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View of Houston, Capital of Texas: Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion, 1852

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  • Title: View of Houston, Capital of Texas
  • Author: Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion
  • Date: 1852
  • Condition: Very good - miniscule foxing
  • Inches: 6 x 5 1/4 [Image]
  • Centimeters: 15.24 x 13.33 [Image]
  • Product ID: 308132 

Early View of Houston (Not the Capital of Texas, and Not Hilly)

The title of this early newspaper woodblock print is misleading, as is the image. Houston was the capital of Texas from 1837-1839 and served as an ad-hoc location where the legislature met from 1842-1845. By the time this image was created, Austin was the capital.

Typical of early, and often spurious promotional claims, Houston is shown as a placid place, with a peaceful meandering stream, sturdy simple houses, and rolling hills. At the time, yellow fever, cholera, flooding and endless mud made Houston a very trying place for most. Kelsey & Hutchison state: The author's description of Houston reads as if he never saw Houston and based his description on the illustration.

There have been 5 different Capitals used by the Republic of Texas, then by the State, starting from the beginning of the Texas Republic through today's State of Texas capital in Austin.

  • Washington-on-the-Brazos (1836) The ad interim government of the Republic of Texas was formed at the Convention of 1836, which met in primitive quarters at Washington-on-the-Brazos from March 1 through March 17, 1836.
  • Columbia (1836) After winning independence from Mexico at the Battle of San Jacinto, the first permanent government of the Republic was elected under President Sam Houston and met in Columbia in the Fall of 1836.
  • Houston (1837-1839) The newly founded town of Houston served as the seat of government from the Spring of 1837 until November of 1839.
  • Austin (1839-1842; 1845-Present) In November of 1839, the Congress of the Republic first met in Austin. Because of the exposure of Austin to the hazards of the western frontier, however, the government met in Houston and at Washington-on-the-Brazos between 1842 and 1845.
  • An election held in 1850 reaffirmed Austin as the capital, after which this building was completed in 1855. The building served as the capitol for just over a quarter of a century before it was destroyed by fire in 1881.

Washington-on-the-Brazos, Houston (1842-1845)

Austin (1855-1881)

References: Figure 3.202, Kelsey and Hutchison, Engraved Prints of Texas 1554-1900