Today, Sunday, December 11, should be remembered as a special day in early Texas history.
The reason is that on this day in 1811, Lt. Colonel José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara undertook a long and dangerous trip to Washington, D.C. seeking help in his quest for the first Texas independence, a goal he ultimately achieved in 1813.
Gutiérrez de Lara was a 38-year old Revilla resident – now the Guerrero, Tamaulipas/Zapata, Texas binational community. Upon his arrival in Washington, he instantly became the first vaquero (cowboy) to visit the White House. He captivated the U.S. president, his cabinet, and charmed the entire capital.
Incredible? No, because it’s true! In fact, many South Texas frontera residednts on both sides (ambos lados) of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo are blessed to be related to this great man of history. Although pre-1836 people, places, and events are part of the seamless history of this great place we call Texas, only recently has the public come to know the first President of Texas.
In my view, given the event’s historical significance, it should inspire Rio Grande Valley and South Texas residents to know that one of their own actually successfully led the first Texas Revolution. Equally important, these long-ignored details support their claim of Texas history ownership, a privilege denied to generations of their elders who have been made to feel as foreigners in the land settled by their pioneer ancestors.