Texas Declaration of Independence

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Texas Declaration of Independence
Declaration Broadside from transparency 1909 1 344.jpg
1836 facsimile of the Texas Declaration of Independence
CreatedMarch 2, 1836
LocationEngrossed copy: Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Signatories60 delegates to the Consultation
PurposeTo announce and explain separation from Mexico

The Texas Declaration of Independence was the formal declaration of independence of the Republic of Texas from Mexico in the Texas Revolution. It was adopted at the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 2, 1836, and was formally signed the next day after mistakes were noted in the text.


In October 1835, settlers in Mexican Texas launched the Texas Revolution.

However, within Austin,[failed verification] many struggled with understanding what the ultimate goal of the Revolution was. Some believed that the goal should be total independence from Mexico. In contrast, others sought the reimplementation of the Mexican Constitution of 1824 (which offered greater freedoms than the centralist government declared in Mexico the prior year).[1] To settle the issue, a convention was called for March 1836.

This convention differed from the previous Texas councils of 1832, 1833, and the 1835 Consultation. The Mexican government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American population of Texas to colonize its wilderness under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America.[2] The only two known native Texans to sign are Jose Francisco Ruiz and Jose Antonio Navarro. [3] Most of the delegates were members of the War Party and were adamant that Texas must declare its independence from Mexico.[4] Forty-one delegates arrived in Washington-on-the-Brazos on February 28.[4]


The convention was convened on March 1 with Richard Ellis as president.[5] The delegates selected a committee of five to draft a declaration of independence; the committee was led by George Childress and also included Edward Conrad, James Gaines, Bailey Hardeman, and Collin McKinney. The committee submitted its draft within a mere 24 hours, leading historians to speculate that Childress had written much of it before he arrived at the Convention.[6]

The declaration was approved on March 2 with no debate. Based primarily on the writings of John Locke and Thomas Jefferson, the declaration proclaimed that the Mexican government "ceased to protect the lives, liberty, and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived"[7] and complained about "arbitrary acts of oppression and tyranny."[8] Throughout the declaration are numerous references to the United States laws, rights, and customs. Omitted from the declaration was the fact that the author and many of the signatories were citizens of the United States, occupying Texas illegally, and therefore had no legal rights in Mexico's government. The declaration clarifies that the men were accustomed to the laws and privileges of the United States, and were unfamiliar with the language, religion, and traditions of the nation that they were rebelling against.

The declaration officially established the Republic of Texas, although it was not officially recognized at that time by any government other than itself. The Mexican Republic still claimed the land and considered the delegates to be invaders.

Among others, the declaration mentions the following reasons for the separation:

  • The 1824 Constitution of Mexico establishing a federal republic had been overturned and changed into a centralist military dictatorship by Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna. (From Mexico's viewpoint, lawful elections of 1835 seated many conservative politicians who intended to strengthen Mexico's government and defend their nation from an invasion of illegal American immigrants. They amended the 1824 constitution by passing the Seven Laws.)
  • The Mexican government had invited settlers to Texas and promised them constitutional liberty and republican government, but then reneged on these guarantees. (It did not mention that many settlers, including the author and majority of signatories, were factually uninvited, illegal trespassers.[9])
  • Texas was in union with the Mexican state of Coahuila as Coahuila y Tejas, with the capital in distant Saltillo. Thus the affairs of Texas were decided at a great distance from the province and in the Spanish language, which the immigrants called "an unknown tongue."
  • Political rights to which the settlers had previously been accustomed in the United States, such as the right to keep and bear arms and the right to trial by jury, were denied.
  • No system of public education had been established.
  • Attempts by the Mexican government to enforce import tariffs were called "piratical attacks" by "foreign desperadoes."
  • The settlers were not allowed freedom of religion. All legal settlers were required to convert to Catholicism.

Based upon the United States Declaration of Independence, the Texas Declaration also contains many memorable expressions of American political principles:

  • "the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen."
  • "our arms ... are essential to our defense, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable only to tyrannical governments."


Replica of the building at Washington-on-the-Brazos where the Texas Declaration was signed. An inscription reads: "Here a Nation was born."
The New Republic

Sixty men signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Three of them were born in Mexico. Fifty-seven of the sixty moved to Texas from the United States.[10] Fifty-nine of these men were delegates to the Convention, and one was the Convention Secretary, Herbert S. Kimble, who was not a delegate.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 98.
  2. ^ "Declaration of Independence of Texas, 1836 | TSLAC".
  3. ^ BERNICE, STRONG (15 June 2010). "RUIZ, JOSE FRANCISCO". tshaonline.org. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 142.
  5. ^ Davis (1982), p. 38.
  6. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 144.
  7. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 145.
  8. ^ Roberts and Olson (2001), p. 146.
  9. ^ Scott (2000), p. 122.
  10. ^ "Texas Declaration of Independence". sonofthesouth.net. Retrieved 15 May 2015.


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