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Domingo Terán de los Ríos appointed first governor of Texas
January 23, 1691

On this day in 1691, the Conde de Gálvez appointed Domingo Terán de los Ríos the first governor of the Spanish province of Coahuila and Texas. Most historians consider the appointment the beginning of Texas as a political entity. Terán's instructions, prepared by a Junta de Hacienda acting under suggestions by Damián Massanet, were to establish seven missions among the Tejas Indians; to investigate rumors of foreign settlements on the coast; and to keep records of geography, natives, and products. Terán's army crossed the Rio Grande in May and explored East Texas as far as Caddo settlements on the Red River until December. By March 1692 Terán had returned to Matagorda Bay, where Juan Enríquez Barroto gave him instructions from the viceroy to explore the lower reaches of the Mississippi River. Bad weather caused Terán to abandon the project and return to Veracruz in April. Terán's mission proved to be a complete failure. He succeeded in founding no new missions, and the expedition added little new information about the region. After his return, Terán compiled a lengthy report, defending his actions and detailing the dismal situation in East Texas.

Confederates hang former Texas senator as traitor
January 23, 1863

On this day in 1863, Confederate soldiers hanged Martin Hart in Fort Smith, Arkansas. This attorney from Hunt County had served in the Texas legislature, where he spoke out against secession. After secession, he resigned his government post and organized the Greenville Guards, pledging the company's services "in defense of Texas" against invasion. Under color of a Confederate commission, however, he spied against the Confederacy. In Arkansas he led a series of rear-guard actions against Confederate forces, and is alleged to have murdered at least two prominent secessionists. He was captured on January 18, 1863, by Confederate forces.

Ill-fated Spanish mission established
January 23, 1762

On this day in 1762, the mission of San Lorenzo de la Santa Cruz was established at El Cañón, about halfway between San Sabá and San Juan Bautista. After the destruction of Santa Cruz de San Sabá in 1758, the only Spanish settlement in the area was the military outpost of San Luis de las Amarillas. In 1760, Felipe de Rábago y Terán took over as commander there with instructions from Viceroy Marqués de Cruillas to explore lands between the San Saba River and New Mexico with the objective of establishing Spanish presence in a region that was threatened by the French. Rábago elected instead to found a settlement on the upper Nueces River at El Cañón, but the viceroy withheld financial support. Although the mission attracted 400 Indians within a week, the priests, including Diego Jiménez, soon realized that the Apaches had no real interest in conversion, but viewed the site as a haven from their enemies. In 1767, the Marqués de Rubí recommended that San Lorenzo de la Santa Cruz and the nearby mission Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria del Cañón be abandoned. Jacobo de Ugarte y Loyola, governor of Coahuila, concurred, and the El Cañón missions officially closed in 1771.