Thursday, March 08, 2007

Mea Culpa, Mea MAXIMA Culpa

and I'm not even Catholic! But I am feelin' ever so guilty.
I have let TWO major Texas historical dates pass without mention. Last Friday, March 2, was Texas Independence Day, the day commonly recognized as such because that's the day our representatives signed our Declaration of Independence from Mexico. It wasn't about taxation without representation, although there was some of that going on; and it wasn't about freedom of religion, although all early settlers in Coahuila y Tejas had to convert to Catholicism. No, what brought things to a boiling point was a tyrant [and that was Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana's nickname: "The Tyrant"] and his decree that all martial weapons be rounded up and confiscated. If you'll follow this link:,_Texas the folks at Wiki have a nice lesson about the set-to at Gonzales.
Or,these words my friend Allen Damron sang in "Come and Take It" on his inspiring Texas Spirit CD are are good explanation, too:
We've prayed and worked as free men since 1824,
We can live in peace like brothers in the sun.
But we cannot accept this edict of unarmed slavery.
So I think that we'll just keep this little gun...

For more of Allen's music you can click on this link . I hope you do. Allen got away from us back in August 2005, but his music and Cowboy poetry live on. His music is at once entertaining and informative. I think you'll enjoy.

What I didn't learn in school and what many people on both sides of the Rio Grande either don't know or fail to remember is that Texans weren't always called "Texans". We were once known as "Texicans". The reason we called ourselves by this appellation is that the people came from the United States of America, Europe, Mexico, Spain, and there were some slaves here as well. [I am not going to comment on the morality of slavery, that's not what this blog is about] Tejas was not populated by lily-white, wealthy, educated, upper-class settlers from privileged backgrounds. It was truly a cross section of all ethnicities and races and religions. There were Mexicans fighting for the freedom of Texas. They wanted to live in a free Republic, as free citizens. Evidently, a lot of Mexicans still do.

Texicans who were born in Mexico died at the Alamo, arguably that most sacred of all shrines in Texas. Possibly they were fighting brothers or cousins in the Mexican Army. Does this sound familiar? Or prophetic in some way?

Anyway, Tuesday, March 6th, was the day the Alamo fell to Santa Ana's army. The actual battle had begun on February 23. For 13 days those valiant men held out against overwhelming odds. Few of them were trained soldiers. The Mexican Army, OTOH, was a full of battle-hardened veteran fighters. The were better trained, better equipped, better fed and better rested. Some military analysts may opine they were better led. And that may be, Col. Cos was also battle hardened and classically trained, and a much more honorable man than Antonio. But, I can't help but admire the defending commanders: William Barret Travis, a South Carolina native. He may have come to Texas to escape a failed marriage and bad debts, but when the fecal material hit the air circulating device, he showed courage and leadership. Jim Bowie, a native of Kentucky and a resident of Louisiana was a rounder, no doubt about that. He was a hard drinker, a gambler and he brooked disrespect from no man. His men admired him, respected him and would have followed him into hell, during the last days there in Bexar county I'm sure they thought they had. David Crockett, the Congressional Representative from Tennessee, a character to equal the legend. I was entranced with the portrayal of him by B.B. Thornton in the recent Alamo movie.

From the beginning, no quarter was asked and in the end none was given. The only survivors were women, children and possibly a few slaves, although accounts differ on this point.

If you didn't pause to remember the men who laid down their lives for your Freedom back in 1836 this week, please do so now. And while you're doing that, please say a prayer for the men and women fighting for freedom in foreign lands today.


JPG said...

Historical Notes--

Strong words:

When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and, so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression: . . .

Strong words from strong people. Do they sound familiar? The Declaration of Independence?

Yes. The beginning of the Texas Declaration of Independence, March 2, 1836.

The previous day, 59 delegates had met at Washington-on-the-Brazos in a chilly, drafty board building to consider options. All knew the grave situation Texas faced. They weren't just considering the form of government under which Anglo-Texans would live. They were faced with a fight for survival or extermination by the Mexican tyrant, Santa Ana. They knew of Travis' appeal for help at the besieged Mission San Antonio de Valero— The Alamo -- only 150 miles to the southwest..

These delegates were educated, competent men. At least seven had either served in the United States Congress or had helped draft constitutions of other states. All present knew the difficulties faced. They accepted the challenges and responsibilities and, just overnight drafted, revised and signed the declaration. The Alamo fell on the sixth and word reached the convention, which continued until the 17th.

Sam Houston had attended, on furlough from the army. Returning to his command, he led it through the lengthy Runaway Scrape. Avoiding Mexican pursuit, he gained time to forge a rag-tag rabble into something like an organized fighting force. A month later, Houston stopped on an island in a sluggish river named for Saint Hyacinth. We usually call the field by its Spanish name: SAN JACINTO.

The place where Texas Independence was given substance. One of the dozen watershed battles in the history of civilization.

Happy Independence Day, to all Texans, in fact of birth or in spirit.


Much of the above is drawn from Lone Star, by T. R. Fehrenbach.

lainy said...

Where are your ads?

phlegmfatale said...

brilliant stuff, Hols! I have learned so much about Texas history from you - THANKS!