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Most Desperate People: The Genesis of Texas Exceptionalism
History Dissertations
  • Michael G Kelley, Georgia State University
Date of Award
Degree Type
Degree Name
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
First Advisor
Dr. Wendy H. Venet
Second Advisor
Dr. Christine Skwiot
Third Advisor
Dr. H. Robert Baker
Six different nations have claimed sovereignty over some or all of the current state of Texas. In the early nineteenth century, Spain ruled Texas. Then Mexico rebelled against Spain, and from 1821 to 1836 Texas was a Mexican province. In 1836, Texas Anglo settlers rebelled against Mexican rule and established a separate republic. The early Anglo settlers brought their form of civilization to a region that the Spanish had not been able to subdue for three centuries. They defeated a professional army and eventually overwhelmed Native American tribes who wished to maintain their way of life without inference from intruding Anglo settlers. This history fostered a people who consider themselves capable of doing anything—an exceptional population imbued with a fierce sense of nationalistic and local rooted in the mythic memoirs of the first Anglo settlers. The purpose of this study is to explore the origin and development of Texan exceptionalist beliefs. The “taming of the Texas wilderness,” the Alamo, the defeat of Santa Anna at San Jacinto, the formation of a republic that earned recognition by major foreign powers, Stephen F. Austin, Davy Crockett, William Travis, are all elements in the great Texas myth. From the letters and documents of the early settlers, the extensive papers of Stephen F. Austin, the war papers of the Texas Revolution, newspapers of the era, and other sources, it is apparent that the early Texas settler did not come to Texas for any altruistic purpose. Texas provided a second chance for many who had been previously unsuccessful and an opportunity to gain riches from the extensive land bounty granted by the Mexican government. This research provides additional depth to a neglected part of Texas history. Removing the mystique of the Texas legend reveals a far more colorful and complex period. These early Texans were a complex, divided, greedy, racist people who changed the course of the United States and established a legend that has withstood the test of time.
Subject Categories
Citation Information
Michael G Kelley. "Most Desperate People: The Genesis of Texas Exceptionalism" (2011)
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