When Mexico gained independence from Spain in the 1820’s, they encouraged and welcomed pioneers to the Texas territory to settle and populate the land. Many Americans, led by Stephen Austin (for whom the capitol of the state is named after), established colonies and soon began to outnumber the Mexicans. By the 1830’s, the Texas area was largely a autonomous American community. True to the American way, the Texans declared independence from Mexico in October 1835, beginning the Texas Revolution. The Mexican government at once sent troops to quell the rebellion.
After many months of fighting, the situation appeared favorable to the Mexican army. Against all odds, however, the American-Texans lead by Sam Houston surprisingly defeated the Mexican army on this day in 1836 at the Battle of San Jacinto.
Prior to their stunning victory, the Texans had experienced numerous crushing defeats- the most notorious was at the Alamo, a fort near San Antonio. Instead of letting the failure extinguish all hope, however, the Texans made the Alamo a symbolic metaphor for independence and a rallying cry to “Remember the Alamo!”
The Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was overly confident in ensuring Mexico’s ultimate success. When Sam Houston launched a surprise attack, however, Santa Anna was unprepared and was captured by the rebels. Fearing that he would be executed, Santa Anna quickly signed a treaty to give Texas independence in exchange for his freedom.
The Republic of Texas was born. Less than 10 years later, however, the Lone-star state joined the United States as the 28th state in the union in 1845. A little over 15 years later, the independent territory would once again succeed with the confederacy. The unofficial motto- don’t mess with Texas- became the independent-minded aphorism that is still associated with the history of the Lone Star State.