October 19, 2021

‘Neglect the Alamo’ E-book Trashes Texas’ Beloved Origin Delusion

8 min read


In case you had been to ask an Apple Mac Professional (made in Austin, a metropolis named for the founding father of Texas independence) to select the most well liked scorching button situation in Texas historical past, the reply could be the 1836 siege and Battle of the Alamo, the creation delusion of Texas. Mess with the Alamo, and also you’re messing with Texas.

Jason Stanford, author and political marketing consultant, Chris Tomlinson, veteran journalist and Texas historian, and Bryan Burrough, creator of Public Enemies and Barbarians on the Gate, three very completely different writers, have collaborated to supply a e book that has outraged a major variety of Texans, together with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who canceled a digital discussion board on the e book in June, calling it “A fact-free rewriting of Tx historical past…”

Patrick acquired the second half proper: Forget the Alamo is a rewrite of Texas historical past, one which has been a very long time a’comin’. However fact-free it isn’t, and it’s the information which have a terrific many older white Texans riled:

—The Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the self-appointed guardians of the Alamo legend, are torched: By the Nineteen Sixties they “had advanced right into a type of paramilitary Junior League… the Daughters had been the humorless faculty marms of the Alamo.”

—Alamo buffs, akin to British rock star Phil Collins, who’ve polluted the historic waters with questionable “artifacts,” are put to the sword. Collins’ illustrated e book, The Alamo and Past: A Collector’s Journey, is “a supply of ridicule and horror within the Alamo-collecting and archaeological world.”

—Mythmongers like Fox & Pals’ Brian Kilmeade, who in his 2019 best-selling e book Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers referred to slaves as servants, are despatched to the firing squad.

Merely, “A lot of what you suppose in regards to the Alamo is mistaken.” Let’s spend no extra time attending to this: The first reason behind the Texas Revolution wasn’t Common Santa Anna’s tyranny and the suppression of the rights of the Anglo colonists. Stephen Austin, “the daddy of Texas,” thought Santa Anna a good friend to the American immigrants; as late as 1835 the overall was giving them nearly the whole lot they requested for. “Opposite to delusion, Santa Anna was not some bloody tyrant, nor even a dictator; that will come later.” At this level, simply earlier than the Texas Revolution started in October 1835, “He was an astute politician who wanted the help of Congress, the Church, the navy, and the individuals, and thus remained keenly alert to ripples within the Mexican political pond.”

The largest ripple was slavery. The Mexicans needed to settle Texas and couldn’t defend settlers from depredations by the terrifying and aggressive Comanches, so Individuals—armed Individuals—had been enticed there by land grants. The issue was that “the one cause Individuals would come to Texas was to farm cotton, and they’d not do this with out slaves. They actually didn’t know some other manner.”

The Mexican authorities couldn’t start to manage immigration throughout its broad and distant border with its highly effective neighbor, the US—a wall actually would have come in useful—and by 1825 one among 4 individuals residing in Austin’s Anglo colony was a slave. Most Texians, settlers who immigrated from the U.S., had been contemptuous of Mexican authority and continued to stay as in the event that they had been nonetheless ruled by American legislation. So as to add extra gasoline to the rising fireplace, Santa Anna, who had develop into probably the most highly effective man in Mexico, “accurately suspected President Andrew Jackson had designs on Texas …” and the Mexican authorities needed to be cautious to not provoke the U.S.

The anxieties of slave-owning Texians lastly erupted into revolt. The Anglos loved an early success in October 1835, once they routed the Mexican garrison in San Antonio and seized the previous mission-fort, the Alamo, with its 21 cannon. However the victory blinded the Texians to an vital truth: that they had no military. In any case, “Most Texians and Tejanos [Mexican citizens who had migrated to Texas] had farms and companies to run… Most hadn’t requested for this battle anyway.”

Fortunately, a swarm of militias—such because the Huntsville Rovers from Alabama, the Natchez Mustangs from St. Louis, and the New Orleans Greys—flocked to the Texian trigger. Fortunately, too, the Texians discovered a charismatic chief in Sam Houston, former governor of Tennessee and veteran of the 1812 Struggle, the place he served below Jackson. As soon as Houston assumed command of Texas’s rag tag forces, occasions moved quickly. Santa Anna, who thought of himself because the “Napoleon of the West,” assembled a combined pressure of execs and untrained peasants. They lurched slowly north, reaching the outskirts of San Antonio close to the tip of February 1836. The response of the roughly 200 Texians below the command of the fabled adventurer Jim Bowie and William Travis, an Alabamian gone to Texas for a brand new life, was to dig in and hunker down behind the Alamo’s unfinished partitions.

Why they didn’t select to retreat north to affix Houston isn’t identified. Houston thought the quarter-mile-long compound indefensible, no less than by a garrison that would have been not more than 250 males. Travis and Bowie, although, “for no matter cause—honor, responsibility, ego, overconfidence, or technique—had been decided to defend the Alamo, it doesn’t matter what. It was, in each respect, a questionable resolution.”

On March 6, after 12 days of siege, Santa Anna assembled his troops within the chilly and darkish and, round 4 or 5 a.m., ordered an assault. After maybe 90 minutes of bloody hand-to-hand preventing with bayonets and Bowie knives, all of the defenders, together with no less than 9 Tejanos, had been useless. (Santa Anna had made a present of permitting a handful of ladies to be escorted out earlier than the assault started.)

“Travis,” say the authors, “and the letters he would write from the previous Spanish mission have been held up for practically 200 years as heartbreaking proof of his selfless bravery …”

“However it’s equally true that none of this wanted to occur. Not one of the Alamo’s defenders wanted to die—and so they solely did so as a result of Travis and Bowie ignored each warning of Santa Anna’s strategy and inexplicably remained in San Antonio to defend an indefensible outpost.”

Why haven’t we forgotten the Alamo? Largely for 2 causes. The primary is that one of many two most well-known Individuals alive in 1836 (Andrew Jackson the opposite) died there. David Crockett was a frontiersman, former congressman, and cracker barrel humorist—consider a cross between Bear Grylls and Andy Griffith—who went west to revive his fortunes, arriving in San Antonio simply days earlier than the Mexican military. Even the Mexicans knew who he was; within the account of a Mexican officer named Jose Enrique de la Pena he’s known as “the naturalist David Crockett.” In time, because of Walt Disney, Fess Parker, and John Wayne, Crockett’s story consumed these of Bowie, Travis, and the others.

The second cause is Houston’s flare for propaganda. Inside 48 hours he was sending out letters likening the catastrophe on the Alamo to Thermopylae, the place 300 Spartans died holding a cross towards the Persian Military in 480 B.C. Desperately attempting to forge a mob of farmers and woodsmen into a military, Houston turned the crushing defeat into a preferred and potent weapon.

Six weeks after the autumn of the Alamo, Houston’s military shocked Santa Anna at San Jacinto, captured him, and compelled a treaty which gave Texas its freedom. Houston fired up his males earlier than the battle, shouting “Belief in God and concern not. And bear in mind the Alamo!”

Nonetheless, for many years the Alamo was principally forgotten. In 1886 there was no official commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary. The battle was absent from some historic narratives on Texas historical past or diminished to little greater than a aspect story. The Alamo itself was so uncared for that over a couple of a long time solely the chapel and the adjoining lengthy barrack the place a lot of the preventing passed off had been standing. (In Lonesome Dove, Tommy Lee Jones’ Woodrow Name and Robert Duvall’s Gus McCrae—each former Texas Rangers—experience into San Antonio and cross the unhappy wreck of the chapel and not using a nod of recognition.)

Close to the tip of the century, although, the Alamo was revived to develop into “the nice creation delusion of Texas, a heroic narrative written and formed by males—and some girls—who instilled in it the worth of their instances. Their efforts would show remarkably enduring. For 150 years, the world just about agreed on what the Alamo symbolized.”

The story of the Tejanos akin to Juan Sequin, who defied Santa Anna and fought and died on the Alamo, was erased, and the difficulty of slavery was traded for the extra engaging causa belli: the parable of suppression of the rights of Texians.

The twentieth century accounts established “the muse of what we name the Heroic Anglo Narrative of Texas historical past. They portrayed Anglo Texans as God’s righteous democratic warriors… two-legged arguments for American growth and manifest future.” That spirit lives on within the Texas State Board of Training, which has declared “schoolchildren should be taught a ‘heroic’ model of Alamo historical past… ‘Alamo heroism’ thus stays the legislation of the land.”

That legislation is being rewritten as a technology of recent historians have begun taking the sector again from popularizers and propagandists. The result’s a tradition struggle which may dictate how future generations of Texans—and by extension, Individuals and lots of all over the world—understand the historical past of Texas.

“Cease political correctness in our faculties,” Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted in 2018. “After all, Texas schoolchildren needs to be taught that Alamo defenders had been ‘heroic’!”

On Aug. 17, floor was damaged in San Antonio for the brand new Exhibition Corridor, a key a part of the $450 million “Reimagining the Alamo” challenge, after a protracted dispute between Lt. Gov. Patrick and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush (son of Jeb Bush and Senate candidate not endorsed by Donald Trump). The native Caller-Times noted, “When the ‘Reimagining the Alamo’ challenge first started to take form about six years in the past, Patrick denounced a few of its proposed options as a cave-in to twenty first century political correctness. Bush, whose mom was born in Mexico, instructed that critics of the challenge who objected to the eye paid to each Mexican troopers and Tejano defenders below the ‘reimagine’ plan had been ‘racist.’” Now it seems the 2 have come to an settlement as to what the reimagining will say in regards to the Alamo. So we’ll have to attend for the brand new official model of the story.

“Historical past doesn’t actually change,” the authors inform us, “however the best way we view it does.” Neglect the Alamo isn’t revisionist historical past as its critics are claiming. As historian Jeff Lengthy places it, “To me, the sooner tales in regards to the Alamo had been the revisionism. What got here later was the historical past, in a bizarre inversion.”

Mentioned one other manner, when the very fact grew to become legend, the legend was printed. Now, the legend is making a gift of to the information. When the smoke clears from the wildcat fireplace this e book has brought on, we’ll nonetheless bear in mind the Alamo however in a a lot completely different manner.



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