Texas Independence Day

by Penny Hawkins penny@thecherokeean.com

It was the rag-tag near end of a long, bitter, cold winter and the men gathered were hungry and worried; worried about the families they had left behind, worried about what they were doing there, worried about who would lead them; worried about what they would find when they finally got back home, worried it they would make it home at all.
They hadn’t chosen this time to meet, but the situation was getting dire.

Most had gotten there by hard travel with meager provisions, some riding, some walking, and they had no place to stay when they got there. Not wanting to stay long, they had to start for home but they listened to the men talking, sharing dreams and they learned the reality of what they were facing.

These were men who had everything to lose.

In school, we learn about how a group got together and declared that they were breaking away from the rule of far-away Mexico, but we don’t learn about them as real people, with real families, doubts and fears. There are so many books to learn about how things really were at Washington-on-the Brazos 185 years ago, but do we really read them? We tend to think of it as a cut and dried affair – but it wasn’t.
In 1872, the Texas Almanac published contributions made by a Mr. J. H. Shepperd, who submitted them “after reading requests in the News that they wanted to procure the names of the veteran soldiers of that war that separated Texas from Mexico.”
The recollections of these men depict the confusion and danger of those times.
A Wm. Isabell sheds light on what life was like: He left the division commanded by Col. Austin after surrender of Gen. Coss and went to Mill Creek and planted a crop of corn; he rejoined the conflict and participated in the battle of San Jacinto, after which he returned and “worked out my crop of corn.”

The group of men who served as “the Consultation” – also known as the “Texian Government” – served as the provisional government from October 1835 to March 1836. They met at Washington on March 1 to formally announce Texas’ intention to separate from Mexico and draft a constitution for the new Republic of Texas. They drafted the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, and signed it the next day. It was adopted March 16, and on March 17, the delegates fled along with the residents of the town ahead of the advancing Mexican Army. The danger was real.

Texas remained independent for almost 10 years, joining the Union on Dec. 29, 1845, and is the only state to enter by treaty. Is Texas the only state allowed to fly its flag the same height as the American flag? Check it out.

March 2 isn’t only Texas Independence Day, it is also Texas Flag Day and Sam Houston Day.

Editor’s note: The Texas Historical Commission will host a digital history webinar, “Texas Revolution 185th Anniversary – The Birthplace of the Republic of Texas Webinar,” 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 2. Learn about where history was made; explore the birthplaces of culture, government, and the military of the Republic of Texas; and experience the epic story of the Texas Revolution.