Baptists and the Lone Star Republic
A general convention was called and met on March 1, 1836 in Washington, Texas, after a number of small battles were fought over the freedom of Texas. With many betrayals from the Mexican Democratic government, the Texans realized that they could not rely on Mexican Constitutionalists for help, and thus determined to fight for total freedom. At this general convention, churches, except Catholic churches, had been forbidden by law, and so no schools had yet been built, so they met in a blacksmith shop owned by a Baptist, N. T. Brays. Blacksmithing was suspended; the area was cleared, and benches prepared for the first great Texas convention. Judge Richard Ellis, a Baptist farmer, was chosen to preside over the session. The following day Texas independence was declared, and governmental organization was begun. General Sam Houston was selected as the commander-in-chief of Texan armies. Four days after the signing of the declaration of Texas independence, the Alamo fell and 182 courageous men were slain.
Just twenty-five days after the horrible massacre, the Battle of San Jacinto was fought, and the Texans led by General Houston, were spurred on by the battle cry, “remember the Alamo.” In about thirty minutes 750 Texans took on 1500 Mexican troops in which half of the Mexicans were dead and the remainder captured and Santa Anna was a prisoner. Texas was free, and a new state was born led by Baptist men. Judge Richard Ellis was from a prominent Virginia Baptist family that provided preachers for Virginia and Texas. N.T. Byars, the blacksmith, in time was appointed the first Texas Baptist missionary, and became a church planter. General Sam Houston became a great Baptist nobleman. Please observe these men did not desire a state church but sought political and religious freedom for all the citizenry.
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: “This Day in Baptist History III”, David L. Cummins. pp. 125 – 126