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"Time is what we want most, but what we use the worst."
~William Penn

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Moments in Texas History ~ 3.22.2012

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March on Washington falters in desert
March 22, 1894
On this day in 1894, a contingent of "Coxey's Army" arrived in El Paso. In the wake of the 1893 panic Jacob Sechler Coxey of Massillon, Ohio, a businessman and reformer, led an army of jobless men to Washington to induce Congress to provide assistance. A group from Los Angeles arrived in El Paso on the evening of March 22, and, after marching on the city hall, were given food and allowed to camp for the night. Hoping for transportation from the railroad, they camped alongside the tracks for two days. They boarded a Southern Pacific train that uncoupled their car 70 miles east of El Paso, leaving them stranded in a barren region without food or water. After an order from Governor James S. Hogg, and negotiations with the railroads and the citizens of El Paso, the "army" was finally transported to Washington, arriving weeks after Coxey had been arrested.

Texas Navy schooner seizes mercantile brig; friction with U.S. ensues
March 22, 1836
On this day in 1836, the sixty-ton armed schooner Liberty, commanded by William S. Brown, seized the brig Durango in Matagorda Bay. The Durango was owned by a New Orleans mercantile house with a longstanding interest in the Texas trade, which makes it unlikely that she was carrying war contraband designed to assist the Mexican army. A more likely explanation for the seizure is that the fledgling Texas Navy simply needed the vessel and her supplies; the Liberty had been the first ship purchased by the republic, only two months before. The Durango incident added to an already hostile attitude within the United States about attacks by both Mexico and Texas on United States vessels, which eventually led to the arrest of the crew of the Invincible after this vessel captured the United States merchant vessel Pocket. The Durango incident was closed officially in 1838, when Texas and the United States entered into a convention of indemnity. The total settlement, which also made provisions for the Pocket claims, was for $11,750 plus accrued interest.

First black state convention meets in Austin
March 22, 1866
On this day in 1866, the Texas State Central Committee of Colored Men met in Austin. It was the first of at least ten such conventions held in Texas from Reconstruction through the 1890s to express the concerns of African Americans in an era before the existence of groups that focused upon the economic, political, and civil rights of minorities. Often these state meetings sent delegates to national conventions seeking the same goals. The Texas State Central Committee of Colored Men, with the Baptist minister Jacob Fontaine presiding, opposed a request by Episcopal bishop Alexander Gregg for funds which presumably would have benefited former slaves. The committee members did not trust Gregg, himself a former slaveholder and ardent supporter of secession, and expressed their preference for the work of the Freedmen's Bureau.


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