Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Texas Independence

The Texans captured a fort called the Alamo in San Antonio. This made Santa Anna mad, so he took an army to San Antonio.

The Texans took shelter in the Alamo when they saw Santa Anna's incoming army.

They surrounded the Alamo and Santa Anna demanded they surrender. A man by the name of William Travis responded by firing a cannon at them.

The Mexicans responded with 12 days and nights of cannon fire. Eventually the Mexicans stormed the Alamo and killed all 200 of the defenders inside.

The Alamo is now a tourist attraction in San Antonio...and Pee Wee Herman traveled to this location in his movie, Pee Wee's Big Adventure.


While the Alamo was happening, a group of Texans were writing up a Texas Declaration of Independence and Constitution. They were really over being part of Mexico.

After a lot of fighting and retreating, the Texans and Mexicans met at San Jacinto. The Texans were victorious while shouting...

Not only did the Texans win at San Jacinto, they also captured Santa Anna and forced him to sign a treaty that ended the war and would also recognize Texas's independence. Also, for good measure, a regiment from Illinois took Santa Ana's fake leg.

Even though the Texans won, Mexico would not honor the treaty because Santa Anna was a POW (prisoner of war) at the time.

If you are wondering, Santa Anna never got his leg back, it is still in Illinois and can be viewed at The Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield Illinois!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Texas Revolution

Mexico decided it was time to get a better handle on Texas.

Mexico halted immigration, put a high tariff on American imports, and banned slavery. Troops were sent in to collect taxes.

Even though the United States had previously dropped its claim to Texas, the Mexicans did not trust the United States.

The United States offered Mexico $1 million for Texas, Mexico refused. It was now apparent that the United States really did want Texas.

Things became tense, Stephen Austin was jailed, people were killed and to make things worse, new president Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana banned militias and then things got crazy.

The war started over a cannon. It was Mexico's cannon, it was probably a very nice cannon so Mexico wanted their cannon back. Texas refused to give it back and they decided to taunt the Mexicans with a flag like this...

The Mexicans attacked and the Revolution had begun.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Something Strange Afoot in Texas

The United States was growing and more places were being settled. Another place Americans were settling was Texas, but Texas didn't belong to us, it belonged to Spain.

Moses Austin approached the Spanish and asked if he could set up a colony in Texas, they agreed. Before the colony was officially set up though, Moses died. His son Stephen Austin (his friends called him Stone Cold) finished the colony for him.

The population of this colony was 1,800 which included 400 slaves.

Eventually, Mexico earned its independence from Spain so Texas was controlled by Mexico. They had no problem with these Americans settling in Texas as long as they did a few things. First, they had to give up their American citizenship, then swear allegiance to Mexico. They were also required to become Catholic and hold their land for at least seven years.

Of course, no one really did these things, how silly?

The Mexican government was a bit nervous about the settlers loyalty to America, so they sent in General Manuel de Mier y Teran to check things out.

The General went back to Mexico and told the government that they might want to do something about Texas.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Gold Rush and the Pony Express!

Another event that sent people west was the Gold Rush. In 1848 gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill.

Word spread and in 1849 there were 80,000 people looking for gold in California.

Remember the Rush-Bagot Treaty? The one that settled issues over the Great Lakes and boarders? Well since then the United States and Canada both controlled Oregon, but Polk wanted all of Oregon. So he came up with a catchy slogan, "54 40' or Fight!"

This meant that Polk wanted all of the Oregon Country and would fight to get it. No fighting occurred and the boarder between the United States and Canada was set at the 49th parallel, which is still the boarder today!

So, when that many people are flocking out west, how would they communicate with friends and family?! Well the Pny Express of course!

Unfortunately the Pony Express became a little obsolete due to the telegraph, an invention by Samuel F.B. Morse. This made it possible for people to communicate by tapping out messages and sending them through electricity!!!