How San Antonio Evolved Over 300 Years
The city of San Antonio’s roots began on May 1, 1718, with the establishment of San Antonio de Valero, the first of five Spanish missions in the area. Four days later, Martin de Alarcon, governor of the province of Texas, founded San Antonio de Bexar Presidio.
The city of San Antonio is in the midst of a year-long celebration of anniversary No. 300. The city is hosting some events and festivals in honor of the anniversary.
Today, San Antonio is an American city of more than a million people, as well as a metro area topping two million inhabitants. But its genesis goes back to Spanish Mexico.
Initially inhabited by the indigenous Payaya people, Spanish explorers first came to the site in the late 17th century. Roughly two decades later came San Antonio de Valero, which would then gain fame as the Alamo.
While the Presidio was host to the military, a town grew up around it. Settlers from the Canary Islands formed the city of San Fernando de Bexar in 1731. By 1773, the city became the capital Spanish Texas and remained so until 1824.
In 1821, the Mexican War for Independence severed ties with Spain, and San Antonio became part of the new country of Mexico. This was the first of several times San Antonio would change hands. It was at this time that the city became officially known as San Antonio.
Welcoming settlers to the area, the Mexican government approved immigrants from the United States to San Antonio. American colonists brought slavery to the area sparking unrest within the city. By 1830, Mexican president Anastasio Bustamente ordered all slaves in Texas to be freed.
This unrest evolved into a full-on revolution by 1835. Once the settlers formed a new state called the Republic of Texas, Mexico responded with brutal force. Mexican president Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna led a large army and routed nearly 200 Texans defending the Alamo, killing them all.
“Remember the Alamo” became a rallying cry for the fledgling republic as Texas won and gained its independence. Texas remained a sovereign nation until 1845 when the United States annexed it with the approval of Texans. During the Civil War, San Antonio and the rest of Texas joined the Confederacy. At the end of the war, San Antonio was once again part of the United States.
Today, San Antonio has established itself as a city of great cultural importance to the state of Texas. Celebrations of its anniversary will continue throughout 2018.