It's a new Battle of the Alamo, with one Texas agency mounting pressure on another to loan out one of the state's most sacred texts for display at "the shrine of Texas independence."
The General Land Office is pressing the State Library and Archives Commission to loan the "Victory or Death" letter penned by Col. William Barret Travis, the commander of the Alamo garrison, from its "dark storage" for a 14-day exhibit at the Alamo in February.
"Our thinking is this is a Texas treasure and deserves to be seen by the people of Texas. We think this letter can be an inspiration to the people of Texas," Land Office spokesman Mark Loeffler said.
However, the commission voted down a motion to approve the request Tuesday after commission staff recommended against the document loan. The commission will meet again in Austin in three weeks to reconsider the matter, library spokesman Cesar Garza said. In the meantime, the staffs of the two agencies will try to negotiate a deal, Loeffler said.
Since 2011, the General Land Office has been the custodian of the Alamo, and it is planning an exhibit Feb. 23-March 7 there to mark the 177th anniversary of the siege and battle.
Although acknowledging that no one can promise complete security, "we want to provide the best security possible," Loeffler said. That would include a state trooper escort from the library in Austin to San Antonio and back.
It has been loaned for display rarely, never in San Antonio, and is kept by the state library in "dark storage" out of public view, Loeffler said. Although many copies and facsimiles of the letter have been displayed, "people are more inspired to see the document that Travis, himself, touched," he said.