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Brenham, Texas; Named for Richard Fox Brenham #TexasHistory #WashingtonCounty

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

This man was a hero; and at every turn in his illustrious life, there is some reminder ample enough to stimulate the loftiest patriotism, and to make his memory loved and venerated with pride by every loyal citizen of Brenham. May the name, Brenham, be spoken as a household word for centuries to come. San Jacinto Oration Delivered by Dr. Richard Fox Brenham, in Austin, April 21, 1840. Fellow Citizens : The love of power is a principle inherent in man, and from the remotest period of antiquity to the present time, no age has passed without an exhibition of its baneful influence, to the destruction of the liberty and happiness of some por- tion of mankind. Had human nature been untainted with this dangerous passion, the pages of history would be un- stained by the record of national turpitude and civil com- motion. But the annals of every nation worthy of the re- cording testimony of historians, conclusively illustrate the dangerous tendency of misdirected ambition, and present abundant examples to teach us that no people have ever achieved political greatness and national renown without passing through the fiery ordeal of revolution, and resisting with the energy of free men the rude assaults and alarming encroachments of despotic power. The attainment of civil liberty and establishment of national independence by a people whose rights have been trampled upon by tyrannical rulers, and whose persons and property have been sacrificed without regard to law or justice, has ever been attended by scenes of danger, tumult and disaster. Iji addition to the examples of past ages, Texas presents to the world another instance of emancipation from arbitrary thralldom to brighten the galaxy of existing nations, and enlighten pos- terity upon the value of political freedom. She has emerged from the darkness of despotism in which she was shrouded, and now basks in the radiance of liberty. She has cast off the bonds that fettered her people, and assumed the lofty attitude of an independent republic. No longer are our peo- ple goaded by the taunts, and afflicted by the harsh domina- tions of usurping authorities. No longer do we see the myrmidons of oppression enforcing partial and unjust laws, and harassing our citizens with official rapacity. No! A change has come over the scene, the corrupt and mercenary brigands who sought to fasten upon this country the galling yoke of a barbarous government have been discomfitted and driven back to the land from whence they came with shame and dishonor. Broken, humiliated and dismayed, they fled in consternation to their own land, but carried with them in 23 their retreat a lesson of Texas valor and mercy, which neither time nor circumstances can obliterate. We are assembled this day to commemorate the closing act of that national drama which terminated in the erection of a new and independent state, and gave to us a separate political existence. We are met here to honor an achieve- ment that in future ages will rank among the brightest deeds of chivalry. An event that sealed the triumph of intelligence and civil freedom over the grovelling prejudices of ignorance and superstition. An action that elevated our country to a level with the proudest republics of antiquity — whose citi- zens made every town a fortress and every plain a battle- field rather than submit to the dictation of arbitrary power. The battle of San Jacinto concluded a controversy in which the great principle of human rights was involved. How- ever interesting the subject, it cannot be expected that I should on this occasion indulge in a minute detail of all the incidents which preceded that brilliant consummation. They are before the world, and no one in the sound of my voice can be ignorant of the circumstances of that glorious strug- gle. I will speak, however, of the condition of Texas pre- vious to, and at the time of the revolution — of the leading causes which produced that event and changed the destiny •of a people, and of the character of those who by their pa- tient suffering, fortitude, and valor achieved the rights and privileges which we now enjoy. But a few years since this rich domain — the fairest portion of the universe — was held in possession by a degenerate race, incapable of estimating their inheritance, or developing the resources with which it was so richly endowed by nature. The Mexican population who then inhabited the province of Texas were sunk to the lowest stage of human existence. Without a commerce to profit by an intercourse with other countries, without agri- cultural industries to unfold the latent resources of their own land, unrefined by education and the arts that elevate and give tone to the character of man, they were scarcely raised above the condition of the untutored savage who roams over the western plains unchecked, and uncontrolled by the laws of God or the spirit of humanity. The country was exposed on every side to the constant depredations of the various hordes of Indians which infested its borders. Only the shadow of a government existed here then ; anarchy and licentiousness reigned supreme over the land, and tu- mult and disorder marked the conduct of the people. The Mexican authorities with the view of improving the con- dition of the citizens inhabiting this territory, and giving them protection from hostile barbarians, invited immigra- tion from abroad. They promised to those who came an 24 equal participation in the government, and the unrestricted enjoyment of the same rights and privileges they had pos- sessed in their native land. But how was that pledge ful- filled ? The events which rapidly followed the settlement of the country by the Anglo-Americans have demonstrated to the world the perfidy of that government which induced them to leave their homes and embark in the perilous adventure of colonizing a frontier country. But they came; and they brought with them the courage, energy and spirit of en- terprise that has ever distinguished their race. They brought with them the principles of free government, and the same ardent love of liberty that impelled their ancestors to fly from the oppression of British tyranny, and plant the standard of civil and religious liberty in the wilderness of America. Pursuing the system of their fathers they soon redeemed the country from the state of degradation and barbarism to which it had been reduced by a reckless, ignorant and disorderly community. They spread the light of intelligence over the land ; the arts were put in successful operation ; and the hand of industry was rapidly displaying the wealth of a soil which nature had so lavishly gifted with the elements of fertility. The chaotic gloom that pervaded and almost overwhelmed the country with despair was soon dispelled; organization was effected and the future beamed upon the people with the rich promise of prosperity. But the hopes entertained by those who had risked their all in reliance on the pledges of a faithless government were doomed to early disappointment. The guarantee which was proffered them for the preservation of their political rights, the promotion of domestic tranquillity and individual in- terests, was only given to delude a generous, confiding and unsuspecting people. The elements which then composed the community of Texas were of a conflicting character and could not commingle in harmonious action. Ignorance and depravity must ever yield to the supremacy of intelligence and virtue. No two distinct races of men, divided as the poles are asunder, in all the attributes that form human character, can ever be reconciled to peaceful union. The laws of nature are fixed and unchangeable, and cannot be varied from their course by the dictum of any earthly power. As well you might attempt to pluck one of the shining lights that glitter in the firmament of heaven from its place as to endeavor to unite in concord and congeniality the base and degraded spirit of the degenerate Mexican, with the proud, free and untrammelled soul of the legitimate white man. The past history and present condition of the Mexican na- tion clearly proves their incapacity to appreciate republican principles, or to exist in quietude under a free government. 25 Whilst every other people have been g-radually advancing in the scale of civilization and refinement, they have scarcely moved a single degree, in the course of time, from the de- based condition in which they were found by the Spanish conqueror in the sixteenth century. Could such a people ex- pect to hold in political bondage a race of men who inhaled at their birth the atmosphere of liberty? and whose fathers successfully resisted the oppression of the most powerful kingdom of Europe, and erected a government that is now the admiration of the world? The rapid advancement of the Texans in all that tends to elevate and dignify the character of a community, to- gether with the dissemination of the principles inherited from their ancestors, soon aroused the jealousy and mis- trust of the Mexican government, which looked with dread and apprehension on everything calculated to awaken their abject populace to a sense of their political disfranchise- ment and moral degradation. The usurping faction then holding sway over Mexico, determined to maintain their supremacy at all hazards, resorted to unconstitutional and arbitrary measures to check the tide of improvement, and crush the spirit of liberty which was fast elevating Texas above the rank of the neighboring provinces. No means that tyranny could adopt in the subversion of the liberties of a people were neglected by the party in power. Every principle of constitutional liberty was violated, the rights of the people disregarded, innovation succeeded innovation, wrongs accumulated, until the government which was insti- tuted to promote happiness of all was changed into an in- strument of tyranny in the hands of a few, and its power abused for the infliction of calamity on those whom it was intended to protect. The peaceful means of petition and remonstrance failed to produce a change in the conduct of the ruling powers. Their purpose was fixed and they heeded not the voice of supplication or the claims of justice. The representative of Texas