The 185-year-old Battle That Still Dominates Texas Politics

“After pledging to become loyal Mexicans and devout Catholics, the American immigrants to Texas realized it was a hardscrabble place where the only cash crops were sugarcane and cotton; they wanted slaves for those fields. “Texas,” wrote Stephen F. Austin, the father of Texas, “shall be a slave nation!”

Yet slavery was illegal in Mexico. The American immigrants rebelled, driving the Mexican Army out of San Antonio in the fall of 1835. Mexico City faced multiple revolts and couldn’t afford for the nation to simply break apart so soon after independence. Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna, nicknamed the “Napoleon of the West” in the English-speaking world and “the Eagle” in Mexico, marched north to put down the rebellion.

Even at the time, the Alamo’s military importance was dubious. Sam Houston, the other father of Texas, wanted it destroyed and the position abandoned altogether. But in a foolhardy bit of gallantry, he was ignored, and the siege began. A young commander inside the Alamo tried to surrender, but with conditions; Santa Anna rejected the offer. Thirteen days of siege and bombardment later, and after a relatively brief three hours of hand-to-hand combat, the 1,500-man Mexican force had wiped out the remnant of about 200 Texas rebels. The seven survivors were executed on Santa Anna’s orders.”

“Chris Tomlinson, co-author of a forthcoming book on the subject. Entitled Forget the Alamo, it will be the 600th book on the subject, according to the Library of Congress. He is withering in his recasting of the narrative. “Everything about the Alamo is a lie.”

Among Tomlinson’s rebuttals: Slavery fueled not a revolution but a land grab. The Alamo was a blunder; it was supposed to be destroyed and abandoned. Travis was an amateur. Davy Crockett’s legendary toughness crumbled like a facade; he begged for his life when he was captured. The battle didn’t slow the Mexican march east. And ultimately, it was U.S. Army artillery, secretly deployed from Louisiana, that finally won Texas its independence at the battle of San Jacinto.”

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