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Juan Bautista de las Casas led a revolt against the governor of Spanish Texas in 1811 and served as head of the province for 39 days until he was deposed.

Revolt

The Mexican War of Independence was launched on September 16, 1810 by Father Miguel Hidalgo, who believed that only people born in New Spain knew what was best for the area. His goal was to inflame the northernmost provinces, especially Spanish Texas, in the hopes that his cause might win the support of the United States.

On January 21, 1811 Las Casas, a retired militia captain from Nuevo Santander led a group of army sergeants to stage a coup in San Antoniomarker. The following morning they arrested the governor of Spanish Texas, Manuel María de Salcedo, and his entire military staff. Even as Salcedo was led to detention however, the rebellious soldiers instinctively saluted him. Las Casas chained Salcedo, Simon Herrerra, the governor of Nuevo Santander who was living in San Antonio, and twelve other Hispanis officers and humilitiated them in front of the town. The prisoners were then transferred to Monclovamarker in Coahuila.

The rest of Texas was quickly revolutionized. There was little resistance in Nacogdoches, where the presidio commander was arrested, or in La Bahia. Las Casas promptly confiscated property belonging to Hispanic residents, proclaimed himself the head of a provisional government, released political prisoners and jailed royalists. His arbitrary rule disenchanted much of the army, and Juan Manuel Zambrano, the subdeacon of San Antonio, soon led a counter-insurgency against him. On March 2, Zambrano and his royalists marched on the government house. Las Casas surrendered without a fight, just 39 days after taking over. Zambrano reestablished royalist control of the province and sent a messenger to inform those holding Salcedo.

Imprisonment and death

During his captivity, Salcedo had been slowly enticing his captor with promises of a promotion and other rewards if he would renounce his revolutionary tendencies. After receiving Zambrano's message, Salcedo's captor changed sides again. With his help, on March 13, Salcedo and his military officers were able to capture Pedro de Aranda, who held documents detailing the movements of the revolutionary army. One week later, Salcedo led a group which captured much of Hidalgo's army, as well as 27 rebel leaders. Salcedo accompanied the captured leaders from Monclova to Chihuahua, the headquarters of the Commandant General. On April 26, 1811, the Commandant General appointed Salcedo to be president of a seven-member tribunal to try the revolutionaries. The men were quickly sentenced to death by firing squad.

Loyalists in Coahuila quickly judged, convicted, and executed the prisoners captured in San Antonio. Las Casas was shot in the back and beheaded on August 3, 1811. The body was buried at Monclovamarker, Las but his head was shipped to San Antonio and displayed on a pole in the military plaza. With Salcedo still in Chihuahua, Zambrano administered the province. Among his accomplishments during this time was to inaugurate the first primary school in San Antonio.

Footnotes

  1. Almaráz, p. 95.
  2. Almaráz, p. 96.
  3. Almaráz, p. 118.
  4. Almaráz, p. 119.
  5. Almaráz, p. 120.
  6. Almaráz, p. 122.
  7. Almaráz, p. 123.
  8. Caldwell (2001).
  9. Almaráz, p. 124.


References




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