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Texas has a long and powerful history of being a rebellious state. The rebellious nature traces all the way back to the founding of Texas. Texas first started out as a colony of Mexico that was settled by Americans looking for new opportunities. Much like England and America, Texas and Mexico didn’t get along. Through their colonization laws and the Provincias Internas, Mexico pushed Texas to rebel through the Alamo.
While Texas today is a part of the United States of America, it began as a state of Mexico.
Mexico was a colony of Spain for a long time, but wanted independence, thus launching the Mexican War of Independence. The War lasted eleven years and was successful in granting Mexico its independence. Then in 1823, the Monroe Doctrine was enforced. European powers, like France and England, began to exit Latin America and the United States, leaving behind their territories and colonies.
Mexico soon discovered itself with very little land for their population of 3 million citizens and began to worry how the country could grow with the United States above them.
America had taken the idea of Manifest Destiny, the belief that God had given Americans the right and duty to expand West, to heart. They had gathered a lot of abandoned land after the European powers left, and slowly were making their way towards Mexico. Mexico, still a new nation, lacked a central governing power but had a plethora of financial problems that had resulted from their battle for independence. America was well aware of this fact, and began creeping even closer to the Mexican border.
They viewed Mexico’s claim of Texas as an obstacle of their expansion. Mexico, eager to divert America away, then struck a deal with Moses Austin of Missouri, allowing 300 American families to come into Mexico and settle in the Brazos River colony along their northern border.
The new families eagerly agreed to leave the States for Mexico. Texas offered a lot of cheap land, and land was a determining factor in how much power you had back in the nineteenth century. The settlers became known as Anglo Texians. Mexico was grateful to these settlers because not only did they protect Mexico from the encroaching United States, but also the Native Americans, who were being pushed out of their land by the Americans. However, there were a few issues with the new settlers that resulted in Mexico losing a large chunk of its territory.
The Mexican government was still very weak in the 1830s despite it being a decade since the Mexican War for Independence. They had a lot of damage control to do throughout the country, like fixing the economy and handling the debt. This allowed the new settlers to have a lot of freedom to do what they pleased. They were allowed to import whatever they needed from the States without being checked in customs. The government just asked of the Anglo Texians to have all business be conducted in Spanish, become Catholic, be honest, and to focus on agriculture and livestock lifestyles.
However, the settlers ignored these conditions, resulting in the Mexican government had to implement strict rules. The Mexican government then turned their requests into laws. There were three of these Colonization Laws, which outlined what the settlers had to conform to once they settled in Texas. The first was the Imperial Colonization Law, which was passed by Mexico’s Emperor Agustin de Iturbide and covered land measurements and the roles of immigrants and impresarios. Empresarios, or agents, were placed in charge of recruiting new settlers. The land was divided into labores (177 acres), leagues (4,428 acres), and haciendas (five leagues), and the amount of land each family received was based on what the family’s occupation was. Immigrants were tax-free for six years and would become Mexican citizens after three years of living in Texas. Immigrants could also have their own local governments. Empresarios received first pick of the land for recruiting 200 families to relocate to Texas. It also invited Catholic immigrants to come and settle in Texas. Domestic slave trading was outlawed and stated children of slaves were free after age fourteen. The Imperial Colonization Law was designed to draw people to settle in Texas.
The Imperial Colonization Law was soon replaced by the National Colonization law, in which Mexico changed their government to a federal system as opposed to the empire ways of the past. This law reversed some of what the Imperial Colonization Law had promised, like the illusion that settlers could not settle anywhere and settlers could not obtain more than eleven leagues of land. However, it still allowed the rest of the promises that the previous law had allowed. What was the main difference between the two laws was that the states could no longer decide the number of immigrants they allowed in or the regulations those settlers faced; Mexican Congress decided those things. All of the state authorities were forced to comply with these new rules.
The last of the Colonization Laws was the State Colonization Law. This law explained that the states would accept and obey all the regulations the federal government passed regarding immigration. Families that settled in Texas were immediately made Mexican citizens and didn’t have to pay taxes for ten years, yet had to pay off their land after six years of settling and had to pay for land commissioners. They would also face taxes if they supported rebels and their antics. Empresarios also faced restrictions. They were limited to settling land-based on geography and had six years to settle their two hundred families. Yet, impresarios received five leagues of land for every hundred families they settled after their initial two hundred families.
Not everyone agreed with these colonization laws that welcomed new immigrants to Mexico. Lucas Alaman y Escalada was the Mexican minister of foreign relations and saw the recent floods of Americans into Mexico as a threat to the country. He proposed the Law of April 6, 1830. In the law, impresarios lost their contracts, a loan was made necessary to pay for the transportation of new colonists into Mexico, slaves were barred from the country, and the immigration of new settlers not allowed. Mexicans viewed all of these claims as reasonable and fully heartedly agreed with the law. Texans disapproved of the law, yet it still passed. Today, the Law of April 6 is seen as one of the causes of the Texas Revolution.
The other way that the Mexican government hoped to limit the colonists rights, and thus urge them to revolt, was through the Provincias Internas. The Provincias Internas was created in 1776 and lasted until 1823, yet its effects still led to the Alamo and Texas Independence. Jose de Galvez created the project to help New Spain gain independence from its mother country and to protect the new territory from Europeans and Native Americans. Galvez believed the main way to protect New Spain was to beef up its border security. The way that the project leaders believed that would best discourage invasion was by settling immigrants from America along the poorly-protected borders.
The Provincias Internas promised peace and security from the curious parties. The creators developed the idea during the time of the American Revolution, and were inspired by the rebelling Americans. When America, the country became a force to be reckoned with. The developers of the Provincias Internas knew that ever the thought of dealing with the new nation would detour many away from their struggling and budding country, thus began advertising for settlers to come and settle in Texas. The peace that the settlers would bring would allow the Mexican government to focus on their own problems, and in turn create a safer place to attract more settlers, creating this spiral effect. The increase of settlers would also lower military costs, which was a bonus to the nearly-bankrupt Mexico. The Native Americans that were being displaced by the Americans and Europeans in the west portion of America diverted their focus from Mexico in hopes of avoiding further problems with the States.
The two main families that were in charge of implementing the Provincias Internas were the Galvez and the Croix families. The two created a small dynasty in Mexico, and controlled a bit of power between the two of them. Jose de Galvez founded the Provincias Internas after coming back from Spain, where he worked for King Charles III. He used his power to divert the Bourbon reforms, economic and political reform attempts directed to the Spanish monarchy, that were attacking the Spanish Empire to Texas. These reforms allowed the Provincias Internas to happen and were one of the factors that played a role in the Mexicans declaring their independence from Spain. Galvez’s nephew, Bernardo de Galvez, became the viceroy of New Spain in 1785, and his openness with America helped keep the Provincias Internas in effect. Teodoro de Croix was Jose de Galvez’s right-hand man and was appointed commandant general of the Provincias Internas following Galvez’s passing. Croix and Bernardo de Galvez worked together to run the previous Galvez’s program. Croix also increased New Spain’s military on the northern border of their territory, keeping unwanted parties out, protecting the country, and encouraging new settlers to come to Mexico.
The Provincias Internas encouraged settlers to come to Texas. Since Texas was the most northern colony in New Spain and allowed straight-line access to Mexico, the increase in settlers protected all of New Spain. Even though the project was cancelled in 1823, it still had lasting effects on the country. The fading away of the Provincias Internas was replaced by Moses Austin’s promise to bring families from Missouri to Texas in 1820.
The Anglo Texian settlers gladly followed Austin to Texas and agreed to the rules of the Mexicans. However, the implementation of the colonization laws began to make the first 300 families second guess their decisions to relocate to New Spain. For one thing, the Imperial Colonization Law declared all settlers would become Catholic, but the National Colonization Law reverted that rule to simply converting to Christianity. While this was an improvement to the previous law and was a close to the freedom of religion the settlers would get until after the Alamo, it reminded the new citizens of Mexico of the freedoms they had given up when they moved out of America. Another issue the Anglo Texians had with the colonization laws was the forbidding of slavery by the Imperial Colonization Law. In Missouri, where the settlers had originated, slavery was legal. The Texans could only keep the slaves that they had brought with them to Texas. The settlers had had visions of planting cotton in their new home, but the banning of slavery, as well as the limit to how much land one person could own, squashed these dreams. Moreover, the Anglo Texians were denied the right to have representation in government, echoing the “no taxation without representation” plea that rang during the American Revolution.
The Provincias Internas didn’t really cause the settlers much worry. They allowed the settlers to come and settle Texas for cheap land. All of the proposals that were pitched to increase stricter rules in the plan fell through, so the colonists knew they didn’t have anything to worry about. The Natives had backed off, and that allowed the Anglo Texians to focus their attention on righting the colonization laws.
The colonists were unhappy with the regulations brought about by the colonization laws and attempted to go the legal way to correct these wrongs. However, nothing happened. This led to the rising of some key figures that are still relevant in today’s history textbooks. The first is Stephen F. Austin. Moses Austin was Stephen’s dad; unfortunately, Moses died two months before the families traveled out to Texas. Stephen instead took over his dad’s plans and took the families to Texas as planned. Stephen settled the first American colony in Texas and led and watched it grow into a completely independent nation. Stephen worked with James Bowie and William Barret Travis to combat the poor treatment the Anglo Texians were facing. James Bowie ended up as one of the commanders of the Texan army in the Texas Revolution, leading his troops to victory at a few battles before dying himself in the Alamo. William B. Travis was a fellow commander and fought with Bowie at the Alamo.
Travis entered Texas after the Law of April 6, 1830, so was declared an illegal immigrant. Travis, like Bowie, was a successful commander and also met his end at the Alamo. Another key figure that rose among the Texas Revolution was Davy Crockett, who originally came to Texas to merely explore and settle it, not take up arms to defend it. Crockett was in Travis’s legion and followed Travis religiously (mainly because Travis had defied the orders of his commanding officer–Sam Houston, a Jackson supporter–and Crockett did not like Andrew Jackson). This faithfulness led to Crockett meeting his end at the Alamo as well. The final key figure that came out of the Texas Revolution was General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Santa Anna was a decorated army commander, five-time president of Mexico, and even led his country’s troops in the Texas Revolution. He led Mexico in the victory in the Alamo, but also led them to their defeat in the Battle of San Jacinto.
The combination of the colonization laws and the Provincias Internas nudged the Anglo Texians to revolt against their Mexican overlords. Their grandparents had already faced tyranny, a lack of representation in government, and unfair laws in fighting for independence, and they did not want to endure nor would put up with the lack of equality in Mexico. And much like in the American Revolution, the battles went towards the mother country before the tide was turned in favor of the new land. The Texans did lose the Alamo, but it gave them the confidence and moral boost to continue fighting for their independence.
All of the rebellions and battles that the Texans conducted weakened the Mexican defenses. The Mexicans also won a lot of the early battles, causing them to become lazy with their attacks and make it appear that they would win the revolution easily. All of the rebellious attitudes the colonists had also angered the Mexicans because, in their eyes, they weren’t asking for a lot from the settlers, and had provided them with fair and just laws to abide. The Mexican government was insulted that the Anglo Texians saw them the same way the British and Spanish were seen. By contrast, the laws benefited Mexico in providing their new country with some regulations and outlines. They provided some outlines for the nation to follow as they rebuilt their economy, infrastructure, and population.
The Alamo, one of the most famous battles in the Texas Revolution, portrayed a false image to the Mexican forces. The Mexicans believed since they had drove the Texans away in defeat from the base, it would diminish the opposing side’s morale. Instead, the defeat did the opposite. Just as all of the smaller battles had, the Alamo became a symbol of resistance for the Texans and boosted their morale to keep fighting. This extra boost turned the tide in the favor of the Texans, leading to the defeat of the Mexicans’ hold on Texas. At the end of the Revolution, the Texans took the Alamo back over, ensuring the Texans’ independence and the embarrassment of the Mexicans. The Alamo, which started out as a gruesome victory for Mexico, ended as a humiliating defeat.
After the Alamo, the Texans and Mexicans didn’t have the best relationship. For one thing, the two sides were still locked in battle over whether or not Texas would gain their independence. The Mexicans had the upper hand, but the Texans were fighting back fiercely. After the Texas Revolution, things were still slightly heated between the two nations, much like running into an ex at the store. Texas was proud of it’s accomplishment but resented Mexico for the lives lost and what they had to endure. Mexico resented Texas for breaking away and making the nation seem weak and vulnerable.
Following the Alamo and the Texas Revolution, the United States came into play, flexing its power and influence. Texas, with its newly gained independence, hoped to be welcomed into America as a new state. The United States was wary in making this decision because questions about slavery and whether or not the action would lead to war with Mexico had been raised. Mexico saw America as a threat because America was all that they wanted to be: independent, powerful, sound economically, and a global power. The United States was cautious of their southern neighbor because war would further divide the nation, cause more debt, and spend more lives. The States were aware Mexico would take personal offence if they welcomed Texas, but the temptation of more land and expand the country’s territory was too tempting.
The colonization laws and Provincias Internas began as Mexico’s innocent way of keeping their new citizens in line, but ended up backfiring on them and costing them lives and land. However, through the Alamo, a new state and key historical figures rose from the rubble, as well as providing Mexico with new experience to better govern their country.
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