Mexico became independent from Spain in 1810. Fourteen years later, in 1824, the Mexican government invited Moses Austin to lead a group of colonists and settle in an area located in east Texas. That was part of an effort by the Mexicans to try to settle the northern region, which was primarily empty at that time. However, the Mexicans placed conditions upon Austin’s settlement of the area. The settlers had to agree to become “Mexicanized” when they moved to the colony. That meant freeing their slaves, renouncing their citizenship in American, and becoming Catholics. Unfortunately for the Mexicans, they had no easy way to enforce those requests. So, they went largely ignored. The Texans were led by Austin until he died. Then his son, Sam Austin, took over leadership of Texas. The Americans living in Texas at the time were known as Tejanos by the Mexicans. The Tejanos wanted to be able to keep slaves, rule themselves more, and trade more with the United States. Tensions increased until 1835, when General Santa Anna became the new President of Mexico. He was known as the “Napoleon of the West.”
The first shots of the Texas Revolution were fired on October 2, 1835 in Gonzales, but several events before that were really the triggers of the war. The battle of San Jacinto, which occurred on April 21, 1836, took only 6 minutes, but six years of building tensions and conflicts led up to it. On April 6, 1830, a Mexican edict was passed that kept more Anglo-Americans from moving to Texas. In 1832, the Battle of Velasco and the Anahuac Disturbance took place. In 1834, Stephen F. Austin, who was known as the “Father of Texas,” was taken prisoner by the Mexicans. 1835 and 1836 saw the “Grass Fight, the capture of Goliad, and the destruction of San Antonio. Then, on March 2, 1836, Washington-on-the-Brazos became the site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence.
When they won the war, the Texans tried to become an independent nation for a time, but they also wanted to become part of the United States. Unfortunately, Texas had trouble joining the Union for two reasons. First, they allowed slavery. Second, the Mexican government didn’t recognize their independence right away. So, residents of the United States opposed Texas joining the Union because many of them were either anti-slavery, opposed to upsetting the Mexican government, or both. However, Texas did eventually join the United States and sold off some of its land to help the United States pay debts that Texas had incurred from loans taken from other countries. Between Texas joining the United States and Mexico also becoming upset over Manifest Destiny, the Mexican-American War started.