Texas


Texas
   A Spanish possession for three centuries when Mexico became independent in 1821. By opening the territory to immigrants from the United States, the Mexican government eventually defeated its own settlement scheme. By the mid-1820s, Americans were pouring in, lured by an attractive colonization plan, of which Moses and Stephen Austin made the most. These immigrants would outnumber, by four to one, and displace the natives. There was little the distant Mexican government could do to forbid slavery within its borders or force Protestants to become Roman Catholics as stipulated in their contracts.
   Worried by the growing American influence in Texas, the Mexican Congress in 1830 vainly tried to cut off further immigration from the United States. When in 1835 Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna attempted to impose a new constitution establishing a centralized government and curtailing state rights, the North American settlers, led by Sam Houston, revolted, expelled the Mexican garrison, and set up a provisional government. The March 5, 1836, disaster of the Alamo - the fortress of San Antonio where 200 Texans were wiped out at great cost by a force 3,000-strong - was followed by an American victory, and revenge, under the slogan “Remember the Alamo,” at San Jacinto on April 21. The new Texan constitution was ratified and slavery legalized. The Texans elected Sam Houston president and sought annexation to, or recognition by, the United States. President Andrew Jackson recognized the Lone Star Republic on March 3, 1837, on his last full day in office. Britain and France also recognized Texas.
   Yet annexation did not come about, owing to northern opposition, the danger of upsetting the fragile balance between free states and slave states, the risk of war with Mexico, and the Panic of 1837. Another treaty was denied ratification by the Senate in 1843. North and South were naturally at cross-purposes over what was likely to imperil the Union most, the success or failure of annexation. Outgoing President John Tyler obtained a joint resolution of both houses on February 28, 1845, and the new chief executive, James K. Polk, concluded the negotiations. On March 6, 1845, the Mexican minister to Washington solemnly protested and left the American capital. The Lone Star Republic formally accepted in July 1845 and thus became the 28th state of the Union, an event that was to trigger off hostilities between Mexico and the United States.
   See also <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Brands, H. W. Lone Star Nation: How a Ragged Army of Volunteers Won the Battle for Texas Independence - and Changed America . New York: Doubleday, 2004;
    Fehrenbach, T. R. Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans . New York: Da Capo Press, 2000;
    Haynes, Sam W., and Morris, Christopher, eds. Manifest Destiny and Empire: American Antebellum Expansionism . College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1997.
   SERGE RICARD

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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