Transcript of William Barret Travis

This is Texas Originals. From Humanities Texas, for the advancement of heritage, culture and education.

William Barret Travis was only twenty-six years old when he died defending the Alamo. He came from Alabama just five years before, in 1831, leaving behind a failed career and marriage. Texas, a land he came to love, gave Travis a new life—and an early death.

Travis clashed with authorities in Anahuac shortly after arriving in Texas, feuding over Mexico's antislavery laws. He spent two months in prison and earned a reputation as a troublemaker, but went on to build a successful law practice. Then, in June 1835, as tension mounted between colonists and Mexican officials, Travis returned to Anahuac. With twenty volunteers and a small cannon, he forced the local customs officer to leave town. That was Travis’s first experience with military action just as the Texas Revolution was unfolding.

Six months later, in February 1836, newly commissioned Lt. Colonel Travis assumed joint command of the Alamo with James Bowie. As Mexican forces gathered, Travis sent dispatches to fellow Texians pleading for reinforcements. "If my countrymen do not rally to my relief,” he declared, “I am determined to perish in defense of this place, and my bones shall reproach my country for her neglect."

His words were prophetic: Little help came, but outrage over the slaughter of Travis and other Alamo defenders inspired a rush of Texian volunteers who ultimately defeated Mexican General Santa Anna at San Jacinto.

More information about William Barret Travis and other Texas Originals is available at This program is produced by KUHF Houston Public Radio and Humanities Texas, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.