The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 64, July 1960 - April, 1961 Page: 176
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
fall upon the country through his neglect of imperious constitutional
duty, he would be culpable in the extreme, and most justly incur
the reproach of a whole nation.'"
Thomas W. Ward, commissioner of the General Land Office,14
was directed to make the preparations necessary for the transpor-
tation of the archives."* The military commander in Austin,
Colonel Henry Jones, opposed the executive order and decided
after a consultation with the citizens to detain the archives.
Residents of Austin were outraged when they learned of Pres-
ident Houston's intentions regarding the archives. Austinites felt
the President had abandoned the seat of government. The fact
that this move had resulted in a sharp decline in real estate values,
no doubt, influenced many opinions. Some persons felt that Sam
Houston had failed to realize the true condition of affairs on the
western frontier and that the Vasquez invasion was merely a plun-
dering or guerrilla party that did not constitute a serious threat.
Austin citizens insisted the archives were as safe as they had ever
been, and many persons felt the absence of the President from
his post had been a large factor in the loss of confidence regarding
the safety of the archives and the city of Austin.
A colorful letter written by John Welsh of Webber's Prairie,
in eastern Travis County, to President Sam Houston provides an
interesting measure of the public attitude in January of 1842
toward moving the records of the government.
Sir Old Sam Webbers purrary 7 January 1842
We did heare that you was goin to move the seat of government
and the publick papers and that you swore you would do it, and
laWilliams and Barker (eds.), Writings of Sam Houston, II, 53388.
14Ward served as the second commissioner of the General Land Office. He was
known as Peg Leg Ward, having lost his right leg in the siege of Bexar, December
7, 1835, the same day that Ben Milam was killed. Tradition is that Ward's leg and
Milam's body were interred in the same grave. Ward served during the battle of
San Jacinto, and for services to Texas he was appointed Commissioner of the
General Land Office by Sam Houston to succeed John P. Borden. Misfortune
seemed to follow Ward, for in 1841, while firing a cannon in celebration of Texas
independence, he lost his right arm. Noah Smithwick, Evolution of a State, or
Recollections of Old Texas Days (Austin, 1900oo), 263.
1sSam Houston to Thomas W. Ward, April 4, 1842, in General Land Office
Letters: Early Letters Sent, 1840-1845 (MS., General Land Office, Austin), III, 309.
The writer is deeply appreciative to the members of the General Land Office staff
for the splendid cooperation rendered in making available materials in the General
Land Office pertaining to the Archive War.
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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/m1/202/: accessed April 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.