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Madam Speaker, today is March the 2nd; and on March 2, 1836, my native State, Texas, declared independence from Mexico.
It all started back when Texas was a part of Mexico. Mexico revolted from the Spanish empire, won that revolution, and then Texas became a part of northern Mexico. And there was a constitutional republic in Mexico, it was the Constitution of 1824, drafted somewhat after the American Constitution. But things turned sour when a guy by the name of Santa Anna became dictator of Mexico, abolished the constitution, and eliminated civil rights. And people who lived in Texas, both white, brown and black, were offended by that, and so in 1835 revolution started in Texas, or northern Mexico. And on March 2, 1836, Texas declared independence from Mexico.
It was an interesting time of the year because, you see, on March the second, there were already 187 volunteers in a beat-up old Spanish church not far from where Texas independence was declared, that being Washington on the Brazos. In that beat-up old Spanish church, a mission, it was called the Alamo. And those 187 volunteers from every State in the Union, from 13 foreign countries, including Mexico, of all races stood defiant against Santa Anna's invading Army of about 6,000 that came in to quell the revolution.We all know what happened at the Battle of the Alamo. For 13 days those 187 volunteers withheld the onslaught, and finally on March 6, 4 days hence, the Alamo fell.
The Alamo was commanded by my favorite person in all of history, William Barrett Travis. He was a 27-year-old lawyer from South Carolina, then Alabama, and then came to Texas. And one of his last letters from the Alamo pleading for other Texans to come to his help and help Texas' independence was written on February 24, 1836. It goes like this, Madam Speaker:
"To the people of the world and all of Texas, I am besieged by a thousand or more of the enemy under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual bombardment and cannon fire for over 24 hours, but I have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded surrender at its discretion. Otherwise, the fort will be put to the sword. I have answered that demand with a cannon shot. And the flag still waves proudly over the wall.
"I shall never surrender or retreat. I call upon you, in the name of liberty and everything dear to our character, to come to my aid with all dispatch. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself for as long as possible and do what is necessary for my honor and my country. Victory or death.
"God and Texas, William Barrett Travis."
That was one of the last letters he wrote, and except for 32 men from the small town of Gonzales, no one came toTravis's aid, and the Alamo fell on March 6, 1836. All 187 Texans were killed and about 10 times that number from the Mexican army fell as well.
Texans started fleeing to the east to get away from the invading armies, and General Sam Houston was elected as the commander in chief to try to rally what Texans were left to do battle. And on April 21, 1836, where Buffalo Bayou meets the San Jacinto River in what is now Houston, Texas, they did battle with Santa Anna's invading army. It took place in the afternoon on April 21. Madam Speaker, we all know that battles take place in the morning, but yet this battle took place in the afternoon. The outnumbered Texans caught Santa Anna's army sleeping, and in 18 minutes it was complete victory and Texas won its independence. It became a republic. It claimed not only Texas but part of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming, all the way to the Canadian border. Texas remained an independent nation for 9 years. Then in 1845, it was allowed into the Union by one vote. Some wished the vote had gone the other way. But be that as it may, Texas was an independent republic for 9 years.
And on this day, March the 2nd, we from Texas celebrate the Republic of Texas and Texas' independence and that spirit that gave all Americans what we have today: a free and independent Nation. And we also honor the likes of William Barrett Travis, Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, Jim Bonham, and Jim Bowie.
And that's just the way it is.
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