The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 64, July 1960 - April, 1961 Page: 173
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The Texan Archive War of 1842
there should be an 'Aladin's Lamp' at hand by whose magic spell
cities and castles can be reared in a single night.
Those in favor of the move, however, did not have castles in
mind. Theirs was the hope of developing the interior of the huge
Republic and of choosing a central point accessible to all the
people of Texas after the population was more equally distributed.
The most outstanding criticism of the removal of the seat of
government was Austin's proximity to both enemies, the Indians
and the Mexicans. The possibility of attack was a constant threat
to the citizens of Austin and especially, to the archives and rec-
ords of the General Land Office. These differences of opinion,
the subsequent removal of the seat of government to Austin, and
the attempts to change the capital back to Houston were the main
causes of the Archive War.
In the removal of archival property from Houston to Austin,
John P. Borden, first commissioner of the General Land Office,
acted as the government's agent and made all necessary arrange-
ments for the transfer. His official record covering the period from
August 26 to October 14, 1839, shows that some fifty wagons
hauled the archives and that the total cost of the removal was
$6,215.5 By the 14th of October the archives and heads of depart-
ments were in Austin, and all offices were open for the transaction
of business. President Lamar and his cabinet arrived on October
The Houston faction in Congress and the early critics who
opposed moving the capital to Austin never gave up hope that
the seat of government would be returned to the coast. Sam
Houston never hesitated to voice his personal dislike of the city
of Austin. He wrote his fiance, Anna Raguet, that Austin was
the most unfortunate site on earth for the capital." He feared
that Indians could burn the town, destroy the archives, and
murder the people and "that he (using an oath) would not risk
5John Borden's Accounts with the Republic of Texas, August 26, 1839-October
14, 1839 (MSS., Main Miscellaneous File, Archives, Texas State Library); J. P.
Borden to M. B. Lamar, December 20o, 1839, in Charles Adams Gulick, Jr., and
others (eds.), The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols., Austin, 1921-
1928), III, 204.
6Sam Houston to Anna Raguet, December 1o, 1839, in Amelia Williams and
Eugene C. Barker (eds.), Writings of Sam Houston (8 vols.; Austin, 1938-1943),
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 64, July 1960 - April, 1961, periodical, 1961; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101190/m1/199/: accessed March 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.