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COPYRIGHTS IN THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS. On March 15, 1836, the delegates to the Convention of 1836 voted to add to the Constitution Article II, Section 3, authorization for patents and copyrights, but provided that three years elapse before beginning these. In 1838 Congress made an attempt to pass a special law authorizing copyright of a map for five years, but this failed to pass. On November 20, 1837, Secretary of State Robert A. Irion recommended in his annual report to Congress that the republic grant copyrights. On January 28, 1839, President Mirabeau B. Lamar approved an act which provided "patent" rights, running for fourteen years, on "composition of matter, liberal arts, sciences or literature, books, maps or charts," to citizens and those who had filed intentions of becoming citizens, upon payment of a thirty-dollar fee. Only three copyrights were issued, and of the copyrighted works but one was published, George William Bonnell's Topographical Description of Texas, To Which is Added an Account of the Indian Tribes (Austin: Clark, Wing, and Brown, 1840). The imprint of this small volume is unique in that it states the copyright was secured in the Republic of Texas. Inasmuch as two of the three works registered in the republic were never published and the third was registered in the United States as well as in Texas, when Texas was admitted into the Union, there was no necessity for Texas copyrights to be incorporated into the United States copyright system, and no action was taken.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Andrew Forest Muir, "Patents and Copyrights," Journal of Southern History 12 (May 1946).

Andrew Forest Muir


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

Andrew Forest Muir, "COPYRIGHTS IN THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 25, 2015. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.