Boundary of Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Park

Floor Speech

Date: March 15, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. VELA. Mr. Speaker, today I rise in support of H.R. 268, legislation to add the Fort Brown earthworks to the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Park, and I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this bill.

I introduced this legislation to preserve a piece of history that is not only central to south Texas, but to our great Nation. Adding this piece of Fort Brown is critical to interpreting the Mexican-American War and the changes made to our international boundary. It is a record of our Nation's border expansion extending to the Pacific Ocean.

In hopes of establishing the Rio Grande River as the southern border of the United States, General Taylor ordered the construction of Fort Texas in March of 1846.

On May 3, 1846, Mexican General Mariano Arista attacked Fort Texas. Under the command of General Zachary Taylor, U.S. forces, including Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant, fought at the Battle of Palo Alto and the Battle of Resaca de la Palma, two decisive victories that would force the Mexican retreat across the Rio Grande.

While the siege produced limited damage to the fort, Major Jacob Brown, who had command of the post, was mortally wounded in its defense. Afterward, General Taylor named the site Fort Brown, and the surrounding area became the town of Brownsville, Texas.

The Fort Brown earthworks is the only standing architecture in the United States associated with the Mexican-American War. Bringing the earthworks into the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park helps tell our Nation's story and protects this important symbol of the transformation of the country resulting from the 19th century westward expansion.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this legislation so we can protect an essential piece of our history that will help us to tell the story of our Nation long into the future. I thank the chairman and the ranking member for their support in this legislation.