The Texas Revolution was a significant point in the history of both the state of Texas and the US in general. The 1835-1836 revolution was a military and political insurrection of the Anglo-American settlers and Mexican inhabitants of the state of Coahuila and Texas against the government of Mexico. As a result, the Mexican forces led by General Santa Anna tried to quash the rebellion. The Mexican forces won the legendary battles of Alamo and Coleto Creek the settlers' revolt was not over. They continued with their fight for freedom and independence and ultimately defeated the Mexicans in the Battle of San Jacinto. In the end, the revolution achieved its goal and Texas broke free from the Mexican State of Coahuila and Texas to form the Republic of Texas. The Texas Revolution that started in October 1835 and ended on 21st April 1836 was caused by a series of events emanating in the 1820s. Texas was part of the Mexican state of Coahuila and Texas in the early 19th century. The state was sparsely populated and the territory was developed by American settlers or colonists in pursuit of greener pastures. However, during the course of developing the territory, the region lost tolerance of the initiatives implemented by the Mexican government. The policies suppressed and oppressed the freedoms and rights of Anglo American immigrants in the early 1830s leading to secession and separation sentiments among the inhabitants of the region. During the revolution, the Mexican and Texan forces were not equal in terms of manpower and weapons. At some point, the Mexican forces were 5-6 times larger than the Texan guerillas (Crisp 495). Most notably, the Mexicans expected the Battle of Alamo and the growing dictatorship and brutality of Santa Anna to stop the revolution. However, the social policy miscounts by the Mexican government motivated the Texans not to relent but fight with the goal of attaining independence from Mexico.
In the 1820s under Spanish rule, Mexico had a border problem with the United States in the North (Schlereth 994). In 1821, Mexico attained independence from Spain and inherited a vast territory stretching north towards the United States. However, the Mexican border integrity was compromised in Texas. The region was sparsely populated and a majority of the inhabitants were Native Americans. In 1825, the state of Coahuila and Texas passed legislation that enabled American settlers to obtain land at low costs. The move was welcomed by Americans because, in the 1820s, land in the US was expensive and hard to acquire. Therefore, people were migrating from their country in search of better opportunities. As a result, Americans who were financially affected by the 1819 panic migrated to Texas to start a better life. However, settlement in Texas required that foreigners become nominal Mexican citizens according to the colonization and naturalization laws of Mexico, and as such, Anglo-Americans exercised their expatriation rights under international law (Schlereth 997). In 1820, Moses Austin became the first American to ask the Spanish government for permission to settle in Texas in Mexico. Unfortunately, he died soon thereafter and his son Stephen Austin continued with his father's project. Stephen negotiated a contract with the independent Mexican government to allow the settlement of around 300 families to the Brazos River. Soon after, immigrants from the US continued to flow in Texas with great expectations.
The Anglo colonization of Texas was a contentious issue in both Mexico and the US. In the US, the support for expatriation increased towards the west and south while other regions opposed expatriation as a betrayal to the state. Likewise, the Mexicans did not welcome Anglo-Americans move to the south towards Mexico City. The divided opinions between Mexicans and Anglo settlers would worsen when soon the foreigners became the majority population in Texas. The conflict between the two culturally different parties was inevitable and the Freedonia Rebellion of 1826 was set the course for the Texas Revolution (Schlereth 1016). In response to the Freedonia Rebellion, the Mexican government imposed measures to curb the influx of Americans in 1833. Prior to the immigration policy, the administration of Vicente Guerrero had passed a slavery abolition law in 1829. The bold move was rejected by settlers who had been earlier allowed to possess slaves since the Southern United States thrived in Agriculture and slave trade. Moreover, in 1833, Stephen Austin was arrested by the Mexicans after submitting his grievances against the abolition of slavery, higher tariffs on the settlers and the need for Texas statehood from the Mexican federation. Austin was jailed for 18 months and released in 1835.
The 1830s was a period for a heightened shift in the Mexican politics particularly with the rise of Santa Anna as the self-imposed dictator of Mexico after carrying out a coup in 1834. Santa Anna supported federalist policies at the beginning, a strategic move to gain followers. However, after his ascension to power, he disbanded federalism for centralist policies. Santa Anna also disbanded the 1824 constitution that was supported by Anglo colonists and Tejanos of Texas. Furthermore, under the centralist policies, the settlers had to pay higher tariffs as compared to Mexicans. Apart from that, the self-imposed president of Mexico adopted a policy to disarm all Texans in fear of a revolt. Any proposal for negotiations with Santa Anna was met with hostility as the dictator interpreted it as rebellion. As a result, Texans lost the hope of returning to the 1824 liberal constitution and resulted to fight for independence and separation from Mexico.
By 1835, tension in Texas was due to the conflict between Settlers and Mexicans and worsened by the unstable government led by Santa Anna. Therefore, the Texas Revolution kicked off on 2nd October 1835 when the first shots were fired in the Battle of Gonzales. Santa Anna had sent a small military infantry of Mexican soldiers to disarm Texans in Gonzales and retrieve cannon that had been positioned in the town fight off attacks from Indians. Nevertheless, the Texans denied the Mexican entry into the town leading to a tense standoff. As such, the Texans fired the first shot leading to a battle that inflicted casualties on the Mexicans leading to their retreat. There was no turning back for the Texans even though they did not have a regular army but volunteer guerilla squads. Travis Bowie and Jim Bowie and William Fanning participated in the Battle for Gonzalez. Most importantly, Fanning gained his military skills in that battle and would become a high-ranking official in the Texan army in 1836. Santa Anna was unhappy about the Texan revolt and after Gonzalez; he sent a siege in Bexar, San Antonio that lasted for two months. The Rebels led by Austin knew they had to consolidate their gains and during the Battle of Concepcion, the Texans defeated the Mexican General Martin Perfecto (Soodalter 55).
The battle of Alamo and Goliad was one very devastating for the Texas Revolution. In February 1836, the Mexican army arrived in San Antonio and laid siege to the Alamo. There were 200 guerillas including notable revolutionaries Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett and, William Travis (Crisp 495). Unfortunately, all the Texan guerillas were defeated and the Alamo fell back to the control of the Mexicans. To counter the adversary of the Mexicans, Fanning arrived at Goliad with his garrison of 400 men. Since he had participated in the first two battles of 1835, Fanning had become the best choice for command. However, Fanning was unpopular because some of his colleagues noted that he was not an ideal commander in their letters (Soodalter). Fanning was indecisive and if he had acted promptly towards the request by Travis to rescue the Alamo from Mexican invasion, 200 lives would not have been massacred (Soodalter 56-57). In Goliad, Fanning also made huge mistakes such as dividing his garrison into two units when General Urrea was organizing his troops for a raid. Prior to the Goliad siege, Santa Anna authorized the execution of every Texan rebel captured in the War. Fanning together with his men were captured and about 350 Texans were executed (Soodalter 53). The execution became widely renowned as the Goliad Massacre. Nevertheless, the quest for freedom did not end with the twin setbacks and Texas announced its independence from Mexico on 2nd March 1836.
Following the conquest of Alamo and Goliad, Santa Anna thought he had defeated Texas. However, the brutality portrayed by the Mexicans led to the voluntary enrollment of Texans to the regular led by Sam Houston. In a hurry to retrieve east of Texas, Santa Anna divided his army without the knowledge that Houston was in pursuit. Houston and his regular army caught up with the Mexican forces on the banks of the San Jacinto River. On the very day of 21st April 1836, the Texans carried a strategic surprise attack that turned out be a massacre (Crisp 496). Houston and his men had obliterated half of the Mexican soldiers and Santa Anna and the remnants of his men were held captive. The Battle of San Jacinto became the decisive victory that ended the Texas Revolution. As a result, Santa Anna signed papers that ordered the Mexican troops to leave and acknowledge Texas as an independent state. Thereafter, Houston became the first president of the Republic of Texas. A peace treaty was signed in Velasco that aimed at ending hostilities between the two nations. The Mexicans were ordered to remain south of the Rio Grande River and all stolen properties to be exchanged for prisoners.
In conclusion, the centralist-federalist conflict led to the Texas Revolution against the dictatorial regime of Santa Anna. Prior to the revolution, the Mexican government had permitted the Anglo colonization of the state of Coahuila and Texas. The foreigners were given incentives of cheap land, tariffs and the right to own slaves. However, the policies by the Mexican government to ban slavery led to conflicts between the settlers and the Mexicans. The situation was worsened by the imposition of policies to ban immigration and the rise of Santa Anna as a dictator who oppressed the colonists leading to the Texas Rebellion. The disbandment of the 1824 Mexican constitution also led to the Tejanos supporting the revolution in favor of federalism. Nevertheless, the decisive Battle of San Jacinto led to the independence of Texas as a republic. Therefore, the Texas Revolution is a significant milestone in the history of the United States.
Crisp, James E. "Washington on the Brazos: Cradle of the Texas Republic. Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series. By Richard B. McCaslin." Western Historical Quarterly, vol. 47, no. 4, 2016.
Schlereth, Eric R. "Privileges of Locomotion: Expatriation and the Politics of Southwestern Border Crossing." The Journal of American History, pp. 995-1020.
Soodalter, Ron. "Bloody Goliad: Birth of a Republic." Military History. Weider History Group.
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