Texas Declaration of Independence

Delegates from Texas declare Independence from Mexico in 1836

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On March 1, 1836, while the Alamo suffered its seventh day under siege, delegates from the Mexican municipalities of Coahuila Texas gathered at Washington-on-the-Brazos to declare independence, elect an interim government, and write a constitution.

Broadsides were printed papers, often containing official information which could be posted in public places. This broadside copy of the Texas Declaration of Independence was published in 1836, after Texas won its independence from Mexico, by Hotchkiss and Company of New Orleans.

The foundations that lead to the Declaration of Independence began many years before with the change from Spanish to Mexican rule in the province of Coahuila-Texas, increasing Anglo settlement from the United States, and the rise to power of Santa Anna. The Conventions of 1832 and 1833, held by the Texas colonists, sought to address some of their grievances with the far distant Mexican government. In 1835, Santa Anna’s seizure of absolute power provoked revolts in several Mexican states including Coahuila-Texas where unrest grew and armed volunteers confronted Mexican authorities. In September 1835, the Mexican commander in San Antonio sent soldiers to reclaim a cannon loaned to the town of Gonzalez which led to the first battle of the Texas Revolution — the Battle of Gonzales on October 2, 1835.

After these first shots were fired, Texas recognized the need to increase its military forces and form a government. A provisional government was formed in November 1835, but independence was not the universal aim of all the colonists and infighting erupted. Late in 1835, Santa Anna declared that Texas was in rebellion. He committed to leading a force himself to crush the revolution, and by February 1836 there were thousands of Mexican soldiers in the state. On February 1st, the provisional government in Texas called for a new convention to be held on March 1, 1836, at Washington-on-the-Brazos. At the convention, George C. Childress was appointed committee chairman to draft a Declaration of Independence. His committee submitted a six page document for a vote, and in the early hours of March 2, 1836, fifty-nine elected delegates from across Texas signed the original copy of the declaration.

While Tejanos, Texans of Mexican descent, were important in the fight for independence, only three of the fifty-nine men who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence were Hispanic. Two were Tejanos, José Antonio Navarro and José Francisco Ruiz. The third, Lorenzo de Zavala, was a Mexican liberal who had moved to Texas. From the original hand-signed document, 5 copies were made and sent to Bexar, Brazoria, Goliad, Nacogdoches, and San Felipe. One thousand broadside copies were also immediately produced by Baker and Bordens at San Felipe de Austin.

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Texas Declaration of Independence Artifact from Washington on the Brazos
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