tv Spanish Missions in San Antonio CSPAN March 21, 2019 11:26pm-11:47pm EDT
inventor. computer scientist tim berners-lee. >> and the pieces of the puzzle are different people's brains. but they're connected on the internet. so can the web be a place, a collaborative place where whoever has an idea can put it into the web. and as i wander around the space, looking at other people's ideas, i can pick them up and put them together. to be able to link anything to anything. to say you're picking that? i'm picking this. >> watch american history tv this weekend on cspan 3. >> today five spanish missions make up the missions national historical park. next, texas a&m humanities library joel kitchens talks about their history and the process of preserving five
missions, nearly 300 years old. >> joining us from san antonio is joel kitchens. he is the humanities librarian at texas a&m university. studying at the university of alabama in birmingham. we wanted to focus on the missions, in san antonio in particular, and across texas. what are they, where were they? >> the missions were settlements. they were created by the franciscan friars to bring the indigenous peoples into the spanish colony. the goal was to convert the indigenous population into, real, spanish towns. it was a way to expand the empire by
converting indigenous people into spanish subjects. they would bring them in, settle them in towns. they would convert them to roman catholicism. they would teach them trades. animal culture, blacksmithing. so they could be their own independent spanish colony. >> and many of them still in existence today, still operating, four in the san antonio area. why? and with whom? >> four of the five missions here in san antonio are actually still catholic parrishes. they were not continually in use. ishes. they
were not continually in use. they were created as a s space for the native americans and they were still considered a community center for the indigenous people after mexican independence. the mexican/american population lived around the mission churches. and so now they are considered part of the community. and the catholic church frequently wanted to use them. and back in the 1470s, the 1980s, when four of the missions became under the protection of the national parks service, the parks service wanted the archdiocese to restart the parishes. so four of them are active parishes within the catholic church. >> explain when the unesco status means for these missions.
>> yes, the unesco status means an increased tourism, increased fundraising for the migs for their continued for the missions for their continued preservation. when the unesco came in, and the recognition, the criteria they used, was to recognize the joining of the spanish and the indigenous nation at the mission. the missionaries brought the monumental architecture, they also taught the native americans european agricultural tech neeks. techniques. they brought in and built irrigation, sophisticated irrigation system that can still be seen today. one of the dams still ex you can visit it. so this was part of what the unesco was
trying to recognize and preserve with its designation. >> let's talk about specifically the alamo. what was there pre-1836? >> pre-1836, you had the remains of a mission church. and a number of outbuildings associated with the mission. the mission had already been secularized. which is a fancy term for being closed and turned over to the indigenous population. some of the indigenous were still living in the area. but as far as the church serves, they were still going over to san fernando cathedral within the villa of nobody is. within the villa of san antonio. so it was a fortress. it was a mission church. remnants.
it was not much to it when davey crockett and william barrett travis and jim bowie took up in 1836. >> you're in san antonio s. alamo today what it looked like back in the 1830s? >> not hardly. there were, what crockett and bowie and travis saw then in 1836 looked very different from what we would see today. the main example would be the alamo in 1836 did not have a roof. ten years after that battle, as the u.s. army was heading down into mexico, they decided the alamo had four sturdy walls. it would make a good storage facility for their materials. if they could put a roof on it.
so they did. but it also necessitated increasing the height of the front facade. so the facade that you see today looked very different from what you would have seen in 1836. >> so give us a turrer toial. a historical tutorial. what happened in 1836 and at the alamo? >> okay. this was a time when the predominantly anglo population of san antonio and texas in general was unhappy with the way the mexican government had been established. and the strong man, the dictator, santa ana, had established himself in mexico
city. so they were rebelling against santa ana. who had ignored or changed the constitution of 1824. they wanted to break off from mexico. so they were, in essence, trying to bulk up, trying to defend the city of san antonio with the alamo. they had actually been given orders. there were some suspects whether they should have even been there. whether the alamo was considered defensible. some of the higher ranking texan generals, sam houston and some of the others, did not think it was defensible. but travis and bowie felt it was worth defending. so they stayed and defended it. >> and people like davey crocket, explain his role in this.
>> davey crockett came in just before the siege. he had been, lost his election bid in tennessee. and was deciding to start life anew, like so many anglos did in this part of the 19th century. they came to texas where there was land and opportunity. and he found himself in san antonio at the time. and decided to make a stand where he was. >> why is it important to remember the alamo in understanding texas history? >> the alamo becomes part of the texas creation myth. the alamo and its defeat, and really that's something that a lot of people tend to forget.
the anglos lost at the alamo because it was a complete defeat. but just a few weeks later, it became a rallying cry at the battle of san jacinto where sam houston completely routed general santa ana and a larger mexican army that he had caught unawares. so it has as much of a symbolic, it's much more important from a symbolig point of view than a military point of view as a rallying cry. >> and if we visited you at the texas a&m library, which authors, books would you point us to really better understand this time period? >> i would probably compile a list of several authors from
richard flores, i would also pick frank de la, it erre's book on san antonio. richard flores has written specifically on the alamo and how it has been viewed. and by various groups over the years. and how it comes to be such an important part of texas identity. >> for those who lived through that time period, they would not recognize the alamo today. >> that's correct. they probably wouldn't. one fellow who came down to san antonio, he was an illinois volunteer. they were marching in 1846 down to mexico. they stopped at san antonio.
he was wounded on guard duty one night. couldn't go down to mexico with his group. but he did a lot of sketch work here in incident. made some very beautiful sketches of the alamo. and he was not happy with the way the army had redone the facade of the alamo. he thought it was very poorly done. when they put the roof on. it he was not happy. he said it looked like the ridiculous scroll of a bed set. >> is that the facade that we now see today? >> that is the facade we now see today, yes. >> and how did americans outside of texas understand or learn or visit these missions?
>> the missions became used as marketing. that the romance of the missions, the missions as a symbolic mythological spanish past. the alamo for its tragic romance story. these were used by the railroad companies. by southern pacific. and others. to bring tourists to the frontier. there was a move to see america first. and that became a rallying cry among many boosters.
southern pacific really highlighted the mission and the alamo as something exciting. something xo something exotic. something romant toik see as roshgs manted toik see as blap >> this is an area of your expertise and passions, why? >> two reasons. yes, i started taking black and white photography. i transitioned from using a 35 millimeter film camera to using a large format film camera. and i started
reading about the missions to hopefully make better informed pictures. the other question that came to mind is what happened to these buildings after they ceased to be used as missions? and that's where my work, i think, and some of my scholarly work really takes off. is in trying to answer the question what happened after they ceased to be missions for the native americans? >> what surprised you the most? >> i think something that i started reading. a lot of people were saying oh, the missions were just forgotten about after they were secularized. they fell into ruin. nobody cared about them. and yoke that's quite true. i think the people in san antonio, they recognized the value of the missions. people in
new york may recognize the name as omstead, the man who designed central park. other people who came to the missions were poet sidney linear. the author steven crane and others, richard harding dave was another author at the time who came to the missions and wrote these wonderful travel logs, narratives about the missions. if they were so forgotten about, why do san antonio citizens always bring someone to the missions? they weren't all that forgotten about. >> joe kitchens is a humanities librarian at texas a&m university. he said joining us from san antonio. thank you for being with us.
>> thank you for having me. it's been my pleasure. >> congress is in recess. scheduled to return next week. in the house there's a vote tuesday to override president trump's veto of the congressional resolution. terminating his national emergency declaration on border security. we'll have that live on cspan. in the senate, more debate on initial nominations. later in the week, senators will take up a resolution of support for the so called green new deal. >> while congress is on break this week, we're featuring our american history tv programs in prime time on cspan 3. giving you a glimpse of what's available every weekend. from the civil war to the great migration. and a look into the lives and policies of past political leaders. american history tv every weekend on cspan 3 is 48 hours of
historical programs exploring our nation's past. travel to historic sites, museums, and archives. classroom lectures on topics from the american revolution to 9/11. journey through 20th century with archival films on public affairs on real america. hear from presidents and first ladies, and learn about their politics, policies and legacies. on the presidency. look at the people and events that shaped the civil war and reconstruction. and listen to eyewitness accounts of key events in our nation's history, on oral history. american history tv. each night this week in prime time while congress is in recess. >> friday night on american history tv, we'll take a look at american politics with purdue university professor, catherine broudo. as she teaches a class
about political advertising in the 1950s, focused on dwight eisenhower's presidential campaign. other programs include archival footage of a 1959 interview with ronald reagan. and a film explaining the inner workings of capitol hill. >> to be an american means that you share a sense of camaraderie, i think. we're all different, unique states, we come together and we say we're american. you can say i'm from wisconsin or i'm from texas. but in the end, we're all american. and it's that shared bond, i think. we are one, we're also
individual. and i think that's what makes the united states pretty unique. >> to be american is to really embody the values that we as americans have. of freedom, of equality. and i feel sometimes our society says too much one way is to be american. but there's 300 million people living in america and 300 million ways to be american. >> what it means to be an american to me is specifically fighting on our right to protest. i hike marches and educating myself about different kind was people, and seeing both sides of the political spectrum and ballparkship is still possible in 2019. the right to protest and voice ourselves on issues in america today. >> voices from the road on cspan.
>> more from the western history association's annual meeting in san antonio. a discussion about how white settlers, federal troops, and native americans interacted. and the challenges these groups face on the western frontier. >> my name's diana destefano. this is a roundtable called reimagining expansion. new narratives of race, gender, and violence. and as you can see see, we're being filmed today. that's kind of exciting. cspan is here. and our roundtable is i think set up pretty normally. we have two mod rares today. moderators today. and the rest of us are gonna be talking briefly about our current research. and then we're gonna open it up for