But wandering through the memories contained within the exhibits at La Bahia, guests will discover that months before the massacre, this place played a key role in another important event leading to the eventual independence of Texas.
While Texas independence was formally declared to create the Republic of Texas on March 2 at Washington-on-the-Brazos, inside the Our Lady of Loreto chapel at Goliad, 92 men signed a Declaration of Independence from Mexico 73 days earlier.
The signers of the December 20 document included both members of Captain Phillip Dimmit’s troops and local citizens, including those of Mexican descent. Many of the signers were alarmed by the overthrow of the Mexican government by Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, replacing the Constitution of 1824 with a new centralist regime.
The Declaration was drafted by the Goliad town secretary Ira Ingram, then forwarded to Texas’ provisional government at San Felipe and printed in handbills for distribution, according to Sons of Dewitt Colony Texas’ website.
Ingram was a native of Vermont and part of the original 300 settlers that came to Texas with Stephen F. Austin.
Jose Maria Jesus Carabajal was one of the prominent Mexican citizens who signed the documents. Carabajal was born in San Antonio and served in several Mexican government positions, including as secretary to the legislature of Coahuila and Texas. He was elected to the Convention of 1836 where the March 2 Declaration was adopted but declined to attend.
The Goliad Declaration is reminiscent of our national Declaration penned 60 years earlier,
“1. Be it Resolved, That the former province and department of Texas is, and of right ought to be, a free, sovereign, and independent State.
2. That as such, it has, and of right ought to have, all the powers, faculties, attributes, and immunities of other independent nations
3. That we, who hereto set our names, pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor, to sustain this declaration—relying with entire confidence upon the co-operation of our fellow-citizens, and the approving smiles of the God of the living, to aid and conduct us victoriously through the struggle, to the enjoyment of peace, union, and good government; and invoking His malediction if we should either equivocate, or, in any manner whatever, prove ourselves unworthy of the high destiny at which we aim.”
According to historian John Henry Brown in his The History of Texas from 1685 to 1892, a majority of the provisional government favored “continuing the contest to the end as an integral part of Mexico” and thus limited distribution of the handbill among the general population.
However, the document did produce much discussion.
After the declaration was signed, Dimmit hoisted the first flag of independence, the “Bloody Arm” flag that he had designed, above the walls of the presidio.
The flag was later also flown over the hall where the March 2 Declaration of Independence was signed.
In February 1836, the presidio at Goliad was renamed “Fort Defiance” and continued to play an important role in the Texas Revolutionary War.
A copy of the Goliad Declaration of Independence can be found below.
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Kim Roberts is a regional reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.