Notes and Documents
The Semicentennial of Texas
Independence in z886
W ITH THE RECENT CELEBRATION OF THE SESQUICENTENNIAL OF TEXAS
independence, it is important to understand not only how and
why the Texas Revolution succeeded but also how Texans have remem-
bered and honored that event. The first opportunity for major com-
memorations came with the Semicentennial in 1886. A further under-
standing of that occasion may be developed by comparisons with the
Centennial of 1936 and with celebrations of the American Revolution.
During the Centennial in 1936, the major exposition on the state fair
grounds in Dallas headed a series of local festivals and celebrations
across the state. Federal and state funds supported the construction of
monuments such as the one on the San Jacinto battlefield, the restora-
tion of the Alamo and other historic structures, and the erection of mu-
seums, statues, and a variety of markers on historic sites. Private inter-
ests produced numerous souvenirs and profited from increased tourist
business. Historians and writers published several books related to the
occasion.' Did these twentieth-century observances follow traditions es-
tablished earlier for celebrating Texas independence? Or did Texans
of the nineteenth century, who included veterans of the Texas Revolu-
tion, approach the Semicentennial in 1886 with different views and
honor it in other ways?
*Alwyn Barr is professor of history at Texas Tech University and the author of books and
articles, including Reconstruction to Reform: Texas Politics, x876-i9o6.
'Wallace O. Chariton, Texas Centennial. The Parade of an Empire (Plano, Tex.: Texas Centen-
nial, 1979); Harold Schoen (comp.), Monuments Erected by the State of Texas to Commemorate the
Centenary of Texas Independence ... (Austin: Commission of Control for Texas Centennial Cele-
brations, 1938); Bernard Massie, "The Celebration of the Texas Centennial" (M.A. thesis, Baylor
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101211/. Accessed March 9, 2014.