Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2015 Issue

Second Battle of the Alamo Begins at the Alamo Library

4b2f080e-c82f-4336-ad34-e8e980a1a3c3

The Alamo.

Remember the Alamo? Of course. Everyone remembers the Alamo. It was the site of the Texas rebels last defeat in their fight for independence from Mexico. It was a slaughter – no Texian survivors, but it also coined a battle cry. Just six weeks later, the Texians turned the tables on Santa Anna, forcing the Mexican leader to grant them independence or lose his life. The Mexican General chose the former. The Republic of Texas was born.

 

What you may not remember, or perhaps never knew existed, is the Alamo Research Center, a library adjacent to the Alamo grounds. It contains 38,000 books, documents, and other historical items. Now, according to a lawsuit recently filed in Texas, someone is trying, in effect, to steal that massive collection. The alleged thief is none other than the State of Texas.

 

Over a century ago, 1905 to be exact, the Alamo was at risk of being destroyed. A public-spirited group, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, stepped in to save it. The Daughters were descendants of those who fought for independence. Their mission is to preserve historic relics from the Texas Revolution and Republic days. The Daughters purchased the Alamo and gave it to the State of Texas. However, they have maintained and operated the historic site on behalf of the state for all of these years, until a short time ago. At that time, the state decided to take control of the Alamo itself, as was its right as the owner.

 

Now, the state has taken another step toward control, and the Daughters are crying foul. The state has said it will take over the library and most of its contents. This, the Daughters say, was never given to the State of Texas. They built the building, raised funds to operate it, and most of the items in it were given to them, not Texas. “Hands off,” they said, in many more words, in a suit filed in Texas asking a court to declare they are the legal owner of the library and the material within, except for any items specifically given to the state.

 

The suit was filed against the Texas General Land Office, which has announced its intention to take the property, and its Commissioner, George P. Bush. For those not familiar with George P. Bush, he is slated to be the third President George Bush, and the fourth President Bush, after his father, Jeb Bush. This, of course, presumes he can defeat Chelsea Clinton.

 

When the State took over the Alamo, the Daughters were evidently less than pleased, but could do little except, perhaps, regret their decision to give the property to the state over a century earlier. However, in a joint statement with Commissioner Bush, they made their intentions with regard to the library clear. Their President General stated, “While we regret our changing role in its daily management, it does not diminish our unending passion for the preservation of the Shrine of Texas Liberty, and we look forward to maintaining our library collection as a historical resource for all Texans to enjoy.” They may have looked forward to “maintaining our library collection,” but it took just a few days for the state to look forward to seizing its library collection.

 

In their suit, the Daughters said that the Land Office ordered them to shut down the library on weekends, save one Saturday a month. It says the Land Office further warned them that the San Antonio police would make “special patrols” to make sure they didn't remove anything from the collection. One imagines this comment did not sit well the gentleladies of Texas.

 

As to why the state is taking control of the Alamo, and claiming ownership and control of the library, it is not totally clear. Presumably, the state feels it can do a better job of maintaining and preserving the site and its artifacts than can the Daughters. Interestingly, when it took over the Alamo, the state said it would seek an outside management company to develop a strategic plan for the site, an indication that it did not have a specific plan in mind when it took control of the property.

 

While the Daughters of the Republic of Texas has made its sentiments known through its lawsuit, a link to which is posted on their website, the Land Office declined to make a comment. We will have to wait to see how this all plays out. But someday, a new generation of Texans may enshrine the memory of the Second Battle of the Alamo against a tyrannical government with the battle cry, “Remember the Alamo Research Center!”

 

 

Editor's Note:  We thank Michael Widener of the Yale Law Library for his perspective concerning this controversy in a letter we received.

 

"I read with interest Michael Stillman’s article, “Second Battle of the Alamo Begins at the Alamo Library.” The article gives the impression that the Daughters of the Republic of Texas are victims. For context and a different light on the controversy, I suggest reading pages 30-32 of the 2012 report by the Texas Attorney General, as well as the Bergman article (attached) and this April 6, 2015 article in Texas Monthly:

 

www.texasmonthly.com/daily-post/never-surrender-or-retreat

 

During my 14 years as a special collections librarian in Texas I heard from colleagues about the DRT’s management of its library, but since that is only hearsay I won’t repeat it.

 

Regards,

 

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian & Lecturer in Legal Research

Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School

P.O. Box 208215, New Haven, CT 06520-8215

 

 

Writer's Comment:  It was not my intention to take sides. The Daughters of the Republic do not have the greatest reputation for care of the Alamo with some Texans. Then again, the state of Texas does not have a wonderful reputation for concern for public interests vis-a-vis private ones. Putting such assets in the hands of a government that hates government if chancy. All hat and no cattle. Where is Davy Crockett when you need him?

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Cartwright (George). <i>A Journal of Transactions and Events, during a Residence of nearly Sixteen Years on the Coast of Labrador...,</i> first edition, with A.L.s. from the author, 1792. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Swift (Jonathan). <i>Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World,</i> 2 vol., first edition, Teerink's "A" edition, Printed for Benj. Motte, 1726. £15,000 to £20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Fourier (Jean Baptiste Joseph). <i>Theorie Analytique de la Chaleur,</i> first edition, Paris, chez Firmin Didot, 1822. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Boccaccio (Giovanni). <i>Genealogiae Deorum,</i> additions by Dominicus Silvester and Raphael Zovenzonius, Venice, Vindelinus de Spira, 1472. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Mary I. Letter signed at the head "Marye the Quene" to Lord Paget, 1 page, 7th June 1556. The recall from exile of nine persons opposed to the Marian regime. £10,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Nelson (Horatio). Autograph Letter signed "Horatio Nelson" and written to Francis Drake, British Minister at Genoa, discussing the disposition of his "Cruizers" near Genoa. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Darwin (Charles). Unpublished Autograph Letter signed to Walter Raleigh Browne, playing down his scientific knowledge of comparative anatomy, 1881. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Murphew (J.). <i>The fair in an uproar, or, the dancing-doggs.</i> As they perform in Mr. Pinkeman's New Opera in Bartholomew Fair, 1707. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Chaucer (Geoffrey). <i>The Workes,</i> by [Nicholas Hill for] Thomas Petit, dwellyng in Paules churche yarde at the sygne of the Maydens heed, 1550. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Austen (Jane). <i>Emma: A Novel,</i> 3 vol., first edition, 1816. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>Stamboul Train,</i> first edition, first issue, 1932. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Churchill.- Fearon (Percy Hutton) "Poy". “Eat More Beef,” pen and ink cartoon with shading in blue pencil, [July 1928]. £400 to £600
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions