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Texas Ranger Research Center: Founding of the Texas Rangers in 1823
Laws and Regulations Pertaining to the Organization of the Texas Rangers
Traditional Founding of the Texas Rangers in 1823
F. Austin established what has become the traditional founding year of the Texas Rangers
in a call-to-arms written in 1823. It was inscribed on the back of a
recycled handout published in August. The text is reproduced below in
In the space of a hundred years, Austin's volunteers would change from
a militia to frontier
lawmen to State police to an elite investigative force for the "prevention and detection of crime."
A few months before Austin's call, Jose Trespalacios, the respected
Governor of Tejas, approved the formation of a small militia force to
protect settlers in the Mexican province from marauding Indians. Settlers
faced Comanches, Tonkawas and others on horseback who knew the land,
struck quickly and disappeared. It was an ancient pattern of guerrilla
warfare that would last another fifty years in Texas.
Commanded by Lt. Moses Morrison, the Texas militia was too small, untrained
and poorly equipped to do much good. History records that the they sometimes
took to the field on foot with fife and drum. Tejas was vast,
communications were poor and roads were muddy trails. Word of a raid
sometimes took days to reach help.
As representative of Mexico, Austin personally undertook the reorganization
of the militia into ranging men or Rangers. He
issued a call for an additional 10 men to merge with the Morrison militia
and paid them in grants of land.
Anglo-European frontiersmen, Mexican vaqueros and friendly Indians
were blended into a potent fighting force of Ranging Men. Without
them, the settlements in Tejas would likely have been abandoned.
Austin's Address to Colonists
Since the commencement of this Colony no labor or expense
has been spared on my part towards its organization, benefit and security—
And I shall always be ready and willing to risk my health, my property
or my life for the common advantage of those who have embarked with
me in this enterprise.
As proof of the reality of this declaration I have determined to augment
at my own private expense the company of men which was raised by order
of the late Governor Trespalacios for the defense of the Colony against
hostile Indians. I therefore by these presents give public notice that
I will employ ten men in addition to those employed by the Government
to act as rangers for the common defense.
The said ten men will form a part of Lieut. Moses Morrison's Company
and the whole will be subject to my orders. The wages I will give the
said ten men is fifteen Dollars a month payable in property, they finding
[it] themselves. Those who wish to be employed will apply without delay. - Stephen F. Austin, August, 1823
[Spelling and punctuation modernized for ease of reading.]