Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821 following 11 years of conflict. With independence achieved, Mexico struggled to find its own independent identity, first establishing a monarchy then a constitutional republic.
The need to protect the northern frontier prompted the government to establish colonization laws that allowed colonists into Texas. Large groups of people moved to Texas, with the attraction of land and an opportunity to start over.
People, such as Stephen F. Austin, helped to facilitate the arrival of immigrants to Texas by ways of colonies and land grants. Many of these colonists, along with the native population, enjoyed a semi-autonomous way of life far from the capital in Mexico.
This autonomy would be challenged with the election of Antonio López de Santa Anna as president in 1833. His political views would change from federalism to centralism causing Mexico to fall into a civil war and Texas to seek its own independence.
On October 2, 1835, the Texas Revolution began as tension boiled over and shots were fired in the town of Gonzales. The Texans fired a shot at the Mexican Army, leading to the start of the Texas Revolution. The Mexican Army realized they were outnumbered and retreated.
An army of Texan volunteers arrived in Mexican-occupied San Antonio de Bexár in late October, and began to lay siege to the town as a result of the Battle of Gonzales.
By mid-October, the volunteers had amassed to over 400, with individuals such as James Bowie, James Fannin, and Juan Seguin arriving on the outskirts of town. These men were under the command of Stephen F. Austin.
On October 28, 1835, as the Texan Army lay siege to San Antonio, a group of Texans and the Mexican Army clashed, at Mission Concepción. During the skirmish, Bowie and Fannin led a group of Texans to victory over a detachment of 275 Mexican Army troops led by General Martín Perfecto de Cos. Once again the Mexican Army was defeated.
On November 26, 1835, the Texan Army once again defeated the Mexican Army in the Grass Fight. Later, General Santa Anna’s Army were marching north towards Texas, unbeknownst to the Texans. Their plan was to take back the town of Bexár and end the Texas Revolution once and for all.
Established in 1718 as Mission San Antonio de Valero, what is now referred to as the Alamo was a religious outpost of the Spanish empire. The mission was founded as a Spanish foothold in a territory that Spain rarely entered, with the intent to convert indigenous peoples to Catholicism and instruct them to become Spanish citizens.
Beginning in the early 1800s, Spanish military troops were stationed in the abandoned chapel of the former mission. Because it stood in a grove of cottonwood trees, the soldiers called their new fort “El Alamo” after the Spanish word for cottonwood and in honor of Alamo de Parras, their hometown in Mexico.
Santa Anna’s Army began to arrive in San Antonio de Bexár on February 23, 1836. Their arrival prompted members of the Texan Army to enter the Alamo, which was by now heavily fortified. The Alamo had 18 serviceable cannons and approximately 150 men at the start of the siege.
On February 24, 1836, with the garrison surrounded and the Texan Army at the Alamo outnumbered, one of the most famous letters in American history was written by William B. Travis.
It was addressed, “To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World.” This letter was a passionate plea for aid for the Alamo garrison. He ended the letter “Victory or Death” – the only outcome this battle could have.
On March 1, 1836, 32 men from the town of Gonzales arrived to aid the Alamo. This brought the number of defenders up to almost 200 men. On March 2, 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico.
On March 3, 1836, courier James Butler Bonham arrived at the Alamo with word from Robert Williamson informing Travis help was on the way. Unfortunately it would not arrive in time.
On March 5, 1836, Santa Anna held a council of war, setting forth this plan for a four pronged attack of the garrison. At dawn on March 6, 1836, the 13th day of the siege, the Battle of the Alamo commenced.
Fighting lasted roughly 90 minutes, and by daybreak all the Defenders had perished, including a former congressman from Tennessee, David Crockett. The loss of the garrison was felt all over Texas, and even the world.
The Defenders were from many different countries, including some Defenders who were native-born Mexicans. Following the battle, Santa Anna ordered the Defender’s remains burned. (TheAlamo)
From March to May, Mexican forces once again occupied the Alamo. For the Texans, the Battle of the Alamo became a symbol of heroic resistance and a rallying cry in their struggle for independence.
On April 21, 1836, Sam Houston and some 800 Texans defeated Santa Anna’s Mexican force of 1,500 men at San Jacinto (near the site of present-day Houston), shouting “Remember the Alamo!” as they attacked.
The victory ensured the success of Texan independence: Santa Anna, who had been taken prisoner, came to terms with Houston to end the war. (History)
At this same time, in the Islands …
First Commercial Sugar
The first commercially‐viable sugar plantation, Ladd and Co., was started in the Islands at Kōloa on Kauai. On July 29, 1835, Ladd & Company obtained a 50‐year lease on nearly 1,000‐acres of land and established a plantation and mill site in Kōloa.
It was to change the face of Kauai (and Hawai‘i) forever, launching an entire economy, lifestyle and practice of mono-cropping that lasted for over a century. A tribute to this venture is found at the Kōloa Sugar Memorial in Old Kōloa Town.
On September 7, 1835, the Diana arrived 92 days from Canton via Bonin Islands. … Brig full of miscellaneous cargo … the principal of the balance to the Chinamen in French’s employ….”
“There were in the brig four Chinese sugar manufacturers with a stone mill and 400 to 600 pots for cloying and 5 cast Iron boilers. They are under control of Atti (Ahtai who was employed by William French) and hopefully can be obtained on fair terms.” (William Hooper, Ladd & Company; Kai)
Hilo Boarding School Founded
Reverend David Belden Lyman (1803-1884) and his wife, Sarah Joiner Lyman (1806-1885,) arrived in Hawaii in 1832, members of the fifth company of missionaries sent to the Islands by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and were assigned the mission in Hilo.
In 1835, they constructed the Hilo Boarding School as part of an overall system of schools (with a girls boarding school in Wailuku and boarding at Lahainaluna.) The Mission then established ‘feeder schools’ that would transmit to their students’ fundamental reading, writing, and arithmetic skills, and religious training, before admission to the Lahainaluna.
On January 6, 1835 “our children’s school commenced, eighty children present, sixty knew their letters. A number of the more forward children are employed as monitors to assist the less forward. (ie advanced)” (Sarah Lyman)
In October 1836, two thatch houses were constructed near Lyman’s house and on October 3 the school opened with eight boarders, but the number soon increased to twelve.
The school was operated to an extent on a manual labor program and the boys cultivated the land to produce their own food. (The boys’ ages ranged from seven to fourteen.)
More than one-third of the boys who had attended the school eventually became teachers in the common schools of the kingdom. In 1850 the Minister of Public Instruction, Richard Armstrong, reported that Hilo Boarding School “is one of our most important schools. It is the very life and soul of our common school on that large island.”
Anthony D. Allen was born a slave on the German Flats, in New York, in 1774. In 1800, he made a flight for freedom from Schenectady, NY, and made his way to Boston. He spent the next few years a free man sailing across the globe – Boston, France, Haiti, Havana China, Northwest US and eventually, in 1811, Hawaiʻi.
By 1820, Allen owned a dozen houses, “within the enclosure were his dwelling, eating and cooking houses, with many more for a numerous train of dependents. There was also a well, a garden containing principally squashes, and in one part, a sheepfold in which was one cow, several sheep, and three hundred goats.” (Sybil Bingham Journal)
Allen may have operated the first commercial dairy in Hawaiʻi. In addition to his farming, Allen provided overnight accommodations – one of the earliest known hotel uses in Waikīkī.
Allen’s six-acres and home were about two miles from downtown at Pawaʻa, between what we now call Waikīkī and Mānoa at what is now the corner of Punahou and King Streets. This is where Washington Intermediate School is now situated. Allen, the former slave, died of a stroke on December 31, 1835, leaving behind a considerable fortune to his children.
Sandwich Island Gazette and Journal of Commerce
In 1836, two years after Hawaiian language newspapers took hold, the Sandwich Island Gazette and Journal of Commerce, the first English language paper (and the oldest West of the Rocky Mountains) was born.
It was aimed at the foreigners living in Hawai‘i. It was the first newspaper to contain advertising. It published old news from world newspapers, local shipping notices, and contributions from its readers. It advocated freedom of the press, discussed the declining native population, and supported freedom of religion for Roman Catholics in Hawai‘i.
Sybil Bingham Plants Night-blooming Cereus at Punahou
In 1836, Sybil Bingham (wife of Protestant missionary leader Hiram Bingham) planted a night-blooming cereus hedge from a few branches of the vine she received from a traveler from Mexico. Today, that famed cacti, known as Panini o Kapunahou, continues to cover the Punahou walls; it was noted to have “world-wide reputation and interest”. (The Friend)
In addition, the main part of the Kapunahou property was planted with sugarcane by Sybil, with the aid of the female church-members; the plan was to support his family from the profits of the cane field, selling the cane to the sugar mills, one of which was in Honolulu.
Royal Hawaiian Band Formed
In 1836, King Kamehameha III created the “King’s Band.” The band, presently called the “Royal Hawaiian Band,” continues to entertain audiences in Hawaii and around the world today.
Queen Emma is Born
Emma Naʻea Rooke was born January 2, 1836, the daughter of High Chief George Naʻea and High Chiefess Fanny Kekelaokalani Young and hānai to by her childless maternal aunt, chiefess Grace Kamaʻikuʻi Young Rooke, and her husband, Dr. Thomas CB Rooke.
On June 19, 1856, Emma married Alexander Liholiho and became Queen Emma. They had one child Prince Albert. In 1859, King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma founded Queen’s Hospital.
Fifteen of the Highest Ranking Chiefs Ask the Missionaries to Send More Teachers
On August 23, 1836, King Kamehameha III and 14 of the highest ranking chiefs in the Islands wrote a letter to the American missionaries asking that more American teachers be sent by the missionaries to the Islands.
The chiefs noted, “If you agree and send these teachers when we will protect them when they arrive, provide the necessities to make their professions viable and give our support those needed endeavours.”
In response, shortly after, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) sent the largest company of missionaries to the Islands, that included a large number of teachers. The Eighth Company left Boston December 14, 1836 and arrived at Honolulu, April 9, 1837 on the Mary Frasier from Boston.
King Kalākaua is Born
David Laʻamea Kamanakapuʻu Mahinulani Nalaiaehuokalani Lumialani Kalākaua was born in Honolulu to High Chief Kahana Kapaʻahea and the High Chiefess Analea Keohokālole, on November 16, 1836.
Per the custom of the times, he was hānai (adopted) by the chiefess Haʻaheo Kaniu, who took him to Maui, where the court of King Kamehameha III was located. When Kalākaua was four, he returned to Oʻahu to begin his education at the Royal School (it was started in 1839).
Kalākaua became king in 1874. Under Kalākaua’s direction, the cornerstone for ʻIolani Palace was laid on December 31, 1879. Construction was completed in 1882; in December of that year Kalākaua moved into his palace with his wife, Queen Kapi’olani, the granddaughter of King Kaumuali’i of Kauai. He died on January 20, 1891.