The first Congress of the Republic of Texas met October 3, 1836, in Columbia in a large dog-trot house "meager in every respect." The fourteen senators who convened there must have been amazed at the circumstances that brought them together and fearful of the impermanence of their offices. Only a year earlier the representative body of their territory had been a provincial government of the Republic of Mexico, and not too long before that, residents of the region had sworn fealty to a Spanish king. On this autumn day, however, the inhabitants of the lands north of the Rio Grande were calling themselves Texans, creators and citizens of a country recognized only by themselves as the Republic of Texas. So begins The Texas Senate, which charts events, both grand and small, that have marked the legislative history of the republic and the state. This volume, the first of five, is written by members of the Senate Engrossing and Enrolling Department and edited by Enrolling Clerk Patsy McDonald Spaw. Leading off the volume, which covers the period up to secession, is a foreword by Lieutenant Governor William P. Hobby. Sources for the history include the Senate journals, the letters and private papers of senators, newspapers of the era, committee reports, and other primary sources, as well as general and specialized histories of the topics. More than fifty illustrations and eighteen appendices listing members of the legislative bodies (ten compiled by Thomas Phillips, chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court) add significant details. The professionally researched text tells the story of the young republic and state with forthrightness, drama, and humor. It presents information on who the members of the Senate were, vignettes of the more colorful members, issues of the day and their resolution, and interesting Senate proceedings and controversies. From the details emerges a realistic and intriguing picture of our forebears that includes rowdy drunkards, buffoons, criminals, and ne'er-do-wells, but also men and women of great courage and determination–educated, intelligent, self-sacrificing people who served Texas at great cost to themselves.
Patsy McDonald Spaw, engrossing and enrolling clerk of the Senate, wrote much of the material and supervised other staff members in the preparation of other parts, under the general direction of Betty King, secretary of the Senate. Spaw, who holds a B.A. degree from St. Edward's University and is studying law at South Texas College of Law, has twenty years of legislative experience and has held her present position since 1977.
What Readers Are Saying:
"The staff of Senate E&E are to be congratulated for compiling and writing a history of the Texas Senate. Their thorough and readable work should give Texans a great deal of insight into the workings of the Texas Senate and its colorful history."--Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby
"The staff of Senate E&E are to be congratulated for compiling and writing a history of the Texas Senate. Their thorough and readable work should give Texans a great deal of insight into the workings of the Texas Senate and its colorful history." --Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby
" . . . filled with enough human drama, along with factual information, to make this review look forward to the remaining four volumes. . . . The uniqueness of this book comes from viewing the issues through the eyes of the senators involved in trying to solve them." --Review of Texas Books
"With excellent maps, drawings, and photos, this is a real contribution to social history as reflected in law." --Books of the Southwest
"Each volume of this series will provide a useful insight into the evolution and dynamics of an important segment of Texas government in its time period . . . will become a much needed research tool for students of Texas history and government." --East Texas Historical Journal
"Spaw's work represents an excellent reference for students and scholars of early Texas politics." --Southern Historian
" . . . will take its place as an indispensable source for those interested in early Texas." --Southwestern Historical Quarterly
" . . . a fascinating study of an institution in the early stages of development that will do much to shape the evolution of Texas." --Journal of the West