Texas War for Independence

History Lesson 6
The West (Grades 8)
Instruction 6-3
Texas War of Independence
Texas War for Independence
In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain. Although still a big country, it
was even bigger then. In 1821, Mexico included what are now the states of
Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California and part of Colorado.
Shortly after independence, an American, Moses Austin, received a grant from
the Mexican government. This grant allowed 200 American families to settle in
what is now Texas. His son, Stephen F. Austin, renegotiated the grant in 1823
and more settlers poured in. Many brought their slaves with them.
In 1824, a new Mexican constitution was ratified making Texas part of the
Mexican state of Coahiula. But there were troubles right from the start. The
Anglo (American) settlers came into conflict with a series of unstable but
authoritarian Mexican governments. In 1830, Mexico's Congress passed a law
forbidding further U.S. immigration into Texas. It didn't allow settlers to buy land.
It prohibited the importation of slaves. This outraged the Anglo-Texans. They
vowed to separate from Mexico. Stephen Austin presented a petition for Texas
independence to Mexico leader General
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna in 1834. He
was promptly thrown into jail -- and kept
In retaliation, a group of Texans seized the
Mexican garrison at Anahuac. Other
skirmishes followed, including the Battle of
Gonzales on October 2, 1835.
The Texas War for Independence had
General Santa Anna raised an army of 6000
and marched against Texas. On
February 23, 1836, his forces attacked the
Alamo, a fortress in San Antonio. A
defending army of 187 Texans led by William B. Travis (who wasn't even a
Texan) held off 3000 Mexicans for an incredible two weeks. But on March 6 all
the defenders were massacred, including Indian scout Davy Crockett. On
March 27, Santa Anna also massacred more than 300 defenders of Goliad.
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California Content Standards Grade 8 8.8.6
© B. J. Subbiondo 2003
History Lesson 6
The West (Grades 8)
Instruction 6-3
Texas War of Independence
Remember the Alamo
While these hostilities were
going on, Texas formally
declared its independence
on March 2, 1836. Sam Houston
was named commander of the
Army of Texas.
On April 21, he led his troops
into battle on the banks of the
San Jacinto River
with the cry "Remember the
Alamo." In a decisive battle, the
Texans won. Santa
Anna was captured and forced to recognize Texas as an independent state. The
Mexican Congress repudiated this recognition. But it didn't really matter. Texas
proclaimed itself "The Lone Star Republic." It was free.
Resolutions calling for the recognition of Texas were immediately introduced in
the U.S. Congress. President Jackson hesitated, fearing war with Mexico. But
on March 3, 1837, he relented -- a little. He agreed to send an official
representative to Texas. But instead of sending a full ambassador he sent a
low-level charge d'affairs.
On August 4, 1837, Texas petitioned for annexation to the United States. The
petition was rejected.
The question of the annexation of Texas was complicated. Northern abolitionists
were opposed -- fearing that several slave states would be carved from the
former Mexican territory. Southern states, of course, were for it.
Rebuffed by the United States, Texas pursued its foreign policy as an
independent country, signing treaties with both Britain and Belgium. Britain
favored an independent Texas as a buffer against U.S. expansion. It also saw
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California Content Standards Grade 8 8.8.6
© B. J. Subbiondo 2003
History Lesson 6
The West (Grades 8)
Instruction 6-3
Texas War of Independence
Texas as a potential base for a war against slavery. As well as a convenient
duty-free market for British goods.
The American government was alarmed by growing British influence in Texas.
It began to reconsider annexation. But on August 23, 1843, Mexican President
Santa Anna notified the U.S. that the Mexican government would consider U.S.
annexation of Texas a declaration of war.
In spite of this, the United States reopened negotiations for annexation. As part
of these negotiations, Texas President Sam Houston asked for (and got)
American military and naval protection along the Gulf of Mexico and the
southwestern border.
But annexation wasn't to happen all
that easily.
Abolitionists in Congress blocked it
over and over again.
The issue played a big part in the
American presidential election of 1844.
was not until a new U.S. President,
James Polk, came into office that
legislation was finally signed making
Texas the 28th state of the union. The
date was
December 29, 1845.
War with Mexico was now inevitable.
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California Content Standards Grade 8 8.8.6
© B. J. Subbiondo 2003