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Remember the Alamo!

When Spain ceded Florida to the United States after the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819, the United States agreed to relinquish its claim to Texas. Unfortunately for Spain, their vast empire was about to crumble throughout the New World. It started with Texas.

Spain’s influence in Texas was minimal at best. After Mexico declared its independence from Spain in 1821, Texas was a forgotten land. The new nation of Mexico certainly lacked the authority or finances to manage the vast area. However, some opportunistic Americans saw potential for profit in Texas. Stephen F. Austin, the son of a Missouri man who had negotiated a large land-grant with the Mexican government in the hopes of building a local economy, set about colonizing Texas. By 1830, Austin had attracted 25,000 settlers and 2,000 slaves to Texas. Their plan was to grow cotton.

As the new Mexican government saw Austin’s colony, it attempted to exert more control over the region, claiming that the terms of the original land-grant had been violated (settlers refused to convert to Roman-Catholicism – the national religion of Mexico). Furthermore, the Mexican government refused to allow any more slaves to immigrate to Mexico and placed taxes on goods imported from America. As expected, the colonists became disgruntled. The situation worsened when the Mexican government jailed Stephen F. Austin for urging Texas to self-govern.

In 1836, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and 6,000 troops marched to Texas to subdue the Texans. On February 23, Santa Anna besieged the mission known as The Alamo in San Antonio. Santa Anna’s demand for surrender was answered with a defiant cannon blast authorized by Col. William Barret Travis. The siege lasted for two weeks. On March 6, Santa Anna and his army stormed the mission and killed every Texan who resisted. Just four days earlier, on March 2, the Texans declared independence, legalized slavery, and formed a provisional government. They named Sam Houston commander of their army. Because the stand at The Alamo lasted two weeks, Sam Houston had time to prepare his army and plans of attack. On April 21, Houston’s army of 800 Texans routed the Mexican army of 1,600 at San Jacinto, Texas. In the battle, General Santa Anna was captured, and Texas became independent. Nine years later, after much debate and deliberation, Texas became the 28th state. As a result, Mexico broke all diplomatic ties with the United States. The Mexican-American War would soon follow.