Why we celebrate Texas Independence Day
I grew up here in Texas. I have never thought much about the why’s of Texas Independence Day. I was surrounded by the Texas myth from birth. Some of my ancestors were here at the time of the Declaration signing. Many others arrived with-in a decade of the event itself. The last of my direct ancestors arrived in Texas by 1910. I have walked the ground at the Alamo, at Fannin, at Goliad, at Washington-on-the-Brazos, I grew up near San Jacinto. I’ve read the document itself in Austin. So the Texas myth is in my blood. The myth was fed by my textbooks. It grew with my choice (and my Dad’s library) of fiction. The movies of Hollywood only helped to make my state even larger than life.
But, for those of you who are looking for the answers about what this day means in Texas, here is a synopsis…
March 02 1836
On this day in 1836, Texas became a republic. On March 1 delegates from the seventeen Mexican municipalities of Texas and the settlement of Pecan Point met at Washington-on-the-Brazos to consider independence from Mexico. George C. Childress presented a resolution calling for independence, and the chairman of the convention appointed Childress to head a committee of five to draft a declaration of independence. In the early morning hours of March 2, the convention voted unanimously to accept the resolution. After fifty-eight members signed the document, Texas became the Republic of Texas. The change remained to be demonstrated to Mexico.
via Texas declares independence from Mexico | Day by Day | Texas State Historical Association (TSHA).
Beside the Brazos River, 200 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, Washington was a three-year old town at a major crossroads. On that near freezing day, in an unfinished building, the rent unpaid, a group of men met to discuss their grievances with their government. In the process, they passed to their descendants a streak of independent thought that has grown into a Texas mythos that is a subset of the greater American story.
It is almost ironic, but most of these men had only been in the country (Mexico) such a short time.
Fifty-nine delegates finally attended its sessions. Andrew Briscoe did not arrive until March 11. Twelve of the members were natives of Virginia, ten of North Carolina, nine of Tennessee, six of Kentucky, four of Georgia, three of South Carolina, three of Pennsylvania, three of Mexico (including two born in Texas), two of New York, and one each of Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Canada. Only ten of the delegates were in Texas as early as January 1830; two of them arrived in 1836. Sam Houston, Robert Potter, Richard Ellis, Samuel P. Carson, Martin Parmer, and Lorenzo de Zavala had all had political experience in Mexico or the United States in state or national government, several in both.
Another irony is that with the influx of the delegates, Washington-on-the-Brazos’ population almost doubled. Another irony is that within two decades the town would wax and wane as railroads displaced river traffic in importance.
Today the site is a state park. On any warm spring day the park is a quiet place to while away the time and listen to the song of the mockingbirds that outnumber humans in the old town-site. If you find yourself anywhere near the northwest corner of Washington County stop in and visit the Star of the Republic Museum.
The Star of the Republic Museum, located in Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Park, commemorates the site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence and of the last capital of the Republic of Texas. The museum building is a star-shaped, two-level, 22,000-square-foot facility built in 1969. The campaign to construct a commemorative museum or structure in the park began in 1955 when several members of the Brenham Chamber of Commerce formed the Texas Independence Day Organization.
An interesting fact about the Declaration document… The original document was sent to Washington, D.C. and deposited with the Department of State. The original document returned to Texas sometime after June of 1896, sixty years after it’s signing. It went on display at the Capitol in Austin on March 2, 1930.
Spend a little time on this Texas Independence Day exploring Texas History. You never know…You could find you like it.