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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.

Dear Sir,

A number of men of good character wish to move onto Mexican territory, south of the Colorado. Their object is to form a farming colony. This piece of land is now inhabited by Indians and such a colony would check their attacks. These men promise to learn your language and follow your laws. They will defend your territory. These Americans would move immediately with their families if they can obtain a grant to settle the land. I think they would be of great service to yourself individually and to the nation of Mexico. I have the honor to be

Your most obedient servant,

E.W.Ripley

New Orleans, August 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.

We cannot trust the Anglo-American colonists because they are continually demonstrating that they refuse to follow our laws, unless it is convenient for them. We will have many problems if we do not stop their disrespectful behavior by stationing soldiers and a Mexican judge in each settlement. They have been using their own colonists as judges and practicing their own laws, forgetting that they swore to obey the laws of Mexico.

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

When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people... it is the right of the people to abolish such government, and create another one that will secure their future welfare and happiness.

General Santa Anna, has overturned the constitution of his country, and now offers us the cruel option either to abandon our homes, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny.

The Mexican government has failed to establish any public system of education…

It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty as we want to…

It has demanded that we give up our arms, which are essential to our defense…

It has invaded our country both by sea and by land, with intent to lay waste our territory, and drive us from our homes…

It has encouraged the merciless Indians to massacre the inhabitants of our defenseless frontiers….

We, therefore, 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…

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:

“Companions in Arms!! These remains which we have the honor of carrying on our shoulders are those of the brave heroes who died in the Alamo. Yes, my friends, they preferred to die a thousand times rather than submit themselves to the tyrant's yoke. Yes, soldiers and fellow citizens, these are the worthy beings who, by the twists of fate, delivered their bodies to the ferocity of their enemies. I invite you to declare to the entire world, “Texas shall be free and independent or we shall perish in glorious combat.”

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).

We have been asked to believe that the inhabitants of Texas have been fighting to maintain the sacred principles of Liberty, and the natural, inalienable Rights of Man:---whereas, their motives have been exactly the opposite. The immediate cause and main goal of this war—led by the slaveholders of this country, (with land speculators and slave traders)---has been to grab 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; 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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