© 2006, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved
The following are chapters from Continuous Presence of Italians and Spaniards in Texas as Early as 1520,Including the Participation and Consequence of Texas and Louisiana in the American Revolution
by Alex Loya
(Submitted to the public on The Texian Web Forum 2006/reprinted by permission of the author)
WE ARE AMERICANS!
As I went through the process of writing this book, there were so many wonderful things that I came to realize! One of the most precious things I came to realize is something that every descendant of original Texans, those of us whose ancestors were there since the Spanish Colonial Period of Texas, really needs to know. You will recall how in chapters 7 and 8 of this book I shared a little bit of history that, although critically important to the history of the United States, is not widely known, that Texas and Texans played a major role in the American Revolution. Briefly, as a reminder, Texas, as well as Louisiana, belonged to Spain at the time of the American Revolution, our ancestors were subjects of the King of Spain. In 1779 the King of Spain declared war on England and ordered his subjects to fight the British wherever they could find them. Consequently, Governor Bernardo de Galvez of Louisiana, who had previously been a Lieutenant of the Spanish forces in Chihuahua and had led in numerous incursions against the Apaches, effectively linking our area with Louisiana, since West Texas was part of Nueva Viscaya also known as Chihuahua, mustered up an Army and Navy to fight the British. In what is known as the Galvez Expedition for American Independence, Governor Galvez, who corresponded with Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson etc., defeated the British in battles all over the South, from Baton Rouge and Manchac in Louisiana, Natchez in Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama, to Pensacola, Florida. Spanish forces under his command also defeated the British in battles as far North as St. Louis, Missouri and St. Joseph, Michigan along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.
There were Texans in this army, plus Texas also aided with money, prayers and thousands of heads of cattle to feed Galvez' army and hundreds of horses for his cavalry and artillery. It was then that the Texans naturally became emotionally, practically and even spiritually invested in the birth of the United States before the Republic of Mexico was ever conceived. It was then that the sense of destiny many original Texans had of being part of the United States and enjoying the freedoms they had fought for was naturally engendered. Governor Galvez effectively opened a third front in the American Revolution setting George Washington's Continental Army free to fight in the East without fearing an attack from the South. Louisiana and Texas and the other provinces of Northern New Spain played such a huge role in the war, that were it not for us, it is entirely possible the 13 British Colonies would not have been successful and the United States of America would never have been born. DeGrasse himself said he could not sail to the aid of Washington at Yorktown without the aid of the Spaniards. All men between the ages of 14 and 60 had to join the militia in the Spanish provinces, so that all male ancestors would have been, if not soldiers, militiamen.
As I thought about this, what I’d been realizing became crystal clear! It is such a terrible mistake when original Texans think of themselves as a separate people from the United States, who were forced to join the U.S. through shame and defeat just because our land was part of New Spain in colonial days and became a part of Mexico for only 14 years! Remember, it was in the same ceremony on Nov. 30, 1803 in which Spain formally transferred the Louisiana Territory to France that the announcement was made that France had sold the territory to the U.S., so that in their hearts, as in the eyes of Texas and the world, the 90,000 inhabitants of Louisiana went from being citizens of Spain to being American in one day. One day! Yet the many Spaniards in Louisiana do not have a problem calling America home.
And Spaniards our ancestors were, or Italian Spaniards and hispanicized Italic Frenchmen for some of us. Think about it, Texas belonged to Mexico for only 14 years. Only 14 years! Truthfully, those 14 years were only a step in the process of the formation of this country at a time when all countries in the Americas were being formed. Think about what this means. As I mentioned before, my great great grandfather Arcadio Loya was born in Texas in 1817, four years before Mexico, which had begun its struggle for independence in 1810, actually gained its independence from Spain in 1821 after 11 years of not a continuous struggle but a series of confrontations. He and certainly his father before him were born subjects of the King of Spain. Arcadio Loya's son, Gabino Loya, my great grandfather, was born in 1847, within the border officially claimed by the United States, which had been claimed by the Republic of Texas.
It is no surprise that Gabino Loya's family considered themselves Spaniards, as the obituary of Pilar Escontrias Loya, my grandfather’s half sister, indicates, and as the oral inheritance my own father passed down to me agrees. Non in that line were born under fully Mexican jurisdiction, they went from being born citizens of Spain and subjects of her king born in Northern New Spain during troubled times, to being born American. Being called Mexican Texans to them was not the truth as the truth was what they considered themselves to be; Spaniard Texians. This was especially true since the degree of intermarriage with Indian tribes in Northern New Spain, for the various historical reasons I mentioned, was nowhere near the degree that it occurred to the south. The so called "mestizaje", the intermarriage of Spaniards, or any other Europeans, with Indians, just did not happen in Northern New Spain to anywhere near the degree that it occurred in the south. It just did not happen. They were Spaniard Americans just like the ones in South Louisiana... and so it was with many if not most of you, as, indeed, the faces of the El Paso County Commissioners and the Spaniard Founding Fathers of Texas clearly show!
We are Americans! We have been part of it all along! From the very start! We have been here from the very beginning of the United States! We are descendants of the very first Europeans to settle on American soil, who fought the Indians and were pioneers in the land! We fully participated in the formation of this country from the very start! We celebrated the very first Thanksgiving on what would be the United States of America before the Pilgrims did on Plymouth Rock, yet together with the Pilgrims and their Thanksgiving, we effectively established this country as a Christian land at its foundation, from end to end! We fought and prayed and gave money and cattle for the American Revolution against England, we fought together in 1812. We stood like brothers alongside Bowie and Travis at the Alamo and with Sam Houston we defeated the Mexicans at San Jacinto, because they like brothers had selflessly joined us in our cause. We fought during the Civil War, some Union, some Confederate, and in San Elizario the town voted unanimously to join the Confederacy. Captain Garcia, and Telesforo Montes and Arcadio Loya and Antonio Loya and all of them, every single one of them, voted to join the Confederacy so that of all people we know the Confederate Flag is truly about heritage and not hatred.
A year into the Civil War, however, San Elizario was occupied by the Union Army, bringing the war effectively to an end in West Texas, and, evidently conscripting some of the young men to serve in the Union Army, whose cause to set a whole race of people free and preserve the Union, was a better cause. We fought the Indians in the Indian Wars, we suffered in the trenches of WWI, we shed our blood in WWII. We fought in the bitter cold of the Korean War, we poured blood, sweat and tears in the jungles of Vietnam, we liberated Kuwait in the Persian Gulf, we fought to set 50 million people free from the yoke of cruel and vicious tyrants in Afghanistan and Iraq, through the years wearing the boots of an American fighting man!…And even as I write this we are doing so! We are Americans! If anybody is an American, we are Americans! And we have fully participated from the very start! Do not think of yourselves, as some original Texans do, as a dispossessed people, we are not! We are an American people, who actually achieved the victory of our cause when Texas became part of the United States! And we were there with those who came after, side by side, shoulder to shoulder, weapon with weapon, together as a single people, as brothers, fighting a common enemy, with celebrations of Thanksgiving making this a Christian land, and we have been so ever since. Our history is not a separate history, together we fought, together we shed our blood, together. Our American and Texian history is the history of “us” Texian Americans, Anglo and Irish and German, Spaniard, and Frenchmen and Italian and mestizo minority, one history, one people, one Texas, one America. So fully embrace this American nation and its culture you were a foundational part of! Wear your cowboy hats and sing your country music, eat your Thanksgiving Turkey and, indeed, celebrate the Fourth of July, after all, it is possible that there would not be any such celebration without us! But, indeed, “us” is all of us Americans! We are Americans!
Posted in Good Faith.!
Education and Open For Discussion
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