What I’m Reading: UNSETTLED LAND: From Revolution To Republic, the Struggle For Texas (2022) by Sam W. Haynes
Sam W. Haynes (2022)
On the eve of the rebellion Texas was a region of extraordinary ethnic diversity, having been a place of convergence for the peoples of North America for more than a century. In the 1700s, its indigenous population saw the influx of the Comanches and the Apaches, nomadic tribes following the buffalo herds that came down off the High Plains. At the same time, the Spanish Crown began to make a tentative effort to colonize the region, establishing a string of missions, military outposts, and civil settlements from the Rio Grande to the Sabine River. The flow of migrants increased sharply in the early nineteenth century, with the arrival of Cherokees, Shawnees, and other refugee Indian tribes from the United States. They were followed in turn by white Americans, some of whom brought enslaved men and women of African descent. European immigrants, like those of the Beales colony, were also beginning to make their way to Texas. Together they created a patchwork of overlapping borderlands and ethnic enclaves on Mexico’s northern frontier, each group trying to navigate and make sense of the turbulent world in which they found themselves.
When a wider lens is used to see the Texas Revolution, the alpha male heroics and moral clarity of the familiar narrative dissolve and a new, more chaotic picture emerges. More than a contest between the Mexican army and Anglo rebels, the struggle for independence is also the story of ordinary people in an extraordinary time, of lives upended by the seismic shift from a multiracial society to white rule. If the birth of early modern Texas is a story of triumph, it is also in equal measure one of tragedy, which saw the coming together, then pulling apart, of people in an unsettled land.
— Sam W. Haynes (2022), Unsettled Land: From Revolution To Republic, the Struggle For Texas
- [The Texas Revolution of Fall 1835 – Spring 1836. —R.G.]↩
- [A failed Euro-American immigrant colony in a remote reach of the Rio Grande Valley, 1834-1836 (which Haynes introduced at the start of the Introduction). The colony was struggling and probably already doomed when the colonists decided to abandon it ahead of the Mexican Army, during Santa Anna’s 1836 expedition to crush the rebellion in Texas.]↩