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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Did you know? Part 1- Alamo Related History In Illinois

  



     We have all heard the tale of the Alamo where brave American and Texan icons like Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie were among the nearly 200 brave souls that perished to defend the old Spanish mission from almost 2,000 Mexican soldiers led by the famous General Santa Anna. Santa Anna may have won that day, but in the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 he was not nearly successful. While he was super crafty and played Mexico and America in order to get back into his homeland from an imposed exile(offered to negotiate a settlement for the USA, and offered Mexico his military leadership...which he then used to take power), he ultimately failed to defeat the American army. He was surprised by American soldiers and ran off after a battle....well hopped off.

    What you may not know(unless you watched the one episode of King of the Hill) is that he had an old war injury from a previous war against France called "The French Pastry War". France militarily intervened in Mexico after civil unrest resulted in damages to French citizens and their property and were not compensated by Mexico. In an effort to repel the French from a fortress, General Santa Anna was hit in the leg by cannon shot and for the rest of his life had to wear a prosthetic leg. The Illinois regiment discovered this fact and took his prosthetic leg and a simpler "backup" one he had at camp. The elaborate cork leg was for a time a traveling item at shows until it was put on display in the 1920's. You can actually see it at the Illinois Military Museum in Springfield. The second wooden peg leg is also on display in Decatur at the former governors mansion. Funny side note is that it was once used as a baseball bat by Abner Doubleday, the man often credited with inventing baseball(some controversy about this).

     If you would also like to indulge in some Alamo history regarding Santa Anna right in your hometown, just get some chewing gun....preferably Chiclets. You see in 1869 Santa Anna was living in exile...again...in Staten Island New York of all places. He was in his 70's and looking for a way to return to Mexico and raise forces so he could AGAIN take over. He thought he could take a traditional tree extract known in Mexico and sell it to people in the USA as a rubber substitute. He met with an inventor named Thomas Adams who purchased about a ton of this substance called "Chicle". He failed to make it into anything durable enough to replace natural rubber but found he could flavor it and make it into a chewable treat. There had been flavored chewable waxes on the market, but they were not popular. Adams make 200 balls of the stuff and got a pharmacy to carry them in New York. They were sold as a pair for a penny. They were so popular they lasted less than a day. And so Adams ran with it and marketed several brands, one of which is Chiclets, which we still have today sold by the Cadbury-Adams subsidiary of Kraft foods.


Click here to see the leg and how to get to the museum




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