Texas Insights - October 2010

Volume I, Issue 2

What’s New?

Cover of Texas Almanac 2010-2011A Teacher's Guide for the Texas Almanac is now available online and FREE of charge. For many years, the Dallas Morning News published a printed teacher's guide in conjunction with the biennial Texas Almanac. In 2008 the Texas Almanac became part of the Texas State Historical Association and plans began to bring back a resource to allow teachers to make optimum use of this outstanding resource on all things Texas. The current guide is designed so that most of the lessons can be used with any recent issue and lessons from previous issues are located in a "Special Lessons" section which will continue to grow in the future. The Texas Almanac Teacher's Guide can be accessed via the Texas Almanac web site or through TeachingTexas.org where each lesson is individually indexed.

These instructional suggestions and activities were written by current or former classroom teachers and represent a wealth of ideas for making use of the information provided by the Texas Almanac. There are a number of exciting projects related to the Texas Almanac that are worthy of noting, including: additional content available on www.TexasAlmanac.com, the availability of the current issue electronically in the TexShare database through your school library, and the growing online availability of all back issues of the Texas Almanac dating to 1857.  

Texas Council on Economic Education

Recently posted on TeachingTexas.org, Building an Economy-The Texas Experience and Texas Economics-Eras and Individuals are quality lesson booklets for 4th and 7th grade respectively, which highlight economic concepts and principles found in a variety of historical Texas events. Previously only available in print the Texas Council on Economic Education has now placed them online.

Texas Independence 175 Events Calendar

2010-2011 mark the 175th anniversary of the Texas Revolution and Texas independence. Beginning this fall events will be happening throughout the state to commemorate this crucial and fascinating period in Texas history. Http:/txindependence175.org/, sponsored by the Texas State Historical Association, will provide information and regular updates about programs and events taking place during the Dodransbicentennial year. 

Featured Institution

Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum LogoTexas is a big state (267,277 square miles, to be exact), and has hundreds of historical sites and museums from the Panhandle to the Rio Grande. To see them all could take a lifetime. However, you can experience the grandeur of Texas history in one place -- The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in downtown Austin, Texas. Coming up on its tenth anniversary, the Museum is centered around three floors of dynamic, interactive exhibits that tell the “Story of Texas", from Spanish exploration to space exploration. The core exhibits feature a rotating display of hundreds of artifacts —like Stephen F. Austin's diary or a NASA control terminal— on loan from around the state.  Multimedia elements throughout the exhibits abound; for example, The Revolution Theater on the second floor presents the story of the Texas fight for independence from Mexico, as told from the perspective of Juan Seguin, a Tejano military and political figure in Texas.

The Museum also brings in two or three temporary exhibits annually in the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Hall of Special Exhibitions. Coming in the spring is Arte en la Charrería: The Artisanship The Bob Bullock texas State History Museumof Mexican Equestrian Culture which explores the nearly 500-year-old heritage of Mexican cowboy culture through more than 120 examples of the excellent craftsmanship and design distinctive to the Mexican cowboy. With leather work, costumes, textiles, silver and iron work as well as works on paper that illustrate the life of the charro, this exhibition showcases intricately hand-crafted objects that embody the very identity of the Mexican nation.

The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum offers meaningful educational experiences for students of all ages and provides many educator opportunities and resources. Use TeachingTexas.org or visit www.TheStoryofTexas.com to check out free TEKS-aligned educator guides to the exhibits and for documentary films in the IMAX Theatre; learn more about professional development, lecture series, and other programs for family, adult, and educator audiences; or download a field trip planning guide (pre-reserved school groups receive FREE exhibit admission for students and educators).

Historian's Corner

Dr Jesus F. de la TejaTies that Bind: Texas and Mexican Independence
By Jesús F. de la Teja
Professor and Chairman
Department of History
Texas State University-San Marcos

It may not be news to most people that Texas was once a colony of Spain and then part of Mexico. After all, in 1835-1836 we fought that evil dictator Santa Anna to gain our independence before succumbing to the allure of union to the United States a decade later. But even those who took the obligatory seventh grade Texas history tend to forget what an integral part Texas played in the Mexican independence story.

Even before Father Hidalgo’s famous grito (call) of “death to bad government” on September 16, 1810—Dieciséis—Texas was awash in revolutionary activity. Napoleonic agents had been at work in the area since the 1790s. As a result of the Louisiana Purchase the United States had taken an interest in Texas, leading to the 1806 confrontation between Spanish and American forces that led to the present border between Texas and Louisiana. What most people don’t know is that as a consequence Los Adaes, the first capital of Spanish Texas between 1722 and 1773, is now a Louisiana state park outside the town of Robeline.

Texas was involved in the Mexican War of Independence almost from the start. In January 1811 a militia officer in San Antonio, Juan Bautista de las Casas, led a coup against the royalist government and governed Texas until early March in the name of Father Hidalgo. Although he was overthrown by San Antonio families fearful of the consequences of rebelling against the Crown, the revolt set the stage for further military activity in the years to come.

In August 1812 Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara, a native of the Rio Grande Valley, led an large force of Tejanos (Hispanic Texans), Mexican insurgents, Anglo Americans, and Indians into Texas. This Republican Army of the North captured Nacogdoches then La Bahía (today’s Goliad), and finally captured San Antonio at the end of March 1813. On April 6, 1813, Texas had its first declaration of independence and, few days later, a constitution.

Unfortunately, this first Republic of Texas did not long last. That summer General Joaquín Arredondo led a large royalist army to recapture Texas and the result was the battle of Medina. Fought on August 18, 1813, it is the bloodiest battle in Texas history, with about two thousand dead before all was said and done. Arredondo’s forces quickly recaptured San Antonio and La Bahía and chased the republicans out of Nacogdoches.

Between 1813 and 1821 Spanish Texas was the scene of heightened Indian raiding, pirate and adventurer encampments, and other efforts to wrest the province from Spanish control. Men such as Tejanos Vicente Tarín and Francisco Ruiz continued to work against Spanish rule, harassing royalist forces and working with independent Indians. The pirate Jean Lafitte occupied the upper end of Galveston Island for a number of years, and James Long led two expeditions into Texas as part of his plans of gaining the province for the United States.

In summer 1821, when word reached Texas that Mexico had gained its independence, the people of the province swore an oath to independence under the Plan de Iguala. Texas sent representatives to the first two constitutional conventions that were held in Mexico City between 1821 and 1824. In 1824 Texas was joined to Coahuila in a single state in the Mexican federal republic. During that same time, Tejanos welcomed Stephen F. Austin and helped him establish his first colony. Soon they welcomed other Americans who came to seek their fortunes in Mexican Texas.

The relations between Texas and Coahuila and Texas and Mexico City soured, and that led to a second Texas War of Independence in 1835-1836. It is this second struggle that is remembered today and serves to give Texas its Lone Star identity.

From an educator’s perspective, treatment of the Mexican War of Independence period in Texas serves both the TEKS and the College Readiness Standards. Fourth grade TEKS (b) 2D and E, 3A, 8B and D, and 15A and B, as well as seventh grade TEKS (b) 1A, B, and C, 2D and E, 3A, 8A and B, 11A and B, and 19A and C can easily be illustrated by a discussion of how the period immediately before, during, and after the Mexican War of Independence influenced events, peoples, and institutions in Texas. College readiness standards on chronological and analytical thinking can be addressed by getting students to explore the interconnected of events in the U.S., Mexico, and Europe from the American Revolution to the Napoleonic Wars that contributed to the pattern of events in Texas.

Unfortunately, instructional support is extremely limited at the moment. Teachers can turn to pertinent articles in the Online Handbook of Texas for overviews, for instance “Texas in the Age of Mexican Independence” and “Mexican War of Independence,” as well as articles on specific individuals and events as mentioned in this article and the Handbook entries. Since all entries in the Online Handbook contain bibliographies, teachers can find additional materials to support the construction of lesson plans and both individual and class projects that will better help students understand the importance of this period to the development of modern Texas. In effect, teaching about the Mexican War of Independence is also teaching about the process of Texas independence.

Featured Lesson

As you plan your instruction on Texas under Mexican rule, check out this issue’s featured lesson plan from Tides for Teachers at Stephen F. Austin State University. Available on TeachingTexas.org, “Angel of Independence” will help students learn about the Angel of Independence, a monument located in Mexico City, and the Mexican heroes buried there who fought in the “War of Independence” across Mexico and Texas. 

Texas History News

Several opportunities for Texas history educators and students are available or are on the near horizon:

TSHA in cooperation with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is offering the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Texas Lessons Contest for lesson ideas associated with the new TEKS. Winners receive travel stipends to the TSHA Annual Meeting in El Paso, complimentary basic registration, and the satisfaction that comes with knowing you have helped fellow teachers.


San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site is hosting the annual Father of Texas Celebration on Saturday, November 6, 2010 from 9:00 am to 4:40 PM. In honor of the 175th Anniversary of Texas Independence, the site will be offering hands-on activities, walking tours, and lectures throughout the day. For more information, see www.visitsanfelipedeaustin.com.

The Star of the Republic Museum, TeachingTexas.org's newest partner, has recently launched a new interactive web site about the Convention of 1836. The site complete with games, activities and lesson plans is a great addition to the resources available on the subject and is available on TeachingTexas.org.


The Texas General Land Office’s Save Texas History Program is offering a symposium, titled Discovering Spanish and Mexican Texas, in Austin on Saturday, November 6, from 8:00 to 5:00. For information, see TeachingTexas.org.


 The Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI), also a new partner, has recently added numerous lesson plans and audio-visual resources from their collections to TeachingTexas.org. For more information about TAMI, their collections, and services see TeachingTexas.org.


TSHA staff have been working diligently to add listings and material related to the new 4th and 7th TEKS that go into effect next fall. Over the summer we will work to correlate the current items to the new standards. When looking for the NEW figures, try TeachingTexas.org first!

Texas Insights is a publication of the Texas State Historical Association
in cooperation with the University of North Texas.

Texas State Historical Association
1155 Union Circle #311580
Denton, TX 76203-5017

Stephen Cure - Editor
Kim White- Associate Editor


Bookmark and Share