February 24, 1836
From 1521 to 1821, Mexico was ruled by Spain.
In 1808, Napoleon invaded Spain and put his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the throne.
That same year, Simon Bolivar began a revolution against Spain.
Together with the efforts of José de San Martín, Bernardo O’Higgins, and Francisco de Miranda (who had helped in the American Revolution), independence was won for:
- Venezuela, 1811;
- Colombia (which included Panama), 1819;
- Ecuador, 1820;
- Peru, 1821;
- Bolivia, 1825;
- western Guyana, 1824; and
- northwest Brazil, 1822.
In 1810, a revolt against Spain began in Mexico, led by a priest name Hidalgo.
Instead of independence, the people just got a Mexican emperor, Agustín de Iturbide, who began to reign in 1822.
Iturbide fell from favor and was executed, being followed by a Mexican Republic established in 1824, which had a Federal Constitution.
The government suffered numerous upheavals til Santa Anna was elected President of Mexico in 1833.
He demanded more control and higher taxes, which led to resistance against him.
Santa Anna decided the people were not capable of ruling themselves, so he ignored the Constitution, dissolved the Congress, and declared himself dictator.
Santa Anna wrote to the U.S. minister to Mexico, Joel R. Poinsett:
A hundred years to come my people will not be fit for liberty … a despotism is the proper government for them, but there is no reason why it should not be a wise and virtuous one.”
A “despotism” is where one person has absolute and arbitrary power.
Santa Anna demanded citizens surrender their guns, decreeing:
‘All foreigners who might be caught under arms on Mexican soil should be treated as pirates and shot (William C. Binkley, Official Correspondence of the Texas Revolution).
The Texas Declaration of Independence mentioned that Santa Anna’s orders which “demanded us to deliver up our arms.”
Santa Anna wrote in his Manifesto, 1837:
I offered life to the defendants who would surrender their arms and retire under oath not to take them up again against Mexico.
He incited killings and used his military against those resisting his centralized power.Santa Anna punished Mexican States of:
- San Luis Potosí,
- Jalisco, and
- Coahuila y Tejas.
In Zacatecas, Santa Anna defeated Francisco Garcia, took 3,000 prisoners and let his army ransack the city for two days.
When Federal General José Antonio Mexía marched from New Orleans to Tampico, Santa Anna defeated him and executed every prisoner.
On February 23, 1836, General Santa Anna’s army arrived outside the Old Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar.
His troops, eventually numbering 1,800, flew the blood-red flag of no quarter, signifying that all those captured would be killed.
Texan and Tejano defenders, numbering between 182 to 257, responded by firing their cannon.
The first fatality of the Battle of the Alamo was the next day, FEBRUARY 24, 1836.
In the “13 days of glory at the Alamo,” Santa Anna’s take-no-prisoner policy had all defenders killed, including:
- William Travis,
- Jim Bowie, and
- former Congressman Davy Crockett.
Santa Anna ordered those who surrendered to be executed and have their corpses burned.
The few survivors included Susanna Dickinson, her baby, Angelina, and Travis’ young black servant, Joe.
The only Texas army left in the field was Colonel James Fannin’s.
It departed Goliad to rescue the Alamo but was surrounded in open ground and 350 were captured.
Santa Anna ordered the prisoners executed.
When the Mexican officer hesitated carrying out the executions, Santa Anna sent another officer who proceeded to execute nearly all of them in the Goliad Massacre, March 27, 1836.
Bodies were stripped, piled, burned, and left exposed to vultures and coyotes.
A few dozen of the Texans were spared execution through the courageous intervention of Francita Alavez, the “Angel of Goliad,” and Mexican Colonel Francisco Garay.
Had Fannin’s troops been left in prison, Texans would have been disheartened, but instead, Santa Anna’s Goliad Massacre aroused world outrage.
The New York Post editorialized that if Santa Anna:
… had treated the vanquished with moderation and generosity, it would have been difficult if not impossible to awaken that general sympathy for the people of Texas which now impels so many adventurous and ardent spirits to throng to the aid of their brethren.
“Remember Goliad” and “Remember the Alamo” were battle cries of Sam Houston’s forces that defeated Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto, April 21, 1836.
On March 2, 1836, the people of Texas declared their Independence:
UNANIMOUS DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE by the delegates of the People of Texas in General Convention at the Town of Washington, on the Second Day of March, 1836.
When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty, and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted;
and so far from being a guarantee for their inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression …
In such a crisis … the inherent and inalienable right of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases,
enjoins it as a right towards themselves and a sacred obligation to their posterity to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their welfare and happiness …
The Texas Declaration continued:
The late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez Santa Anna,
who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers, as the cruel alternative, either abandon our homes acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood …
It denies us the right of worshiping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a National Religion, calculated to promote the temporal interest of its human functionaries, rather than the glory of the true and living God.
It has demanded us to deliver up our arms, which are essential to our defense—the rightful property of freemen—and formidable only to tyrannical governments …
It has, through its emissaries, incited the merciless savage, with the tomahawk and scalping knife, to massacre the inhabitants of our defenseless frontiers …
We, therefore, the delegates, with plenary powers, of the people of Texas … DECLARE, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas, do now constitute a FREE, SOVEREIGN, and INDEPENDENT REPUBLIC …
Conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the Supreme Arbiter of the destinies of nations.