The Alamo Legend Project

U.S. History I - Chapter 7

The Alamo is based on the legend of the battle of the Alamo in 1836. The version we will see was directed by John Lee Hancock in 2004 and stars Billy Bob Thornton as Davy Crockett and Dennis Quaid as Sam Houston. Trailer. It was filmed in Texas at a site constructed to look as close as possible to the actual Alamo mission complex at the time of the real battle. This version probably got produced because a lot of the history of the battle has been discovered since John Wayne's famous film version in 1960 stirred a lot of people to dig deeper into the detail. Although the film is historically pretty accurate, that accuracy sometimes means it is less dramatic and entertaining in places. Where it is dramatic, it's less accurate. But, the battle scenes are pretty graphic. It is rated PG-13. Here is a link to the Official Alamo websitefor more information on the place and the legend itself. It's helpful.

The movie does attempt to portray all the people involved in a respectful manner. The Mexicans are central to the cause of course but there are different kind of immigrants on both sides. The Texians have a few Germans, Tennesseans and some Irish who came to Texas for land and freedom. The Mexicans have a group of Scottish and Welch miners who are good at things. The flag in the fort says "1824" which stood for the re-institution of the Mexican Federal Constitution of 1824 that Santa Anna tossed out when he took over. Separation from Mexico was a new idea that was just getting started as a result of the fighting of which the Alamo battle was only a small part. Producers wanted to portray the Mexican soldiers as competent, courageous veterans rather than amateurs.

Key Characters:
Colonel William Travis (Patrick Wilson) - Commander of all forces at the Alamo (185 - 240 men). Abandoned his family for Texas.
Captain Dickinson (Stephan Bruton) - second in command, Travis' aide. His wife stays through the battle.
Colonel James Bowie (Jason Patric) - famous knife fighter, local landowner and widower, leader of local fighters
Colonel Davy Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton) - famous frontiersman and congressman from Tennessee; leader of volunteers
Major James Bohnam (Marc Blucas) - friend of Travis; sent early as a messenger to get help, almost missed the battle.
General Sam Houston (Dennis Quaid) - commander of all military forces in Texas. Needed time to build his armies and succeeded.
Generalissimo Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (Emilio Echevarria) - dictator of Mexico, led Mexican Army. 4-7000 men.
Captain Juan Seguin - (Jordi Molia) mayor of San Antonio, led Tejano group, sent for help; missed ending; fought in later battles.

Location: San Antonio de Bexar, Texas territory, part of Mexico at the time.
The Alamo contained captured Mexican artillery, otherwise it was not a wise location for a fort. It was easily surrounded and observed from higher ground. However, the location was strategic because San Antonio was an important regional town for local agriculture. It was like a regional capital or county seat. Location was less important than time overall. The fight at the Alamo would cost Santa Anna a lot of time to setup for battle. Houston needed a lot of time to build an army.

For further information about the movie, including the cast, production details and reviews:

Your tasks:
You are free to use any digital or paper format to complete these tasks:

  1. Evaluate the Alamo legend. a. What are the facts? b. What are the main points of "the legend"? c. What is the value of the legend to American society? d. What value does legend have to any society? Read here: Legends and Society
  2. Based on the information provided here and your textbook, compare the actual impact of the battle with the legend that has since been created. Why do you think legends like the Alamo are created and even enjoyed by people for generations? Think of this task as an essay question on a test. Write it out with supporting evidence for your views. Images help.
  3. Develop your own theory about how the history of Texas Independence would be different without the battle of the Alamo and its resulting legend. This would be a good place to use your imagination.
  4. On your own, find out 2 or 3 of the historical inaccuracies of the movie. Explain what the movie showed that was incorrect, and whether or not the error was deliberate or just plain ignorance. In the end, explain whether or not the errors affected the overall nature of the film. Images welcome.
  5. Find ways to use images of actual artifacts, diaries, letters and maps throughout.
  6. Combine all of the above into a cohesive project that you designed and submit by the deadline given.
  7. Computer files should include your name (rather than "blank" or "presentation1"). Send to me via email as a PDF.

Here is a sample of the best project received in the past. It is an example of the style you might use. Sample Alamo (8mb)

Printable "one pager", short version of this assignment: