Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Remember San Jacinto

Today, one hundred and seventy-three years ago, Texas won its struggle for independence from Mexico. After a long retreat, not dissimilar to the one that Washington led from Massachusetts to New York in 1776, Sam Houston found a plot of ground at a place now known as San Jacinto and faced the pursuing Army of Mexico. In a short battle, the Texans managed to send the Mexicans into disarray and eventually capture Santa Anna, thereby securing sovereignty from the oppressive Mexican government. With such a momentous day in history, it is still shocking that it is barely mentioned in even local Texas news. The issue resides in some sort of revisionist history, that the Texas revolution is somehow based in race. Today, in Texas, Cinco De Mayo is a bigger celebration than the very war that brought freedom to the people of this land.

The reason for this discrepancy lies in sort of a revisionist view of the reasons for the revolution. Now, there exists some sort of race component to the whole discussion which was truly not at the heart of the conflict. If one looks back at the writings, the people and the political and economic situation of the times, it is pretty clear that the struggle was not one of race, at all. In fact, some of the issues are ones that are still familiar.

The Mexicans had fallen into a state of economic despair following their own struggle for independence from Spain (which is widely celebrated – but isn't as racists as the Texas revolution). As a way to rebuild the economy, the Mexicans established an active colonization of Texas. The original colonists generally were happy about the ability to begin something new, under the ideals that were established under the new Mexican constitution. (This is why you see some of the earlier flags of the revolution displaying the year 1824)

Around 1830, the Mexican government became alarmed at the idea of so many immigrants coming from the United States; in fact they were particularly concerned because the majority was of European descent. To curb this influx of Americans, the Government went back on a major incentive for immigration and that was a tax-free ten year period following any new colonist's move to Texas. This turn, coupled with religious intolerance (forced membership and tithes to the Catholic Church), anti-slavery, corruption of the local government (the capital of the state wasn't even in Texas, and the soldiers garrisoned in the state were mostly "go to war or go to jail" soldiers) and lack of a free economy (settlers were told what to grown and not allowed to grow products based on demand) – all led to a growing dissatisfaction. With these issues in mind, one of the biggest champions for Mexico, Stephen F. Austin, went to Mexico City to address the grievances of the people of the state.

Austin, did not go to Mexico City in search of independence from Mexico, he instead went to find a compromise which would keep the people of Texas happy and the state part of the nation of Mexico. When Santa Anna turned down the idea that Texas should be its own state, Austin wrote to the people of Texas to continue to pursue their state sovereignty – with this letter, he was promptly jailed.

By 1834, Mexico had fallen into complete disarray. This prompted Santa Anna to seize power from not just Texas, but from all states. He dissolved the free constitution of Mexico and essentially assumed power as a dictator. From this point, things happened quickly and eventually led to April 21, 1836. Twelve years of failed promises and greed, by a man who saw himself as the Napoleon of the West, led to a new free nation. It wasn't race, but the will of the people to not submit to the tyranny of liar and power hungry dictator that brought about Texas' independence.

In 1834, the population was about 18% Mexican born citizens, 70% US born citizens, and 12% slaves. In fact, many Hispanic Texans fought for independence. Here is a good link that addresses the issue : http://www.tamu.edu/ccbn/dewitt/tejanopatriots.htm .

The ideals of freedom and liberty are not those of one type of people. They are a core element to the nature of man, be him of European, Asian, African or even North American descent. The war for Texas Independence should be looked at, not only as those fateful few months, but what the State has become since then. Without the success that a free society has brought to the land that is Texas, the recent influx of Mexicans into the state would probably not have happened. The economic disaster that is today's Mexico would have a much larger reach. All Texans of today should be proud and thankful for the sacrifices of the men and women of all races that stood up against the evil of despotism.

Just go to El Paso, and take in the vast difference of the quality of life from one side to the other and know the difference that freedom can make in the lives of a people. It is not that the demographics of El Paso are so different than those of Juarez, it is that the freedom provided to one group is so vast than that provided to the other.

I guess the reason, I wanted to talk about this was brought up by a certain "celebrities" comments on the Tax-day tea party. She characterized it as a racist event. I can't be sure, but I doubt that she took the time to see the people who were protesting. I was at the one in Houston, and it is funny that I remember being stuck by the racial diversity of the people who were there. It was a slice of Texas and I was particularly proud, because it validated my idea that freedom is a desire of all peoples.

Upon arriving at the protest, I was excited because first off, I had never protested anything in my life and two, I was really interested in seeing what sort of people showed up for the event. With this in mind, I was in the observing mode upon my arrival. I first thing I noticed, was that there were many families there. A ton more kids than I would have ever imagined and many of those were in strollers. The second thing I noticed was the number of Hispanic peoples. I expected to see some people of African descent because I think that the Texas population of Blacks is pretty conservative religiously. The Hispanics were a surprise as I would estimate about 15% of the group was of this demographic. Lastly, I was not surprise but did take not of the amount of blue collar people who were there. These were not bubba and his boys; they were people from all races, wealth level, etc. It was very impressive.

I know I shouldn't, but I still find it amazing how people like this one celebrity are able to get any sort of public recognition for their sad, uneducated comments.

So anyway, I know this was a long post today, but I figure it was worth it as just a small remembrance of those who were willing to stand up and be counted when Liberty was on the line.

Happy San Jacinto day! To everyone who lives in this great state and is a beneficiary of those who went before.

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