Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Texas Independence Day

Today marks the 175th anniversary of the Texas Declaration of Independence. In observance of the anniversary, the original Declaration of Independence is on display through April 21st at the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library.

My favorite book related to Texas Independence does not sing praises of Bowie, Crockett, and Travis. Nope. My preferred tome is Santa Anna's memoir. Yup. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna wrote a memoir titled The Eagle. It is a fascinating read, providing an alternative perspective of the assorted battles and politics of Texas' fight for indepedence. What makes it truly exceptional are Santa Anna's peripatetic adventures after his battles with Texas. Being somewhat myopic, my knowledge of Santa Anna's life ceased after surrendering to Sam Houston. I knew he survived, but never considered what he might have done with the rest of his life.

Turns out, he was everywhere. After a brief exile in the United States, Santa Anna led the Mexican Army against the French in Veracruz. He lost a leg courtesy of cannon fire and used a cork prosthesis for awhile, which was later captured by American troops when he led the Mexican Army in the Mexican-American War. After that humbling, he bounced between Cuba, Colombia, Jamaica, and Staten Island--where he struggled as a chewing gum importer--before returning to Mexico City some thirty years later.

I have never read a more boastful memoir and can't imagine an ego larger than Santa Anna's. His hubris makes The Eagle a hilarious and interesting read. You will be shocked by his explanation for surrendering to Sam Houston.

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