New Orleans and the Texas Revolution

New Orleans and the Texas Revolution

New Orleans and the Texas Revolution

New Orleans and the Texas Revolution

Synopsis

One of the least known but most important battles of the Texas Revolution occurred not with arms but with words, not in Texas but in New Orleans. In the fall of 1835, Creole mercantile houses that backed the Mexican Federalists in their opposition to Santa Anna essentially lost the fight for Texas to the Americans of the Faubourg St. Marie. As a result, New Orleans capital, some $250,000 in loans, and New Orleans men and arms-two companies known as the New Orleans Greys-went to support the upstart Texians in their battle against Santa Anna.

Author Edward L. Miller has delved into previously unused or overlooked papers housed in New Orleans to reconstruct a chain of events that set the Crescent City in many ways at the center of the Texian fight for independence. Not only did New Orleans business interests send money and men to Texas in exchange for promises of land, but they also provided newspaper coverage that set the scene for later American annexation of the young republic.

In New Orleans and the Texas Revolution, Miller follows other historians in arguing that Texian leaders recognized the importance of securing financial and popular support from New Orleans. He has gone beyond others, though, in exploring the details of the organizing efforts there and the motives of the pro-Texian forces. On October 13, 1835, a powerful group of financiers and businessmen met at Banks Arcade and formed the Committee on Texas Affairs. Miller deftly mines the long-ignored documentation of this meeting and the group that grew out of it, to raise significant questions. He also carefully documents the military efforts based in New Orleans, from the disastrous Tampico Expedition to the formation of two companies of New Orleans Greys and their tragic fates at the Alamo and Goliad.

Whatever their motives, Miller argues, Texas became a life-long preoccupation for many who attended that crucial meeting at Banks Arcade. And the history of Texas was changed because of that preoccupation.

Excerpt

During the statewide sesquicentennial commemoration in 1986, the annual meeting of the Texas State Historical Association featured eclectic sessions that celebrated aspects of Texas’s varied culture over the 150 years since its separation from Mexico. I remember leading the singing of” Texas, Our Texas” at an elaborate birthday party that included a gigantic birthday cake with sparklers and presenting a paper on William B. Travis, commander of the Alamo, which remains the crucible of Texas history.

When the meeting closed on Saturday, several of us drove to Winedale for a follow-up seminar hosted by Jenkins Garrett of Fort Worth. After an excellent meal and during what would have been “cigar time” in a more Victorian setting, Garrett asked each of about twenty lay and professional historians their opinion of what made Texas unique.

Later responders had the advantage of more time to ponder the question, which in any event does not have a single, always correct, answer, but what was notable was that the majority of the responses involved the Texas Revolution.

That “revolution” captures the interest of Texans as much today as it did in 1986, or even 1936, when we were likely more interested in promoting tourism as economic development than we were in history itself. The best-known icons of the revolution define much of Texas’s history. These include the reconstructed façade of the chapel of the Mission San Antonio de Valero, better known the world over as the Alamo, which was emulated in small-town storefronts for a century. Picture William Barret Travis drawing a line as real as it was imaginary, for every defender knew the consequence of remaining within the Alamo’s walls. And recall the several score and more movies that focus on the Alamo or its aftermath.

The Texas Revolution interests scholars more than any other aspect of the state’s history. Eugene C. Barker wrote of the revolution’s causes nearly a century ago. Distinguished historians and writers such as William C. Binkley, William Wharton, Walter Lord, Lon Tinkle, and Ben Procter, whose monograph . . .

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