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Texas Legation Papers

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The Republic of Texas maintained a diplomatic legation to the United States from 1836 until achieving statehood in 1845. When the legation office closed in 1845, its papers were moved to the Office of the US Adjutant General in Washington, DC. In 1846 the newly elected US senator from Texas, Sam Houston, was directed to take control of all of the documents and convey them to the Texas secretary of state in Austin. For some reason, Senator Houston instead took them to his home. Most were ultimately turned over to the state, but a single box containing over 250 documents was not and over the ensuing 161 years passed through the family of Sam Houston's son, Andrew Jackson Houston, and eventually to other people.

The papers were exposed to humidity and heat, and in 1961 they were almost casualties of Hurricane Carla when the house in which they were held was wrecked by the hurricane and then damaged by fire. Following the hurricane, they remained in a private home, for a period in the trunk of a car and then in a bank vault. Most of them were damaged by water or fire. Nonetheless, the documents survived and in 2006, as part of an auction benefiting the Texas State Historical Association, came into the custody of the Center for Texas Studies at TCU and TCU's Special Collections in the Mary Couts Burnett Library. They were held by TCU for a period of five years for exhibition and scholarship.

As part of the scholarly effort, all of the papers, many of which are copies of known documents, along with others that had never previously been seen, were transcribed. The initial phase of the transcription and annotation process was undertaken by students in a graduate history seminar led by Dr. Gregg Cantrell, who holds the Erma and Ralph Lowe Chair of Texas History at TCU. Professor Kenneth R. Stevens completed the final transcriptions and annotations.

The Center for Texas Studies is pleased to make images of the originals available on-line for the use of students, scholars, and the public. Researchers can browse by author and date or search for important keywords in the materials. Many contributed to making this project possible. The papers would not have come into TCU's hands had not Mary Ralph Lowe, J.P. Bryan, and TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini recognized their importance and contributed the necessary funds to secure the possession and exhibition rights for TCU at the Texas State Historical Association auction in 2006. The Jane and John Justin Foundation then underwrote the construction of the Legation Papers website and the publication of Professor Stevens' transcriptions in The Texas Legation Papers 1836-1845 (TCU Press). The book includes both the transcriptions and important details about the people, places and events that appear in the correspondence.

Restrictions on Use: Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).

Preferred Citation: (Identify the item), Texas Legation (U.S.) correspondence. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

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