Revolution Against the Mexican Republic

Categories: RevolutionThe Alamo

Nearly 182 years ago, a revolution arose from hundreds of American settlers and Texians, also known as Tejanos, against the Mexican Republic with the beginning of a single shot of a canon and a flag saying “Come and Take It”. In hope of change and independence from the strongly centralized government at the time, the Republic of Texas was going to be battling Santa Anna’s army which they fought against for less than a year across southern Texas. Today in the hill country of San Antonio, the remains of a former mission, named the Alamo, is where one of the battles that occurred still stands.

With the hundreds of lives lost that day, Davy Crocket was amongst those who fought to the death for the Texas Republic. Since then, various movies, stories, and articles have come into the hands and eyes of Americans all across the nation about Crocket. However, among each of the accounts there are various depictions of what occurred at the battle.

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Therefore, how exactly are historians siting what happened to Davy Crockett at the Alamo? Where are historians receiving their information for this debate from and does the side of who told the story matter? Articles such as “The Félix Nuñez Account and the Siege of the Alamo: A Critical Appraisal” by Stephen L. Hardin and “The Little Book That Wasn’t There: The Myth and Mystery of the de la Peña Diary” by James E. Crisp, share the accounts from various Mexicans and Texans that seem to be biased based on who they believe their enemy is, and that the actions of that day vary especially with the events that led to Davy Crockett’s death.

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When people first think of the Alamo, people tend to think of a symbolic forte that holds a lot of history of not only Texas, but of America as well. However, in the mid twentieth century this was not the case. Americans were convinced that Davy Crocket was the star of the Alamo not only for his bravery but for his sense of heroism which was mainly conveyed through Walt Disney, John Wayne, and other stories while opposing articles describe him as a “sly politician” (Crisp pg. 246). This is a reason as to why both articles open up with an introduction of his death rather than introducing the Alamo first. Even though the titles of the articles don’t specifically correlate with the topic of Crocket, the authors chose to highly discuss various accounts from both Texians and Mexicans on the subject because it shows the significance of the debate about his death and every other event leading up to the battle. This debate has been going on as early as a few days after his death in which stories had already circulated according to Stephen L. Hardin in his article “The Félix Nuñez Account and the Siege of the Alamo: A Critical Appraisal” if Crockett either died from fighting or if he was executed by Santa Anna. James E. Crisp also states in his article “The Little Book That Wasn’t There: The Myth and Mystery of the de la Peña Diary” that the majority of the debate comes later as people thought of Crocket as a “commercial and cultural sensation” (pg.244) whose “heroic image” (pg. 244) would be destroyed.

That is to say, from what text are historians gaining knowledge over his death? James E. Crisp received his information from the diary of a man named Jose Enrique de la Pena which in 1955 was revised by Jesus Sanchez Garza. On the other hand, Stephen L. Hardin gained his knowledge of the topic from an interview of a man named Felix Nunez in 1889. Additionally, both of the sources are from men who served in Santa Anna’s army. De la Pena happened to be a Lieutenant Colonel whereas Felix Nunez was a Sergeant. Although both of the authors of the two articles gathered their main information from one particular source, they both included outside sources to gain a better understanding of the events and to expand on the debate of Davy Crockett. For instance, a letter from Texian E. Bowker, book called Texas by Mary Austin Holley, and even a latter version of De La Pena’s diary was included in Hardin’s article. His intentions of these sources was to emphasize the fact that many ideas of Crockets death were limitless. (Hardin pg. 66)

Meanwhile, Crisp article included different versions of De La Pena’s diary where many of those authors who revised it challenged what De La Pena witnessed at the Alamo. These revised versions included books such as A Time to Stand, How Did Davy Die, and Defense of a Legend: Crockett and the de la Pena. Unfortunately, his diary was not translated to English until 1975 by a woman named Carmen Perry which meant that until this time, all debates of Davy Crockets death were in Spanish. Without a doubt, the translation of De La Pena’s diary opened up the debate to more historians as they could now understand the situation, which both authors of the two articles mention. However, it was not until 139 years after the battle occurred when there was translation, so what happened between this time?

In spite of the language barrier, it seems as if the story of Crockets death changes frequently. That is to say, that since 1836 the majority of accounts where from Mexican soldiers and very few from the Texan/Anglo American side which can make the story be biased. Could it be possible that based on who fought on what side of the revolution determined their account? Crisp’s article states that “It was the loss of the rich and beautiful province of Texas through the incompetence of men who later attempted to evade their culpability that motivated de la Pena to make public what he had seen of the disastrous campaign.” (pg. 263) He continued to say that when the revised version of the diary by Sanchez was released, Sanchez decided to leave out Crockets death because “It was de la Pena’s ultimately tragic fate at the hands of his enemies, not Crockett’s fate…” (pg. 263). Furthermore, Hardin added that Sanchez was not even concerned with Crockets legend. What is meant by this is that De la Pena decided to write about Crockets death more or less for revenge of losing to Texas, but Jesus Gonzalez Sanchez did not want to promote his choice of this in fear of his life from opposing views, so he did not publish the account.

Another point of view is from a man named Bill Groneman in Crisp article who makes a statement saying that “there was a fear of being branded a “racist” … if you did not believe the de la Pena account” (pg. 265) Even though Groneman was rooting for the legendary Crockett, he made a point in which Mexicans would believe the diary only because of what side of the conflict they stood making it biased. However, from the very few accounts of Texans, some were not afraid to admit to their thoughts of “Mexican savagery” (Hardin pg.66) and shared the execution such as the previously mentioned author Mary Holley. Hardin states that in Holley’s book Texas “Crockett was one of seven defenders found alive after active combat had ended. These seven “cried for quarters” and “continued fighting until all were butchered” On the other hand, in the letter from the Texan E. Bowke from Hardin’s article, Crockett went from being the last of 20 men who fought till their deaths. In terms, Bowke decide to advocate Mexico as having an extremely brutal army that assumingly turned Crockett into the hero of what people later on thought of.

With the understanding of where historians are getting their information from and how biased many stories have been, the accuracy of various accounts are still questionable. While many diary’s, books, and articles have their own understanding along with supporting sides, not every account can be correct. The articles from both authors Hardin and Crisp, seem to even question if Felix Nunez or De la Pena are correct as well. In fact, for a few pages of Crisps article, he mentions how the author Groneman claims the diary “was not a diary at all, but simply a story written year after the Texas campaign” (Crisp pg.266) because of a footnote that entailed a document that was dated after the diary was released. Groneman continues to even consider the English translation of the diary was a fraud as well. Nevertheless, Crisp replies to his statement with a reasonable theory of De La Pena “continuing to work on a revision of his original” (Crisp pg. 266).

As for the Felix Nunez account, Hardin seemed to use the same technique to back up his perspective. First, he introduces another idea from the same man from the De la Pena diary, Bill Groneman, who “concoct the possibility that the Mexicans incorrectly identified one of the [executed] Texans as Crocket” (Hardin pg.67) Hardin then listed several names of people who witnessed the account saying that it was indeed Crockett, but not very long from then another debate arose with the question if Nunez was even there at the death of Crockett. The response of Hardin was that of another man name Chariton who states “he still could have gotten correct information from an actual participant… but it does not automatically follow that what he said can be totally ignored” (Hardin pg. 68). With both articles, there are obviously debates on people own perspectives of how Crockett died, but the debates are mainly coming from viewpoints of those who want Crockett to die a worthy death instead of being executed just as he does in the movies.

Nevertheless, Hardin’s article “The Felix Nunez Account and the Siege of the Alamo: A Critical Appraisal” and Crisp article “The Little Book That Wasn’t There: The Myth and Mystery of the de la Pena Diary” have both presented their ideas clearly along with their own perspectives. Even so, as the debates continue till this day, there is a key point that I believe has been overlooked. It is the idea of people debating for their childhood memories rather than debating for the historical truth. Of course, all I could think of about Davy Crockett beforehand was that of everyone else’s, his heroic image as he died fighting, but I would never think it would be debated in such a manner that my own view point has changed. Indeed, the articles include some reasoning behind those debates, but there was no mention of where movies such as Disney or John Wayne received their information from. Regardless of where these companies received their facts, it is clear that historians received theirs from various witnesses and story tellers of both Mexicans and Texans.

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Revolution Against the Mexican Republic. (2021, Dec 28). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/revolution-against-the-mexican-republic-essay

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