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Opinions & Editorials Volver a "Opinions & Editorials"

Op-Ed: Tejano Patriots at the Battle of the Alamo

By Lino García, Jr. | 07 de marzo de 2012

March 6 marked the 176th anniversary of Texas Independence, however it should be considered the 199th anniversary as facts tell us the first major skirmish leading to Texas Independence occurred at the Battle of Medina on April 6, 1813. The individual who spearheaded this movement was Col. Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara y Uribe, a Tejano, who first responded to Padre Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla’s September 16, 1810 “El Grito”. It resonated throughout the Texas of that time which was also part of the Spanish Empire, so much that the “Cabildo de San Antonio de Béxar,” made up of Tejanos, issued a proclamation supporting Padre Hidalgo’s call for liberty.

La Prensa de San Antonio.- March 6 marked the 176th anniversary of Texas Independence, however it should be considered the 199th anniversary as facts tell us the first major skirmish leading to Texas Independence occurred at the Battle of Medina on April 6, 1813. The individual who spearheaded this movement was Col. Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara y Uribe, a Tejano, who first responded to Padre Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla’s September 16, 1810 “El Grito”. It resonated throughout the Texas of that time which was also part of the Spanish Empire, so much that the “Cabildo de San Antonio de Béxar,” made up of Tejanos, issued a proclamation supporting Padre Hidalgo’s call for liberty.

By Lino García, Jr., Lgarcia@UTPA.Edu

Tejanos were the first to initiate the framework and ideals that later on lead to the Battle of the Alamo of 1836, when the newcomers to Texas simply took up the struggle first started at the Battle of Medina on April 6, 1813. At this, the greatest battle fought on Texas soil, close to one thousand Tejanos and other volunteers perished in their quest for freedom culminating in 1836.

De Lara y Uribe became the first President of the Republic of Texas. He wrote and signed the first Texas Declaration of Independence on April 6, 1813 and a week later signed the Texas Constitution, patterned after the U.S. Constitution, declaring Texas an independent state. By then, Tejanos had already done much of the heavy lifting, sacrificing and dying by the time Sam Houston and other Texian patriots crossed over the Sabine River. So that essentially, the newcomers came into the struggle and took over a work in progress. However, up until a few years ago, this part of pre-1836 Texas History had been completely obscured from the pages of Texas history. Thus, we must all recognize that pre-1836 Texas History is a seamless part of the history of our state. Furthermore, the more all of us know about the Tejanos’ role, the more the general public will see and understand that the Spanish/Mexican roots in this state run deep, covering many centuries of active participation in the building of Texas.

The siege of the Alamo lasted only 13 crucial days ending on March 6, 1836, while a convention, Washington on the Brazos, was being held declaring Texas Independence and writing a constitution, thus initiating the beginning of the second Declaration of Independence, the second Republic of Texas, and the second Texas Constitution. However, these actions did not save the men at the Alamo. These brave defenders hailed from many parts of the world, representing a multi-ethnic force, all gathered there for the common cause of freedom. Very few of the men were native Texans.

Accounts differ regarding the number of individuals at the Alamo in 1836. In all it is said 189 died at the Alamo. Six defenders were known to have survived, among them Brígido Guerrero, who received a pension later on as a result of being a defender. Be that as it may, of the 189 or so individuals who perished at this battle, as many as eighty of them were documented residents of Texas, and of this only eight were actually born in Texas, and they were all Tejanos: Juan Abamillo, Juan A. Badillo, Carlos Espalier, Gregorio Esparza, Antonio Fuentes, Damacio Jiménez, José Toribio Losoya and Andrés Nava, all heroes of the Battle of the Alamo of 1836, who perished alongside David Crockett, William Travis and others.

During the beginning of the 20th century, a revisionist approach toward depicting the Battle of the Alamo began portraying a different scenario, elevating certain individuals to an almost super human status and almost completely erasing the valuable and significant role the Tejanos played during this period in Texas history. However, during the 21st century the Tejano Story will be told!

Brownsville native Dr. Lino García,Jr., is an 8th. Generation Tejano and a direct descendant of Don José Matías Longoria Chapa of porciones 93 to 95 (1767) on Texas soil, nine years before the American Revolution of 1776. He holds the chair of Professor Emeritus of Spanish Literature at UTPA-Edinburg.

 

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