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Beyond the Alamo

Beyond the Alamo: Forging Mexican Ethnicity in San Antonio, 1821-1861

Raúl A. Ramos
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  • Book Info
    Beyond the Alamo
    Book Description:

    Introducing a new model for the transnational history of the United States, Raul Ramos places Mexican Americans at the center of the Texas creation story. He focuses on Mexican-Texan, or Tejano, society in a period of political transition beginning with the year of Mexican independence. Ramos explores the factors that helped shape the ethnic identity of the Tejano population, including cross-cultural contacts between Bexarenos, indigenous groups, and Anglo-Americans, as they negotiated the contingencies and pressures on the frontier of competing empires.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0465-7
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. Introduction Forging Identity in the Borderlands SITUATING SAN ANTONIO DE BÉXAR
    (pp. 1-14)

    At midnight on the night of September 15, 1835, church bells began to ring all through the town of Béxar. They signaled the beginning of festivities marking Mexico’s independence from Spain. The schedule of events for the next morning was read aloud before a large gathering of the town’s citizens. Soldiers carried flags and banners to the governor’s quarters to position them for the coming day’s parade. Behind those banners, town leaders organized a ceremony that was composed of “all citizens without distinction of class.”¹ The commemoration temporarily lowered barriers between military and civilian, elite and poor. Many of those...

  5. Prologue Life in a Norteño Town
    (pp. 15-24)

    Most nineteenth-century travelers approached Béxar from the south along the main road, the Camino Real, with a sense of relief and wonder. The relief came from arriving at a town safely after days of traversing the brush country, exposed to the possibility of attack from one of a variety of indigenous groups controlling the area, such as the Comanche or Lipan Apache. Indeed, immediately upon arrival, most Mexican travelers attended mass at San Fernando Cathedral. Writing in the eighteenth century, Juan Agustín de Morfi noted, “We went to the parish church to genuflect, to give thanks to Our Holy Father...


      (pp. 27-52)

      On September 27, 1821, military officials in Béxar lowered the Spanish flag flying over the presidio in Béxar and raised the Mexican flag in its place.¹ The solemn and orderly transfer belied the contentious and often violent rebellion, known as the insurgency, of the preceding decade. On two separate occasions, in 1811 and 1813, insurgents and royal troops had clashed in and around Béxar, affecting the lives of people in the entire region. While the insurgency in Béxar had links and parallels to the greater independence movement in Mexico, it also took on distinctive local characteristics. Those differences stemmed from...

    • Chapter Two Indigenous Identities: LOCATING “LO INDIO” IN THE TEJANO WORLD
      (pp. 53-80)

      When prominent Bexareño Francisco Ruiz presented his report to General Manuel Mier y Terán on Indians living in the Department of Texas in 1828, his observations carried the weight of a native of the region and an individual involved in indigenous relations as an agent and soldier. His notes distinguished between dozens of indigenous groups with an eye toward the possibilities of peace and alliance or war. Of the Lipan Apache, Ruiz wrote, “In my opinion, the southern Lipans [Apache] are the most cruel of all the barbaric nations I know. . . . I have been told by some...

    • Chapter Three American Immigrants: COLONIZATION AND TEJANO IDENTITY
      (pp. 81-108)

      In 1821, Stephen F. Austin organized the first foreign land grant colonization of Texas, with the goal of emigrating 250 families from the United States. Austin’s settlement project would not have succeeded, or for that matter even started, without Tejano support and encouragement. Tejano political leaders ushered through legislation at the state level and smoothed over obstacles as they arose. Austin’s relationship with Erasmo Seguín, the patriarch of the Seguín family, symbolizes the depth and interdependence of contact between Mexicans and Anglo-Americans generally. While the details of their political contacts extended beyond the local level, their personal relations revolved around...


    • Chapter Four Disrupting the Balance: COLONIZATION TROUBLES, 1828–1834
      (pp. 111-132)

      On April 25, 1831, Father Refugio de la Garza, Béxar’s longtime priest, wed the Anglo-American immigrant James Bowie and Ursula de Veramendi.¹ Veramendi’s parents, Juan Martín de Veramendi and María Josefa Ruiz de Navarro, each came from notable families. Josefa’s brother Francisco Ruiz had served as an important official during the Spanish and Mexican periods. Angel Navarro and Juan Francisco Bueno acted aspadrinos, or godparents, to the ceremony and thus connected the couple to the broader elite community throughcompadrazgo. While questions remain about Bowie’s truthful representation of his past, his marriage to Veramendi immediately opened doors and opportunities...

    • Chapter Five La Pérdida de Tejas: TEJANOS AND THE WAR OF TEXAS SECESSION, 1834–1837
      (pp. 133-166)

      In early fall of 1835, the citizens and government officials of Béxar gathered to prepare for the upcoming Independence Day celebration. For almost a decade since independence, Mexicans marked the origins of the independence movement beginning on the evening of September 15 and continuing through the next day. The decisions to commemorate the events of 1810 rather than 1821 signaled the popular disenchantment with the memory of Agustín Iturbide’s government. A month before the celebration, fifty Bexareños gathered in the political chief’s council hall to elect thejunta patriótica, or patriotic commission, in charge of organizing the event.¹

      Ramón Músquiz...

    • Chapter Six Tejanos as a Suspect Class: THE END OF SECESSION, 1837–1848
      (pp. 167-204)

      After the loss at San Jacinto, General Antonio López de Santa Anna relinquished control of Texas to the Texan secessionists. For Anglo - Texans, the end of the war ushered in the Republic of Texas era.

      For Tejanos, though, the war’s end brought only more uncertainty regarding their future. Their political and ethnic relation to Mexico stood at the center of that uncertainty. Mexicans continued to call for the reconquest of Texas, leading to two brief invasions of Béxar in 1842. During the second invasion, Mexican forces required Anglo-Texan inhabitants to sign an oath promising to “recommend to all Americans,...

    • Chapter Seven Voting and Violence: TEJANOS AND ETHNIC POLITICS, 1848–1861
      (pp. 205-230)

      The morning of September 12, 1857, began like countless others for Bexareño cart driver Nicanor Valdez.¹ He and a convoy of twelve Mexican teamsters continued their haul of American military supplies on the public road between San Antonio and the port on the Gulf of Mexico at Lavaca. Only this time, the convoy encountered an attack by a group of heavily armed bandits from Helena, in Karnes County. The attackers, about forty men in masks and painted faces, leveled their shotguns and six-shooters at the Mexican cart drivers. Without warning, the men began firing at the teamsters. Valdez’s partner Antonio...

  8. Conclusion Challenging Identities TRANSNATIONAL BECOMES LOCAL
    (pp. 231-238)

    This book started with Diez y Seis de Septiembre and ends with the same celebration, only seventy-five years later. On September 16, 1910, Mexicans marked the centennial of their independence with larger versions of the annual parades and celebrations. The Mexican government established a centennial commission to oversee the work of local organizingjuntas patrioticasformed across the nation. The juntas extended into the borderlands area of the United States, with groups forming in San Antonio and south Texas as well as in Los Angeles, Tucson, and El Paso.¹ Mexican Independence Day celebrations continued an existing tradition in these areas....

  9. Notes
    (pp. 239-280)
  10. Index
    (pp. 281-297)