The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 300
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
senger of defeat; the Alamo had none."' These words, maintained Dr.
Burleson, were "first uttered by General Edward Burleson in an ad-
dress to the Texans assembled at Gonzales when the news of the fall of
the Alamo reached that place.""
Others asserted that the phrase had been suggested to Burleson by
Gen. Thomas Jefferson Green. C. W. Raines wrote that "in December,
1898, in Austin, Col. Guy M. Bryan told me on the authority of Gen.
Hugh McLeod that Gen. Thomas Jefferson Green was the author of
the inscription."3 Bryan's daughter Hally Bryan Perry, on the other
hand, wrote that Bryan "often reminded me to never fail in establish-
ing the fact that it was Burleson, not himself, who said 'Thermopylae
had her messenger of defeat, the Alamo had none.' People took it for
granted it was part of his [Bryan's] speech on The Child of the Alamo."4
Nanna Smithwick Donaldson wrote that she "recalls a remark made
by her father, Col. Noah Smithwick, in commenting on Dr. Burleson's
address to the effect that the words used by General Burleson were
suggested by another person, better versed in the classics than the
speaker. Who this person was, Colonel Smithwick could not at the mo-
ment, recall. It could, however, scarcely have been-as Gen. Hugh
McLeod is said to have stated-Gen. Thomas Jefferson Green; for the
Gonzales episode antedated General Green's advent into Texas by some-
thing like a month.""
An examination of the surviving original sources reveals, however,
that the phrase was never spoken at all in 1836. Contemporary rec-
ords indicate that the first person to compare the fall of the Alamo to
the defeat of the Spartans at Thermopylae was David G. Burnet. On
March 18, 1836, while serving as ad interim president of the new Re-
public of Texas, Burnet issued a proclamation at San Felipe in which he
stated: "The fall of the Alamo is the surest guarantee of our ultimate
success. The Spartan band who so nobly perished there, have be-
queathed to us an example, which ought and will be imitated; and have
inflicted on the enemy a terror and a loss that are equivalent to a
2 "Notes and Fragments," Quarterly of the Texas State HzstorzcalAssoczatzon, VII (Apr., 1904), 328.
sC. W Raines, "The Alamo Monument," ibid., VI (Apr., 1903), 309n
4 Hally Bryan Perry to Emma Burleson, Sept. 7, 1936, Emma Kyle Burleson Papers (Archives
Division, Texas State Library, Austin). The speech mentioned was a well-known address by
Bryan in which he besought the 'Texas legislature to provide monetary assistance to Angelina
Dickinson. She was the daughter of Almaron and Suzanna Dickinson, and was, with her
mother, permitted by Santa Anna to leave San Antonio after he had defeated the Texans there
in March 1836.
"Notes and Fragments," 328-329.
6Burnet Proclamation, Mar. 18, 1836, in John H Jenkins (ed.), The Papers of the Texas Revolu-
tzon 1835-1836 (1o vols., Austin- Presidlal Press, 1973), V, 126.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/m1/344/: accessed April 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.