Photographic book

Texas at the beginning of the 19th century


Sieur de La Salle
Sieur de La Salle

Between 1800 and 1820 Spain’s weak hold on the province of Texas became even more insecure. During that time several expeditions by adventurers from the United States entered Texas. One of the earliest of these so-called filibustering expeditions (armed invasions by groups of private citizens) was led in 1800 by Philip Nolan, who was captured and executed by the Spanish. In 1810 Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and his followers, many of whom were in Texas, tried to declare Mexican independence from the Spanish Empire. Although that revolt was crushed, unrest in Texas and in the rest of Mexico under Spanish rule continued. Several times Mexicans seeking freedom from Spain joined American adventurers to try to set up governments in Texas. In 1813, for example, the Republican Army of the North, led by Bernardo Gutiérrez, a Mexican liberal, and by Augustus W. Magee, a former United States Army officer, took control of Nacogdoches, Goliad, and San Antonio.

The leaders declared Texan independence and adopted a constitution. However, on August 18, 1813, the revolutionaries were wiped out by Spanish forces at a battle near the Medina River.

In 1819 James Long of Natchez, Mississippi, led the last filibustering expedition into Texas. He captured Nacogdoches, set up a republic, and proclaimed himself president, but Spanish soldiers soon drove him out as well. Long fled to Galveston Island, the base of the French pirate Jean Lafitte, to ask for Laffite’s help in the revolution against Spain, but he refused. Long left Galveston to return to Texas and fight for independence. He was eventually captured and sent to prison in Mexico, where he was killed by a guard. His wife, Jane Long, had remained at Point Bolivar near Galveston when he had returned to the mainland. There she gave birth to a daughter in 1821, the first known Anglo-American birth in Texas.

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