When the founding fathers of Texas declared independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836, a gun was already pointed at their head. Unlike the American founders, who had an ocean separating them from their tyrannical overlord, the Texians’ tormentor was within their own borders.

Santa Anna’s ruthlessness would be on full display four days later at the Alamo, where all the defenders were brutally butchered.

Gathered at Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas’ founders agreed at last to declare their independence and create a new nation. The Texas Declaration of Independence borrows in form and style from their American cousins 60 years earlier.

The opening line of Texas’ declaration: “When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.”

They went on to decry the government’s attacks against commerce, against the right to attend worship services, and against the ownership of firearms, among other abuses.

Like those founding fathers in Philadelphia, the Texian patriots would probably not recognize the Texas they birthed. The flag remains the same 185 years later, but little else.

Texas’ governor has restricted commerce by forcing the closure of small businesses. Churches were shuttered last year, but even when allowed to re-open they have been bullied into reducing the number of congregants and even the method of dispensing the sacraments. And Texas is one of the least-friendly states for firearm ownership despite publicity campaigns to the contrary.

If Texas was as liberty-minded as our politicians like to claim on television, or as right-thinking as people elsewhere dream, then the Lone Star State would indeed live up to the hopes and dreams of our founders.

Yet we as Texans have no one to blame but ourselves for the “acts of malfeasance” committed against liberty in the recent years. We have either actively cheered them or passively tolerated them. We’ve allowed a governor to act like a king issuing edicts. We’ve allowed legislators to abdicate their responsibilities. We’ve allowed local officials to behave like feudal lords.

Is that what was intended on March 2, 1836? Is that why the Alamo defenders accepted death on March 6? Is that what was won on April 21, 1836, on the fields of San Jacinto?

You and I must do better, and demand better.

Texas will only to live up to its founding ideals when Texans refuse to accept anything less. Each of us as Texans must recommit ourselves to the principles of liberty, and fight for them with the tenacity of our founding fathers.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Michael Quinn Sullivan and his wife have three children. He is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. Check out his podcast, “Reflections on Life and Liberty.”

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