The Convention of 1836 wrote the Texas Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the Republic of Texas, organized the ad interim government, and named Sam Houston commander in chief of the military forces of the republic. The call for the convention to meet at Washington-on-the-Brazos was issued by the General Council of the provisional government over the veto of Governor Henry Smith in December 1835, and the delegates were elected on February 1, 1836.
The convention met on March 1, 1836, in near-freezing weather in an unfinished building belonging to Noah T. Byars and Peter M. Mercer, his business partner. The building was rented for use of the convention by a group of Washington business men who, incidentally, never got around to paying the rent. Forty-four delegates were assembled on the first day of the convention. Fifty-nine delegates finally attended its sessions. Andrew Briscoe did not arrive until March 11. Twelve of the members were natives of Virginia, ten of North Carolina, nine of Tennessee, six of Kentucky, four of Georgia, three of South Carolina, three of Pennsylvania, three of Mexico (including two born in Texas), two of New York, and one each of Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Canada. Only ten of the delegates were in Texas as early as January 1830; two of them arrived in 1836. Sam Houston, Robert Potter, Richard Ellis, Samuel P. Carson, Martin Parmer, and Lorenzo de Zavala had all had political experience in Mexico or the United States in state or national government, several in both. James Collinsworth presided as temporary chairman, and Willis A. Faris was secretary pro tem. After the examination of credentials of the members, the permanent officers were elected; Richard Ellis was president and Herbert Simms Kimble was secretary. The Declaration of Independence was adopted on March 2, and members began signing it on March 3. The convention then proceeded to the writing of the constitution and election of ad interim government officials. With the report of the approach of the Mexican army, the convention adjourned in haste in the early morning hours of March 17.