March 2, 1836 is the date recognized as the Texas declaration of independence from Mexico. Many are not aware that Samuel McCulloch, Jr. (1810-1893), a free Black man, was seriously wounded on October 9, 1835 fighting for Texas independence in Goliad, Goliad County,Texas. Many historians acknowledge him as the first casualty of the Texas Revolution for independence from Mexico.
Mr. McCulloch survived his wounds. As a veteran of the war he was entitled to a land grant for service. However, the Republic of Texas constitution, adopted in 1836, prohibited “Africans (and) the descendants of Africans or Indians” from citizenship – civil rights. McCulloch had the courage to petition the Republic of Texas Congress for his right to own property. The McCulloch petition was signed into law in 1837 by the President of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston (1793-1863). McCulloch was not the first, or only, Black person to chip away at the discriminatory laws prior to, or after, Texas statehood (1845).
McCulloch used the land to farm and raise cattle in south Bexar County, near San Antonio. He donated land for a church, Medina Baptist. The congregation evolved to be composed of Tejanos, Blacks and Whites. He also dedicated land for a school since Texas state laws prohibited the use of public funds for Black school land or buildings. Sam McCulloch, and other Black Texans, were active, not passive participants in the process of claiming and exercising civil rights for all residents of the state. The grave of Samuel McCulloch, Jr., some of his relatives, and a number of his neighbors is extant in south Bexar County, Texas.