NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Ethnic Cleansing at The Alamo

June 11, 2002

The fight over political correctness and historical revisionism has a new battlefield: revolutionary Texas of 1836. Revisionists portray Anglo Texans as land grabbers who violated their contract with the Mexican government. They want to forget the Alamo while rewriting the story of the Mexican commander, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. A recent article by scholar Jack Jackson argues that Santa Anna was an ethnic cleanser -- something that puts the resistance of Texas secessionists, Anglo and Hispanic alike, in a different light.

"Problems arise when writers, especially Anglo writers, depict Santa Anna not as a power-crazed, bloodthirsty megalomaniac, which he was, but as a typical Mexican, which he was not," Jackson says. The numbers add up against Santa Anna.

  • Many of the 200 to 250 men killed at the Alamo were unarmed POWs who were executed at Santa Anna's orders.
  • At Santa Anna's insistence, 350 to 400 prisoners were shot or hacked to death at Goliad on Palm Sunday, 1836.
  • Lt. Jose Enrique de la Pena, in "With Santa Anna in Texas," charged Santa Anna and other Mexican officers with "crimes against humanity."
  • While Mexicans captured by Texans in the early skirmishes of the war were given prompt parole, Santa Anna told troops (December 7, 1835): "The not deserve any consideration, and for that reason no quarter will be given them..."

By whitewashing Santa Anna's reputation, Jackson argues, revisionist historians extend the guilt for his crimes to innocent Mexican officers and politicians -- something Santa Anna himself tried to do. For the rest of his life he tried to shift the blame for the Goliad murders, claiming he was following orders from his secretary of war, Jose Maria Tornel. But as Jackson notes, Santa Anna had dictatorial powers, and was Tornel's boss.

Source: Kent Biffle, "Santa Anna, The Ethnic Cleanser," Dallas Morning News, June 9, 2002.


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