Blood Over Texas

Today, as the United States of America maintains dominance over every nation in the world, there are opponents of this great country that say its land was taken brutally from the rightful owners of other cultures. For years, many have claimed that Western frontiersmen ripped off Mexico’s land that had constituted Texas through California. However, as history shows, the Western portion of the United States was not violently pilfered from the innocent hands of the Mexicans. Nor was it paid for at extreme cut-rate prices as in the Manhattan Island purchase. The American West, Texas in particular, was earned first through invitation, then finally by the blood of Texans and Mexicans who fought to defend their land from the tyranny of a warmongering Mexican military machine.

Early Texas history portrays that the many Mexicans living in the area past the Rio Grande were under constant attack from prowling Native Americans displaced by the encroaching Westerners in pursuit of more land. Rather than install a permanent army to maintain a defense between the citizens of the Spanish Empire and the Indians, King Carlos IV granted permission for Moses Austin and his son Stephen F. Austin to “introduce 300 other families from Louisiana to Texas.” Soon afterwards, Mexico underwent a revolution herself against the Spanish Empire in the same vein as the American Revolution. However, rather than “liberty and justice for all,” as America’s forefathers proclaimed, Mexico founded herself a fragmented nation guided by selfish, military “adventurers.”

Following the Treaty of Cordoba with Spain, which the new Mexican nation considered as her “declaration of independence,” General Agustin de Iturbide ruled as a “self-styled Emperor Augustin I.” However, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna soon deposed him. Santa Anna, blinded by his own ambition and power failed to realize years later that his actions would one day hand the upper portions of Mexico (what is now the American Southwest) to the United States on a silver platter. Under the old federal constitution of Mexico in 1824, the “former Spanish provinces, now called states, joined together in a federal union. However, the congress had on January 21, 1824 passed a ‘Constitutive Act of Federation,’ in which the old Spanish provinces were called ‘free, sovereign and independent states.'” Those provinces included Central America, which broke away when Santa Anna became ruler; Cuba and the Philippines, which remained loyal to the Spanish crown; and Texas, which was sparsely settled by both Mexican and foreign settlers invited by King Carlos IV. The settlers believed correctly, that they were living in their own country based on the act of the Mexican congress in January of 1824.

While Mexico revolted from Spain, Stephen Austin and his fellow settlers were not ignorant of the events surrounding them. During the revolution, Austin wrote in a letter to his brother J.E.B. Austin on May 10, 1823: “âÂ?¦as foreigners we have a good excuse for remaining neutral without being lyable [sic] to suspicions and this is the safest course.” Austin was essentially saying that it was better to wait things out instead of jumping in and later perhaps being held responsible for some sort of foreign “invasion” against whatever new government Mexico would create. Additionally, Austin and his followers understood that they were needed as a buffer zone against the Indians. He wrote in another letter on January 14, 1834: “Without population in TexasâÂ?¦the Indians may rob, kill, and destroy to suit their fancyâÂ?¦It would be an enormous expense to maintain garrisons and troops enough to restrain the Indian even in a small degree in deserts so vast.” Therefore, in the minds of the Texas settlers, and any rational-thinking government officials left in Mexico, the white inhabitants past the Rio Grande were living on their own soil of their own free will, and out of necessity. Austin again sums of the feelings of the Texans and the Mexicans living in the Lone Star state. He wrote in a letter to General Manuel de Mier y Teran on September 17, 1830: “I don’t want to see Texas separated from Mexico, but if it ever becomes necessary, in order to save it from complete ruin, I believe it would be better to declare ourselves independent of the world, before uniting ourselves to the north [the United States].”

With the goal of statehood firmly entrenched in his mind, Austin filed an argument with Carlos Garcia, the Mexican minister of foreign relations, in Mexico City. He based his thesis on six main points. “First, Texas had more than enough qualifications for statehood and the Texans desired it. Second, it had already been a separate Spanish province before the establishment of the Mexican federation (ruled by the hotheaded Santa Anna). Third, the provisional union of Texas with Coahuila, by the Mexican law of May 7, 1824, guaranteed Texas the right of establishing herself as a state. Fourth, the right to statehood was guaranteed to Texas by the federal system, which Mexico adopted, of promoting her welfare and securing her prosperity and tranquility by an adequate organization of local autonomy. Fifth, it was the duty of the Texan people to remove every obstacle that interfered with their loyalty to Mexico, and the union with Coahuila was such an obstacle. Sixth, Austin finally appealed to the natural right that all people have of saving themselves from anarchy and ruin.”

This anarchy and ruin came about quickly when in 1835 on October 3, the congress in Mexico City made all states into “mere departments in a centralized Mexico” under General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s dictatorship. As a self-styled Napoleon of the West, Santa Anna was attempting to restrain the future Southwestern United States behind an “iron curtain,” much like Joseph Stalin did with Eastern Europe after World War Two. Unfortunately, the Mexicans and Texans living in Texas, with their backs to the wall, now felt that to not fight back would be to invite a totalitarian regime over them. Even worse, one of Santa Anna’s objectives was to “purify” Mexican soil of gringo blood. On March 2, 1836, Texas declared itself independent of Mexico. Four days later, armed with 3000 men, Santa Anna slaughtered 187 Texans at the Alamo. It was to be one of Santa Anna’s rare victories in his war with Texas, as in April 21, 1836, General Sam Houston defeated Santa Anna at the battle of San Jacinto. Santa Anna later acknowledged the independence of Texas, although critics say because he was a mere dictator, he could not speak for the whole of Mexico. However, due to the demise of the federal Mexican constitution in 1824, Santa Anna no longer needed congressional approval to make treaties or to surrender a war. So when he signed the Treaty of Velasco along with David G. Burnet on May 14, 1836, the pact between the two nations was considered legally binding. The Treaty did more than establish Texas as an independent state. It also made the boundary between Texas and Mexico the Rio Grande. Another signer of the Treaty, General Filisola of Texas, summed up the truth in the consequences of Mexico’s short war with Texas: “âÂ?¦Mexico had lost it [Texas] forever, due to the anxiety and indiscretion of the general-in-chief [Santa Anna], who wasn’t content with only punishmentâÂ?¦but who wanted to exterminate them [the Texans] forever.”

This abbreviated war between Mexico and Texas seems small in comparison to the grand-scale wars that have been fought down through history. Even many Americans themselves, including Texans, and others who live in the Southwestern portion of the U.S., may not be aware of how their land came to belong to them. Perhaps, if the German people had learned what disastrous results a nation can yield by allowing a dictator to come to power, Adolf Hitler may not have become popular enough to launch another world war. Santa Anna is alone responsible for the disintegration of Mexico. By selling himself for power and war, he simultaneously sold what might have become a great empire, away forever. Perhaps Winston Churchill was correct when he said: “To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”

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