Texas Revolution Began 185 Years Ago Today

By Tara Ross, Guest Author

On this day (October 2nd) in 1835, the Texas Revolution begins! Did you know that the first battle was fought because Texans decided that the Mexicans would have to pull an old, small cannon out of their cold, dead hands?

Does that fact, alone, explain my home state?!

The Texas Revolution wasn’t fought entirely over one old cannon, of course. That cannon was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, prompting a skirmish that came to be known as the Battle of Gonzales.

In 1835, Texans (or “Texians”) were concerned about the increasingly dictatorial Mexican government and its army. But the town of Gonzales found itself in the crossfire for a rather unexpected reason. It possessed one small cannon that had come from San Antonio de Béxar in 1831. Some thought the cannon was loaned, others thought it had been given. Either way, Gonzales felt that it needed the cannon to scare off local Indian tribes.

As tensions between the Mexican government and the Texians escalated, the Mexicans decided that Gonzales could not keep its cannon anymore. The given reason was that the cannon had been given only as a loan. But perhaps the real reason is that the government wanted to disarm citizens? Either way, town officials were notified that the cannon must be returned.

The alcalde, or mayor, of Gonzales called a town meeting and a vote was taken. All but three people agreed: Gonzales should keep its cannon!

Nevertheless, Mexican commander Francisco de Castañeda was sent to retrieve the cannon.

The Mexican force reached the Guadalupe River on September 29, but then it got stuck. Recent rains had made the river difficult to cross. Complicating matters, Texians had taken all the boats from Castañeda’s side of the river. Eighteen Texians were now guarding the river on the other side. In the meantime, Gonzales was calling for help from nearby towns. Its citizens buried the cannon in a nearby peach orchard.

Come hell or high water, they were not giving up that cannon!

The Texians managed to stall for a while. Castañeda wanted to talk, but the Texians noted that the talks were more properly held with the alcalde, Andrew Ponton. (Surprise, surprise. He wasn’t there.) Even when the Texians did engage in talks, they just shouted across the river at Castañeda. At one point, a single Mexican was allowed to swim back and forth with messages.

What a scene! Naturally, the delay mostly ensured that the Texians got reinforcements.

The stalemate continued until October 1, when Castañeda moved his men a few miles upriver. By now, the Texians were getting tired of the situation. They dug up the cannon and created shrapnel from anything they could find. They hauled the cannon across the river and approached the Mexican camp early on October 2. A thick fog hid them from view.

A few shots were exchanged during the early morning hours, but the more serious fighting began after sunrise. Naturally, the controversial cannon was brought into battle. The Texians had created a white flag, which waved proudly over the cannon.

You guessed it. The flag bore the words: “Come and Take It.”

The fighting itself was more of a brief skirmish than a true battle. In the end, Castañeda quickly retreated because he thought his orders required him to do so before the conflict escalated into war. His retreat came too late. The Texas Revolution was on.


Gentle reminder: History posts are copyright © 2013-2020 by Tara Ross. I appreciate it when you use the share feature instead of cutting/pasting.#TDIH#OTD#History#USHistory#liberty#freedom#ShareTheHistory

Guest author, Tara Ross, is a mother, wife, writer, and retired lawyer. She is the author of The Indispensable Electoral College: How the Founders’ Plan Saves Our Country from Mob Rule,Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College, co-author of Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State (with Joseph C. Smith, Jr.), & We Elect A President: The Story of our Electoral College. She is a constitutionalist, but with a definite libertarian streak! Stay tuned here for updates on pretty much anything to do with the Electoral College, George Washington, & our wonderfully rich American heritage.

Perry: Banning pistols isn’t the answer

Governor says licensees should be free to take them anywhere for protection

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry said Monday that Texans who are legally licensed should be able to carry their concealed handguns anywhere, including churches, bars, courthouses and college campuses.

“I think it makes sense for Texans to be able to protect themselves from deranged individuals, whether they’re in church, or whether on a college campus or wherever they are,” he said.

“The idea that you’re going to exempt them from a particular place is nonsense to me.”

Perry commented to reporters after he and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt had met privately with educators, mental health experts and law enforcement officials to discuss the recent shootings at Virginia Tech University. Leavitt and other Cabinet officials are traveling around the country to discuss school and community safety practices in preparation for a report to President Bush.

The governor’s remarks aren’t likely to result in widespread changes in Texas gun laws, particularly this late in a legislative session that must adjourn by May 28.

But the comments elicited sharp responses, and Perry’s stance puts him at odds with a major political ally, the Texas Association of Business, over the right of employers to continue to ban firearms from their property.

“We’re not in the Wild West anymore,” Tommie Garza of Houston, executive director of Texans for Gun Safety, said of the governor’s idea. “It doesn’t seem like the sensible thing to do.”

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who sponsored the concealed handgun law as a state senator in 1995, said he agreed with Perry that “we need more guns in schools in the hands of responsible people.”

But he drew the line at allowing guns in bars. “People get drunk there, and their aim is not as good,” he said.

Current law prohibits the carrying of firearms, even by handgun licensees, into bars, schools, most areas of college campuses and courthouses. Churches can ban them, and governmental bodies can prohibit licensees from carrying pistols into public meetings.

Companies also can prohibit their employees from carrying weapons onto their property. The Senate has approved a bill to allow handgun licensees to leave their weapons in their cars on company parking lots, but the TAB and many employers are trying to kill that legislation in the House.

Asked about carrying a pistol into a bar, Perry said, “I think that a person ought to be able to carry that weapon if they are legally licensed to.”

The governor responded less clearly when asked whether Texas should submit mental health information on some individuals to a national database used for background checks.

Seung-Hui Cho, the shooter who killed 32 people and himself at Virginia Tech on April 16, had purchased two handguns, despite having been declared mentally ill.

Senate Bill 1755 by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, which hasn’t yet been heard by a Senate committee, would cover people who have received court-ordered inpatient mental health services or who have been declared mentally incapacitated. But it wouldn’t apply to people like Cho, who was a mental health outpatient.

There are privacy requirements under federal law that must be considered, Perry said.

Austin Bureau reporter Peggy Fikac contributed to this story.

clay.robison@chron.com

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