Day 15 of the Convention of 1836
On Day 15 of the Convention of 1836, everything changes for the Convention, the Delegates, and the citizens of Washington. While the day started auspiciously enough with the arrival of a newly recruited regular army company under Captain Henry Teal, it would end with grave news from the seat of war.
Before that, however, the business of Government trudges forward. Samuel Fisher (Matagorda), chairman of the committee on naval affairs delivered a report about not participating in the African Slave Trade, which was adopted and widely distributed. Military affairs were conducted (including commissioning Captain Teal) and a committee on Indian Affairs was created consisting of Benjamin Goodrich (Washington), Sterling Robertson (Milam), and Samuel Maverick (Bexar). Work on the Constitution continued article-by-article until the delegates were satisfied with their work and adjourned for the evening. Until the letters began to arrive….
Colonel Gray describes the scene:
“In the afternoon, while the Convention was sitting, a Mr. Ainsworth, from Columbia, arrived and brought news that an express had arrived below, with the intelligence that an attack had been made on the Alamo, which was repulsed with great loss to the enemy. The rumour was doubted, on account of the circuitous route by which it came. All hoped it true, but many feared the worst. In half an hour after an express was received from General Houston, bringing the sad intelligence of the fall of the Alamo, on the morning of the 6th. His letters were dated on the 11th and 13th, and a letter from John Seguin, at Gonzales, to Ruis and Navarro, brought the same account. Still some did, or affected to, disbelieve it. (For a detailed account, see letter to Blackford.)
The Convention adjourned until to-morrow at 9 o’clock, but met again after supper, spontaneously, and went earnestly to work on the Constitution. A motion was made to organize a provisional government, which was laid over till to-morrow.”
At 7:30 pm, the convention unanimously agreed to reconvene and continue working on the constitution. It was likely the letter from Sam Houston, which would’ve shocked and dismayed the delegates and citizens across Washington, that spurred on this action. Meanwhile, panic has set in across the young Republic and a desperate flight eastward had begun..
Pictured here is Sterling Robertson (Milam), a member of the Committee on Indian Affairs appointed on March 15th, 1836.