Remembering Goliad: Myth and History in the Texas Revolution


Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships




In the midst of the Texas Revolution, Mexican soldiers captured and imprisoned some 400 Texan volunteers in the presidio in the city of Goliad. A week later, under direct orders from Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna, Mexican soldiers shot and killed almost all the Texans. Santa Anna claimed authority to execute the captives under Mexican law, which declared that Texan volunteers were to be “treated and punished as pirates” rather than as prisoners of war. Texans, however, condemned the killings as unlawful and as an example of Mexican brutality. Quickly dubbed the “Goliad Massacre,” the 1836 event became a staple of popular and scholarly literature on the Texas Revolution. Defining Goliad as a massacre lent credence to arguments for Anglo dominance in Texas, as people of Mexican descent were portrayed and perceived as “faithless” and savage. Revisiting the claim of massacre, and the effects of that claim over time, reveals the ways in which the master narrative of the Texas Revolution is founded upon unquestioned and oft-hidden assumptions of white superiority.