The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 64, July 1960 - April, 1961 Page: 175
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The Texan Archive War of 1842
mending that martial law be declared and that all families leave
for a more protected portion of the country. This advice was
heeded by many, and only about two dozen families and a few
single men remained in Austin.10 The French charge d'affaires,
Alphonse de Saligny, was among those who fled.11
The Mexican attack on San Antonio was not a full scale inva-
sion. Visquez and his force retreated from San Antonio only two
days after their arrival. Communication was limited, however,
and President Houston, fearing for the safety of the archives and
perhaps realizing that the time was opportune, ordered Secretary
of War George W. Hockley on March io, 1842, to remove the
archives to Houston.12 The President justified his order for re-
moval of the archives by Section 3 of General Provisions of the
Constitution of the Republic of Texas which stated that "The
president and heads of departments shall keep their offices at the
seat of government, unless removed by the permission of Con-
gress, or unless, in case of emergency in time of war, the public
interest may require their removal." Houston felt that a Mexican
Army in San Antonio constituted an emergency and was a threat
to the archives, and he stated:
The destruction of the national archives would entail irremediable
injury upon the whole people of Texas, and their safe preservation
should be a consideration of paramount importance to that officer
of the government who is responsible for such safe preservation.
The constitution of the country-the supreme law of the land-
the expression of the immediate will of the people, has devolved
this high and sacred obligation upon the President. Should the
infinite evil which the loss of the national archives would occasion,
1oFrank Brown, Annals of Travis County and the City of Austin (transcripts,
Archives, Texas State Library), Chapter IX, 8-9.
11Saligny had experienced numerous troubles in Austin-some unbecoming to a
diplomat-where he had been found guilty of passing counterfeit promissory notes
and where he had regularly refused to pay his bills. Saligny was convined Austin
was the jumping off place for civilization; culture did not exist, and it was difficult
for him to maintain proper protocol in the frontier atmosphere. Although Saligny
was fearful of Indians, Mexicans, and at times Texans, like a true son of France
his faith never wavered in the power of the French flag. When he hurriedly left
on March 19, he took time to hoist the tricolor on the French Legation. Jewett,
"The Archive War of Texas," De Bow's Review, May, 1859, pp. 517-518.
12Order to George W. Hockley for Removal of the Archives, March 1o, 1842
(MS., Executive Record of the Second Term of General Sam Houston's Adminis-
tration of the Government of Texas, December, 1841-December, 1844), Number 40,
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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/m1/201/: accessed December 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.