Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor


The events known as the Texas Revolution separated Texas from Mexico in 1836. It resulted from efforts of Texas residents, mostly Anglo Americans who had emigrated from the United States, to retain their virtual political autonomy. Disputes over immigration policy and slavery had led to growing tensions and protests between them and the government of Mexico. These became irreconcilable in 1835, when Mexico abandoned its federalist constitution in favor of a centralized order. Texas resistance brought a military response from Mexico, which in turn resulted in war, beginning in October 1835. To promote internal unity and elicit support from Mexican federalists, provisional authorities refrained from declaring independence until March 2, 1836.

The war involved about an equal total number of soldiers on each side (approximately 4,000), but the Texas armies consisted of undisciplined volunteers, including many from the United States. They served in units headed by elected officers and often without an overall commander. The war consisted of two offensive campaigns. The first, by the Texas army under Stephen F. Austin and others, resulted in the capitulation of Bexar (San Antonio) and surrender of Mexican forces on December 10, 1835. The second, under President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, focused on redeeming that loss by attacking the Alamo, while other Texas armies succumbed to indecision and a swift movement of Mexican forces under José Urrea. Texas volunteers then rallied under Gen. Sam Houston and retreated deep into East Texas until they halted and assaulted the Mexicans at San Jacinto on April 21. A captive himself, Santa Anna ordered the remainder of Mexican forces to withdraw from Texas and gave his own recognition to the Texas Republic, though this act, conducted under compulsion, did not bring a true accord. In 1837 Sam Houston was elected the first president of the Republic of Texas.

Paul D. Lack McMurry University

Barr, Alwyn. Texans in Revolt: The Battle for San Antonio, 1835. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990.

Lack, Paul D. The Texas Revolutionary Experience: A Political and Social History, 1835–1886. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1992.

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