A Place to Stand

Texas and the Making of Men and Heroes

The names are legendary; the tales of heroism, a part of our heritage as Texans and Americans.  Houston, Crockett, Bowie, Travis: All, save William Barret Travis, were nationally known figures before they came to Texas, which was then considered Mexican territory.  Sam Houston had been governor of Tennessee, a protégé of Andrew Jackson, a war hero, and a potential presidential candidate.  David Crockett had been a congressman, a popular hero, and perhaps America’s first media celebrity.  James Bowie’s reputation as a fighting man spread his fame on the violent frontier.

But like the much-younger Travis, Houston, Crockett, and Bowie came to Texas to make a fresh start, to realize big dreams, to become the men they wanted to be.  And all came initially as failures, each with a sense of a destiny that had gone unfulfilled.

They were not alone.  Texas has long been a place that generates myths.  From the very beginning of America’s engagement with Texas, the land itself sparked the American imagination.  “Texas fever” swept through America in the 1820’s and 1830’s, as empresarios such as Stephen F. Austin opened Texas to American settlement.  Americans headed for the border, scrawling “G.T.T.” on the doors of their abandoned cabins.  They were “Gone To Texas,” gone to settle a new land and...

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