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San Felipe de Austin's Role as Provisional Government

Henry Smith arrived in Texas around 1827. He became involved in political issues related to the governance of the Texas colonies by Mexico. He was an early supporter of the independence movement. In 1934 the governor of the state of Coahuila and Texas named Smith the political chief of the department of the Brazos (a sign that the Mexican authorities thought him an excellent citizen).

At the Consultation meeting in town of San Felipe de Austin in November of 1835, Smith supported an immediate declaration of independence from Mexico. Despite his minority view, he was chosen as governor of the proposed state of Texas. However, most members of the General Council (the governing body empowered during the Consultation) favored a declaration that would defend the right of colonists to take up arms against a cruel government to fight for their promised rights under the Mexican Constitution of 1824. Smith served as the governor of a Texas presumed separate from the Mexican state of Coahuila, but still part of the Mexican Republic.

There were fights within the provisional government arising from conflict over Smith’s selection as governor and a majority of the General Council leadership disagreeing with his views. In theory, a proposed Mexican state of Texas had a provisional government based at San Felipe from November 1835 until the end of February 1836. In reality, the Smith administration collapsed within a few weeks for three reasons:

  • Political conflict (he did not support the government effort that he was in charge of, and he could not force its members to support his views).
  • The pressures of a mounting military campaign against the Mexican government.
  • The egos and personality conflicts of leaders struggling to make sense of their unique predicament.

Smith tried to break up the General Council. They responded by impeaching him.

This provisional government story is complicated: separation from Mexico, independent Republic, and then part of the United States.


Source: San Felipe de Austin's Role as Provisional Government
© 2020 Texas Historical Commission.

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