1936 3¢ Texas Centennial
Issue Date: March 2, 1936
First City: Gonzales, TX
Quantity Issued: 124,324,500
Nicknamed the "Lone Star State," Texas is the second-largest state in the Union. Settled by the Spanish in the late 1600s, Texas won its independence in 1836. In 1845, Texas became the 28th state to join the Union.
American Settlement of Texas
In 1820, a Missouri banker, Moses Austin, obtained permission from Spanish officials to establish an American colony in Texas. His son, Stephen F. Austin, brought 300 families there. The colony grew rapidly. In 1823, he founded San Felipe de Austin in today’s Austin County, which became the colony’s seat of government. Soon, more Americans received land grants from Mexico. Between 1821 and 1836, the number of settlers grew to about 30,000 – and most were Americans.
The Mexican government became concerned over the high percentage of Americans living in its territory. In 1830, Mexico officially halted American immigration. Relations between the settlers and the government quickly deteriorated. In 1834, a Mexican politician and soldier, General Antonio López de Santa Anna, took over the Mexican government and established himself as a dictator. A year later, Texas declared its independence from Mexico.
The Texas Revolution
After a few clashes between Texans and Mexican soldiers, Texas leaders organized a temporary government on November 3, 1835. Texas troops under Colonel Benjamin Milam captured San Antonio on December 11, 1835. Enraged, Santa Anna sent a large army to San Antonio to put down the uprising. Texan forces withdrew to the walls of the Alamo. From February 23 to March 6, 1836, Santa Anna’s forces attacked the fort until it finally fell. Many famous men died while defending the Alamo, including Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, and William B. Travis. On March 27th, Santa Anna ordered 330 Texan rebels executed after they surrendered at Goliad. Rather than crush the independence movement, these actions galvanized Texan resolve. Texans rallied to the cries “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Goliad.” On April 21, Sam Houston led a smaller Texan army against Santa Anna’s forces in a surprise attack at the Battle of San Jacinto. Houston captured Santa Anna and crushed his army. Texas had won its independence.
Independence and the Republic of Texas
Texas faced many problems. It had no currency, and its economy was isolated. Indians and Mexicans staged raids against its people. At the first national Texas elections, voters chose Sam Houston as President – and also voted to join the United States. European powers were against Texas becoming a state, as they feared the U.S. would come to dominate the southwest. There was also political conflict in the U.S. about Texas. Texas law allowed slavery, so the South favored admission and the North was against it. Texas remained independent for 10 years. During that time, its population grew fast.
America’s 28th State
Texas was admitted to the Union on December 29, 1845. Mexico ceased diplomatic relations with the U.S. when Texas was admitted to the U.S. Boundary disputes erupted a short time later, and in 1846 the Mexican War began. By 1848, Mexico surrendered, signing the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. With this treaty, Mexico ended all of its claims to Texas and much of the Southwest. Texas gained a great deal of territory. During the 1850s, settlers poured into the western region of the state, and 89 new counties were organized.
Happy Birthday Stephen Austin
Stephen Fuller Austin was born on November 3, 1793, in Wythe County (present-day Austinville), Virginia. When he was four years old, Austin’s father, Moses, moved the family west to Potosi, Missouri, to join a lead-mining site.
Seven years later, Austin was sent back east to attend school. After graduation, he studied to become a lawyer, and then joined the Missouri Territory legislature. During his time there, Austin has been credited with helping to get a charter for the Bank of St. Louis. After the Panic of 1819 left him without any money, Austin moved to Arkansas Territory. Just two weeks before the 1820 territorial elections, Austin announced he was running for Congress. Though he’d entered the race too late to appear on the ballot in two out of the five counties, Austin managed to place second in the race out of six candidates. Austin briefly served as a judge for the First Circuit Court before moving to Louisiana.
Meanwhile, Austin’s father Moses had received a Spanish grant to move 300 American families, known as The Old 300, to Texas. However, Moses became ill after returning to Missouri and passed the grant on to his son. Though Austin was hesitant at first, he ultimately agreed to help colonize Texas.
In the summer of 1821, Austin led the families some 300 miles on the four-week trip to San Antonio. However, along the journey, they discovered that Mexico had declared its independence from Spain, and Texas was now a Mexican province and not a Spanish territory. So Austin worked out a new deal and received permission to establish his colony along the Brazos and Colorado Rivers.
Changes in Mexican law and leadership in the coming years created some issues for Austin, but he was eventually authorized to bring another 900 families to Texas. Austin was essentially their civil and military leader, but he worked to give the colony American laws. They created a constitution and he established a small group of armed guards that eventually became the Texas Rangers. He also attempted to form a Masonic Lodge, but the Mexican government eventually outlawed it and he agreed it wasn’t a good idea for the time.
In 1832, Austin supported the Mexican government and raised troops to fight against the Fredonian Rebellion, sometimes considered to be the start of the Texas Revolution. By this time, he had about 11,000 colonists, but they didn’t always support his cautious leadership. Additionally, the Mexican government grew weary of their relationship because the US government had begun attempting to buy the area from them.
Then, in January 1834, the Mexicans, who believed he supported Texas’ independence, suddenly arrested Austin. He was moved from prison to prison throughout the year but was ultimately freed that December and he returned to Texas the following August. While he was imprisoned, tensions had brewed, leading to the Texas Revolution. Upon returning, Austin took command of Texan forces at the Siege of Béxar in late 1835.
Austin resigned his command after that battle and became a commissioner to the United States. He and two other men went to the US government to get money, volunteers and supplies for the revolution. Within a year, the revolution was over and Austin was in the running to become the first president of Texas. However, he was running against Sam Houston, a hero of the revolution, and ultimately lost.
President Houston made Austin his secretary of state. However, Austin came down with a bad cold which doctors were unable to help him recover from and he died on October 27, 1836. His last words were, “The independence of Texas is recognized! Don’t you see it in the papers?” And when Houston heard of Austin’s death, he announced, “The Father of Texas is no more; the first pioneer of the wilderness has departed.”
The city of Austin, Texas, was created and made the republic’s capital in 1839 in Stephen Austin’s honor.