from the Elm Fork of the Trinity River to Kiomatia Crossing on the Red River in far northeast Texas. It was intended to become part of a larger international highway ultimately connecting San Antonio to St. Louis. The Congress provided that the CNR was to be at least 30 feet wide with no tree stumps taller than 12 inches from the ground. Bridges were to be at least 15 feet wide and built of good substantial materials. The project was to be paid for with public land grants to contractors building the road. The rate was to be 160 acres of land for every mile constructed.
The commissioners chose George Stell of Paris, Texas, as surveyor for the project. Surveying work began in April 1844. Stell and his assistant traveled northeast, measuring and marking the exact route, which passed through the present counties of Dallas, Rockwall, Collin, Hunt, Fannin, Lamar and Red River. The route largely utilized existing prairies and natural stream crossings – avoiding densely wooded areas and river crossing requiring bridges. It is unclear if construction was ever completed. The CNR appears to have been short-lived and was replaced by the Preston Road and other early routes.
From the Annals of the Abolitionists – In 1844, President Sam Houston granted an empresario contract to abolitionist Charles Fenton Mercer to establish a colony in the Republic of Texas. A Virginia native, CFM had a distinguished career as an Lt. Colonel of a Virginia regiment in the War of 1812, member of the Virginia House of Delegates, U.S. Congressman for over 20 years, and head of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Co. He was a dedicated abolitionist and instrumental in attempting to resettle free African-Americans in Africa – a now discredited belief as a solution to slavery among many abolitionists of the time. After retiring from public service, Mercer became interested in obtaining an empresario license in Texas – making seven trips to the new nation. Houston granted him a contract for a colony east of Peter’s Colony but only after vetoing a bill that would have restricted the President’s rights in that regard. Mercer’s contract was always controversial because of his well-known abolitionist sentiments. Nonetheless, he organized the Texas Association and began selling shares for $500 each. By the end of the year, more than 100 families had complied with the requirements of his contract and received land certificates. Land disputes and court cases, however, proved top be too much of a burden on Mercer’s time and finances. In 1852 he assigned his interest in the contract to George Hancock of Kentucky and other members of the Texas Association, receiving in return an annuity of $2,000.
From the Annals of the Treaties – In 1845, the Republic of Texas signed its final Indian treaty. The agreement came at the end of the Tehuacana Creek Councils, which had commenced in the spring of 1843. Pioneer Jesse Chisholm had worked to convince a number of Indian groups, including the Caddos, Tawakonis, Delawares, Lipan Apaches, and Tonkawas, to meet on the Tehuacana Creek near the Torrey Brothers trading post south of Waco.
The next council met at Fort Bird on the Trinity River in the fall of 1843. These councils resulted in a peace treaty between the Republic and the Wacos and Caddos. The failure to reach an accord with the Comanche caused President Sam Houston to call another council to meet at Tehuacana Creek in April 1844. The Comanche were yet again missing. In October 9, 1844, Houstonnegotiated a treaty with a part of the southern Comanche, Kichais, Waco, Caddos, Anadarkos, Hainais, Delawares, Shawnees, Cherokees, Lipan Apaches, and Tawakonis. At the November 1845 council the Wacos, Tawakonis, Kichais, and Wichitas agreed to the treaty of October 9, 1844. The Comanche continued fighting for another 30 years.