Saturday, April 25, 2009

What Texas Secession Looks Like

Now that we know that a majority of Texas Republicans think secession is a good idea, what would secession in Texas look like? Specifically, how have treasonous Texans treated dissenters in the past? I already discussed what happened to Juan Seguin, a hero of the Alamo who was forced out when he fought against the white supremacy at the core of the Texas revolution.

But of course, Texas committed treason in defense of slavery twice. I've been talking about their first rebellious period, but what about the Civil War? Not all Texans wanted to secede. Like in most of the Southern states, there were pockets of unionists. Usually these were people who did not identify with the planter elites who controlled their state's economy and political life. These people tended to live in mountainous regions that did not lend themselves to plantation agriculture--western Virginia, east Tennessee, north Alabama, etc. One of these places was the Texas hill country. In the 1840s and 50s, German immigrants flooded into the hills west of Austin and San Antonio. They had little interest in slavery and were loyal to their new home. But they identified that home as the United States, not Texas. That was a fatal mistake.

When the war started, these Germans opted out. They wanted nothing to do with treason or secession. This quickly raised the ire of English-speaking Texans who did not tolerate dissent from the slave power. This dissent reached a tipping point in the spring of 1862, when the Confederacy instituted a draft. The non-slave owning poor would have to fight a war for the slaveholding elite. The hill country Germans actively resisted. Texas declared martial law in the resisting countries. In response, some of Germans decided to cross the border into Mexico and sit the war out.

The Texans had two choices at this point--let them go and forget about it, or go after them. They decided for the latter. As the Germans neared the Rio Grande, on August 10, 1862, the Texans caught up with them. The Texans opened fire. As their victims lay dying in the sands of the Nueces River, the Texans began executing the prisoners. Overall, 34 German immigrants died that day, fleeing the treasonous and murderous Texans.

After the war, the German community of Comfort, about 20 miles south of Fredericksburg, put up a monument to the dead. Today, it is one of only two non-battlefield monuments to dead Union supporters in the ex-Confederacy (I believe the other is in Tennessee). In German, and with the U.S. flag flying at half mast over it, it's an interesting document to the immigrant history of the United States, the loyalty to their new nation many immigrants felt, and the horrible evil at the soul of the Confederacy.

One might think that a modern day secessionist movement in Texas would treat its dissenters with less violence. But if actual secession broke out, I'm not confident that we nationalists would be treated any better, particularly once the yahoos down here realized that Fort Hood and NASA and Fort Bliss and all the other huge government installations down here would leave. Once they realized their desperate situation, anything would be possible. Including massacres of loyal Americans.