San Jacinto Undone
165 years ago this weekend, Sam
Houston`s ragged force of Texians—as the original
American settlers of Texas called themselves—reeling
from defeat and massacre at the Alamo and Goliad,
retreated east across Texas, pursued by the much
larger and better-equipped Mexican army of General
Antonio López de Santa Anna.
On April 20, 1836, Santa Anna`s force of some
1,300 made camp a few miles east of where the city of
Houston now stands and prepared to massacre their 910
Texian opponents the next day.
But on the 21st the Texians turned
the tables, attacking the Mexican army at siesta.
Surprise was complete; in 18 minutes the
fighting was over.
630 Mexican soldiers died and 730 were taken
prisoner, against nine dead and 30 wounded among the
Anna was captured, hiding in tall grass dressed as a
According to the inscription on
the San Jacinto Monument:
by its results, San Jacinto was one of the decisive
battles of the world.
The freedom of Texas from Mexico won here led
to annexation and to the Mexican War, resulting in the
acquisition by the United States of the states of
Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah,
and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
Almost one-third of the present area of the
American nation, nearly a million square miles of
territory, changed sovereignty.
When that inscription was
written, one hundred years after the battle, it seemed
that the results of San Jacinto and all that followed
were permanent. The
borders of the United States were fixed, the
territories won from Mexico, largely empty of Hispanic
inhabitants at their annexation, had been populated by
Americans. No American doubted that they were fully
But in 2001, Census data is
casting doubt on the ability of the United States to
maintain the American character of Texas and the
Southwest—and, ultimately, even to retain
sovereignty over the border regions.
Thanks to the persistence of the Mexican mestizo
(and the connivance of his government),
and the anti-American behavior of US bureaucrats,
academics and ethnic
pressure groups (and the unheeding diffidence of
mainstream Americans), the legacy of San Jacinto is
Let`s look only at Texas, even
though what is happening in Texas is happening in all
the states on or near the Mexican border.
Texas is a bellwether: the direction Texas
takes in this decade will determine the political
future of the United States for generations.
The 2000 Census has revealed that
“non-Hispanic Whites” will, if current trends
continue, cease to be a majority in Texas in 2004, not
2008 as previously predicted.
The Census admits to an undercount in Texas of
almost 2%, so it probably underestimates the pace of
change too. Meanwhile,
Texas is becoming as large in population as it is in
area. During the 1990s Texas became the second most populous state
in the Union, after California, where non-Hispanic
Whites ceased to a majority last year.
In the 1990s, Texas` population increased
from 17 million to 20.9 million (+23%), with
Hispanics, however defined, providing 60% of the
Hispanic population grew from 4.3 million (25% of the
total) to 6.7 million (32%), an increase of 54%.
The growth of the 1990s, while
explosive, only continued a trend.
In the 1980s, Texas` population grew by 20%,
of which 45% was Hispanic growth and 76% was from
foreign nations. The Census Bureau cannot say, because
it will not ask, how many of Texas` inhabitants are
Encouraged by Hispanic pressure
groups such as MeCHA,
LULAC and MALDEF,
many people mistakenly assume that Texas was truly
Mexican before independence and that the Texians drove
a settled Mexican population out.
This is quite wrong.
To the Spanish viceroys of New Spain—colonial
Mexico—Texas was the wilderness borderland of the
remote frontier province of Coahuila.
After an inspection
tour of New Spain`s far northeast frontier, the
Marqués de Rubí recommended to Carlos III of Spain
that Texas “should be given back to Nature and the
1772, the King promulgated Rubí`s recommendations
as law. Except along the Rio Grande and around San
Antonio, the little Spanish settlement was effectively
the Spanish crown had considered Texas part of the
interior of New Spain, or really part of New Spain at
all, the viceroys would never have granted Protestant
American settlers the right to found colonies there.
American settlement in Texas
started in 1821.
A look at the Texas State Historical
of Texas shows that in 1744, the non-Indian
population of Texas was estimated at 1,500, mostly
missionaries and soldiers around San Antonio and La
1821, when Stephen F. Austin founded the first
American colony along the Brazos and Colorado Rivers,
the population was approximately 7,000.
Best estimates for 1836, the year of Texas
independence, give a population of 30,000
Anglo-American Texians, 14,200 Indians, 5,000 blacks
(most of them Texians` slaves) and 3,470 Hispanic
state`s Mexican community was a minor though always
distinctive part of the Texan population until after
about 1970, when it exploded.
Hispanic Texans who can claim descent from the
Tejanos of 1836 are a tiny percentage of the state`s
Texas, at least from independence
and certainly from statehood in 1845, has been part of
the American South.
Her Southern settlers brought their
Anglo-Celtic virtues of independence and self-reliance
mixed with gentility and hospitality.
They also brought the South`s curse of
The border, the western frontier, cattle, oil,
German and Mexican minorities: all have made Texas
unique, but Southern she remains. East Texas is as Deep South as Louisiana and
of the slaves that some Texians brought with them from
other Southern states, there has always been a
significant minority of black Texans. But the
state`s Mexican population has been a small
In 1861, Texas seceded with the
rest of the South and fought for the Confederacy.
After defeat in the Civil War, Texas underwent
with the rest of the South, Texas gradually changed in
the 1970s and 1980s from a safe Democratic state to
one dominated by Republicans.
As the Democratic Party devoted its political
energies to the interests of lawyers, government
employees and minorities, it became less and less
representative of traditional constituencies such as
rural white Southerners and blue-collar workers.
Breaking up the Solid South and
winning Texas were great coups for the Reagan
with California perhaps lost for good in the 1990s,
not losing Texas to the Democrats is critical to
Republican hopes of sustaining majorities in
in the wake of an unprecedented and ongoing migration
across the Rio Grande, Texas is fast becoming a very
different state—and one ripe for Democratic
Texas` transformation is
already well along.
Hispanics have become the largest demographic
group in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and El Paso.
The change in Houston and Dallas is startling.
Until recently they were typical of larger Southern
cities: a white majority with a significant black
minority and not all that much else.
Even in San Antonio, which has always had a
Hispanic population, the demographic shift is a major
Texas` mutation is not
confined to the border and the big cities.
The highest percentage increase in Hispanic
population in any Texas county (+17.2%) was recorded
in Titus County, in the northeast corner and about as
far from the border as a Mexican can go without
winding up in Arkansas.
East Texas may not be Deep South much longer,
something those of us who like the place`s
distinctive character would regret.
Faced with the incessant
incursion, Texas Republicans panic, pander, and hang
on hoping for the best.
Success makes them complacent.
Susan Weddington, their chairwoman, says in The
New York Times: “The Democrats will claim Hispanics
as their own when the reality is that the growth of
Hispanics within the Republican Party is
but how much more significant is the reality of
Hispanic growth within the Democratic Party?
Texas Republicans tie themselves
in knots trying to appeal to Hispanics.
White politicians call themselves “Anglos”
and conduct business in the Legislature in Spanish
(what do real Mexicans think of their accents?),
becoming complicit in a Mexicanization of Texas that
is neither historically justified, desired by most of
their voters, nor inevitable.
Republicans tell themselves that
the new arrivals, presumed to be hard working and
socially conservative, will be a natural Republican
rates of welfare dependency, illegitimacy,
and crime among Hispanic immigrants call that fancy
into question. And
the Republicans` love for Hispanics is largely
unrequited. It is hard to imagine a Republican (a
non-Mexican one, anyway) more likely to appeal to
Texas Hispanics than Governor George W. Bush—very
popular statewide, a Spanish-speaker (sort
of) with Mexican
relatives, who constantly “reached out” to
Hispanics, vocally supported high immigration and was
extremely solicitous of the—thoroughly
Texas` Hispanic voters thanked him with
about 40% of their votes when he ran for president. (Bush received 34% of the Hispanic vote nationally, which
includes all those Cubans in Florida, and a mere 26%
Texas Democrats suffer no such
sense a great opportunity and are moving to cash in.
Their chairwoman, Molly Beth Malcolm, tells The
York Times: “The political ramifications are
excellent for the Texas Democratic Party… Very
definitely the trend is that Texas is becoming more
Democrats are not the old Democratic Party of Solid
South days. Far
more astute than their Republican rivals, and
unconstrained by any remnant of constitutional
principle, they are poised to reap the benefit of the
Knowing this, they urge amnesties for illegal
aliens and reject any restriction of current legal
Democrats, the party of racial and ethnic
activism, are happy to encourage Hispanic separatism,
even Mexican irredentism, in a bid for the new voters
that immigration is manufacturing.
It is naïve to expect Democrats to worry when
large numbers of non-citizens vote in U.S. elections.
Democrats assume, correctly, that they will
vote, if at all, Democratic.
Texas Democrats look to 2002 as
the year of reconquista—using
the burgeoning Hispanic electorate to win Texas as
they have won California.
Their likely gubernatorial candidate is Tony
Sanchez, a wealthy businessman whose high political
profile owes much to his appointment, by Governor
Bush, to the board that oversees the vast University
of Texas system, where multicultural political
Gonzalez, president of the Southwest
Voter Registration Project, looks forward to the
campaign: “If Tony Sanchez is running on the
Democratic ticket, forget it… Latinos are going to
So where will all this lead, for
Texas, and the country? Current immigration trends, left unchecked,
will change Texas forever. Texas is not yet
experiencing the exodus of Americans seen in
California. But the time will come soon when Texans,
strangers in their own land, move away from the border
and out of their state.
Any benefit that may accrue from cheap
immigrant labor is outweighed by the costs and burdens
imposed on most citizens. So long as they have a
choice, they will leave – as Southern California and
South Florida show.
The demographic shift is leading
to the end of American Texas, and ultimately the end
of the United States as Americans have known it.
If Mexican and Central American immigration
into Texas is not slowed dramatically, the state will
be firmly Democratic by the end of this decade.
Nationally, the effect of the shift is
compounded by the “rotten borough” effect of how
the Census is used in redistricting. Alien, often
illegal, bodies boost the Electoral
College power of California, New York and (soon)
California and New York both already solidly
Democratic, largely due to immigration, the loss of
Texas will mean the end of the Republican Party`s
ability to win presidential elections.
Probably the Republicans will also forfeit
their tenuous majorities in the Congress.
Control of the Congress and the White House
will give the Democrats absolute control of the
At that point the Constitution is just their
fig leaf, and the powers of the states entirely
In the years since 1836, Texans
of all races have built a great, if imperfect, state
on an American, and Southern, foundation of hard work,
self-reliance, faith and the (Anglo-Saxon) rule of
has followed a less successful path.
I suspect that most Texans, including many
Mexican-American Texans, want a future Texas that is
more Texan than Mexican. As Americans move ever farther away from the
originally British and European social, legal and
political heritage that is the basis of our republic,
there is ever less reason to believe that real
democracy can be maintained in the United States.
For a vision of that future, look at Latin
America today. If
it comes to pass here, then for Texas, and America,
the legacy of San Jacinto will be undone.
writer, a Spanish-speaker from boyhood, has lived and
worked in Mexico. He wishes Mexico and the Mexicans
all happiness and prosperity, in Mexico. His
3xgreat-uncle, Benjamin McCulloch,
commanded one of the “Twin
Sisters“—the two cannons that were all
the artillery the Texan Army had -at San Jacinto. He
was subsequently killed in 1862 at the Battle of Pea
Ridge, while serving as a Brigadier General in the
army of the Confederacy.