Alamo, the

Alamo, the ălˈəmōˌ [key] [Span.,=cottonwood], building in San Antonio, Tex., “the cradle of Texas liberty.” Built as a chapel after 1744, it is all that remains of the mission of San Antonio de Valero, which was founded in 1718 by Franciscans and later converted into a fortress. In the Texas Revolution, San Antonio was taken by Texas revolutionaries in Dec., 1835, and was lightly garrisoned. When Mexican General Santa Anna approached with an army of several thousand in Feb., 1836, only some 150 men held the Alamo, and confusion, indifference, and bickering among insurgents throughout Texas prevented help from joining them, except for 32 volunteers from Gonzales who slipped through the Mexican siege lines. Defying surrender demands, the Texans in the fort determined to fight. The siege, which began Feb. 24, ended with hand-to-hand fighting within the walls on Mar. 6. William B. Travis, James Bowie, Davy Crockett, and some 180 other defenders died, but the heroic resistance roused fighting anger among Texans, who six weeks later defeated the Mexicans at San Jacinto, crying, “Remember the Alamo!” The chapel-fort became a state preserve in 1883. Its surroundings were added in 1905, and the complex, restored in 1936–39, is now a major tourist attraction.

See A. G. Adair and M. H. Crockett, ed., Heroes of the Alamo (2d ed. 1957); Lon Tinkle, 13 Days to Glory (1958); W. Lord, A Time to Stand (1961); W. C. Davis, Three Roads to the Alamo (1998); R. Roberts and J. S. Olson, A Line in the Sand (2000).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. History