Texas Independence Day is commemorated on March 2nd, celebrating the enactment of the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836. This was signed by 59 Texan delegates, and it declared Mexican Texas’ independence from Mexico, into its own Republic of Texas. Even though it is a Public Holiday in Texas it is considered a Partial Staffing Holiday, meaning that businesses and schools are still open but with less staff.
The History of Texas’ Independence
The land that would become Texas had been disputed territory since the 16th century, and a total of six countries have ruled the area at different points in history. It became a part of Mexico in 1821, when Mexico gained independence from Spain and claimed Texas as their own.
Because it was a big piece of land and had low population numbers, the Mexican government encouraged American homesteaders to come to Texas and settle there. In 1825 Stephen Austin arrived with 300 families and founded the first American colony in Texas. The American population was growing fast, with the arrival of other settlers, and it quickly outnumbered the Mexicans. This caused conflicts and disagreements between the Mexican government and the American newcomers, who saw themselves as Texans and not Mexicans.
Tensions escalated after the Freedonia Rebellion in 1826, which made the Mexican government take measures to stop the influx of Americans coming into Texas. Stephen Austin then asked for statehood for Texas, which was denied by the government. Texans ignored these orders and declared statehood anyway, resulting in Austin’s arrest.
The year 1827 saw Mexican dictator Santa Anna rise to power. Intending to stop the Texan revolution, he ordered that all armory should be removed from the population in Gonzales. However, when the Mexican army arrived in the town to retrieve the cannon, they were met with open fire from the Texans. As a response to this invasion, the Americans formed a provisional state government and raised an army led by Sam Houston.
Wanting to fight for independence, some Texan troops settled in the military fort of The Alamo. Colonels Travis and Bowie had recruited 140 men to fight, and Davy Crockett arrived from Tenessee with 14 men. They fought the 3000 men Mexican army led by Santa Anna for two weeks. At the beginning of March, some Texans managed to make their way into the Alamo, raising the number of Texan fighters to 185. On the following day, March 2, the Republic of Texas declared independence from Mexico.
On March 6 the Mexican army managed to invade the Alamo and killed most of the American soldiers. The Fall of the Alamo then became a fighting call for the revolution and six weeks later Sam Houston led a large Texan Army into Mexico, defeating the Mexican Army and capturing Santa Anna. “Remember the Alamo” was the war chant of the revolution. Santa Anna was forced to recognize Texas as independent or face the death penalty. He conceded independence to the Republic of Texas and retreated to Mexico.
The Republic of Texas was independent for 10 years, however, still vulnerable to attacks from Mexico, they annexed to the United States of America in 1845, becoming the Nation’s 28th state.
Texas Independence Day Celebrations
A day of great pride for Texans, Texas Independence Day is celebrated with parades and big firework displays. Most people choose to spend the day with family throwing barbecues. Others choose to visit the Historic Sites of the Texan Revolution battles where you can get a lot of information on the history of Texas’ Independence. There are also festivals around the state that feature traditions such as chilli cooking contests and battle re-enactments.
On this day, most people fly the Texas Lone Star Flag in front of their houses and businesses, one of the most prominent symbols of the revolution.