Thursday, April 21, 2011

Texas Tidbits: 175th Anniversary of Texas Independence!

Republic of Texas, 1836
April 21 is one of the most important dates in Texas History. Period. 175 years ago today, The Republic of Texas was born when General Sam Houston and his men routed the mighty Mexican Army in just eighteen minutes with an attack that caught the Mexicans by surprise, confused and in disarray. Gunfire and shouts of "Remember the Alamo" filled the air as the Texians took revenge on the very Army that had made its way across Texas with little or no resistance, save for the Battle of the Alamo, which afforded much-needed time for the Texian Army to regroup. In less time than it takes to cook frozen french fries in the oven, Texas became an Independent Nation.

The San Jacinto Museum website has a brief summary of the Battle of San Jacinto. It begins "In March of 1836, things were not going well for Sam Houston’s Texas revolutionaries. Having declared independence from the official Mexican government, they were now running from the Mexican army, being run from their homes—and running out of time.
Since January 1836, Texas settlers had been abandoning their homes and the lives they’d created on the Texas frontier. Known as the Runaway Scrape, this retreat began as the Mexican government initiated military reoccupation of the newly settled land. The event was marked by sickness, freezing weather, hunger and panic among the citizenry." The rest of the article about this improbable victory can be read here.

When the smoke cleared after the battle, the Mexican Army had lost 600 men, another 700 surrendered and the "Napoleon of the West", Mexican General Santa Anna was found hiding in the brush near the battlefield dressed as a common foot soldier, Sam Houston had been shot in the ankle and the Republic of Texas had become a reality. Further, Mexico had lost "nearly a million square miles in territory. For the Texans, their victory led to annexation into the United States and the United States' war with Mexico. In the end, the United States would gain not only Texas but also New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, California, Utah and parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming. As a result of the Battle of San Jacinto, almost a third of what is now the United States of America changed ownership."

The legacy of the people of Texas in 1836is a state that stands as an example not only to the citizens of the United States, but to people around the world, of what a fierce pride in your land and a dogged determination can do for them, when they stand up to tyranny with the singleminded goal of Freedom as the driving force in overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds against the most vicious of oppressors. Like the great football coach Bum Phillips learned at the foot of his Daddy's buddy Bill, "Texans are forged of a hotter fire." Read the story at the previous link if you aren't a Texan, it'll give you a better understanding of how we feel and why we think and act like we do. It's not a bad idea for Texans to give it another look as well. It's dead solid perfect. You'll thank me later.

Go ahead and have a Texas-size hoot today celebrating this defining moment in history. Have some Mexican food, a tall cold beverage and sing with your chest swollen with pride and a tear in your eye "The Eyes of Texas" (sorry about that, Aggies) Enjoy the fellowship with the folks next to you, your fellow Texans. They are, after all, people forged of a hotter fire.

God Bless Texas!

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All Original Material © Toby Shoemaker