According to the Associated Press, a bureaucratic turf war has broken out over a proposed exhibition of the famous "Victory or Death" letter penned by Colonel William Travis while the Alamo was still under siege.
Squabble over proposed exhibit at the Alamo
The General Land Office, which has jurisdiction over the Alamo, is pressing the State Library and Archive Commission, which has possession of the letter, for a loan of the famous document for a proposed 14-day exhibition to take place at the Alamo, according to the Associated Press. The State Library and Archive Commission has secured the letter in a "dark storage" facility to preserve it from being damaged by exposure to light. Thus far the Commission has resisted loaning out the letter, apparently out of security concerns. The two state agencies are now negotiating a deal that might allow the letter to be exhibited at the Alamo in time for the 177th anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo, Feb. 23 through March 7, 2013.
The 'Victory or Death' letter
According to the Texas Heritage Society, the "Victory or Death" letter was written by Colonel William Travis, the commander of the Texas forces at the Alamo, a fortified mission in San Antonio, and dated Feb. 24, 1836. The letter was a plea to the "People of Texas & All Americans in the World" to come to the aid of the Texans besieged in the Alamo. The letter notes that the Mexican forces under General Santa Anna would shortly number 3,000 or 4,000 men to Travis' fewer than 200. A demand to surrender or be put to the sword was answered by a cannon shot. Travis concluded that should his plea for aid go unheeded that he was resolved to die rather than give in. The letter, which is considered one of the most heroic documents in history, was smuggled out by courier and printed on leaflets and published in newspapers.
Letter not seen by the public in over a century
The original letter was sold to the Texas state government by the great grandson of Travis in 1893 and has been stored at the state library after its construction in 1909, according to the Associated Press. While copies of the letter have been displayed, the original has been kept out of public view.
The Alamo battle
The Texas State Historical Association notes that despite the "Victory or Death" letter as well as subsequent pleas for help, only 32 troops under Lt. George Kimbell made it through the Mexican lines. In the early morning hours of March 6, 1836, Santa Anna hurtled 1,800 troops against the battered walls of the Alamo and, after a 90-minute assault, wiped out the Texas garrison almost to the last man. The Mexican Army suffered about 600 dead and wounded according to best estimates.
Texas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
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