If you have no interest in history, or have never read or learned about this time period James Donovan’s “” is a must read. If you were inspired by the American revolution, you will definitely feel a connection to these transplanted Americans and their cause. With its short chapters and everyday language “” reads easily. It reminded me of a Dan Brown novel which I couldn’t put down and but never wanted to end.
The story is one we all know, but probably do not know much about, and because of that it can be overwhelming to undertake the task of reading about it. Donovan introduces the reader to each character involved in the inspiring history of the Alamo, intimately and appropriately, so much so you never find yourself lost throughout the book. From the courageous rebel leader William Barret Travis, and his “brave little band” to “His Excellancy,” Mexican General Santa Anna and his Army of Operation, Donovan introduces the reader to all the important people and provides ample background history.
“” begins by introducing the main players, Travis, Bowie, Houston, and the successful siege of Bexar by the unassuming Texian army. That in itself was a huge victory overtaking a superior force to first take hold of the Alamo. My favorite part was the introduction of David Crockett and his group of “Tennessee Mounted Volunteers.” Crockett’s history is interesting and sparked my interest in further readings, and that is only a testament to Donovan’s thorough research and presentation.
After some history on Santa Anna, his Mexican counterparts, and a brief Mexican history lesson, the build up toward a show down at the Alamo begins. Santa Anna positioning his troops to maximize the advantage over the vastly outnumbered Texian volunteers holed up in the Alamo.
Despite numerous pleas for aid and reinforcements Travis’s rebel army would be forced to face a force that outnumbered them about 10 to 1. Santa Anna would only hold his siege for so long before he attacked.
Even for the casual reader of non-fiction “” is a must read. You will definitely come out not only knowing more, but wanting more. Donovan gives all of his sources in the back and I suggest you look through them if you are interested in reading more.
James Donovan’s “” goes on sale today and can be purchased at your local book store or online at .
Ceremonies marking the Battle of the Alamo kicked off on Sunday at 6 a.m., the exact hour the Mexican Army’s final assault began on the old Spanish mission church 175 years ago.
But at a time when demographics are changing the face of Texas, this year’s events were markedly different from past commemorations.
Sunday’s event, which included historic readings and a “service of reconciliation,” brought to an end four days of festivities and somber events marking the anniversary of the battle at the mission, now in the heart of the city of San Antonio.
Living history re-enactors portraying both the ‘Texian’ irregulars and Mexican regular army soldiers gathered at the event, which also included performances of traditional Texas music, speeches, an 1830s fashion show, and a unique exhibition of Davy Crockett’s personal belongings, including his long rifle.
Historian Carolyn Foreman, who produced the event, says Crockett never intended to die in Texas.
“He signed up … like most of the men, because they were told that if they served a certain amount of time in the Texas force, they would be given land,” she said.
“Crockett had even picked out the plot of land he wanted to settle.”
This assessment of the former Tennessee congressman’s path to what many Texans, especially non-Hispanics, long portrayed as ‘martyrdom’ in the Alamo was reflected in the contrast between this year’s commemorations and the glitz and vocal disagreements prominent at the 150th anniversary 25 years ago.
They were also hugely different from the 1936 centennial events, which included construction of the soaring Alamo Plaza Cenotaph honoring the “heroes of Texas liberty” and largely created the image of the battle seen in the classic 1960 John Wayne film.
Twenty-five years ago, groups from Latinos to Native Americans were angry with the way the mostly white fighters defending the Alamo were portrayed as a small band fighting for liberty and freedom against swarming Mexican hordes led by a cruel and despotic leader.
Many demanded equal treatment of the roles all participants played in the complicated events of March 6, 1836, and the events that led up to it.
This year some groups discussed the sacrifices of the Mexican troops, and said Mexico, far from being the oppressive force portrayed in past observances, was in fact trying to put down an uprising by rebels on its northern frontier.
“The people in the Alamo were trying to establish a republic, but you have to remember that the Mexican soldiers were trying to preserve a republic,” said Charles Lara, a living history re-enactor from Bandera, Texas, near San Antonio, who drilled a company of high school students in the uniforms of the Mexican army.
Foreman and other organizers said one trigger of the Texas uprising in 1836 was that Mexico had abolished slavery, and refused to allow the U.S. settlers, most from the American South, to bring their slaves with them, a factor largely downplayed in previous commemorations.
Such broader views of the battle amid an absence of rancor at this year’s events may be a symbol of a changing Texas population. The 2010 Census figures released last month show Mexican troops may have lost the war against Texas, but Mexican-Americans are winning the demographic battle.
White Texans are, for the first time since before the events of 1836, a minority, and officials say Texas will soon be a majority-Hispanic state.
Story by Jim Forsyth
Today (March 1st) marks 175 years since Texas declared its independence. As people across the state celebrate the creation of the Texas Declaration of Independence that took place in 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos, historians encourage Texans to remember the events that followed the state’s independence.
The Texas State Historical Association’s chief historian, Randolph “Mike” Campbell, said the real piece of Texas history that forever changed the United States took place in 1846, when Texas became a state.
“Had Texas not become a state, then you have a block on the expansion of the U.S. to the Southwest,” he said. “The whole history could have been different. When you add Texas, you have a war and then you have New Mexico, Arizona and California.”
Although independence is definitely something to celebrate, Campbell said it was the events that followed independence that made the greatest impact on American history.
“The fact that Texas was an independent republic before it was part of the U.S. doesn’t necessarily make it unique,” he said, “but there are very few states who can claim they were independent republics.”
Texas Independence Day is an official holiday in the state that the historic weekly newspaper, the Telegraph and Texas Register, shows has long been celebrated. The newspaper printed the Texas Declaration of Independence in its entirety 10 days after it was created.
Events that transformed the state almost 200 years ago touch Abilene today, as well. McMurry history professor Don Frazier explained that four days after the signing, three brothers by the name of Taylor were killed at the Alamo. Taylor County is named for those brothers.
In addition to the naming of the county, he said the state’s independence began a movement toward making this area a more attractive place to settle, which led to the economic and political stability that continues to be the pride of the state.
“After they left Mexico and became the U.S., they could count on rule of law and constitutional rights,” he said. “It’s what first made it great.”
Frazier directs the McMurry Texas Semester, a course of study for selected students that includes travel throughout the state.
Texas Independence Day is not nearly as widely recognized as it should be, he said, because it was one event that had a hand in how the history of the rest of the nation would unfold.
Story by Hannah Boen