capital of Texas, and the headquarters of all Spanish activity in
East Texas was once
in... Louisiana! Here’s how that happened.
After Hernan Cortez conquered the Aztecs of Mexico, Spain claimed
all of North and South America. Reality eventually forced them to
accommodate, if never completely accept, the presence of French
and English colonial efforts on the continent as well, so long as
they stayed far away.
attempted to establish French presence in Texas in the 1680s, and
though the effort proved unsuccessful, Spanish officials were alarmed.
They established Mission San Francisco de las Tejas near Weches,
nearly 300 miles northeast of the failed French Fort St. Louis,
but allowed that mission to lapse within a few years.
In 1714, another Frenchman, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, appeared
in Texas. Back came the missionaries, ostensibly to save the souls
of Caddo but also to reinforce claims to Texas. The eastern most
outpost of the empire was Mission San Miguel de Linaeraes de los
Adaes, founded by Domingo Ramon in 1717 about thirty miles east
of the Sabine River—in what became Louisiana.
The mission closed two years later but was reestablished in 1721
by the Marquis de Aguayo, who left eight missionaries to serve the
Caddo and 100 troops to guard against French activity, including
a trading post St. Denis had established only a few miles to the
east at Natchitoches.
In 1729, the viceroy, stationed in far-away Mexico City, increased
the prestige of Los
Adaes by designating it the capital of Texas and lessened its
chances for success by reducing the number of personnel at its military
presidio to 60 men. The difficulty of supplying Los
Adaes and other Spanish missions in East
Texas over 1,500 miles of uncertain roads, forced them to turn
for supplies to the very French against whom they were supposed
to guard the Spanish frontier.
In the 1760s, after France had been removed from North America by
the Peace of Paris of 1763, and England and France divided the former
French territory at the Mississippi River, an investigation conducted
by the Marquis de Rubi found the missions and garrisons in disrepair,
unsuccessful, and no longer necessary.
New orders arrived for the 500 or so residents of Los
Adaes—they must pack up and move to San
Antonio. They departed reluctantly, in 1773, closing down the
first capital of Texas as they did so.
Things Historical July
24, 2005 column
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers
(This column is provided as a public service by the East Texas Historical
Association. Archie P. McDonald is director of the Association and
author of more than 20 books on Texas. )