Saturday, March 2, 2013

Texas Independence Day!

On March 2nd, 1836 Texas declared it's independence from Mexico, but we were already begun in the Texas War for Independence.

one of the original Texas battle flags

Yes, there was such a thing as a War for Texas Independence, non-Texans.  That's what you're talking about when you discuss "The Alamo".  

Basically, Texas was largely unsettled by Anglos and the entire swath of Tejas y Cohauila was sort of Mexican no-man's land with a few remote outposts like San Antonio.  Circa 1821, a bunch of rowdies and reprobates made a deal with Mexico to settle in what's sort of Central Texas, but they had to become Mexican citizens and Catholic.

By 1835, the Mexican Government had changed and become more centrist.  The local militias were now frowned upon and those shifty Anglos in North Mexico weren't playing ball with Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana's desire to disarm regional militias lest they decide they wanted to rabble rouse.  If the past informs the present, you'd have to imagine if Obama suddenly said folks couldn't have guns, and people started acting kookie about how the government might take away their arms.

Wait a minute...

There were other issues, such as the forced Catholicism of the Mexican Government, that Texans really, really wanted to own slaves, and Mexico city just sort of sucked at paying attention to what was going on in Texas aside from the occasional decree that made no sense in context of living on a frontier.

President and General of Mexico, Santa Ana, had absolutely had it with the Texians (we used to have an "i" in our name) and marched an army up to, of all places, Gonzalez, where the Texians insisted on hanging onto a cannon.

We actually sort of won that one and some other skirmishes.

After this initial taste of victory, things went poorly (you may have heard how everybody at The Alamo died).  There were a handful of clashes, and it looked more or less like Mexico was going to have the final say on what should happen with their northern wastelands.

On April 21, 1836, Texans fought the army of Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana in San Jacinto, Texas, bravely attacking the Mexican army while they were asleep.  The Texans won the day within, like, 30 minutes.

@#$% went down in Texas swamp land.  Click for full chaos.

Long story short, Texas won its independence from the centralist government of Mexico and established itself as an independent nation from 1835-1845.

In 1845, bankrupt and looking like a hungry dog, we joined the union and, feelings about Texas still being raw, Mexico got a little flustered that the US had just grabbed their renegade state.  You may have heard about the Mexican-American War?  Anyway.

These days March 2nd is a politically charged landmine of a holiday that can be seen as either a glorious struggle for independence or an Anglo land grab that more or less made liars out of the founding fathers of Texas and their pre-existing agreements with Mexico, which graciously allowed American interlopers into their territory despite feelings they would do exactly what they did.

As you can expect, the Anglo attitude toward Hispanics was not great for a good long while (see: Giant), and it really took until about the 1970's for attitudes to begin to change.  Or, if you meet Texans of a certain generation, maybe those attitudes did not change so much and it can make for some seriously uncomfortable conversations.

Today, Texas and Mexico have an interesting dynamic and it's my impression that most Texans are probably a lot more open-minded about immigration, friendship with Mexico and, etc.. than what's going on in the national conversation.  Our economies, both legitimate and less-so, are closely bound, and the cultural influence is definitely a two-way street.

Folks here in Texas don't really do much to celebrate the day (there is no Texas Independence mascot or gift bag or anything), but it's an interesting and important mark in the history of North America.

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