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Remember the Alamo | Timeline

Texas Settlement History

Courtesy: The Library of Congress

In response to French encroachment in the northeastern region of New Spain, the Spanish establish buffer settlements. Franciscan missionaries led by Antonio de San Buenaventura Olivares begin three missions: Los Adaes, La Bahia, and Mission San Antonio de Valero.

Settlers arrive from the Canary Islands to form a new civil settlement, San Fernando de Béxar.

Béxar has developed a thriving ranching economy dominated by missionaries, soldiers, and civilians. Competition between them for the area's resources results in the Spanish Crown's decree of sovereignty over all stray cattle and wild mustangs.

France, Spain and England agree to divide the land in the New World. In the Treaty of Paris, Spain cedes Florida to England in return for Havana and Manila. Spain receives Louisiana from France, and English territory extends to the Mississippi River.

The threat of Indian hostilities causes Spain to reorganize its outposts. Los Adaes is eliminated and its population relocates to Béxar. Béxar becomes a provincial capital.

The population of Béxar has increased; 1,351 persons live in civilian and presidio communities, and 709 reside in the missions.

By order of the King of Spain, San Antonio de Valero Mission is secularized, and ranch properties are distributed among the civilian population.

February 27: José Antonio Navarro is born to Maria Josefa and Angel Navarro at San Antonio de Béxar.

Spain agrees to return Louisiana to France. In 1803, Napoleon will sell the land to the United States. President Thomas Jefferson will more than double the size of the new United States and gain control of the Mississippi River with this Louisiana Purchase.

An American trader and filibuster, Philip Nolan, enters northeast Texas to hunt for wild horses. Spanish troops from Nacogdoches capture Nolan and his party. To ward off other encroachments, Spain floods the border with troops over the next five years.

The Mission San Antonio de Valero is converted to a military post. The Second Company of San Carlos de Parras from El Alamo in Coahuila is stationed there.

November 31: José Antonio's father, Angel Navarro, dies.

San Antonio de Béxar experiences an economic slowdown and famine.

September 16: Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rebels against Spanish rule in Mexico and leads mestizos (people of mixed blood) in a movement for independence. The struggle for independence will not succeed until 1821.

Factions in San Antonio become involved in the Mexican independence movement. Juan Bautista de las Casas leads local troops, seizes government officials, and proclaims allegiance to the cause of Father Miguel de Hidalgo y Costilla. A month later, loyalist residents under Juan Manuel Zambrano retake San Antonio. Las Casas and other rebels are tried and executed.

A filibustering army led by a Mexican, José Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara, and an American, Augustus Magee, take San Antonio and execute Spanish officials. Gutierrez declares Texas' independence and drafts a constitution.

Navarro and other youths watch the battle of Apache-Alazan Creek from a church tower; José Angel Navarro, José Antonio's older brother, and Antonio López de Santa Anna serve in the Spanish army while others in the Navarro family support the revolutionaries. When royalists confiscate the Navarro property, the family is forced to flee to Louisiana.

A Spanish force under José Joaquin Arredondo defeats the rebel army and recaptures San Antonio.

The Spanish Crown pardons the Navarro family and other revolutionaries. The Navarros will return to Texas the following year.

José Antonio Navarro's first daughter, Maria Casimira, is born. A son, José Antonio George, will arrive in 1818.

In the Adams-Onis Treaty, Spain cedes the Floridas to the United States in exchange for Spain's recognized sovereignty over Texas, the recognition of the Sabine River as an international frontier, and the U.S. government's assumption of $5 million of Spanish debts to American citizens.

Navarro, attempting to make a living in the depressed economy of San Antonio de Béxar, illegally trades Texas mustangs for goods in Louisiana. Deputy Juan Manuel Zambrano arrests Navarro for smuggling and sentences him to a jail term.

March: Navarro is released from prison.

August 3: Stephen F. Austin arrives in San Antonio.

August 29: Antonio López de Santa Anna accepts a position in the Spanish army as lieutenant general. Later that day, he declares allegiance to the Mexican rebellion and its leader, Agustín de Iturbide. The Plan of Iguala establishes Mexican independence, and Iturbide proclaims himself Mexico's new emperor.

March: Austin returns to San Antonio; Navarro serves as Interim Alcalde(mayor) and Juez (judge).

Agustín de Iturbide abdicates as Emperor of Mexico and the territory, including Texas, is organized as a republic. The Mexican Congress grants Texans a seven-year exemption from Mexican tariffs.

Navarro is appointed secretary of San Antonio's Ayuntamiento (City Council).

May 7: The new Mexican constitutional government establishes Coahuila y Texas as a single state, with the capital at Saltillo.

Late 1820s
Mexicans disagree about whether the states or the national government should hold more power under the new constitution. Centralists believe power should be centralized in the national government in Mexico City. Federalists wish to distribute power to the state governments. Tejanos who align with the Federalists are led by revolutionary war veterans Guadalupe Victoria, Vicente Guerrero, and Lorenzo de Zavala.

Tejanos, working with the liberal Viesca family, pass the State Colonization Law, which protects landowners from creditors, allows settlers to claim unsurveyed land with a ten-year tax exemption, appoints Anglo land agents to facilitate the application process, and allows colonists to retain their Protestant faith.

Texas becomes a department under the state government, with its political chief residing in San Antonio. United States president John Quincy Adams offers $1 million to Mexico to purchase Texas, but is turned down.

The Texas y Coahuila state constitution recognizes slavery, but prohibits the importation of slaves after November 1827. Soon after, the law bans the slave trade and frees the slaves of owners who die without heirs.

Navarro represents Texas in the first Texas y Coahuila legislature.

General Manuel Mier y Teran, military commander of Mexico's northeastern provinces, conducts a tour of the Texas border and reports that Anglos are importing slaves illegally and violating Mexican laws regarding the courts and religion.

May: The Texas y Coahuila state constitution disguises slavery as "indentured servitude."

September 15: Mexican president Vicente Guerrero frees all slaves, but Texans obtain an exemption from the national slave emancipation decree. Santa Anna becomes a national hero when he defeats Spanish forces at Tampico. Rebel leader Anastacio Bustamante stages a coup against President Guerrero. The Plan of Jalapa removes Guerrero and institutes a Centralist administration. The change of power means leaders in Mexico City become more suspicious of the U.S., and of Anglo colonists in Texas.

Thirty thousand Anglos have arrived in Texas, overwhelming the Tejano population of 4000. United States president Andrew Jackson unsuccessfully offers $5 million to purchase Texas.

April 6: The Mexican Congress passes the Law of 1830. It prohibits settlement in Texas by immigrants from the U.S.; establishes military installations in Anglo colonies of Central and East Texas; forbids the importation of slaves; and cancels all colonization contracts still outstanding. The law will be repealed in 1833.

Navarro invests in 50,000 acres of ranch land and becomes Land Commissioner for the Green Dewitt Colony over the next two years.

Anglos outnumber Tejanos ten to one in Texas. Mexicans deploy customs agents to Texas to collect tariffs.

June: Protesting Mexican customs agents, William B. Travis is arrested for anti-government rhetoric. Anglo colonists pass the Turtle Bayou Resolutions, accusing the Mexican government of constitutional violations. The Resolutions also declare Texans' support of the uprising of Santa Anna against Bustamante.

October: The Convention of 55 at San Felipe de Austin draws up a list of grievances, but it is annulled by Ramon Musquiz, political chief of the Department of Texas.

A year-long cholera epidemic spreads through Béxar.

Antonio López de Santa Anna is elected president after endorsing liberalism and overthrowing President Bustamente. He declines to take office, and his vice president, Gómez Valentín Farias, becomes president.

Stephen F. Austin presents another Texan convention's resolutions in Mexico.

As a result of Austin's influence, Mexico repeals the ban on Anglo immigration. Texas state law allows Anglos to buy land at a reasonable price, grants Texans three seats in the state legislature, and declares English an official language.

January 2: Austin is jailed in Mexico for one year because of a letter he wrote calling for Texas statehood. War and Peace Party factions emerge in the Texas colonies.

Santa Anna deposes Farias and assumes the presidency; he establishes a Centralist regime, and places hombres de bien (elites) in power. The new Congress dissolves state legislatures, limits state militias, and abrogates the federal Constitution of 1824. Rebellions erupt in Zacatecas and Texas.

January: Santa Anna deploys customs agents to Anahuac to collect tariffs.

May 10-11: Battle of Zacatecas. Santa Anna's Army of Operations defeats the rebels, executes all Anglos, and leaves the city destroyed.

Austin is released from prison.

The Battle of Gonzales takes place. Gonzales residents refuse to return a cannon to the Mexican army. Santa Anna sends troops under General Martin Perfecto de Cos to San Antonio. Cos fortifies the Alamo; Tejanos join the rebel camp under Juan N. Seguin, Salvador Flores, and Manuel Leal.

October-December: Texans besiege Béxar. One hundred and sixty Tejanos participate. By December 10, General Cos surrenders. The Anglos return home after the battle, but Seguin and other Tejanos keep a vigil along the Rio Grande.

Navarro is appointed a federal senator but declines the office, due to turmoil in Texas.

Jim Bowie. Courtesy: Library of Congress

February 1: Tejanos elect Navarro and Francisco Ruiz as delegates to Washington-on-the-Brazos to declare Texas independence.

February 8: Former Tennessee congressman David Crockett arrives with volunteers to defend the Alamo.

February 12: Travis is elected commander of the enlisted army forces at the Alamo, while Jim Bowie leads the volunteers.

February 23: The Mexican Army of Operations under Santa Anna reaches San Antonio. Texan forces retreat inside the Alamo.

March 1: Twenty-two men from Gonzales join the Alamo.

March 2: Delegates at Washington-on-the-Brazos approve the Texas Declaration of Independence. Navarro, with his uncle, Francisco Ruiz, signs the declaration. The two men stay to serve on a committee to draft the republic's new constitution.

March 6: A bloody Mexican attack on the Alamo begins before dawn, and the Mexican forces slaughter all inside except for the women, children, and Travis' slave, Joe. Mexican losses number around 600.

March 20: Mexicans capture a Texan force retreating from Goliad, led by James W. Fannin, near Coleto Creek.

March 27: Santa Anna orders the execution of Fannin and 350 men at Goliad.

April 21: The Texan army defeats and captures Santa Anna at San Jacinto, and secures independence for Texas.

May 14: Santa Anna signs the Treaty of Velasco. It ceases hostilities and withdraws Mexican troops south of the Rio Grande.

September: Texans approve their new Constitution of the Republic of Texas. Sam Houston is elected president.

October: The First Congress of the Republic of Texas convenes.

November: Santa Anna is released by Texans and travels to Washington to meet with U.S. officials.

Colonel Juan Nepmuceno Seguín, military commander of San Antonio, presides over the burial of the Alamo defenders' ashes. San Antonio is incorporated and Béxar County is created.

Navarro writes to Sam Houston to protest army confiscations of Tejano property at Béxar. He gathers declarations from Tejanos that they did not participate with the Mexicans in fighting against the Republic of Texas during the Texas Revolution.

Navarro serves in the Texas Republic's House of Representatives. His brother Eugenio, accused of being a Mexican sympathizer, is killed in his presence by an Anglo settler.

The town of Austin is chosen as Texas' capital.

Texas president Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar asks Navarro to serve as commissioner of the Texas Santa Fé Expedition. The expedition aims to take control of the eastern part of New Mexico and make it part of the Texas Republic. The Mexican government captures the expedition near Santa Fé. Navarro, accused of treason, is imprisoned in Mexico until 1844.

Mexican troops invade Texas and briefly re-occupy San Antonio. Mexican and Texan forces fight the decisive Battle of Salado, and the Mexicans are turned back.

Navarro is released from prison in Mexico and returns home to Texas a hero.

Navarro is the sole Hispanic delegate to the Convention of 1845, where Texas accepts U.S. president James K. Polk'sproposal for annexation. Navarro helps to write the first state constitution, the Constitution of 1845. He is also elected to the first Texas state legislature and serves two terms as a state senator.

October 13: Texan citizens overwhelmingly approve the annexation of Texas. On December 29, the U.S. Congress will approve the annexation, and Texas will be named the 28th state in the union.

February 19: The government transfer of power takes place and Texas officially joins the United States. U.S. government troops occupy the Alamo.

The U.S. provokes the Mexican-American War in order to claim more North American territory under Mexican rule. Young U.S. soldiers include future president Ulysses S. Grant and future Confederate general Robert E. Lee. The war makes heroes out of Generals Winfield Scott and future president Zachary Taylor.

The Texas state legislature establishes Navarro County in recognition of José Antonio Navarro's contributions to the region. The county seat is designated Corsicana in honor of his father's place of birth.

The U.S. and Mexico sign the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo to end the war. Mexico accepts the Rio Grande as the southern boundary of Texas and gives up California and the province of New Mexico. The U.S. agrees to pay Mexico $15 million and to assume claims of American citizens against the Mexican government.

Navarro is the first Tejano to write about the history of Texas. He publishes his Apuntes Históricos (Historical Notes) in installments in the San Antonio Ledger. When the anti-foreigner Know Nothing Party starts to gain power, Navarro sells his San Geronimo ranch and re-enters politics as a San Antonio alderman. He informs Tejanos of the party's threat to their interests, and the Know Nothings are defeated at the polls in 1855.

January 13: Navarro dies at his home in San Antonio and is buried with an enormous public funeral. He leaves 20,000 acres and multiple town properties to his five children.

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