The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988

"To the People of Texas & All Americans in the
World"
MICHAEL R. GREEN*
PROBABLY NO SINGLE EVENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN SOUTH-
west has captured or held the popular imagination more than the
siege and fall of the Alamo. For 152 years, poets, novelists, film pro-
ducers, and other artists have capitalized on, and in many instances en-
hanced, the olympian proportions of the story. Unfortunately, these in-
terpretations often predate and far outnumber scholarly investigations
of the subject. Pioneer scholars, such as Amelia W. Williams, Ruby
Mixon, Carlos E. Castafieda, and R. B. Blake, exploded many of the
myths during the first half of this century, considering, for the first
time, accounts by Mexican participants. Their efforts cleared the way
for a host of other historians who have continued this reappraisal, view-
ing the event as a chapter in a larger compendium of Pan-American
history.
One aspect of the Alamo story that has defied this scrutiny is the
composition and transmittal of Lt. Col. William Barret Travis's message
of February 24, 1836, "To the People of Texas & all Americans in the
world." The dramatic circumstances surrounding the creation of the
appeal, the dedication of the various couriers, and the passion and in-
dignation the letter aroused are the epitome of the Alamo mystique.
The letter was one of only a handful to leave the improvised fort dur-
ing the thirteen-day siege, and it bears mute witness to the garrison's
integrity and determination. Furthermore, Travis's message and the al-
truistic sentiments it embodies ensure that the Texas Revolution will
never be dismissed as a self-interested land grab.
Ironically, Travis's letter from the Alamo is a testament to an effort
that failed. Only a few volunteers from Gonzales responded to his call
for aid. Had Travis's appeal succeeded in drawing large amounts of
* Michael R. Green is the reference archivist for the Archives Division of the Texas State
Library. He has published and presented a number of articles and papers on southwest-
ern topics.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101211/. Accessed November 27, 2014.