For the same reason that July 4th is important to most Americans, March 2nd holds a special place for those of us who hail from the Lone Star State. Allow me to share a bit of Texas history with you.
After the United States acquired land with the Louisiana Purchase, the president of Mexico, Antonio López de Santa Anna, began to feel threatened. Mexico had only recently won its independence from Spain in a war that lasted from 1810 to 1821. Many of our western states were originally a part of Mexico, and now Santa Anna feared that the United States would continue its western expansion into Mexican territory. The area know as Tejas was a vast, hostile, unoccupied wilderness. On October 24 Santa Anna authorized the Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1824. He also promised Mexican citizens that those who migrated north to settle in Tejas would legally own the land they settled. People like Stephen F. Austin were entrepreneurs who encouraged people to become Mexican citizens for the opportunity to own their own land.
Unfortunately, in October of 1835, Mexico established the Basis of Reorganization of the Mexican Nation which ended the federal system and established a provisional centralist system. The significant consequence of this was that the people who had struggled to settle in Tejas were no longer considered the rightful owners of the land. Needless to say, this caused some irritation among the settlers, and a year of negotiations were proving futile. When a detachment of Mexican soldiers requested the return of a cannon previously given to the settlers in Gonzales, their now famous response was “Come and take it!”. (You’ve probably seen this black and white flag at the Liberty rallies you’ve attended.) When the settlers used the cannon (which is embarrassingly tiny, by the way) to repel the soldiers who came to retrive it, serious trouble was inevitable.
Antonio López de Santa Anna was a fiercely proud dictator unwilling to tolerate this type of insubordination and resistance. He marched 2,500 soldiers from Mexico City to the mission San Antonio de Bexar – which you know as “The Alamo”. Inside, 189 defenders withstood thirteen days of cannon assault before the fateful attack on March 6th, 1836. What most people fail to realize is that the Alamo defenders fought under a Mexican flag which had the year 1824 added near the bottom. They were fighting for the federal constitution and the right to own their land. The defenders were mostly Mexican citizens fighting for their own independence, however they had been joined by men from across the country and around the world. The issue which they were willing to die for was: the right to own private property. (Sound familiar?)
On the evening before the final siege, Colonel William Travis gathered his troops and announced, “We must die. Our business is not to make a fruitless effort to save our lives, but to choose the manner of our death.” Presumably he drew a line in the sand with his sabre, insisting that all who decided to stay must make that decision for himself, and demonstrate that intention by stepping over the line. The only man who chose not to stay and die was Moses Rose, who instead carried a letter from Travis to Sam Houston’s gathering forces.
Eventually the Texians had endured enough bloodshed and gathered under the command of Sam Houston. The found Santa Anna’s army sleeping among the trees near San Jaciento (now Houston). On April 21, 1836 the Texas army killed 700 Mexican soldiers and captured 730 in a battle that only lasted 18 minutes. Only 9 Texians were killed. This battle is what most Texans are thinking about when they say, “Don’t Mess with Texas”.
While this may be one of the more dramatic wars in our nation’s history, the willingness to fight for Liberty and independence is universal. Almost everyone believes they should make important decisions about their lives – and that the government shouldn’t! Support for Tea Party rallies, 9/12 protests, and Liberty minded candidates is growing exponentially across the country. Americans of every political stripe are waking up and “drawing their line in the sand”. I strongly encourage this spirit of self-determination. My fellow Texans and I will be celebrating that spirit again on March 2nd.