On February 24, 1836, during Santa Anna’s siege of the Alamo, Travis wrote a letter addressed “To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World”:
- Fellow citizens and compatriots;
- I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual Bombardment and cannonade for 24 hours and have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken. I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily and will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country. Victory or Death.
- William Barret Travis
- Lt. Col. Comdt.
- P.S. The Lord is on our side. When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn. We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels and got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.
He gave this letter to courier Albert Martin to deliver. The envelope that contained the letter was labeled “Victory or Death”. The letter, while unable to bring aid to the garrison at the Alamo, did much to motivate the Texan army and helped to rally support in America for the cause of Texan independence. It also cemented Travis’s status as a hero of the Texas Revolution.
As I travel these United States, I’ve met many patriots who are in awe at Texans’ knowledge of their own history. Texas children learn Texas history starting in kindergarten. A full year is devoted to it in middle school. The knowledge and understanding of our rich and self-determining past contributes to the character of our people today. Texans have an independent streak. We’ll take of ourselves, thank you. We don’t need someone in a far away state to tell us how to take care of the vast lands that sustain the good people of Texas. From rivers and lakes, to forests and prairies, to the coastal beaches, Texas is natural and beautiful. We have industry, technology, and a massive economy. We make our own rules, ones that work for us. Texas is like this because we understand that no one can take care of you better than you.
Teach your children history. If they don’t get it in school, then teach it at home. Volunteer at your local school to read books on history or teach a lesson. Donate videos to your local schools. Help sponsor a reenactment or a trip to a museum. The drive to have every child pass standardized tests crowds out frivolous topics like history. Help your local schools bring history back to the classroom.
I grew up in the shadow of the San Jacinto Monument. Countless time during my childhood I toured the grounds, climbed the trees, and picnicked by the murky reflection pool. I may not have fully understood the history of that place, but I knew that when the people who are in charge of you are bad and awful, and there is no hope of remedy, you leave. Even if you have to fight to the death to do it. Am I saying Texas should secede? No. However, we must realize that freedom always involves sacrifice. Sacrifice of your time, your money, your reputation. What are you willing to give to ensure liberty continues? In the words of the United States Declaration of Independence, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”