Star of the Republic Museum

Spreading the Word

Instructional Objectives (4th grade)

1. The student will recognize the accomplishments of Gail Borden and why he was important to Texas.

2. The student will understand how the innovation of the printing press benefited individuals and society in Texas during the Republic period.


SOCIAL STUDIES History(4.21.A, 4.21.B) The student is expected to identify Gail Borden as an inventor and newspaper publisher.  The student will describe how technological innovations (printing press) have benefited society in Texas.



Getting Ready for the Lesson

Background Information:

1. Gail Borden was born in Norwich, NY on November 9, 1801 and died in Borden, Texas January 11, 1874.

2. He had many diverse accomplishments:

3. He benefited Texas as a newspaper publisher:

(These facts were paraphrased from the Handbook of Texas Online)

Preparation of the Learning Environment

Students should work in groups of 3-5.  Each group should have a picture of the Washington Hand Press from the museum.  Some facts about the hand press in the museum are:



Explain to the students that although Gail Borden had many important accomplishments, one of his greatest victories for Texas came when he kept the press running despite opposition from Santa Anna. Would it be easy to move this press in a hurry?


Have the students read from the resources (Handbook of Texas Online, excerpts from Gail Borden, Pioneer), and lead them in a discussion.

1. Why were Gail Borden's efforts as publisher of the Telegraph and Texas Register his most important contributions to the establishment of the new government of Texas? (He secured free press in Texas despite opposition from Santa Anna.)

2. How did his newspaper help to establish the Republic? (got word to the people of events such as the Alamo that would have taken a very long time by word of mouth (excerpt: "Hard at Work"), enabled the general public to see a copy of the Constitution (Handbook of Texas OnlineTelegraph and Texas Register), created an environment of dissatisfaction with Mexico - inferred)

3. How did the invention and use of the hand press help the Republic of Texas? (able to make more copies in less time than the previous press and get them out to the people)

4. What steps did Borden take to keep the printing press from falling into the hands of the enemy? Have the students read excerpts from Gail Borden, Pioneer, pp. 102-104 (Write the following events on the board in scrambled order, and have the students put the events in correct order orally as you discuss: What did he do first? next?)

1. sent his family to safety p. 102-103

2. asked for help from the President p. 103

3. physically moved the printing press p.104 (notice how difficult it must have been from the picture)

4. lost it to Santa Anna p. 108

5. How long after this event was Texas' independence won? (One week later on April 21, 1836)

6. What did Gail Borden do to ensure the continuation of free press in Texas? (Bought another printing press in Cincinnati and resumed publication in Columbia by August.)


Have each group chose a topic and cooperate to write a newspaper article from Gail Borden's viewpoint describing one of the aspects of his attempt to save the printing press from Santa Anna. (Safety, Help, Hard at Work, Narrow Escape)

Some suggestions for specific assignments in the group are:


The following quote from Gail Borden should be supplied to the students:

"We promise the public of our beloved country that our press will never cease its operations til our silence shall announce to them that there is no more in Texas a resting place for a free press nor for the government of their choice." Gail Borden, April 14, 1836

On what occasion did Borden make his promise of April 14,1836? (Santa Anna and his army were fast approaching)

Use the quote to gain an idea of his viewpoint regarding free press in Texas.

Students can play the role of Gail Borden as he speaks about the importance of free press to the government of Texas.  He can also speak of his other accomplishments.


Grade newspaper articles for creativity and accuracy.

Grade viewpoint speeches for clarity and creativity.


Publish the finished articles as a class newspaper. Use the class computer to make the final copy.


Have students give their Gail Borden speeches to the class.