Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Why Are There Texas Embassies in London and Paris?

The fantasy of an independent Republic of Texas is so strong even in 2015 that it still inspires secession t-shirts to keep alive the hope that the Lone Star State can be a “whole other country” again. From 1836-1845, Texas existed as its own country, fulfilling a brief dream of self-governance that Lone Star lovers have long relished. But the Republic of Texas does live on in various remnants: the short-lived country’s legations—a form of embassy—can still be found throughout Europe. After breaking off from Mexico and announcing its autonomy, the rebellious republic was so eager to boost its international standing that it sent representatives to open embassies overseas. In 1839, France was the first country to recognize the nation’s sovereignty, and the two exchanged ambassadors. The Texan representative opened an embassy in 1842 at the site of what is currently the Hôtel de Vendôm. It only existed there for one year, but even such a short history earned a commemorative plaque on the hotel’s wall, which remains there to this day. Across the channel in London, the fledgling nation had somewhat less glamorous quarters. Between 1842 and 1845, the Republic of Texas occupied the second floor of a building at No. 4 St. James’s Street, above the wine store Berry Brothers & Rudd. Its fellow tenant included a brothel and gambling den. However, after Texas struck a deal to be absorbed into the United States, the Lone Star’s London legation was disbanded. The Republic’s representatives skipped town with a $160 bill left unpaid. In 1986, more than a century after ditching the London legation, 26 buckskin-clad Texans visited the shop to repay a long-forgotten debt of their forefathers. The group handed over $160 in replica Republic of Texas bills. In 1963, a delegation from the Anglo-Texan Society erected a plaque on St. James Street to commemorate the legation. Fifty years later in 2013, Governor Rick Perry unveiled another marker for the site during an economic tour of England.



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