From the Annals of the Republic – In 1842, President Sam Houston ordered Alexander Somervell to organize the militia and volunteers and invade Mexico. The call for volunteers was answered by about 700 men who were eager to avenge punitive raids made by Mexico earlier that year. The expedition left San Antonio on November 25 capturing Laredo on December 8. The expedition quickly began to break up as approximately 185 returned home. Somervell continued on and with a little over 500 men seized Guerrero. By December 19, Somervell realized that further action would likely be disastrous and ordered his men to disband and return home by way of Gonzales. A large contingent of 308 men disobeyed the order. This group commanded by William S. Fisher continued to Mexico on the predictably ill-fated Mier Expedition. That raid ended with the capture of the majority of the expedition and execution of seventeen men.
From the Annals of the Republic – In 1836, Sam Houston was elected as the first president of the Republic of Texas. Mirabeau B. Lamar was elected as vice president. Houston defeated Stephen F. Austin and Henry Smith with 79% of the vote. Austin was initially the front-runner in the race over Smith, who had been provisional governor and a delegate at Washington-on-the-Brazos when Texas declared its independence. Despite his renown today, Austin was not widely known across Texas and his reputation had been sullied by connections to land speculator Samuel May Williams. Houston did not declare his candidacy until eleven days before the election, but once he did, victory was all but inevitable. Houston was inaugurated on October 22, 1836, replacing interim president David G. Burnet. After annexation, Houston would later serve as Texas’ senator and governor. He was the only person to have been elected governor of two different U.S. states, as well as the only state governor to have been a foreign head of state.
From the Annals of the Republic – In 1836, following winning independence from Mexico, Sam Houston was nominated to be the first president of the Republic of Texas. The nomination was placed by Phillip Sublett who had come to Texas in 1824 and settled near San Augustine. Sublett was engaged in the early conflicts of the Texas Revolution including the Battle for Bexar, but returned to his home after the Battle of Concepcion. Houston recuperated in Sublett’s home after the Battle of San Jacinto.
Houston won the election handily despite declaring his candidacy only 11 days before the election. Until that point, it seemed all but certain that Stephen F. Austin would be elected, but once the Raven entered the race, Austin’s defeat was inevitable. Austin finished third behind Houston and Henry Smith of Wharton.
Portrait of Houston by Thomas Flintoff.
From the Annals of the Border Wars – In 1842, Texas troops defeated a Mexican invasion at the battle of Lipantitlán. The battle was one of several that occurred during the early days of the Republic of Texas as Mexico attempted to reassert control. The Mexican forces were commanded by Antonio Canales Rosillo. James Davis, adjutant general of the Army of the Republic of Texas, and Capt. Ewen Cameron led a mutinous and poorly contingent. Yet the disorganized Texans succeeded in repelling the incursion.
France was the only country other than the U.S. to recognize the Republic of Texas. That led to the establishment of an embassy in Paris. The inscription still exists on a building near the Place Vendome. Christopher Dickey of the Daily Beast points that fact out to latter-day Texas secessionists and takes a look at relations between the slave dependent young republic and France during the early days of independence.
From the Annals of Diplomacy – In 1838, the United States and the Republic of Texas signed the Convention of Limits setting out the method for formalizing the disputed boundaries of the fledgling republic. Both parties to the agreement were to appoint surveyors who were to determine a boundary from a point on the Sabine River to the Red River which would form the northeastern limit of Texas. The agreement had the effect of establishing the Red River as the northern boundary and the U.S. recognized Texas claims to disputed territory along the Red River (then named Red River County which comprises the present day Bowie, Red River, Franklin, Titus, Morris, and Cass counties).
From the Annals of the Traveling Capital – In 1837, Houston became the capital of Texas two months before the community was actually incorporated as a city. The former Harrisburg had been founded by the Allen brothers only a year before and named after Gen. Sam Houston -hero of the Battle of San Jacinto. The capital remained on Buffalo Bayou until January of 1839 when Austin was approved as the new capital.
Photo of the building that served as the Capitol from mysanantonio.com.
From the Annals of the French – In keeping with this week’s museum theme, in 1956, the restored French Legation was opened to the public. The site is in East Austin adjacent to the Texas State Cemetery. France was the only country other than the United States to recognize the Republic of Texas. France sent Jean Pierre Isidore Alphonse Dubois, from the French Legation in Washington, to be the chargé d’affaires in Texas. Dubois was instructed to to remain in Austin to maintain an official presence there. The legation building was completed in 1840-1841, and probably was the finest structure in Austin at the time. Dubois entertained dignitaries (such as were available) and worked with the government to bring French settlers to Texas. After the capital was temporarily moved from Austin, the legation was abandoned. It was then occupied by the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese Galveston. Dr. Joseph W. Robertson later bought the estate where he and descendants lived 1940. In 1945, the State purchased the site and gave custody to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas who established the French Legation Museum in 1949. The DRT restored the legation building and grounds and opened the site to the public on this date in 1956. It is the oldest house in Austin.
From the Annals of Heraldry – In 1839, the Congress of the Republic of Texas adopted the Texas coat of arms. The herald is a circular shield with a white five-pointed star on an azure ground surrounded by olive and live oak branches. Upon statehood in 1845, the designation was altered from the Republic of Texas to the State of Texas.
Red understands the live oak branch and realizes that some now claim to make Texas olive oil, but it seems like a strange choice at the time.
From the Annals of Statehood – In 1845, Texas was admitted to the United States as the 28th state after the “Joint Resolution for the Admission of the State of Texas into the Union” went into effect. The Republic of Texas had lasted nine years and goes down in history among the shorter-lived experiments in representative democracy.