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Gaceta de Teja

by Archie P. McDonald
Archie McDonald Ph.D.

Readers of the Dallas Morning News, Tyler Telegraph, Gilmer Mirror, Jefferson Jimplecute and every other newspaper in Texas may not know about the journalistic ancestor they share. That was a single issue of the Gaceta de Tejas, or Texas Gazette, and here is its story.

The Gaceta de Tejas, the first newspaper published in Texas, came out as part of an expedition into Spanish Texas led by filibusters Augustus Magee and Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara in 1813. This was six years before the Adams-Onis Treaty designated the Sabine River as the U.S.-Spanish (later Mexican) border.

Magee, a former Army officer who had chased outlaws from the Neutral Ground along the river, recruited many of his former foes into his Army of the North to claim eastern Texas from Spain for himself and partner, Gutierrez de Lara, a nationalist exiled from Spanish Mexico. Theirs was a wholly extralegal venture but it likely had covert support from the United States.

The expedition brought along a printing press apparently owned by William Shaler, a former United States diplomatic officer who had introduced Magee and Gutierrez de Lara; Shaler's co-publisher was another Mexican nationalist named Alvarez de Toledo y Dubois. The typesetter was named Moore, or Moorer, with the single initial of "A." Magee and Gutierrez de Lara seized Nacogdoches in the Spring of 1813 and made it the temporary headquarters of their Republic of the North. When time came to publish the Gaceta de Tejas-really, a propaganda sheet-a dispute between Toledo and Gutierrez had resulted in the transportation of the press back to Natchitoches.

Still, the newspaper's mast claims its publication in Nacogdoches, even if printed in Natchitoches, much as today's Nacogdoches Sentinel is actually printed in Lufkin, since the newspapers in both towns are owned by the same corporation. So the distinction between a newspaper being "published" and being "printed" continues.

The dateline is May 13, 1813, though the paper was printed sometime after that date and its' motto was "Le Salud del Pueblo es la Suprema Ley," (The Safety of the People is the Supreme Law). Contents included dated information about the effort to seize part of Texas from Spain and related items.

Gaceta de Tejas may have been written in Nacogdoches, but not a single copy of it remains there-indeed, perhaps none ever arrived. But what a mighty torrent of words, then pictures, and most of all, advertisements, it launched in Texas.



Archie P. McDonald
All Things Historical
August 6, 2007 column
A syndicated column in over 70 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.



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