Contested Empire: Rethinking the Texas Revolution

Contested Empire: Rethinking the Texas Revolution

Contested Empire: Rethinking the Texas Revolution

Contested Empire: Rethinking the Texas Revolution


To a large degree, the story of Texas' secession from Mexico has been undertaken by scholars of the state. Early twentieth century historians of the revolutionary period, most notably Eugene Barker and William Binkley, characterized the conflict as a clash of two opposing cultures, yet their exclusive focus on the region served to reinforce popular notions of a unique Texas past.

Disconnected from a broader historiography, scholars have been left to ponder the most arcane details of the revolutionary narrative--such as the circumstances of David Crockett's death and whether William Barret Travis really did draw a line in the sand.

In Contested Empire: Rethinking the Texas Revolution, five distinguished scholars take a broader, transnational approach to the 1835-36 conflict. The result of the 48th Annual Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures, held at the University of Texas at Arlington in March, 2013, these essays explore the origins and consequences of the events that gave birth to the Texas Republic in ways that extend beyond the borders of the Lone Star State.


Few events have occupied as prominent a place in the American historical imagination as the Texas Revolution. Steeped in lore and shrouded in myth, the story of Texas’s separation from Mexico has achieved iconic status, the subject of hundreds of books, not to mention more than a few Hollywood films. the events of 1835–36 have attracted more than their fair share of scholarly analysis, too. Some historians have sought, with varying degrees of success, to challenge popular notions of the rebellion, while others have tried to explain the enduring appeal of its more celebrated moments (the Alamo siege, for example) in American cultural life. Indeed, the story has been told and retold so many times that one might well ask if there remains anything new to say about the Revolution at all.

In March 2013, five historians from three countries—the United States, Mexico, and Scotland—met at the University of Texas at Arlington to reexamine the Texas Revolution. Each delivered papers at the Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures, held annually by the university’s Department of History. the 2013 conference, organized and presented by the department’s Center for Greater Southwestern Studies, was intended to offer new perspectives of an event that has been studied by several generations of Texas historians, but that has rarely been the focus of historians of the United States and Mexico. Although scholars of Texas history have done much excellent work, a complete picture of the rebellion requires an appreciation for the roles played by both countries. To that end, the conference organizers sought to explore the causes and consequences of the rebellion in a broader, continental context.

In keeping with the transnational theme of the conference, the first two essays, written by us historians who study the early national period, seek to provide some insight into the mindset of Anglo-American colonists in . . .

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