|The thirteen days of the siege, battle, and fall of the Alamo added three iconic phrases to the world’s lexicon:
A line in the sand.
Victory or Death!
Remember the Alamo!
Col. William Barrett Travis drew that line in the sand with the tip of his sword.
“Victory or Death!” was born in his heart and flowed from his pen.
And we remember the Alamo because Travis and the rest of the defenders gave their lives for Texas.
In honor of the 185th anniversary of its writing, here is the full text of the Victory or Death letter, exactly as Travis wrote it.
TO THE PEOPLE OF TEXAS &
ALL AMERICANS IN THE WORLD
COMMANDANCY OF THE ALAMO, BEJAR, FEB. 24, 1836
FELLOW CITIZENS & COMPATRIOTS,
I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under
Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual bombardment and
cannonade for twenty-four hours & have not lost a man. The
enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the
garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken. I have
answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still
waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat.
Then, I call on you in the name of liberty, of patriotism &
every thing dear to the American character, to come to our
aid, with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements
daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in
four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to
sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who
never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his
VICTORY OR DEATH.
WILLIAM BARRET TRAVIS,
P. S. The Lord is on our side. When the enemy appeared in
sight, we had not three bushels of corn. We have since found, in
deserted houses, eighty or ninety bushels, and got into the walls
twenty or thirty head of beeves.
It is a masterpiece of patriotism, but it reached the world in a slightly different form than what you just read.
When they set the type for the original broadside at San Felipe de Austin, Baker & Borden changed a few words, omitted the address line, and altered the salutation.
We have reproduced it for framing exactly as Travis wrote it.
Exactly as he handed it to Albert Martin who carried it from the Alamo.
Exactly as Martin handed it to Launcelot Smither who took it to San Felipe de Austin
Exactly as Launcelot Smither handed it to the Borden brothers at San Felipe.
This is the Victory or Death letter restored to the form Travis intended.
18 by 24 inches.
The type is clean, clear and legible. If your vision is 20/20 you can read it from across the room.
It’s also limited to only 254 copies, one for each county in Texas.
It’s designed to remind you of the men of the Alamo, and of their commander, and of the sacrifice they willingly made for the cause of liberty.
It’s not just a pretty picture to hang on your wall.
It stands for something.