The Alamo, one of America’s most famous landmarks, was actually a mission to convert foreigners into Christians. The Spaniards built it and called it San Antonio de Valero. It was constructed in the northeast part of Mexico called Texas. The mission began to be called the Alamo mission because in Spanish, Alamo means popular.
After about seventy-five years, the mission was abandoned and parts of it crumbled into ruins. In 1821 Mexico won its freedom from Spain and they were now able to vote for leaders as the Americans could. Also, in 1821 an American lawyer named Stephen Austin moved to Texas. Mr. Austin believed that if enough farmers settled the land it could become very prosperous. The settlers agreed to be good citizens and good farmers. They also agreed to build towns and schools and make Texas a safe place to live.
The Mexican government liked the idea of the Americans taming the wild, barren land. After all, no one else wanted to even try. In 1824 Mexico adopted a constitution much like the American constitution. This Mexican constitution promised that when Texas got to the point that when there were enough people living there, it would be a separate state with its own capital and government.
Later politicians and military leaders began fighting over who should run the government, and the constitution was soon ignored. Leaders, one after the other, came into power. The amount of Americans living in Mexico was rapidly multiplying. Mexico began to worry, especially when America offered to buy Texas from them. The Mexican government passed a law forbidding any more Americans to live in Mexico.
Shortly afterwards an extremely powerful military leader named Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna seized leadership of the Mexican government. Santa Anna strongly opposed the Mexican constitution and threw it out. He decided that the people could not and would not elect their leaders any more.
Stephen Austin was asked to travel to the capital and ask Santa Anna if Texas would be allowed to become a separate state in Mexico. Santa Anna refused to allow that, even after being reminded of the fact that Santa Anna and his leaders promised to let the people of Texas set up their own government. That made Stephen Austin enraged. At once he wrote a letter asking the people of Texas to help him set up their own government. When Santa Anna found out about this, he put Austin in jail. Austin stayed in jail for nearly two years before he was allowed to return to his home in Texas.
Austin no longer supported the Mexican government because Santa Anna would not allow the Texans to have a democratic government. Austin said to Santa Anna, Our only choice is war. The Texans still believe in being part of a democratic Mexico, but they did not want to live under Santa Anna’s rule. If he sent any more soldiers to make them obey him, they would fight them.
Austin had three powerful men to help the Texans: Sam Houston, Jim Bowie and William Travis. All three were very strong and well educated men. Travis and Austin drove the Mexicans out of many towns and captured several forts. They announced that they would fight until Santa Anna would restore the constitution of 1824 and make Mexico a democracy again. Santa Anna commanded an army himself. Santa Anna was positive that he and his army could kill all the Texans or make them surrender.
While Santa Anna’s troops were marching towards Texas, a band of 300 volunteers attacked the Mexican soldiers who were using the abandoned Alamo mission as a fort. The Mexicans felt very secure in the mission because bullets could not penetrate through the immensely thick walls. The Texan volunteers fought so hard that they forced the Mexicans to retreat and surrender. The Mexicans left the Alamo and the whole town of San Antonio to the Texans.
Davy Crockett joined the group of volunteers. Now there were almost two hundred men inside the Alamo fort. They had stored some extra food just in case of an attack by the Mexicans. On February 23,1836 the sentinel spotted a huge army far off in the horizon. It was Santa Anna’s army. The long awaited fight was about to begin.
After a few days Santa Anna ordered a cannon to open fire. From then on there was a constant roar of guns and ammunition blasting, day and night. The Texans held their fire to save ammunition. The Texans realized that eventually Santa Anna’s army would climb the walls of the fort. They would need their ammunition for when the Mexicans came pouring over the walls of the fort. Soon the exhausted defenders of the Alamo were running lower and lower on ammunition. With every attack Santa Anna’s army got closer and closer to the walls of the fort. The Texans thought that they would die because help would not come in time. They vowed to fight in order to prevent Santa Anna’s army from taking over Texas. They were willing to give their lives for the freedom of others.
After many days of pounding, a Mexican cannon finally punctured a huge hole in the north wall of the old mission. The defenders of the Alamo kept fighting bravely, even though it had gotten more and more dangerous all the time. On March 5, the fighting finally stopped. The defenders of the Alamo were tired and they needed sleep. Santa Anna knew this and planned another attack on the Texans at five o’clock the next morning because he knew how hard it would be for them to get up and fight. The next morning exactly that was what happened. The Mexicans were trying to climb up the walls of the fort. For every Alamo defender that, died seven enemy soldiers died. One by one the brave defenders died fighting. Buck Travis died at his cannon and Davy Crockett also fell dead. Santa Anna rushed into the room where Jim Bowie lay sick and killed him. At last there were no more defenders.
Sam Houston and his troops were on their way to the Alamo when they heard that the Alamo had fallen. Santa Anna was sure he beat the Alamo and would conquer all of Texas and Mexico. Houston and his men were determined to win Texas back and keep it. Houston kept adding men to his army and it slowly increased. Santa Anna and his troops were camping on the peninsula. Houston and his eight hundred men marched day and night until they reached Santa Anna’s camp. His scouts destroyed the bridge in which Santa Anna might escape. He was trapped.
At once Sam Houston screamed to his men Remember the Alamo! The Texans were ready to fight until Santa Anna was defeated and that is what they did. Santa Anna was brought to Sam Houston, as he lay propped up against a tree because his foot had been shot. Houston could have shot Santa Anna, but he was too nice. Santa Anna was forced to sign a treaty stating that Texas was a free state. He also had to remove all his troops from Texas.
The Texans won Texas as their own state and elected Sam Houston President of the Republic of Texas. The constitution of 1824 was restored. Texas remained an independent country until 1845 when they voted to join the United States. The Texans and other Americans will always remember the long fight of the Alamo. The troops obeyed Sam Houston. They will always remember the Alamo.
The Story of the Alamo
By Norman Richards
Children’s Press, Chicago
Leonard Everett Fisher
Leonard Everett Fisher, 1987