The Texas Revolution

On October 2, 1835, ongoing clashes between American settlers in Texas and the Mexican government escalated into an open rebellion called the Texas Revolution, or the War of Texas Independence. Texas colonists led by Sam Houston fought against Mexican forces led by Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna of Mexico. The war resulted in Texas declaring independence from Mexico and the founding of the Republic of Texas which was later annexed by the United States.

The Richmond Enquirer October 23, 1835

In 1820, American Moses Austin asked the Spanish government in Mexico for permission to settle on a tract of land in Texas. Austin intended to establish a colony for 300 families to settle near the Brazos River. He died shortly after, and his son Stephen F. Austin took over the project. In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain and the Mexican government allowed American Colonists to occupy the land in its northern reaches that was primarily occupied by Native American tribes. They also suspended tariffs and taxes for the settlers under the Colonization Law of 1823.

In the following years, settlers poured into Texas until Americans outnumbered the Mexicans. Fearing the United States may want to annex Texas, the Mexican government sought to stem the tide of US citizens in Texas in 1830 by prohibiting any further immigration of US citizens. They also reinstated tariffs on the settlers already living there.

The Arkansas Gazette May 4, 1830

Unhappy with the new rules, in June 1832, American settlers clashed with Mexican military forces near modern-day Houston and the eastern bank of the Brazos River in the Battle of Velasco. They later organized conventions in 1832 and 1833 and asked the Mexican government to repeal the tariffs and immigration laws. During the conventions, Sam Houston was named commander-in-chief over Texan forces and David Burnet as provisional president. Americans were moving closer to a full-scale rebellion. Meanwhile, Gen. Santa Anna used heavy-handed tactics to suppress dissent and directed Mexican soldiers to move into Texas and retake a cannon that settlers had used in defense against Native Americans. When Mexican soldiers arrived, a skirmish ensued resulting in the first battle of the revolution, the Battle of Gonzales on October 2, 1835.

Additional battles were fought including the Battle of the Alamo, where Gen. Santa Anna’s forces overpowered a group of volunteer Texas soldiers occupying a mission near present-day San Antonio killing close to 200; and the Goliad Massacre, where more than 400 captured soldiers were executed by Santa Anna’s troops. The cruelty of the killings acted as a rallying cry for Texas troops who shouted, “Remember the Alamo!” and “Remember Goliad!” during the final battle of the revolution, the Battle of San Jacinto, fought on April 21, 1836. The battle lasted just 18 minutes. Texas soldiers captured Gen. Santa Anna as he tried to flee, and his army retreated south. Held prisoner, Santa Anna was forced to sign the Treaty of Velasco recognizing Texas as an independent republic. In 1845, the United States annexed Texas and it became the 28th state. If you would like to learn more about the Texas Revolution, search Newspapers.com today.

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48 thoughts on “The Texas Revolution

  1. The rebellion was supported by many Hispanics in the area as well. Santa Ana was not respected by his troops or officers over time due to his crass behavior. Information is available in early newspapers, one being The Northern Banner of Bradford County, Towanda, PA, which is housed in the Bradford County Historical Society.

    • I have ancestors buried in the Towanda and French Asylum cemeteries. I am not familiar with any involvement of Bradford County citizens in the Texas issues. Very interesting.

      • The Northern Banner, a newspaper in Towanda, Pa, reported on the events. There are tapes at the BC Historical Society for viewing.

  2. What has bben omitted from this discussion are the two main reasons for the war. First, Mexico was a Catholic country and the American settlers did not want to pledge allegiance to a Catholic country. Secondly and primarily the Mexican constitution forbid slavery which the americans were interested in. The slavery debate in the US was starting to hit its stride. The southern slave states wanted another territory/state to counter new non-slave states. Yes slave holding americans were blocked as immigrants and yes Santa Anna was an egostistical, cruel person but that was seondary

    • Do you have any references for your specific points? I am aware of the balancing of slave versus free states issue but that came somewhat later; if you have references to put this issue in the 1820s-1830s I would be very interested.
      I am particularly interested in the Catholic issue. This is the first I have heard of it.

        • That was a Spanish requirement ..there was no such requirement after the Mexico gained independence from Spain and continued offering land grants to attract settlers. The Spanish could not make any progress with clearing the land of Comanches. And the Mexicans continued trying to attract settlers to populate the region and overcome the militarily superior Comanche and secondary tribes. In fact, It took decades after Texas’s joining the Union (and thousands of lives lost on both sides) and the wherewithal of post Civil War US Government to accomplish what neither Spain nor Mexico could do..and that was overcome the Comanche. A sad but incredible part of history of the civilization but worth knowing. People were needed to come settle in Coahuila y Tejas to help push out the Comanches that were wrecking havoc on towns along the Rio grande. Then all the sudden, there were too many. Mexico didn’t go fight the Texians over slavery. It was over taxes and tariffs that were imposed on the settlers , who really were recruited there to be the first line of defense against the Comanche. I would highly recommend Empire of the Summer Moon, It goes in to much detailed research on what was going on at the time in what we know now as Texas.. Very informative. Touches on the slavery question and the attempts by the Spanish to settle the region..
          Just very very interesting.

          • Thank you for this information. I read that from 1874 – 1876, over 3 million buffalo were slaughtered and homes, crops, ponies belonging to native people were slaughtered in a scorched earth policy in order to subdue the native people.

        • That was a Spanish requirement ..there was no such requirement after the Mexico gained independence from Spain and continued offering land grants to attract settlers, at least it was not a priority.. The Spanish could not make any progress with clearing the region of Comanches. And the Mexicans continued trying to attract settlers to populate the region and overcome the militarily superior Comanche and secondary tribes. In fact, It took decades after Texas’s joining the Union (and thousands of lives lost on both sides) and the wherewithal of post Civil War US Government to accomplish what neither Spain nor Mexico could do..and that was to overcome the Comanche. A sad but incredible part of history of the civilization but worth knowing. People were needed to come settle in Coahuila y Tejas to help push out the Comanches that were wrecking havoc on towns along the Rio grande. Then all the sudden, there were too many. Mexico didn’t go fight the Texians over slavery, at that time, slavery was secondary and honestly many of the settlers did not own slaves. It was over taxes and tariffs that were imposed on the settlers. citizens , who really were originally recruited there to help populate and be the first line of defense against the Comanche. I would highly recommend Empire of the Summer Moon, It goes in to much detailed research on what was going on at the time in what we know now as Texas.. Very informative. Touches on the slavery question and the attempts by the Spanish, then Mexican, then American governments to settle the region..
          Just very very interesting and yes so very bittersweet but should be read by anybody interested in what was going on “on the ground” at the time.

      • I have read but cannot footnote it, that the reason Texas took so long to become a state is because it would enter the Union as a slave state and upset the balance in the U.S.

      • The Missouri compromise limiting slavery to below the northwest territory (39th parallel I think) which was passed in 1920. This was the principal driving force behind the war, annexation and Sam Houston’s problems. Whenever you see the word “property” in a rationale for a conflict, read “slavery”.

      • When Mexico got its independence from Spain in 1821 they outlawed slavery, when Americans came to Texas remember they were immigrants not citizens so they must abide by Mexican laws or go back where they came from mostly southern slave states of the 300 American families that were granted immigration to Texas more came illegally and was out of hand that’s why Santa Ana was sent and Americans that we involved in Mexican disputes were killed and not taken prisoners remember they’re immigrants mostly ILLEGAL sounds familiar?

  3. My Ancestor Cousin Richard Lucias Stockton died at the Alamo. Richard came to fight with Texas with Davy Crockett and died near each other during the Battle of the Alamo.

  4. My ancestors Alexander and Benjamin McCulloch were in charge of the two cannons at the Battle of San Jacinto. Ben missed fighting with his neighbor D.Crockett at the Alamo because Ben was delayed by a bad case of measles.

  5. My relatives were those shot and killed by Texas Rangers we have been fighting in court for centuries to recover our land in Kingsville but big money buys off every attorney we get, and yes the Americans didn’t want to become Catholics and learn to speak Spanish ask any College Professor!

    • I don’t know that that is necessarily a strong endorsement in this day of liberal, bias slant and rewriting of history.

  6. Yes, Mexico’s laws forbid slavery and many of the American immigrants were slave holders. This was a major source of friction between the Mexican government and the US settlers. This lesson was taught to me by my daughter when she studied US history in the 11th grade. I was surprised since it was never in my 1960s and ’70s history books but it sure was in her books.

    • The folks that hate America and desire to destroy what’s left of freedom, continually harp about slavery being the cause of all things good & evil. I’m surprised the haters don’t claim slavery is the cause of cream rising on raw milk to form buttermilk.

      • Those of us who lament America’s past tolerance of slavery do not “hate” America. We merely regret that this dark chapter in our history had to be written with so much blood. I’m not a “hater.” I consider myself a patriot.

  7. Steve Austin s G grandparents are also my 7th G grandparents. I appreciate the news articles. Just to add to the religious portion of this discussion, my Austin line were Mormons. Some of Steve’s cousins were doing battle in IL, trying to make a life for themselves.

    • Interesting you mentioned the Mormons. When my ancestors came to Texas in 1847, they wrote about the hardships of the journey, including yellow fever, fighting hostile indians, and worried about renegade Mormons. Fun fact.

  8. I’m English, and live in England. So nothing to do with my history. But I have found this article very interesting. Thank you to all who posted information. A fascinating read.

  9. Some of my ancestors were part of the Frontier Defense during the Civil War. They stayed in Texas and fought the Comanches. My Great Grandfather was born while the famil was “forted up” in Ft. Owlhead. That is my father’s family. On my mother’s side, some of my relatives fought for the Texas Revolution. The Irish ones had moved to Texas when only Catholics were being offered land. My Texas roots run deep, though my parents moved while I was not yet born.

  10. I think you’ll find most emigrants to Texas were poor, landless and could not afford a slave even if they wanted one. My ancestors left Arkansas for Texas for opportunity and cheap land.
    It is tiresome to continually claim that racism and slavery were primary to the ambitions of poor Americans.

    • It would seem tiresome to admit to such inhuman behavior by whites keeping African men, women and children of God enslaved. Yes one of the main reasons of the battle of the Alamo and other northern Mexican territories was because of evil slave holding Americans like Davy Crockett did not agree with the Mexican government’s banning of slavery in Mexican Territories. As a Black man I forever respect the Mexican and Black Africans who fought to right a human wrong! God bless my brave ancestors!

      • Davy Crockett never owned slaves as far as I can tell. He did fight for the civil rights of natives though. Proud of him.

        • The real David Crockett (he never, as Shackford points out, referred to himself as “Davy”) was a kind of 19th-century Lamar Alexander: He wore a buckskin shirt only while campaigning, as an image-building device. He was a slave owner (albeit a small-time one who sold his human property to pay his debts) who died fighting for a cause that included the right (denied under Mexican law) to own slaves. And he was a political tool: After taking a principled stand against a public lands bill that would have hurt his western-Tennessee constituents, which alienated the Jackson-led Democratic Party, he allowed himself to be co-opted by the Whigs. They polished up his homespun persona, in part by helping him put together his famous autobiography, then wound him up like a toy frontiersman doll and turned him loose to undercut Jackson.

    • Yes, only 5▪per cent of all Americans owned slaves and they were all Democrats.
      Who started the KKK.

      • Yes they were a bunch of racist Democrats nicked named Dixiecrats for their southern racist ways who supported slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation. Unlike the Democratic Party of today they became angry when the Democratic Party started becoming human by supporting liberal laws such as The Civil Rights bill of 1965. Shortly after the show of support of the bill by passing it the so-called Dixiecrats created the “Southern strategy” It was the republican party’s successful plan of getting the white southern population to shift their views from democratic to republican. Up until the Civil War, the southern population was almost entirely democratic, but with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 their views quickly became republican. So technically the Republican mindset started the KKK. They’re all former Dixiecrats.

  11. History is written by the victors. Little note is made of the fact that the first settlers cheerfully signed an oath of allegiance to the Mexican govt. Which included an agreement to respect their host’s laws. Then just as cheerfully reneged at the first opportunity.

  12. So interested in the comments about Steve Austins family and cousins. My dad always told me we were related. His mother’s maiden name Austin but I have not been able to trace it. Nanny Austin born in Sherman, Texas. Very interesting article.

  13. The article overlooks the main cause of the Texas rebellion, i.e., Mexico abolished slavery in 1829. The Americans in Texas decided that they wanted to bring Texas into the Union as a slave state. That’s what they were really fighting for at the Alamo.

  14. Interesting that none of these mention the Republic of Texas, which was formed when the settlers’ armies gained their independence. All this makes me think we must have fought a revolution against the British because we didn’t like their tea tax.

    There was no one reason for the fight for independence, there were many. And once begun the barbaric actions of Santa Ana’s troops, intended most likely to discourage the rebels, instead outraged them and caused them to fight when they might not have done so.

    I’ve read many accounts of life in Texas for white settlers under Mexico’s rule, and I’m surprised it took the sons of the US who emigrated to Texas so long to find their treatment intolerable.

    And why would anyone be surprised that the colonists – so recent descendants of the revolutionaries that created our country – would find revolution an acceptable response to the situation?

    • So that made it ok to buy another human being fo enslave him/her? Then while transporting them on diseased ships like cattle tortureing them and treating them less than human even after we arrive here separate families by selling/auctioning them offf like things was ok? So just because someone steals cars that you know are stolen and you buy one I should blame the seller? Tell that one to the Judge.

  15. It is always troublesome when 21st Century morals and values are applied to 18th and 19th Century history. They all played by the prevailing rules of their times just as we play by the prevailing rules of our times. It seems to me that all historical events should be viewed in the light the times in which they happened and not by present day standards.

  16. Manifest Destiny expressed the philosophy that drove 19th-century U.S. territorial expansion. Manifest Destiny held that the United States was destined—by God, its advocates believed—to expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism across the entire North American continent. President Thomas Jefferson kicked off the country’s westward expansion in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase, which at some 828,000 square miles nearly doubled the size of the United States. In addition to sponsoring the western expedition of Lewis and Clark 1805-07, Jefferson also set his sights on Spanish Florida, a process that was finally concluded in 1819 under President James Monroe.

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