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A Return to the Texas History Movies

As modern historians, including the Texas State Historical Association, push the envelope of technology, it is good occasionally to review the evolution of the media of Texas history. History takes many shapes. It has moved from the campfire to wall paintings to scrolls to books to big-screen movies to computers and occasionally even back to the campfire.

For several generations of Texans, well before the Internet, some of the most vivid and memorable history of the state was found in the Texas History Movies. This oddly titled, written and illustrated work told the stories of Coronado, La Salle, Austin, Crockett, and Houston in cartoon form, with accompanying historical text. For more than three decades, from the late 1920s to the late 1950s, the Texas History Movies were the way that many of us were first introduced to our state's unique history.

The Movies started as a daily comic strip in the Dallas News, and were first published in book form in 1928. Magnolia Petroleum, which later became part of Mobil Oil, arranged to have the work distributed to schools across the state. In 1961 Mobil assigned the copyright to TSHA.

TSHA republished the Movies in 1974, after a broad-based advisory board helped remove potentially offensive stereotypes. The Movies are still great fun, and provide an amusing portrait of both our history and ourselves. They admonish us not to take ourselves too seriously.

With that backdrop, go get your box of popcorn and get ready for our Texas History Movies quiz. The questions vary in difficulty, but all can be readily answered with the help of the New Handbook of Texas or the Handbook of Texas Online. You could also refer to the republished Texas History Movies, which are available for purchase from TSHA.

The Questions

Question 1:

René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, was a distinguished explorer who accidentally arrived at Matagorda Bay in 1685. In the panel to the left, he is somewhat frustratedly studying his geography after making a serious geographical blunder. Unable to measure longitude with any precision (since a reliable chronometer had not yet been invented), he missed his original destination. What was that destination?

Mobile Bay
Galveston Island
The Mississippi River
The Colorado River
The Fountain of Youth

Question 2:

This famous "pirate" held shares in a number of other privateer ventures. During the War of 1812, the British solicited his help, but he opted instead to aid Andrew Jackson, helping secure victory at the Battle of New Orleans. In 1817 he became head of an ad hoc government on the island of Galveston. Who was this privateer?

Pierre Laffite
Edward "Blackbeard" Teach
Samuel Bellamy
Jean Laffite
Captain William Kidd

Question 3:

When Stephen F. Austin followed in the footsteps of his empresario father, Moses, he was not without competition. One of the settlers seeking an empresario grant, the uncle of Jane Long, served in the American Revolution under Benedict Arnold. He was later made governor of the Louisiana Territory by Thomas Jefferson. Which man was it?

Haden Edwards
General James Wilkinson
Robert Leftwich
Green Dewitt
Philip Nolan

Question 4:

Juan Martín de Veramendi, father-in-law of James Bowie (who married Úrsula María de Veramendi in 1831), also was a respected political leader. He was in charge at one time of which of the following?

The town of Harrisburg
The town of Saltillo
The town of San Augustine
The province of Coahuila and Texas
The town of San Felipe

Question 5:

As shown in the panel to the left, the Texas History Movies contributed to the enduring legend of Travis "drawing a line in the sand." One man, a former soldier of fortune, allegedly did not cross the legendary line, and escaped the Alamo during the night. Who was that man?

John Wayne
Enrique de la Peña
Louis (Moses) Rose
Juan N. Seguín
William Zuber

Question 6:

As shown in the panel to the left, the Twin Sisters were shipped to Texas to aid in the revolution. They were a gift from what city?

Pittsburgh
New York
Boston
Philadelphia
Cincinnati

Question 7:

After Santa Anna was captured, he agreed in a famous dialogue with Sam Houston to order his armies back to Mexico. Which of the following Texas soldiers acted as an interpreter for Houston? (Hint: he is also the great-grandfather of a recent president of the TSHA).

Moses Austin Bryan
Sidney Sherman
Erastus (Deaf) Smith
Edward Burleson
George Hockley

Question 8:

As shown in the panel to the left, Sam Houston and Thomas J. Rusk served as the first two senators of Texas, following the state’s annexation in 1846. Houston tells Rusk, "I’ve been in this place before." In what capacity did Houston previously deal with Washington?

Friend of Andrew Jackson
Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army
U.S. Representative from Tennessee
President of the Republic of Texas
All of the above

Question 9:

Gen. Zachary Taylor was stationed in Corpus Christi in 1845, just after the United States annexed Texas. He was a significant contributor to that war, winning victories at Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, and Monterrey. He was elected U.S. President in 1848. What was his nickname?

Stonewall
Old Hickory
Old Rough and Ready
Old Tippecanoe
Rough Rider

Question 10:

As shown in the panel on the left, the University of Texas was opened in 1883. What was the first year to which one could trace the university's origins?

1839
1858
1866
1881
1882

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