Welcome to Your Seat of Empire, Mr. President

September 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

In accordance with previous arrangements, such of the citizens as were able to procure horses assembled at 11 o’clock, on the morning of the 17th of November, 1839, for the purpose of escorting his Excellency, President Mirabeau Lamar, into town. The Honorable Edwin Waller was appointed orator, and Capt. Lynch and Mr. Alexander Russell were appointed marshalls for the day. Col. E. Burleson, at the special request of his fellow citizens, took command of the whole. After proceeding about two miles beyond the city limits, they met his Excellency.

The text of Waller’s address follows:

Having been called upon by my fellow citizens to welcome your Excellency on your arrival at the permanent seat of government for the republic, I should have declined doing so on account of conscious inability, wholly unused as I am to public speaking, had I not felt that holding the situation here that I do, it was my duty to obey the call. With pleasure, I introduce to you the citizens of Austin, and at their request give you cordial welcome to a place which owes its existence as a city to the policy of your administration.

Under your appointment, and in accordance with your direction, I came here in the month of May last for the purpose of preparing proper accommodations for the transaction of the business of the government. I found a situation naturally most beautiful, but requiring much exertion to render it available for the purpose intended by its location. Building materials and provisions were to be procured, when both were scarce; a large number of workmen were to be employed in the lower country and brought up in the heat of summer, during the season when fever was rife; and when here, our labors were liable every moment to be interrupted by the hostile Indians, for whom we were obliged to be constantly on the watch; many-tongued rumor was busy with tales of Indian depredations, which seemed to increase in geometrical progression to her progress through the country. Many who were on the eve of immigrating were deterred by these rumors from doing so. Interested and malicious persons were busy in detracting from the actual merits of the place, and every engine of falsehood has been called into action to prevent its occupation for governmental purposes. Beauty of scenery, centrality of location and purity of atmosphere have been nothing in the vision of those whose views were governed by their purses, and whose ideas of fitness were entirely subservient to their desire for profit. Under all these disadvantageous circumstances, and more which I cannot now detail, a capitol, a house for the chief magistrate of the republic, and a large number of public offices were to be erected and in readiness for use in the short period of four months. Not discouraged at the unpromising aspect of affairs, I cheerfully undertook to obey your behests. Numbers of the present citizens of Austin immigrated hither, and with an alacrity and spirit of accommodation, for which they have my grateful remembrance, rendered us every assistance in their power.

To the utmost extent of my abilities I have exerted myself and have succeeded in preparing such accommodations as I sincerely hope will prove satisfactory to your excellency and my fellow citizens of Texas.

In the name of the citizens of Austin, I cordially welcome you and your cabinet to the new metropolis. Under your fostering care may it flourish, and aided by its salubrity of climate and its beauty of situation, become famous among the cities of the New World.”

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