Day 8 of the Convention of 1836
On the 8th day of the Convention of 1846, the Convention discussed the transfer of power from the Provisional Government to the assembled Convention. Two letters arrived and were read into the record. The first was from James Robinson, former provisional Lieutenant Governor and acting Governor following the impeachment of provisional Governor Henry Smith. In short, his letter indicates that while he was reluctant to go along with the impeachment of the Governor, he tried to execute the office to the best of his ability as Lieutenant Governor. He states that he was then and had been a staunch supporter of independence and that he then stood ready to go to “the tented field, where I hope to render some service, however humble, as a private soldier”. He concludes by asking that the Convention take over responsibility for the government of Texas.
The second letter is from John McMullen (President pro-tempore of the General Council), Alex Thompson, and George Pattillo. The General Council was the provisional government’s legislative body and had given some life to Texas in the months between the Consultation at San Felipe and the Washington Convention. Notably, they gave the initial instructions to Texas agents to the United States (Stephen F. Austin, Branch T. Archer, and William H. Wharton), the calling for what became the Convention of 1836, organizing the Army to a limited degree. This letter acknowledged the Convention’s establishment but argued that the notification they received ceasing the Council’s authority was insufficient. They were, however, ready to surrender their governing authority to the Convention and turn over the Archives if ordered to by the Convention.
Debate was held over a question of land and dubious claims thereto. There was some concern about non-Texans making large claims of land under fraudulent grants and that the one resource Texas had in abundance, land, was being siphoned from the People of Texas. This matter was passed along to the constitutional committee. Commissioners were to be sent to the then closed land offices of Texas to gather and decipher land records and report to the Government the status of those grants, claims, and titles.
In the afternoon session, Thomas Rusk (Nacogdoches) called for the raising of a company of volunteers to interdict a “large force of Indians, above the San Antonio road”, which was approved. More motions were brought up and discussed until Bailey Hardeman (Matagorda) stood up and called for “all subjects not directly connected with the constitution of this republic, lay upon the table until that instrument [the constitution] be adopted by this convention”. Thanks to James Collinsworth (Brazoria), this motion was tabled..
Thanks for trying, Mr. Hardeman…
Colonel Gray had this to say about Day 8 of the Convention:
“What with the advance of the Mexicans on one side and the Indians on the other, and the organization of a new government, this Convention would seem to have enough on their hands to do. Yet they get on slowly. The evil spirit of electioneering is among them for the high offices in prospect. And the land quest also requires much log rolling, to make it suit the existing interests or selfish views of members. The Constitution gets on slowly.”
The members of the Convention at this point were still unaware of the fall of the Alamo 2 days before..
Pictured here is Henry Smith, provisional Governor of Texas