By LARRY M. JONES
Despite what I perceived as little or no fanfare to note the occasion, Saturday marked the 177th anniversary of Texas’ Declaration of Independence.
I’m sure that most of you native Texicans, like me, were hosting parties, grilling hot dogs or burgers, and partaking of your favorite cold drinks to celebrate this hallowed day for our great state of Texas. No?
On March 1, 1836, almost 50 delegates representing the colonists and settlers of Texas met in the town of Washington-on-the-Brazos to declare independence from what they felt was a brutal and repressive Mexican regime. Convention President Richard Ellis appointed a committee comprised of George C. Childress, Edward Conrad, James Gaines, Bailey Hardeman and Collin McKinney to draft the resolution declaring Texas as an independent republic. With amazing speed, these men drafted this historic document, literally overnight. It was resoundingly approved the following day, March 2, 1836, by the delegates of the convention.
It is interesting and appropriate to note that every one of these five men had a county and/or a county seat named in his honor, with the exception of Edward Conrad. I can’t imagine why he was so conspicuously left out. I did read in the Handbook of Texas Online that he was single, served as a lieutenant in the Texas infantry and died in Victoria a couple of months after Texas gained her independence. Must have gotten caught raiding someone else’s hen house.
Not unlike the signers of the American Declaration of Independence, these Texas delegates took a fearsome risk by signing such a document. At the time, Texas had no standing army, and the only thing standing between the colonists and a large relatively well equipped Mexican army was a rag-tag group of settlers and frontiersmen loosely assembled, ill provisioned, and even more poorly trained.
On March 6, just a few days after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, General Antonio López de Santa Anna with a force of more than 2,000 soldiers brutally killed the 189 defenders of the Alamo led by Col. William B. Travis. Later, on March 27, Col. James W. Fannin and 342 prisoners were deliberately executed by Santa Anna at the Goliad Massacre. Despite seemingly overwhelming odds, these early Texicans under the overall leadership of Gen. Sam Houston prevailed over the superior forces of Gen. Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.
Subsequent to Gen. Houston’s brilliant victory at San Jacinto, acting President of Texas, David G. Burnet, and Gen. Santa Anna signed the Treaty of Velasco following Santa Anna’s capture the next day. Thus marked the beginning of the fledgling Republic of Texas, which prevailed as a sovereign nation for almost 10 years when it became the 28th state in December 1845.
Texas endured a turbulent beginning and generations of struggle to civilize this vast expanse of frontier wilderness. Because of these trials, we Texans are uniquely blessed with a rich tradition and well-earned pride. We share a legacy bought with sacrifice and duty above self by Texans throughout history. According to what I read, the flag of the Lone Star State is entitled to fly at the same height as the United States flag, so perhaps we need to start celebrating March 2nd with the same intensity as the Fourth of July.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.