Convention, Washington-On-Brazos, 1836
"Many a Cause, Many a Conflict: The Texas Revolution"
Volumes sufficient to fill multiplewarehouses have been written about the Texas Revolution of 1836 in thecentury and a half since it culminated in the seventeen minute Battle ofSan Jacinto. Few topics have inspired such polarized feelings. Many blameMexico's loss of her northernmost regions on a conscious premeditated conspiracyof Anglo-Americans in the United States to steal Texas by whatever meanspossible. This conspiracy, supported by the American government in Washington,D.C., first bore fruit in 1835-36 with the Texas Revolution and culminatedten years later with the Mexican War which resulted in the loss of thepresent-day states of New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, andCalifornia. At the other end of the continuum are those who blame the Mexicanpeople for the misrule of Texas and the ruthless dictatorship of SantaAnna for provoking a fully justified rebellion by Anglo-Americans and Tejanos.While such extreme positions are far too simplistic to explain the eventsof 1835-36, they continue to be voiced today - a century and a half afterthe fact.
In truth, there were a multiplicityof factors which led to the revolution.
The Expansionist History of theUnited States
Certainly one of the most importantreasons for Mexico's loss of Texas was the historic expansionism of theUnited States, which had been growing by leaps and bounds even prior tothe American war of independence. British colonists had occupied and developedthe Tidewater and Piedmont areas of the Atlantic Seaboard and were occupyingthe Appalachians when revolution broke out. Americans now, they conqueredand peopled the Ohio River Valley, the Transmississippi West of Kentuckyand Tennessee, then Florida, and portions of the massive Louisiana Purchaseterritory. By the time Mexico gained its independence from Spain, Americanswere already on the border of the new nation - and in some cases were alreadyover the border.
Whether it was because they wantednew virgin farmland, or they wanted to make the United States a transcontinentalnation stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, or they wanted to fulfillwhat they saw as America's divine mission to bring Christianity and civilizationto all of North America - "they wanted" is the key phrase. Because theUnited States had been expanding for its entire history, many Americanswere determined to see that trend continue - either through purchase, ornegotiations, or militarily. They looked upon American acquisition of vastareas of Northern Mexico as an inevitability.
The policy of the American governmentfor the sale of unoccupied land within its borders to settlers also, unwittingly,encouraged many Americans to migrate to Mexican Texas after 1821. In thedecade and a half before the revolution in Texas, the United States governmentoffered unoccupied land within its borders to settlers at the price of$1.25 an acre with an 80 acre minimum tract purchase. This worked wellas long as credit was readily available. However, a financial panic sweptthe United States beginning in 1819. This made money incredibly tight.The government sold land on a cash-only basis and with money now scarce,many Americans found the Republic of Mexico's giveaway of large tractsof land to settlers willing to becoming law-abiding citizens of the Republican irresistable offer.
This however is a far cry from provinga premeditated conspiracy by American government officials to "steal" Texasfrom Mexico. While such allegations were made in both the United Statesand Mexico during and after the revolution, such a conspiracy - much lessthat it was responsible for events in Texas - has never been proven.
Nonetheless, without a multitudeof Anglo-Americans in Texas (who missed their old country, its governmentalsystem and methods) a revolutionary war would not have broken out in Texasin 1835.
The Special Circumstances ofPost-Revolutionary Mexico
Another irrefutable factor leadingto Mexico's loss of Texas was her preoccupation with internal conflictsand disputes in the immediate aftermath of her own struggle for independence.Texas drifted away between 1821 and 1835 while Mexican citizens were decidinghow to solidify their newly-won independence and create a government thatall of her citizens could live with.
Such disruptions, turbulence, andinternal preoccupation were not unique to Mexico in the period from 1821to 1836. Consider if you will the severe difficulties faced by Americansunder the Articles of Confederation from 1776 to 1788 when the Constitutionwas adopted and put into effect. State battled state in terms of trade.Currency transactions were almost impossible as each state circulated itsown form of money. Americans couldn't get rid of lingering British troopseven after the peace settlement. The economy was in shambles. Rumors ofintrigue and possible counterrevolutions and coup d'etats were rife. Citizenssquabbled over what kind of government they needed and what that governmentshould do. Imagine what might have happened if Americans, having just wontheir own independence, would have had to defend an exposed and vulnerableterritory on its periphery from a powerful foe under these circumstances.Mexico had to do just that.
The Mexican people were certainlypreoccupied with internal matters in the aftermath of their revolutionarywar of independence against Spain. It was one thing to agree on independence;it was quite another to agree upon what should replace Spanish rule. Monarchistswho wanted a king battled republicans who wanted elected representativeleaders. They fought over what the proper roles of the military and theRoman Catholic church should be. Centralists fought to vest all power ina national government, federalists to distribute it evenly between stateand national governments, and confederalists wanted all power at the stateand local levels.
During this period of internal preoccupationin Central Mexico with citizens struggling to settle these inevitable questions,Anglo-American Texans and Tejanos learned to proceed more or less independentlyof Mexico City. In short, Texans - so remote from Mexico City - got usedto doing pretty much what they wanted to do any way they wanted to do it.When Mexico focused on Texas once again and clamped on restraints to controlwhat it saw as a rapidly-deteriorating situation, Texans' resentment andresistance helped lead to revolution.
One of the factors that complicatedand soured the relations between Mexican citizens and the Anglo settlersthey allowed to emigrate to Texas from the United States was racial prejudice.Both sides of the relationship felt racially superior to the other. Whenthe Mexican government took action that angered Anglos or Anglo Texansgot into conflict with an official of that government, American colonistswere likely to respond with such repulsive terms as "greaser" or "beaneater". When Anglos resisted orders or decisions, Mexicans were just aslikely to use the term "gringo".
Racial prejudice led both sidesof this relationship to expect the worst of one another, to misread andmisinterpret the actions and attitudes of the other race, and to respondin a haughty manner. When both sides of such a quarrel feel they are "God'sChosen People" (ethnocentrism), troubles are certain to develop.
To overlook racism as a cause ofthe Texas Revolution is simply naive - but it was only one of many causes,not the only cause.
Perhaps the most vexing factor inthe Anglo-Mexican relationship was the cultural conflict between thesetwo very different peoples. When the Republic of Mexico authorized theempressario program, it realized that its chances of success were not good- the Anglos from the United States would have to make tremendous culturalchanges if they were to fit in permanently in their new home. That theAnglos did not make such dramatic changes in a short time period undersuch troubled circumstances was not surprising.
Anglos, who had agreed to learnand use the Spanish language as part of the admittance arrangement, grousedabout the use of Spanish for all official business in Texas once they hadsettled in. Shortly they began pressing for an exception for Anglos Texanswhereby the "official language" could be dumped in favor of English.
The Anglos had also agreed to becomepracticing Roman Catholics as the church was the officially recognizedreligion for all of the Republic of Mexico. Even if most Anglos had madethe promise in good faith fully intending to convert, they found it difficultafter arriving in Texas. Remember that most Anglos had come from the DeepSouth and, if affiliated with any church, were Southern Baptists or Methodists.Relations between such fundamentalist Protestant groups and Roman Catholicismwere strained to say the very least - each thought the others were infidels.Therefore, many Anglos continued to practice their Protestant faiths longafter they settled in Texas. Even those who did convert found it difficultto practice their adopted faith given the scarcity in Texas of Catholicchurches and priests.
Another complicating cultural differenceinvolved judicial systems. Mexicans operated under the Napoleanic Codewhile Anglos from the United States had always functioned under a judicialsystem based upon English common law. The former presumed the guilt ofan individual charged with an offense until they could prove their innocence.The latter presumed an individual innocent until proven guilty by the government.Needless to say, bitter disputes involving allegations of disloyalty andtyranny arose often in judicial proceedings.
The Hispanic culture also accepteda very active role by the military, far more active than anything Angloshad ever seen or were willing to accept. The military in Mexican Texas,for instance, was used on occasion to collect both taxes and the titheto the church. This was foreign to Anglos from the United States. Rememberthat the American revolution of independence had begun when British militaryforces attempted to collect and force the payment of tariff duties andtaxes.
Perhaps no other factor surpassedthese cultural conflicts in straining relations day in and day out betweenthese two very different peoples which would culminate in the revolution.
The most immediate cause of theTexas Revolution was the refusal of many Texas, both Anglo and Mexican,to accept the governmental changes mandated by "Siete Leyes" which placedalmost total power in the hands of the Mexican national government andSanta Anna.
Most of the Anglos who moved toTexas came from the Deep South. During the 1820s and 1830s, this regionwas swept by Jacksonian Democracy - a governmental philosophy that heldthat all government was bad, the best government was the least government,government grew more tyrannical the fewer people held power, the executivebranch was the most dangerous and the one to be given the least power,etc. Perhaps most importantly, Jacksonian Democrats and the vast majorityof Anglos who emigrated to Mexican Texas felt that governmental power shouldbe vested primarily in local and state governments which, being closerto the people, were more representative and more easily controlled.
Many Mexicans felt exactly the sameway. Remember that one of the internal disputes in post-revolutionary Mexicoinvolved the best way to distribute power between local, state, and nationallevels of government. Centralists, who wished to allot the overwhelmingmajority of power to the central/national government in Mexico City, werefought tooth and nail by those all across Mexico who felt this would amountto an uncontrollable and tyrannical dictatorship.
Until 1835 these groups fought oneanother for control. In October, 1835 the centralists and Santa Anna wonout with the enactment of "Siete Leyes". This move: (1) did away with thefederalist Constitution of 1824, (2) abolished all state legislatures includingthat of Coahuila y Tejas, and (3) replaced states with "departments" headedup by governors and appointed councils selected by and serving at the pleasureof Santa Anna.
The reaction in many sections ofMexico, including Texas, was military resistance to the creation of whatmany citizens saw as an all-powerful government in the hands of a tyrannicalSanta Anna. In Texas, war was originally waged in an attempt to restorethe Constitution of 1824 and federalism. Only later would it become a warof independence.
When Anglo settlers were originallyadmitted to Mexican Texas, they were permitted to bring their black slavesfrom the Deep South with them. Indeed, had Mexican Texas been closed toslavery from the beginning, far fewer Southerners would have emigratedeither because they could not bring their expensive property and manpowersource with them or because of their political/racial views.
Over the years, Mexico took repeatedsteps to limit or abolish slavery in Texas. Each step prompted a vociferousreaction from Anglos followed by a Mexican retreat in which the threateningchange was repealed. Given the amount of capital many Anglos had investedin black slaves, Mexico's mercurial actions with respect to slavery wereat the very least threatening. There were those by 1836 who felt an independentRepublic of Texas in which slavery was firmly and for all time recognizedand respected was preferable to Mexico with an uncertain future for slavery.Two and one half decades later Texans still felt so strongly about blackslavery and attached to it for both economic and social reasons that theywould secede from the United States and wage a civil war rather than seethe institution imperiled.
The Physical Isolation of Texas
The Texas Revolution was also theproduct of the physical isolation of Texas from both the American and Mexicangovernments. The situation in Texas, in which Anglo colonists became increasinglyestranged from their host nation with the passage of time, developed inpart because Mexico City was so far away. Even without its post-revolutionarystruggles and inner focus, Mexico (like Spain before it) would have hadtremendous difficulty trying to station enough troops and officials sofar from Mexico City to control the situation. Similarly, the United States(had it had the desire to do so) would have found in equally impossibleto control Anglo-Americans who had moved to Texas or Southerners who werepreparing to move. Anglo-Texans got used to doing whatever they wantedin part because neither government could effectively control the isolatedregion.
The most immediate cause of the Texas Revolution was the refusal of many Texas, both Anglo and Mexican, to accept the governmental changes mandated by "Siete Leyes" which placed almost total power in the hands of the Mexican national government and Santa Anna.What caused the Texas Revolution quizlet? ›
As political unrest increased with rebellions in different states the Mexicans demanded the return of the small cannon. The Texan colonists refused and the Battle of Gonzales commenced that resulted in the death of one Mexican soldier and the start of the Texas Revolution.What was the Texas Revolution summary? ›
Texas Revolution, also called War of Texas Independence, war fought from October 1835 to April 1836 between Mexico and Texas colonists that resulted in Texas's independence from Mexico and the founding of the Republic of Texas (1836–45).What were some of the causes and consequences of the Texas Revolution? ›
Cause: Hundreds of families feared that the Mexican army would move in and harm them. Effect: Homes and land were burned and plumaged by Mexican troops. Texas families fled east to escape them. Causes: Texas troops trained under Sam Houston.What three events led to the Texas Revolution? ›
- 1) 1826 FREDONIAN REBELLION.
- 2) 1828 MIER Y TERÁN REPORT.
- 3) 1830 THE LAW OF APRIL 6TH.
- 4) ARREST OF WILLIAM B. ...
- 5) BATTLE OF VELASCO, JUNE 26, 1832.
- 6) 1833 AUSTIN'S ARREST.
- 7) Conventions of 1832 and 1833 at SAN FELIPE.
Latimore said slavery was a significant part of the lead-up to the Texas Revolution. Anglo Texans saw slavery and the plantation system of cotton as key to their economic system.How did the Texas Revolution start? ›
Revolution Breaks Out: Battle of Gonzales
On October 2, 1835, the Texas Revolution began as tension boiled over and shots were fired in the town of Gonzales. The Mexican Army had been sent to recover a cannon that was loaned to the town for protection against aggressive native tribes.
The economic policies of Porfirio Díaz, unequal distribution of land, deeply entrenched economic inequality, and undemocratic institutions were the major causes of the revolution.What are two facts about the Texas Revolution? ›
On March 1, 1836, a convention was held declaring independence from Mexico and the new Constitution of the Republic of Texas. In addition, Sam Houston was named as Commander of the Texas military. After a 13-day attack at the Alamo near San Antonio, Texans were defeated by a mission led by General Santa Anna.Was the Texas Revolution successful? ›
Six weeks later, a large Texan army under Sam Houston surprised Santa Anna's army at San Jacinto. Shouting “Remember the Alamo!” the Texans defeated the Mexicans and captured Santa Anna. The Mexican dictator was forced to recognize Texas' independence and withdrew his forces south of the Rio Grande.
The Texas Revolution resulted in the independence of Texas from Mexico and the establishment of the Republic of Texas. On April 21, 1836, the Texan army defeated Santa Anna's forces at the Battle of San Jacinto and won independence. The Republic of Texas governed until 1845 when Texas was annexed by the United States.When did the Texas Revolution happen? › What were the major events of the Texas Revolution quizlet? ›
- Events Leading to the Texas Revolution. ...
- Fredonia Rebellion. ...
- Mier y Teran Report. ...
- The Law of April 6th, 1830. ...
- Turtle Bayou Resolutions. ...
- Arrest of Stephen F. ...
- The year 1836 is significant (important) because... ...
- Battle of Gonzales.
The famous 1836 Battle of the Alamo took place within a larger movement for independence, the Texas Revolution. Immerse yourself in the important events leading up to the victory against Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto.How did the Texas Revolution affect slavery? ›
In 1829 the Guerrero decree conditionally abolished slavery throughout Mexican territories. It was a decision that increased tensions with slave-holders among the Anglo-Americans. After the Texas Revolution ended in 1836, the Constitution of the Republic of Texas made slavery legal.What are the 4 key events of the Texas Revolution? ›
- October 2, 1835 – Battle of Gonzales. ...
- December 5, 1835 – Siege of Bexar. ...
- Feb. ...
- Feb. ...
- March 2, 1836 – Convention of 1836. ...
- March 6, 1836 – Fall of the Alamo. ...
- March 27, 1836 – Goliad Massacre.
Battle of the Alamo, February 23-March 6, 1836, Mexico. Battle of Refugio, March 14, 1836, Mexico. Battle of Coleto, March 19-20, 1836, Mexico. Battle of San Jacinto, April 21, 1836, Texas.How did Texas win the revolution? ›
Remembering how badly the Texans had been defeated at the Alamo, on April 21, 1836, Houston's army won a quick battle against the Mexican forces at San Jacinto and gained independence for Texas.When did Texas give up slavery? ›
In what is now known as Juneteenth, on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrive in Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War is over and slavery in the United States is abolished.Where did the Texas Revolution take place? ›
- Seven Years War (1756-1763) ...
- Taxes and Duties. ...
- Boston Massacre (1770) ...
- Boston Tea Party (1773) ...
- Intolerable Acts (1774) ...
- King George III's Speech to Parliament (1775)
The American Revolution was principally caused by colonial opposition to British attempts to impose greater control over the colonies and to make them repay the crown for its defense of them during the French and Indian War (1754–63).What are the main causes of revolution? ›
Typically, revolutions take the form of organized movements aimed at effecting change—economic change, technological change, political change, or social change. The people who start revolutions have determined the institutions currently in place in society have failed or no longer serve their intended purpose.Why is the Texas Revolution important today? ›
The revolutionaries who seceded from Mexican authority and held out against a vastly larger Mexican army at the Alamo inspired thousands of others to fight for independence. Today, Texans continue to take special pride in their independence, their uniqueness and even their rebelliousness against larger forces.Who ended the Texas Revolution? ›
On March 6, 1836, after 13 days of intermittent fighting, the Battle of the Alamo comes to a gruesome end, capping off a pivotal moment in the Texas Revolution. Mexican forces were victorious in recapturing the fort, and nearly all of the roughly 200 Texan defenders—including frontiersman Davy Crockett—died.Who started Texas Revolution? ›
On October 2, 1835, the growing tensions between Mexico and Texas erupt into violence when Mexican soldiers attempt to disarm the people of Gonzales, sparking the Texan war for independence. Texas—or Tejas as the Mexicans called it—had been a part of the Spanish empire since the 17th century.What happened after Texas Revolution? ›
On April 21, 1836, the Texans defeated Santa Anna's army at the Battle of San Jacinto; Santa Anna was captured the following day. The Mexican army retreated back to Mexico City, ending the Texas Revolution. Texas was now an independent colony and later joined the United States.What was the main cause of Texas's secession? ›
As the United States was torn apart by divisions over whether slavery could expand into the nation's western territories, Texas in 1861 voted to secede from the Union. In the ensuing Civil War, up to 750,000 people — more than 2 percent of all Americans — died.Who won the Texas Revolution? ›
Remembering how badly the Texans had been defeated at the Alamo, on April 21, 1836, Houston's army won a quick battle against the Mexican forces at San Jacinto and gained independence for Texas. Soon after, Houston was elected president of the Republic of Texas.What are the 5 major battles in the Texas Revolution? ›
- October 2, 1835 – Battle of Gonzales. ...
- December 5, 1835 – Siege of Bexar. ...
- Feb. ...
- Feb. ...
- March 2, 1836 – Convention of 1836. ...
- March 6, 1836 – Fall of the Alamo. ...
- March 27, 1836 – Goliad Massacre. ...
- April 21, 1836 – Battle of San Jacinto.