Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Legations of Texas

From the day I began researching for my first manuscript set in Texas, I’ve been fascinated by the history of Texas. [Those of you born in Texas know by that statement that I wasn’t—though I got there as fast as I could!]

Much has been said about the Republic of Texas - but did you know it only existed for ten years? The Republic of Texas was a sovereign nation that existed from 1836 to 1846.

The first Congress of the Republic of Texas convened in October 1836 at what is now West Columbia. Stephen F. Austin, often referred to as the Father of Texas, served as Secretary of State for the new Republic for only two months before his death on December 27, 1836.

In 1836, five sites served as temporary capitals of Texas: Washington-on-the-Brazos, Harrisburg, Galveston, Velasco and Columbia before President Sam Houston moved the capital to Houston in 1837. In 1839, the capital was moved again, this time by President Mirabeau B. Lamar, to the new town of Austin, where it remains today. And during the time of the Republic, Texas had embassies.

Technically they were Legations, not embassies, since Texas was a Republic, not a recognized country. There were Legations of the Republic of Texas in London, Paris and Washington D.C., serving to improve diplomatic ties--and to beg for loans.

In 19th-century diplomacy, a legation was a diplomatic representative office lower than an embassy. Whereas an embassy was headed by an Ambassador, a legation was headed by an Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary.

The Legation in France was housed at 1 Place Vendome 75001, rue de la Paix, Paris, where the famous Vendome Column, was erected in 1810, torn down in 1871, and rebuilt, with Napoleon again depicted as Caesar, three years later. There’s a plaque there, showing its location.


The London Legation building was at 3 St. James Street, near Buckingham Palace. The building now houses Berry Brothers Wine Merchants, with a plaque recognizing its former tenants.

And according to Answer Man with The Washington Post, the State Department’s official register from the period does not list the addresses of diplomatic missions, nor could he locate entries for the Texians in directories of the period.

Ministers Plenipotentiary to Washington
William H. Wharton-appointed in November, 1836
Memucan Hunt- appointed in February 1837
Anson Jones- appointed in August 1838
Richard G. Dunlap- appointed in March 1839
Barnard Elliott Bee, Sr.- appointed in April 1840
James Reily- appointed in March 1842
Isaac Van Zandt- appointed in August 1842

The Legations weren’t needed for long. After the annexation was approved by a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress in February, 1845, the last president of the Republic of Texas, Anson Jones, presented two propositions to the Congress of the Republic of Texas: one for annexation to the U.S., the other for Mexican recognition of the Republic provided annexation did not take place. The Texas Convention of 1845 chose annexation.

On October 13, 1845 a large majority of voters in the Republic approved the annexation and The Lone Star State bypassed the territorial phase to become the 28th U.S. state on December 29, 1845.

See you next month!


  1. Tracy this is just fascinating. I had no idea. I have a very distant relative that was a governor of Texas "back in the day" that I would love to do research on. But when? LOL

    Thanks for a very interesting post, as always! I always learn something when you blog.

    1. You're welcome, Cheryl! This was one of those rabbit holes on the way to something else. I found it fascinating.

    2. What is your ancestor's name, Cheryl?

    3. I want to say Allred, but I'm not sure that's right. I have it in my genealogy stuff, and a picture of the tombstone.

    4. James V Allred? You have a nice relative. :)

  2. History is so full of such amazing facts, if we chose to find them. Thank you for digging up these and sharing. Really enjoyed the post.Doris

  3. Good information here. Thank you, Tracy Garrett.

    1. You're welcome, Charlie. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Nice, Tracy! As an aside, Isaac Van Zandt, one of the men listed above had a descendant, who although tortured by personal demons, managed to write one of the best country music songs ever recorded "Pancho & Lefty" - Townes Van Zandt.

  5. That’s cool, Vicki. Thanks.

  6. An interesting article, Tracy. I donated an article to the WF anthology that involves the French Legation in early Austin. When researching the article I came across that Belgium and the Netherlands were considering to recognize the Republic of Texas. I don't know if they did prior to annexation.

  7. History is so fascinating that one can get lost in the research. I didn't know this bit of history, so thank you for sharing it, Tracy.

  8. Keep posting new posts. You are just awesome.
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