Juan Nepomuceno Seguin (1806-1890)
Contributing Editor: Genaro Padilla
Major Themes, Historical Perspectives, and Personal Issues
Students should have some background information on American settlement in Texas in the early 1830s and events leading up to the battle of the Alamo (1836) as well as the gradual increase of tension leading to the U. S.-Mexican War in Texas.
Seguin was born in San Antonio into a prominent Texas Mexican (tejano) family which had close ties with Stephen F. Austin, the leader of the first American settlers in Texas. Seguin rose to power rapidly in San Antonio, being elected alcalde at age eighteen. When events in Texas veered toward revolution in 1835, he sided with the Anglo separatists and organized a company of tejano volunteers.
The section of Seguin's Personal Memoirs printed here reveals an aspect of the Texas War for Independence little known among American readers: the invaluable participation of tejanos alongside the more celebrated figures of Sam Houston, Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett. Like their American brothers-in-arms, the tejanos despised "the tyrannical government of Santa Anna" and yearned for representative and responsive government. In a clear and unadorned style, Seguin recounts the "efficiency and gallantry" of his tejano troops as they rode from San Antonio to San Jacinto.
After performing heroically at San Jacinto, the battle that assured Texas independence, Seguin returned to San Antonio to resume his political career. An ardent supporter of the Republic of Texas, he served in its Senate from 1838 to 1840, at which time he was elected mayor of San Antonio. He was the last Mexican-American to occupy that office until the 1980s.
Seguin's tenure as mayor was disastrous, largely because the growing Anglo population, with its intense and long-standing resentment of Mexicans, would not trust nor defer to a tejano. By 1842, the tejanos of San Antonio were moving away in the face of continuous intimidation and violence from Anglos. After a series of death threats, Seguin relocated his family in Mexico, the country against which he had taken up arms only six years before.
In Mexico, Seguin was coerced into military service and found himself in combat against American troops in the Mexican War of 1846-48. After the war, Seguin returned to Texas, by now homesick and thoroughly disillusioned. He lived there quietly until 1867 when, for reasons not altogether clear, he crossed the Rio Grande one last time, remaining in Mexico until his death.
(Biography and historical information contributed by Raymund Paredes.)
See material on Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, immediately following.