It was today in 1836 that William B. Travis, commander of the Texian forces at the Battle of the Alamo and besieged by a vast Mexican army led by the dictator General Antonio López de Santa Anna, sent his letter asking for help from anyone who could provide it.
His letter, a masterpiece of American patriotism and defiance in the face of overwhelming odds, served as a rallying cry for those who eventually defeated the Mexican forces at the battle of San Jacinto, winning Texas independence and for those fighting for Liberty and Freedom the world over.
Many Texan families have framed copies of the letter on the walls of their homes (as I do), to serve as a reminder of the price of Liberty. Every single schoolchild in Texas learns the text and meaning of this letter as part of their education. Would that every child in the world knew it as well. The text:
Commandancy of the Alamo Bejar, Feby. 24, 1836
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World
Fellow citizens & compatriots
I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken.
I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country.
VICTORY OR DEATH.
William Barret Travis,
Lt. Col. comdt.