What’s the Big Deal at the Border?
Over the last year and a half, I studied the causes of the Texas Revolution to engage the Left’s attack on the heroes of the Alamo. My search was exhausting and took me to many places so that I could see for myself why the “First Texans” (anyone in Texas prior to the Battle of San Jacinto) chose war over peace. What did I find out?
First, unlike the American Civil War, slavery played no part in the Texas Revolution as the Left would have us believe. April 21, 1836 (San Jacinto Day) serves as a clear demarcation in Texas history. Prior to that date, slavery was not legal in Texas. Indentured servitude was legal under Mexican law. Many First Texans were in North America because they or their family ancestors came to America as indentured servants. It has to be noted that after Santa Anna’s defeat, slavery did immediately become a factor in the settlement of Texas: but not before.
Second, people make a fundamental error when examining the “Constitution of 1824.” The error they make is reading the document in the light of the United States Constitution of 1787. The Mexican constitution was not that kind of instrument. Mexico received independence from Spain in 1821 and was a new country itself. The Constitution of 1824 awarded Mexican states levels of autonomy based on their distance from Mexico City. A state far from the capital enjoyed more autonomy than those closer. Tejas was a state in Mexico, but it was under the state government of Coahuila due to its sparse population. The 1824 document did not address slavery because slavery was illegal in Mexico. Similarly, there is nothing in the US Constitution that prohibits murder because murder is illegal in all states. Leftist commentators make the logical, but false, assumption that because slavery was not mentioned in the 1824 text, the document was pro-slavery.
Third, Mexico was in a state of civil war. There were five states in rebellion – not just Texas. The primary cause of the Mexican Civil War was states’ and property rights. Santa Anna was initially on the side of the people and fought for local autonomy, but he switched sides when he saw the Church and the Army had power ($$) over the people. He was an opportunist of the highest order. What would you do if the national government voided your land titles that had been previously granted by your state?
Fourth, Texas did not declare independence from Mexico until the Alamo was under siege. Texans hoped to remain under Mexican control until the siege. Their problem was that the state was under the control of another state. That was why Stephen F. Austin walked to Mexico City. He tried to negotiate that sticking point with the federal government, but he was thrown in a dungeon for his efforts.
Finally, the overarching cause of the Texas Revolution was actually quite simple. The Mexican Government was corrupt. This was a holdover from Spanish colonialism. Spain administered its colonies very different from the way Britain did. President Andrew Jackson was in negotiations to purchase the American southwest from Mexico. The Mexicans strung him along. The snag was the Mexican negotiators wanted to know what was in it for them and other Mexican officials personally. Jackson would not play that game. Mexican officials were corrupt at every opportunity. One Texas sea captain (Andrew Briscoe) got fed up with paying bribes at every port and loaded his ship with worthless ballast stones as an answer to bribery demands. He was charged with “insolence.” His attorney, William Barret Travis, was charged with being an “ungrateful and bad citizen.” American born settlers who could read and write believed they could govern themselves honestly without Mexican corruption. That was the real cause of the Revolution. As Travis said when judicial bribes had to be paid to get Austin out of the dungeon, “A corrupt government is worse than no government at all.”
Today, one can go to the Rio Grande and look south. As one looks south all the way to Antarctica, Spanish colonialism and its offspring, governmental corruption, can be seen choking its citizens. Mexico and the countries south of it have the same natural resources as America does. They have the basic requirements for prosperity. Rather than rise up and fight for honest government, the people go North and enter America illegally. If you want to see what caused the Texas Revolution, all you have to do is look at our southern border. The difference is that the First Texans didn’t run away.