Tejano Voices and the Demand for Inclusion

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While Tejanos - Texans of Mexican descent - were an important faction in the fight for independence in 1836, the Texas Revolution was largely led by Anglo-American immigrants. In the new Republic of Texas, Tejanos found that they constituted a subordinate minority of the population.

Only three of the 56 men who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836 were Hispanic. Two were Tejanos - José Antonio Navarro and his uncle, José Francisco Ruiz. The third was Lorenzo de Zavala, a Mexican liberal who had recently moved to Texas.

Throughout the time that Texas existed as a republic, only four Tejanos from the Bexar district ever succeeded in gaining election to the Texas Congress. These were Navarro, Ruiz, Juan N. Seguín and Rafael de la Garza. Language differences and limited educational and economic opportunities further contributed to the marginalization of Tejanos.

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Portraits of 1) Lorenzo de Zavala, 2) Juan N. Seguin, 3) Jose Navarro and 4) Jose Antonio Menchaca

[1] Portrait of Lorenzo de Zavala, The McArdle Notebooks, 2005/017-1. A former holder of political office in Mexico, Zavala served as the first vice president of the republic. [2] Portrait of Juan Seguín, The McArdle Notebooks, 2005/017-2. Seguín was the only Mexican Texan in the Senate of the republic and served in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Congress. [3] Portrait of José Antonio Navarro, The McArdle Notebooks, 2005/017-1. Navarro helped write the state Constitution of 1845 and was twice elected to the state senate. [4] Portrait of José Antonio Menchaca, The McArdle Notebooks, 2005/017-2. A veteran of the battle of San Jacinto, Menchaca and other Tejano Bexar residents wrote to the state comptroller in 1875, claiming the government was discriminating against Hispanic veterans of the Texas Revolution.

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Laws of the Republic of Texas were predominately written and disseminated in English, thereby excluding those who spoke and understood only the Spanish language. Seguín's efforts in the Texas Congress led to the passing of a bill that assured the translation of laws into Castilian Spanish.

Political underrepresentation continued when Texas formally joined the Union in 1845. Navarro, the only Tejano delegate to the constitutional convention, aggressively fought against early drafts of the constitution that sought the disenfranchisement of the Tejano community.

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The links shown below to the items displayed in this exhibit will open in PDF format in a separate window or tab. The documents are shown here in their entirety so some of the files contain multiple pages.

Thumbnail image of the first page of this old handwritten document An Act to translate the laws of the Republic into the Castilian language and promulgate the same. Bill files, Texas Legislature, 100-1365. This act required that the laws of the Republic of Texas be translated into Castilian Spanish and published. It was approved by the Congress of the Republic of Texas on January 23, 1839. Many citizens of the republic were born in Mexico and spoke only Spanish. In an effort to better educate the population on the laws of their new country, prominent Tejanos pushed for the passage of this law, including Texas Senator Juan N. Seguin.

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Thumbnail image of the first page of this old handwritten document Muster Roll of Captain Antonio Menchaca's Mounted Men, Municipality of Bexar, October 1836 through March 1837. Republic of Texas military rolls, 401-719. This muster roll provides proof of militia service to the Republic of Texas by Tejano men. It was created by the captain of the company, Antonio Menchaca, as a result of the frustration experienced by many Tejanos in their attempts to claim pensions for their service.

 

Thumbnail image of the first page of this old handwritten document Petition of the citizens of the municipality of Nacogdoches to prohibit Mexican Suffrage, September 1836. Memorials and petitions, Texas Legislature, 100-439. After some Mexican citizens in Nacogdoches were hesitant to aid revolutionary efforts, 75 citizens of the municipality of Nacogdoches petitioned the Texas Legislature to refuse the right of suffrage to all Mexican citizens and disregard the votes of those from Nacogdoches in the first election of the republic held in September 1836.

 

Thumbnail image of the first page of this old handwritten document Letter from Juan N. Seguín to the Texas Comptroller, December 5, 1874. Claim of José Almeda, Republic pension records,  Texas Comptroller's Office claim records, 304-383. Juan N. Seguín wrote this letter in support of José Almeda's pension claim for service to the Republic of Texas. Almeda served at the siege of Bexar.

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Page last modified: May 20, 2016