Indians! Pirates! Rebels! Blockade runners! Smugglers! Murder! Beaches! Beauty contests! Hurricanes!
These are all parts of the colorful history of an island city that once called itself The Free State of Galveston. Located at a natural harbor on the northeastern part of a 30-mile-long sand barrier island, the city dates its beginning to the end of the Texas Revolution. Before then the harbor had attracted Jean Lafitte, a pirate from Louisiana, and the revolutionary Texan government fleeing in front of the attack of Santa Anna's Mexican army.
After independence in 1836, Michel B. Menard, along with nine associates, bought the harbor property and founded the town. Galveston grew on the strength of the harbor - the best between New Orleans and Veracruz - and the city became a major entry point for immigrants to Texas. During the Civil War, it was a haven for Confederate blockade runners and the site of one of the major battles of the war in Texas. Afterward it was a center for occupation forces and the point from which Major-General Gordon Granger announced the emancipation of Texas' slaves on June 19, 1865 (Juneteenth Day). The city later became a major cotton port for the Southwest and the location of the University of Texas Medical School.