Texas Heritage, Volume 19, Number 1, Winter 2001 Page: 5
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THE PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE
MARSHALL J. DOKE JR.
ap ve played a unique and impor
I in Texas history. Maps conutJ
tQ r history by their impact in
describing the territorial claims of the
Texas Republic and other countries and by
their promotional use in attracting settlers.
Much of our history is told through maps,
as reflected in Martin and Martin's "Maps
of Texas and the Southwest, 1513-1900"
(reprinted in 1999 by the Texas State Historical
Association), a must for all Texas
Maps are a graphic image of what was
known about Texas at any particular time.
Maps assisted in making, and resulted from,
discoveries. They documented explorations
made to achieve political, military,
and economic advantages and were used
to communicate this information (accurately
and inaccurately) to individuals, geographers,
One map actually may have directly
influenced Texas history. After Mexico revolted
against Spain in 1821, it initially
refused to recognize the grant to Stephen
F Austin's father, and Austin promised to
provide Mexico's government with an accurate
map of the entire province if Mexico
would confirm his father's grant. Austin
received his contract to settle 300 families,
and he fulfilled his pledge. His 1830
map was the most accurate map of its time.
Many believe that Austin had a more important
purpose in preparing the map - to
attract settlers to his colony.
After Texas won its independence in
1836, it had lots of land, no money, and
heavy debt. Texas sold land script to raise
money and offered land grants to encourage
immigration, both of which required
surveys and maps. This led the Republic
almost immediately to establish the Texas
General Land Office on December 22,
1836 (over the veto of President Sam
Houston), only nine days after the Texas
Congress defined the duties of the heads
of departments of the government.
The Texas Congress gave the Land
Commissioner authority in Section 5 of the
1836 Act to:
". .. take charge of... all the records,
books and papers, in any way appertaining
to the lands of the republic, and that may
now be, in the care or possession of all
emprasaries, political chiefs, alcaldes, commissaries,
or commissioners for issuing land
titles, or any other person; and the said
records, books and papers shall become and
be deemed the books and papers of the said
[general land] office."
Section 24 of the Act authorized
conditional grants of 1,280 acres to male
heads of families who would reside in Texas
for three years and 640 acres to single men
on the same condition.
Maps (including Austin's) were used
to advertise Texas to prospective settlers
moving west with the Manifest Destiny
spirit, which resulted in an explosion of immigration
to Texas. Many Texas maps contained
editorial comments (such as "rich
land" and "delightful country") clearly reflecting
The cartographer's work not only is
scientific but also is a distinct art form.
Original manuscripts and printed maps are
highly valued by collectors. Some are as
important for their errors as others are for
Antique maps of Texas are prized by
collectors, and map dealers all over the
world attest to their demand. The great interest
in Texas maps resulted in the organization
of the Texas Map Society, which
is devoted to fostering the study, understanding,
and collecting of historical maps
and cartography. It is one of the few map
societies in the United States.
The Texas map is a treasured symbol.
The mere outline of the state is recognized
over the world and is used as ornaments
and on clothing to reflect our land
and the people. The map symbol on license
plates and lapel pins is a source of pride as
a representation of our heritage.
We are grateful to Gerald D. Saxon
and Kit Goodwin and the Special Collections
Division of the library at the University
of Texas at Arlington and the other
contributors to this publication. We also
thank our own THF director, John M.
(Marty) Davis Jr., who was of great assistance
to our HERITAGE editor in planning
We are confident this magazine will
be an important historical contribution and
a valuable supplement to Martin and
Martin's book and other cartographic literature,
and we hope it will be a permanent
part of the library of Texas historians
and map collectors everywhere.
Doke is a lawyer in the Dallas office of
GARDERE WYNNE SEWELL LLP. He
welcomes your comments or suggestions regarding
the Texas Historical Foundation at his
e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
HERITAGE * 5 * WINTER 2001
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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Volume 19, Number 1, Winter 2001, periodical, Winter 2001; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45384/m1/5/: accessed April 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.