On a cold first day of March in 1836, even as a handful of brave Texas were desperately fending off General Santa Anna and his troops at the Alamo, a convention of delegates sent by the provisional Texas government huddled in an unfinished building in Washington (today better known as Washington-on-the-Brazos), where by the following day they had drafted and adopted a Declaration of Independence from Mexico.
During the next couple of weeks, the delegates signed the Declaration, hurriedly cobbled together a new Constitution (which incorporated large chunks of the U.S. Constitution, along with a few Mexican laws), and elected a few ad interim government officials. Then, during the early morning of March 17, with no time to lose, they skedaddled, joining the mass exodus known as the Runaway Scrape.
The battle for independence continued until April 21, when the Mexican army was defeated and Santa Anna captured. For the next decade Texas existed as an independent republic, until on December 28, 1845 it was admitted into the United States as the 28th state of the Union.
Here are some ways you can celebrate the anniversary of Texas Independence:
- Read the full text of the Texas Declaration of Independence at the Texas State Library and Archives Web site. Or, for an extra frisson of patriotic fervor, you can see an exceedingly rare 1836 printing of the Texas Constitution and Declaration of Independence in the UNT Libraries Special Collections department in Willis Library.
- Explore the Texas Independence Trail Region and relive the Texas struggle for independence by visiting the very places where these historic events occurred.
- Visit Washington-on-the-Brazos, where you can join in a huge annual Independence Day party sponsored by the place “Where Texas Became Texas.”
- Check out some suggestions from Texas Highways travel magazine for “Where to Celebrate Texas Independence Day This Year.”
- Come to the Eagle Commons Library in Sycamore Hall and read these government documents on Texas Independence:
- Texas Independence Trail Region: Deadly Battles, Heroic Deeds and a History Shaped by a Desire for Freedom (Texas Historical Commission)
- The Texas Revolution (Texas State Library)
- A Select Glossary of the Texas Revolution (Archives Division, Texas State Library)
- The Republic of Texas (Texas State Library)
Article by Bobby Griffith.
Banner image of the Texas Declaration of Independence from the Texas State Library and Archives Web site.