oday the Battle of San Jacinto is looked on as the end of Mexican influence over Texas, and the beginning of a free republic. Such was not the case in Texas in 1836. It was true The Treaty of Velasco signed by Santa Anna called for an ending of the war, and the Rio Grande to be the recognized southern border of Texas; but, as we mentioned in the last chapter, the Mexican Congress invalidated the treaty saying it was signed under duress. The failure of Santa Anna splintered the politics of Mexico in such a way, the government of Mexico became ineffective. Opposition politicians were beginning to probe for an opportunity. It would be a while before Mexico could mount an offensive. It was obvious to all there would be no fighting right away and that Texas was in the hands of Texans. Thus began The Texas Republic.
The Republic of Texas was an entity for ten years. In all of those years one man dominated the affairs of the Republic. Other Texans became famous because of their support of him, or their stand against him. He, was that same Irishman, he, was Sam Houston, President of The Republic of Texas.
Sam Houston >
Much of the Houston administration was spent with politics and fighting a three pronged defense: against the inevitable, and always rumored imminent Mexican invasion; the Indian attacks; and money problems. The politics were very involved. Politics with Mexico, within Texas, and with and within the United States.
Texas first political goal was annexation by the United States. If it accomplished that, most of Texas' problems would begin to be solved. 1836 was a United State's presidential election year, the issue of Texas got tangled in the U.S. politics of the time. North versus South, the slavery question, economics, power. It was not a black and white problem, but it was made one when one of the issues, slavery, was recognized by both sides as the emotional argument to get more people involved. There was also a problem on the international level.
In September of 1836, the Texans, when they voted for Sam Houston as President, also voted heavily in favor of a referendum calling for the annexation of Texas by the United States. The Texan referendum made it appear there was open collusion between the U.S. and the Texans regarding the territory of a sovereign nation. The world's reaction to the way the United States took West Florida, meant that maneuver could not be used again i.e. that Texas was a part of the original Louisiana Purchase. A war with Mexico was possible for the United States, as well as international censure, were it shown the U.S. encouraged or supported the revolt. The U.S. found itself having to walk a thin line. Annexation, for the time being, was out of the question. The result was President Jackson's last act. He recognized not the state of Texas but an independent Texas. It was difficult to obtain even that. His first act as ex-president of the United States was to toast the Republic of Texas, and this son of Irish parents next act was to then toast the President of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston, another son of Erin.
George McKinstry, in December of 1836, was visited by Stephen F. Austin, who President Houston appointed as Texas Secretary of State. Stephen F. Austin was in his early forties when he came to the McKinstry home, but he was exhausted and ill from his many efforts on Texas' behalf. He caught pneumonia and died while in the McKinstry home. The steamboat, Yellow Stone, carried Austin's body from Columbia to the family cemetery at their Peach Point Plantation for burial (in 1910, Austin's remains were removed to Austin).
Houston appointed James Harper Starr as Secretary of the Treasury. Starr's mother was Persia Shaw. The name Shaw is of Scottish origin with a long history in northern Ireland. Starr County is named for James Harper Starr.
Doctor James Harper Starr, Secretary of the Treasury >
Starr's brother, Franklin Jefferson Starr, was the law partner of William Barrett Travis and the man who preserved Travis' diary.
Another Celtic member of Houston's cabinet was James Pinckney Henderson. He served as Attorney General.
The first Senators of the Republic of Texas were fourteen in number, only one was native to Texas: Francisco Ruiz. Among those of Celtic heritage elected among the other thirteen were: Albert C. Horton, Robert Wilson, Sterling C. Robertson and James Collinsworth who joined later replacing a senator who was appointed to a position requiring him to leave office. Collinsworth also left when he was elected the first Texas Supreme Court Justice.
The Texas Legislature would not confirm Sam Houston's choice as commander of the Texas Army, Thomas Jefferson Green. They did confirm the appointment of Felix Huston as a Brigadier General. Felix Huston assumed command of the army after San Jacinto when General Thomas Jefferson Rusk joined Houston's cabinet. Since Huston was the only general in the new republic, he again assumed the post.
< General Felix Huston
When Sam Houston was able to get Albert Sidney Johnston confirmed as the Major General and Commander of the Texas Army, Felix Huston was miffed and immediately challenged his superior to a duel for the position. In the duel, Johnston refused to aim. Huston did and wounded Johnston seriously enough he could not assume his command. Huston retained command and lobbied the Texas Congress for funds for an invasion of Mexico via Matamoros.
The first official flag of the Republic adopted December 10, 1836, was known as the David G. Burnet flag. It had a large gold star in the middle of an azure background and is shown here, down and to the right.
The first seal of the Republic of Texas was the Houston family crest. It was placed on an official document because the official seal was not yet ready. Sam Houston used a cuff button upon which was engraved his family crest to seal the document.
The Reverend John McCullough, who had established the first Protestant (Presbyterian) church, in San Antonio, served as the chaplin to the Texas Senate.
James Burke organized the first daily newspaper in Texas when he put out a paper reporting on what the Texas Legislature was doing when in session.
In Texas, things were different in some ways, there were no longer departments, ayuntamientos and alcaldes, there were now counties, city councils, and mayors. Other titles such as Sheriff and Justice of the Peace were new to Texas, but not to most of its people. Otherwise things went on as before, looking over their shoulder for a Mexican or Indian attack, as Texans went about their business of raising crops and a family.
As reported earlier, many of Texas' settlers were of Celtic heritage; the next several paragraphs cite examples of their contribution to Texas during the early days of the Republic.
In Jackson County Texas, William Milligan raised that county's first cotton crop.
Josiah Hughes Bell, the first Alcalde of San Felipe, was married to the former Evelyn McKenzie. They owned the land upon which was built the first capitol of Texas, at Columbia.
The Capitol Building of the Republic of Texas in Columbia, Texas as drawn by Malcolm Thurgood from an original
The Allen brothers, Augustus C. and John K. founded a town named for Irishman Sam Houston. The Allen brothers told Houston if he would move the capitol to the new town of Houston, they would pay for the construction of the capitol building. By October, Houston was designated the new capitol of Texas and the seat of Harris County (Harrisburg County then).
Captain Thomas Ward, born in Ireland, designed the capitol building, a two story structure. Ward was architect and contractor. Ward would later serve three times as Mayor of another capitol of Texas, Austin. Thomas Ward lost a leg in the seige of Bexar and later an arm when a cannon exploded. He continued to serve Texas. Ward County is named for him.
< Captain Thomas Ward
The Capitol of the Repbulic of Texas building designed by Captain Thomas Ward and erected in Houston
The capitol building in Texas after an addition was added to the rear and it was made into the Capitol Hotel. It stands on the ground where the later Rice Hotel was constructed.