Description

    Journal of the Senate of the Republic of Texas; First Session of the Third Congress -- 1838. (Houston: National Intelligence Office, S. Whiting, Printer, By order of the Secretary of State. 1839.) 132 pp., Octavo. There are only five known copies of this seminal work.

    The Senate assembled for this session on November 5, 1838, and adjourned sine die on January 24, 1839. Various topics were discussed and voted upon. Of note during this session is Congress' authorization (its third and final) to locate a permanent capital, stipulating that the site should be located between the Trinity and Colorado rivers and north of the Old San Antonio Road, and named Austin. The commissioners selected the frontier settlement of Waterloo and purchased about 7,100 acres of land there for $21,000. The site was quickly surveyed and divided into city lots, and construction on government buildings, businesses, homes and hotels began immediately. By October 1829, the Texas government had taken up residence in the new capital.

    Responding to newly elected President Lamar's address to Congress (December 21, 1838), Congress authorized a force of fifteen companies to be stationed in military colonies at eight locations along frontier rivers, including the Red River, the Brazos, the Colorado, and others. At each site, land was to be surveyed into 160-acre tracts and each soldier who fulfilled his enlistment would receive a tract. Bona fide settlers who lived on the land for three years also would be given tracts. In addition, Congress approved the building of sixteen trading posts near the settlement line.

    On January 1, 1839, the Texas Congress authorized President Lamar to enroll eight companies of mounted volunteers for six months' service and appropriated $75,000 to sustain the force. Congress also set aside $5,000 to recruit and maintain a company of fifty-six rangers for three months, three mounted companies for immediate service against hostile Indians, and two additional companies to protect San Patricio, Goliad, and Refugio counties. To cover expenses for these military companies, Congress appropriated a million dollars in promissory notes, then quickly followed this by approving non-interest-bearing promissory notes, called "red-backs," on January 19, 1839. The treasury issued $2,780,361 in red-backs, valued at 37½ cents on the dollar in specie, which were worthless within three years.

    The original edition of the Report of the Secretary of State, November, 1839. (entry No. 351: Document E, p. 33), indicates that 500 copies of the Journal were printed. Interestingly, the reprinting of this report in Vol. III of the modern Journals of the Fourth Congress (p. [5]-34, with Document E on p. 31) omits the sentence about this printing, although it does record that about 150 volumes were still on hand. From the collection of Darrel Brown.

    Reference: Streeter 343. Sabin 94970, note.


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