Today (March 2) is Texas Independence Day.
On March 2, 1836, Texas officially declared its independence from Mexico and created the Republic of Texas. In honor of the historic day, listen to Willie Nelson recite William Barret Travis’ “Victory or Death” letter, which Willie recorded on his 1968 album, Texas in My Soul.
William Barret Travis, a lieutenant colonel in the Texas Army, died at the Battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836. Ten days before his death, he penned the “Victory or Death” letter—an open letter that requested supplies and reinforcements while remaining steadfast in his resolve to lead his men against Mexican forces. The letter helped solidify William Barret Travis—and his Alamo compatriots Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie—as Texas heroes.
“Victory or Death” Letter
February 24, 1836
To the People of Texas and All the Americans in the World:
Fellow citizens and compatriots—I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual Bombardment and cannonade for 24 hours and 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, and 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 and everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily and 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 and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country. VICTORY or DEATH.
William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. Comdt.
P.S. The Lord is on our side. When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn. We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels and got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.
Listen to Willie’s recording of the “Victory or Death” letter.