The Texas Times

Archives War!

The Capital Battle

President Houston called the Seventh Congress into session at Washington-on-the-Brazos and at the end of December 1842 sent a company of rangers under Col. Thomas I. Smith an Capt. Eli Chandler to Austin with orders to remove the archives from Austin to Houston. President Houston, fearing that the Mexicans would attack Austin, called an emergency session of the Texas Congress to meet in Houston.


Mexican leaders, under the direction of Rafael Vasquez, began launching raids in Texas expressing their frustration of the acts of the Lamar administration. Vasquez' soldiers attacked San Antonio, Goliad, Refugio, and Victoria. Many Texans panicked when they heard of the invasion.


President Houston ordered that the government records be removed from the capital. Houston often described Austin as "the most unfortunate site on earth for a seat of government."


Austin residents opposed this move, suspecting that it meant the capital would be permanently moved to Houston. The citizens of Austin formed a vigilante committee of residents and warned department heads that any attempt to move state papers would be met with armed resistance.



Captain Mark B. Lewis, head of the vigilance committee, seized a cannon and overtook the wagons at Kenney's Fort on Brushy Creek. Austin resident, Angelina Eberly, said to Captain Baker, "as I cast a long, lingering look on my deserted home, don't burn the town - all I have is there." Ms. Eberly fired a cannon at officials who were loading documents onto wagons. The vigilantes quickly drove away.


The archives were returned to Austin and remained there safe until Austin became the capital again in 1844. The citizens celebrated with a New Year's party.