The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988 Page: 350
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Celebrations of Texas independence traditionally have been held on
two days: March 2, when the Convention of 1836 adopted a declaration
of independence from Mexico, and April 21, when the Texas army
under Sam Houston defeated a Mexican force led by Antonio L6pez de
Santa Anna at San Jacinto.
In 1886 many communities ignored March 2. The attention of citi-
zens was probably focused on what seemed to be the more pressing
events of the moment. In an effort to improve working conditions, rail-
road employees of southwestern lines controlled by Jay Gould had re-
cently organized under the Knights of Labor. By March io, all the
workers on the Gould lines except the trainmen had gone on strike,
prompted by the firing of a union official in Texas. The growth of the
Farmers Alliance and its search for solutions to agricultural problems
was also absorbing the attention of people in the many small, rural
communities. Labor and farming, as well as the sale of state lands,
formed lively topics for the several politicians seeking a gubernatorial
nomination or legislative support for election to the United States Sen-
ate in the forthcoming contests of 1886 and 1887. Thus Texans easily
might have been distracted from observing the day on which their in-
dependence had been declared.2
A few individuals and groups remembered, however, and made some
effort to honor the day. The Young Men's Social Club of Brenham in-
vited the public to hear the Declaration of Independence and the 1835
memorial of the Texas colonists to the Mexican Congress, read respec-
tively by John Sayles and Lewis R. Bryan, son of Moses Austin Bryan,
as well as an oration by D. C. Giddings in honor of March 2. In Fort
Worth the local chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic, a society of
Union veterans from the Civil War, held a ball that night. The Gal-
veston County Veterans Association followed its practice of conducting
an annual meeting on Independence Day. Bad weather limited atten-
dance, however; only four of the thirty-three Galveston veterans of the
Texas Revolution gathered for the occasion. Rain also caused cancella-
tion of a parade scheduled in San Antonio.
A few newspapers commented on the lack of interest. The Fort
Worth Daily Gazette editorialized on "Our Semi-Centennial," but noted
that, "Aside from the closing [of] the banks yesterday, there was not
2San Antonio Dazly Express, Mar. 2, 1886; John S. Spratt, The Road to Spindletop: Economic
Change in Texas, I875-i9ox (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1955), 189-190,
241-242; Alwyn Barr, Reconstruction to Reform: Texas Politics, 1876-I906 (Austin: University of
Texas Press, 1971), 93-102
SDallas Morning News, Mar 3, 1886; Fort Worth Daily Gazette, Mar. 3, 1886; Galveston Daily
News, Mar. 3, 1886.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988, periodical, 1987/1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101211/m1/406/: accessed October 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.