On This Day
1836 – Texas Revolution: On the orders of General Antonio López de Santa Anna, the Mexican Army massacres 342 Texian Army POWs at Goliad, Texas.
The Texas Revolution (October 2, 1835 – April 21, 1836) was a rebellion of colonists from the United States and Tejanos (Hispanic Texans) in putting up armed resistance to the centralist government of Mexico. While the uprising was part of a larger one, the Mexican Federalist War, that included other provinces opposed to the regime of President Antonio López de Santa Anna, the Mexican government believed the United States had instigated the Texas insurrection with the goal of annexation. The Mexican Congress passed the Tornel Decree, declaring that any foreigners fighting against Mexican troops “will be deemed pirates and dealt with as such, being citizens of no nation presently at war with the Republic and fighting under no recognized flag”. Only the province of Texas succeeded in breaking with Mexico, establishing the Republic of Texas, and eventually being annexed by the United States.
The revolution began in October 1835, after a decade of political and cultural clashes between the Mexican government and the increasingly large population of American settlers in Texas. The Mexican government had become increasingly centralized and the rights of its citizens had become increasingly curtailed, particularly regarding immigration from the United States. Mexico had officially abolished slavery in Texas in 1830, and the desire of Anglo Texans to maintain the institution of chattel slavery in Texas was also a major cause of secession. Colonists and Tejanos disagreed on whether the ultimate goal was independence or a return to the Mexican Constitution of 1824. While delegates at the Consultation (provisional government) debated the war’s motives, Texians and a flood of volunteers from the United States defeated the small garrisons of Mexican soldiers by mid-December 1835. The Consultation declined to declare independence and installed an interim government, whose infighting led to political paralysis and a dearth of effective governance in Texas. An ill-conceived proposal to invade Matamoros siphoned much-needed volunteers and provisions from the fledgling Texian Army. In March 1836, a second political convention declared independence and appointed leadership for the new Republic of Texas.
Determined to avenge Mexico’s honor, Santa Anna vowed to personally retake Texas. His Army of Operations entered Texas in mid-February 1836 and found the Texians completely unprepared. Mexican General José de Urrea led a contingent of troops on the Goliad Campaign up the Texas coast, defeating all Texian troops in his path and executing most of those who surrendered. Santa Anna led a larger force to San Antonio de Béxar (or Béxar), where his troops defeated the Texian garrison in the Battle of the Alamo, killing almost all of the defenders.
A newly created Texian army under the command of Sam Houston was constantly on the move, while terrified civilians fled with the army, in a melee known as the Runaway Scrape. On March 31, Houston paused his men at Groce’s Landing on the Brazos River, and for the next two weeks, the Texians received rigorous military training. Becoming complacent and underestimating the strength of his foes, Santa Anna further subdivided his troops. On April 21, Houston’s army staged a surprise assault on Santa Anna and his vanguard force at the Battle of San Jacinto. The Mexican troops were quickly routed, and vengeful Texians executed many who tried to surrender. Santa Anna was taken hostage; in exchange for his life, he ordered the Mexican army to retreat south of the Rio Grande. Mexico refused to recognize the Republic of Texas, and intermittent conflicts between the two countries continued into the 1840s. The annexation of Texas as the 28th state of the United States, in 1845, led directly to the Mexican–American War.
Born On This Day
1868 – Patty Hill, American songwriter and educator (d. 1946)
Patty Smith Hill (March 27, 1868 – May 25, 1946) was a composer and teacher who is perhaps best known for co-writing, with her sister Mildred Hill, the tune which later became popular as “Happy Birthday to You”. She was an American nursery school, kindergarten teacher, and key founder of the National Association for Nursery Education (NANE) which now exists as the National Association For the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
== == Patty Smith Hill was born in 1868 in Anchorage, Kentucky, just outside Louisville. Her parents were passionate people who instilled in Patty and her siblings the importance of education, the value of play, and the necessity of advocating for others. Her father, William Wallace Hill, was born in Bath, Kentucky, graduated from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky in 1833, and earned a doctorate of Theology from Princeton University in 1838. He dedicated his entire life to ministry and education, which took the Hill family from Kentucky to Missouri to Texas. Her mother, Martha Jane Smith, was William’s second wife (his first died in childbirth), and was born in Pennsylvania, but as an adolescent moved with her brother to live with their aunt and uncle on their plantation in Danville. Martha Jane was intent on learning and passing along education to others, evidenced, for example, by the fact that she taught the slaves on the Grimes plantation to read and write.
Hill’s parents were committed to their children’s education; her father is reported to have told his daughters to understand the value of a good education, and that it was, “a tragedy for women to marry for a home. Don’t live with law kin! Don’t even if you have to live in a hollow tree!” Empowered by her parents’ encouragement, Patty graduated valedictorian of her class from the Louisville Collegiate Institute in 1887.
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