In the blog I wrote about the Indians of Mexico, in the last paragraph, I told you that several American states were once part of Mexico. Texas was one of them. This is the story of how Texas became an independent country. I went to graduate school in Texas, and off and on over many years, different people in my family have been connected with Texas. Some of them live in Texas now. This blog will explain a lot about Texas, and perhaps some about my family too.
Mexico had lain claim to Texas, but they couldn’t really claim it. The problem was the Comanches. When I lived in Texas, my sister lived in a house built especially for fighting the Comanches off for a while. All the way around it, it had what they called a “dog run.” Often, the old houses had two rooms with an outdoor passage between them that was called a “dog run,” but someone had made a really special dog run on her house. The house was actually built with two layers of rock walls all the way around the house, and there was a path between the walls. If the Comanches attacked, the family stayed inside, and the people fighting them stayed between those two walls shooting out the windows. It was much harder for the Comanches to get to the inside of the house. Also when living there, I heard stories about an old woman who lived in the nursing home who went out of her head every so often yelling that the Comanches were attacking because she had lived through the times when the Comanches were a threat.
The Comanches owned the land, but Mexico tried to claim it. The Comanches had the best cavalry (army on horseback) in the history of the world. They were unstoppable. They held Texas even though the Mexicans tried to claim it. According to my family history, I am related to both the Tennesseans who came into Texas and the Comanches who held Texas.
The Mexicans were at their wits end trying to settle Texas which they called Tejas. They needed some really rough people who could go in and stand up to the Comanches. They made a pact with some frontiersmen from Tennessee that if they could come and settle, they could have whatever land they could settle for free. There are legends about one of these men, Davy Crockett. Americans sing a song about him calling him “King of the Wild Frontier.” Another man they made the pact with was Sam Houston. Another family that came, the Parkers, were my relatives. We have several family historians who have confirmed this, and the latest is my daughter who has been searching the family history lately on the internet. (I actually have been amazed at some of the information she has found that distant relatives have put on the internet.)
These men brought families into Texas. They built settlements and towns in eastern Texas, and Comanches were mostly in central and western Texas. They successfully kept the Comanches back. They fought with them, but the Comanches didn’t get the best of them. These settlers became Mexican citizens. They began cotton plantations. They set up forts to protect themselves from the Comanches. Some even brought black slaves to work their plantations. Texas was truly “the wild west.” Mexico was unreasonable with the taxes, and the settlers began refusing to pay the taxes. Eventually, they rebelled against Mexico and began a revolution in Texas against Mexico.
Mexico thought they were going to just squash the rebellion, and it would be over with. Hence, the famous battle at the Alamo in San Antonio in south eastern Texas happened. Many tourists go to the Alamo everyday now. I took some Japanese girls there once, and they were astonished! There was a plaque sent by the Japanese talking about how terrible what happened at the Alamo was and offering the condolences of the Japanese people.
The Alamo was a Catholic mission. Between February 23, 1836 and March 6, 1836, General Santa Anna of Mexico brought 4,000 soldiers in and slaughtered the brave Tennesseans who were at the Alamo, men, women, and children. There were only 180 rebels in the mission, and the Mexicans killed them all. Davy Crockett, one of America’s heroes was among them. When we went there, my mother found one of her uncle’s names listed among the dead there. She said he had vanished, but no one knew where he had gone, and was surprised to see his name there.
Luckily, Sam Houston wasn’t there. Sam Houston put together an army at San Jacinto and went to fight the Mexicans. They formed the slogan “Remember the Alamo!” On March 2, 1936, Texas declared its independence from Mexico calling itself the Republic of Texas. Sam Houston became its president.
It remained independent until February 19, 1846; it was an independent country for ten years. During that time, they established Austin as the capital. They continued the cotton plantations. Again, it was truly “the wild west”! Between the Mexicans continually trying to come back and take Texas again and still having to hold the Comanches off, they found it really hard, so they petitioned to become a state of the United States in 1846, and they were accepted.
However, they left one provision that many Texans have forgotten. The provision was that if they were ever unhappy with how the United States was going, they could succeed from the union without war, but peacefully, and become their own country again. They have never done it.
There was a constant dispute about the border between Texas and Mexico. The Mexicans said it was along the Nueces River, and the Texans said it was along the Rio Grande River. When Mexico and the United States went to war, this was one of many reasons. The Americans upheld the Rio Grande River as the southern border of Texas.