Sleuthing the Alamo: Study of History Myths

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In “Sleuthing of the Alamo” by James Crisp, it uncovers the mythmaking of the years to reveal the truths about the Texas Revolution. As some of the truths were often seen as by both racism and political correction, as history has been told differently in the past two centuries. It starts in the beginning with Crisp recalling both the pride and the prejudices that he had encountered in his youth. Crisp traces back to the history of documents that were distorted, censored, and ignored, by which reveal the silent voices of the Texans past. The myths that Crisp uncovers were the teenaged “speechwriter” for General Sam Houston, the death of Davy Crockett, and the evidence behind the mythic “Yellow Rose of Texas”.

Crisp’s viewpoint of the myths does make several good points and gives some historical documentation to back up his points. In the myth of the teenaged “speechwriter” for Sam Houston, the “speechwriter” sets up the positions before the revolution really begins for the major characters. Then the speech writers explain why the Matamoros expedition might have been great in the beginning, but however it was later seen as a death sentence. That no one really cared to think about it except for maybe a few, later on. 

Which it then brings up the topic of Sam Houston’s “racist” speech where he speaks about how his anger towards the Mexicanos erupted after the battle of San Jacinto due to the war basically being over. Then Crisp speaks on how many new volunteers came to fight for the war but were left with nothing to do. In Sam Houston’s speech to the soldiers at Refugio in the year 1836, which led Crisp to notice that Houston’s speech had him contradicting his actions by stating, “The words of the speech were harsh. They accused the Tejanos, Mexicans living in Texas, of aiding the enemy of great numbers” (Crisp, 38). Houston had negatively spoke about the Tejanos, which came across as him being racist.

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The second myth is the death of Davy Crockett and the accuracy of the Jose Enrique de la Pena diary. The Diary was lost for 120 years, but the De La Pena papers were then later found and kept by an antique store owner in Mexico. Bill Groneman, an amateur historian and New York City detective asserts in his book, the Defense of a Legend, that Crockett and the De La Pena Diary was a forgery by the notorious John A. Lafline, aka John A. Laffite. Based on the accusations on the several anachronisms pertaining to the publication date of the diary as it was believed to be in 1836, however it contained references to another memoir that was also published in the year, 1838. 

Crisp later responded to this by looking at the popular translation of the diary by Carmen Perry, which also then goes directly to the source. As the diary had two versions of it since the first was a daily record of the De La Pena’s movements. The second was the extension of the original and unfinished document which contained information that was gathered after the war from some eyewitnesses. It was De La Pena’s discontent with the Mexican government that landed him in jail with the attempts to publish his journal that never came to fruition. It was Crisp’s interrogation into the original document that accounted for and explained all of Groneman’s problems with the diary. It was later found out that the document was thought to be a forgery but in fact, it was not forged. 

It was thought to be forged because the handwriting of the document changes but that was due to an illness that caused Pena to not have the ability to write and therefore having someone else to do it for him. This made people believe that the document was fake. Then Crisp goes on by discussing that in the Dolson letter and on some other accounts of a few other men who had survived to say that Pena was taken to Santa Anna, where he was later orders to be brutally murdered.

The diary had regarded the surrender of Davy Crockett and five or six other men at the end of the battle. Pena relates that Crockett and his men were offered protection by an officer in Santa Anna’s army, but Santa Anna had order to kill them anyways. In the July 1836 letter from George M. Folsom, a bilingual Texas soldier, he wrote to his brother in Michigan where he had repeated the story of a Mexican informant about Crockett’s death. In a misprint of the letter has led to many questions about the source’s validity regarding the identification of the informant as Santa Anna’s interpreter, Almonte. In a handwritten letter it explains the misidentification of the informant which gives credibility back to its source. Thus, leaving the argument that Davy Crockett did not die while fighting, but rather he surrendered.

In the myth of the “Silence of the Yellow Rose”, it explained the creation, assembly, retrieval and delivery of the production of history. The “Yellow Rose of Texas” was based off a woman named Emily Morgen where she had became popular culture within the last 175 years. It had been said that she was the one who had distracted Santa Anna in order to give the elimination of surprise for Sam Houston’s troop. As it states, “Were it not for the heroics of the beautiful mulatto slave Emily Morgan, Texas may to this day have remained Coahuila y Texas, Republic of Mexico…. Santa Anna’s eye for women and Emily Morgan’s allegiance to Texas proved to be a fatal combination for Mexico.”(Crisp, 189) As it was said if it hadn’t have been for Emily Morgan, Texas would have probably remained a part of Mexico, so it was because of her allegiance that Texas was able to become its own separate state.

[bookmark: _gjdgxs] In the end, James Crisp has proved the myths true with some historical evidence behind his discoveries. Without Crisp finding the right and correct documentations, Crisp wouldn’t have been able to prove his accusations right since there had to be evidence behind his findings because without them, how would anyone know if he had been correct or not. The three myths were explained by Crisp by using historical evidence to prove why he had thought what thought. For the first myth, Crisp had used Sam Houston speech to proved that his speech was a little racist and harsh. For the second myth, Crisp had proved the accuracy of Jose Enrique de la Pena diary and the truth behind Davy Crockett’s death. For the third myth, it was proven real as Emily Morgan did in fact help out Texas with her allegiance and was later named the “Yellow Rose of Texas”.

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