Dorothy Sloan -- Books

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October 26, 2007

“The record of the proceedings which first set up a formal, though provisional, government for Texas as a state independent of Mexico” (Streeter)

239. TEXAS (PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT). CONSULTATION (November, 1835). Journals of the Consultation held at San Felipe de Austn [sic], October 16 [-November 14], 1835. Houston: Published by Order of Congress [title verso: Telegraph Power Press 500], 1838. 54, [2 blank] pp. Bound with: TEXAS (PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT). GENERAL COUNCIL. Journal of the Proceedings of the General Council of the Republic of Texas, held at San Felipe de Austin, November 14th 1835. Houston: National Intelligencer Office--Houston, 1839. 363, [1 blank] pp. 2 vols., in one, 21 x 13.2 cm., full contemporary sheep with blind embosure of the Department of State of the Republic of Texas on upper cover, spine lettered in blind and with raised bands, spine and covers rolled in blind, contemporary blue marbled endpapers, edges sprinkled. Contemporary printed label (“Department of State” affixed to title, with contemporary ink manuscript inscription of Dallas pioneer “John C. McCoy Austin Texas January 10th 1850”) and front free endpaper in contemporary ink “Jno. C. McCoy Dallas Texas.” Slightly later printed book plate of John M. McCoy (nephew of John C. McCoy). Upper panel of spine signed in ink “McCoy”; lower compartment with remains of printed label reading “J. C. McCoy”; lower cover with in inscription “J.C. McCoy Dallas.” (See below for information on John Calvin McCoy and John Milton McCoy). Headcap chipped, joints weak with small splits at top and bottom. Sheep rubbed with some flaying on lower board, corners slightly bumped, showing some board. A few ink spots to binding. Both hinges open but holding. Some signatures moderately browned (signature K of second title moderately foxed); lesser scattered foxing throughout. Short clean tear (no losses) to blank margin of title, which has some light water staining. Overall a fine, unsophisticated copy in Texas binding.

            First editions. Gilcrease-Hargrett, p. 362 (second title): “Excessively rare.” Howes S69 (first title) & T130 (second title). Rader 3054 & 3055. Raines, p. 229. Sabin 94952 & 94958. Streeter 245 & 337.

            The first item records the work and pronouncements of the Consultation in early November that assembled to guide Texas towards independence. Despite earlier meetings of a smaller group, known as the Permanent Council because it lacked a quorum, enough delegates eventually assembled to constitute a working body. This group gave Texas its first form of government, including the “Declaration of the People of Texas, in General Convention Assembled” and, on November 13, the twenty-one articles that created “a provisional government for Texas.” The result of this body’s work is generally considered a mixed blessing. There were 500 copies printed of this work.

            The second item records the meetings of the first comparatively formal Texas government, called the General Council, which met from November 14, 1835, to March 11, 1836. Its deliberations were eventually interrupted because it lacked a quorum and merely faded away, thereby putting organized government in Texas out of business. Nevertheless, this body was the one that put Texas on a war footing and established numerous civil offices and procedures. Here we find important matters (establishment of an army and navy, organization of a treasury and taxes, instructions for treaties with the Texas Indians, etc.) as well as unexpected, interesting details (an early fight over possession of Texas’ archives and a proposal of the impoverished Texans to buy books, including Code de Napoleon, Blackstone’s Commentaries, Jefferson’s works, etc.). The journal documents unfortunate dissensions of the sort that inevitably seem to develop when any group of humans try to harness their wills to create something new. The council journal abruptly ends five days after the fall of the Alamo; some of the last entries relate to sending sorely needed provisions to Colonel Neill’s troops at Bexar. This body was followed by the Convention of 1836, which actually issued the Texas Declaration of Independence and the first Constitution. Once again, 500 copies were printed.

            The successive owners of this volume were important figures in early Texas. John Calvin McCoy (1819-1887), a lawyer, was a prominent person in the establishment of Dallas, where he moved as an agent for the Peters colony. He was the first active lawyer in the area, where he lived the remainder of his life, holding a series of important positions, including that of a recruiting officer for the Confederacy. His body lay in state for four days after his death. John Milton McCoy (1835-1922) was John Calvin McCoy’s nephew and entered law practice in Dallas in 1870 with his uncle. He was Dallas’s first city attorney, lived in the area the rest of his life, and participated in a number of civic activities. Handbook of Texas: Online: John Calvin McCoy; John Milton McCoy.

            A finer copy with a more distinguished provenance would be difficult to locate.  ($15,000-30,000)

Sold. Hammer: $28,000.00; Price Realized: $32,900.00

Auction 21 Abstracts

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