“Come and Take It!” [Texas Exhibit]

If you are planning to see Texas! The Exhibition at the Houston Museum of Natural Science you are in for a real treat. One of my favorite pieces of Texas memorabilia is stationed right in the middle of this all inclusive Texas! exhibit.

Come And Take It Cannon
The Come And Take It Cannon,
on display in Texas! The Exhibition.
See a full set of images from the exhibit on Flickr.

It’s the “Come and Take It!” cannon from the Battle of Gonzales.

The Battle of Gonzales has been called the “Lexington” of the Texas Revolution. The battle took place on October 2, 1835. Tension had been high between the Mexican government under the leadership of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and the U.S. citizens living in Mexican Texas. It was because of this tension that the Mexican forces showed up near Gonzales with a request.

You see, the Mexican government had loaned a small cannon to the people of Gonzales to help ward off Indian attacks in 1831. Now that relations with the Texian colonists and the Mexican government were souring quickly, Mexico felt they should retrieve all of their “loaned” artillery. This task fell into the hands of Col. Domingo de Ugartechea.

Ugartechea dispatched Francisco de Castañeda to Gonzales to retrieve the cannon. According to The Handbook of Texas Online, when Castañeda and his troops arrived they asked the colonists to return the cannon. The colonists pointed the cannon towards the Mexican forces and said “there it is – come and take it.” The ladies of the settlement quickly made a flag to hoist over the cannon simply saying “Come and Take It!”

The cannon was not taken that day by the Mexican forces, and its place in history was now cemented forever. The cannon has been thought of as a symbol of Texas Freedom.

The slogan has proved that you don’t mess with Texas!

When you view this small cannon, you can’t help but think that this little guy made a large impact in the history of Texas and its people.

One feels a sense of pride, not necessarily for the cannon sitting on display but for the actions of those who dared rebel against the Santa Anna government which was restricting their rights as colonists.

Come And Take It
The Come And Take It Cannon,
on display in Texas! The Exhibition.
See a full set of images from the exhibit on Flickr.

The Gonzales Memorial Museum located on 414 Smith Street in the city of Gonzales has been home to this remarkable object since the Museum was built (1936 – 1937). When the Houston Museum of Natural Science decided to put this exhibit together the “Come and Take It!” cannon was a natural fit. The city of Gonzales said, “come and take it,” so we went and took it. Now everyone should come and see it!

Texas Exhibition! Spotlight on David Crockett

As we prepare for the opening of our new exhibition Texas! Making History Since 1519, we are dedicated to helping you learn more about the great Lone Star State. So today, Amanda Norris and Pat Dietrich, youth educators at the museum, write to you about David Crockett. Just in case you missed it, check out last week’s post on Stephen F. Austin.

This Alamo defender was born in Tennessee on August 17, 1786.  Crockett spent the early part of his life in several small towns in Tennessee, helping his father at the family owned tavern. At the age of 20, he married Polly Finley and later moved with his family to a farm near the border of Alabama.

In September of 1813, Crockett joined the local militia to avenge an Indian attack in nearby Alabama. He reenlisted in 1814. When he returned from service in Pensacola in 1815, is wife became ill and passed away. He remarried a few months later and traveled to Alabama to look for land for his family. However, he returned to Tennessee and decided to live there. He became a Justice of the Peace, but then resigned to become a town commissioner.

Tennessee Legislator

During the next 13 years, Crockett served terms in the Tennessee legislature, returned to private practice, served two terms in the United State House of Representatives, but was defeated in 1835.  By this time he was nationally known as a storyteller, sharpshooter and hunter. Several books were published relating his tall tales.

When he lost another election to a man with a wooden leg, David Crockett set out for the Texas frontier to see if he should move his family there. At this time, he made his famous remark, “Since you have chosen to elect a man with a timber toe to succeed me, you may all go to hell and I will go to Texas.”

“You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas.”

In February of 1836, David Crockett arrived in San Antonio de Bexar. Sam Houston had ordered that his army retreat from the Alamo, but Colonel William B. Travis disregarded the order. Crockett sided with Travis, ready for a good fight. Mexican Army General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had arrived at San Antonio on February 20, ready to seize the Alamo.

With no reinforcements arriving, the thirteen day siege of the Alamo ended on March 6, 1836. In less than two hours, David Crockett, Jim Bowie, William B. Travis and between 185 and 255 other defenders lost their lives.   “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Goliad” became the battle cry at the successful Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, when Sam Houston’s army defeated Santa Anna in a savage 18-minute battle.

“The Fall of the Alamo” by Robert Jenkins Onderdonk

Silver Screen Adaptations

Davy Crockett’s life has been depicted in Hollywood for decades, a topic ripe for the silver screen. There have been several movies about the famous Alamo battle in two of these, the character of Davy Crockett has been played by the likes of John Wayne and Billy Bob Thornton. In the famous 1955 Walt Disney series Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, the title character of Davy Crockett was played by Fess Parker.

Davy Crockett’s efforts to free Texas from Mexico have made him a Texas Legend admired by historians and school children alike!

Learn even more about Texas in our new exhibition, opening to the public on March 6, 2011. Get a sneak peak at the exhibition during our Texas VIP Nite, March 2 from 6 to 8 p.m. And stay tuned to the blog as we highlight other important people and events throughout the run of the show.