Notes and Documents
te LArk of the Coeawt of the rexas
Declaration of Jhdeperderce
R. HENDERSON SHUFFLER
AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK on the morning of February 27, 1961,
President Harry H. Ransom of the University of Texas
delivered to Governor Price Daniel one of the most inter-
esting relics of the Republic of Texas: "the Ark of the Covenant
of the Texas Declaration of Independence."' The ancient oblong
wooden box is to occupy a place of honor in the new State Ar-
chives building on the capitol grounds.
In the custody of the University of Texas since 1927, the relic
was this year brought out of storage and placed under the care
of the Texas Library and Historical Commission. It is legally the
property of the people of Texas.
The battered old chest is the only physical relic of that strangely
unknown building in which Texas' independence was declared on
March 2, 1836, and in which the first Constitution of the Republic
was adopted some fifteen days later. Built of hand-split oak boards
from the original building,2 and veneered with walnut from the
desk on which the Declaration was supposed to have been signed,"
1This name, implied in the letter of donation by Mr. and Mrs. R. G. White, was
used in reference to the box in the program notes for the presentation ceremony
of March 2, 1927, to be found in the "Declaration of Independence" file of the
Archives, Texas State Library. The same title was used in reference to the relic in
an article in the San Antonio Express, March 2, 1930.
2Dr. John Washington Lockhart, in A. Garland Adair, A Century of Texas
Governors and Capitols (Austin, 1943), 47, says the building was "weatherboarded
with clapboards split with a froe, oak boards about four feet long." W. P. Zuber,
in a letter to N. M. Wilcox, January 27, 19o8 (Archives, Texas State Library),
speaks of "split clapboards four feet long."
3"Address of Hon. Thomas S. Henderson," Supplement to the House Journal of
the Fortieth Texas Legislature, 7. Authenticity of the reputed origin of the veneer
was questioned by Henderson in his presentation, March 2, 1927. "It (the box) is
unquestionably genuine," he said, "except the walnut veneering on the outside,
which is supposed to be from the desk on which the Declaration rested when it
was being signed." W. P. Zuber, "Eighty Years in Texas" (MS. in Main Miscel-
laneous Collection, Archives, Texas State Library), 188, says that when he visited In-
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101195/. Accessed February 8, 2016.