This Day in History: Texas Celebrates Its Independence March 2

Getty A police officer walks outside of the closed Alamo on April 1, 2020 in downtown San Antonio, Texas, during a stay at home order amid the novel coronavirus outbreak. - The US death toll from the coronavirus pandemic topped 5,000 late on April 1, according to a running tally from Johns Hopkins University. (Photo by Mark Felix / AFP) (Photo by MARK FELIX/AFP /AFP via Getty Images)

March 2 is the date of Texas’ independence, commemorating the day in 1836 when Texas declared its independence from Mexico.

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Here’s what you need to know:


Texas’ Declaration of Independence Followed Years of Battles Between Revolutionaries & Mexican Soldiers

A convention of Texans declared independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836, following brutal battles between Mexico and Texans, according to History.com. Sam Houston was confirmed as the commander in chief for Texas, and the delegates adopted a constitution that protected the practice of slavery, which was outlawed in Mexico. At the time, the siege of the Alamo was ongoing, and 185 people were defending the fort while awaiting the final assault, according to History.com.

“In 1834, Santa Anna, a soldier and politician, became dictator of Mexico and sought to crush rebellions in Texas and other areas. In October 1835, Anglo residents of Gonzales, 50 miles east of San Antonio, responded to Santa Anna’s demand that they return a cannon loaned for defense against Indian attack by discharging it against the Mexican troops sent to reclaim it. The Mexicans were routed in what is regarded as the first battle of the Texas Revolution. The American settlers set up a provisional state government, and a Texan army under Sam Houston won a series of minor battles in the fall of 1835,” History.com reported.

Volunteers fighting for Texas drove Mexican troops out of San Antonio, settling at the Alamo in December 1835. In January, several thousand Mexican troops were stationed south of the Rio Grande, and Sam Houston ordered that forces leave the Alamo.

“Colonel James Bowie, who arrived at the Alamo on January 19, realized that the fort’s captured cannons could not be removed before Santa Anna’s arrival, so he remained entrenched with his men. By delaying Santa Anna’s forces, he also reasoned, Houston would have more time to raise an army large enough to repulse the Mexicans,” History.com reported. “On February 2, Bowie and his 30 or so men were joined by a small cavalry company under Colonel William Travis, bringing the total number of Alamo defenders to about 140. One week later, the frontiersman Davy Crockett arrived in command of 14 Tennessee Mounted Volunteers.”

The Mexican troops besieged the Alamo on February 23. Lieutenant Colonel William Barret Travis was able to smuggle a letter from the siege on February 24 that said, “To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World…. I shall never surrender or retreat…. Victory or Death!”


Texas Was an Independent Republic for Nearly 10 Years

The last of the reinforcements broke through the enemy lines at the Alamo on March 1, according to History.com. On March 6, Mexican leader Santa Anna stormed the Alamo. Santa Anna ordered that no prisoners would be taken, and the fort’s defenders died in hand-to-hand combat. Only a handful of civilians survived.

“Remember the Alamo!” became the battle cry when Houston launched a surprise attack on the Mexican army at San Jacinto. The Mexican army was defeated, and Santa Anna was captured. He was forced to recognize Texas’ independence and withdraw his troops.

“Texas sought annexation by the United States, but both Mexico and antislavery forces in the United States opposed its admission into the Union,” History.com reported. “For nearly a decade, Texas existed as an independent republic, and Houston was Texas’ first elected president. In 1845, Texas joined the Union as the 28th state, leading to the outbreak of the Mexican-American War.”

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