Saturday, March 2, 2013



Texas Independence Day
March 2, 2013


Dear friends of liberty,

Texas was born one hundred seventy-seven years ago today.

It was not an easy birth. The Texians, encompassing both the Mexicans with deep roots in the land and the Anglo-American settlers invited to colonize the vast country, had worked hard to sustain their ties with Mexico. They sent emissaries and petitions -- they begged for recognition of their rights -- and the majority among them counseled peace among themselves, even to the utmost extremity. But when it became clear that the tyrant in Mexico City, General Antonio López de Santa Anna, was intent upon destroying Mexican federalism and replacing it with a quasi-military dictatorship, they knew that the time had come to fight.

So they fought. And in the epic fall of 1835, they swept away the instruments of power and oppression, expelling the Mexican garrisons, seizing the fortifications and armories, and restoring, for a brief moment, the liberties they had expected to enjoy when invited to build their homes and seek their fortunes in Texas. What began with a bold invitation to "Come and Take It" in Gonzales ended the year with San Antonio de Bexar in Texian hands, and an army forming to take the revolution southward to Matamoros -- and perhaps beyond.

But this fight for liberty was not yet a fight for independence. Over the Presidio at Goliad, the Texians flew a flag with the red-white-green of Mexico, and the year "1824" emblazoned upon it -- the year of the federalist Mexican constitution that Santa Anna overthrew. Like the American revolutionaries of 1775, the Texians of 1835 fought to restore their rights, not to secede -- and like their predecessors, they would soon find themselves forced into a cause more grand and consequential than any they had envisioned.

The arrival of Santa Anna's army changed everything. The despot had first set foot in Texas nearly a quarter-century before, where as a Spanish officer he helped crush a filibustering expedition at the 1813 Battle of Medina. The brutal suppression of that early revolt taught the tyrant his method: lay waste, terrorize, and kill all who resisted. This was the technique he brought to Texas when he crossed the Rio Grande with his solders on February 16th, 1836. One week later he laid siege to the Alamo, and sent a grim message to its defenders: surrender or die.

William Barret Travis answered with a cannon shot: "Victory or Death."

As the doomed garrison at the Alamo held against repeated assaults, bombardments, and harassments, the Mexican armies fanned out across Texas. The Texians, having won everything in 1835, now lost everything in 1836. They lost at San Patricio. They lost at Agua Dulce. And as February ground on into March, it was increasingly apparent that they would lose at the Alamo too -- and after that, who knew what fate held in store? The Mexicans commanded thousands -- and the Texians commanded hundreds. The flame of liberty in Texas flickered badly.

This was the dark scenario that confronted the Texians gathered at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 1st, 1836, sent to the Convention to decide what to do. Would their revolution falter? Would Texas surrender? Would they attempt to negotiate? Would the cause of the Lone Star be extinguished in the face of superior force?

The men assembled at the little cabin in the little town on the Brazos River took stock of the situation, and did the only common-sense thing left:

   They declared independence.

On March 2nd, 1836, with nothing standing between them and the power of Santa Anna but a desperate garrison and a prayer, the word went out to the world:

   "We, therefore, the delegates with plenary powers of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and declare, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, Sovereign, and independent republic, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent nations; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the Supreme arbiter of the destinies of nations."

Texas, a nation in full, was born. But it was not yet won.

   The same day, Texas lost at Agua Dulce.
   Four days later, Texas lost at the Alamo.
   Seventeen days later, Texas lost at Coleto.
   Nineteen days later, Texas lost at Copano.
   Twenty-five days later, Texans were massacred at Goliad.

But exactly fifty days later, on April 21st, 1836, Texas won at San Jacinto. And that won it all.

Today, 177 years later, we honor the men and women who stood and fought against impossible odds in the harrowing passage of spring 1836. Their spirit, born in the American heritage and made real in the Texas experience, remains our example today. They did not waver and they did not cease in their defense of liberty -- and we, who walk in the paths they blazed, can do no less.

Liberty and independence, no matter the odds. That is who they were. And because of them … it is who we are.

   In liberty -- and in Texas --

Brooke Rollins
President & CEO

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