Ski Texas! Go south to Canada! You can’t arrest me, officer. I’m a diplomat! All this will be true if our latest troops from the Republic of Texas have their way. Members claim that Texas never actually joined the Union and, since there is no national government here, they had a duty to form one. They have minted their own silver and gold currency (In Willie Nelson We Trust?) with a state department and a court system, and carry ID cards warning the cops the members are diplomatic representatives of the nation of Texas.
Oddly enough, not all law officers buy this tale, for they remember 1997 when supporters of the Republic of Texas abducted a West Texas couple and held them hostage. In the ensuing standoff and gun battle, a member of the group was shot and killed. The leader, Richard L. McLaren, surrendered and remains in state prison. Over the years, other members have been charged with assault, forgery, the impersonation of an officer and, in a 1998 federal case, threats to use a weapon of mass destruction. “They’re a harmless, clueless and interesting group of generally nice older guys with too much time on their hands,” Jerry Patterson, a former Texas land commissioner, told The New York Times.
Nevertheless, the new soldiers have monthly meetings, sometimes lasting up to eight, hours, and this past Valentine’s Day a gathering in the V.F.W. hall in Bryan — where each female attendee was given a rose, yellow we must suppose — another small army invaded. This one was made up of local, state and federal law officers including the FBI. The fuzz seized equipment (flintlocks?), cell phones and briefcases, and dozens of supporters were detained. Some were fingerprinted.
According to the Times, the raid stemmed from a nasty altercation the group had with a judge in Kerrville who was ordered to appear at the V.F.W. hall for a “court hearing” involving his role in the pending foreclosure of a member’s home. The judge was also sent two letters ordering him to present “proof of his authority for executing his claimed powers involving a foreign entity,” and warned him that copies might be provided to the United Nations. Paul Robert Andrus, who was among those detained, accused the sheriff’s lead investigator of “trespass upon liberty.” He demanded $3 million in gold, money order “or any combination necessary thereof.” Money order?
After the raid, the V.F.W. prohibited the group from meeting there again, so the Republic’s next congressional session was to be held at the Ace Buffet and Grill in Waco. Incidentally, this group is in no way associated with the Sons of the Republic of Texas of which I am associated.
If the R of T boys succeed and Texas is, indeed, restored to its original size and shape, plus laws, constitution and habits, they may be careful what they wish for. The Republic was about a third larger than Texas is today. The western border ran up to the beginning of the Rio Grande, then due north to the 42nd degree of north latitude, thence along the boundary line between the US and Spain, which still claimed the area.
Today that would be the borders between California and Oregon in the west and between Pennsylvania and New York in the east. Point Pelee, Ontario, lies just south of that line, meaning that southernmost part of Canada would be south of northernmost Texas. Most Colorado ski resorts would be in Texas, so our doctors could make a fortune fixing broken legs. Coors, not Lone Star, could be the “National Beer of Texas.” Alas, we had to sell our western and northern portions to the US for some magic beans because we were broke and, besides, the only inhabitants of the area were Comanches who had this thing about collecting Texans’ scalps.
In the rest of the remaining Republic, dueling would be outlawed, but not unknown. (A Houston newspaper editor, Dr. Francis Moore, got elected to the Republic of Texas Senate and worked for an anti-dueling law. Sen. Oliver Jones labeled it, “An Act for the Protection of Cowards.” The measure became law and until 1939 all Texas officials had to swear an oath that they had never taken part in a duel.)
Most of our judges would be appointed, not selected as we do today, blindly voting for whomever has an R or D by their names on the ballot. In Republic ceremonies such as inaugurations and the opening of a new session of Congress, dignitaries would proceed down the center aisle of the Capitol chamber including cabinet members, high-ranking officers of the armed forces, ambassadors and, of all things, newspaper editors.
We note that this present gang that can’t think straight is not part of the constant movement for Texas’ secession. We hear that push all the time, it’s nothing new and continues. A Texas Congressman, Jim Collins, once introduced a resolution in the U.S. House: “And if Texas citizens favor the establishment of the Republic of Texas, I would ask that both the Senate and House in the U.S. Congress be provided the opportunity to confirm this transfer of authority to the Republic of Texas.” — April 13, 1978. That’s right, 1978. In last year’s Texas Republican primary for governor, a secessionist who changed his middle name to reflect his cause, Larry Secede Kilgore, received 19,055 votes.
Right now Texas, as a state, is first among the 50 in executions and in the amount of carbon dioxide emissions, but 45th in SAT scores and 49th in the percentage of low-income people covered by Medicaid. But we’re first in high school football and in loonies who like to mint their own coins and carry their own diplomatic immunity passports. Worst of all, they like to sit through eight hour meetings.
Finally, we must remember President Sam Houston’s observation: “Texas can make it without the United States, but the United States cannot make it without Texas.”
Ashby secedes at firstname.lastname@example.org