A Lone Star State of Mind

lave coffle in 19th century Texas

Slave coffle in 19th century Texas


Britain and the USA support the “right” of people to re-occupy an Eastern Mediterranean land lost to the Romans over TWO THOUSAND years ago.

Yet meanwhile, The Great Orange Buffoon pledged during his disastrous term in office to build a wall to stop Mexicans entering a land which was MEXICAN much less than TWO HUNDRED years ago.

And Texas governor Greg Abbott continues today with the nasty populist rhetoric, pitting National Guardsmen against federal immigration agencies.  An orderly, humane immigration system would be no bad thing.  And it would look nothing like what’s going on in Texas today.


A few short years after gaining independence from Spain in 1821, the Mexican government invited American settlers to take-up small land grants in the sparsely populated northern regions of Mexico.  Part of the citizenship deal included expectations that the American settlers would learn to speak Spanish – the national language of Mexico.  While Americans today expect immigrants to the USA to learn English, such a courtesy was not reciprocated when Americans were the immigrants – very few of these new “Mexican citizens” bothered to honour the terms of their land grants.

These terms also included a prohibition on slavery, a practice illegal under Mexican law.  American settlers from Alabama, Tennessee, and elsewhere nonetheless piled into Texas, bringing their slaves with them – within a decade, 1 in 5 “New Texians” would be of African-American ancestry.  The law prohibiting slavery was circumvented by forcing African-American slaves to sign bogus contracts of “permanent indentured servitude”.

Cleverly taking advantage of the political turmoil in the newly-independent Mexican nation, the ever more numerous “Texians” agitated strongly in favour of greater regional autonomy, denouncing Mexico’s attempts to bring regional states under greater federal control (which would have likely spelled the end of the Texas slave economy, which was already busily exporting slave-grown and harvested cotton to New Orleans).  American folk-hero and Kentucky-born Jim Bowie spent his years prior to The Alamo illegally smuggling slaves into Louisiana with the help of his cartel buddy Jean Lafitte, a notorious pirate along that coast.

Texian settlers declared an independent state in 1836.  Amid much political to-ing and fro-ing with the USA congress, President James Polk eventually marched troops into Texas nine years later, making sure to engineer provocations which might act as an excuse for direct military support of a recently-fudged annexation of the territory already declared by a rabidly expansionist US congress in early 1845.  The parallels with modern maneuvering in Ukraine and Crimea are striking.

Texas would go on to be declared a state of the USA later that same year (see Luhansk and Donetsk).  The Mexican-American War would follow, lasting from 1846 to 1848, but USA expansionism would prevail in the end.  Few will recall that many Irish Catholic immigrants to America (fleeing the Great Hunger in Ireland at the time), were among those caught up in this conflict.  Many chose to fight for the Mexicans, forming the “San Patricios“; St Patrick’s Battalion.

American history books usually fail to mention that at least half of the earliest settlers of Texas were not even involved in the official Mexican government-sponsored settlement scheme – they were out-and-out illegal immigrants.  This bears repeating.  Illegal immigration created Texas.

Of course this story utterly neglects to take on board the views of the indigenous peoples of Texas such as the Comanche, who would fight to maintain a footing on their lands for the next 30 years, until being finally overwhelmed and marched to their dusty doom, joining the open-air concentration camps of Oklahoma, now euphemistically called “reservations”.

Texas has only been fully-integrated into the USA and “at peace” since my great-grandmother was a little girl.

I am not enjoying the irony of seeing the great-grandchildren of illegal immigrants stringing razor wire across rivers and demanding that a wall be built to stop “illegal immigrants”.

If the world must accept the “facts on the ground” in places like Texas and Israel, if the world must watch robber barons still driving their pipelines through Native American lands in the Dakotas, the world is most certainly not obliged to also swallow the self-serving, self-righteous cant and mythology of the victors.

The stench of wilful ignorance and hypocrisy is overpowering…

#texas #immigration #history

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