Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2015 Issue

Second Battle of the Alamo Begins at the Alamo Library

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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>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Leon TOLSTOÏ. <i>Anna Karenina.</i> Moscou, 1878. First and full edition of the Russian novel, in the author’s language.<br>Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Mark TWAIN. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's comrade).</i> New York, 1885. First American edition.<br>Est. 5 000 / 6 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Walt WHITMAN. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York, 1856. Second edition gathering 32 poems. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Karen BLIXEN. <i>Out of Africa.</i> Londres, 1937. First edition in the UK, before Danish translation and American release.<br>Est. 1 500 / 2 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest HEMINGWAY. <i>A Farewell to Arms.</i> New York, 1929. First edition with $2.50 on the dust and A on the copyright page.<br>Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare and Company, 1922. First edition published by Sylvia Beach. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Dubliners.</i> Londres, 1914. First edition. Nice copy in publisher’s cardboard. Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Franz KAFKA. 8 novels in German first edition, published in München, Leipzig and Berlin 1916-1931. Est. from 300 / 400 to 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> David Herbert LAWRENCE. <i>Lady Chatterley's Lover.</i> Florence, 1928. Privately printed first edition. Est. 4 000 / 5 000 €
    John STEINBECK. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York, 1939. First edition. Nice copy with $2.75 on the cover. Est. 1 000 / 1 200 €

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