Monday, March 2, 2009

In Honor of Things that Should Be Honored

"When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.

When the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed, without their consent, from a restricted federative republic, composed of sovereign states, to a consolidated central military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the everready minions of power, and the usual instruments of tyrants.

When, long after the spirit of the constitution has departed, moderation is at length so far lost by those in power, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms themselves of the constitution discontinued, and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons, and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet.

When, in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abdication on the part of the government, anarchy prevails, and civil society is dissolved into its original elements. In such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation, the inherent and inalienable rights of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases, enjoins it as a right towards themselves, and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness.

Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind....."

I like that intro. I like it a whole great bunch. It's not quoted the way the the preamble to the American Declaration of Independence is, but it's got some great lines.

That, up there, is the opening to the Texas Declaration of Independence. The American revolution tends to be taught with an emphasis on the words and ideals of the patriots, and rightly so. For all the cost and drama of the combat, it was a war of ideals.

The Texas revolution? Well, it was a war of..well, battles. It was a gloriously stupid revolution. Yeah, I said stupid. The American revolt had been being planned for years by the time of the Declaration; there was a Congress ready to act (or at least debate acting) a serious start at a militia, all kinds of underlying social ideas. From "liberty and property" to "We hold these truths to be self evident", that was a revolution with some underpinnings.

You know the first Texan battle cry? The one on a flag that still hangs in a town not a full hour's drive from me?

"Come and Take It".

"It" was a cannon, and if you don't know the entire story, well, as Mark Trail says,more information can be found on the internet. But anyway. That was it; that was flag of the Revolution. A little black cannony silhouette, and "Come and Take It".

Now I think this is an awesome battle cry, right up there with such classics as "Yeah You Better Run!" and "So's Your Old Man!". And it would prove to be exactly the sort of rallying cry that inspired Texans to take up arms (other things that inspired Texans to take up arms: votes, not voting, slavery, whiskey, cattle, pigs, land rights, water rights, rights on red, proximity to things that can be punched, and the everlasting ideal that Hey There's Something Over There). But honest and clear as it is, it's not the sort of motto a new country can use to convince other countries that it's a real going concern. So the leaders of the --well, see, that' the problem right there, what exactly is this place? A nation? A state? A republic? Let's go with Republic--sat down and wrote out a proper declaration, overnight, while Santa Anna was hilariously throwing his entire giant army against a tiny insignificant barely manned fort.

And later they wrote the Constitution , a document so vital that even today, after multiple revisions and another two whole governing entities, it underlies much of the business of state government. By which I mean it's the size of a phonebook and we've been trying to rewrite it for over a hundred years.

For those who don't know-- and hey, if you aren't from here, no reason you should-- this is the anniversary of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence. If I've given you the impression in this article that the Texas Revolution was completely ludicrous--that a proper history of my state reads like a bad novel written by someone who knows nothing about how history works--well, that's about right. Really, this is an impossible state with improbable history and wonderful unreasonable people. I could never love another place half so much; I could never be happy living anywhere else.

So today I lift a hot bowl of bean-free chili in honor of the scribe who, in the finest tradition of academia, wrote his essay the night before it was due. Happy Independence Day, ya'll!


CB said...

Hey there I gave you a blog award:

Go pick it up. :)

Carapace said...

Wow, thank you!I'll go snap that up when I'm on a fast computer again!