Texas History Sam Houston Term Paper

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Texas History "Sam Houston"

Was the "Texas Revolution" a legitimate response to the tensions between residents of Texas and the government of Mexico? Please make an analysis of Sam Houston's role in the independence movement the focus of your response.

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The Texas Revolution was a revolution waged by a largely American population that desired independence and a more representative form of governance. It was waged against an oppressive dictatorial regime -- to support slavery. It was lead by a man who had once wed a Native American woman, Sam Houston, in the name of the right to hold men and women of a different race in bondage. Historians have long asked the question: was the Texas Revolution a war of independence, or an act of piracy by the increasingly expansionist United States? Although it is very likely true that the U.S. government did not calculatedly inject new settlers into Texas territory to gain new land, it is also true that the Anglo-American settlers 'knew what they were getting into' when they accepted the terms of the Mexican government, in exchange for land. They agreed to become Roman Catholics, learn Spanish, and to abide by the terms of the Mexican government. Because of internal turmoil within Mexico and the relative remoteness of the capital, Mexico was lax in enforcing these laws at first. The Texan settlers became used to their old ways of life, and when Mexico reasserted its control, its restrictions, often oppressive and contrary to the laws of the Untied States, felt like unjustified tyranny, even if the settlers had agreed to these demands at first. Thus, the rebellion was not justified, even if it may have been inevitable and to some extent, understandable.

Term Paper on Texas History Sam Houston Assignment

One must hasten to add that the most extreme, polarized views of the revolution on either side of the debate cannot be justified. The Texas Revolution was not an attempt to destroy the Mexican nation by the U.S. nationalists. But the settlers' complaints about the nature of Mexican justice were not entirely in error. Perhaps the most accurate view of the revolution is perhaps that it was a product of a perfect storm of historical circumstances, of U.S. land policies, racism, and opportunity. It was the policy of the American government regarding the sale of unoccupied land within its borders to that motivated many Americans to migrate to Mexican Texas. As a result of a financial crisis, the money supply of the United States had tightened, particularly after 1819. The U.S. government began to sell land on a cash-only basis. Lacking ready cash or an available line of credit, many poorer Americans desiring to move to the West took advantage of Mexico's offer of free land. In exchange, they agreed to the terms of the Mexican Republic ("Causes of the Texas Revolution," History: University of Austin, 2008).

These terms included adopting Roman Catholicism and learning Spanish. The settlers, eager for land, agreed to these terms without question. Also, they agreed to abide by the laws of Mexico. However, Mexico was a republic in name only. It did not respect constitutional principles of government like the United States. In its system of justice, the accused were guilty until proven innocent. It followed the Napoleonic Code's inquisitorial procedures in its justice system as well. It was governed by a dictatorial leader with little input from the populace ("Causes of the Texas Revolution," History: University of Austin, 2008).

All of these aspects of living under Mexican law might have deterred more settlers from accepting land, were it not for the fact that unrest within the Mexican government caused Texas to be governed in a laissez-faire manner, as did Texas' isolation as a territory from the center of Mexican executive control. Settlers agreed to the resolutions, then ignored them when they realized how lax the process of enforcement was on the part of the Mexican government. The knowledge of this 'hands off' policy in deed, if not in name, caused even more Anglo settlers to flock to Texas in search of cheap land, with no intention of becoming loyal Mexican citizens. The resistance to obeying Mexican law was fueled by the ethnic, religious, and racial tensions of the area, between native Mexicans and the growing influx of Anglos. Now, there were two Mexicos, the Mexico of the gringos and the Mexico of the natives. Thus, combined with the racism of both peoples, the 'gringo' discomfort in using the national language of Spanish, and the difficulty of the largely Southern population of immigrants to adopt Roman Catholicism, conflict and resistance was virtually inevitable.

To look at the seeds of the conflict between Texas and Mexico that gave rise to revolution, one could say that the settlers entered into a contract with Mexico, and agreed to terms that most of them had no intention of obeying, while Mexico did not, at least not at first, make much of an effort to make sure that the settlers upheld their part of the bargain. Thus if one must take a 'side' on the debate, the revolution was not justified under the terms of the agreement, although Mexico may have been naive to think that it could avoid a culture clash in a state that was rapidly becoming more American than Mexican in its culture, that it had failed to govern with a strong hand for most of its early history.

Thus, during the beginning of the 19th century, Texas had a peculiar status within Mexico as it was largely populated by Anglos who saw themselves more as Americans or Texans than Mexicans. Their Mexican identity, Roman Catholicism, and language existed on paper alone. Gradually, as it resolved its internal conflicts, the Mexican government began to try to assert more control over the remote territory. It met, rather unsurprisingly, with resistance. To stem the wave of immigration Mexico outlawed the importation of new slaves and threatened to ban slavery completely if settlers did not comply with its directives, as most of the settlers were slave-holders. Then, eventually, Mexico tried to set aside Texas' constitution (which was very similar to the United States' constitution) and assume power, which gave rise to the revolution ("Causes of the Texas Revolution," History: University of Austin, 2008).

One of the provisions of the first fully independent constitution constructed during the Texas Revolution was the protection of slavery. This demonstrates how on one hand, Mexico could be viewed as anti-democratic because of its assumption of dictatorial control, on the other hand, some of the issues the Texans were fighting for, like the preservation of slavery, which had been outlawed in Mexico, were themselves against the principles of what today we would call common notions of human rights and human decency. Later, 'free states' fear of incorporating a new slave state into the Union was one of the reasons that Texan statehood took so long.

Both sides engaged in brutal actions during the Texas Revolution. The Mexican forces stormed the few soldiers in the Alamo, and executed all its prisoners at what came to be known as the Goliad massacre, yet the Texan forces, lead by Sam Houston, also tried to starve the Mexican Army into submission. Santa Anna, the Mexican leader, had superior forces, but had little food on hand to support his army. Also, his army was unused to the colder climate and conditions of some of the areas of Texas which they were forced to inhabit over the course of their failed invasion and attempt to curtail the forces of the revolution (Nostro, 2008).

To tell the story of the birth of Texas, and its impact upon the region of the American Southwest, historian Randolph B. Campbell in his text Sam Houston and the American Southwest selects the persona of one of its most dominant politicians, that of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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