The Convention of 1836 was the meeting of elected delegates in Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas in March 1836. The Texas Revolution had begun five months previously, and the interim government, known as the Consultation, had wavered over whether to declare independence from Mexico or pledge to uphold the repudiated Mexican Constitution of 1824. Unlike those of previous Texas councils, delegates to the Convention of 1836 were younger, more recent arrivals to Texas, and more adamant on the question of independence. As delegates prepared to convene, Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna led a large army into Texas to quell the revolt; the vanguard of this army arrived at San Antonio de Bexar on February 23.
The Convention was called to order on March 1, and the following day adopted the Texas Declaration of Independence, written by George Childress. Delegates elected an interim government, led by President David G. Burnet and developed a Texas Constitution, which they based primarily on the Constitution of the United States. On March 6 they received a missive from the Texan soldiers besieged at the Alamo, and delegate and commander-in-chief Sam Houston narrowly persuaded the men to continue their work on the constitution rather than rush to aid the 69 soldiers. After the Alamo fell, Santa Anna's army marched towards Washington-on-the-Brazos, prompting the new government to flee.
The Texas Revolution began October 31, 1835 with the Battle of Gonzales. The following month, previously elected delegates convened in a body known as the Consultation. These delegates served as a temporary governing body for Texas, as they struggled with the 420 questions of whether Texans were fighting for independence from Mexico or the reimplementation of the Mexican Constitution of 1824, which offered greater freedoms than the current dictatorship. Many Consultation members wished to defer independence until the United States was persuaded to support their struggle.The Consultation quickly degenerated into near anarchy, with the interim legislature indicting the interim Governor, who promptly disbanded the legislature.
On December 10, the Council passed a resolution calling for a new convention of delegates, to convene on March 1, 1836.There was no consensus among Council members as to what the new convention should accomplish. Some wanted the convention to form a new government for Texas, and others insisted on the preservation of the Mexican Constitution of 1824. One of the Consultation delegates wrote to Sam Houston that "I sincerely hope the Convention will remedy the existing evils and calm the Public since if not Texas must be lost."
Over the next few months, the provisional government of Texas essentially collapsed. By February, most Consultation members had returned home or to the army.
By the end of 1835, no Mexican troops remained in Texas.As early as October, however, Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had been making plans to quell the unrest in Texas. He stepped down from his duties as president to lead what he dubbed the Army of Operations in Texas, which would put an end to the Texas revolt. Personally leading his forces, Santa Anna crossed the Rio Grande on February 12. Santa Anna and his advance force arrived in San Antonio de Bexar on February 23 and immediately initiated a siege of the Texas forces garrisoned at the Alamo.
Elections were scheduled for February 1, 1836. There was much disagreement throughout Texas as to whether voting rights should extend to Tejanos or recent arrivals from the United States who had joined the Army of the People. The Consultation had specified that voting rights would be extended to all Tejanos "opposed to a Central Government" and indicated that army volunteers could only vote by proxy in their home districts. This bill was vetoed by provisional governor Smith, who believed that no Tejanos should be allowed to vote.In an editorial, the Telegraph and Texas Register echoed the concerns of many that the newly arrived recruits "cannot be acquainted either with the state of the country or the character and pretensions of the candidates" and advocated a residency requirement. Because the army was concentrated in only two areas, their numbers often overwhelmed those of the local residents.
The Consultation reorganized the voting districts; San Augustine, Harrisburg, and Gonzales each received four fewer delegates than in the past, and Milam received three fewer delegates.With little actual guidance from the Consultation, voting in each municipality was subject to local traditions. In some areas, such as the Jackson district, citizens held a meeting in January to determine if they were for independence or federalism. Once consensus was reached that they wanted independence, only candidates who agreed with that platform were considered. Other areas offered no actual choice; in Mina, the only candidates to run for office were the local empresario , Sterling C. Robertson, and his nephew, George C. Childress. For most of the region, however, candidates engaged in lively debate about either the issues or the personalities of their opponents.
The soldiers who had flocked to the army were determined to vote, regardless of how long they had actually been in Texas or whether they intended to stay. In at least one instance, in Matagorda, soldiers who had been discharged from service voted in the election while they were en route to the United States.There was no consistency in how the votes of active volunteers were handled. In Goliad, soldiers held their own election for two delegates. In nearby San Patricio, locals refused to allow the soldiers to vote; their results were later overturned by the Convention. Soldiers turned away in Refugio simply held their own election.
In the Nacogdoches district, soldiers under Sidney Sherman threatened violence after they were turned away from the polling place. Sherman vowed that he "had come to Texas to fight for it and has as soon commence in the town of Nacogdoches as elsewhere."Anxious to avoid an armed fight, election judges asked the public to vote on whether the troops should be allowed to vote. The soldiers lost by 30 votes, yet refused to back down, insisting that the voting had been rigged. Finally, one of the candidates, Thomas Jefferson Rusk, talked the judges into allowing the soldiers to vote. In the final results in Nacogdoches, Rusk and one other pro-independence candidate, Robert Potter, were named delegates, along with pro-federalist candidates John S. Roberts and Charles S. Taylor.
A similar melee was avoided in Bexar, where army commander James C. Neill worked out a compromise with local civilian authorities. The garrison held their own election to name two delegates, while Bexar citizens - primarily Tejanos - who took an oath of allegiance to the provisional government could elect an additional 4 men. The two men almost unanimously elected by the garrison, Samuel Maverick and Jesse Badgett were staunch supporters of independence. Several soldiers also received votes in the locals' election, although the final delegates were locals. Soldier Amos Pollard threatened that if the locals did not vote for independence, they might want to rethink the idea of coming home.
This convention differed from the previous Texas councils of 1832, 1833, and the Consultation. Many of the delegates to the 1836 convention were young men who had only recently arrived in Texas, although many of them had participated in one of the battles in 1835. Most of the delegates were members of the War Party and were adamant that Texas must declare its independence from Mexico.
A total of 59 delegates were elected to the Convention, 5 more than were supposed to attend. This was largely due to the extra elections soldiers had conducted.Over one-third of the delegates came from extreme east or west Texas, areas not represented at the Consultation. Five delegates attended from the Red River district, an area disputed between Texas and the United States (and now considered part of Arkansas). The delegates were largely new to politics; only 13 of them had taken part in the Consultation, 7 in the Conventions of 1832 or 1833, and only 8 had held local office during Mexican rule. Fewer than 20% of the delegates had participated in the 1835 Committees of Safety. Neither the governor, Smith, or the acting governor, Robinson, were elected as delegates to the Convention. Notably, a few delegates did have extensive public service experience. Lorenzo de Zavala was a former governor of Texas, and Jose Antonio Navarro had served in the Mexican legislature. Potter, Childress, Richard Ellis and Samuel Price Carson each had significant political experience in the United States.
The average age of the Convention delegates was 37.4, over a year younger than those elected to the Consultation. They had lived in Texas an average of 4 years, a relatively low length of time considering that this included two men - Jose Francisco Ruiz and Navarro - who had been born in Texas. A full quarter of the delegates had lived in Texas less than a year, and 42% for less than two years.
The army's influence was obvious. Forty percent of the delegates (24 men) had served in the army in October–December 1835. Four other delegates were directly related to men serving in the army. These numbers meant the army bloc was just shy of a majority of delegates, ensuring that the army's needs would actually be addressed this time.
Forty-one delegates arrived in Washington-on-the-Brazos on February 28.The convention was convened on March 1 with Richard Ellis as president.
The delegates assigned George Childress to lead a committee of five to draft a Declaration of Independence. Childress, the nephew of empresario Sterling C. Robertson, had been elected to the Convention three weeks after his arrival in Texas. The committee submitted its draft within a mere 24 hours, leading historians to speculate that Childress had written much of it before his arrival at the Convention. The declaration was approved on March 2 with no debate. Based primarily on the writings of John Locke and Thomas Jefferson, the declaration proclaimed that the Mexican government "ceased to protect the lives, liberty, and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived" and complained about "arbitrary acts of oppression and tyranny". The declaration officially established the Republic of Texas.
Shortly after adopting the declaration of independence, the delegates began to work on a new Constitution. It drew heavily from the United States Constitution and included a declaration of rights (similar to the Bill of Rights) which guaranteed due process, the right of every citizen to bear arms, and freedom of religion, speech, and press. The declaration of rights also outlawed unreasonable search and seizure, debtors' prison, and cruel or unusual punishments.It omitted the Third Amendment to the United States Constitution and instead explicitly authorized the government to quarter troops in private homes and impress property as needed for the war effort.
In a departure from the traditional Texas justice system, the Constitution called for grand jury indictments and speedy public trials with juries. Unlike the United States Constitution, however, the Texas Constitution codified racism. Free blacks were forbidden permanent residence in Texas without consent of Congress, and citizenship could not be granted to Africans, their descendants, or Native Americans. Furthermore, the Constitution forbade the future Texas Congress from emancipating slaves, and instructed slaveholders not to emancipate their own slaves without Congress's consent.Citizenship was granted only to white men. The new Constitution specifically stated that governmental authority derived from the people, who thus had the right to revolt to change their government.
The largest debates centered around land policy, as delegates struggled to balance the competing claims of natives, settlers, army volunteers, and colonizers.Every single proposal for a new land policy was sent back to committee or defeated, until the very last day. The new policy benefited settlers and army volunteers, ensuring they would get the land promised when they emigrated. All surveys completed before November 1835 were validated, and any issued since - when the land offices were supposed to be closed - were vacated. All further surveys were banned until the new Congress could establish a land office. Additionally, three controversial land grants were overturned.
On the morning of March 6, the Convention received a letter, dated March 3, from Alamo commander William B. Travis. Travis begged for supplies and reinforcements and described the danger he and his men found themselves in. Unaware that the fort had already fallen, delegate Robert Potter called for the Convention to adjourn and march immediately to relieve the Alamo. Sam Houston persuaded the delegates to remain in Washington-on-the-Brazos to finish working on the constitution. Houston then left to take command of the volunteers that Colonel James C. Neill and Major R.M. "Three-Legged Willie" Williamson had been gathering in Gonzales.Shortly after Houston's arrival in Gonzales, Alamo survivors Susanna Dickinson and Joe, Travis's slave, arrived with news of a Mexican victory. On hearing their news, Houston advised all civilians in the area to evacuate and ordered the army to retreat. This sparked a mass exodus of Texans from the Anglo settlements.
Concerned that the existing army was not large enough, on March 12 the Convention issued a conscription law.All able-bodied white and Tejano men between ages 17 and 50 were subject to military service. Local authorities would assign two-thirds of the men in their district to fight at any one time. Those who refused to serve would lose their citizenship and half of their property. Tejanos would not serve alongside the Anglos, but would instead have a separate corps.
After finishing their constitution, the delegates organized an ad-interim government which would serve until the following October. As president they chose David G. Burnet, who had not been elected to the Convention. Burnet had planned to join the fighting at the Alamo and had stopped at the Convention to recruit others. However, he became so "inspired by their deliberations" that he remained as a visitor. Speaking privately with many of the delegates, Burnet professed that he would be willing to serve as president of a new republic, even if that made him a target of Santa Anna. –23, in the early hours of March 17. The delegates chose Lorenzo de Zavala as vice-president, Samuel P. Carson as Secretary of State, and Thomas J. Rusk as Secretary of War. Bailey Hardeman became Secretary of the Treasury, and David Thomas was elected Attorney General.Among the names most commonly circulated for the presidency were empresario Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, and William H. Wharton. All were absent from the convention, however, so the nominees became Burnet and Samuel Price Carson. Burnet won, on a vote of 29
One of Burnet's first acts as president was to transfer the capital of the new state from Washington-on-the-Brazos to Harrisburg, which was located nearer the small Texas Navy at Galveston Island. Harrisburg was also closer to the border with the United States and would allow easier communication with U.S. officials. The move took on a sense of urgency when the convention received word that Santa Anna was within 60 miles (100 km) of Washington-on-the-Brazos. Burnet quickly adjourned the proceedings and the government fled. Burnet personally carried the Texas Declaration of Independence in his saddlebags.
The Texas Declaration of Independence was the formal declaration of independence of the Republic of Texas from Mexico in the Texas Revolution. It was adopted at the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 2, 1836, and was formally signed the next day after mistakes were noted in the text.
The Texas Revolution was a rebellion of colonists from the United States and Tejanos in putting up armed resistance to the centralist government of Mexico. While the uprising was part of a larger one that included other provinces opposed to the regime of President Antonio López de Santa Anna, the Mexican government believed the United States had instigated the Texas insurrection with the goal of annexation. The Mexican Congress passed the Tornel Decree, declaring that any foreigners fighting against Mexican troops "will be deemed pirates and dealt with as such, being citizens of no nation presently at war with the Republic and fighting under no recognized flag". Only the province of Texas succeeded in breaking with Mexico, establishing the Republic of Texas, and eventually being annexed by the United States.
The Alamo Mission in San Antonio, commonly called The Alamo and originally known as the Misión San Antonio de Valero, is a historic Spanish mission and fortress compound founded in the 18th century by Roman Catholic missionaries in what is now San Antonio, Texas, United States. It was the site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. Today it is a museum in the Alamo Plaza Historic District and a part of the San Antonio Missions World Heritage Site.
The Battle of San Jacinto, fought on April 21, 1836, in present-day Harris County, Texas, was the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. Led by General Sam Houston, the Texian Army engaged and defeated General Antonio López de Santa Anna's Mexican army in a fight that lasted just 18 minutes. A detailed, first-hand account of the battle was written by General Houston from Headquarters of the Texian Army, San Jacinto, on April 25, 1836. Numerous secondary analyses and interpretations have followed, several of which are cited and discussed throughout this entry.
David Gouverneur Burnet was an early politician within the Republic of Texas, serving as interim President of Texas, second Vice President of the Republic of Texas (1839–1841), and Secretary of State (1846) for the new state of Texas after it was annexed to the United States of America.
The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna reclaimed the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar, killing the Texian and immigrant occupiers. Santa Anna's cruelty during the battle inspired many Texians, both legal Texas settlers and illegal immigrants from the United States, to join the Texian Army. Buoyed by a desire for revenge, the Texians defeated the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836, ending the rebellion.
The Battle of Gonzales was the first military engagement of the Texas Revolution. It was fought near Gonzales, Texas, on October 2, 1835, between rebellious Texian settlers and a detachment of Mexican army soldiers.
The president of the Republic of Texas was the head of state and head of government while Texas was an independent republic between 1836 and 1845.
Mexican Texas is the historiographical name used to refer to the era of Texan history between 1821 and 1836, when it was part of Mexico. Mexico gained independence in 1821 after winning its war against Spain, which began in 1810. Initially, Mexican Texas operated similarly to Spanish Texas. Ratification of the 1824 Constitution of Mexico created a federal structure, and the province of Tejas was joined with the province of Coahuila to form the state of Coahuila y Tejas.
Juan Nepomuceno Seguín was a Spanish-Tejano political and military figure of the Texas Revolution who helped to establish the independence of Texas. Numerous places and institutions are named in his honor, including the county seat of Seguin in Guadalupe County, the Juan N. Seguin Memorial Interchange in Houston, Juan Seguin Monument in Seguin, World War II Liberty Ship SS Juan N. Seguin, Seguin High School in Arlington.
José Antonio Navarro was a Texas statesman, revolutionary, rancher, and merchant. The son of Ángel Navarro and Josefa María Ruiz y Peña, he was born into a distinguished noble family at San Antonio de Béxar in the Viceroyalty of New Spain. His uncle was José Francisco Ruiz and his brother-in-law was Juan Martín de Veramendi.
The Runaway Scrape events took place mainly between September 1835 and April 1836, and were the evacuations by Texas residents fleeing the Mexican Army of Operations during the Texas Revolution, from the Battle of the Alamo through the decisive Battle of San Jacinto. The ad interim government of the new Republic of Texas and much of the civilian population fled eastward ahead of the Mexican forces. The conflict arose after Antonio López de Santa Anna abrogated the 1824 constitution of Mexico and established martial law in Coahuila y Tejas. The Texians resisted and declared their independence. It was Sam Houston's responsibility, as the appointed commander-in-chief of the Provisional Army of Texas, to recruit and train a military force to defend the population against troops led by Santa Anna.
The Consultation, also known as the Texian Government, served as the provisional government of Mexican Texas from October 1835 to March 1836 during the Texas Revolution. Tensions rose in Texas during early 1835 as throughout Mexico federalists began to oppose the increasingly centralist policies of the government. In the summer, Texians elected delegates to a political convention to be held in Gonzales in mid-October. Weeks before the convention and war began, the Texian Militia took up arms against Mexican soldiers at the Battle of Gonzales. The convention was postponed until November 1 after many of the delegates joined the newly organized volunteer Texian Army to initiate a siege of the Mexican garrison at San Antonio de Bexar. On November 3, a quorum was reached in San Antonio. Within days, the delegates passed a resolution to define why Texians were fighting. They expressed allegiance to the deposed Constitution of 1824 and maintained their right to form the General Council. In the next weeks, the council authorized the creation of a new regular army to be commanded by Sam Houston. As Houston worked to establish an army independent from the existing volunteer army, the council repeatedly interfered in military matters.
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World is an open letter written on February 24, 1836, by William B. Travis, commander of the Texian forces at the Battle of the Alamo, to settlers in Mexican Texas. The letter is renowned as a "declaration of defiance" and a "masterpiece of American patriotism", and forms part of the history education of Texas schoolchildren.
This is a timeline of the Republic of Texas, spanning the time from the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836, up to the transfer of power to the State of Texas on February 19, 1846.
The Texian Army, also known as the Revolutionary Army and Army of the People, was the land warfare branch of the Texian armed forces during the Texas Revolution. It spontaneously formed from the Texian Militia in October 1835 following the Battle of Gonzales. Along with the Texian Navy, it helped the Republic of Texas win independence from the Centralist Republic of Mexico on May 14, 1836 at the Treaties of Velasco. Although the Texas Army was officially established by the Consultation of the Republic of Texas on November 13, 1835, it did not replace the Texian Army until after the Battle of San Jacinto.
Philip Dimmitt (1801–1841) was an officer in the Texian Army during the Texas Revolution. Born in Kentucky, Dimmitt moved to Texas in 1823 and soon operated a series of trading posts. After learning that Mexican General Martín Perfecto de Cos was en route to Texas in the year 1835 (??) to quell the unrest, Dimmitt proposed that the general be kidnapped on his arrival at Copano. The plan was shelved when fighting broke out at Gonzales, but by early October, 1835, it had been resuscitated by a group of volunteers at Matamoros. Not knowing that Cos had already departed for San Antonio de Bexar, this group decided to corner Cos at Presidio La Bahia in Goliad. Dimmitt joined them en route, and participated in the battle of Goliad.
The Texas Army, officially the Army of the Republic of Texas, was the land warfare branch of the Texas Military Forces during the Republic of Texas. It descended from the Texian Army, which was established in October 1835 to fight for independence from Centralist Republic of Mexico in the Texas Revolution. The Texas Army was provisionally formed by the Consultation in November 1835, however it did not replace the Texian Army until after the Battle of San Jacinto. The Texas Army, Texas Navy, and Texas Militia were officially established on September 5, 1836 in Article II of the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. The Texas Army and Texas Navy were merged with the United States Armed Forces on February 19, 1846 after the Republic of Texas became the 28th state of America.