Red is back from a short trip to Mexico City. Here are a few observations:
- Every hostess in Mexico City must wear her hair pulled back.
- The streets and highways in Mexico City are in better condition than the roads in most Texas cities. Sad.
- Roads are frequently closed/barricaded for mysterious reasons.
- You must find a trendy restaurant – (e.g. Sonora Prime Grill) arrive at 2:30 on a weekday and sit back and watch the show for a couple of hours.
- If you are looking for lunch before 1:00 pm – forget it. However, a late breakfast is available everywhere.
- The Ballet Folklorico de Mexico is a must see and great bargain for the price.
- You will be surprised by something – Red arrived in time for the massive Colores de Primevera market set up in huge tents on the Zocalo – flowers, plants, herbs, food (especially chocolate and mole), therapy, clothes, pottery, trinkets, etc. When he was leaving they were setting up the massive TV screens for the World Cup on the Zocalo.
- There are always massive amounts of police in the city center. They appeared poised to quell any disturbances. There do not appear to be any disturbances.
- Retail is king in Mexico City. There are shops on every block that isn’t fully occupied by a church or a government office.
- There are a number of great museums that are must-sees such as the Archelogical Museum in Chapultepec, the Castillo de Chapultepec, the Museum of Modern Art, etc. But you should find some of the less well-known museums. Red found an exhibition at the former Palace of Iturbide now the “Palacio de Cultura Banamex” featuring equestrian works from the Americas – paintings, etchings, photographs, sculptures, saddles, spurs, bridles, folk art, etc. – a truly fabulous exhibit for the horse lover.
From the Annals of the Revolution – In 1836, 340 Texians under the command of Col. James Fannin were executed by firing squad at La Bahia in Goliad. As rebels and “perfidious foreigners” according to Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, El Presidente had decreed that all those in arms against the Mexican government were to be treated as traitors. Most of the rebels executed had been trying to escape the determined onslaught of Mexican forces under Gen. Jose de Urrea. However, in fleeing the Texians were surrounded on open ground without adequate supplies largely because of Fannin’s incompetence as a military leader. After the two-day Battle of Coleto, the men voted to surrender thinking they would be exiled to the U.S. Other prisoners had been captured in minor skirmishes with Urrea’s forces. After capture, Urrea, who had previously executed other prisoners he considered to be mercenaries, pleaded for clemency – but Santa Anna ordered the mass execution when Urrea was away from Goliad. The “Goliad Massacre” was carried out by Lt. Colonel José Nicolás de la Portilla – whose enthusiasm for the deadly work has been debated by historians. On Palm Sunday, Portilla had between 425 and 445 Texians marched out of the Mission in three columns on the Bexar Road, San Patricio Road, and the Victoria Road, between two rows of Mexican soldiers. The Texians were shot point blank, survivors were were hunted down and killed by gunfire, bayonet, or lance. About 30 men escaped by feigning death and another 20 or so were granted clemency to act as doctors, workers and interpreters. Another 75 men were marched to Matamoros for imprisonment. Remember Goliad – along with Remember the Alamo – became the rallying cry for the remaining Texian Army.
From the Annals of the Revolution – In 1836, Col. James W. Fannin raised a flag over the mission at La Bahia in Goliad with the words “Liberty or Death”. Fannin, now generally regarded as an inept commander who had lost the confidence of his men, was prophetic in his announcement. Unfortunately for Fannin and his men it would by “Death.” In fairness to Fannin, he was facing Mexican General Jose de Urrea – by far the best of the Mexican commanders. If Urrea had been in command during the revolution, it is very likely to have been easily suppressed. Urrea’s forces were never defeated in battle during the war and remained ready to fight after the Battle of San Jacinto. Fannin was originally ordered by Sam Houston to relieve the Alamo and then later ordered to retreat to Victoria. He delayed in his retreat and during that action he was cornered on open ground with limited supplies and forced to surrender. Held back at Goliad, Fannin and his men were massacred on the orders of Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Urrea strongly objected to executing prisoners of war, but the order was carried out by subordinates. Fannin was among the last to be shot.
From the Annals of the Revolution – In 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico. Following a meeting on March 1 at Washington-on-the-Brazos of delegates from the seventeen Mexican municipalities of Texas and the settlement of Pecan Point, George C. Childress and a committee of five were tasked with preparing a resolution calling for independence. In the early morning hours of March 2, the convention voted unanimously to accept the resolution prepared by the committee. Fifty-eight members of the delegation signed the document announcing to the world that Texas had declared itself to be the independent Republic of Texas. Less than two months later after the Battle of San Jacinto, actual independence was secured. The Republic would last only about 10 years until Texas was annexed by the United States.
From the Annals of the Border – In 1819, U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams and Spanish foreign minister Luis de Onis y Gonzalez-Vara signed the Adams-Onis Treaty also known as the Florida Treaty. Spain ceded Florida to the U.S. in exchange for settling the long simmering boundary dispute between the U.S. and New Spain. Spain was frankly interested in jettisoning Florida as it was already overwhelmed with wars for independence in South America and periodic upheaval what was soon to be Mexico. The treaty set the U.S./New Spain boundary at the Sabine River and on through the great plains and Rocky Mountains following the Red River and Arkansas River – basically according to the terms of the Louisiana Purchase – and then on west to the Pacific Ocean along the 42nd Parallel. The U.S. renounced any claims to Texas and agreed to pay residents’ claims against the Spanish government up to a total of $5,000,000. The treaty was short-lived as Mexico was granted independence from Spain in 1821. Mexico ratified the boundaries of AO Treaty by agreeing to the Treaty of Limits in 1828. The boundary stood until the Texas Revolution and the later the Mexican-American War.
From the Annals of the Republic – In 1842, President Sam Houston ordered Alexander Somervell to organize the militia and volunteers and invade Mexico. The call for volunteers was answered by about 700 men who were eager to avenge punitive raids made by Mexico earlier that year. The expedition left San Antonio on November 25 capturing Laredo on December 8. The expedition quickly began to break up as approximately 185 returned home. Somervell continued on and with a little over 500 men seized Guerrero. By December 19, Somervell realized that further action would likely be disastrous and ordered his men to disband and return home by way of Gonzales. A large contingent of 308 men disobeyed the order. This group commanded by William S. Fisher continued to Mexico on the predictably ill-fated Mier Expedition. That raid ended with the capture of the majority of the expedition and execution of seventeen men.
From the Annals of the Abolitionists – In 1829, Mexican President Vicente R. Guerrero issued the Guerrero Decree which abolished slavery throughout the Republic of Mexico except the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. This was a major spark for the Texas Revolution as many Anglo settlers had brought slaves with them and were opposed to abolition. The role of the preservation of slavery as a cause of the revolution has been understated in Texas history for as long as Red can remember. It was far from the only cause, but there were approximately 5000 enslaved persons out of a total of about 38,000 people (not including Native Americans) living in Texas at the time of the revolution. After winning independence, the Constitution of the Republic of Texas of 1836 provided:
All persons of color who were slaves for life previous to their emigration to Texas, and who are now held in bondage, shall remain in the like state of servitude… Congress shall pass no laws to prohibit emigrants from bringing their slaves into the republic with them, and holding them by the same tenure by which such slaves were held in the United States; nor shall congress have the power to emancipate slaves; nor shall any slave holder be allowed to emancipate his or her slave without the consent of congress, unless he or she shall send his or her slave or slaves without the limits of the republic.