Column from Senator Robert Nichols

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 9, 2012
Contact: Alicia Pierce
(512) 463-0103

A time to remember Texas independence

As an American, I proudly the celebrate the Fourth of July. As a Texan, I celebrate March 2, Texas' Independence Day. Set on the anniversary of the signing of Texas' declaration of independence from Mexico, Texas Independence Day is a reminder of our state's rich history and the legacy of freedom we must still protect.

Signed March 2, 1836, the Texas Declaration of Independence was written in a single night during the convention at Washington on the Brazos. As the primary author of the declaration, George Childress was the Thomas Jefferson of the Texas Revolution. Some historians have speculated he may have come to the convention with a draft in order to expedite the completion.

Fast action was needed on the declaration because the stakes were becoming increasingly high for the then-colony. Though the Texas Revolution began in October of the previous year, many Texans were still unclear about the purpose of the struggle. Some wanted reforms from the Mexican government while others sought complete autonomy as a new and separate nation.

Following the lead of the American forefathers, the 54 delegates at Washington-on-the Brazos laid out a clear case for breaking the bonds with Mexico. It declared independence is the course which must be taken, "When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression."

The declaration goes on to site grievances such as a failure to have trial by jury, a lack of direct representation, unjustified seizure of property, and the lack of freedom of religion. Sound familiar?

After the delegates signed the original declaration, 5 copies were made and dispatched to the designated Texas towns of Bexar, Goliad, Nacogdoches, Brazoria, and San Felipe. 1,000 copies were ordered printed in handbill form.

Last Texas Independence Day, the 175th, I was lucky enough to view one of the original five copies while on the Senate floor. Looking at the signatures of the delegates who fearlessly risked their lives for the promise of freedom was inspiring. It reminded me how precious our liberty is and how closely we must guard it as a state.

Texas went on to operate as a stand-alone Republic for 10 years until it joined the United States by a vote of the people. While Texans are proud Americans, we still hold on to much of the individual spirit from our time as a separate nation. A spirit that has prompted many to say Texas is like a whole other country.

There are many ways to celebrate the holiday. You can enjoy the official state dish, chili, possibly prepared in the official state cooking implement, the Dutch oven. For dessert you could enjoy the official state pastries, the sopaipilla and strudel. Or, maybe you can take a ride on the official railroad, the Texas State Railroad which runs between Palestine and Rusk.

No matter what you do to celebrate Texas Independence Day, take time out to remember our state history and just one more reason we are proud to be Texans!

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