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San Jacinto Monument

The San Jacinto Monument is a 570-foot obelisk that commemorates the Texian victory over Mexico in the Texan War for Independence (1836). It is the world's tallest masonry tower and is constructed of Texas limestone. At the top, there is a 34-foot Lone Star. The walls of the monument contain the following narrative, which is patriotic but decidedly one-sided.

The early policies of Mexico toward her Texas colonists had been extremely liberal. Large grants of land were made to them, and no taxes or duties imposed. The relationship between the Anglo-Americans and Mexicans was cordial. But, following a series of revolutions begun in 1829, unscrupulous rulers successively seized power in Mexico. Their unjust acts and despotic decrees led to the revolution in Texas.

In June 1832, the colonists forced the Mexican authorities at Anahuac to release Wm. B. Travis and others from unjust imprisonment. The Battle of Velasco, June 26, and the Battle of Nacogdoches, August 2, followed; in both the Texans were victorious. Stephen Fuller Austin, "Father of Texas," was arrested January 3, 1834, and held in Mexico without trial until July 1835. The Texans formed an army, and on November 12, 1835, established a provisional government.

The first shot of the Revolution of 1835-36 was fired by the Texans at Gonzales, October 2, 1835, in resistance to a demand by Mexican soldiers for a small cannon held by the colonists. The Mexican garrison at Goliad fell October 9; the Battle of Concepcion was won by the Texans, October 28. San Antonio was captured December 10, 1835 after five days of fighting in which the indomitable Benjamin R. Milam died a hero, and the Mexican Army evacuated Texas.

Texas declared her independence at Washington-on-the-Brazos March 2. For nearly two months her armies met disaster and defeat: Dr. James Grant's men were killed on the Aguadulce March 2; William Barret Travis and his men sacrificed their lives at the Alamo, March 6; William Ward was defeated at Refugio, March 14; Amos B. King's men were executed near Refugio, March 16; and James Walker Fannin and his army were put to death near Goliad March 27, 1836.

On this field on April 21, 1836 the Army of Texas commanded by General Sam Houston, and accompanied by the Secretary of War, Thomas J. Rusk, attacked the larger invading army of Mexicans under General Santa Anna. The battle line from left to right was formed by Sidney Sherman's regiment, Edward Burleson's regiment, the artillery commanded by George W. Hockley, Henry Millard's infantry and the cavalry under Mirabeau B. Lamar. Sam Houston led the infantry charge.

With the battle cry, "Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!" the Texans charged. The enemy taken by surprise, rallied for a few minutes then fled in disorder. The Texans had asked no quarter and gave none. The slaughter was appalling, victory complete, and Texas free!

On the following day General Antonio Lopez De Santa Anna, self-styled "Napoleon of the West," received from a generous foe the mercy he had denied Travis at the Alamo and Fannin at Goliad.

Citizens of Texas and immigrant soldiers in the Army of Texas at San Jacinto were natives of Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Austria, Canada, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Scotland.

Measured by its results, San Jacinto was one of the decisive battles of the world. The freedom of Texas from Mexico won here led to annexation and to the Mexican-American War, resulting in the acquisition by the United States of the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma. Almost one-third of the present area of the American Nation, nearly a million square miles of territory, changed sovereignty.

Images

Postcard Featuring the San Jacinto Monument
Groundbreaking. On April 21, 1936, Jones participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the monument alongside Sam Houston's 82-year-old son, Andrew Jackson Houston. The pair drove a pair of longhorns pulling a century-old plow. Video of the event is available at the Texas Archive of the Moving Image ( http://www.texasarchive.org/ library/index.php?title= The_Orris_D._Brown_Collection,_no._2_-_San_Jacinto_Memorial_(1936-39)) Source: San Jacinto Museum
Cornerstone. Jones returned a year later to lay the monument's cornerstone on April 21, 1937. As chairman of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Jones had no problem drumming up federal, state, and local funding amounting to $1.5 million for the obelisk. As an official Works Project Administration enterprise, the monument employed 135 workers full time for three years. The project finished on time and on budget.
Construction. Jones is credited with the idea for the monument's design, which he described generally as the Washington Monument stacked onto the Lincoln Memorial and topped with a Lone Star for Texas. In planning documents, the monument was consistently described as respectfully a foot or two shorter than the 555-foot-tall Washington Monument, and from the floor of the museum to the top of the star, it is. Upon completion, however, measurements included the 15-foot-high stepped entrance pedestal between the ground and the floor of the museum -- making it approximately 570 feet, and taller than the Washington Monument . Source: San Jacinto Museum
Continuing Support. After his mid-1940s return to Houston from Washington, Jones privately funded a replacement elevator for the monument. Later, the Jones' Houston Endowment paid for a new theater inside the monument. Source: San Jacinto Museum
Visiting. The battleground, monument, and museum are open and free of charge every day except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. An elevator ride to the 489-foot-high observation deck and orientation film are available for a small fee. Source: Henderson K. Yoakum, "History of Texas" (New York: Redfield, 1856).
Postcard Featuring the San Jacinto Monument

Location

Metadata

National Historic Landmark, “San Jacinto Monument,” East Texas History, accessed November 27, 2022, https://easttexashistory.org/items/show/138.