Alphonse Dubois de Saligny Translation Project Records
An Inventory to the Collection
Jean Pierre Isidore Alphonse Dubois, French diplomat, was born on April 8, 1809, in Caen, Normandy, France, the son of Jean Baptiste Isidore, a tax collector, and Marie Louise Rose Bertrand. Scholars believe that the title "de Saligny" is a misrepresentation started by the ambitious Dubois early in his government career in order to give the impression of nobility. He began his government career in 1831 and went on to serve as secretary of the French legations in Hanover, Greece, and the United States. During his time as a French diplomat in Washington, D.C., he was dispatched by the French government to go to Texas on a fact-finding mission and report back on its conditions, resources and potential for commerce. In the spring of 1839, Dubois made trips to Galveston, Houston, and the coastal area as far west as Matagorda. His reports lead the French government, under King Louis Philippe, to become the first European power to recognize the fledgling republic as an independent state in the New World. Dubois was assigned the post of charge d'affaires, diplomatic agent, and held that post from 1839 up to the annexation of Texas by the United States in 1846. His official place of business, located in the new republic's capital, Austin, was known as the French Legation in Texas.
In January, 1840, Dubois took up residence in Austin, first as a lodger at Richard Bullock's hotel and then in a house on West Pecan (6th) St. where he entertained many officials in the Texas government. In late 1840, he purchased 21 acres of land on the east side of Austin from Anson Jones for $1,000 and began building a house at 802 San Marcos St. The structure was to become known as the "French Legation in Texas". It is unclear as to whether Dubois actually ever took up residence in the house. In early 1841, before construction of the house was completed, he became involved in an escalating dispute with Richard Bullock. The dispute started when Dubois declined to pay the bill for his month-long stay at Bullock's hotel upon his arrival to Austin. The squabble escalated further when several of Bullock's pigs wandered onto Dubois' property and devoured his livestock's corn as well as a number papers and bedroom linens. Bullock, in turn, retaliated by physically threatening Dubois and assaulting one of his servants. The dispute resulted in what became an international incident known as the "Pig War". Dubois invoked the "Law of Nations" and appealed to Secretary of State James S. Mayfield to punish Bullock but the request was refused without due process of the law. Dubois responded by leaving his post without authorization from the French government. He returned to France for a period of time. President Sam Houston made a formal apology to the French Government and Dubois returned to Galveston in April, 1842. Due to failing health, he departed once again for France that July. In 1844, he returned to the United States as the French representative and resided primarily in Louisiana until the annexation of Texas to the United States in 1846.
Sources: Barker, Nancy, The French Legation in Texas, Vol. 1 Recognition, Rupture, and Reconciliation (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1971). Nancy N. Barker, "DUBOIS DE SALIGNY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdu02),
The collection is composed primarily of typed transcriptions in French, with only a few in English, by former UT Austin history professor Nancy Barker written by Alphonse Dubois de Saligny, French charge d'affaires, during his mission in Texas, 1839-1846. The photocopies were most likely reproduced from an incomplete set of reports contained on microfilm housed at the Austin History Center entitled Correspondence Politique Texas, Archives Diplomatique [France], Reel 1. Reels 2 and 3 represent all nine volumes of official diplomatic correspondence, both political and commercial, concerning Texas. Original documents are housed in the archives of the French Foreign Ministry. Reports contained on the microfilm are in French (with a few document in Spanish). For the greatest number and extent of translations in English, researchers need to access The French Legation in Texas, Vols. 1 and 2 by Nancy Barker, Call # A 976.404 Ba (2 Vols.) housed in the General Collection at the Austin History Center (see Related Materials section below).
Material in folders one through five (January, 1839-May, 1846) pertain primarily to Dubois' correspondence with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs in Paris. Correspondence in folder six (February-May 1841) is related specifically to the Pig War and, as such, includes letters from both Dubois and innkeeper Richard Bullock to officials in the Lamar administration (1838-1841) including Vice President David Burnet and Secretary of State James S. Mayfield. Folder seven contains a copy of a single letter written in French to A.S. (Abner Smith) Lipscomb, Secretary of State for the Republic, February 12, 1840. The original document is housed in the Texas General Land Office. Of special note are Dubois' early, first-hand descriptions of his travels through the United States and within Texas as well as his impressions of early Austin, pioneer life, and of Texians, some of whom have since been elevated to heroic status. He also conveys a fairly comprehensive historico-political picture of events surrounding the Texas Revolution and discusses the new Republic's precarious relationship with Mexico at some length in an effort to apprise his superiors of the political and economic conditions of the two countries.
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The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
Reel one, selected letters from Archives Diplomatique [France], Correspondence Politique Texas written by Alphonse Dubois de Saligny to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was gifted to the City of Austin by French Ambassador to the U.S., M. Herve Alphand, and received by Mayor Palmer in 1965. After realizing that Reel 1 represented only about a fifth of the actual correspondence, Reels 2 and 3, which comprise all nine volumes of political and commercial correspondence in French as well as inventories in English and miscellaneous documents in Spanish, were subsequently copied in the archives of the French Foreign Ministry by UT History Professor Nancy Barker while on a trip to Paris in 1966. These reels were purchased by the Austin Public Library in 1966-67. The microfilmed correspondence was translated and edited by Katherine D. Hart, PhD, Director of the Austin-Travis County Collection and Nancy Barker, PhD, the University of Texas at Austin Department of History.
Alphonse Dubois de Saligny Translation Project Records (AR.J.004). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1971/000
Donation Date: 1965-1970
Finding aid created and encoded by Susan Rittereiser/2010 December. Updated by Susan Rittereiser/2017.
Detailed Description of the Collection