The Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. By Louis
Wiltz Kemp. Houston (The Anson Jones Press), 1944.
Pp. xxxiv+398, with an illustration and a reproduction of
the Declaration of Independence with signatures. $10.
This book is another of Mr. Kemp's major contributions to
the biography of early Texans and to the history of the Re-
public. Primarily, it is made up of authoritative encyclopaedic
sketches of the fifty-nine signers of the Declaration of Inde-
pendence. Incidentally, it goes much further: correcting nu-
merous errors heretofore firmly imbedded in historical litera-
ture and tradition and adding greatly to our knowledge of
significant characters who appear only casually in relation to
his principal theme.
One who has never tried to dig such a series of sketches from
the dim, scattered records of the past can have no conception
of the immense labor and industry required. The difficulty is
much greater than that of following a single character through
a full length biography, because the subject is always changing.
To say that the principal sources of information exist in the
official records of the state, printed and in manuscript, ob-
scures the difficulty of the undertaking. The manuscripts are
scattered through numerous collections in various departments
--thousands of documents, some of them highly technical,
some only roughly alphabetized, and without any sort of con-
cordance. Suffice it to say that Mr. Kemp has explored the
official 'records not only of Texas but also of other states
likely to yield information pertinent to his undertaking; that
he has tracked his characters through newspapers, court re-
ports, family records and traditions, and sometimes to their
tombstones. He combines in rare degree the interests and talents
of historian, biographer, and genealogist; and in all essentials
he has done a job that nobody will ever be tempted to do again.
In the thirty-four introductory pages, Mr. Kemp describes
the elections to the Convention of March, 1836, which declared
independence and framed the constitution of the Republic;
analyzes the source of emigration of the respective members
of the Convention and fixes their terms of residence in Texas
prior to the meeting of the Convention; discusses the history
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146055/. Accessed June 30, 2015.