March 2, 1836
Texas Independence Day commemorates the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836. Sixty delegates from all over Texas signed the declaration.
In the fall of 1835, many Texans, both Anglo-American colonists and Tejanos, concluded that liberty and republicanism in Mexico, as reflected in its Constitution of 1824, were dead.
The dictatorship of President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, supported by rich landowners, had seized control of the governments and subverted the constitution. As dissension and discord mounted in Texas, both on the military front and on the seat of the provisional government at San Felipe, the colonists agreed that another popular assembly was needed to chart a course of action.
On December 10, 1835, the General Council of the provisional government issued a call for an election on February 1, 1836, to choose 44 delegates to assemble March 1 at Washington-on-the-Brazos. These delegates represented the 17 Texas municipalities and the small settlement at Pecan Point on the Red River. The idea of independence from Mexico was growing. The Consultation sent Branch T. Archer, William H. Wharton, and Stephen F. Austin to the United States to solicit men, money, supplies, and sympathy for the Texas cause.
At New Orleans, in early January of 1836, the agents found enthusiastic support, but advised that aid would not be forthcoming so long as Texans squabbled over whether to sustain the Mexican constitution.
The convention held at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 1, 1836, was quite different from the Consultation, as 41 delegates were present at the opening session and 59 individuals attended the convention at sometime. Two delegates (Jose Francisco Ruiz and Jose Antonio Navarro of Bexar) were native Texans , and one (Lorenzo de Zavala) had been born in Mexico. Navarro was the most influential Tejano of his generation and fought for the rights of Tejanos as citizens. Only ten of the delegates had been in Texas by 1836. A majority were from other places — primarily from the United States , but also from Europe.
Sam Houston, a former United States congressman and governor of Tennessee, was close friend of United States President Andrew Jackson. Houston was chosen commander in chief of the revolutionary army and left the convention early to take charge of the forces gathering at Gonzalez. He had control of all troops in the field-militia, volunteers, and regular army enlistees. The convention delegates knew they must declare independence or submit to Mexican authority. If they chose independence, they had to draft a constitution for the new nation, establish a strong provisional government, and prepare to combat the Mexican armies invading Texas. Houston lead his men in the Battle of San Jacinto, which ultimately secured Texas Independence.
The chairman of the convention appointed George C. Childress to head the committee of five to draft a declaration of independence. Childress was an American lawyer and statesman. When the committee met on March 1, Childress, who had recently visited President Jackson in Tennessee, drew from his pocket a statement he brought from Tennessee that followed the outline and main features of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, a resolution calling for independence. The next day March 2, the delegates unanimously adopted Childress’s suggestion for independence. Ultimately, 58 members signed the document. Thus was born the Republic of Texas.
Known as the Father of Texas, Stephen F. Austin led the second, and ultimately the successful colonization of the region. He was appointed a commissioner of the provisional government of the republic and was eventually defeated by Sam Houston to become the first president.
The Republic of Texas was annexed to the U.S. by joint resolution of the U.S. Congress nine years after the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed. The U.S. Congress then admitted Texas as a constituent state of the Union on December 29, 1845.
Sam Houston was voted Texas president in 1836 and again in 1841, then served as a senator after Texas became a state in 1845. He became governor in 1859, but was removed from office after the secession of Texas in 1861. The city of Houston was named in his honor.
The official flag of Texas was adopted in session by the Third Congress of the Republic of Texas in Houston, January 25, 1859. It specified that the flag should consist of “a blue perpendicular stripe of the width of one-third of the whole length of the flag and a white star of five points in the center thereof and two horizontal stripes of equal length and breadth, the upper stripe of white, the lower of red, of the length of two-thirds of the length of the whole flag.”
Colors of the flag of both the United States and Texas mean red for courage , white for purity and liberty, and blue for loyalty. The Texas flag is the only flag of an American State having previously served as a flag of a recognized independent country.