|SAN ANTONIO, March 22 - Greetings. With all due respect to the History Channel and its planned mini-series on the “birth” of Texas and the Texas Rangers, I sincerely hope producers do responsible homework.
In other words, they shouldn’t rely on the myth-laden mainstream Texas history that continues to dismiss, diminish, and distort the proper perspective of early Texas Spanish Mexican people, places, and events.
First, Texas was born in 1691 with the naming of its first Governor, Domingo Terán de los Rios. Also, Texas is in New Spain, not New England. (Please note that New Spain territory in what is now the U.S. is over twice as large as New England.) Spanish has been spoken in Texas for nearly 500 years; English for just over 150.
Second, Sam Houston took over a work in progress as regards Texas independence. The first Texas Declaration of Independence was written, signed and read to jubilant Texans in San Antonio by the First President of Texas, José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara on April 6, 1813.
Third, the fact is that Sam Houston’s 1836 Texas Revolution is part of a chronological chapter of Mexico’s history, not the United States’. Mexico considered Texas a recalcitrant province similar to other provinces wishing for more autonomy from Mexico City’s central government. General Santa Anna came to San Antonio to quell a civil war uprising and rid Mexico of armed U.S. Anglo immigrants. He had every right to do so as the President and Commander in Chief of the Army of Mexico. He was not the aggressor in Texas, the Anglos were.
Fourth, when the Anglos declared their independence from Mexico in 1836, they had no legal right to do so, since none were native-born citizens of Mexico. (The few native-born Texans (Tejanos) that did participate were later brutally betrayed by their Anglo allies.) Regardless, Texas is no longer independent. The Anglos traded their independence to join the U.S. as a slave state in 1845, causing the U.S. Mexico War of 1846-48.As a result, Mexico lost Texas, South Texas (then part of the State of Tamaulipas), and the entire Southwest.
The U.S. is increasingly browning (more exactly, re-browning). Thus, it is time for the general public to realize that a good portion of Mexican-descent citizens are not immigrants to the U.S. Our ancestors were already here when the U.S. took over half of its neighbor’s (Mexico) territory. Also, if you’re covering the ‘birth” of the Texas Rangers, please do not glamorize or sugar-coat it. Few people know that for generations, entire communities of Mexican-descent Texans lived in terror at the hands of this once rogue, unruly police force.
In closing, nowhere else in history has one ethnic group robbed another group of its heritage to embellish their own. Yet, that’s what Anglos have done with Texas history, the Álamo, and La Bahia Presidio in Goliad.
The bottom line? This is an opportunity for the History Channel to excel. In making yet another film on Texas history, you must tell it in a seamless, fair, and balanced manner. Audiences must no longer be deceived into thinking that the “birth” of Texas occurred in 1836 with the arrival of U.S. immigrants to Mexico. Thank you.
José “Joe” Antonio López was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and is a USAF Veteran. He now lives in Universal City, Texas. He is the author of two books: “The Last Knight (Don Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara Uribe, A Texas Hero),” and “Nights of Wailing, Days of Pain (Life in 1920s South Texas).” Lopez is also the founder of the Tejano Learning Center, LLC, and www.tejanosunidos.org, a Web site dedicated to Spanish Mexican people and events in U.S. history that are mostly overlooked in mainstream history books.