What a World
Why Are There Texas Embassies in London and Paris?
When Texas was briefly its own country, it sought to put its own stamp on the world, opening Lone Star outposts in London and Paris.
The fantasy of an independent Republic of Texas is so strong even in 2015 that it still inspires secession t-shirts to keep alive the hope that the Lone Star State can be a “whole other country” again.
From 1836-1845, Texas existed as its own country, fulfilling a brief dream of self-governance that Lone Star lovers have long relished.
But the Republic of Texas does live on in various remnants: the short-lived country’s legations—a form of embassy—can still be found throughout Europe.
After breaking off from Mexico and announcing its autonomy, the rebellious republic was so eager to boost its international standing that it sent representatives to open embassies overseas. Texans feared an invasion from south of the border and believed war with Mexico was inevitable, so it began shoring up global support.
In 1839, France was the first country to recognize the nation’s sovereignty, and the two exchanged ambassadors. The Texan representative opened an embassy in 1842 at the site of what is currently the Hôtel de Vendôme. It only existed there for one year, but even such a short history earned a commemorative plaque on the hotel’s wall, which remains there to this day.
Across the channel in London, the fledgling nation had somewhat less glamorous quarters. Between 1842 and 1845, the Republic of Texas occupied the second floor of a building at No. 4 St. James’s Street, above the wine store Berry Brothers & Rudd. Its fellow tenant included a brothel and gambling den.
Ironically, in contrast to the fleeting Republic of Texas, Berry Brothers & Rudd is a lesson in longevity. It has been in business since the 1698 and has operated a shop on St. James’s Street locale since 1730.
Texas Secretary of State Dr. Ashbel Smith was dispatched to London as liaison to the crown. Initially, the UK was hesitant to recognize Texas out of loyalty to Mexico, but fears the young country would join the U.S. led Brits to change their minds.
However, after Texas struck a deal to be absorbed into the United States, the Lone Star’s London legation was disbanded. The Republic’s representatives skipped town with a $160 bill left unpaid.
But what would the Lone Star be if it were considered a republic of moochers, no better than a gang of carpetbaggers?
In 1986, more than a century after ditching the London legation, 26 buckskin-clad Texans visited the shop to repay a long-forgotten debt of their forefathers. The group handed over $160 in replica Republic of Texas bills.
Before that voyage across the pond, Texans and Brits had been cultivating their own “special relationship.” The Anglo-Texan Society was established in London in 1953 "persons of either sex who have some definite connections with both Texas and Great Britain.” None other than acclaimed author Graham Greene served as its first president.
In 1963, a delegation from the Anglo-Texan Society erected a plaque on St. James Street to commemorate the legation. Fifty years later in 2013, Governor Rick Perry unveiled another marker for the site during an economic tour of England.
While the plaques remain in London, a delicious marker of Anglo-Texan relations once accompanied them. Near the Berry Brothers & Rudd building, the Texas Embassy Cantina kept memories of the Republic alive in British hearts and stomachs with enchiladas and Coronas.
However, like the legations, the Texas Embassy Cantina ultimately had to shut its doors.
In 1986, more than a century after ditching the London legation, 26 buckskin-clad Texans visited the shop to repay a long-forgotten debt of their forefathers.