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Remember the Indians as You Remember the Alamo!


Nick scales the Alamo
As a native Texan, I love nothing better than a tall tale -- and what greater tale does my state have to offer than the Alamo? Do you know the story?

If you do, unfortunately, a lot of what you've heard probably isn't really true. So, today, we're going to set the record straight about the battle of 1836, breaking it down tale by tale:

Texas Tall Tale #1:The Alamo is that little white building you always see on postcards and T-shirts.

Well, not exactly. That building is actually a church called the Mission San Antonio de Valero. The Alamo was the name of the walled town that once surrounded the church, a walled town that is no longer there.

The Mission de San Juan
Texas Tall Tale #2: This was the white man's land!

Guess again! All of Texas belonged to Mexico back then. Many of the men who fought for the Alamo had only started moving to Texas in search of land, power and adventure a few years before the battle. Most were not fighting for their homeland, as Tall Tales would like us to believe. The Mexicans were the ones defending what was rightfully theirs.

Stephanie admires a statue of The Virgin
Texas Tall Tale #3: The Alamo defenders died for Texas' independence!

Nope. Just a few days before the siege, an agreement had been signed that granted Texas freedom from Mexico. These men actually died for something called Federalism, a political movement that wanted to give power to local governments instead of a centralized one.

Texas Tall Tale #4: The Alamo defenders fought for justice!

Wrong again. The Alamo defenders really fought for causes that were a little less noble: Land. Money. Slaves. Power. White settlers were going after land that Mexico was giving away by the acre. Then, once in Texas, they realized they could make a lot of money in Mexico's cotton industry, and brought in slaves to help them make that money. Since the Mexican government had already banned slavery, they tried to prevent the white settlers from using them, which angered the settlers. The war was actually waged over issues like Federalism, slavery, the cotton industry and, above all, money.

Native Americans built these beautiful missions 250 years ago
Texas Tall Tale #5: The Alamo was defended by white men.

Ever heard of Gregorio Esparza? How about Juan Abamillo, Antonio Fuentes, Andres Nava or Damacio Jimenes? These brave Tejanos (Texas Mexicans) and many more fought right alongside Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie inside the walls of the Alamo.

Texas Tall Tale #6: It took 40 days and 40 nights for the Mexicans to break through the Alamo's mighty walls!

Try 30 minutes.

Mexican General Santa Anna led his attack on the Alamo at daybreak on March 6. It took Mexicans only about 30 minutes to climb the north wall, and about 15 minutes to get through the courtyard. All of the defenders were captured and killed. And that is all experts know for certain of that morning.

Texas Tall Tale #7: There were no survivors at the Alamo.

There were actually hundreds, if not thousands, of Mexicans, who walked away from the battle. In fact, historians say as many as 16 women and children, and one slave also lived to tell their side of the story.

Whew! That was quite a few tall tales, even for a native Texan. Why the legends? Over time, the reality has been tweaked most likely to hide many of the terrible acts against Native Americans that actually took place, and to create great American stories of courage and honor.

Did the defenders of the Alamo die for the flag?">
I do understand national pride and bravery, but why can't the truth be thrown in there too? Wouldn't the story of the Alamo be that much better if it included Tejano defenders like Gregorio Esparza and Antonio Fuentes? After all, the Alamo is a symbol of Texas. It shouldn't just be another Tall Tale.


Please email me at: stephanie@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Neda - See which state was a country for 24 days
Nicky - Fighting over money