If you were to ask an Apple Mac Pro (made in Austin, a city named for the founder of Texas independence) to pick the hottest hot button issue in Texas history, the answer would be the 1836 siege and Battle of the Alamo, the creation myth of Texas. Mess with the Alamo, and youre messing with Texas.
Jason Stanford, writer and political consultant, Chris Tomlinson, veteran journalist and Texas historian, and Bryan Burrough, author of Public Enemies and Barbarians at the Gate, three very different writers, have collaborated to produce a book that has outraged a significant number of Texans, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who canceled a virtual forum on the book in June, calling it A fact-free rewriting of Tx history
Patrick got the second part right: Forget the Alamo is a rewrite of Texas history, one that has been a long time acomin. But fact-free it isnt, and its the facts that have a great many older white Texans riled:
The Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the self-appointed guardians of the Alamo legend, are torched: By the 1960s they had evolved into a kind of paramilitary Junior League the Daughters were the humorless school marms of the Alamo.
Alamo buffs, such as British rock star Phil Collins, who have polluted the historical waters with questionable artifacts, are put to the sword. Collins illustrated book, The Alamo and Beyond: A Collectors Journey, is a source of ridicule and horror in the Alamo-collecting and archaeological world.
Mythmongers like Fox & Friends Brian Kilmeade, who in his 2019 best-selling book Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers referred to slaves as servants, are sent to the firing squad.
Simply, Much of what you think you know about the Alamo is wrong. Lets spend no more time getting to this: The primary cause of the Texas Revolution wasnt General Santa Annas tyranny and the suppression of the rights of the Anglo colonists. Stephen Austin, the father of Texas, thought Santa Anna a friend to the American immigrants; as late as 1835 the general was giving them just about everything they asked for. Contrary to myth, Santa Anna was not some bloody tyrant, nor even a dictator; that would come later. At this point, just before the Texas Revolution began in October 1835, He was an astute politician who needed the support of Congress, the Church, the military, and the people, and thus remained keenly alert to ripples in the Mexican political pond.
The biggest ripple was slavery. The Mexicans had to settle Texas and couldnt defend settlers from depredations by the terrifying and aggressive Comanches, so Americansarmed Americanswere enticed there by land grants. The problem was that the only reason Americans would come to Texas was to farm cotton, and they would not do that without slaves. They really didnt know any other way.
The Mexican government couldnt begin to control immigration across its wide and distant border with its powerful neighbor, the United Statesa wall certainly would have come in handyand by 1825 one of four people living in Austins Anglo colony was a slave. Most Texians, settlers who immigrated from the U.S., were contemptuous of Mexican authority and continued to live as if they were still governed by American law. To add more fuel to the growing fire, Santa Anna, who had become the most powerful man in Mexico, correctly suspected President Andrew Jackson had designs on Texas and the Mexican government had to be careful not to provoke the U.S.
The anxieties of slave-owning Texians finally erupted into insurrection. The Anglos enjoyed an early success in October 1835, when they routed the Mexican garrison in San Antonio and seized the old mission-fort, the Alamo, with its 21 cannon. But the victory blinded the Texians to an important fact: they had no army. After all, Most Texians and Tejanos [Mexican citizens who had migrated to Texas] had farms and businesses to run Most hadnt asked for this fight anyway.
Luckily, a swarm of militiassuch as the Huntsville Rovers from Alabama, the Natchez Mustangs from St. Louis, and the New Orleans Greysflocked to the Texian cause. Luckily, too, the Texians found a charismatic leader in Sam Houston, former governor of Tennessee and veteran of the 1812 War, where he served under Jackson. Once Houston assumed command of Texass rag tag forces, events moved rapidly. Santa Anna, who considered himself as the Napoleon of the West, assembled a mixed force of professionals and untrained peasants. They lurched slowly north, reaching the outskirts of San Antonio near the end of February 1836. The response of the roughly two hundred Texians under the command of the fabled adventurer Jim Bowie and William Travis, an Alabamian gone to Texas for a new life, was to dig in and hunker down behind the Alamos unfinished walls.
Why they didnt choose to retreat north to join Houston isnt known. Houston thought the quarter-mile-long compound indefensible, at least by a garrison that could have been no more than 250 men. Travis and Bowie, though, for whatever reasonhonor, duty, ego, overconfidence, or strategywere determined to defend the Alamo, no matter what. It was, in every respect, a questionable decision.
On March 6, after 12 days of siege, Santa Anna assembled his troops in the cold and dark and, around 4 or 5 a.m., ordered an assault. After perhaps 90 minutes of bloody hand-to-hand fighting with bayonets and Bowie knives, all the defenders, including at least nine Tejanos, were dead. (Santa Anna had made a show of allowing a handful of women to be escorted out before the assault began.)
Travis, say the authors, and the letters he would write from the old Spanish mission have been held up for nearly two hundred years as heartbreaking evidence of his selfless bravery
But its equally true that none of this needed to happen. None of the Alamos defenders needed to dieand they only did so because Travis and Bowie ignored every warning of Santa Annas approach and inexplicably remained in San Antonio to defend an indefensible outpost.
Why havent we forgotten the Alamo? Mostly for two reasons. The first is that one of the two most famous Americans alive in 1836 (Andrew Jackson the other) died there. David Crockett was a frontiersman, former congressman, and cracker barrel humoristthink of a cross between Bear Grylls and Andy Griffithwho went west to restore his fortunes, arriving in San Antonio just days before the Mexican army. Even the Mexicans knew who he was; in the account of a Mexican officer named Jose Enrique de la Pena he is referred to as the naturalist David Crockett. In time, thanks to Walt Disney, Fess Parker, and John Wayne, Crocketts story consumed those of Bowie, Travis, and the others.
The second reason is Houstons flare for propaganda. Within 48 hours he was sending out letters likening the disaster at the Alamo to Thermopylae, where 300 Spartans died holding a pass against the Persian Army in 480 B.C. Desperately trying to forge a mob of farmers and woodsmen into an army, Houston turned the crushing defeat into a popular and potent weapon.
Six weeks after the fall of the Alamo, Houstons army surprised Santa Anna at San Jacinto, captured him, and forced a treaty which gave Texas its freedom. Houston fired up his men before the battle, shouting Trust in God and fear not. And remember the Alamo!
Still, for decades the Alamo was mostly forgotten. In 1886 there was no official commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary. The battle was absent from some historical narratives on Texas history or reduced to little more than a side story. The Alamo itself was so neglected that over a few decades only the chapel and the adjacent long barrack where much of the fighting took place were standing. (In Lonesome Dove, Tommy Lee Jones Woodrow Call and Robert Duvalls Gus McCraeboth former Texas Rangersride into San Antonio and pass the sad wreck of the chapel without a nod of recognition.)
Near the end of the century, though, the Alamo was revived to become the great creation myth of Texas, a heroic narrative written and shaped by menand a few womenwho instilled in it the value of their times. Their efforts would prove remarkably enduring. For 150 years, the world pretty much agreed on what the Alamo symbolized.
The story of the Tejanos such as Juan Sequin, who defied Santa Anna and fought and died at the Alamo, was erased, and the issue of slavery was traded for the more attractive causa belli: the myth of suppression of the rights of Texians.
The 20th century accounts established the foundation of what we call the Heroic Anglo Narrative of Texas history. They portrayed Anglo Texans as Gods righteous democratic warriors two-legged arguments for American expansion and manifest destiny. That spirit lives on in the Texas State Board of Education, which has declared schoolchildren must be taught a heroic version of Alamo history Alamo heroism thus remains the law of the land.
That law is being rewritten as a generation of new historians have begun taking the field back from popularizers and propagandists. The result is a culture war which could dictate how future generations of Texansand by extension, Americans and many around the worldperceive the history of Texas.
Stop political correctness in our schools, Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted in 2018. Of course, Texas schoolchildren should be taught that Alamo defenders were heroic!
On Aug. 17, ground was broken in San Antonio for the new Exhibition Hall, a key part of the $450 million Reimagining the Alamo project, after a protracted dispute between Lt. Gov. Patrick and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush (son of Jeb Bush and Senate candidate not endorsed by Donald Trump). The local Caller-Times noted, When the Reimagining the Alamo project first began to take shape about six years ago, Patrick denounced some of its proposed features as a cave-in to 21st century political correctness. Bush, whose mother was born in Mexico, suggested that critics of the project who objected to the attention paid to both Mexican soldiers and Tejano defenders under the reimagine plan were racist. Now it appears the two have come to an agreement as to what the reimagining will say about the Alamo. So well have to wait for the new official version of the story.
History doesnt really change, the authors tell us, but the way we view it does. Forget the Alamo isnt revisionist history as its critics are claiming. As historian Jeff Long puts it, To me, the earlier tales about the Alamo were the revisionism. What came later was the history, in a weird inversion.
Said another way, when the fact became legend, the legend was printed. Now, the legend is giving away to the facts. When the smoke clears from the wildcat fire this book has caused, well still remember the Alamo but in a much different way.
- Feehery: The honest contrarian | TheHill - The Hill - November 23rd, 2021
- First thoughts on the new President's Management Agenda - FCW.com - November 23rd, 2021
- Austin Preshko: Enforcing mandate with informants will encourage false reports against those who engage in 'wrong think' - Must Read Alaska - November 23rd, 2021
- Is the legacy of Monty Python being destroyed? - Far Out Magazine - November 23rd, 2021
- More Deferential but Also More Political: How Americans' Views of the Military Have Changed Over 20 Years - War on the Rocks - November 23rd, 2021
- Its American History: Its time to face the truth about what critical race theory actually means to the right - East Bay Express - November 23rd, 2021
- Thanksgiving is a holiday dedicated to gratitude and tolerance so the woke have their knives out for it - New York Post - November 23rd, 2021
- The Roustabouts Go for the Gut (Laugh) in 'For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls' - Times of San Diego - November 23rd, 2021
- 10 of the best new release Netflix series available coming in November - The Scotsman - November 23rd, 2021
- Book Spoilers, Sex Jokes and Other Letters to the Editor - The New York Times - November 19th, 2021
- Opinion | The Woke Student Is Just a Scapegoat - The New York Times - November 19th, 2021
- We need to get real about Islamist terrorism - Spiked - November 19th, 2021
- The thought police have arrived with 'trigger warning' alarm that goes off at every offensive remark - Telegraph.co.uk - November 19th, 2021
- 'The Sex Lives of College Girls' on HBO Max is a hilarious, sexy treat from Mindy Kaling - Mashable - November 19th, 2021
- An Archconservative Magazine Discovers Afrofuturism at the Met and Is Not Pleased - Hyperallergic - November 19th, 2021
- The Every by Dave Eggers review big tech is watching you - The Guardian - November 19th, 2021
- 10 of the best Netflix new release series available this November - The Scotsman - November 19th, 2021
- Chinese dissident warns Americans: Youre already in the authoritarian state...you just dont know it - Fox News - November 15th, 2021
- 'Legacy American' is the latest catchphrase in the racist lexicon | TheHill - The Hill - November 15th, 2021
- Too sensitive or too ignorant? The rise of political correctness in the US - Mesa Press - November 15th, 2021
- On Kashmir, Literature, and the Shroud of Political Correctness - The Quint - November 15th, 2021
- Despite laundry list of injuries, the Bucs should beat Washington 35-13 on Sunday - Creative Loafing Tampa - November 15th, 2021
- How will Eastern election results affect Utah? |Opinion - Deseret News - November 15th, 2021
- Andrew Sullivan on American political discourse and rescuing conservatism in 2021 - 60 Minutes - CBS News - November 15th, 2021
- AOC's 'Woke' Whine Is Why the Dems Can't Stop Losing - The Daily Beast - November 15th, 2021
- A Look At The Diversity Of Political Ideology In The United States : The NPR Politics Podcast - NPR - November 15th, 2021
- Letters to the Editor Many readers will miss Mallard Fillmore - The Dallas Morning News - November 15th, 2021
- GUEST VIEW: Dictatorial coaching should be in the past - Lockport Union-Sun & Journal - November 15th, 2021
- Making the effort to do what is right - The Jackson Sun - November 15th, 2021
- Cape Cod theater reviews: Romance, revelations and a different view of Thanksgiving - Cape Cod Times - November 15th, 2021
- Betsy DeVos to publish Hostages to the Cause, a book on misguided failures of US education system - Yahoo News - November 15th, 2021
- How on earth has Family Guy survived for 20 seasons in the supposed era of political correctness? - The Independent - November 3rd, 2021
- How on earth has Family Guy survived in the era of political correctness? - News Nation USA - November 3rd, 2021
- The Board of Ed Elephant in the Room and Other Passaic Elections Nuggets - InsiderNJ - November 3rd, 2021
- Deadlock at the pump | Opinion | wvnews.com - WV News - November 3rd, 2021
- Shared Loves and Strong Loyalties | R. R. Reno - First Things - November 3rd, 2021
- Larry Summers slams Democrats for failing to tax the wealthy - Salon - November 3rd, 2021
- How the Word 'Woke' Was Co-Opted And Weaponized - WDET - November 3rd, 2021
- The Head-Turning Gesture Donald And Melania Trump Made At The World Series - The List - November 3rd, 2021
- Lowell High, Alison Collins and the Sunset's rage against diversity - San Francisco Chronicle - November 3rd, 2021
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Respectful conversation easy to watch - Odessa American - October 24th, 2021
- Costumes, masks and things that go bump in the night - Cape Cod Times - October 24th, 2021
- Letter: McClaughry: Editor of The Tone Deaf Times - Brattleboro Reformer - October 24th, 2021
- Letters to the Editor, Oct. 22 - Marco News - October 24th, 2021
- Virginias Election Is Breaking the Rules - New York Magazine - October 19th, 2021
- Letters to the editor - Boston Herald - October 19th, 2021
- Ballot proposal would replace he with they in Grand Have n city charter - WOODTV.com - October 19th, 2021
- Dave Chappelle refuses to be cancelled | TheHill - The Hill - October 19th, 2021
- Keep Appreciation for Hispanic Heritage Alive With These Great Books - L.A. Weekly - October 19th, 2021
- History of the World Part 1 is Getting a Sequel - Book and Film Globe - October 19th, 2021
- AstonRep Theatre Presents GOD OF CARNAGE At The Edge Theater - Broadway World - October 19th, 2021
- Max Gillies talks satire, The Gillies Report and the future of political comedy - ABC News - October 19th, 2021
- 'The Office' Star John Krasinski Once Shared His Favorite Episode of All Time - And It's Pretty Controversial - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - October 19th, 2021
- Falling all the time Billy Connolly had to move out of New York as Parkinsons worsened - Express - October 19th, 2021
- Political correctness - POLITICO - October 15th, 2021
- Billy Connolly raged at politically correct mob who screwed it for everybody - Daily Express - October 15th, 2021
- PC Halloween: Here are the costumes parents agree no kid should wear while trick-or-treating - Study Finds - October 15th, 2021
- Science is the latest victim of cancel culture - Brunswick News - October 15th, 2021
- Sir Billy Connolly: I'd be cancelled by the woke brigade if I started out in comedy today - The Telegraph - October 15th, 2021
- Krull: Gruden is like other blowhards, lacking in common decency and courtesy - The Herald-Times - October 15th, 2021
- Peter Thiel bets on the far right: Tech tycoon spending millions to bankroll "Trump wing" of GOP - Salon - October 15th, 2021
- Lorraine fans delighted to see Billy Connolly looking so well as he plugs new book amid Parkinsons b... - The Sun - October 15th, 2021
- Letter to the Editor: Keep Seattle politics out of rural King County - Woodinville Northwest News - October 15th, 2021
- Back in the Day: This is my 500th Back in the Day column! - Fairfield Daily Republic - October 15th, 2021
- 'Cosplay Christianity': The sin is in the denial of the life God calls us to - Religion News Service - October 15th, 2021
- Diversification is the key to success - AV Magazine - October 15th, 2021
- Raila, Ruto must end political intolerance ahead of elections - The Standard - October 15th, 2021
- The Many Feints of The Sopranos - The American Prospect - October 15th, 2021
- Digimon Tamers Stage Play Accused Of Promoting Far Right ... - October 5th, 2021
- British Airways Accused of Political Correctness as it Abolishes Ladies and Gentleman From Onboard Announcements - Paddle Your Own Kanoo - October 5th, 2021
- America needs to get back to honesty, thinking about the group - EH Extra - October 5th, 2021
- Putin has hit us but will lose, says interior minister - The First News - October 5th, 2021
- Alejandro Zaera-Polo has been removed from his faculty position as Princeton continues its row with the former SoA dean - Archinect - October 5th, 2021
- Six Broadway Review: The Real Housewives of Henry VIII Put on a Show - Yahoo Entertainment - October 5th, 2021
- Jon Stewarts Back. Heres Why We Should Care. - POLITICO - October 5th, 2021
- The comedy in Olney's 'Thanksgiving Play' comes with a side of snark - DC Metro Theater Arts - October 5th, 2021
- Scottish theatre company apologises after backlash over 'cancel culture' and political correctness play - The Scotsman - September 29th, 2021
- 11 Examples Of Political Correctness Gone Mad - September 29th, 2021
- COMMENTARY: Woking the Boomer Cache Valley Daily - Cache Valley Daily - September 29th, 2021
- One of the crowd: Jimmy Kimmel's evolution from 'The Man Show' to another liberal late-night voice - Fox News - September 29th, 2021