The Document that Changed the Course of History: Victory or Death Letter

The Document that Changed the Course of History: Victory or Death Letter

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We may forget a lot of the important historical events that have occurred in the past, but there are some things that are well remembered by people everywhere. The impact of William Barret Travis and his famous “Victory or Death” letter is one of those things and will never be forgotten. The original letter is one of the few historical documents that has survived the test of time. Travis, one of the heros of the Alamo, with his call to all people of the world for assistance has made a lasting impact. It changed not just the history of Texas and America, but the world also.

William Barret Travis was born in South Carolina to Mark and Jemima Travis as the oldest of 11 children. The actual date of his birth is not clearly known, but it was some time early in August of 1809. Travis spent his childhood working on the family farm, being home-schooled, playing with local children, and attending church. The family moved to Alabama in 1818 where they helped establish two different communities. He attended an academy in Sparta until he learned everything the school had to offer. At the insistence of his uncle, he moved to Claiborne to help teach younger students and met Rosanna Cato whom he later married. While there, Travis met and became an apprentice to the community’s leading attorney, James Dellet. Travis and Rosanna had a son in 1829 and were expecting another child when he began suspecting his wife of infidelity and doubted that he was the father of the unborn baby. It is believed that he killed the man suspected of being the father of the baby. Because of these family issues, Travis abandoned his wife and family and went to Texas.

When William Barret Travis came to Texas in 1831, it was after the Law of Apri...

... middle of paper ...

...Hoyt, Edwin P. The Alamo An Illustrated History. Dallas: Taylor Publishing Company, 1999. Print.

Groneman, Bill. Alamo Defenders A Genealogy: The People and Their Words. Austin: Eakin Press, 1990. Print.

Oppenheimer, Evelyn. Texas in Color. New York: Hastings House, Publishers, Inc., 1972. Print.

Rocha, Rodolfo, et al. Celebrating Texas Honoring the Past Building the Future. Austin:Lone Star Publishing, 2003. Print.

The Alamo. Prod. History Channel/A&E Television Networks. Perf. Dennis Quaid. 2003. DVD. New Video.

Archie P. McDonald, “Travis, William Barret,” Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed Januarry 12, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association

“The Letter,” The Travis Letter Returns! (, accessed January 12, 2014.

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