In the southern part of Texas
In the town of San Antone
There's a fortress all in ruins that the weeds have overgrown
You may look in vain for crosses and you'll never see a-one
But sometimes 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.
Captain Dickinson, Jim Bowie
Present and accounted for.
Last week, the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin had a book event scheduled with the authors of Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of An American Myth, which exposes an often-ignored history about how central white rage at the Mexican ban on slavery was to the Texas revolution.
Upon finding out about the event, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick abruptly got it canceled three and a half hours before it was scheduled to begin and bragged on Twitter that "this fact-free rewriting of TX history has no place at the Bob Bullock Museum."
"As a member of the Preservation Board, I told staff to cancel this event as soon as I found out about it," Patrick said. "This fact-free rewriting of TX history has no place @BullockMuseum."
In response, Chris Tomlinson, one of the book's authors, accused Patrick of "oppressing free speech and policing thought in Texas."
The book examines the way the Battle of the Alamo is taught and concludes that important parts of the story have for generations been left out of the narrative.
"Just as the site of the Alamo was left in ruins for decades, its story was forgotten and twisted over time, with the contributions of Tejanos–Texans of Mexican origin, who fought alongside the Anglo rebels – scrubbed from the record, and the origin of the conflict over Mexico's push to abolish slavery papered over," a description of the book from Penguin Random House says. It continues: "As uncomfortable as it may be to hear for some, celebrating the Alamo has long had an echo of celebrating whiteness."
(Yelena Dzhanova. “Texas GOP leaders pressured a book event examining the role of slavery in the Battle of the Alamo to abruptly shut down.” Business Insider. July 03, 2021.)
The Texas Tribune noted that the book has received largely positive reviews from acclaimed media outlets like The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
As the defenders of the Alamo were about to sacrifice their lives in 1836, other Texans were making clear the goals of the sacrifice at a constitutional convention for the new republic they hoped to create.
Section 9 of the General Provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Texas, ratified in 1836, made slavery legal again in Texas and defined the status of slaves and people of color in the Republic of Texas. People of color who had been servants for life under Mexican law would become property.
The history of slavery in Texas began slowly at first during the first few phases in Texas' history. Texas was a colonial territory, then part of Mexico, later Republic in 1836, and U.S. State in 1845.
The issue of slavery became a source of contention between the Anglo-American settlers and Spanish governors. The governors feared the growth in the Anglo-American population in Texas, and for various reasons, by the early 19th century, they and their superiors in Mexico City disapproved of expanding slavery. In 1829 the Guerrero decree conditionally abolished slavery throughout Mexican territories. It was a decision that increased tensions with slave-holders among the Anglo-Americans.
After the Texas Revolution ended in 1836, the Constitution of the Republic of Texas made slavery legal. Sam Huston made illegal importation from Mexico a crime in 1836. The General Provisions of the Constitution forbade any slave owner from freeing his slaves without the consent of Congress and forbade Congress from making any law that restricted the slave trade or emancipated slaves.
Section 9 stated …
“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 power to emancipate slaves.”
Patrick's argument that the book is “fact-free rewriting” is simply denial. His problem is that the authors have the nerve to utter the truth in Texas. He believes he and other supporters of Lone Star myth are entitled to erase facts from history to justify their own means of supporting fables … and to be held up as heroes for doing so.
Several months ago, he announced that a top legislative priority would be to pass a law literally forcing sports arenas to play the national anthem, a reaction to the Dallas Mavericks quietly removing the practice from their pre-game program. Should half-hearted displays of so-called “patriotism” be forced on these crowds?
In June 2020, Patrick claimed that the root of America’s racial problems was the lack of faith by “the left.” Speaking after more than a week of demonstrations against the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, Patrick tried to pin the nation’s long and deep-rooted racial problems on people not being religious enough ― and more specifically, “the left” not accepting Jesus Christ.
(Ed Mazza. “Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick: Racism Won’t Stop Until We ‘Accept Jesus Christ.’” HuffPost. June 04, 2020.)
Patrick is a strong supporter of maintaining Confederate monuments on public display, despite opposition from civil rights groups who consider the statues as a defense of the institution of slavery and of the Civil War.
As one of six members of the board that oversees the Texas State Capitol grounds, Patrick described the need: "to learn from history, all of our history, including events and times that many would like to forget ... Our goal should be to have a meaningful dialogue for future generations so those moments in our history are not repeated."
(Allie Morris. “Austin has a monumental problem: Confederate icons have backing at the Capitol.” San Antonio Express-News. August 17, 2017.)
Perhaps Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick should live by his own convictions – “to learn from all of our history, including events and times that many would like to forget.” I doubt if he will ever do this though, as Patrick is too busy playing the role of the holy savior of white mythology.