Casting Out Devils

Speaking Conservative Truth to Evil-Doers

What San Jacinto Day Means to All Americans – and Mexicans

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The Battle of San Jacinto by Henry Arthur McArdle, 1895

The Battle of San Jacinto by Henry Arthur McArdle, 1895

San Jacinto Day, April 21, 2011

On this day in 1836, eight hundred Texans marched across the open prairie to attack a superior force of the Mexican Army under dictator Santa Anna in broad daylight.  With them, they rolled two field cannon, the “Twin Sisters,” recently donated by the people of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Santa Anna apparently regarded the Texas Army as a cornered prey, having chased them from Gonzales in central Texas to the confluence of the San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou with Trinity Bay, and burning their capital, Harrisburg.

However, Santa Anna had the Texans right where Sam Houston wanted him.  Amid shouts of “Remember the Alamo!” and “Remember Goliad!” the Texans exchanged several volleys of musket fire with the barricaded Mexican troops before charging.  Their commander, Sam Houston, had two horses shot from beneath him, while being wounded himself in the ankle.

In about 15 minutes, the Texas Army wreaked havoc upon an encamped, complacent enemy, chased in disarray into the adjacent coastal swamps.  A Mexican officer, appealing to Tejano commander Juan Seguin as a brother, was rebuffed as an oppressor.  Santa Anna, captured overnight near where the modern Washburn Tunnel crosses Buffalo Bayou, formally surrendered to Sam Houston and promised to withdraw from Texas.  As Houston was well aware, two other Mexican armies stood within the borders of Texas.

Surrender of Santa Anna by William Huddle, 1886

Surrender of Santa Anna by William Huddle, 1886

Sadly, in the popular imagination, the Texas Revolution soon came to be seen as a victory of Americans over Mexicans — a misconception exacerbated by two Mexican invasions in 1842, and perpetuated in popular hero movies — but it was not that.  The Revolution was the fulfillment of the dream of Father Miguel Hidalgo, who in 1810 gave his life in a bid for democratic, republican freedom.  It was the dream of Jose Navarro, a native Tejano lawyer who participated in resistance movements in 1812-13 and represented the Mexican state of Coahuila-y-Texas in the Mexican Congress.  It was the intention of the democratic Constitution of 1824, under the banner of which, literally or figuratively, the Texans fought, and which Santa Anna had repeatedly violated.  It was also the dream of patriots in the Mexican states of Zacatecas and the Yucatan, who had been brutally suppressed by Santa Anna shortly before he turned his attention to Texas.

The victory led to the Mexican Cession, by which Texas independence was confirmed and lands reaching to the Pacific were acquired.  Whatever one’s thoughts about the rights of Mexicans, erstwhile Spaniards, who had never truly consolidated their “Wild North,” or Native Americans who had but sparsely populated and tenuously jockeyed for position in those lands, the Revolution led to a far different destiny for those lands and future occupants than the hinterland it would no doubt remain under the centralized control of Mexico City.  As it is, the North was spared the continual revolution that spanned well into the Twentieth Century, and served as a refuge for those who escaped the mix of dictatorship and lawlessness which has often prevailed.

To Americans, attitudes regarding the Revolution, and the Mexican War that followed, have ranged from pride to shame; yet there is no doubt the consequent expansion and growth west has helped make America great, by any definition, and provided a stable and peaceful domicile for millions of all ethnicities.  Texas is now the second largest American state, an agricultural, manufacturing, and oil-producing giant.

Of arguably greater importance, the idea of a democratic, republican government, in which people are equal in the eyes of the law, a law higher than self-interest and the whims of the moment:  an idea built upon the American Founding Fathers and confirmed in Texas independence, is surely the highest form of human government possible, and the key to freedom and opportunity to peoples wherever it may be adopted.

Copyright 2011 Paul A. Hughes

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Written by biblequestion

April 22, 2011 at 1:06 AM

One Response

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  1. Reblogged this on Professor Quicksand and commented:
    I can literally see the San Jacinto Monument from my front yard! An obviously key part of Texas History.

    professorquicksand

    January 18, 2015 at 8:36 PM


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