Monday, March 2, 2015

Texas Independence Day 2015

Today is Texas Independence Day. On March 2, 1836, Texas declared itself a free and independent Republic.
The Texas Declaration of Independence was produced, literally, overnight. Its urgency was paramount, because while it was being prepared, the Alamo in San Antonio was under siege by Santa Anna's army of Mexico.

Immediately upon the assemblage of the Convention of 1836 on March 1, a committee of five of its delegates were appointed to draft the document. The committee, consisting of George C. Childress, Edward Conrad, James Gaines, Bailey Hardeman, and Collin McKinney, prepared the declaration in record time. It was briefly reviewed, then adopted by the delegates of the convention the following day.

... the document parallels somewhat that of the United States, signed almost sixty years earlier. It contains statements on the function and responsibility of government, followed by a list of grievances. Finally, it concludes by declaring Texas a free and independent republic. 
Full text here.

That's the basic history. Now for the fun stuff.

Celebrate Texas Independence Day with free beer
Today, all Houston-area Rudy's locations in Texas will be giving away one free bottle of Lone Star beer per guest of legal drinking age and there's no purchase necessary.

 Or you could come by my house. I'll provide the Shiner.

Here's a bit more history. As a proud graduate of THE University of Texas, I'm pleased to provide this look at one of the more enduring - and endearing - UT traditions.
For the proudest of Texans, it's the most important day of the year. It's a holiday that no other state can claim. March 2 is Texas Independence Day, and it's observance on the University of Texas campus began with a missed class, a visit to Scholz' Beer Garden, and a spiked cannon. In the spring of 1896, the fledgling University was confined to a 40-acre campus, with a white-washed wooden fence around the perimeter to keep out the town cows. A Victorian-Gothic Main Building, only two-thirds complete, commanded the hill in the center. It was flanked by the Chemistry Lab Building to the northwest, and B. Hall, a men's dorm, down the hill to the east.

The University's 482 students were divided into two departments: Academic and Law...

On the cloudy, warm and humid morning of March 2, 1896, the Junior Laws were waiting for their next lecture in criminal law, taught by Judge Robert Batts, when one student bemoaned the fact that the day was Texas Independence Day, a legal holiday for Texans, except, apparently, for UT students.

For years, students had regularly petitioned the faculty for a break on March 2nd, but had always been refused...

After serious discussion, the Junior Laws decided they would honor such an auspicious day by avoiding class altogether, and invited Judge Batts to join them. The diplomatic Batts responded with an eloquent speech, espousing all of the dire things that might happen to Junior Laws who skipped lectures. The students listened, cheered, and promptly ignored Batts' pleas, choosing instead to spend the day at Scholz' Beer Garden just south of the campus, where they were reportedly "very gemuethlick."
"Gemütlich" is a German word that doesn't translate directly into English, but which basically conveys a feeling of warm and friendly congeniality, much like one feels after a few beers. For the record, Scholz' Beer Garten is the oldest beer garden not just in Texas, but in the entire United States. When I was at UT I lived just a few blocks away - within staggering walking distance. And like the 1896 Law students, I missed more than one class while sitting in the back under the trees and sipping a few brews.

One year later, in 1897, the now senior law class was determined to include the entire campus community in a celebration of "the natal day of Texas Independence," and again petitioned the faculty for a holiday ... Working with the Texas Attorney General, four of the students signed a bond in order to borrow one of the two brass cannons that stood guard in front of the State Capitol. It took most of the afternoon of March 1st to roll the cannon to the Forty Acres, where the Laws planned to use it for a 21-gun salute to Texas at dawn following day.

Just before sunrise on March 2, 1897, the Senior Laws arrived for their celebration, only to find the cannon had been spiked. A large nail had been driven in to the ignition hole, and it took some time, persistence and the employment of several pocket knives to remove the offending item. By then, (the university president) George Winston had arrived on the scene, and was rather unhappily resigned to the fact that the students were going to celebrate, whether or not the faculty approved. Hoping to minimize the damage to the class day, Winston asked the Laws to move the cannon away from the Main Building, down the hill to the University's athletic field...

Boom! Starting at 9:30am, an otherwise peaceful March morning was harshly interrupted by a series of cannon blasts from the athletic field. The entire Law Department attended...

Meanwhile, a distracted Academic Department continued to hold classes as best as it could, some of the faculty hoping the Laws would tire of their efforts, while other professors were no doubt wishing they could join in the fun. The Laws, though, weren't going to allow Texas Independence Day to pass without including the rest of the University.

At 1pm, a fresh supply of gun powder was secured, and the cannon was dragged up the hill and positioned directly in front of the Main Building, facing the Capitol. The first blast "threatened to break every window in the building." In a flurry, the Academs vacated their classrooms and joined the Laws outside...

Midway through the afternoon, it was discovered that President Winston had quietly made his escape home just north of the campus, to which a large and boisterous committee of students promptly followed. Refusing to take no for an answer, Winston was persuaded to return and make a speech of his own. He opened with the remark:

"I was born in the land of liberty, rocked in the cradle of liberty, nursed on the bottle of liberty, and I've had liberty preached to me all my life, but Texas University students take more liberty than anyone I've ever come in contact with."
You've got to love a state that celebrates its independence with beer and cannons!

And given the way things are going with the rest of the country, it may be time for Texas Independence Day - The Sequel...


Well Seasoned Fool said...

Seems the Republic of Texas is getting some attention from Law Enforcement.

Old NFO said...

Yep, smarter men than we... sigh

Bag Blog said...

I've been to the Scholz' Beer Garten, which I remember as being great fun, but our hangout was Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos while attending SWTSU. While attending Texas Tech, the place to hang was Fat Dawg's. Oh wait! The topic was Texas Independence Day! Remember the Alamo!

CenTexTim said...

WSF - yeah, that was an outrageous - and scary - story...

NFO - One day to pass a Declaration of independence. Can you imagine trying to get something like that passed today?

BB - Never was much of a Cheatham fan, but I did hang out at Fat Dawgs a time or two ... also the Cotton Club.

Bag Blog said...

My first date with my hubby was to hear Joe Ely at the Cotton Club.

Cheatham St. had ladies free and nickel beer - perfect poor students.