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Mexico declared its independence from Spain in 1821 and adopted a Constitution in 1824. Through the 1820s and 1830s, Americans moved into the Mexican territory promising to uphold the Mexican Constitution. In 1833 General Santa Anna took control of the Mexican government and imposed a new constitution. A war followed, with General Santa Anna’s supporters fighting against the supporters of the old constitution and the Texan immigrants from the United States. In 1836, the American Texans went a step farther and declared independence from Mexico. The Texans won the war and became an independent nation, which was soon admitted into the U.S.A. as the 28^{\mathrm{th}} state. Read the documents below and try to determine why Texans declared their independence from Mexico.

Letter – E.W. Ripley

Source: The letter below is written by an American to the Mexican government in 1823, asking for permission to settle in Mexico.

A number of men of good character and patriotic f[ ] are desirous of emigrating from the United States into the Mexican Territory on th[e] South Side of the Colorado of the Mississipi. Their object is to form a colo[ny] of Agriculturists. This tract of terr[itory?] at present [is] inhabited by the Ca[ ] and other Indians and the prese[nce of] such a colony would materially chec[k] their depredations. Should they go to this point they will conform to your language and political Institutions. they would defend your territory; and be a powe[rful au]xiliary TORN [ ] their agent from [ ] [ ]. He and the other Colonists would remove immediately with their families if they can obtain a grant of lands to settle and I think they would be of vast service to yourself individually and to the nation of Mexico I have the honor to be with sentiments of high respect

Your most obedt Servt

E.W.Ripley (rubric)

New Orleans Au[gust ??] 1823

Questions:

  1. Sourcing: Who wrote this document? Were they Mexican or American? When did they write it?
  2. Close Reading: Does this document present a positive or negative view of the American settlers in Texas? Provide a quote to support your claim.
  3. Sourcing: Do you trust the perspective of this document? Why or not?

Letter – Rafael Manchola

Source: The letter below was written by Rafael Antonio Manchola, a Tejano (Mexican living in Texas). He wrote this letter about the Anglo-Americans in 1826 to a military commander.

No faith can be placed in the Anglo-American colonists because they are continually demonstrating that they absolutely refuse to be subordinate, unless they find it convenient to what they want anyway, all of which I believe will be very detrimental to us for them to be our neighbors if we do not in time, clip the wings of their audacity by stationing a strong detachment in each new settlement which will enforce the laws and jurisdiction of a Mexican magistrate which should be placed in each of them, since under their own colonists as judges, they do nothing more than practice their own laws which they have practiced since they were born, forgetting the ones they have sworn to obey, these being the laws of our Supreme Government.

Questions:

  1. Sourcing: Who wrote this document? Were they Mexican or American? When did they write it?
  2. Close Reading: Does this document present a positive or negative view of the American settlers in Texas? Provide a quote to support your claim.
  3. Sourcing: Do you trust the perspective of this document? Why or not?

Texas Declaration of Independence

Source: The Texas Declaration of Independence, issued March 2,1836. The image shown below is a printed version published shortly after the handwritten version was signed. (Figure below).

Printed broadside version of the Texas Declaration of Independence

The Unanimous

Declaration of Independence

made by the

Delegates of the People of Texas

in General Convention

at the town of Washington

on the 2nd day of March 1836.

When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.

When the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed, without their consent, from a restricted federative republic, composed of sovereign states, to a consolidated central military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the everready minions of power, and the usual instruments of tyrants.

When, long after the spirit of the constitution has departed, moderation is at length so far lost by those in power, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms themselves of the constitution discontinued, and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons, and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet.

When, in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abdication on the part of the government, anarchy prevails, and civil society is dissolved into its original elements. In such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation, the inherent and inalienable rights of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases, enjoins it as a right towards themselves, and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness.

Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind. A statement of a part of our grievances is therefore submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step now taken, of severing our political connection with the Mexican people, and assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth.

The Mexican government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American population of Texas to colonize its wilderness under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America.

In this expectation they have been cruelly disappointed, inasmuch as the Mexican nation has acquiesced in the late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers us the cruel alternative, either to abandon our homes, acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood.

It has sacrificed our welfare to the state of Coahuila, by which our interests have been continually depressed through a jealous and partial course of legislation, carried on at a far distant seat of government, by a hostile majority, in an unknown tongue, and this too, notwithstanding we have petitioned in the humblest terms for the establishment of a separate state government, and have, in accordance with the provisions of the national constitution, presented to the general Congress a republican constitution, which was, without just cause, contemptuously rejected.

It incarcerated in a dungeon, for a long time, one of our citizens, for no other cause but a zealous endeavor to procure the acceptance of our constitution, and the establishment of a state government.

It has failed and refused to secure, on a firm basis, the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.

It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.

It has suffered the military commandants, stationed among us, to exercise arbitrary acts of oppression and tyranny, thus trampling upon the most sacred rights of the citizens, and rendering the military superior to the civil power.

It has dissolved, by force of arms, the state Congress of Coahuila and Texas, and obliged our representatives to fly for their lives from the seat of government, thus depriving us of the fundamental political right of representation.

It has demanded the surrender of a number of our citizens, and ordered military detachments to seize and carry them into the Interior for trial, in contempt of the civil authorities, and in defiance of the laws and the constitution.

It has made piratical attacks upon our commerce, by commissioning foreign desperadoes, and authorizing them to seize our vessels, and convey the property of our citizens to far distant ports for confiscation.

It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a national religion, calculated to promote the temporal interest of its human functionaries, rather than the glory of the true and living God.

It has demanded us to deliver up our arms, which are essential to our defence, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable only to tyrannical governments.

It has invaded our country both by sea and by land, with intent to lay waste our territory, and drive us from our homes; and has now a large mercenary army advancing, to carry on against us a war of extermination.

It has, through its emissaries, incited the merciless savage, with the tomahawk and scalping knife, to massacre the inhabitants of our defenseless frontiers.

It hath been, during the whole time of our connection with it, the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions, and hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrranical government.

These, and other grievances, were patiently borne by the people of Texas, untill they reached that point at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. We then took up arms in defence of the national constitution. We appealed to our Mexican brethren for assistance. Our appeal has been made in vain. Though months have elapsed, no sympathetic response has yet been heard from the Interior. We are, therefore, forced to the melancholy conclusion, that the Mexican people have acquiesced in the destruction of their liberty, and the substitution there for of a military government; that they are unfit to be free, and incapable of self government.

The necessity of self-preservation, therefore, now decrees our eternal political separation.

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.

Richard Ellis, President

of the Convention and Delegate

from Red River.

[Followed by 59 signatures]

Questions:

  1. Sourcing: Who wrote this document? Were they Mexican or American? When did they write it?
  2. Close Reading: Does this document present a positive or negative view of the American settlers in Texas? Provide a quote to support your claim.
  3. Sourcing: Do you trust the perspective of this document? Why or not?

Alamo Defenders' Burial Speech - Juan Seguin

Source: Colonel Juan Seguin's Alamo Defenders' Burial Speech, April 4, 1837. Seguin was a Mexican who supported the Texas Revolution and fought with the American settlers against General Santa Anna. The speech below was given at the burial of the men who died at the Alamo.

Original Spanish:

Compañeros de armas: Estos restos que hemos tenido el honor de conducir en nuestros hombros son los de los valientes héroes que murieron en el Alamo. Sí mis amigos, ellos prefirieron morir mil veces a servir el yugo del tirano. Que ejemplo tan briIlante, digno de anotarse en las páginas de la historia. El genio de la libertad parece estar viendo en su elevado trono de donde con semblante halagueño nos señala diciendo: “Ahí tenéis a vuestros hermanos, Travis, Bowie, Crockett y otros varios a quienes su valor coloca en el número de mis héroes.---Yo os pido a que poniendo por testigo a los venerables restos de nuestros dignos compañeros digamos al mundo entero. Texas será libre, independiente o pereceremos con gloria en los combates.

English Translation:

Comrades in arms: These remains which we have had the honor of carrying on our shoulders are the ones of the brave heroes who died in the Alamo. Yes, my friends, they preferred a thousand deaths rather than surrender or serve the yoke of the tyrant. What a brilliant example. Worthy indeed of being recorded in the pages of history. The genius of liberty seems to be witnessing from its high throne, from whence with praising look points out the deed saying: “Here you have your brothers, Travis, Bowie, Crockett and a few others whose valor, places them in the number of my heroes.---The worthy remains of our venerable companions bearing witness, I ask you to tell the world, Texas shall be free and independent or we shall perish with glory in battle.

Questions:

  1. Sourcing: Who wrote this document? Were they Mexican or American? When did they write it?
  2. Close Reading: Does this document present a positive or negative view of the American settlers in Texas? Provide a quote to support your claim.
  3. Sourcing: Do you trust the perspective of this document? Why or not?

The War In Texas - Benjamin Lundy

Source: Benjamin Lundy became active in the antislavery movement in the 1820s. He organized abolitionist societies, lectured extensively, and contributed to many abolitionist publications. He wrote this pamphlet called The War in Texas in 1836. Lundy argued that the Texas revolution was a slaveholders' plot to take Texas from Mexico and to add slave territory to the United States.(Figure below).

But the prime cause, and the real objects of this war, are not distinctly understood by a large portion of the honest, disinterested, and well---meaning citizens of the United States. Their means of obtaining correct information upon the subject have been necessarily limited;---and many of them have been deceived and misled, by the misrepresentations of those concerned in it, and especially by hireling writers for the newspaper press. They have been induced to believe that the inhabitants of Texas were engaged in a legitimate contest for the maintenance of the sacred principles of Liberty, and the natural, inalienable Rights of Man:---whereas, the motives of its instigators, and their chief incentives to action, have been from the commencement, of a directly opposite character and tendency. It is susceptible of the clearest demonstration that the immediate cause and the leading object of this contest originated in a settled design, among the slaveholders of this country, (with land speculators and slave traders) to wrest the large and valuable territory of Texas from the Mexican Republic, in order to re-establish the SYSTEM OF SLAVERY; to open a vast and profitable SLAVEMARKET therein; and, ultimately, to annex it to the United States.

Questions:

  1. Sourcing: Who wrote this document? Were they Mexican or American? When did they write it?
  2. Close Reading: Does this document present a positive or negative view of the American settlers in Texas? Provide a quote to support your claim.
  3. Sourcing: Do you trust the perspective of this document? Why or not?

Section Question:

  1. Corroboration: Based on all five documents, do you think that the Texans were justified in declaring independence?

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CK.SOC.ENG.SE.1.History-U.S.-Adv.4.3

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