THE SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. XLVIII JULY, 1944 No. 1
Cie Capitol (?) at Coluitbia
L. W. KEMP
F R MANY YEARS most Texas histories used in the primary
grades of schools throughout Texas have reproduced a
photograph or drawing of a dilapidated shack that stood
in West Columbia, and which is erroneously referred to as
the first capitol of Texas.'
Columbia, now West Columbia, was the temporary seat of
government of the Republic of Texas, but whether or not it
was ever the capital, in the true sense of the word, is debatable.
Granting, however, for the sake of argument, that it was the
capital, the much publicized building could not properly be
called the capitol. It was just one-and not the most important
-of several buildings utilized by the government during its
short sojourn in Columbia.
The Constitution of the new Republic required that an
election be held on the first Monday in September to select a
president, a vice-president, and members of Congress. David
G. Burnet, president ad interim, by proclamation dated July
23, 1836, ordered the election held, fixed the first Monday in
October as the date for Congress to convene, and named
Columbia as the meeting place. He did not designate Columbia
as the capital, and he had no authority to do so.
It is commonly stated, too, that the First Congress was
held in Columbia. This is but partly true. Only the first session
'See M. E. M. Davis, The Story of Texas Under Six Flags (Boston:
Ginn & Co., 1897), 14; Dudley G. Wooten, A Complete History of Texas
(Dallas: The Texas History Co., 1899), 246; Joseph L. Clark, The Story
of Texas (Evanston, Ill.: Row, Peterson & Co., 1932), 183; Clarence R.
Wharton, History of Texas (Dallas: Turner & Co., 1935), 202; Ralph
W. Steen, History of Texas (Austin: The Steck Co., 1939), 173; Wharton,
Lone Star State (Dallas: Southern Publishing Co., 1932), 153. Clark did not
include a picture of the building in his A Complete History of Texas,
Land of Promise (Atlanta: D. C. Heath & Co., 1940). Steen reproduces
a photograph of the building in his Texas, A Story of Progress and
correctly identifies it as "one of the government buildings in 1836 .. ."
(Austin: The Steck Co., 1942), 251.
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 March 30, 2015.