By LARRY M. JONES
Many of you reading today’s paper will not remember that today is the anniversary of one of boldest steps ever taken by the people of Texas – declaring our independence from Mexico under the centralist military dictatorial rule of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
Texas enjoys one of the most colorful histories of any state in the union, and even more colorful, boisterous, and dominant than many nations in the world. Yet, despite the reputation and record of promoting a “Texas State of Mind,” we Texans seem to be losing our unique identity. When I was a child and student in public school, this anniversary was always well noted. In these early days it was even celebrated by holiday closures, parades, and speeches recognizing this monumental event. Perhaps Texas’ proud history, traditions, and values are becoming lost in the immigration surge flooding our once great republic. With large numbers of non-native Texans emigrating to the state, a new blend to the cultural melting pot emerges.
It’s ironic to consider, but the issue of immigration was one of the key factors in the early Texican’s grievances with Mexico. Initially, Texas was largely created by the influx of American families brought into the state to settle along the banks of the Brazos in what is currently Brazoria County. Stephen F. Austin, with an impresario grant obtained by his father, Moses Austin, brought the first 300 settlers to the Austin Colony in 1825. Here they set up a semblance of American constitutional law, and the colony prospered.
Soon after this, in 1827, Anglo settlers led by Empresario Haden Edwards in Nacogdoches declared independence from Mexico and established the Republic of Fredonia. Austin rallied a force of 250 militiamen and joined a small force of Mexican soldiers who marched on Fredonia and restored order. The leaders fled to the United States. This insurrection by the Anglos began to trouble Mexican authorities, and as early as 1830 the Mexican government attempted to stop further immigration from the United States. Austin was able to gain exemption, and continued to bring in more and more families to his colony.