Post Mortem


  • Without the Alamo there could have been no Battle of San Jacinto.

  • Without the Battle of San Jacinto, Texas could not have existed.

  • Without Texas, the westward expansion of the U.S. would have been thwarted.

  • Without the West, the U.S. would have remained an Atlantic power, and not risen to become a world power.

  • Without the U.S. as a world power, the world as we see it today would not exist.

Clearly, Travis' decision to sacrifice himself at the Alamo is one of the most decisive contributions by a single individual in recent world history. Those who believe that historical forces rather than individuals control events should consider this: what if the indecisive Fannin had been in charge at the Alamo?

Two other individuals were also decisive. First, if Santa Anna had not existed, the Texans might have found it advisable to invent him. Without him there would likely have been no war, just disruptive unrest that could have gone on, Belfast-like, for generations. And without him the war would not have ended as it did. The Mexican army demonstrated no lack of competence, operating beyond support in territory with primitive communications. It's problem lay in its leader. While at other times and places, before and after, he would demonstrate at least adequate competence, in April 1836 in Texas he was a consummate dilettante. At some point he seems to have lost interest in the proceedings. That moment may have come on the morning of March 6, 1836.

Meanwhile, there were others in Texas who had higher public standing, more military experience and more political savvy than Sam Houston -- but none had the combination he did. And, with the world falling apart, he managed to cary on. A man whose life had been marked by bright promise followed by dismal failure, he was perhaps the best choice for the job -- a leader who could operate boldly because he genuinely did not fear failure. Because he'd lived with it.

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