Happy Texas Independence Day! The Texas Declaration of Independence Turns 176

The Texas Declaration of Independence was initiated at the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the Brazos on March 1. Very similar to the United States Declaration of Independence, it echoes the contentions of Thomas Jefferson and John Locke when discussing governmental philosophy, and includes complaints against the governing nation and a call for independence. The declaration draft was submitted the next day to the delegation of approximately 58 men representing each Texas settlement. With little discussion or debate, the declaration launching the Republic of Texas was adopted on March 2, 1836.

On April 21, 1836, General Sam Houston with an army comprised of Anglo and Tejano soldiers defeated the Mexican Army in what became the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. Mexico’s President Santa Anna signed a peace treaty 3 weeks later and the Republic of Texas was on its way to becoming a sovereign nation.

Then and Now

The population of Texas has changed dramatically since 1836. Texas entered the Union in 1845, and the first U.S. Census data for the state became available in 1850. Take a look at the five largest cities in 1850:

  1. Galveston: 4,117
  2. San Antonio: 3,488
  3. Houston: 2,396
  4. Palestine: 2,000
  5. New Braunfels: 1,727

Now compare to today (population according to the 2010 Census):

  1. Houston: 2,099,451
  2. San Antonio: 1,327,407
  3. Dallas: 1,197,816
  4. Austin: 790,390
  5. Fort Worth: 741,206

Fun Facts

Most Texans – native or naturalized – can identify many of the state’s official symbols. For example, what is the state flower? Think about the slow-moving traffic off of 290 and the connecting farm roads this time of year. Numerous cars will stop along these roads to photograph their kids and dogs in blankets of bluebonnets (if you couldn’t remember this one, a saying from an old picante sauce commercial comes to mind: Get a rope!).

However there are many state symbols adopted by the Texas Legislature that may be a bit more obscure. Quiz your friends on their true Texas-ness by asking them to identify the following:

  1. State amphibian: Texas toad
  2. State bread: Pan de campo, also called cowboy bread
  3. State dog: Blue Lacy (pictured above)
  4. State fish: Guadalupe Bass
  5. State insect: Monarch butterfly
  6. State plant: Prickly pear cactus
  7. State music: Western swing
  8. State reptile: Texas horned lizard
  9. State snack: Tortilla chips and salsa
  10. State sport: Rodeo

I am still wondering how the Legislature got away with declaring rodeo – rather than football – the state sport. I would have thought this would be likened to treason yet it appears that the vast majority of legislators returned to office after this decision in 1997.

Learn More

Texas online resources:

Handbook of Texas Online

Texas Almanac

Here are a few of the many events celebrating Texas history this weekend:

Event: Texas Independence Day Celebration and Lunch

Date: March 2, 10:30 – 11:30 am, with lunch following

Location: Harris County Court House, 301 Fannin, Houston

Organizers: Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and the San Jacinto Chapter of the Sons of the Republic

Event: Screening of the award-winning Houston: A Nation’s Capitol

Date: March 2, 7 30 pm

Location: Heritage Society Tea Room, 1100 Bagby, Houston

Organizers: Houston Arts & Media and the Heritage Society

Event: Texas Independence Day Celebration and Reenactment

Date: March 3-4 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Location: Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site, between Brenham and Navasota off State Highway 105 and FM 1155

Organizers: Texas Parks & Wildlife Department


This post was written by Renee Cross, Associate Director, Hobby Center for Public Policy and Lecturer, University of Houston.

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