San Antonio : The Alamo (Mission San Antonio de Valero)
MISSION SAN ANTONIO DE VALERO
Spain’s interest in the New World, including the territory that would one day become Texas, included colonization and expansion of Spanish rule, important instruments in achieving political and cultural dominance and increasing the royal treasury both abroad and at home. Spain’s first forays into the North American interior, beginning in the 1500’s, included building missions and fortresses in an effort to spread Catholicism and establish a military presence, both designed to subjugate indigenous populations through conversion. In doing so, the Spanish missionaries hoped to transform members of local tribes into citizens of the Spanish state and the church at once. Although the experiment ultimately failed (tribes were more likely to burn the missions down than to take comfort in their offerings), it left us with a significant legacy of early Spanish colonial architecture and surviving cultural influences, particularly along the missionary path charted through Texas’ southern and western reaches.
The Alamo is perhaps the most renowned mission from the period due to the dramatic part it played in the state’s battle for independence from Mexico. By the time the Alamo fell in the fateful battle between Texians and Santa Ana’s army in 1836, the structure had long been abandoned after the Spanish left it to ruin in 1762. During the Texan Revolution, both the Mexican and the Texian armies fortified the remains, using rubble to build a cannon platform and reinforcing walls. But those would be the final, and short-lived, modifications until 1850, the year the U.S. Army arrived to repair and utilize the mission-turned-fortress. The Army’s occupation didn’t last long either and the Alamo property experienced an assortment of real estate transactions, demolitions and reconstructions until 1903 when local preservationists and philanthropists purchased the Alamo structure on behalf of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. The organization, dedicated to the memory of the Texians who lost their lives in the Revolution, retained stewardship of the historic property until 2011. Today, the General Land Office maintains authority over the Alamo although the Daughters continue to facilitate the daily operations of this National Historic Landmark. Visitors may tour the 4.2 acre site, located on Alamo Plaza in downtown San Antonio, and learn all about the Texas Revolution and Texas history, as well as the complex history of the beautifully restored mission building, any day of the year except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Watch the video below to learn more about Hispanic Soldiers and Texas Independence. This video was produced for inclusion in the Hispanic Texans mobile tour, more information about which may be found on our Hispanic heritage page at the following link: http://texastimetravel.com/travel-themes/main-hispanic-heritage
Many African Americans, including Greenbury Logan, William E. "Bill" Goyens and Samuel McCullough, Jr., played important roles in helping secure Texas' independence from Mexico during the Texas Revolution (Oct. 2, 1835-April 21, 1836). Texian forces benefited from the contributions of both freedmen and slaves who made great sacrifices for their adopted country. At the Alamo, William B. Travis' slave, Joe, fought in the battle. In an attempt to disparage Texians, Gen. Santa Anna freed Joe after the battle to tell the story of how the Mexican Army crushed the Texian defenders. Although Joe eventually recounted the fall of the Alamo to the Texas cabinet, accounts of the battle served to galvanize the Texas revolutionaries into action, as demonstrated by their famous battle cry, "Remember the Alamo!" Visitors can read Joe's entire account, as recorded by William Fairfax Gray, on the Alamo's official website.
Read more about the Alamo in the Handbook of Texas Online.