Texas Insights - October 2016

Volume VII, Issue 2
 

What’s New?

2016 Texas Council for the Social Studies
 
Texas Council for the Social Studies (TCSS) is a non-profit state organization representing all of the social studies subjects. The council specializes in professional development for teachers and strives to advance the teaching of social studies in Texas by supporting educators in fields such as history, government, economics, geography, civics, sociology, and anthropology. It is their hope to enhance the social studies education of all students in Texas.
 
One of the ways in which TCSS enhances the teaching of social studies is through their annual conference. The annual three-day-long event provides presentations by experts, awards, and networking for members.
 
The TCSS 2016 conference will be held in Corpus Christi on October 14-16, 2016. The conference is titled: "Social Studies: A rising tide," and is expected to draw thousands of educators together. Volunteers invest hundreds of hours in planning, and working to make the experience the best that it can be. TCSS offers several ways to improve your conference experience. The first is to download the conference app. They encourage you to attend the “unconference,” a flexible learning environment opportunity where attendees choose the topics for the conversation to follow. Visit the exhibit hall on Friday to learn more. This year, the conference will be active on Twitter if you would like to follow TCSS as they live tweet the conference. Follow the hashtag #TCSS2016 for updates. Continue the election spirit and participate in voting for this coming years officers. Finally, network and connect with other participants and professionals. TCSS encourages everyone to make lasting relationships that continue the conversation after the conference ends. For more, visit TeachingTexas.org.
 

 

American Flags: Symbols of revolution, union, war, protest and patriotism is the newest exhibit from the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Guest curated by Dr. Peter Keim, the exhibit displays more than 25 historic flags including an early Revolutionary War period flag dating back over 200 years, and the only-known 14-star flag. Before 1960, the American flag was in constant flux as the nation evolved. The development of the flag mimicked the changing periods of both war and peace in the fabric and images displayed. Beyond flags, the exhibit will showcase artifacts and art by artists like Andy Warhol and Jasper John. Learn details about flag etiquette and see the history of the evolving nation as told through visual culture. For more, visit TeachingTexas.org. 

 
The Texas State Historical Association, the Old Red Museum, and the Region 10 Education Service Center are proud to present the Energizing Texas History Conference, November 14-15, 2016, to be held at the Old Red Museum, Dallas (100 South Houston St., Dallas TX.) This event, for 4th and 7th grade Texas history educators, will focus on the history of Texas from the 1836 to 1900. Teachers will be able to choose from a variety of breakout sessions addressing historical content, geography, economics, civics, teaching strategies, and resources. For your convenience, we will make available lunch each day of the conference with the $35.00 fee used for that purpose. For questions, please contact Charles Nugent at charles.nugent@TSHAonline.org or visit TeachingTexas.org
 

Featured Institution

French Legation Museum celebrates 175 years
by Delia Gray

Built in 1841, the French Legation is Austin’s oldest home and one of a handful of surviving structures from the Republic of Texas Era. After Texas gained independence from Mexico in 1836, France became the first country to recognize the nascent Republic of Texas, and King Louis Philippe appointed Jean Pierre Isidore Alphonse Dubois de Saligny as chargé d’affaires, a diplomatic post a few ranks below an ambassador. Dubois traveled to Texas from his previous post in Washington D.C. and arrived in Austin in 1839. Austin was the new capital of the Republic, but it was a small town in 1839, with a population of about 850. When Dubois first arrived, he stayed at the local Bullock’s Inn before renting a dogtrot house – two log cabins under one roof with a breezeway running through the center – which Dubois referred to as his “wretched wood shanty”. Unsatisfied with the housing options in Austin, Dubois commenced plans for building his own diplomatic residence and began construction on the French Legation in 1840.
 

The architectural style of the home is known as a creole cottage with elements of Greek Revival and Mississippi Valley French architecture. When the house was completed in 1841, it would have been one of the nicest in town, and one of only three structures in Austin that stood two stories high (the other two were Bullock’s Inn and the President’s House). However, Alphonse Dubois left Austin and moved to New Orleans before the Legation was completed. 
 
Why did Dubois leave Austin? His diplomatic mission, a project called the Franco-Texian Bill that aimed to establish a commercial and colonization company, was rejected by President Mirabeau Lamar and his allies, and a curious incident known as the Pig War vexed him even further. In 1841, Dubois was still renting his dogtrot cabin at the center of town, and his neighbor was the local innkeeper, Richard Bullock. Bullock owned a large number of hogs that periodically broke the fence around Dubois’ home and wreaked havoc on his garden and his belongings. Dubois’ butler, on orders from Dubois, killed several of Bullock’s pigs, and Bullock responded by thrashing the butler and threatening violence against Dubois. Dubois took his grievances to the Texas government, demanding punishment for Bullock, which Lamar’s administration refused. At the end of April 1841, Dubois left Austin and broke diplomatic ties between Texas and France without permission from the French government. The French Foreign Ministry was able to smooth over relations with Texas after Dubois’ departure, but Dubois himself never returned to Austin.
 
Before leaving, Dubois sold the legation to a French Bishop named Jean-Marie Odin. In 1841, Father Odin came to Austin to convince the Texas government that the missions taken during the Texas Revolution in 1836 should be returned to the Catholic Church. Once Texas agreed to return the missions, Father Odin left Austin to continue his work as a missionary and bishop. In 1848, the legation was purchased by Dr. Joseph Robertson, who opened the house as a girls’ school. Due to low enrollment, Dr. Robertson closed the school and moved into the house with his family a year later. Over the years, he and his wife Lydia Lee Robertson raised eleven children in the house. Nine enslaved workers also lived on the property, though historic records tell us little about them or their lives.
Lillie Robertson, one of the Robertsons’ eleven children, never married and lived in the house until she died in 1939. She was a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and asked the organization to preserve the home after she died. The state of Texas purchased the property and placed it under the custodianship of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, who opened the site as a museum in 1956. The French Legation was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.
 
Today, the French Legation stands as a reminder of the period when Texas was an independent country. Visitors to the historic home will gain an understanding of life in early Austin, from notable figures of the Republic Era to the realities of daily life in mid-nineteenth-century Texas. Each year, the museum welcomes students from schools across the region for educational field trips. From maps of early Austin to artifacts discovered on the grounds during archeological digs, the museum collection allows visitors of all ages to imagine life in Texas during the Republic Era. Guided by trained docents, students tour the historic home and reconstructed kitchen, and after the tour, groups can bring bagged lunches to enjoy on 2.5 acres of museum grounds! Call 512-472-8180 to begin planning your field trip, and visit our our school tours page for information on TEKS for Grades 3 through 7. 
 
For guided tours, admission is $5 per person, or $3 per person for groups of 10 or more, including school trips. Please visit our website to plan your visit, and remember to join our mailing list so you can be the first to hear about upcoming programs and events! Learn more at: http://frenchlegationmuseum.org/
 

Historian's Corner

Cotton Farms, Horse Raids, and the Opening of Texas
By Dr. Andrew J. Torget
University of North Texas

One of the most important revolutions in Texas history began, strangely, in the mill towns of Great Britain.  During the nineteenth century, the British Empire was the most powerful economic, political, and military force in the entire Atlantic World, and the heart of English strength during that century was their expansive and lucrative trade empire.  The Brits traded in just about every good imaginable, but their most valuable commodities were the textiles -- clothes, cloths, sheets, and the like -- churned out by mills in Lancashire County.  As far back as anyone could remember, those textiles had always been made from wool.  But during the late 1700s and early 1800s, English mill owners began experimenting with a promising new fiber -- cotton -- and soon realized its enormous potential.  Lighter and more comfortable than wool, cotton cloth became a global sensation during the early 1800s, prompting British manufactures to announce that they would pay top dollar to anyone who could provide them bales of raw cotton.
 
The result was one of the most consequential migrations in American history.  As prices for cotton skyrocketed (doubling during 1815 alone), farmers across the southern United States fell over one another in a frenzied rush to establish new cotton farms and plantations.  Most of these would-be farmers flooded into the Mississippi River Valley, where rich soils, a long growing season, and ready access to Gulf Coast shipping promised ideal conditions for building a cotton empire.  U.S. cotton production, in turn, soared.  By 1820 the southern United States surpassed India as the world’s leading cotton producer and the primary supplier of British textile mills.
 
That mad rush also produced a massive population imbalance along the U.S.-Texas border.  By 1820 the combined population of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana bulged past 370,000.  Yet the non-Indian population of Spanish Texas, just next door, hovered barely above 2,500 souls.  Nervous officials in Mexico City recognized the grave danger that rapid American expansion along their northeastern border represented, and they worried aloud about what would happen if this growing tide of Americans suddenly decided to begin making their way into Texas.  
 
Yet, as it turned out, the greatest danger facing Spaniards in Texas was not the massive number of American farmers piling up along the U.S.-Texas border.  It was, instead, the tremendous need of those farmers for horses.
 
Nineteenth-century farms ran on horse power, as draft animals provided the muscle necessary to plow fields, power cotton gins, cart goods to market, and otherwise serve as the era’s engines of agriculture.  And because the massive volume of Americans moving into the Gulf Coast territories during the 1810s vastly outstripped the local supply, finding some means for funneling new horses into Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama became indispensable to sustaining the continued growth of the U.S. cotton frontier.  From the moment they began arriving, cotton farmers in the territory searched desperately for a steady supply of horses.
 
They found it across the Sabine River, where massive herds of wild mustangs in Texas quickly became a central focus of American merchants along the border.  The Democratic Clarion of Tennessee published a breathless account in 1812 of “The Wild Horses of Mexico,” detailing how herds of “six to eight thousand” roamed the Texas plains and could be captured to feed the ravenous needs of cotton farms in the southern United States.  American traders soon began making their way illegally into Texas, where they promised to buy any horses that local Indian nations could provide.
 
In response, numerous Indian tribes -- with Comanches and Wichitas in the lead -- moved swiftly to begin funneling horses from Texas to the Mississippi River Valley.  Some of the horses they traded came from their own herds, but it proved much more efficient and profitable to steal herds from Spanish settlements in Texas.  As various Indian groups became deeply invested in selling horses to the Americans the number of raids conducted against Tejano ranches and the Spanish outposts of San Antonio and La Bahía increased dramatically.  
 
The result was the wholesale destruction of the Spanish presence in Texas.  Comanches and Wichitas declared all-out war on Spaniards during the mid-1810s, as an extensive trading network soon emerged to connect Indian raiders with horse buyers in the southern United States.  American traders made regular purchasing trips into eastern Texas and many of these traders gathered in Nacogdoches (which had been largely abandoned by the Spanish in 1813-14), turning the village into a hub of the horse trade flowing from Texas to the Mississippi River Valley.  Tonkawas and Apaches soon joined the fray, conducting their own violent raids against Spaniards in search of horses to sell to the Americans.
 
Trade in stolen horses was nothing new for these tribes, and most had engaged in at least some trade with the Americans since the early 1800s.  What had changed during the 1810s, with the rise of the U.S. cotton frontier, was the scale and profitability of that trade.  One American who lived among the Texas Comanches during the late 1810s reported that “the number of mules and horses that these Indians capture annually from the Spaniards is immense, probably not less than 10,000.”  A Tejano testified in 1818 that he saw the Comanche trade bring more than 3,000 horses and mules through Natchitoches, Louisiana, during a single month.  American merchants squatting in Nacogdoches conducted an astounding $90,000 in trade during 1820 alone.
 
What made commerce on this scale so appealing to Comanches and their allies was that it brought them steady access to firearms, and all the military advantages that could bring.  U.S. traders happily converted horses into weapons for Indian raiders in Texas.  Ready access to high-quality firearms, in turn, allowed the Indians to expand and escalate their raids, as they became better armed and supplied than their Spanish counterparts.  
 
The violence soon spread across most of northern New Spain.  Having destroyed practically all Tejano herds, Indian raiders sustained the volume of the horse trade by extending their attacks southward to encompass Spanish settlements in territories beyond Texas.  War parties began crossing the Río Grande as early as 1815, laying waste to Spanish ranches and haciendas in the provinces of Nuevo Santander, Nuevo León, and Coahuila.  By the late 1810s the destruction unleashed by the U.S.-Texas horse trade had engulfed four Spanish provinces, with Texas serving as a launching point for Indian assaults on all of northern New Spain.
 
As the winter of 1820 approached, the Spanish position in Texas neared complete collapse.  Practically all Spaniards in the territory had retreated into San Antonio, where they teetered along the edge of starvation.  The governor of Texas, Antonio Martínez, sent dire warnings to his superiors in Mexico City that if the situation did not change soon he would be forced to abandon Texas entirely.  It was at that particular moment, and in that remarkable context, that Moses Austin rode into San Antonio in December 1820, with his audacious proposal to begin moving American cotton farmers into Texas as a means of shoring up the Spanish presence in the region.  
 
Spanish authorities eventually approved Austin’s plan because years of unrelenting violence had left them few other options for saving their presence in Texas.  And that violence came, in large measure, because of a quiet revolution in textiles that began in the mill towns of Great Britain.
 

Featured Lesson

“Gone to Texas,” Texas Pioneer, 1830-1860 is a primary source based lesson from the Institute of Texan Cultures. This lesson allows you to adapt the lesson to fit your classroom and the needs of your students. Following the Fourth Grade Social Studies TEKS, this packet covers both social studies and language arts topics. Students learn about pioneer life through language and reading. Themes include “Gone to Texas,” Building a Home, Chores and Responsibilities, and Fun and Games. Altogether, these themes define a Texas pioneer so that students will understand what life was like during the mid 1800s century. To find materials for the lesson, visit TeachingTexas.org.

Texas History News

Several opportunities for Texas history educators and students are available or are on the near horizon:

On October 28, 2016, The Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission (THGC) offers this free, one-day workshop Do Not Say They Cannot Hear Us: THGC Workshop on Teaching the Holocaust and Genocides. The workshop focuses on the Holocaust and genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, and the Middle East to Region 13 public and private school educators in social studies and/or language arts for grades 5-12. Educators in attendance will be given a folder containing lesson materials and readings, and will also be the first to gain access to the THGC’s free, password-protected digital library of film and textual materials, all of which have been carefully selected by THGC education staff. The online digital library is designed to provide Texas educators with a wide variety of easily accessible, pedagogically appropriate tools for reaching students across the spectrum of learning styles, and allows teachers the freedom to combine materials across themes as they see fit. The workshop will be facilitated by J.E. Wolfson, the Education Coordinator for the THGC. For more details, visit TeachingTexas.org.
 
 

Nominate your outstanding 4th-8th graders for summer 2017 Lone Star Leadership Academy camps! Participants travel to the Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin/San Antonio, or Houston/Galveston area to join delegations of other distinguished students from across Texas for a week of fun, learning, leadership development, and experiencing Texas history during visits to significant Texas destinations. Each day, participants explore notable Texas sites, learn about unique careers from professionals, and work in small groups to develop specific leadership skills. In addition to improving their leadership abilities, participants gain self-confidence and independence and develop new friendships with other high-achieving students from across the state. Fall Nomination Deadline: Friday, November 4, 2016. All Lone Star Leadership Academy camp facilitators are Texas teachers. Outstanding educators interested in summer employment are invited to apply! Visit TeachingTexas.org to learn more.

The Save Texas History Essay Contest is sponsored by the Texas General Land Office. It is a great opportunity for students to learn about their Texas communities, and explain why those communities are important. Students should address “What history in your community, or in Texas, is worth saving?” Essays will be judged on creativity, information/ facts, grammar/spelling, and organization/neatness. This contest is for all public, private and home-schooled Texas History students in grades 4-7. Entries must be received by October 31st. Winners will be announced December 1st. To learn more, visit TeachingTexas.org.
 
  The Mary Jon and J. P. Bryan Leadership in Education Annual Award offers $5,000 to honor one outstanding teacher in Texas each year. History teachers at the middle school, high school, and college levels are eligible. The winning teacher for 2016 will be presented a certificate and a check for $5,000 at the Texas State Historical Association's Annual Meeting in March 2017 in Houston, Texas. Letters of nomination sent to the award committee must be postmarked on or before December 09, 2016. For more information about this award, visit TeachingTexas.org.
The Texas State Historical Association, the Bullock Texas State History Museum, and the Region 13 Education Service Center are proud to present the Discovering Texas History Conference, February 6-7, 2017, to be held at the Thompson Conference Center on February 6th and the Bullock Texas State History Museum on the 7th. This event, for 4th and 7th grade Texas history educators, will focus on the history of Texas from the 1900 to Present. Tracks for American History and new teachers have been added. Teachers will be able to choose from a variety of breakout sessions addressing historical content, geography, economics, civics, teaching strategies, and resources. For your convenience, we will make available lunch each day of the conference with the $35.00 fee used for that purpose. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more information.
 
 

 

The Texas Center for Working-Class Studies, housed at Collin College, is pleased to announce a one-day Working-Class Studies conference for interested scholars and students. The conference will consist of panels in a range of disciplines and on a variety of issues related to social class and labor issues, both historical and contemporary. The keynote speaker will be noted scholar Dr. David Roediger, Foundation Professor of American Studies and History at The University of Kansas. For more information, please contact Dr. Kirby Living Legends Conference Center Collin College, Spring Creek Campus Plano, Texas Thursday, February 23, 2017. To learn more, visit TeachingTexas.org.
 
Do you know an outstanding teacher in your school or community? Nominate him or her for one of our 2017 Outstanding Teaching Awards, sponsored by Humanities Texas. In 2017, we will present a total of fifteen awards to exceptional Texas teachers, including the Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award, the Linden Heck Howell Outstanding Teaching of Texas History Award, and the Award for Outstanding Early-Career Teaching. Award recipients will each receive $5,000, with an additional $500 for their schools to purchase humanities-based instructional materials. To nominate a teacher, please complete the online nomination form by Wednesday, December 14, 2016. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more information.
 

 

The Witte Museum and the City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation are excited to bring you the 3rd Annual Currents in Texas Archaeology Symposium. The event will be on Friday, October 21st from 6:30-8:30pm. Join the city Archaeologist Kay Hindes for an exploration of the probable original site of Mission San Antonio de Valero, known as the Alamo, and see artifacts from this important excavation. Assistant City Archaeologist Matthew Elverson will also present, sharing discoveries from recent archaeological and archival investigations and of the Spanish Colonial powder house and watchtower structures. $5 for members, students, and educators $10 for other adults. Reservations required. Learn more at TeachingTexas.org.
 

Texas Insights is a publication of the Texas State Historical Association
in cooperation with The University of Texas at Austin.

Texas State Historical Association
3001 Lake Austin Blvd., Suite 3.116
Austin, TX 78703

Stephen Cure - Editor
Esther Rivera - Associate Editor

 

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