Juan Seguín

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Juan Seguín
Juan seguin.jpg
Republic of Texas Senator from Bexar District
In office
December 5, 1837 – February 5, 1840
Preceded by Thomas Jefferson Green
Succeeded by William H. Daingerfield
101st and 110th Mayor of San Antonio
In office
1834–1835
Preceded by Miguel Arciniega
Succeeded by José Ángel Navarro
In office
1841–1842
Preceded by John William Smith
Succeeded by Francis Guilbeau
Member of the San Antonio City Council
In office
1828–1833
Justice of the Peace of Bexar County, Texas
In office
1852–1856
County Judge of Wilson County, Texas
In office
1869–1869
Personal details
Born Juan Nepomuceno Seguín
(1806-10-27)27 October 1806
San Antonio de Bexar, Province of Texas, Viceroyalty of New Spain (now Texas, U.S.)
Died 27 August 1890(1890-08-27) (aged 83)
Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) María Gertrudis Flores de Abrego (m. 1825)
Military service
Allegiance Texas Republic of Texas
Service/branch  Texas Army, Republic of Texas Militia
Years of service 1835–1836, 1836–1842
Rank Colonel
Unit Texian volunteer and regular army
Battles/wars Texas Revolution
Juan Seguin monument in Seguin, Texas

Juan Nepomuceno Seguín (October 27, 1806 – August 27, 1890) was a 19th-century Texas Senator, mayor, judge, and Justice of the Peace.

During the Texas Revolution he was a prominent figure that aided in the victory of many battles. Seguin was respected as an important individual, because of his ability to speak spanish as well as english, which made him an asset in acquiring Texas' independence. His famous work Personal Memoirs of John N. Seguin depicts the complexity of his experience during the Texas Revolution and his life challenges through the Republic of Texas and after the Mexican-American War. Seguin uses his memoir to assert his loyalty to Texas and to put to rest any speculations of treason. After the Mexican-American War Seguin is granted permission to return to Texas, but after continuos pressure and intimidation he returns to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico where he dies in 1890.

Early life and family influence[edit]

Juan Nepomuceno Seguin was, born on October 27, 1806, in San Antonio, Texas. He was the oldest of two sons and was born to Juan José María Erasmo Seguin and Maria Josefa Becerra. Seguin was born into a lower class family, which enabled him to learn how to read and write on his own. At the age of 19, Seguin married one of the wealthiest woman in San Antonio, Maria Gertudis Flores de Abrego, daughter of a ranch owner. They managed to have ten children, some who later became Mexican military men and mayors of Nuevo Laredo. The family name of Seguin has early historical ties to Texas. Juan's ancestors, tracing back to his great-grandfather, took part in making Texas a permanent settlement and founding San Antonio. While farming and ranching was an unofficial family tradition, Seguin's paternal lineage has a record of being involved in Texan military, government and politics. It was Seguin's grandfather and father who had such an influence in Texas relations that they were highly respected figures. Being surrounded in an environment filled with political and military involvement, it is no surprise that Juan Seguin had an early interest and knowledge on Texas politics. His earliest responsibilities included taking over as postmaster when his father was away. Eventually, he landed his first major political role of being elected to congress from 1823-1824. By 1828, Seguin had showed so much leadership and excellence, that he was elected alderman that December. Later in 1834, Seguin ended up becoming political chief of the Department of Bexar. It wasn’t until 1835, that Seguin began his military career by leading a group of militia to Monclova.[1]

Texas Revolution[edit]

Main article: Texas Revolution

As a teenager in Mexico, Seguín had a strong interest in politics. When General Antonio López de Santa Anna seized power and repealed the Mexican Constitution of 1824, Seguín was very critical of his contemporary Mexican leader. Soon Seguín joined the Anglo settlers in the Texas Revolution to rid Texas of Santa Anna's rule.[2] In 1835–1836, Seguin recruited and commanded troops for the Texan Army.[3] [Note 1]

Seguín was commissioned a captain by Stephen F. Austin in October 1835[4] and would be tasked with the burden of supplying the Texan troops with food and provisions.[5] Seguín sent out scouting parties to the Missions of San Antonio in search of a suitable base camp for the Texans [6] and participated in the early successful Battle of Concepcion[7] and the two-month long Siege of Bexar,[8] that drove the troops of Santa Anna out of Texas.

In January 1836, he was commissioned as a Captain in the regular Texas Army[Note 2]

On October 6, 1836, Seguin fought his first battle against Santa Ana’s men. It was 4’0clock and the Mexican militia was approaching San Fernando, where Captain Juan Seguin and his Tejanos were waiting for the enemy. Santa Anna attempted to breach the walls of San Fernando numerous times, and it was not until the third time that Santa Ana managed to breach the north wall. The outcome was bloody, leaving 130 men out of 800 alive. The battle lasted only 90 minutes, but the results were brutal, as nearly 2000 men, both Mexican and Texan, laid everywhere on the bloody floor.[9]

Upon the return of Santa Anna's army, Juan Seguín had entered the Alamo with fifteen recruits to join William B. Travis on February 23, in the battle of the Alamo.[10] Although he served at the Alamo during the thirteen-day siege, he was dispatched as the last courier from the Alamo seeking reinforcements and was not present to participate in the closing battle.[11] Because Seguín spoke Spanish and was familiar with the terrain, he was chosen to carry the Alamo message through the enemy lines,[12] that the Texans "shall never surrender or retreat." Seguín got that message through to some other soldiers, on the Texian side.[11] He then returned with some of them hoping to reinforce the Alamo, but it had already fallen to Santa Anna's army.[13]

Seguín returned with his company to Gonzales, where they joined with Houston in the Runaway Scrape. Seguín was a significant part of the Texan victory at San Jacinto, where he commanded the 9th Company, Second Regiment Texas Volunteers[14][15] and then pursued remnants of the Mexican Army following the battle.

Surrender of Santa Anna by William Henry Huddle, depicts Santa Anna's surrender to the wounded Sam Houston.

Life under the Republic of Texas[edit]

After Texas became a republic, Seguin was named head of the San Antonio military, commanding a force to defend Texas's western frontier.[16] In 1837, Colonel Seguín directed the burial of the ashes of the slain Alamo defenders.[10][17] Yet, not all defenders received immediate recognition. Their sacrifice went unnoticed leading their families and Tejano community towards marginalization due to the erasure of Mexican American participants.[18] After the battle of the Alamo, it was expedient to assume that all Mexicans were disloyal, this misconception stigmatized Tejanos leading them to “remain largely anonymous until the publication of William’s research in the 1930’s”. In 1839, Seguín, captain of a Texas force of about fifty-four men, again protected the colonists in the Henry Karnes campaign against the Comanche Indians.[19] After Texas became a republic, Seguin was named head of the San Antonio military, commanding a force to defend Texas's western frontier.[16] In 1837, Colonel Seguín directed the burial of the ashes of the slain Alamo defenders.[10][17]

In 1839, Seguín, captain of a Texas force of about fifty-four men, again protected the colonists in the Henry Karnes campaign against the Comanche Indians.[19]

Texas Senator and mayor[edit]

Seguín was elected as a Texas Senator from 1837 to 1840 and worked closely with Texas Congressman José Antonio Navarro to introduce and support legislation that would protect the best interests of the native citizenry of Texas, who rapidly became the political minority as Americans immigrated to Texas. [Note 3]

Early in 1839, a settlement thirty-five miles east of San Antonio that had been formed by Texas Rangers from Gonzales voted to take the name Seguin in his honor. Later that year he was honored by parade and feast in the small community in celebration. In 1840, through the urging of Texas President Mirabeau Bonaparte Lamar, he resigned his congressional seat in order to join a controversial campaign against the Centralist government in Mexico City.[2] Then Juan Seguin again became mayor of San Antonio in 1841.

Challenges[edit]

Texas became flooded by adventurous and land hungry North Americans that were unfamiliar with the native Texans' history[20] and their loyal support of Texas.[21] Seguín's leadership and loyalty would be challenged by these newcomers.[22] He defied an order from the new head of the Texas military to burn San Antonio to the ground and made himself other powerful enemies.[10]

In 1842, San Antonio was overrun twice, by Santa Anna's forces. After defeating a Mexican expedition against San Antonio in 1842 the Mexican commander devised a plan to put anglo Texans against Seguin by publicly stating that Seguin was still a loyal Mexican subject. Although Juan Seguin was the mayor of San Antonio at the time, anglos who had been his comrades accused him of treason. During March 1843, Colonel Seguín and other citizens of San Antonio would seek refuge at Manuel Flores Ranch on the edge of Seguin, Texas.[23] A counterattack was planned and even though Seguín had pursued the army of Ráfael Vásquez, chasing them from Texas;[24] he was blamed for the attack.[25]

Seguín resigned from office in April, due to threats on his life.[26] Opposition to his defense of Texas rights, adversities, and false charges that he was aiding the Mexican army, proved too much to bear. He went to Mexico to "seek refuge amongst my enemies," where he was captured, arrested and coerced to enlist in the Mexican army as a staff official. He returned to San Antonio with the opposition army of Adrian Woll[26] in September 1842 and later even served under Santa Anna in the Mexican-American War of 1846–1848.

The presence of Anglo and Mexican Tejanos in the fight for Texan independence brought forth a tension of truths, complicating and perplexing the understanding of loyalties, resulting in prejudice against Mexican Tejanos.

Later life[edit]

Juan Seguin burial site in Seguin, Texas

In February 1848, Seguín requested permission to return to Texas. By year's end, he had returned,[27] establishing a home adjacent his father Erasmo Seguín's house, and ranching in Floresville, Texas.[22] He was elected to two terms as Justice of the Peace of Bexar County in 1852 and 1854. He became a founding father of the Democratic Party in Bexar county.[28] [Note 4] In 1858, he published his life memoirs. Seguín served as County Judge in Wilson County in 1869. However, business dealings occasionally took him back to Mexico. And around 1883, he settled in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, to be near his son Santiago, who was mayor. He died there on August 27, 1890. His remains were returned to Texas in 1974 and as part of the nation's Bicentennial celebration were reinterred in his namesake town, Seguin,[10] during ceremonies on July 4, 1976. A large monument, depicting him on horseback waving his saber, now honors his service to Texas, in the downtown Seguin Central Park.[29]

Legacy[edit]

In 1839, the town of Seguin was named for him and there he rode on horseback, in a parade, celebrating the event.

Over the years, the attitude to Juan Seguín was mixed. On one hand, he was recognized as the Alamo hero; on the other, he was often labeled as traitor, both by Texans and Mexicans.[30]

In the 1960 film The Alamo (by John Wayne), Joseph Calleia played Juan Seguín.

In the second half of the 20th century, interest in Juan Seguin grew. He was portrayed in the TV drama American Playhouse: Seguín (1982), directed by Jesús Salvador Treviño, where he was played by A. Martinez.[31]

In the 2004 film The Alamo (by John Lee Hancock), Juan Seguín was played by Jordi Molla. Playing as a supporting character, his role in the film was important, because the director considered this character as a "moral bellwether of the story".[32]

The first half of the 2012 graphic novel, Los Tejanos and Lost Cause, published by Fantagraphics Books and written by Jack Jackson, is based on the life of Seguin.

In a September 2001 ceremony, Park Road 1836, which connects Battleground Road (formerly Texas State Highway 134) to the San Jacinto Monument Grounds near Houston, was renamed in Seguín's honor and the Interstate 610/Texas State Highway 225 interchange in southeast Houston was bestowed with the name of "Juan N. Seguin Memorial Interchange". Two roads named for Texas revolutionary / Hero from 1830s honored for role in freeing Texas[33]

A statue of Juan N. Seguin sculpted by Erik Christianson of Bulverde was erected in 2000 in the public square south of the courthouse in the city of Seguin.[29]

When Texas schools were segregated, Spanish-speaking students in the city of Seguin attended the Juan Seguin School. During World War II, the Liberty Ship SS Juan N. Seguin was named in his honor, and the builder's plaque and ships bell from Juan N. Seguin hangs inside the city hall in Seguin. A Texas State Historical Marker explaining that the town is named for Juan Seguin stands in front of the city hall.

A high school at 7001 Silo Rd. in Arlington, Texas, in the Arlington Independent School District is named in his honor.

An elementary school at 7817 Grand Mission Blvd. in Richmond, Texas, in the Fort Bend Independent School District is named in his honor.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Juan Seguín had married María Gertrudis Flores de Abrego, a member of one of San Antonio's well known ranching families. There were four Jose Flores De Abrego sons, (brother-in-laws to Juan Seguín), who joined in with him. (see de la Teja (1991), p. 18) Captain Salvador Flores, Captain Manuel N. Flores, Lieutenant Nepomuceno Flores, and Private Jose Maria Flores all participated in the Texas Revolution, on the Texian side.
  2. ^ According to records, Seguín did not appear at the Convention to accept his appointment in the regular army. Jesus (Comanche) Cuellar would fill in for him. He instead took the position to become the first judge of San Antonio. According to Lindley, he was not regular army until after departing the Alamo as a courier on February 25. See de la Teja pg. 79, Lindley pg. 113
  3. ^ Although, through 1844 the former Mexican electorate still outnumbered the Anglo-American vote in San Antonio, other parts of the state were receiving a stream of American and even European immigration.
  4. ^ Notable is that while Seguín is being nominated to co-chair the Democratic party in 1855, his relative, Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín battles and defeats dictator Antonio López de Santa Anna, which ultimately leads to the return of a constitutional democratic government in Mexico

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fse08
  2. ^ a b Todish (1998), p. 109.
  3. ^ de la Teja (1991), p. 77.
  4. ^ name="de la Teja135">de la Teja (1991), p. 135.
  5. ^ Edmonson (2000), p. 219.
  6. ^ Hardin (1994), pg. 29
  7. ^ de la Teja (1991), p. 78.
  8. ^ Lozano (1985), p. 34.
  9. ^ http://www.historynet.com/battle-of-the-alamo
  10. ^ a b c d e Groneman (1998), p. 98.
  11. ^ a b de la Teja (1991), p. 79.
  12. ^ Lord (1961), p. 111.
  13. ^ de la Teja (1991), p. 80.
  14. ^ [1] Officers and Enlisted Men at the Battle of San Jacinto 21 April 1836
  15. ^ de la Teja (1991), p. 83.
  16. ^ a b Matavoina (1995), p. 19.
  17. ^ a b Edmonson (2000), p. 411.
  18. ^ Schoelwer, Susan Prendergast (March 1986). "About the West: Forgotten Heroes of the Alamo". Journal of the West 25 (2): 74. 
  19. ^ a b Moore (2006), p. 228.
  20. ^ Edmonson (2000), p. 412.
  21. ^ de la Teja (1991), p. 113.
  22. ^ a b Nofi (1992, pp. 85–86.
  23. ^ de la Teja (1991), p. 116.
  24. ^ de la Teja (1991), p. 117.
  25. ^ de la Teja (1991), p. 118.
  26. ^ a b Groneman (1998), p. 99.
  27. ^ de la Teja (1991), p. 50.
  28. ^ de la Teja (1991), p. 51.
  29. ^ a b Visit Seguin, Texas
  30. ^ Seguin Family History
  31. ^ American Playhouse Seguin (1982)
  32. ^ "Texas Monthly, Texas History 101"
  33. ^ CDA archives

Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Manchaca, Martha (2001). Recovering History, Constructing Race: The Indian, Black, and White Roots of Mexican Americans. The Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-75253-9. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
José Francisco Ruiz
1836–1837
Thomas Jefferson Green
1837 (25 days only)
Republic of Texas Senate
Republic of Texas Senator from Bexar District
Juan Seguín

1837–1840
Succeeded by
William H. Daingerfield
1840–1842
  1. ^ Schoelwer, Susan Prendergast (March 1986). "About the West: Forgotten Heroes of the Alamo". Journal of the West 25 (2): 73–81.