By The Lufkin News writer
For people whose families have lived here for generations and to people who just came yesterday, being a Texan is and should be something to be proud of. On March 2, we celebrated Texas Independence Day; on this date Texas formally declared its independence from Mexico 182 years ago.
The history of our state and the heritage that has been passed to us by those who have made Texas unique is worthy of remembering and emulating. It is certainly worth celebrating.
Our state’s name comes from the Caddos, one of the original Native American tribes in Texas and the Spaniards. The Caddos called the Spaniards “tayshas,” their word for friend. In Spanish, the word came out as “tejas,” which eventually became Texas. We are still a friendly state.
Many flags of state have flown over Texas beginning with the Spanish, French and Mexican flags. Like the original 13 colonies, Texans fought and won a war for their independence. After securing our independence from Mexico, Texas became a Republic, flying our own flag, before joining the United States in 1845.
Texas is a big state — 262,017 square miles, to be exact — but it used to be larger. Our holdings included another 98,300 square miles with some prime Rocky Mountain real estate. Texas joined the Union in 1845, and in that agreement Texas retained the right to divide into four states in addition to the original Texas.
Texas assumed the boundaries that exist today with the Compromise of 1850, where Texas sold parts of what is now Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wyoming to the federal government for $10 million in what seemed like a good idea at the time. Despite the sale, Texas still remained the largest state in the Union until Alaska declared her statehood in 1959.
Texas has about 400 years of written history. Throughout our history, March has been a key month in the development of this great state, culminating with our Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836.
On March 9, 1731, a group of immigrants from the Canary Islands founded the first organized civil government at the Presidio of San Antonio de Bexar.
On March 29, 1813, 23 years before the Alamo fell at that same Presidio, the Battle of Rosillo was fought just nine miles south of there. In that battle, locals defeated Spanish loyalists, captured San Antonio and set the stage for the first Republic of Texas.
Of course, Texans gathered at Washington on the Brazos and unanimously voted to declare independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836. Four days later, the Alamo fell, and on March 27, 1836, Fannin’s command was massacred at Goliad.
Texas won its independence from Mexico at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. In a surprising coincidence, Gen. Sam Houston, who commanded the Texas forces that day and later became the first elected President of the Republic of Texas, was born on March 2, 1793.
Happy birthday, Texas! One hundred eighty-two years ago, our freedom was purchased with the blood and treasure of those early Texans. It is fitting that we should remember their struggles that helped create the greatest state in the Union. Let’s do all we can to keep it so as we celebrate Texas Independence Day.