COUNT ALPHONSO DE SALIGNY AND
THE FRANCO-TEXIENNE BILL
BERNICE BARNETT DENTON
Count Alphonso de Saligny viewed Texas for the first time
in January, 1839, when he visited Houston on a secret mission
of investigation for the French government. He had been
ordered to Texas to study and report conditions so that the
French government might have data on which to decide the
advisability of recognizing the independence of Texas. Utterly
unimpressed by what he saw, Saligny nevertheless prepared a
favorable report; the wily Frenchman had personal ambitions,
and believing that he would be appointed charge d'affaires in
the event of recognition, he urged its desirability. Saligny
never wanted the post for what it was, but knowing well that,
in the ranks of the French diplomatic corps, advancement was
slow and beginnings were humble, this cultured Frenchman,
reared in an atmosphere of diplomacy and court intrigue, was
willing to "sacrifice" himself in the wilds of Texas in order to
pave the way for a more brilliant future.
So it was that the French Count sent a favorable report
concerning Texas, and his government, partly on the basis of
his observations, recognized the independence of Texas in
September, 1839. And Saligny, as he had anticipated, was
appointed the first charge d'affaires from the Court of Louis
Philippe to Texas.
The boat that carried this educated, polished Frenchman to
Texas carried also rich French furnishings, drapes, furniture,
and French glass windows of intricate design. These were to
furnish the French embassy which Saligny intended to build
in Texas; even a cook from Paris accompanied the French
minister. Probably Saligny hoped thus to take a little of France
into the "wilds" of Texas, and thereby protect himself from
the crudities of frontier life.'
On January 26, 1840, Saligny and his party arrived in
Houston. As the representative of France, he was accorded
every possible honor by the people of Houston, where his coming
was announced by a national salute of honor. He did not tarry
'Morning Star, Houston, December 27, 1839.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 45, July 1941 - April, 1942. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146053/. Accessed September 30, 2014.