The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 15, July 1911 - April, 1912 Page: 149
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Destruction of Historical Archives of Texas
of Austin, including the records and papers appertaining thereto,
up to the commencement of the last administration, was entirely
consumed by fire. It was doubtless the work of an incendiary,
who may have hoped in this way to destroy existing evidence of
defalcation or indebtedness to the Government. And this suppo-
sition is the more probable from the fact that the Secretary of the
Treasury had announced his intention of placing the books and
papers of his department in a condition to exhibit fully the ac-
counts of debtors and defaulters, previous to the change of gov-
ernment1 [which would follow annexation].
A variety of contradictory reports have been in circulation re-
cently relative to the Treasury Office that was burnt at Austin a
few weeks since. We have hitherto deemed them unworthy of
notice, for we had supposed that very few valuable papers were
destroyed. It will be recollected, however, that immediately after
the news of the burning of the Office reached Washington, the
editor of the Washington Register published a statement to the
effect that the vouchers of the Office included those which showed
the amount of indebtedness of the government defaulters, were
destroyed. We thought that the article contained an intimation
that the Office might have been burnt by one of the defaulters.
How any defaulter could ascertain that the evidences of his in-
iquity were locked up in this Office is to us inexplicable, for we
have ever supposed that it was the duty of the Secretary of the
Treasury, and of the Auditor and Comptroller to keep these evi-
dences in their offices. The Treasurer, we supposed, merely kept
the vouchers shewing the amount of money received and disbursed
by him. Unless, therefore, he had in his office a part of the
papers and documents belonging to other offices, the amount of in-
jury sustained by the government cannot be very great. It is im-
portant that the amount of injury that the government has sus-
tained should be made known, and we sincerely hope that the
Treasurer will publish a statement of the papers and documents
that were consumed. By neglecting this he has already subjected
himself to charges of a very discreditable character, as will be
seen by the following extract from a letter published in the Mont-
gomery Patriot of Oct. 25th. This letter, says the Patriot, was
written by a person who was at Austin when the conflagration
"It is known that the archives remained at Austin, under the
superintendence of a committee, in the center of the town, until
the latter part of August last, at which time President Jones and
his cabinet arrived at Austin, and took possession of them. The
Treasury Department was immediately moved some two or three
1Texas National Register, September 18, 1845.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 15, July 1911 - April, 1912, periodical, 1912; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101056/m1/154/: accessed April 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.