Day 44 (7/5): San Antonio, TX
When I was about five or six, I “remembered the Alamo.” Just as other kids were obsessed with dinosaurs or with trucks, I was absorbed by the tales of Davy Crockett and the Battle of the Alamo. The phase was bizarre and short-lived, but to this day I’m unsure how it started. The Alamo is another classic American legend, and while it has been highly romanticized, it is rooted in very real history.
The battle — which lasted nearly two weeks in 1836 — fueled the Texas Revolution, which would win the state its independence from Mexico. I think the legacy of the Alamo is very similar to that of the Battle of Little Bighorn (check my second post). Just like at Little Bighorn, all the Texans who tried to defend the Alamo were killed, and the Mexican Army seized the makeshift fort. Militarily, both were significant failures, yet both are generally remembered with pride.
In the past I’ve frequently brought up the importance of sacrifice in American culture, and the Alamo may be the best example of this dynamic. The defenders died knowing they stood no chance of victory, yet they never shied away from the fight. Like many others throughout history, the Texans valued their principles and their home over their lives. In the end it paid off, as other Texans revolted when they heard of the battle, and Texas later became independent. This sense of bravery is inspiring to many, but I think we can learn other things from the Alamo as well.
One aspect of the Texas Revolution that is often overlooked is that those who revolted were Americans who had immigrated to Mexican territory. The Mexican government offered cheaper land prices than the United States, and in the early 19th century, tens of thousands of Americans flooded Mexico in search of a more prosperous future. They lived in relative peace among the Mexican people, until the Texas Revolution.
In a time when immigration dominates the political discussion in Washington, and with the current presidential administration threatening DACA, I think this would be an interesting era to remember in American history. Considering the circumstances then were very different than they are now, I don’t think that the years before the Texas Revolution should necessarily serve as a modern political tool. Nonetheless, I think it’s important to remember that we have a very complex history with our neighbors to the south, and that there was a time when they welcomed Americans with open arms.