Texas Revolution

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Texas Revolution

American settlement in Texas began with the encouragement of first the Spanish, and then Mexican, governments. In the summer of l820 Moses Austin, a bankrupt 59-year old Missourian, asked Spanish authorities for a large Texas land tract which he would promote and sell to American pioneers.Austin's request seemed preposterous. His background was that of a Philadelphia dry goods merchant, a Virginia mine operator, a Louisiana judge, and a Missouri banker. But early in l82l, the Spanish government gave him permission to settle 300 families in Texas. Spain welcomed the Americans for two reasons--to provide a buffer against illegal U.S. settlers, who were creating problems in east Texas even before the grant was made to Austin, and to help develop the land, since only 3,500 native Mexicans had settled in Texas (which was part of the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas).Moses Austin did not live to see his dream realized. On a return trip from Mexico City, he died of exhaustion and exposure. Before he died, his son Stephen promised to carry out the dream of colonizing Texas. By the end of l824, young Austin had attracted 272 colonists to Texas, and had persuaded the newly independent Mexican government that the best way to attract Americans was to give land agents (called empresarios) 67,000 acres of land for every 200 families they brought to Texas.Mexico imposed two conditions on land ownership: settlers had to become Mexican citizens and they had to convert to Roman Catholicism. By l830 there were l6,000 Americans in Texas. At that time, Americans formed a 4-to-1 majority in the northern section of Coahuila y Tejas, but people Hispanic heritage formed a majority in the state as a whole.As the Anglo population swelled, Mexican authorities grew increasingly suspicious of the growing American presence. Mexico feared that the United States planned to use the Texas colonists to acquire the province by revolution. Differences in language and culture had produced bitter enmity between the colonists and native Mexicans. The colonists refused to learn the Spanish language, maintained their own separate schools, and conducted most of their trade with the United States.To reassert its authority over Texas, the Mexican government reaffirmed its Constitutional prohibition against slavery, established a chain of military posts occupied by convict soldiers, restricted trade with the United States, and decreed an end to further American immigration.

October 2, 1835 - GonzalesMarch 6, 1836 - AlamoApril 21, 1836 - San Jacinto

First shots of the Texas Revolution fired on this day in 1835, the growing tensions between Mexico and Texas erupt into violence when Mexican soldiers attempt to disarm the people of Gonzales, sparking the Texan war for independence.Texas–or Tejas as the Mexicans called it–had technically been a part of the Spanish empire since the 17th century. However, even as late as the 1820s, there were only about 3,000 Spanish-Mexican settlers in Texas, and Mexico City’s hold on the territory was tenuous at best. After winning its own independence from Spain in 1821, Mexico welcomed large numbers of Anglo-American immigrants into Texas in the hopes they would become loyal Mexican citizens and keep the territory from falling into the hands of the United States. During the next decade men like Stephen Austin brought more than 25,000 people to Texas, most of them Americans. But while these emigrants legally became Mexican citizens, they continued to speak English, formed their own schools, and had closer trading ties to the United States than to Mexico.In 1835, the president of Mexico, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, overthrew the constitution and appointed himself dictator. Recognizing that the “American” Texans were likely to use his rise to power as an excuse to secede, Santa Anna ordered the Mexican military to begin disarming the Texans whenever possible. This proved more difficult than expected, and on October 2, 1835, Mexican soldiers attempting to take a small cannon from the village of Gonzales encountered stiff resistance from a hastily assembled militia of Texans. After a brief fight, the Mexicans retreated and the Texans kept their cannon.The determined Texans would continue to battle Santa Ana and his army for another year and a half before winning their independence and establishing the Republic of Texas.

Major Battles

Texas Revolution Timeline

Battle of Gonzales

In December 1835, in the early stages of Texas’ war for independence from Mexico, a group of Texan (or Texian) volunteers led by George Collinsworth and Benjamin Milam overwhelmed the Mexican garrison at the Alamo and captured the fort, seizing control of San Antonio. By mid-February 1836, Colonel James Bowie and Lieutenant Colonel William B. Travis had taken command of Texan forces in San Antonio. Though Sam Houston, the newly appointed commander-in-chief of the Texan forces, argued that San Antonio should be abandoned due to insufficient troop numbers, the Alamo’s defenders–led by Bowie and Travis–dug in nonetheless, prepared to defend the fort to the last. These defenders, who despite later reinforcements never numbered more than 200, included Davy Crockett, the famous frontiersman and former congressman from Tennessee, who had arrived in early February.On February 23, a Mexican force comprising somewhere between 1,800 and 6,000 men (according to various estimates) and commanded by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna began a siege of the fort. The Texans held out for 13 days, but on the morning of March 6 Mexican forces broke through a breach in the outer wall of the courtyard and overpowered them. Santa Anna ordered his men to take no prisoners, and only a small handful of the Texans were spared. One of these was Susannah Dickinson, the wife of Captain Almaron Dickinson (who was killed) and her infant daughter Angelina. Santa Anna sent them to Houston’s camp in Gonzalez with a warning that a similar fate awaited the rest of the Texans if they continued their revolt. The Mexican forces also suffered heavy casualties in the Battle of the Alamo, losing between 600 and 1,600 men.

Battle of the Alamo

On April 21, 1836, during Texas’ war for independence from Mexico, the Texas militia under Sam Houston launched a surprise attack against the forces of Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto, near present-day Houston, Texas. Some 800 Texans defeated Santa Anna’s Mexican force of approximately 1,500 men at the Battle of San Jacinto, shouting “Remember the Alamo!” as they attacked. The Mexicans were thoroughly routed, and hundreds were taken prisoner, including Santa Anna. In exchange for his freedom, Santa Anna signed a treaty recognizing Texas’ independence.

Battle of San Jacinto



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