Mexican Government of Texas

By: Claude Elliott

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: April 8, 2020

The Mexican war of independence culminated in the freedom of Mexico from Spain in 1821. A constituent congress assembled in November 1823 and prepared the Constitution of 1824, which provided for a federal republic. In May 1824 the provinces of Texas and Coahuila were united by statute, and in August a legislature was organized for the state of Coahuila and Texas. In the administrative setup, Texas constituted the department of Bexar, which sent one deputy to the state legislature and was headed by a political chief. This officer was to reside at San Antonio de Béxar, maintain peace, command the militia, and enforce the laws. The office of political chief furnished the only semblance of local government in Texas. The Constitution of Coahuila and Texas of 1827 provided for a legislature of twelve deputies, one from Texas and eleven from Coahuila, to be elected by an indirect electoral process. The capital was Saltillo.

The growth of population in Texas was reflected in the division of Texas in 1831 into the departments of Bexar and Nacogdoches, each with its political chief and each with a delegate to the legislature. In March 1834 a new department of the Brazos was formed in the area between the Lavaca River and the Brazos-Trinity watershed, extending from the Gulf on the south to the Red River on the north. San Felipe de Austin was made the capital of the new department. Under the 1834 law the departments were to have limited self-government and Texas was to have three representatives in the legislature.

For local government purposes, the departments were divided into municipalities, each with an ayuntamiento as its governing body. At the head of the ayuntamiento was an alcalde, the principal executive officer, whose position combined many of the functions of mayor, judge, and sheriff. The regidor had certain legislative and administrative functions, comparable to those of an alderman or city commissioner. An alguacil or sheriff was appointed by the alcalde, and a secretary was appointed by the ayuntamiento. The secretary served as interpreter and translator in all relations with superior authorities. The voters of each district or subdivision of a municipality of at least 500 inhabitants elected a comisario and a síndico procurador, who were subject to the ayuntamiento,with the privilege of attending its sessions but without the privilege of voting. The síndico procurador was a combination of notary and municipal attorney; he may be inexactly described as a constable. The comisario was supposed to take the census, keep a record of the ingress and egress of families, execute ayuntamiento orders, preserve peace, assist in the collection of taxes, and report dangerous characters to the alcalde. He had limited judicial authority similar to that of a justice of the peace.

Eugene C. Barker, Mexico and Texas, 1821–1835 (Dallas: Turner, 1928). David J. Weber, The Mexican Frontier, 1821–1846 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982).

Time Periods:

  • Mexican Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Claude Elliott, “Mexican Government of Texas,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 20, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 8, 2020

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