Preserving Texas : historic preservation, nationalism, and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas
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How did the Daughters of the Republic of Texas use historic preservation to help create and perpetuate Texas nationalism? Historic sites are an important part of creating and maintaining a nation-state’s national identity, but even more so when the nation no longer exists. The DRT preserved and created a common Texas national history with the preservation and interpretation of the Alamo and the French Legation Museum. The Alamo is the principal symbol of the Texas identity. Before the Alamo was a place of state and national reverence, before it was a battle site, before it was the Alamo, it was a Spanish mission, San Antonio de Valero. Yet, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas reconstructed the history of the mission so as to include only the thirteen days (February 23- March 6, 1836) when it was the site of one of the most important and well-known battles in the War for Texas Independence. This interpretation decision has shaped the way the Alamo is viewed through our collective memory. The French Legation Museum in Austin is important to the story of nationalism in Texas. Although it is not as recognized as the Alamo, the French Legation Museum is a crucial component in the story of Texas as an independent republic. The French Legation gives Texans a physical history of the Republic of Texas, thus strengthening and perpetuating the Texas national identity. The DRT’s preservation decisions at Alamo and the French Legation perpetuate the memory of Texas as an independent republic, and thus preserve the Texas national identity.