The history of Texas may be regarded as a step in the great struggle between England, France and Spain for the possession of America. The earliest explorations were made by the Spaniards, Cabeza de Vaca, 1528-36, and Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, 1540-42, but the first colony was that planted on Matagorda Bay in 1685 by the French under the Sieur de la Salle. This was, however, soon abandoned, and the field left to the Spanish. Beginning in 1690 they established several ecclesiastical, military and civil settlements known respectively as missions (Franciscan), presidios, and pueblos. In or near the city of San Antonio are the ruins of five missions built of stone; and missions were more numerous in east Texas, but they were built of wood and nothing remains to mark their location.
In 1727 the territory, with vaguely defined limits, was formed into a province and named Tejas, or Texas, after the tribe or the confederacy of Tejas Indians. For more than a century the conditions were favorable for colonization. The French in Louisiana proved to be peaceable neighbors, and that province, both under French (to 1763) and under Spanish rule (1763-1803) served as a protection against the English. Spain failed to take advantage of the opportunity, however, and it was lost when the United States purchased Louisiana in 1803.
Three abortive Anglo-American invasions during the first few years of the century indicated the future trend of events. The first, under Philip Nolan, in 1799-1801, was poorly supported, and was crushed without difficulty; the second, under Bernardo Gutierrez and Augustus Magee, 1812-13, captured San Antonio and defeated several Mexican armies, but was finally overpowered; the third, under
By the Florida treaty, finally ratified at that time, the claims of the United States to Texas, based on the Louisiana purchase, were given up, and the eastern and northern boundaries of the province were determined. They were to be, in general terms, the Sabine river, the 94th meridian (approximately), the Red river, the tooth meridian, the Arkansas river, and the 42nd parallel. So far as Spain was concerned this was only a form, inasmuch as Mexico, of which Texas formed a part, was just completing its long struggle for independence. In that year also (December 1821) Stephen F. Austin established the first permanent Anglo-American settlement at San Felipe de Austin on the Brazos river. This was followed by an extensive immigration from the United States during the period of Mexican rule (1821-36). It is estimated that the population, exclusive of Indians, increased from four thousand in 1821 to ten thousand in 1827, and nearly twenty thousand in 1830. Most of the settlers came from the southern section of the Union and of course brought their slaves with them, but there is no evidence to show that their object was the territorial extension of slavery, or that the revolt against Mexico was the result of dissatisfaction with that country's anti-slavery policy.
Texas was joined to Coahuila in 1824 to form a state of the Mexican federation. Although the attempt to force the Roman Catholic religion upon the
Texas War of Independence and the Republic of Texas
Hostilities had already begun. The Texans routed the Mexicans near Gonzales on the 2nd of October. About a hundred men under Colonel James Bowie and Captain J. W. Fannin defeated a Mexican force near Mission Conception on the 28th of October; and after a campaign of nearly two months Bejar was surrendered to them in December. In the Matamoras expedition the Texan forces were severely crippled on account of a quarrel between Governor Smith, who desired independence, and the majority of his council, who favored union with the Mexican Liberals. The command was divided between Houston, who was supported by the governor, and two leaders, Frank W. Johnson and J. W. Fannin, who were appointed by the council. The Mexicans under Santa Anna captured the Alamo on the 6th of March 1836 and slaughtered its garrison of 183 men; on the l0th of the same month they captured Fannin and his force of 371 men, and a week later slaughtered all except twenty who escaped.
Houston now assumed active command and, surprising Santa Anna near the San Jacinto, on the 21st of April, he dealt the enemy a crushing blow and brought the war to an end; nearly all of Santa Anna's army were killed, wounded or taken prisoners, and even Santa Anna himself was captured the next day, while the Texans lost only two killed and twenty-three wounded. The weakness of the
Mexican Liberals and the
After a long conflict over the slavery question, the state was admitted into the Union under a joint resolution of Congress adopted on the 1st of March 1845, on
Some claim to this day that Texas was never legally acquired by the United States as Congress does not have the power to acquire territory via a joint resolution. However, Texas is not a unique case of the use of a joint resolution of Congress to annex foreign land. Hawaii was also annexed legally in this manner in 1898. International law fully recognizes American ownership of Texas and arguments to the contrary are false, are not supported by any nation or international governing body such as the United Nations or the World Court, or by the vast majority of the citizens of Texas.
The United States government asserted the Rio Grande claim and prepared to enforce it at the cost of war; at the same time the Mexican government considered annexation, regardless of the boundary question, a declaration of war by the United States. An army of 2000 men under Zachary Taylor (q.v.) arrived on the north bank of the Rio Grande, opposite Matamoras, on the 28th of March 1846. The Mexican commander, Pedro de Ampudia, demanded Taylor's withdrawal beyond the Nueces within twenty-four hours. He did not obey, and Mariana Arista, Ampudia's successor, opened hostilities. The Americans, out-numbered three to one, defeated the Mexicans in the battles of Palo Alto (May 8th) and Resaca de la Palma (May 9th). The war terminated in the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (February 2, 1848) by which Mexico accepted the Rio Grande boundary.
American Civil War and Reconstruction
In the crisis of 1860-61 Texas sided with the other Southern States in spite of the strong Unionist influence exerted by the German settlers and by Governor Sam Houston. An ordinance of secession was adopted February 1, 1861, and Governor Houston was deposed from office on March 16th. The state was never the
In conformity with President Johnson's plan of reconstruction, a constitution recognizing the abolition of slavery, renouncing the right of secession, and repudiating the war debt was adopted in 1866, and J. W. Throckmorton, Unionist Democrat, was elected governor. When, in 1867, the Congressional plan of reconstruction was substituted, Texas was joined to Louisiana to constitute the
fifth military district, and the first commander, General P. H. Sheridan, removed Throckmorton from office as " an impediment to reconstruction " and appointed E. M. Pease in his place. Delegates to a new constitutional convention were elected in 1868, the constitution framed by this body was ratified in November 1869, state officers and congressmen were elected the same day,
the new legislature ratified the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, and on the 3oth of March 1870 Texas was readmitted to the Union.
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