Replica of Independence Hall, where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed. The inscription reads: "Here a Nation was born."
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Washington-on-the-Brazos is an unincorporated community along the Brazos River in Washington County, Texas, United States. The town is best known for being the site of the Convention of 1836 and the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence. As of 2009, the estimated population was 265.
The town is named for Washington, Georgia, itself named for George Washington. It is officially known just as "Washington", but after the Civil War came to be known as "Washington-on-the-Brazos" to distinguish the settlement from "Washington-on-the-Potomac"—i.e., Washington, D.C.
Washington was founded in 1833 by John W. Hall, one of the Old Three Hundred settlers, on land he had been given two years before by his father-in-law Andrew Robinson. As the town grew, most settlers were immigrants from the southern United States, in what was then Mexican Texas. Because of its location on the Brazos River and near major roads, Washington became a commercial center, drawing in new inhabitants from nearby areas. After the outbreak of the Texas Revolution, general Sam Houston made his headquarters in Washington in December 1835.
Washington-on-the-Brazos is known as "the birthplace of Texas" because, on March 1, 1836, Texas delegates met in the town to formally announce Texas' intention to separate from Mexico and to draft a constitution for the new Republic of Texas. They organized an interim government to serve until a permanent one could be formed.
The delegates adopted the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836, signing it on the following day. They adopted their constitution on March 16. The delegates worked until March 17, when they had to flee with the residents of Washington, to escape the advancing Mexican Army. The townspeople returned after the Mexican Army was defeated at San Jacinto on April 21. Town leaders lobbied for Washington's designation as the permanent capital of the Republic of Texas, but leaders of the Republic favored Waterloo, later renamed Austin.
Washington County was established by the legislature of the Republic of Texas in 1836 and organized in 1837, when Washington-on-the-Brazos was designated as the county seat. Although the county seat moved to Brenham in 1844, the town continued to thrive as a center for the cotton trade until the mid-1850s, as it was located on the Brazos River to use for shipping out the crop. The construction of railroads bypassed the town and pulled off its business. The strife of the Civil War took another toll on the town, and by the turn of the 20th century, it was virtually abandoned.
The town is home to the Washington-on-the-Brazos Historical Site, which has three main attractions: The Star of the Republic Museum (a museum about the Texas Republic), a replica of Independence Hall (where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed), and Barrington Living History Farm (home of last Texas Republic president Anson Jones).
Washington Avenue in Houston is named for Washington-on-the-Brazos, and is the western route to Washington County.
- "Washington, Texas". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- Washington-on-the-Brazos, TX from the Texas State Historical Association
- Washington the Brazos State Historic Site (Archived 2008-06-28 at the Wayback Machine, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department). Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- "Brenham ISD :: School District Map of the Brenham ISD :: MapTechnica". www.maptechnica.com. Archived from the original on 2018-05-04. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
- Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved Apr. 12, 2005.
- Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Park from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved Apr. 12, 2005.
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