Happy Texas Independence Day, y’all!
by Dustin Lané
Happy Texas Independence Day, y’all! And Happy Birthday to Sam Houston! On March 2nd, 1836, settlers in Mexican Texas adopted the Texas Declaration of Independence, which declared their independence from Mexico and created the Republic of Texas. Today we celebrate our history, and the individuals, like Sam Houston, who helped make it so. I admire Sam for his pride and adventurous spirit—the same spirit that’s in our declaration—but I also think it is important to view the past for what it really is, especially when doing so causes us to face uncomfortable truths.
After being born in Virginia and leaving home at sixteen, Houston chose to become a Texan. An altercation, which involved Houston beating a congressman with his hickory cane, devastated his reputation, and caused him to turn his sights to Texas. In 1832, Texas was a new vision, unformed and open to whoever wished to leave their footprint. Only someone with the daring and courage of a Homeric hero could have gone on to accomplish as much as Sam Houston did. With fewer resources, fewer men, and numerous defeats, Sam surprised the world at San Jacinto. It was his victory over Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto that secured the independence of Texas from Mexico.
The Texas declaration beautifully states: “When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.” It is a grotesque tragedy that Sam Houston deprived rights and freedom from countless innocent human beings, while simultaneously fighting for that same freedom for only a select group—namely, people like himself.
The drive and will of Houston led him to greatness. He was a president, a governor, a congressman, a war hero, a statesman, and a visionary—but as a defender of slave ownership and as the first president of a pro-slavery republic, he acted to perpetuate the conditions of slavery, which is an injustice of the foulest degree. While we celebrate Texas Independence, let’s recognize our culture and history for what they are. By doing so, our generation will surely be the greatest generation Texas has ever known.