(Brig: t. 419; 1. 112'; b. 29'; dph. 11'; a. 18 guns)
Branch Tanner Archer was born on 13 December 1790 in Farquhar County, Va. He apparently studied medicine in Philadelphia, Pa., and practised that profession for some years in Virginia. He also appears to have started his political career in Virginia as well, serving one or two terms in the state legislature. In 1831, he moved to Texas, then a province of Mexico, and settled in Brazoria. There, he became enmeshed in the disputes between American immigrants and the government in Mexico City and represented the town in its demand for the modification of objectionable port regulations. Later, he spoke for the entire district surrounding Brazoria in the convention of April 1833. During that meeting, the Americans in Texas adopted a provisional constitution and requested that Texas be accepted as a state in the Mexican Confederation rather than remain a province.
Archer again served as Brazoria's representative in November 1835 at the "consultation" called to settle the attitude of Texas toward the changes being made to the Mexican constitution of 1824 by Santa Ana. War, however, erupted before the "consultation" met, and the overriding question quickly became what Texans were trying to achieve by their fighting. Though Archer probably favored independence, he acquiesced to a less radical resolution supporting the Mexican constitution of 1824 but opposing the centralizing machinations of the Santa Ana government. In other words, the initial policy of the Texans became local autonomy but still recognizing Mexican sovereignty.
However, regardless of their ultimate goals, the Texans needed assistance at that particular time because they were fighting the central government. Accordingly, a three-man mission to the United States, consisting of Stephen F. Austin, William H. Wharton, and Archer, went to New Orleans, La., in January 1836 and secured loans totalling around a quarter of a million dollars. Their ensuing trip up the Mississippi generated a great deal of sympathy for the Texas cause and no doubt contributed to the subsequent large influx of Americans into Texas. While the three men were still in the United States, Texas declared its independence on 2 March 1836.
American support for the Texans remained private rather than public. Despite the excellent official contacts of Archer and his colleagues, no one in Washington would countenance official intervention in the Texas war for independence. Consequently, the three men returned to Texas to participate in the establishment of a government for the infant republic. Archer joined with Wharton to support Austin in his unsuccessful bid for the presidency of Texas. He also served as a member of the first congress of Texas and was elected speaker of the lower house during its second session. In 1838, he became secretary of war in the administration of Mirabeau B. Lamar, a post he held until 1842. At that time, he apparently retired from public life. Archer died at Brazoria on 22 September 1856.
Galveston, an 18-gun brig built in 1839 and 1840 at Baltimore, Md., by Schott & Whitney, reached the Texas coast at Galveston in the spring of 1840, probably in the month of April. Soon renamed Archer, she appears to have taken little or no part in the operations of the Texas Navy against Mexico. She was taken over by the United States Navy along with the rest of the Texas Navy on 11 May 1846 after the annexation of Texas by the United States. An inspection proved her to be unfit for service, and she was never placed in commission by the United States Navy. Sources suggest that she was sold in 1847.
Archer (BAGV-1), a merchant ship constructed in 1939 at Chester, Pa., by the Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., was acquired by the Navy from the Maritime Commission on 6 May 1941. She was converted to an aircraft escort vessel at the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. during the summer and fall of 1941. She completed conversion on 15 November and arrived in New York on the 17th. The following day, she was turned over to the Royal Navy and commissioned as HMS Archer. The warship served through World War II with the Royal Navy's Western Approaches command shepherding convoys into the British Isles and patrolling against German U-boats. She was returned to the United States Navy on 9 January 1946, and her name was struck from the Navy list on 26 February 1946. She was sold through the Maritime Commission on 30 September 1947 to Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald Luley of New York City. She was refitted as a merchantman and served under a succession of names into the early 1960's. From 1946 to 1949, her name was Empire Lagan. In 1949, she became Anna Salen. That name remained until 1955, at which time the name Tasmania was assigned to her. Her final name, Union Reliance, came in 1961. She was scrapped at New Orleans, La., in March of 1962.