Texas celebrates 175 years of Independence
March 2 marks the 175 anniversary of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence and March 6 marks the 175 anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo.
Prior to the revolution against Mexico, Americans in Texas were required to swear allegiance to Spain and Mexico. They were also required to convert to Catholicism and to be good Mexican citizens. At that time, the Mexican constitution promoted representation, much like the U.S. government does today.
In the 1830s, difference provinces were rebelling throughout the Mexican territory. President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, following the Mexican constitution in times of crisis, was able to suspend the government to put down the rebellions.
The growing tired of Santa Anna’s dictator-like rule, the Texians began to rebel. The Texians drove the Mexican troops out of Mexican Texas and the Texians drove Mexican General Martin Perfecto de Cos and his troops out of the Alamo. Around 100 Texian troops were stationed at the Alamo. The force slightly grew with the arrival of James Bowie and William B. Travis.
Santa Anna’s pride was damaged because General Cos was his brother-in-law and he wanted to avenge this defeat. On Feb. 23, 1836, Santa Anna led roughly 1,500 troops in San Antonio. The Mexican troops quickly raised a red flag alerting all that were there that no quarter would be given.
The Mexican Army attacked the Alamo for 12 days with minimal causalities and effect felt by the Texian troops. Knowing his troops couldn’t withstand much more, Travis wrote multiple letters requesting for more men and supplies. Fewer than 100 reinforcements arrived.
On the early morning of the 13 day, on March 6, 1836, the Mexican Army attacked the Alamo for a third and final time. The Texians were unable to fend off this final attack. Anywhere from 187 to 257 Texian soldiers were slain, including James Bowie, William Travis and Davy Crockett. The Texians fought to the last man, but Santa Anna paid dearly for this victory. Somewhere between 400 and 600 Mexican troops were slain.
Many assume that the men that fought at the Battle of the Alamo were fighting for independence, but they were actually fighting for representation under the Mexican government and for Santa Anna to reestablish a working government.
During this time, the politicians that gathered at Washington on the Brazos River argued about whether or not to declare independence from Mexico. Stephen F. Austin was one of the last politicians to agree to become independent. He swore allegiance to Mexico and, at that time, a man’s word stood for something. Austin finally had enough and joined the cause.
On March 2, 1836, A free and independent Republic of Texas was officially declared. Fifty eight delegates, including Claiborne West from the Jefferson municipality (later to become Orange County), approved and signed the Texas Declaration of Independence.
West, born in Franklin County, Tenn., moved to this area in 1825 by way of Louisiana. He, his wife, Anna and their nine children settled down in the Cow Bayou Settlement. West later became the representative from the municipality to the general council and served as local postmaster. He went on to be voted into the House of the First Congress of the Republic of Texas in 1836-1837. West returned back to Southeast Texas, where he offered provisions to soldiers prior to the Battle of San Jacinto.
At the Battle of San Jacinto, General Sam Houston’s regiment captured or killed Santa Anna’s entire force in 18 minutes; only nine Texians died.
While the Texians had agreed to become independent from Mexico, the battles still waged all the way up to when Texas was annexed by the United States.
To honor Claiborne West, a park located 12 miles west of Orange, on IH-10. Former County Judge Grover Haliburton bought the land and donated it so this park would stand in honor of West. This park sits on 453 acres of land and is a wildlife and bird sanctuary and is part of The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail.
The regiment lead by General Sam Houston in the Battle of San Jacinto is still active today and the 3rd Battalion of the 8th regiment out of Houston is stationed in Orange, Texas.