Posts Tagged ‘San Jacinto Day’

Texas: The Prize of San Jacinto

April 21, 2011

This map shows the prize of San Jacinto. When the afternoon battle of April 21, 1836 was won, this is how the Republic of Texas would look in the nine years of its existence from 1836 to 1845.

Happy real San Jacinto Day, everybody. Today, April 21, 2011 is the actual 175th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto on the marshy plains east of Houston. On the heels of last Saturday’s expansive reenactment battle presentation, another official commemoration takes place again this morning at 10:30 AM at the San Jacinto Monument. Admission is free, but there will be a small fee charged to those who wish to go inside the monument auditorium and view the 35-miunte fim entitled “Texas Forever: The Battle of San Jacinto.”

The victory of General Sam Houston’s Texian forces over the much larger Mexican army directed by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna in a surprise 18-minute afternoon battle on this date in history led directly to the surrender of Mexico’s official claims upon the territory known as Texas as it appeared in the map shown here.

When Texas joined the Union in 1845, the United States paid Texas $10 million to cede territory that later became critical parts of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming. As the only nation-state to join the United States of America, Texas negotiated the retention of a power that no other state owns. Texas retains the right to subdivide itself into five smaller states, each with their own two senators and other appropriate representation in the House. Safe to say, it is unlikely that Texas will ever give up his power as a single unit to increase their votes in Congress through five divided smaller units of government on the state level.

In case you are wondering,  the famous “Six Flags Over Texas” is more than a corporate name for large amusement parks in the Metro areas of Dallas and San Antonio. The six nation flags that have flown over this land in eight transitional periods since the coming of the European invasion have included (1) Spain (1519-1685), (2) France (1685-1690), (3) Spain (1690-1821), (4) Mexico (1821-1836), (5) Republic of Texas (1836-1845), (6) United States (1845-1861), (7) Confederacy (1861-1865) and (8) United States (1865-present). Spain and the United States came here twice. We don’t expect Spain to ever return and we do hope (or, at least most of us do) that the United States stays forever.

Sam Houston

General Sam Houston strongly favored Texas joining the United State of America in 1845 and he was bitterly opposed to those who pushed for Texas’ secession from the Union in 1861. Even old Sam couldn’t win ’em all.

As Governor of the State of Texas when the majority political forces voted in favor of secession, Houston refused to swear allegiance to the newly forming Confederate States of America and resigned from office. To avoid bloodshed, Houston then refused a Union Army offer to put down the rebellion and he retired to live in Huntsville, Texas. Long before the Civil War could be ended, and his beloved Texas reunited with the union, Sam Houston died in Huntsville at the age of 70 on July 26, 1863.

Texas has long been stereotyped as the land of big-mouthed bragging ranchers and oil men, and many people still come to Houston expecting to see mountains in the background and tumbling tumbleweeds blowing down Main Street, but today, “that ain’t us,” if indeed, it ever really was. Texas today, particularly in the largest Metro areas of Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, and San Antonio-Austin is a bustling multi-cultural population of people working for some of the most powerful hi tech industries in the world.

The economic and cultural diversification of Texas is changing the face of the state, but I also think it is making us stronger. Last Saturday at the Battlegrounds, I was really impressed by the ethnic diversity of the large crowd that came for a good time mixed with a big lesson about Texas history. Every ethnic and age group that is Houston today seemed to have turned out for the occasion.

If we can simply, and complexly, continue to remember that San Jacinto was about the battle for freedom from dictatorial control, we shall be able to continue our fight as a people for making Texas what it was always intended to be – a free state – as much as possible – from the diversion of power to the service of special interest groups only.

I don’t really live in a blue sky world.

Nothing will ever be perfect in that regard. Politics will always exist, but it cannot improve if the people take the gas and throw away their active involvement. If we all forget the lessons of history and decide to simultaneously go to sleep at the wheel, watch out. (That last sentence doesn’t exactly read like a Willie Nelson song title, but I’m sure there’s a melody and lyric theme in there somewhere.)

How about something like these words as a wrap on the day. We’ll have to recruit Willie himself for the melody:



We fought at San Jacinto til the battle was won,

But when we got it finished we had only begun,

To build this Land of Texas into all it could be,

A place of hope and promise  in a country that’s free.


Keep on smilin’, all you Texans,

You’ve got much – so dry those eyes!

Keep on smilin’, all you Texans,

Time to celebrate your prize!

(Whatever it is!)

Time to feast with grateful eyes!

(Whatever your biz!)

Time to reach out for the skies!

(Whatever your fizz!)

… Keeeeeep on, SMILIN’ …………. all-you-TEXANS!

Bop-Doo-Ba-Dooba-Bop-Do-Wap!!!! …….BOOP!!!………….. BAM!!!!

 Nothing new. We’re still waiting on an answer to our question from yesterday: Who was Hamshire Fannett and what did he do to establish himself as a true blue Houstonian? Here are a couple of hints: “Hamshire Fannett” was/is the name of this real Houstonian’s alter ego when he  performed in a certain capacity as an entertainer. Secondary hint: Fannett’s work as an entertiainer was not the most politically correct thing he ever did, but he himself might argue that it was as a simple matter of personal identity.

San Jacinto Reenactment: Sam Wins Again.

April 17, 2011

On April 21, 1836, the original Battle of Jacinto delivered Texas independent of Mexico in less than eighteen minutes. On April 16, 2011, on the 175th anniversary, Texas won again.

“Well, son,” said the obviously Hispanic father standing next to me at the reenactment battle’s end to his 8-9 year old son, “that one made it Houston 1 – Mexico 0.” Everyone enjoyed a good laugh. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the man left no scoring updates from more recent times.

Saturday’s celebration was not the commemoration of a racist Anglo/Hispanic division, which it really isn’t, but an honorable presentation of how the “Texian” residents of the Mexican Province of Texas rallied together in the early 19th century, Anglo and Hispanic alike, to free themselves from the tyrannical control of Mexico’s political dictator, General Santa Ana. Much earlier, Santa Ana had thrown out the Mexican Constitution of 1824 so that he could rule the country with a solitary and power/greed-driven iron hand and the Texians who settled this vast area to the north had rallied together under the leadership of General Sam Houston to resist that control and to avenge the losses of their comrades in arms at LaBahia in Refugio and the Alamo in San Antonio.

"I would give no thought of what the world might say of me, if I could only transmit to posterity the reputation of an honest man." - Sam Houston.

In a famous strategy called “The Runaway Scrape,” Sam Houston had lured Santa Anna’s much larger army east from San Antonio on a cut-and-run path that eventually would lead to its ultimate defeat on the plains of San Jacinto in the late afternoon battle of April 21, 1836.

Santa Ana was defeated and forced to sign a document that freed the people of Texas to form their own nation and, in the process of establishing their freedom to form the nine-year history of the Republic of Texas (1836-1945), it made Texas the only state that ever later joined the United Sates as a former nation unto itself.

All of that history was celebrated again yesterday by people of all discernibly different racial and ethnic backgrounds. On a day that also featured great Texas food, music, arts, and crafts around the base of the San Jacinto Monument, a good time was had by all.

 As most of you already know, Texas ceded away much of its land when it joined the United States of America in 1845. That extra land included portions of current states New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. When Texas entered the Union in 1845, it retained for itself, as the then largest state by area, the right to later subdivide itself into five separate states, each with their own set of two senators.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for that one to ever happen. The strength of Texas is in its people, it size, and in its mystique of the Lone Star. You don’t throw all that away, even for the sake of particularizing special interests power through a handful of new senators.

Beautiful Texas!

Beautiful, beautiful Texas,

Where the beautiful Bluebonnets grow,

We’re proud of our forefathers,

Who fought at the Alamo.

There are some folks who still like to travel.

To see what they have over there,

But when they go look,

It’s not like the book,

And they find there is none to compare,

With beautiful, beautiful Texas.

– excerpt from “Beautiful Texas,” a song written by former Texas Governor Pappy Lee O’Daniel.

San Jacinto Monument

You can live on the plains or the mountains,

Or down where the sea breezes blow,

But you’re still in beautiful Texas,

The most beautiful place that I know.

– O’Daniel.