While the central and southern regions of the hemisphere produced wealth and glory, the northern regions held only disappointment and failure for Spain. The first Spanish footsteps in Texas probably came in 1518, when Juan de Grijalva explored the Gulf coast [this turns out to be wrong -- see next column]. Two years later Texas was visited by Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda, also exploring by ship along the coast. Whether anyone from either of these expeditions actually came ashore is unknown. In 1528, however, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and several other survivors of the shipwrecked expedition of Panfilo de Navarez landed their crudely constructed rafts somewhere on the upper Texas coast. Most scholars believe that the location de Vaca named in his journal La Isla de Malhado, or Misfortune Island, was what we call today Galveston Island.

The term misfortune for the island is understandable. While de Vaca and other crewmen, including a Moor named Esteban, survived, they were quickly enslaved by the native tribes. These were probably the members of the Karankawa Nation. De Vaca slowly gained acceptance as a shaman or medicine man by practicing what scant medical knowledge he possessed as a European commoner.

Within several years, the small group of Spaniards finally managed to escape, wandering across the interior of the southwest in search of other Spaniards. Their long journey carried them through Central Texas, the Big Bend, Chihuahua, and Sonora. They eventually stumbled into a Spanish outpost on the Gulf of California, fascinating their countrymen with rumors of Seven Cities of Cibola, cities of the natives laden with gold and silver. These unsubstantiated rumors, which de Vaca repeated in reports to the Viceroy and King, convinced the Spanish to mount a full-fledged search. from

A reader states: [You (this page) have written] "The first Spanish footsteps in Texas probably came in 1518, when Juan de Grijalva explored the Gulf coast."

This misconception is often repeated but it is simply not correct ... Juan de Grijalva [who] explored the Mexican Coast never the Texas Coastline. I have contacted Texas Handbook Online re the error and they have agreed that their previous credit was incorrect.

Dear Mr. ...,
Earlier this week we spoke over the phone about your questions on the discoverer of Galveston Island. This is a follow-up to that conversation. With the help of our Spanish Texas advisor, ..., we found that indeed you brought up some very important points that made us reexamine two of our articles--Galveston Island and Galveston County, both of which credit Juan de Grijalva as the discoverer. (Our article on Galveston County declares him to be the discoverer outright.)

This is in error, and this is the passage that I am adding to both articles to clear up this misconception:

In 1519 the Alonso Alvarez de Pineda expedition sailed past Galveston Island en route from the Florida peninsula to the Panuco River. Pineda may or may not have actually seen the island, however, Spain lay claim to the entire Gulf Coast, including Galveston Island, based on the 1519 Pineda expedition. I have deleted the reference to Grijalva altogether, and you will notice the 1519 date, which is correct.

So, we thank you very much for bringing this to our attention and for helping keep the Handbook as accurate as possible. Feel free to contact me anytime if you have questions or corrections.
s/..., Research Editor, Handbook of Texas

I am real curious where that information came from initially. I think that because Lafitte named his base island Campeche, the initiator was confused by Campeche, Mexico (seen by Grijavla's expedition along the Yucatan) ... Anyway, it's a good example of how incorrect info becomes "fact."

Birth of the Lone Star Flag: The first flag of the Republic of Texas was a simple affair--a yellow five-pointed star centered in a horizontal field of blue. This flag, also known as the "National Standard of Texas" or "the Burnett Flag," was approved by President Sam Houston and was used from 1836 to 1839. In 1838, Senator William H. Wharton, the first minister to the United States under Sam Houston's presidency, authored a bill describing the "Lone Star Flag" (the second national flag of Texas). It was approved by President Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar in 1839. The actual design of the Lone Star Flag remained a mystery until the Texas House of Representatives passed House Resolution 1123 in 1997 commemorating Montgomery County as the flag's official birthplace. H.R. 1123 officially recognized Dr. Charles B. Stewart as the flag's official designer, as commissioned by President Lamar. Lamar was himself a commensurate æsthete, both poet and artist.

February 18, 1685: Fort St. Louis is established by the French Nation (René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle) alongside Matagorda Bay on the west bank of Garcitas Creek (about 400 miles west of the Mississippi River), thus forming the basis for France's claim to Texas. The settlement lasted four years, until native attacks killed off everyone, except 5 children. The Spanish expeditions of Alonso De León arrived in April, 1689. It found a fort in shambles and the remains of three of the French settlers. They gave the settlers a proper burial, recovered the children and burned what remained of Fort Saint Louis in an attempt to eradicate all traces of a French presence.

In 1721-22 Marqués de Aguayoqv claimed to have built Nuestra Señora de Loreto de la Bahía Presidio directly over the remains of the French fort. The Spanish would of course contest the French claim to Texas-Louisiana. Enough of a question remained, however, so as to regard the French transfer of Louisiana to the United States, as also transferring the disputed interest in Texas, because the French had acquired the Spanish interest in Louisiana. This is why the French Flag is one of the six national flags that have flown over the state -- can you name the others ?? Archæologists have found LaSalle's ship. The article about the discovery and the history of the expedition makes for a good read.

March 27, 1814 -- War of 1812: President, then General, Andrew Jackson's Division, wins the Battle of Horseshoe {Bend}, Mississippi Territory in what would become the State of Alabama. The Battle of Horseshoe Bend (Tallapoosa River) was fought against the Red Stick Creeks (1000 enemy-Jackson permitted women and children to leave prior to the conflict) was the event along with the Battle of New Orleans that propelled Jackson into National prominence. He fought (2700 regulars) with other Native Americans (600), who he later forced out of the South during the Trail of Tears. Only 200 of the enemy in 1814 escaped (into the Florida swamps). The Battle took place on March 27 and the Treaty of April 9th saw 23 million acres transferred to the US. Sam Houston (a future governor of TN and Texas) served as a 3rd Lieutenant, receiving a wound that troubled him for the rest of his life. The campaign was the direct result of the Massacre at Fort Mims (north of Mobile).

February 23, 1836: On September 29, 1835, a detachment of the Mexican army arrived in Gonzales, Texas, a Mexican state, to confiscate a cannon . The cannon was well hidden, but eighteen armed men stood in plain sight. They taunted the Mexican army to "come and take it." The two sides talked and dickered, but no action was taken. However, the little band of men grew to 167 in two days. Early the next morning the Texans attacked the Mexican camp believing the troops had prepared to attack that day as well. With this preemptive strike the Texas Revolution was underway. Troops of the Revolution would eventually find their way to and laid siege of San Antonio in late 1835, driving off Mexican forces after the battle of December 5th. Mexican President, Dictator, and General Santa Anna after putting down a rebellion in the Yucatan, moved north to crush that in Texas, crossing over the Rio Grande on February 15th. There would be no mercy shown to the revolutionaries, who would be executed at every turn. The forces of history were gathering, while Texans remained over confidant and indecisive.

On the 23rd the Alamo fell under siege by Antonio López de Santa Anna, General-in-Chief of the Army of Operations, and President of the Republic of Mexico. The siege of the Alamo began a 13-day period that turned a ruined Spanish mission in San Antonio, Texas, into the Texas Shrine known the world over and revered for the heroic defense of freedom it represents. The fight for Texas Independence (formally declared March 2nd) would be complete only when Santa Anna sufered defeat at San Jacinto. Remember the Alamo would be the rallying cry that some say led to his ruin and exile; but, in truth it was an influx of legal and illegal immigration into the Texas province of Mexico, as well as his willful breach of the Mexican Constitution, that resulted in the legal transfer of the Texas Nation and eventually other territories to the United States. English-speaking American settlers far outnumbered Spanish speaking Mexican citizens, and the lands had ceased practically to be tied to Mexico, when the conflict occurred. Indeed, many Spanish-speaking Texans supported the formal break as necessary to preserve freedom.

Santa Anna had crossed over the Rio Grande into Texas near Guerrero -- Eagle Pass at the long established river crossing on the road to San Antonio out of Mexico proper. From January 10th until February 16, 1836, Guerrero served as the staging area for what was expected to be a quick victory in Texas. Santa Anna was right -- in a way -- as he was captured in the battle of San Jacinto and signed a Peace Treaty recognizing the Republic of Texas on May 14, 1836.

And now we all remember:

In the southern part of Texas, in the town of San An-tone,
There's a fortress all in ruin that the weeds have overgrown.
You may look in vain for crosses and you'll never see a one,
But sometime between the setting and the rising of the sun,
You can hear a ghostly bugle as the men go marching by;
You can hear them as they answer to that roll call in the sky:
Colonel Travis, Davy Crockett and a hundred eighty more;
Captain Dickenson, Jim Bowie, present and accounted for.

* * *


In the southern part of Texas, near the town of San An-tone,
Like a statue on his Pinto rides a cowboy all alone.
And he sees the cattle grazin' where a century before,
Santa Anna's guns were blazin' and the cannons used to roar.
And his eyes turn sort of misty, and his heart begins to glow,
And he takes his hat off slowly to the men of Alamo.
{much more slowly}            
To the thirteen days of glory at the seige of Alamo.

Marty Robbins, Ballad Of The Alamo

Santa Anna would reprise his role during the Mexican-American war. U.S. troops under General Zachary Taylor would defeat Mexican General Santa Anna at the Battle of Buena Vista in Mexico (San Luis Potosi ) on February 23, 1847. He surrounded the forces commanded by Taylor (Old Rough and Ready) at the Angostura Pass in Mexico and demanded an immediate surrender. Taylor refused, though outnumbered 3 to 1. Superior US artillery was able to halt the advance of Mexican legions. Santa Anna goes home declaring victory, but Mexico would lose this war and the General would spend his second time in exile on the beautiful Isle of Jamaica (1848).

Elected in 1848, Taylor would become 12th President of the United States due to his war record, but would serve only 16 months. He died July 9, 1850 in Washington D.C. while in office. He got sick after eating cherries and milk at a July 4th celebration. He was the second president to die in office. As you may have guessed, his Vice-president, a New Yorker, followed him. Millard Fillmore filled out the term. He had no Vice-president. California, lost by Mexico just a few years earlier, became the 31st State during Fillmore's time in office (September 9, 1850).

February 23, 1861: Ironically, on February 23, 1861, Texas would become the seventh State to secede from the Union, when citizen's confirmed {by a better than 3 to 1 margin} the secession decision. Governor Sam Houston, who opposed secession, had refused to call a convention upon Lincoln's election; however, at a special session, the Texas legislature approved the idea. An election of delegates took place over a period of days and in late January, the convention assembled in Austin. On February 1, the convention voted overwhelmingly to secede, 166-8. A vote of all citizen's took place on February 23rd to confirm the convention results. On March 16, 1861, Edward Clark would become the Governor of Texas; thereby, replacing Sam Houston, who was evicted from office for refusing to take the Oath of Loyalty to the Confederacy.

February 24th is Flag {Bandera Nacional} Day in Mexico: Do you know what the colors of this flag represent ? Today, young children are told that Green is for hope and victory; White is for the purity of Mexico's ideals; Red is for the blood Mexico's national heroes who died defending unity. The colors in truth have another, historical meaning -- Tres Garantías. Thus, white represented the Catholic Faith; green was for independence; while red stood for the union between Europeans and America's native peoples; but, according to Zárate, a Mexican historian, red, originally stood for the Spanish, the red of Castile.

The Treaty of Iguala, established on 24th February 1821, recognized the independence of Mexico and established the Tres Garantías for real. The flag of the army, the Trigarante, was adopted on 14th April, 1821, and was made by the taylor of Iguala, José Magdaleno Ocampo. The Army of the Three Guarantees entered Mexico City on 23rd September, 1821. A decree of Iturbide established the flag colored after the fashion of the Trigarante. That flag was raised on 7th January, 1822, and was declared perpetual, and a derivative of it remains in use today.

In addition to the bands of color, Mexico's flag also has an emblem. The emblem is based on a legend which tells how the Méxicas {Aztecs} traveled from Aztlán (now the state of Nayarit) in search of the sign that Huitzilopochtli had told them they would discover at the place where they should establish their empire. This sign was an eagle on top of a Nopal cactus devouring a serpent. They found this on a small island in the middle of a lake and settled there. Thus, began the city of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City. see also

March 1, 1917 -- Yet another angle on the Great War (to end all wars): On this first day of March, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson revealed the contents of a secret letter to the Press. The German foreign minister, Arthur Zimmermann, had sent the secret missive to the German Ambassador in Mexico City via the German Ambassador to Washington. In the intercepted communication, the Empire of Germany offered Mexico an alliance against the neutral United States. Germany, at the height of World War I, proposed to assist Mexico in its never ending goal of reconquista (the retaking Texas, New Mexico and Arizona (not to mention California)). The message, decoded by those crafty British, was handed to the American President. This revelation of intrigue became instrumental in forming the public's opinion against Germany. The United States entered into the Great War five weeks later.

March 2, 1836: Texas declared itself an independent sovereign nation, leaving Mexico on Sam Houston's 43rd birthday. Sam hailed from Lexington in Virginia. He became a Texan by necessity and by choice. The first vice-president of the Nation of Texas was Manuel Lorenzo Justiniano de Zavala y Sáenz. Mr. de Zavala, born in the village of Tecoh, had years of loyal service to his native land, Mexico, before Santa Anna ignored Mexico's constitution, forcing de Zavala to make his hard but inexorable choice. He became a free and independent Tejano as did Mr. Houston on this bodeful day.

In honor of the occasion, Samuel Colt manufactured his first pistol, the 34-caliber "Texas" model, on March 5th. Mexico refused to recognize Texas, but diplomatic relations soon were established with the Britain and France. US President Andrew Jackson and Congress recognized the Republic of Texas on March 3, 1837. Texas was an independent republic until 1845, when on March 1st, President Tyler signed a congressional resolution that annexed the Republic of Texas, an act which soon provoked a war with Mexico and Sam's nemesis, Santa Anna.

March 6, 1836: The death of Colonel David Crockett and James Bowie from a French perspective can be found at: Before sunrise on March 6, 1836, the most famous siege in American history came to an end. All of the defenders, roughly 180 or more, were killed in battle or executed soon afterward. Their bodies were piled and burned near the fort and river. I have visited the spot above the Riverwalk, next to the visitors' center, near where the burning took place -- several times. I am much more hushed by the simple sign on a busy street that spells out the enormity of the decision to defend the Alamo. You'll look in vain for crosses, as Marty Robbins sang. The restored structures and fish ponds a block away are nice, but - to give or ask for no quarter is an act of great courage or evil, depending on your part in the affair.

Davy Crockett objected to roundup and removal of Native Americans, commonly referred to as the Trail of Tears, spearheaded by President Jackson and his VP. Famous frontiersman Davy Crockett, whose grandparents died at the hand of Creek and Cherokee warriors, served as a scout for Andrew Jackson during the Creek War (1813-14). Never-the-less, as a U.S. congressman from Tennessee, Crockett broke with President Jackson over the Indian Removal Act, calling it unjust. Despite warnings that his opposition to Indian removal would cost him his seat in Congress, where he’d served since 1827, Crockett said, “I would sooner be honestly and politically damned than hypocritically immortalized.” The year after the act’s 1830 passage, Crockett lost his bid for reelection. After being voted back into office in 1833, he continued to express his opposition to Jackson’s policy. Crockett wrote that he would leave the U.S. for the “wildes of Texas” if Martin Van Buren, Jackson’s vice president, succeeded Jackson, in the White House. After Crockett was again defeated for reelection, in 1835, he did go to Texas, where he died fighting at the Alamo in March 1836.

February 2008

The knife fighter James Bowie was one of the defenders. But his renown was overshadowed by that of Colonel David Crockett, born in Greene County (East Tennessee), the Congressman from the canebrake, representing Tennessee.

In what one might call a fitting tribute, one day and 11 years later (1847), U.S. General Winfield Scott would occupy Vera Cruz, Mexico during the American War with Mexico. In a reprise of both these events, in 1911, the United States would send 20,000 troops to the Mexican border on March 7th. General Fransisco "Pancho" Villa would lead a raid on Columbus NM (17 killed) from Mexico on March 9, 1915. President Woodrow Wilson responded by ordering General John J. Black Jack Pershing (a former officer in the Buffalo Soldier Corps) to pursue and disperse the bandits. Pershing's Mexican Punitive Expedition, a combined armed force of 10,000 men, penetrated 350 miles into Mexico and routed General Villa's forces, severely wounding Villa. Today we will not defend our borders and we sue those who try.

Justice sometimes requires a swift and overwhelming response.

March 10, 1848: The Senate ratified the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the war with Mexico. It was signed on February 2nd. Its provisions called for Mexico to cede over half of its territory (present-day Arizona, California, New Mexico, and portions of Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Texas) in exchange for fifteen million dollars in compensation for war-related damage to Mexican property. By the Louisiana Purchase, portions of Texas became a part of the United States; but in 1819, this land had been ceded to Spain in the negotiations as a trade for Florida. Two years later Mexico, including Texas territory, had become independent from Spain. The United States made two unsuccessful attempts to purchase Texas from Mexico. The settlement of Texas by immigrants from the United States led to the secession of Texas from Mexico. Mexico recognized Texas as an independent nation, but later Texas was annexed by the United States.

March 11, 1822: Lawyer, politician, and military officer Allison Nelson was born in Fayette (later part of DeKalb, and still later part of Fulton) County. Nelson read law and became an attorney. In 1846, he raised a volunteer company -- the Kennesaw Rangers -- and served as a captain in the Mexican War. After the war, Nelson returned to Georgia, where he married and settled in Cobb County. Becoming a successful planter, he represented Cobb in the Georgia House of Representatives (1848-49). In Jan. 1855, Nelson won election as the 9th mayor of Atlanta (though he resigned that July), giving him the distinction of being the first Atlanta mayor born in the limits of what now is Fulton County. After a brief term as Atlanta mayor, Nelson moved to Texas. In 1860, he was elected to the Texas legislature, also serving in that state's secession convention. After Texas' secession, Nelson helped organized the 10th Texas regiment, in which he served as a colonel. In Sept. 1862, he was promoted to brigadier general. That same month, he became sick during an outbreak of typhoid fever, and died on Oct. 7, 1862 at a Confederate camp (subsequently named for him) near Old Austin in Lonoke County, Arkansas. He is buried at Little Rock.

March 27, 1836-Palm Sunday: After two days of battle (March 19th and 20th), some 300 Georgia volunteers and others fighting in the War for Texas Independence under Colonel James Walker Fannin and Lt. Colonel William Ward (who also were Georgians) surrendered to a much larger Mexican Army. Many thought that Fannin had negotiated a surrender which would allow the troops in his command to be paroled. The prisoners were marched to Presidio La Bahia (Goliad). Many, including Fannin, were injured. Thereafter, upon Santa Anna's order, the prisoners were executed on Palm Sunday as pirates under a decree of December 30, 1835, that applied to captured armed rebels. Of course the Georgians technically were not rebels, just armed combatants fighting a foreign power on behalf of another country, Texas. Great cruelty has great consequences, as the Dictator of Mexico soon would discover. This tragedy so inflamed Georgians that many would volunteer to fight during the Mexican War a decade later. Remember Goliad - Remember the Alamo !!! -- these became the battle cries in that later war, as well as at San Jacinto just a few weeks later.

As for Colonel Fannin, Georgia named a county for him, the gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains. This Fannin County was created in 1854 from portions of Union County and Gilmer County, with Morganton as the first county seat. Fannin County Texas was created on December 14, 1837, along with 39 North Texas counties all carved out of the premier Red River County. Fannin's entire command, together with William Ward and the Georgia Battalion, were shot in the Goliad Massacre on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836. The murder of these men culminated a long series of defeats by the Texas Patriots and gave the Dictator a sense of invincibility.

Of note, Fanin's men first unfurled the Texas flag as we know it today. This flag was made by Johanna Troutman of Knoxville, Georgia. In 1835, Colonel Fannin had made the appeal for a Georgia battalion to aid the Texas cause. Miss Troutman presented this flag to Colonel Fannin before he returned back to Texas with the volunteers. The flag was first unfurled at Velasco on January 8, 1836 and was carried into battle at Goliad in March 1836. White Flag-Blue Star --

Dr. Lauro Cavazos, former president of Texas Tech University and Secretary of Education 1988-1990 under Presidents Reagan and Bush, the first Hispanic to serve in the U.S. Cabinet, descends from Señora Francita Alavez, the Angel of Goliad. The museum at Presidio La Bahia contains several items related to her; but except for her lifesaving actions, she is largely unknown in the Texas Pantheon . She was directly responsible for enabling a few men to survive the execution that took some 322 lives.
Le 21 avril 1836: À San Jacinto, les volontaires texans de Sam Houston battent l'armée mexicaine de Santa Anna. Ils ont pu se préparer à la bataille grâce à la résistance désespérée de Fort Alamo. Le Texas devient pour quelques années un pays indépendant avant de se rattacher aux États-Unis.   Remember Goliad; Remember the Alamo !!!   In just a few months the Texican's hopes had gone from desperation to jubilation. General Santa Anna, President of Mexico, lost the battle of San Jacinto. Silently and tensely, the men bending low, the Texas battle line swept across the prairie and swale that was No Man's Land. A soldier's fife piped up with Will You Come to the Bower, a popular celtic tune of the day. That was the only music of the battle.

Will you come to the bower o'er the free boundless ocean,
Where stupendous waves roll in thundering motion,
Where the mermaids are seen and the wild tempest gather,
To loved Erin the green, the dear land of our fathers
Texas Navy Flag Will you come and awake our lost land from its slumber
And her fetters we'll break, links that long are encumbered.
And the air will resound with hosannahs to greet you
On the shore will be found gallant Irishmen to greet you.

Mirabeau Lamar led a cavalry charge through enemy lines for the decisive victory. Born in Georgia, Lamar immigrated to Texas in 1835, joining the fight for independence. After the conflict, Lamar became attorney general, secretary of war, vice-president and, finally, president of the Republic of Texas in 1838. Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (1798-1859), son of John and Rebecca (Lamar), was born near Louisville, Georgia, on August 16, 1798. He grew up at Fairfield, his father's plantation near Milledgeville. Among his accomplishments was the decision to make Austin the Texas capital city. He is also known as the Father of Texas Education: “A cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy” -- or as they say at UT, Disciplina Præsidium Civitatis Lamar County and the town of Lamar in Aransas County were named for him. In 1936 the Texas Centennial Commission placed statues of him in the Hall of State in Dallas and in the cemetery at Richmond. The commission also marked the site of his home near Richmond and the place of his residence as president in Austin, and built a miniature replica of his home on the square at Paris.

Remember Goliad; Remember the Alamo !!

The battlefield is east of today's Houston. San Jancinto, Texas is in a different location, just south of Lake Livingston and East of Huntsville.

The San Jacinto Monument, which stands 15 feet taller than the Washington Monument, was completed in 1939. Actually out of respect, the actual obelisk portion of the monument is shorter than Washington's; however, when put on its base it stands higher -- indeed the tallest in the world. The San Jacinto Museum of History is housed in the base of the monument. The San Jacinto Monument and Museum remains open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 6 in the evening.

Remember Goliad; Remember the Alamo !!

Directions Link

Cinco de Mayo (1862): Today marks the anniversary of a battle at Puebla. General Ignacio Zaragoza (born in Texas when it was still part of México) led troops, outnumbered three to one, against an invading French army, a force thought to be the best in the world. The Mexican forces defeated Napoléon III's army and Puebla remained in Zaragoza's hands.

Empereur en 1852, dès 1853 les timbres porteront 
la même effigie (à 1848) mais avec la légende Empire Français indiqué * EMPIRE * FRANC *El 8 de diciembre de 1861, los poderes europeos desembarcaron en el Puerto de Veracruz y lo ocuparon, siendo España la primera en llegar. Para el 11 de abril de 1862 España e Inglaterra se enteraron de las intenciones de Francia y abandonaron su apoyo embarcándose hacia Europa. Mientras tanto, en la ciudad de México, el Presidente Juárez (indio zapoteca que se había licenciado como abogado y había estudiado para el sacerdocio) tomaba medidas para contrarrestar la invasión:

El gobierno de la República...en vista de la declaración de los plenipotenciarios franceses, no puede ni debe hacer otra cosa que rechazar la fuerza con la fuerza y defender a la nación de la agresión injusta con la que se la amenaza. ...Tengamos fe en la justicia de nuestra causa... haciendo triunfar no sólo a nuestra patria, sino a los principios de respeto y de inviolabilidad de la soberanía de las naciones

Emperor Maximilian featured on A 25-centavo, 
orange postage stamp, of Mexico-Scott 29One year after La Batalla de Puebla, the French brought in more troops and re-attacked. On this occasion the forces made their way to Ciudad de México, took the capital and installed Emperor Maximilian of the Hapsburgs (Austrian-Hungary Empire) as the reigning monarch of México. Maximilian ruled México for about four years, until his execution in 1867 by troops loyal to President Benito Juárez, who had regained power. The attempt to reestablish a European Empire in the New World had failed, so reason enough to celebrate an event not critical to the desired outcome.

I tried to find a French article about today (May 2006), but only one appeared on-line, and it did not touch upon the French role in this historic day

... Il y a le 1er mai, fêté partout dans le monde, il y a le 3 mai, la journée mondiale de la presse, et il y a le 6 mai dédié, au Liban, aux martyrs, y compris ceux de la presse …

Il y a aussi un autre jour de ce mois de l’année marquant un événement propre à un pays (le Mexique), mais célébré davantage dans un autre (les États-Unis-USA). Il s’agit du «cinco de mayo» (le 5 mai en espagnol), qui est l’une des fêtes nationales du Mexique. Il commémore la victoire des forces mexicaines, menées par le général Ignacio Zaragoza, sur les forces expéditionnaires françaises dans la bataille de Puebla (5 mai 1862). Si cette page de l’histoire passe presque inaperçue au pays où elle a été écrite, elle est donc source de grande liesse et de pavoisement au pays de l’Oncle Sam.

Quel lien y-a-t-il entre la bannière étoilée et celle de la patrie de Zapata et de Poncho Villa? Réponse: les chicanos. C’est ainsi que l’on appelle les hispaniques, et plus particulièrement les Mexicains, ayant émigré aux États-Unis et dont la plupart se sont établis en Californie et au Texas. À la fin des années 60, les étudiants de cette souche ont lancé le mouvement chicano pour marquer leur identité. Ils ont notamment voulu avoir «leur» jour de célébration qui refléterait leur ascendance mexicaine. De prime abord, le choix évident aurait dû être «el dieciséis de septiembre», ou le 16 septembre, date de l’indépendance du Mexique en 1810. Cependant, le 16 septembre coïncidait avec le début de l’année universitaire. Alors, le «cinco de mayo» est devenu l’alternative de fait pour ces étudiants, d’autant que leur plus grand héros, le général Zaragoza, était né au Texas.

«Latinos», «chicanos» et «hispaniques» -- Au fil des ans, les festivités du 5 mai ont débordé le cadre universitaire et tout activisme pour s’enraciner dans la culture traditionnelle du Sud-Ouest des États-Unis. Pour beaucoup de communautés américano-mexicaines, «cinco de mayo» est une manière importante d’honorer fièrement l’héritage de leur pays d’origine, éclipsant le jour d’indépendance du Mexique. Les Américains non mexicains participent également aux célébrations, de la même manière que les non-Irlandais observent le jour de la Saint-Patrick. Et le melting pot aidant, tout le monde trinque à la tequila et à la bière mexicaine. Au Mexique même, «cinco de mayo» est remémoré en particulier dans l’État de Puebla, où la célèbre bataille a eu lieu.

À noter que la population hispanique (qualifiée d’abord de latinos puis de chicanos et d’hispaniques) est actuellement la première minorité aux États- Unis. Elle représente déjà 11% de la population américaine. Elle englobe des émigrés originaires des divers pays sud-américains qui ont néanmoins en commun la langue et la religion catholique. Elle se caractérise aussi par une diversité de classes sociales: les plus riches étant les Cubains, viennent ensuite les Mexicains puis les Portoricains. Diversité de statuts également, car il y a millions de clandestins aux États-Unis, dont millions de Mexicains. C’est dire que le pays-hôte n’a pu que se mettre lui aussi à l’heure du «cinco de mayo» et sa kyrielle d’us et coutumes hérités des Aztèques: des fresques murales, auxquelles Diego Rivera et sa compagne Frida Kahlo ont donné leurs lettres de noblesses modernes, au taco et autres spécialités culinaires baptisées Tex-mex. see also (voi aussi),0,3131919.story

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June 7, 1935: To celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the journey by Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca over halfway across the continent, Congress approved the issuance of a Commemerative Half-Dollar coin. On the obverse (front), in the center, is a steer's head (in Spanish: "cabeza de vaca"). In the field, "Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca - E. Pluribus Unum - Liberty". Around the rim, "United States of America - Half Dollar". On the reverse, in the center, a Yucca tree with a map of the journey displaying the following (Gulf) states: Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. In the field, "In God We Trust". Around the rim, Old Spanish Trail and the anniversary dates "1535 - 1935".

It apparently made little difference that the actual Old Spanish Trail followed a route different than that taken by de Vaca. In addition, the year (1935) picked to celebrate the 400th anniversary had little historical relevance to the dates (1528-1536) of the Spanish explorer’s travels in the old southwest.

September 13, 1847: In 1847, forces under American General Winfield Scott capture Chapultepec Castle in the Mexican-American War. This leads directly to the fall of Ciudad de México and the end of the American intervention. The efforts of the U.S. Marines in this battle and subsequent occupation of Mexico City are memorialized in the opening line of the Marines' Hymn. From the Halls of Montezuma refers to the Chapultepec Castle also known as the Halls of Montezuma. Since no Mexican government functioned after the fall of Mexico City, Scott and the State Department's agent, Nicholas P. Trist, had to wait until February 1848 before a government could be formed to agree to peace terms. Then, in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the United States gained California, Arizona, New Mexico, the Rio Grande boundary for Texas, as well as portions of Utah, Nevada, and Colorado.;

November 22, 1835: Frank Crawford Armstrong was born on November 22, 1835 at Choctaw Agency, Indian Territory (now the virtually abandoned village of Scullyville) where his father was stationed at the time. After his death, when Armstrong was a boy, Armstrong's mother married General Persifor Frazer Smith, one of the heroes of the Mexican War. Armstrong accompanied him on a military expedition across Texas into New Mexico in 1854, learning his trade out west. A Regular Officer in the Cavalry branch of the Army of the United States, and the youngest captain in the army at the time, he was transferred back east. Captain Armstrong fought for the Union at the First Battle of Bull Run (1861), later changing sides after resigning his commission.

Texas Wines: - a history older than California.

The first Impressionist painting in the Blanton's collection, Jean-Baptiste Armand Guillaumin's Environs de Paris is on view at the Blanton Museum of Art's new location, as it was at the old location (since mid-2004). The work was a gift to Mrs. Johnson (Ladybird) from her husband, the late President Lyndon B. Johnson. It hung in the White House during the Johnson administration. Guillaumin, the last surviving member of the French Impressionist movement (he died in 1927), counted among his friends and colleagues Pissarro, Cezanne and Van Gogh. Called a "furious colourist" by some critics, Guillaumin is known for his landscapes with shimmering light and vibrant, otherworldly color, and super-heated skies.

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