Ken’s Korner: ‘Victory or Death’ letter at the Alamo
News & Views from the World of Antiques & Collectibles
By Ken Hall
Next year, visitors to the Alamo in San Antonio, Tex., will be able to view, for the first time, the legendary “Victory or Death” letter written by Col. William Barrett Travis, head of the Texas forces that were badly outnumbered by Mexican forces and suffered a crushing defeat in the two-week battle of the Alamo in 1836. The letter, yellow with age and in fragile condition, will be transported from its present home at the state library in Austin to the Alamo by state troops in an armed convoy, possibly with air support.
Some state archivists argued against loaning the letter out, because of its frail condition. It is nearly unreadable at this point, and is kept in a dark vault at the state library. But in the end it was decided that displaying the letter at the Alamo would generate great interest in Texas history. Col, Travis wrote in the letter, “I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country – victory or death.” Travis was killed by Mexican forces.