Between October 1835 and April 1836, a group of mostly American-born residents of the Mexican province of Texas rebelled against the government of Mexico and ultimately declared Texas to be an independent republic. As Texian discontent and rebellion took root in the fall of 1835, Mexico’s experienced military commander, Antonio López de Santa Anna, led a Mexican army of several thousand troops to Texas to quell the resistance. In a series of minor battles and standoffs, a relatively small band of several hundred Texian militia members took on segments of the Mexican army, with little military success. In February of 1836, as the Mexican army approached, the Texian militia took over the Alamo, an abandoned Spanish mission in present-day San Antonio, where they defended themselves against the army’s siege. Ultimately, the vastly outnumbered Texians were defeated and nearly everyone inside the Alamo was killed.
Meanwhile, Texas leaders gathered to discuss their goals and demands. They wanted autonomy over the province of Texas, but at first did not insist on independence from Mexico. By March of 1836, however, the Texas convention members adopted a Declaration of Independence and established a Constitution for the Republic of Texas. The Texian army, led by Sam Houston, met the Mexican army in a decisive victory at the Battle of San Jacinto in April of 1836. The Republic of Texas adopted a government based on that of the United States, but with decisive policies protecting the institution of slavery, discriminating against tejanos, or Mexican-born settlers, who had not supported the rebellion, and limiting the legal rights of women.