March 6: Did you remember the Alamo?

March 6, 2013

Did you remember?

Alamo with Texas flag flying

Texas law urges you to fly your Texas flag today to commemorate and remember the Alamo, which fell on this day in 1836. Image from Pinterest, All Things Texas

The fortress in an old church known as The Alamo, fell to Mexico’s Army led by President and Gen. Santa Anna, on March 6, 1836.

From Texas A&M:

This account appeared in the San Antonio Light newspaper on Sunday March 6, 1907 [links added here].

The fall of the Alamo has but one peer in the brilliant son of its glory. Thermopylae and the Alamo are side by side on the imperishable tables of history; the names of Leonidas and Travis are synonymous for heroism. The modern altar of liberty almost casts its shadow upon the majority of the readers of The Light………It is, therefore, the purpose, not so much to give history as to recall and keep green in memory all the patriots who died to give us one of the fairest lands the sun ever shone on, and the free and liberal government under which we enjoy it. Fifty years, a half century, have passed since that awful sacrifice was made. Few men are now alive who then took part in that almost hopeless struggle against the perfidious and bloody tyrant of Mexico, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, and they are old and decrepit. None of the defenders of the Alamo escaped. The most concise account is that of Francisco Antonio Ruiz, published in the Texas Almanac for 1860. Ruiz was the alcalde of this city. Following is the account given:

“On the 23rd of February, 1836, at 2 p.m., General Santa Anna entered the city of San Antonio with a part of his army. This he effected without any resistances, the forces under the command of Travis, Bowie and Crockett having on the same day, at 8 a.m. learned that the Mexican army was on the banks of the Medina river, and concentrated in the Alamo.

“In the evening they commenced to exchange fire with guns, and from the 23rd of February to the 6th of March (in which the storming was made by Santa Anna), the roar of artillery and volleys of musketry were constantly heard. On the 6th of March at 3 p.m. General Santa Anna at the head of 4000 men, advanced against the Alamo. The infantry, artillery and cavalry had formed about 1000 varas from the walls of said fortress. The Mexican army charged and were twice repulsed by the deadly fire of Travis’ artillery, which resembled a constant thunder. At the third charge the Toluca battalion commenced to scale the walls and suffered severely. Out of 800 men, only 130 were left alive.

Every Texas school kid should get this history in 7th grade; I doubt it’s taught much, anymore.  Most of my students didn’t remember anything three years after they were supposed to have learned it.

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Texas Independence Day, March 2

March 2, 2009

The place to be today is Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Site, looking back 173 years.

Here on March 2 of that year [1836], 59 delegates signed the six-page document that declared the Republic of Texas free and independent of Mexico.

As related in the Dallas Morning News, it was a fretful time in Texas.

The convention delegates actually gathered on March 1, 1836, a month after they were elected and sent to Washington, a growing town on the Brazos River less than 100 miles northwest of what now is Houston.

The convention within weeks would adopt a constitution amid a swift series of events. While they were meeting, Travis and his men were killed at the Alamo. And just over another month later, Gen. Sam Houston’s army would defeat the Mexicans in the famous Battle of San Jacinto.

And, just in time for this year’s celebration, researchers announced they have recovered a document lost from the Texas State Archives for a century, the order for copies of the Texas Declaration to be copied and printed.  Jim Bevill found the scrap of paper placed haphazardly in a file now housed at Southern Methodist University (SMU).

Michael Paulsen Chronicle  Author Jim Bevill found the order issued on March 2, 1836, for the first copies of the Texas Declaration of Independence in a collection donated to the Southern Methodist University library. The order had long been missing from the state archives

Author Jim Bevill found the order issued on March 2, 1836, for the first copies of the Texas Declaration of Independence in a collection donated to the Southern Methodist University library. The order had long been missing from the state archives. Photo by Michael Paulsen, Houston Chronicle

Bevill was doing research for his upcoming book, The Paper Republic, a history of the Republic of Texas from the viewpoint of economics rather than the usual military perspective.

The new Texas government was desperately short of money. Investors in New Orleans refused to give the fledgling country a loan until Texas officially declared independence from Mexico.

The document Bevill found was an order sent to San Felipe to have printers make five handwritten copies and 1,000 printed copies of the declaration.

Hope you have a good Texas Independence Day.  We have grades due.

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Can Texas split itself into five states? Is West Virginia legal?

September 15, 2008

Elektratig has found a legal scholar with a wild bent who has penned a couple of scholarly articles designed to give heart to conspiracy nuts, anarchists and radical libertarians.

One article [by Michael Stokes Paulsen], “Let’s Mess With Texas,” actually was published in the Texas Law Review in 2004, arguing the case that the odd treaty negotiations/statehood legislation that led to Texas becoming part of the U.S. in 1845 included a clause that would allow Texas to split itself into as many as five states.  The authors speculate as to chaos this would cause in U.S. politics.  The article is available in a free download from SSRN.

The other, “Is West Virginia Unconstitutional” was published in the California Law Review. It offers a good history of the creation of West Virginia from the northwestern territory of Virginia in 1863, when the pro-Union counties of the northwest part of the state declared a government in exile and consented to the Union’s partition of Virginia.

Both stories pose interesting questions for government classes, U.S. history classes (especially with regard to the Civil War), and possibly for Texas history classes, though the discussions may not seem germane to the 7th grade minds it would need to entertain.

Both articles breezily discuss history in a wry, humorous way.  A lot more history for high school students should be written this way.

I can’t find it at the moment, but it seems to me that most authorities determined Texas’s right to self-partition expired when the state tried to secede in 1861, and, in any case, did not survive the readmission process subsequent to the end of the war and reconstruction. Although Texas U.S. Rep. John Nance Garner (future vice president under FDR) threatened to exercise the clause in 1930 to fight a tariff he didn’t like, it’s unlikely Texans would consent to lose their bragging rights to being bigger than anybody else in the Lower 48.  The issue is generally considered dead to Texans, if not in law.

Plus, there isn’t enough hair in the Lone Star State for four more Rick Perrys.

If you think history can’t be fun, you haven’t read this stuff.  Go check it out.

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