Magazine article American Heritage

A Lone Star Anthology: Half a Millennium of Texas History, Spoken by the People Who Lived It

Magazine article American Heritage

A Lone Star Anthology: Half a Millennium of Texas History, Spoken by the People Who Lived It

Article excerpt

"They are a merry race, considering the hunger they suffer.... To them the happiest part of the year is the season of eating prickly pears; they have hunger then no longer, pass all the time in dancing and eating, day and night."


[Cabeza de Vaca established friendly relations with a group of Karankawa Indians on the Texas mainland after having been shipwrecked on what the Spaniards called Malhado (Misfortune) Island, sometimes identified with Galveston Island, but more likely to the west of it.]

"The province of Techas will be the richest State of our Union without any exception."

--THOMAS JEFFERSON, letter to James Monroe, May 15, 1820

"No person will be admitted as a settler, who does not produce satisfactory evidence of having supported the character of a moral, sober, and industrious citizen."

--STEPHEN F. AUSTIN, Permit and Conditions for Colonization, November 23, 1821

[This was the first of Austin's "General Regulations Relative to the Colony."]

"The people are universally kind and hospitable.... Everybody's house is open, and table spread, to accommodate the traveller. There are no poor people here, and none are rich; that is, none who have much money. The poor and the rich ... get the same quantity of land on arrival, and if they do not continue equal, it is for want of good management on the one part, or superior industry and sagacity on the other."

--MARY AUSTIN HOLLEY, letter from Bolivar, Texas, December 1831

[She was part of the founding family of Texas--first cousin to Stephen F. Austin and niece of his father, Moses.]

"The state of Texas is part of Mexico and is on the frontier between that country and the United States. In the course of the last few years the Anglo-Americans have penetrated into this province, which is still thinly peopled, they purchase land, they produce the commodities of the country, and supplant the original population. It may be easily foreseen that if Mexico takes no steps to check this change, the province of Texas will very shortly cease to belong to that government."

--ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE, Democracy in America, 1835

"I shall never surrender nor retreat."

--WILLIAM BARRETT TRAVIS, commander at the Alamo, February 24, 1836

[This is from an appeal--underlined in the original--for reinforcements that Lieutenant Colonel Travis managed to send from the Alamo before the old San Antonio mission was surrounded completely by a Mexican army led by Mexico's president, Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. The Mexicans attacked just before dawn on March 6, and all of the Alamo's defenders were killed.]

"Remember the Alamo!"

--SIDNEY SHERMAN, battle cry, April 21, 1836

[The saying is traditionally attributed to Colonel Sherman, whose troops advanced at San Jacinto chanting this battle cry. The Texan army, commanded by Sam Houston, captured General Santa Anna, who then was forced to recognize the independence of Texas by signing the Treaty of Velasco.]

"After two miles' ride along the woodland border, the prairie opened fair in the course before us.... The waving surface soon became regular like the swell of an ocean after the subsidence of a gale, which has blown long from the same direction. Very grand in vastness and simplicity were these waves. Four of them would cover a mile, and yet as we ascended one after another, the contour of the next would appear dark against the sky."

--FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED, A Journey Through Texas, 1857

"`G.T.T.' (gone to Texas) was the slang appendage within the reader's recollection, to every man's name who had disappeared before the discovery of some rascality. Did a man emigrate thither, everyone was on the watch for the discreditable reason to turn up."


   As I walked out in the streets of Laredo,
   As I walked out in Laredo one day,
   I spied a dear cowboy wrapped up in
   white linen,
   Wrapped up in white linen as cold as
   the clay. … 
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