Texas’ 1836 Project

There are different stories, legends, and narratives in popular culture today in Texas, and parts of the U.S., about events that took place over twelve days and nights at Misión San Antonio de Valero February 23 to March 6, 1836, otherwise known as the Siege of the Alamo. One such pop-narrative is from a southeastern Anglo-American viewpoint, post-Civil War. Another is from a later Anglo-Texian viewpoint about the new Republic begun in 1845. And still another much less popular or well-known narrative from an indigenous Tejano viewpoint begun in circa 1821. There is a fourth narrative that is so obscure and completely overlooked today that for the purposes of this blog-post, time, and word-count I shouldn’t mention it. But that would disrespect and defeat the virtues of Agnotology, something I personally hold very dear in our modern fight against disinformation, destitute scholarship in town squares, and partisan politics. Therefore, I will indeed mention the unsung fourth narrative of earliest Texas history: the Indian Nations of Taysha, or Texas.

It’s worth mentioning that part of Texas’ state and national identity is wrapped in what we call the Six Flags of Texas. Technically speaking this is not the full story. It should actually be at least “Seven Flags of Texas,” perhaps one representing the Indian Nations of Taysha. But unfortunately when Anglo-Americans write their victorious histories, peoples they’ve labelled “uncivilized” are omitted and made footnotes, maybe. But oh well, I digress.

Quietly woven throughout the narratives of the Southeastern Anglo-American and Anglo-Texian viewpoints, but rarely mentioned publicly or taught in Texas school classrooms today was slavery’s role in Texas’ fight for independence from Mexico and eventual willing annexation by the expanding United States. The deluge of Anglos immigrating from the Deep South slave-states which Mexico was against and trying to stop were, in the minds of Mexico’s government and empresarios, illegal incursions and seizures. At the very least, they were controversial, agitating, and enflamed tensions present between several clashes of cultures throughout the once vast (proclaimed) Spanish Territory of Tejas. Anglo-American immigrants did not wish to pay any taxes or tariffs to the Mexican government, particularly to Antonio López de Santa Anna who seized power himself in an insurrection against former President Bustamante. Many prevalent Tejanos of Tejas such as the very well-known José Antonio Navarro opposed Santa Anna’s dictatorship and by default Mexico.

What might surprise many Texans today is that several of Tejas’ Tejano elite such as the Navarro family also owned slaves, and by default and by way of economic motivations, Navarro and key Tejanos of Texas’ Republic also opposed Mexico’s recent independence from Spain and from the practice of slavery. However, these historical facts found on a Texas 1860 Census Slave Schedule for Atascosa County (location of Navarro’s San Geronimo Ranch) show he owned six to nine slaves indicating clearly that Texas’ fight was at least in part to keep slavery legal in the new Republic. Navarro and other famous Texas Tejanos with him fought Mexico for independence along with slave-owning Anglo-Americans…

…to protect the practice of slavery in Texas, upon which cotton farming relied heavily. It was not uncommon for families of this group to own slaves in the colonial period. Although the number of families holding slaves was small, it was a vital connection between Tejano elites and American cotton growers immigrating to Texas.

Henry and Patsy Navarro” from Casa Navarro History at the Texas Historical Commission website, accessed 7/10/2021
Movie set of the 2004 film “The Alamo”

What is also commonly unknown about earliest Texas history is that those same Tejanos who fought, bled, and died for Texas’ independence from Mexico at the Alamo and other battle-fields eventually lost over the next decade their original land grants and rights as citizens of Texas. By 1860-61 they were “legally expunged” you might say when Texas officially joined the Confederate States of America and its fight to keep slavery alive.

Since the end of the American Civil War in 1865, the legendary fight at the Alamo twenty-nine years earlier was intentionally altered to emphasize the southern Anglo-American and Anglo-Texan narrative as a fight solely against Santa Anna, thus overshadowing all other narratives in the face of humiliated Confederate defeat. Confederate Texans wanted to save face then and were successful. Now today with the advent of reignited racial awareness and heated tensions, resident first-, second- and third-generation Texans (a few fourth-generation too) and politicians—many of whom trace their pedigrees to the Midwest and Deep South slave-states—want at any cost to protect and advance a more Anglo-narrative of Texas history. More precisely, Texas school curriculums are being further realigned to promote an anachronistic Republican narrative which is not comprehensive or contextual to verifiable TayshaTejano Texas history.

Over the past two-weeks of this month, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, himself a first-generation Texan from Maryland, confirmed on his Twitter account that he personally called for the censorship and cancellation of a July 1st book promotion at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, TX. The name of the book and co-authors? Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth by Chris Tomlinson, Bryan Burrough, and Jason Stanford.

But this censoring tactic is part of a greater movement by GOP state officials like Gov. Gregg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Senator Ted Cruz, and other Republican officials regarding critical race theory and whether verifiable academic history has a place in Texas public school curriculums.

On June 16th, 2021 the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 797 requiring Texas schools to display the term “In God We Trust” across campus buildings if such signage is donated to them. House Bill 2497 was passed by the Texas Legislature in May 2021 giving a biased GOP committee the authority to promote our “official” state history—to residents receiving their driver’s license—from the aforementioned Anglo-narratives. House Bill 3979 is awaiting Gov. Abbott’s signature and it dictates how Texas teachers can talk to their students about current events and America’s as well as Texas’ history of racism and slavery. These legislative bills are just three of a number of other bills in a state-wide Republican campaign to teach reteach and promote a more narrow, patriotic version of our national and Anglo-Texan histories. Here in Texas it is called The 1836 Project and it plays off of and counters the acclaimed or controversial 1619 Project, but with a modern, intentional Texas GOP twist. From Gov. Gregg Abbott this past May:

“To keep Texas the best state in the United States of America, we must never forget why Texas became so exceptional in the first place.”

Personally I would argue that these recent campaigns to modify or omit established historical scholarship that is indeed verifiable, in Texas and other states, began as early as 2010, if not sooner. Though governmental officials like Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are and have been censoring or obstructing democratic freedoms and liberties in Texas on public property, they have gone much further than book promoting events.

For those of you born prior to the year 2000, remember in your classrooms the concept of “Compare and Contrast“? Critical-thinking and analysis skills are paramount for students to learn and acquire for the overkill of today’s “Disinformation Age.” Beginning at least in 2010 and 2012 political campaigns within the Texas GOP began muddling up this vital concept and skill getting taught in our public school curriculums. From The Poynter Institute’s PolitiFact website:

Gail Collins [of the New York Times] says Texas GOP platform calls for schools to stop teaching “critical thinking.”

Sue Owen, PolitiFact.com, August 11, 2012 — accessed 7/11/2021

Nevertheless, the Texas GOP did muddled-up and confuse the issue. Deputy Executive Director of the Republican Campaign, Chris Elam, stated the platform subcommittee unintentionally and unknowingly implied opposition of teaching critical-thinking in schools. He and his party were correct about that as can be read here:

“We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

As Gail Collins wrote, the Texas GOP platform does state that the party opposes “critical thinking.” But Collins also leaves out some important context. The platform makes it clear that its opposition is centered on one type of education model: outcome-based education.

Whatever one wishes to call it and play complicated games with words and phrases, this past May and June 2021 in our Texas Congress, the confusion and muddling has been scaled up again. It seems it has taken on yet another form when it all begins to censor and omit significant facts that compose an exhaustive contextual historical picture. This new type of political manipulations upon verifiable, established academic scholarship—whether in classrooms or in the town square—has become a dangerous epidemic in 21st-century America. Allowing this epidemic to continue will only setup further future digressions into sociopolitical turmoil that is ill-equipped to correct, adapt, and progress itself into a truly healthy, thriving Constitutional democracy. I’m unsure how you my readers might feel, but this destitution of Agnotology being replaced by (hyper?) Patriotism over historical, contextual facts disturbs me greatly.


Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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16 thoughts on “Texas’ 1836 Project

  1. What scabs my ass is the Anglos who came in and conquered the American west are referred to as settlers. As if the country hadn’t been “settled” already. At least the Spanish had the decency to call their looters conquistadores.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. In the voice of Yoda, “Disturb all of us, it should.”

    This politicization of the curriculum cannot end well if anyone is concerned about teaching people how to think in a variety of ways to foster creative and critical output. That polarization belongs to the ‘entertainment’ industry. School should be a place where we learn to recognize distortions; instead they have become bastions of promoting them.

    Although states do have the right to alter curriculum, one would be mistaken to think this latest attack by the Republican-run state legislatures is the root problem. I see strong evidence that it curries favour with the electorate because it is the ONLY response to the long-standing ideological attack turning curriculum into an indoctrination organ by the Democrats-run state legislatures.

    What gets lost in all this noise is concern for what’s true, concern for learning how to collate an aggregate history in order to learn how not to repeat costly mistakes, to get through all the bullshit thrown up to defend institutionalized privilege and advantage, recognize when policy and practice leads away from the liberal project of legal equality, away from unity and progress and shared fundamental founding values.

    When we hear calls to ban, to darken something and keep it out of the light, we should pay closer attention to the source material because in all likelihood whatever it may be is probably revealing this privilege and advantage. And we certainly could use a much higher level of awareness of when we are being subjected to agnotology for exactly the same reason. That takes courage. So where there’s smoke… or for those who might need their ethical framework in something more modern, Yoda is correct when he says, “In the end, cowards are those who follow the dark side.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tildeb,

      Your first paragraph hits home and hits painfully to the bone! Thank you Sir. The second paragraph I will need to reserve my response; think further on the root problems that are not politically-based and they are numerous. Your third paragraph tempered my initial discomfort with your second, particularly when you addressed what I presume to be ‘institutions of knowledge‘ or for example, our country’s public schools and state-funded universities of higher-education which provide (or should provide) protection AGAINST “indoctrination curriculum”:

      …in order to learn how not to repeat costly mistakes, to get through all the bullshit thrown up to defend institutionalized privilege and advantage…

      Correct me if I’m misinterpreting your meaning in those two paragraphs. 🙂

      Defending institutionalized privilege and advantage” is in my mind exactly what a very specific demographic of our state’s population—who are practically a minority today and fast becoming a shrinking minority-minority—and who want to keep their long-standing multi-centuries old (class?) privilege, advantage and entitlement in all aspects of life, but at the expense of all our nation’s foundational core principles and virtues spelled out by the 18th-century core Founding Fathers! And VERY ironically, it was Six Native American tribes/nations of New York State* that our 13-Colonial Founding Fathers borrowed from to shape our own national democracy and system of government!

      Tildeb, I’m not too sure who or what precisely you would identify as the root problem(s), but I find those people and their ideology or aligned ideologies of “defending [ancient ways and] institutionalized privilege and advantage” in specific areas/domains of politics, economics, socioreligious groups, and distinguished (or very distinct) zip codes. Maybe you disagree. 😉

      Returning to recent events, there is a journalist, Senior Fellow, and professor at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University named James Traub who I try to follow and read his many contributions to and books on Foreign Policy. Remarking on a leader in the BREXIT movement named Michael Gove—and relevant here—that publicly stated ‘facts don’t matter as much as feelings do’, a political tactic many American politicians utilize as well. IOW, experts and institutions of established knowledge are bogus, terrible. Traub writes in response:

      The word “expert” is, of course, the pejorative term for someone who knows what he or she is talking about—like Gove, I imagine, who graduated from Oxford and spent years as a minister in Conservative Party governments. What Gove was actually saying was that people should be free to build gratifying fantasies free from unpleasant facts.**

      Does that not sum up perfectly what current “Conservative” American polarizing politics has become the last decade or more!? I certainly think so.

      Anyway, thanks as always for your excellent feedback Tildeb. 👍🏼

      ——————————
      * – One source: https://www.pbs.org/native-america/blogs/native-voices/how-the-iroquois-great-law-of-peace-shaped-us-democracy/

      ** – Source: Nichols, Tom. The Death of Expertise (pp. 209-210). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. No offense to concerned and compassionate white folk everywhere, but this WHITEWASHING of history will most likely lead to some kind of apartheid government such as existed in South Africa for a large part of the 20th century. Can that really be possible, you might ask? Only you can answer that. If Texas 8s allowed to continue on this path, I can see no other conclusion.

    Meanwhile, PT, while I know the word is ingrained in every non-indigenous person in America, and unfortunately even a lot of indigenous people in North America too, please stop using the word “Indian” unless you are talking about people with ancestral roots in India. For them that designation is something to be proud of. For those of us with ancestral roots in North America, Central America, and even South America, the term us confusing at best, and downright insulting to our people.

    If critical race theory is teaching us anything, it is to honour all races, and to allow each person on Earth the right to be proud of their history. In Canada we use the term First Nations, but even that is somewhat derogatory, because it sets us outside of being Canadian as well as being those who were here before the white man came and dominated the land. “CANADA” is at least an indigenous word, so we are allowed to participate in it, not be shut out of it.

    If you don’t mind my saying, your nation, the United States of America, has no such inclusion in it, despite that many of your states do have indigenous names attached to them. As a whole, Americans honour one person, and one person only, Amerigo Vespucci, who, to the best of my knowledge, never even visited your land or set foot on your soil. All because some lying little bastard called Cristofo Columbo was trying to curry favour with his more famous countryman. Water under the bridge, probably, but yet a totally misleading and meaningless designation.

    As for Texas (which at least goes back to Spanish roots if not indigenous roots), white people can try to “own the narrative,” but any such ownership can only be temporary. The truth will come out, and names like Abbott, Cruz, etc. will be struck from glorification, even as the Confederacy is finally being pulled down in these days. No, we cannot cleanse our histories of the truth, nor should we try, but we can at least try to look at the whole picture, not just what the conquerors want us to see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m in the middle of many tasks at the moment—I’m a full-time caretaker for my 82-yr old mother with severe Stage 5 Dementia—but will eventually return here to reply in more length to your excellent comment. Thank you for hopping over here with our earlier topics.

      Also, my sincere apologies for the erroneous description of “Indian.” Yes, as you point out, it is deeply engrained in the vernacular of White-man Texas and Wild West white-man, Anglo-European/Euro-American whitewashed history. It’s a habit I’m constantly trying to break and remove from vocabulary for precisely the reasons you point out. Forgive my absent-mindedness please. ❤️

      To be continued a bit later… 🙂

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      • Indians from India?

        Oh my. Be very careful if you are referring to the people who live in Bhārat Gaṇarājya; the correct term (today, anyway, according to those who elect themselves to be the virtuous guardians of such things) is Desi. And there must be earnest discussion and presumably consensus from all parties involved before claiming those from the sub-Asian continent can be called either Desi or even the broader term ‘Asian’. Yup, it’s all about identity donchaknow.

        So…

        Turning the tables here, First Nations? Tsk tsk tsk. The genetic link (so far) certainly points towards Asian heritage, not that anyone Indigenous cares (having coopted the term ‘indigenous’ to mean First Nations only!) And which ‘Nation’, specifically, is the ÜBER of all the First Nations? Let’s figure that one out, first, so to speak. And which family within that tribe has the least amount of diluted ‘blood’ and has the greatest claim to be the ÜBER ÜBER ‘first’ family? And so on.

        There is no end to this ridiculous linguistic ‘sensitivity’. What’s being politely ignored, however, is the revealing question: Was insult intended? If so, then address it. If not?

        In this case, of course not. Insult was not intended. So no correction is polite. But for those seeking insult, such terms are low hanging fruit to be plucked by anyone who seeks it. The apology should actually be for raising it as if it were and intended insult. That demonstrates a misreading, a comprehension mistake. And if there is any reason to assume an apology is necessary, then surely the party responsible for making such mistakes should be issuing an apology.

        But apologizing for ‘causing’ the ‘insult’ – no matter how obviously unintentional the ‘insult’ taken was – only encourages ever more triggering tags and the granting of ever greater control over ‘offensive’ speech by these same self-appointed but oh-so-sensitive Elect. The meaning of your words belongs to them, donchaknow. They will decide for you what is and is not insulting regardless your intention. It’s the words, you see, and not their meaning. You must submit them to review and approval of the Elect by apologizing, you see. The two step shuffle: you’re told you’ve caused offense and then told you must submit to the judgement of the verbally victimized.

        The result? Falling for this serves only the status of the guardians, you see. Apologizing empowers more of this kind of archeological insult digging… not because it helps anyone or anything improve conditions like tolerance and acceptance today but because it creates a social power tool to bludgeon people into linguistic submission and self censorship. Better to say nothing than say something that someone somewhere will use as an insult, categorize you as a self-admitted victimizer, and demand you apologize for daring to speak without your terminology being approved First.

        I believe the best response to such Elect sensitivities – when no insult was intended but interpreted as such – is “fuck off.”

        But no doubt I should be much more concerned with the sensitivity of the victimized language guardian and not the selected person now ‘correctly’ classified as the victimizer, more concerned with the Elect who manages to find insult when none was intended and who bravely challenges the victimizer for committing such a heinous act. I should go along and support the ‘poor widdle Guardian self-elected to find offence’ while just doing this thankless job of getting others to apologize for their words that the self appointed Elect has managed to hear as insults and so becomes victimized.

        Good grief. I loath this identity bullshit and how it is used to cause harm.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Curious, tildeb. Is not the term “woke” an “identity” word? Yet you use it quite frequently. It may not be associated with heritage, but it is a word to distinguish a certain group of people. Perhaps it would be good to clarify? 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, ‘woke’ is an identifier term for those people who believe today’s progressive liberalism is either of those. Stop believing, stop being a member of that group.

            That is not true, however, for in today’s identity hierarchy where by nature of the skin colour or culture or whatever determines the hierarchy of victim and victimizer. Believing groups are real things in and of themselves is the identity bullshit I’m referring to for today’s world and not the terms used to describe these historical elements.

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      • Nothing to forgive. We are fighting nearly 700 years of colonial tradition, for lack of a better term. And too many of our own have given up the fight. But thank you for acknowledging the problem.
        Sorry to hear about the troubles with your mother. Caring for those more elderly than us is never easy, but with dementia involved it becomes so much more heart-breaking. Not to make comparisons or contrasts, but my own mother died when I was only 9 years old. We all have our crosses to bear, generally through no actions or non-actions of our own. It’s all a part of life. I am sure your mother appreciates everything you do for her when she is able to do so.

        Liked by 1 person

        • We are fighting nearly 700 years of colonial tradition, for lack of a better term.

          Indeed rawgod. And my own personal and family’s ongoing battle is two-fold:

          1) — As I mentioned, eight generations (8) of my family—more so my maternal line—going back to 1842-44 at the ports of Galveston and Indianola, and then up into Santa Fe (southeast TX) and Castroville, New Braunfels, Sequin, and Leander, Texas (south central) have despised this whitewashing. All were so when Texas was an Independent Republic. HOWEVER, none of them wanted anymore war with Mexico nor the Native American Tribes—all of them were peaceful passivists and learned to cohabit and were doing so peacefully together with the Karankawa, Lipan, and Tonkawa tribes as well as the long-term Tejano residents! Several of my great (x7 thru 5) were hunted down as treasonous traitors to white (Confederate) Texas and two of them were caught and hung for not serving in the Confederate Army during the later Civil War. See these two below blog-posts for a more ancestral look at my family going back to Europe:

          https://professortaboo.com/2013/04/02/my-heretical-heritage/

          https://professortaboo.com/2017/01/13/legacy/

          After reading both of those posts, you can imagine just how unpopular most of my family has been here in Texas since 1842. 🙄

          2) — Then as written in those two links above, we were mostly considered “heretics” according to the Roman Catholics and most all Protestant denominations because of our long, LONG ancestral history of being a) Free-thinkers, and b) peace-loving cohabitating Earthlings, i.e. very tolerant and respectful to ALL cultures and creeds.

          Therefore rawgod, myself and most of my family to degrees can completely empathize with your ancestral heritage. 🙇‍♂️

          Like

  6. Very informative … much of this I did not know! It seems that at least half of the nation prefers to keep our young people, the future of the nation/world, in the dark about our actual, factual history — not just in Texas, but across the nation. I will fight this tooth and nail, though my voice is small and I am near the end of my life here on earth. Good post, Professor … thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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