Davy Crockett Surrendered?! Jim Bowie, a Slave Trader?! Sam Houston, a Coke Addict?!
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North from Mexico became the template for a new school of Mexican American scholars who in the early 1970s set to work producing an array of Latino-centric books and academic papers, many focused on labor and migration issues. What appears to be the first significant work of Alamo revisionism, Olvídate de El Alamo, or Forget about the Alamo, arrived just as this wave was forming, in 1965. Authored by a prolific Mexican-born playwright in Los Angeles, Rafael Trujillo Herrera, it is an idiosyncratic yet passionate jeremiad that prefigures every component of Alamo revisionism. It portrays the Texas Revolt as a conspiracy orchestrated by Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston; Santa Anna’s Texas expedition as a justified response to American aggression; Bowie as a slave trader; and Travis as a fugitive who fled to Texas after committing a murder. Passages surely struck home with members of the Mexican American community. “Should Mexico permit the continuation of a dark legend that also harms the sentiments and friendship of both nations?” Herrera writes. “Does the battle cry ‘Remember The Alamo’ not just become a restless insult and accusation?”
Both North from Mexico and Olvídate were strong influences on a young radical at Cal State Northridge named Rodolfo “Rudy” Acuña, who in 1966 created one of the first university-level courses in Chicano studies. Acuña’s 1972 textbook, Occupied America: The Chicano’s Struggle toward Liberation, is a scorching history of Anglo oppression, portraying Mexican Americans as a conquered and abused people. The book’s first chapter is a philosophical blowtorch aimed squarely at conventional Anglocentric Texas history. Building on the ideas of McWilliams and Trujillo, Acuña paints the Americans who died at the Alamo as nothing more than mercenaries staging an illicit rebellion to seize sovereign Mexican territory.
But what angered Acuña most was the way in which generations of Anglos created myths that, he argued, served only to justify violence, imperialism, and the subjugation of Mexican Americans: “Anglo Americans in Texas were portrayed as freedom-loving settlers forced to rebel against the tyranny of Mexico. The most popular of these myths was that of the Alamo, which, in effect, became a justification to keep Mexicans in their place. According to Anglo Americans, the Alamo was a symbolic confrontation between good and evil; the treacherous Mexicans succeeded in taking the fort only because they outnumbered the patriots and ‘fought dirty.’ This myth, with its ringing plea of ‘Remember the Alamo!’ colored Anglo attitudes toward Mexicans, as it served to stereotype the Mexican eternally as the enemy and the Texas patriots as the stalwarts of freedom and democracy.”
The tension between traditionalism and revisionism has never been on more vivid display than it is today, at a moment when Latinos are poised to become a majority of Texas’s citizenry. At a time when the United States is undergoing an unprecedented reassessment of its racial history, the Alamo and its heroes have essentially been given a pass by the state’s largely Anglo writers, politicians, and educators. Given the fact that its defenders were fighting to form what became the single most militant slave nation in history, that men like Bowie and Travis traded slaves, and that the “father of Texas,” Stephen F. Austin, spent years fighting to preserve slavery from the attacks of Mexican abolitionists, one would think the post–George Floyd era might have brought to Texas a long-overdue reevaluation of its history. By and large, that hasn’t happened.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
June 8, 2021 at 7:59 AM #428277Cold Mountain TrailParticipant
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I don’t think jim bowie being a slave trader is new news nor that texas was founded by pro slavery people
even when i was a kid and we studied the alamo the alamo story didn’t make any sense.
i dont remember knowing who they were fighting or why, just that they fought to the death, that was the big point of the story
OK, having now read the story, i guess its mainly only texans who actually believed that stuff
“That vast collection of artifacts Phil Collins donated? …a whole lot of items in the collection may be, at best, of questionable provenance. At worst? A lot of them appear to be fakes.”
June 8, 2021 at 10:45 AM #428286Ohio BarbarianModerator
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I read a diary written by a Mexican officer who was at the Alamo named De la Pena. He wrote that Crockett and about a dozen other defenders of the Alamo surrendered and Santa Anna had them executed as pirates(There’s a great backstory to that). Jim Bowie was definitely a slave trader. There are written records from the time about that. Sam Houston definitely smoked opium, as did El Presidente Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. They were high on it when they signed the treaty giving the Republic of Texas its independence.
And Travis was a rake, not to mention a bad gambler, who abandoned his wife and children to go to Texas and seek his fortune, namely land that he could put slaves on to grow cotton for him.
I learned all of this stuff by the time I graduated college. The University of Texas has all sorts of primary and secondary source materials on the subject back in the 70s. None of the knowledge was hidden; people just didn’t talk about it.
Oh. And the scene from the better 2004 movie with Billy Bob Thornton where Santa Anna executed all of the Mexican rebels his army caught on the march to San Antonio instead of killing just one out of ten of them? That happened, too. Plus, 15 or 20 defenders of the Alamo were Mexicans themselves, who wanted the Anglo promise of democracy. Juan Seguin was very real.
The Alamo is another of those stories from history that is delightfully more complex than the popular legend.
It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs
You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton
June 8, 2021 at 10:49 AM #428287
June 8, 2021 at 10:00 PM #428417MistaPParticipant
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and create a nationalist mythology! they should’ve used the past for OUR contemporary needs and create a nationalist mythology!”
but it’s still insisting on interpreting a political situation where the two main parties were literally the adherents of the York vs. the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in obsessively 2021 U.S. terms
June 8, 2021 at 10:24 PM #428421chknltlParticipant
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I kinda sorta dated Carli Bowie’s mother Janet.
Janet’s ex and Carli’s father was named Dennis Bowie.
Now then, according to their story, Carli and Dennis are direct descendents from Jim Bowie by a Mexican wife.
Also according to their story, this Mexican wife was not the legitimate wife to Jim Bowie but his Mexican housekeeper in Texas whom he married.
In other words according to their story, Jim had two wives at the same time, one elsewhere and a Mexican/wife housekeeper in Texas.
Carli’s father further confided in me that the State of Texas recognized their bloodline and should he or Carli choose to take advantage of it, there was land which had been set aside for them in Texas by the State.
Carli’s father tragically passed away far too young a couple decades back.
Carli was with me off and on from when she was eight till her late twenties when her most recent boyfriend snatched her away from me to parts unknown.
I suppose like most dads-and she did indeed call me dad, there can never be a boyfriend worthy of his daughter and I felt the same way about each of Carli’s boyfriends.
I don’t know if Carli is indeed the last surviving member from Jim Bowie’s line through that Mexican wife or if this was all some fanciful tale…
I just know I miss her and who knows…maybe she will see this.
June 10, 2021 at 6:52 PM #428787srobertParticipant
- Total Posts: 57
“Jim Bowie Jim Bowie, he battled for rights with a powerful hand. His blade was tempered and so was he, indestructible steel was he. Jim Bowie Jim Bowie Jim Bowie, he was a fighter, a fearless and mighty adventurin’ man”
I guess one of the inalienable rights he was fighting for was the right to own people.
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