Remember the Alamo!

US #1043 – The Alamo has been called the “Shrine of Texas Liberty”

On March 6, 1836, the Battle of the Alamo came to a tragic end.

Around 1718, the Spanish built a mission, San Antonio de Valero, in San Antonio.  The mission, which consisted of a monastery and church surrounded by a high wall, later came to be known as “the Alamo,” after the Spanish word for the cottonwood trees that surrounded it.  The people of Texas occasionally used the mission as a fort.

In 1820, a Missouri banker, Moses Austin, obtained permission from Spanish officials to establish an American colony in Texas.  Soon, more Americans received land grants from Mexico.  Between 1821 and 1836, the number of settlers in the area grew to about 30,000 – and most were Americans.  The Mexican government became concerned over the high number of Americans in its territory, and in 1830, Mexico halted American immigration.  Relations between the settlers and the government quickly deteriorated.  In 1834, General Antonio López de Santa Anna, a Mexican politician and soldier, overthrew the Mexican government and established himself as a dictator.

US #776 – This Texas centennial stamp pictures the Alamo, Sam Houston, and Stephen F. Austin.

After a few clashes between Texans and Mexican soldiers, Texas leaders organized a temporary government on November 3, 1835.  Texas troops captured San Antonio on December 11, 1835.  Enraged, Santa Anna sent a large army to San Antonio to put an end to the uprising.

US #1043 – Classic First Day Cover.

On February 23, 1836, about 5,000 of Santa Anna’s troops approached San Antonio.  The Texans were caught by surprise.  About 150 Texans took refuge in the Alamo, preparing for battle.  While Santa Anna laid siege to the fort, only a small number of reinforcements were able to reach the Alamo, raising the number of defenders to 187.  The defense included several frontier heroes, including James Bowie and Davy Crockett.

US #1330 – Davy Crockett died at the Alamo, though historians debate how and when.

The Texans bravely protected the fort.  Eventually, they ran low on ammunition and were unable to return fire.  Then on March 6, 1836, Santa Anna’s troops were able to scale the walls of the Alamo.  The Texans fought using their rifles as clubs, though the only survivors were the wife of an officer, Mrs. Dickenson; her baby; her nurse; and a young black boy.

US #1242 – Houston led the Texans to victory in the subsequent Battle of San Jacinto.

“Remember the Alamo” became the battle cry of the Texas independence struggle.  The defense of the Alamo had bought the Texans valuable time to organize their remaining forces.  On April 21, Sam Houston led a smaller Texan army against Santa Anna’s forces in a surprise attack at the Battle of San Jacinto.  The Texans were able to capture Santa Anna himself and forced him to sign a treaty giving Texas its independence.

Texas remained an independent republic for ten years.  Then on December 29, 1845, it was admitted to the Union as the 28th state.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.


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  1. Ironies abound here. Texas achieved independence by defeating the Mexican army in 1836. It took nine years for Texas to become a state largely because of domestic disputes in the United States, especially over the issue of slavery, Texas became the 28th state in 1845, only to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy sixteen years later in 1861. Of course, Texas was readmitted to the United States after the Civil War. Re. David Crockett (he was never referred to as Davy during his lifetime), after studying all of the available evidence, most historians believe that Crockett survived the Mexican assault of March 6, was captured and executed the next day.

  2. As always, Mystic, a very interesting history update. I enjoy reading them and learning more from the background published when new stamps are produced !!

  3. Crockett, despite Hollywood depictions of a legend who went down fighting, likely went down another way, according to the evidence. Jeff Long’s well-researched Duel of Eagles showed Crockett to be an “aging, semiliterate squatter of average talent” who surrendered and begged to be spared. Multiple sources verify this. In fact, Crockett’s surrender was even used as evidence by American newspapers of Santa Anna’s brutality. Yet in the 1950s, when Disney and Wayne were building the mythology of the Crockett character, that didn’t fit the hero narrative they wanted.

  4. One of the first things Santa Anna did was abolish slavery in the Tejas region. For white settlers, this was a bridge too far. Stephen F. Austin, the so-called “Father of Texas,” wrote many letters to Mexican authorities about the importance of slavery for the Anglo settlers. William Travis’ letters about fighting for freedom get a lot of attention by Texan historians, but Austin’s letters speak about the settlers’ true concern:

    “Nothing is wanted but money,” [Austin] wrote in a pair of 1832 letters, “and Negros are necessary to make it.”

    American settlers in Tejas tried to circumvent the new law by converting enslaved people to lifetime indentured servants, but Mexico responded by passing a law saying such contracts could not last longer than 10 years. Mexico was a post-colonial nation founded on egalitarian principles, and Santa Anna was determined to enforce the end of slavery throughout Mexico, including in Tejas.

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