Matamoros and the Texas Revolution

By Craig H. Roell | Go to book overview

4.
PATRIÓTICA MATAMOROS:
REVOLUTION IN TEXAS

“Nothing will aid Texas so much as an expedition from N. Orleans against
Matamoros under Gen’l Mexia. It is
all important.”
—Stephen F. Austin to president of the consultation,
November 5, 18351

HURACAN WAS THE ANCIENT CARIBBEAN GOD of wind and storm, who visited judgment upon the earth. Spaniards transliterated the indigenous word, likely of Taíno or Carib origin, into huracán to describe the terribly violent storms that seasonally plagued the Gulf, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic.2 Hurricanes were well known to peoples dwelling in the Bajo Bravo; the city of Matamoros prospered in spite of them. Perhaps it is just coincidence that the turbulent Texas Revolution was bracketed by two devastating hurricanes, each hitting Matamoros, one in 1835 and another in 1837. However much the first was prophetic, as insurrection brewed in Texas and northeastern Mexico, the second, called the “Racer’s Storm,” could be taken as an ominous sign that Mexico had lost Texas. It pummeled Matamoros for three days, October 2, 3, and 4, and reportedly “drove the vessels on shore and prostrated all the buildings.”3

Historians have solidly established that the Texas Revolution started as part of a civil war between centralists and federalists within Mexico and developed into a war of independence in Texas even as the civil war continued in Mexico. This dramatic shift in Mexico occurred in 1834–35 when President Santa Anna, “El Presidente,” ousted his own federalist vice president, Valentín Gómez Farías. Then Santa Anna assumed dictatorial powers—although historian Will Fowler reminds us that El Presidente’s apparent pursuit of personal autocratic power is more complex and less triumphant than the traditional Texas story contends.4 Even so, Santa Anna dissolved the “radical” Congress, installed a new centralist government and a new conservative Congress, which by “the will of the nation,” rewrote the liberal Constitution of 1824 and allowed El Presidente to dis-

-38-

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