July 30, 2013
An Evening with Jeff Kerr and Stephen Harrigan
The Austin History Center and Austin History Center Association invites you to “An Evening with Jeff Kerr and Stephen Harrigan.” These two noted Texas authors will be discussing Jeff Kerr’s new book, Seat of Empire: The Embattled Birth of Austin, Texas, and how Austin became the capital of Texas.
Republic of Texas Vice President Mirabeau Lamar foresaw a day in which the western boundary of his nation extended beyond the Rio Grande River to the Pacific Ocean. The first step in achieving this vision lay with gaining possession of the lucrative Santa Fe trade, a rich stream of commerce passing between that northern Mexican town and the American market via St. Louis. To steer this trade to Texas, Lamar intended to establish a national capital on the upper Colorado River at which goods could be loaded onto boats, floated to the Gulf of Mexico, and shipped to the American east coast. Standing in Lamar’s way was the powerful Sam Houston, who regarded the idea of a frontier capital as madness. Mutual personal animosity heightened political tensions between the two men, whose public struggle over the placement of the government seat led to the Republic’s first great political war. That Lamar ultimately triumphed is evidenced by modern Austin. Lamar’s imperial vision, however, shattered itself against the harsh west Texas desert, very nearly destroying his “seat of empire” in its infancy.
A book signing will follow the presentation and light refreshments will be served.