Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Texas Independence Day

Political junkies have their eyes on Texas today because of the gubernatorial primary battle between GOP stalwarts Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.  But March 2 has an even greater significance for Texans: it is Texas Independence Day. 

On March 2, 1836, at Washington-on-the-Brazos, while Travis, Crockett, and Bowie were hunkered down at the Alamo, the "Delegates of the People of Texas" signed the Texas Declaration of Independence.  It begins:

When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.

So property rights are in the first sentence of the founding document.  Also, of course, we can think about a war of this type as sort of an ultimate contest over land use.  At any rate, much of Texas's culture and some of its contemporary controversies stem from the 1836 conflict and its cultural memory--particularly with respect to land use and property rights.  For better or worse, Texas is more influenced today by its own founding narrative than perhaps any other state.

I'm not from Texas, but (as they say) I got down here as quick as I could.  It's a great place to study land use law because of its history, geography, economy, demographics, and culture.  (And then there's Houston . . . .)  I have a backlog of Texas-related items for the blog, so I might just do a little more Tex-blogging in the coming weeks.

Matt Festa


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