Texas History

The written history of Texas begins in 1519, when the region was found to be populated by various Indian tribes. Alonso Alvarez de Pineda explored the northern Gulf Coast. During the period of 1519 to 1865, all or parts of Texas were claimed by six countries: Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States of America, and the Confederate States of America.

Although Álvarez de Pineda claimed the area that now comprises Texas for Spain in 1519, the first European settlement was not established until 1682, when René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle mistakenly established his French colony, Fort Saint Louis, near Matagorda Bay instead of at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The colony was short-lived, but its presence motivated Spanish authorities to begin settlement activity. Several missions were established in East Texas but were abandoned in 1691. Twenty years later, concerned with the French presence in neighboring Louisiana, Spanish authorities again attempted to colonize Texas. Over the next 110 years, Spain established numerous villages, presidios, and missions in the province. Settlers faced frequent raids from some native tribes, including the Lipan Apache, Comanche, and Karankawa, and the boundaries of the province were often disputed, with France and the United States both claiming ownership of all of Texas.

When the Mexican War of Independence ended in 1821, Texas became part of the new country Mexico. To encourage settlement, Mexican authorities permitted immigration from the United States, and by 1834, it was estimated that over 30,000 Anglos lived in Texas, compared to only 7,800 Mexicans. Partly in response to the Mexican government’s transformation to a centralized government from a federalist model, Texian settlers launched the Texas Revolution in October 1835. The Revolution ended in April 1836, when Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was captured after the Battle of San Jacinto. For the next nine years, Texas governed itself as an independent country, the Republic of Texas. In 1845, Texas was annexed to the United States, becoming the 28th state. Long determined to protect slavery, Texas declared its secession from the United States in 1861 to join the Confederate States of America. Several battles of the American Civil War were fought in Texas, but most Texas regiments served in other parts of the country. When the war ended in 1865, Texas was subject to Reconstruction until the 1870s.

Through the end of the 19th century, the larger industries in Texas were cotton production and cattle ranching. In 1901, oil was discovered in Texas, and the resulting “Oil Boom” permanently transformed the economy of Texas, leading to the first significant economic expansion after the Civil War. Texas has continued to grow rapidly, becoming the second largest state in population in 1994, and became economically highly diversified, with a growing base in high technology.


Pre-Columbian history

Texas lies at the juncture of two major cultural spheres of Pre-Columbian North America, the Southwestern and the Plains areals. The area now covered by Texas comprised three major indigenous cultures which had reached their developmental peak prior to the arrival of European explorers and are known from archaeology. These are

  •The Pueblo from the upper Rio Grande region, centered west of Texas;

   •the Mound Builder culture of the Mississippi Valley region, centered east of Texas, ancestral to the Caddo nation;

   •the civilizations of Mesoamerica, centered south of Texas. Influence of Teotihuacan in northern Mexico peaked around AD
   500 and declined over the 8th to 10th centuries.

Scholars estimate that humans have lived in Texas for approximately 11,200 years. The Paleoamericans that lived in Texas in the Pleistocene era (between 9200 – 6000 B.C.) may have links to Clovis and Folsom cultures; these nomadic people hunted mammoths and bison latifrons using atlatls. They extracted Alibates flint from quarries in the panhandle region.

Beginning during the 3rd millennium BC, the population of Texas increased despite experiencing a changing climate and the extinction of giant mammals. Many pictograms drawn on the walls of caves or on rocks are visible in the state, including at Hueco Tanks[5] and Seminole Canyon.

Native Americans in East Texas began to settle in villages shortly after 500 BC, farming and building the first burial mounds. They were influenced by the Mound Builder civilizations that lived in the Mississippi basin. In the Trans-Pecos area, populations were influenced by Mogollon culture.

From the eighth century, the bow and arrow appeared in the region, manufacture of pottery developed and Native Americans increasingly depended on bison for survival. Obsidian objects found in various Texan sites attest of trade with cultures in present day Mexico and the Rocky Mountains.

No one culture was dominant in the present-day Texas region and many different peoples inhabited the area. Native American tribes that lived inside the boundaries of present-day Texas include the Alabama, Apache, Atakapan, Bidai, Caddo, Coahuiltecan, Comanche, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coushatta, Hasinai, Jumano, Karankawa, Kickapoo, Kiowa, Tonkawa, and Wichita. The name Texas derives from táyshaʔ, a word in the Caddoan language of the Hasinai, which means “friends” or “allies.”

Native Americans determined the fate of European explorers and settlers depending on whether a tribe was friendly or warlike. Friendly tribes taught newcomers how to grow indigenous crops, prepare foods, and hunting methods for wild game. Warlike tribes made life unpleasant, difficult and dangerous for explorers and settlers through their attacks and resistance to European conquest.

A remnant of the Choctaw tribe in East Texas still lives in the Mt. Tabor Community near Amberly, Texas. Currently, there are three federally-recognized Native American tribes which reside in Texas: the Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas, the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, and the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo of Texas.


Early European exploration

The first European to see Texas was Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, who led an expedition on behalf of the governor of Jamaica, Francisco de Garay, in 1519. While searching for a passage between the Gulf of Mexico and Asia, Álvarez de Pineda created the first map of the northern Gulf Coast. This map is the earliest recorded document of Texas history.

Between 1528 and 1535, four survivors of the Narváez expedition, including Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and Estevanico, spent six and a half years in Texas as slaves and traders among various native groups. Cabeza de Vaca was the first European explorer to explore the interior of Texas.


French Texas

Although Álvarez de Pineda had claimed the area that is now Texas for Spain, the area was essentially ignored for over 160 years. Its initial settlement by Europeans occurred by accident. In April 1682, French nobleman René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle had claimed the entire Mississippi River Valley for France. The following year, he convinced King Louis XIV to establish a colony near the Mississippi, essentially splitting Spanish Florida from New Spain.

La Salle’s colonization expedition left France on July 24, 1684 and soon lost one of its supply ships to Spanish privateers. A combination of inaccurate maps, La Salle’s previous miscalculation of the latitude of the mouth of the Mississippi River, and overcorrecting for the Gulf currents led the ships to be unable to find the Mississippi. Instead, they landed at Matagorda Bay in early 1685, 400 miles (644 km) west of the Mississippi. In February, the colonists constructed Fort Saint Louis.

After the fort was constructed, one of the ships returned to France, and the other two were soon destroyed in storms, stranding the settlers. La Salle and his men searched overland for the Mississippi River, traveling as far west as the Rio Grande and as far east as the Trinity River. Disease and hardship laid waste to the colony, and by early January 1687, fewer than 45 people remained. That month, a third expedition launched a final attempt to find the Mississippi. The expedition experienced much infighting, and La Salle was ambushed and killed somewhere in East Texas.

The Spanish learned of the French colony in late 1685. Feeling that the French colony was a threat to Spanish mines and shipping routes, King Carlos II’s Council of war recommended the removal of “this thorn which has been thrust into the heart of America. The greater the delay the greater the difficulty of attainment.” Having no idea where to find La Salle, the Spanish launched ten expeditions—both land and sea—over the next three years. The last expedition discovered a French deserter living in Southern Texas with the Coahuiltecans.

The Frenchman guided the Spanish to the French fort in late April 1689. The fort and the five crude houses surrounding it were in ruins. Several months before, the Karankawa had become angry that the French had taken their canoes without payment and had attacked the settlement sparing only four children.


Spanish Texas

Establishment of Spanish colony

News of the destruction of the French fort “created instant optimism and quickened religious fervor” in Mexico City. Spain had learned a great deal about the geography of Texas during the many expeditions in search of Fort Saint Louis. In March 1690, Alonso De León led an expedition to establish a mission in East Texas. Mission San Francisco de los Tejas was completed near the Hasinai village of Nabedaches in late May, and its first mass was conducted on June 1. On January 23, 1691, Spain appointed the first governor of Texas, General Domingo Terán de los Ríos. On his visit to Mission San Francisco in August, he discovered that the priests had established a second mission nearby, but were having little luck converting the natives to Christianity. The Indians regularly stole the mission cattle and horses and showed little respect to the priests. When Terán left Texas later that year, most of the missionaries chose to return with him, leaving only 3 religious people and 9 soldiers at the missions. The group also left behind a smallpox epidemic. The angry Caddo threatened the remaining Spaniards, who soon abandoned the fledgling missions and returned to Coahuila. For the next 20 years, Spain again ignored Texas.

After a failed attempt to convince Spanish authorities to reestablish missions in Texas, in 1711 Franciscan missionary Francisco Hidalgo approached the French governor of Louisiana for help. The French governor sent representatives to meet with Hidalgo. This concerned Spanish authorities, who ordered the reoccupation of Texas as a buffer between New Spain and French settlements in Louisiana. In 1716, four missions and a presidio were established in East Texas. Accompanying the soldiers were the first recorded female settlers in Spanish Texas.

The new missions were over 400 miles (644 km) from the nearest Spanish settlement, San Juan Bautista. Martín de Alarcón, who had been appointed governor of Texas in late 1716, wished to establish a way station between the settlements along the Rio Grande and the new missions in East Texas. Alarcón led a group of 72 people, including 10 families, into Texas in April 1718, where they settled along the San Antonio River. Within the next week, the settlers built mission San Antonio de Valero and a presidio, and chartered the municipality of San Antonio de Béxar, now San Antonio, Texas.

The following year, the War of the Quadruple Alliance pitted Spain against France, which immediately moved to take over Spanish interests in North America. In June 1719, 7 Frenchmen from Natchitoches took control of the mission San Miguel de los Adaes from its sole defender, who did not know that the countries were at war. The French soldiers explained that 100 additional soldiers were coming, and the Spanish colonists, missionaries, and remaining soldiers fled to San Antonio.

The new governor of Coahuila and Texas, the Marquis de San Miguel de Aguayo, drove the French from Los Adaes without firing a shot. He then ordered the building of a new Spanish fort Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Los Adaes, located near present-day Robeline, Louisiana, only 12 mi (19 km) from Natchitoches. The new fort became the first capital of Texas, and was guarded by 6 cannon and 100 soldiers. The six East Texas missions were reopened, and an additional mission and presidio were established at Matagorda Bay on the former site of Fort Saint Louis.


Difficulties with the Indians

In the late 1720s, the viceroy of New Spain closed the presidio in East Texas and reduced the size of the garrisons at the remaining presidios, leaving only 144 soldiers in the entire province. With no soldiers to protect them, the East Texas missions relocated to San Antonio.

Although the missionaries had been unable to convert the Hasinai tribe of East Texas, they did become friendly with the natives. The Hasinai were bitter enemies of the Lipan Apache, who transferred their enmity to Spain and began raiding San Antonio and other Spanish areas. A temporary peace was finally negotiated with the Apache in 1749, and at the request of the Indians a mission was established along the San Saba River northwest of San Antonio. The Apaches shunned the mission, but the fact that Spaniards now appeared to be friends of the Apache angered the Apache enemies, primarily the Comanche, Tonkawa, and Hasinai tribes, who promptly destroyed the mission.

In 1762, France finally relinquished their claim to Texas by ceding all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi River to Spain as part of the treaty to end the Seven Years War. Spain saw no need to continue to maintain settlements near French outposts and ordered the closure of Los Adaes, making San Antonio the new provincial capital. The residents of Los Adaes were relocated in 1773. After several attempts to settle in other parts of the province, the residents returned to East Texas without authorization and founded Nacogdoches.

The Comanche agreed to a peace treaty in 1785. The Comanches were willing to fight the enemies of their new friends, and soon attacked the Karankawa. Over the next several years the Comanches killed many of the Karankawa in the area and drove the others into Mexico. In January 1790, the Comanche also helped the Spanish fight a large battle against the Mescalero and Lipan Apaches at Soledad Creek west of San Antonio. The Apaches were resoundingly defeated and the majority of the raids stopped. By the end of the 1700s only a small number of the remaining hunting and gathering tribes within Texas had not been Christianized. In 1793, mission San Antonio de Valero was secularized, and the following year the four remaining missions at San Antonio were partially secularized.


Encroachment

In 1799, Spain gave Louisiana back to France in exchange for the promise of a throne in central Italy. Although the agreement was signed on October 1, 1800, it did not go into effect until 1802. The following year, Napoleon sold Louisiana to the United States. The original agreement between Spain and France had not explicitly specified the borders of Louisiana, and the descriptions in the documents were ambiguous and contradictory. The United States insisted that its purchase also included most of West Florida and all of Texas. Thomas Jefferson claimed that Louisiana stretched west to the Rocky Mountains and included the entire watershed of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and their tributaries, and that the southern border was the Rio Grande. Spain maintained that Louisiana extended only as far as Natchitoches, and that it did not include the Illinois Territory. Texas was again considered a buffer province, this time between New Spain and the United States. The disagreement would continue until 1819, when Spain gave Florida to the United States in return for undisputed control of Texas.

During much of the dispute with the United States, governship of New Spain was in question. In 1808, Napoleon forced the Spanish king to abdicate the throne and appointed Joseph Bonaparte as the new monarch. A shadow government operated out of Cadiz during Joseph’s reign. Revolutionaries within Mexico and the United States unsuccessfully combined to declare Texas and Mexico independent. Spanish troops reacted harshly, looting the province and executing any Tejanos accused of having Republican tendencies. By 1820 fewer than 2000 Hispanic citizens remained in Texas. The situation did not normalize until 1821, when Agustin de Iturbide launched a drive for Mexican Independence. Texas became a part of the newly independent nation without a shot being fired, ending the period of Spanish Texas.


Spanish legacy

Spanish control of Texas was followed by Mexican control of Texas, and it can be difficult to separate the Spanish and Mexican influences on the future state. The most obvious legacy is that of the language; every major river in modern Texas, except the Red River, has a Spanish or Anglicized name, as do 42 of the state’s 254 counties. Numerous towns also bear Spanish names. An additional obvious legacy is that of Roman Catholicism. At the end of Spain’s reign over Texas, virtually all inhabitants practiced the Catholic religion, and it is still practiced in Texas by a large number of people. The Spanish missions built in San Antonio to convert Indians to Catholicism have been restored and are a National Historic Landmark.

The Spanish introduced European livestock, including cattle, horses, and mules, to Texas as early as the 1690s. These herds grazed heavily on the native grasses, allowing mesquite, which was native to the lower Texas coast, to spread inland. Spanish farmers also introduced tilling and irrigation to the land, further changing the landscape.

Furthermore, although Texas eventually adopted much of the Anglo-American legal system, many Spanish legal practices were retained. Among these are the concepts of homestead exemption, community property, and adoption.


Mexican Texas

In 1821, the Mexican War for Independence severed the control that Spain had exercised on its North American territories, and the new country of Mexico was formed from much of the lands that had comprised New Spain, including Spanish Texas. The 1824 Constitution of Mexico joined Texas with Coahuila to form the state of Coahuila y Tejas. The Congress did allow Texas the option of forming its own state ‘”as soon as it feels capable of doing so.'”

The same year, Mexico enacted the General Colonization Law, which enabled all heads of household, regardless of race or immigrant status, to claim land in Mexico. Authorities in Mexican Texas had neither manpower nor funds to protect settlers from near-constant Comanche raids and it hoped that settlers could control the raids, the government liberalized its immigration policies, allowing for settlers from the United States to immigrate to Texas.

The first empresarial grant had been made under Spanish control to Moses Austin. The grant was passed to his son Stephen F. Austin, whose settlers, known as the Old Three Hundred, settled along the Brazos River in 1822. The grant was later ratified by the Mexican government. Twenty-three other empresarios brought settlers to the state, the majority from the United States of America.

Many of the Anglo-American settlers owned slaves. Texas was granted a one-year exemption from Mexico’s 1829 edict outlawing slavery but Mexican president Anastasio Bustamante ordered that all slaves be freed in 1830. To circumvent the law, many Anglo colonists converted their slaves into indentured servants for life; by 1836 there were 5,000 slaves in Texas.

As a result of multiple offers by the United States to buy Texas, Bustamente outlawed the immigration of United States citizens to Texas in 1830. Several new presidios were established in the region to monitor immigration and customs practices. The new laws also called for the enforcement of customs duties, angering both native Mexican citizens (Tejanos) and recent immigrants. In 1832, a group of men led a revolt against customs enforcement in Anahauc. These Anahuac Disturbances coincided with a revolt in Mexico against the current president. Texians sided with the federalists against the current government and drove all Mexican soldiers out of East Texas.

Texians took advantage of the lack of oversight to agitate for more political freedom, resulting in the Convention of 1832. The convention which, among other issues, demand that U.S. citizens be allowed to immigrate, and requested independent statehood for Texas. The following year, Texians reiterated their demands at the Convention of 1833. After presenting their petition, courier Stephen F. Austin was jailed for the next two years in Mexico City on suspicion of treason. Although Mexico implemented several measures to appease the colonists,[93] Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s measures to transform Mexico from a federalist to a centralist state provided an excuse for the Texan colonists to revolt.


Texas Revolution

The vague unrest erupted into armed conflict on October 2, 1835 at the Battle of Gonzales, when Texians repelled a Mexican attempt to retake a small cannon. This launched the Texas Revolution, and over the next three months, the Texians successfully defeated all Mexican troops in the region.

On March 2, 1836, Texans signed the Texas Declaration of Independence at Washington-on-the-Brazos, effectively creating the Republic of Texas. The revolt was justified as necessary to protect basic rights and because Mexico had annulled the federal pact. The colonists maintained that Mexico had invited them to move to the country and they were determined “to enjoy ‘the republican institutions to which they were accustomed in their native land, the United States of America.'”

Many of the Texas settlers believed the war to be over and left the army after the initial string of victories. The remaining troops were largely recently arrived adventurers from the United States; according to historian Alwyn Barr, the large number of American volunteers “contributed to the Mexican view that Texan opposition stemmed from outside influences”. The Mexican congress responded to this perceived threat by authorizing the execution of any foreigner found fighting in Texas; there would be no prisoners of war.

As early as October 27, Mexican president Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had been preparing to quell the unrest in Texas. In early 1836 Santa Anna personally led a 6000-man force toward Texas. At the Rio Grande, the Mexican troops separated; Santa Anna led the bulk of the troops to San Antonio de Bexar to besiege the Alamo Mission while General Jose de Urrea led the remaining troops up the coast of Texas. Urrea’s forces soon defeated all the Texian resistance along the coast, culminating in the Goliad Massacre, where 300 Texian prisoners of war were executed. After a thirteen-day siege, Santa Anna’s forces overwhelmed the nearly 200 Texians defending the Alamo. “Remember the Alamo!” became a battle cry of the Texas Revolution.

News of the defeats sparked the Runaway Scrape, where much of the population of Texas and the Texas provisional government fled east, away from the approaching Mexican army. Many settlers rejoined the army, now commanded by General Sam Houston. After several weeks of maneuvering, on April 21, 1836, the Texian Army attacked Santa Anna’s forces near the present-day city of Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto. Santa Anna was captured and forced to sign the Treaties of Velasco, ending the war.


Republic of Texas

The first Congress of the Republic of Texas convened in October 1836 at Columbia (now West Columbia). Stephen F. Austin, known as the Father of Texas, died December 27, 1836, after serving two months as Secretary of State for the new Republic. In 1836, five sites served as temporary capitals of Texas (Washington-on-the-Brazos, Harrisburg, Galveston, Velasco and Columbia) before president Sam Houston moved the capital to Houston in 1837. In 1839, the capital was moved to the new town of Austin by the next president Mirabeau B. Lamar.

Internal politics of the Republic were based on the conflict between two factions. The nationalist faction, led by Mirabeau B. Lamar, advocated the continued independence of Texas, the expulsion of the Native Americans, and the expansion of Texas to the Pacific Ocean. Their opponents, led by Sam Houston, advocated the annexation of Texas to the United States and peaceful co-existence with Native Americans.

Although Texas governed itself, Mexico refused to recognize its independence. On March 5, 1842, a Mexican force of over 500 men, led by Rafael Vásquez, invaded Texas for the first time since the revolution. They soon headed back to the Rio Grande after briefly occupying San Antonio. 1,400 Mexican troops, led by the French mercenary general Adrian Woll launched a second attack and captured San Antonio on September 11, 1842. A Texas militia retaliated at the Battle of Salado Creek. However on September 18, this militia was defeated by Mexican soldiers and Texas Cherokee Indians during the Dawson Massacre. The Mexican army would later retreat from the city of San Antonio.

Mexico’s attacks on Texas intensified the conflict between the political factions in an incident known as the Texas Archive War. To “protect” the Texas national archives, governor Sam Houston ordered them out of Austin. Austin residents suspicious of the governor’s motives, because of Houston’s disdain of the capital, forced the archives back to Texas at gunpoint. The Texas Congress admonished Houston for the incident, and the incident would solidify Austin as Texas’s seat of government for the Republic and the future state.


Annexation

On February 28, 1845, the U.S. Congress passed a bill that would authorize the United States to annex the Republic of Texas and on March 1 U.S. President John Tyler signed the bill. The legislation set the date for annexation for December 29 of the same year. On October 13 of the same year, a majority of voters in the Republic approved a proposed constitution that specifically endorsed slavery and the slave trade. This constitution was later accepted by the U.S. Congress, making Texas a U.S. state on the same day annexation took effect (therefore bypassing a territorial phase).

The annexation resolution has been the topic of some incorrect historical beliefs—chiefly, that the resolution was a treaty between sovereign states, and granted Texas the explicit right to secede from the Union. This was a right argued by some to be implicitly held by all states at the time, and until the conclusion of the Civil War. However, no such right was explicitly enumerated in the resolution. The resolution did, however, include two unique provisions: first, it gave the new state of Texas the right to divide itself into as many as five states (a proposal never seriously considered). Second, Texas did not have to surrender its public lands to the federal government. Thus the only lands owned by the federal government within Texas have actually been purchased by the government, and the vast oil discoveries on state lands have provided a major revenue flow for the state universities.


Mexican-American War

The Mexican government had long warned that annexation would mean war with the United States. When Texas was granted statehood, the Mexican government broke diplomatic relations with the United States. The United States supported Texas when it claimed all land north of the Rio Grande, and this provoked a dispute with Mexico. In June 1845, President James K. Polk sent General Zachary Taylor to Texas, and by October, 3,500 Americans were on the Nueces River, prepared to defend Texas from a Mexican invasion. On November 10, 1845, Polk sent John Slidell, a secret representative, to Mexico City with an offer of $25 million for the Rio Grande border in Texas and Mexico’s provinces of Alta California and Santa Fé de Nuevo México.

Polk ordered General Taylor and his forces south to the Rio Grande, into disputed territory that Mexicans claimed as their own. Mexico claimed the Nueces River — about 150 miles (240 km) north of the Rio Grande — as its border with Texas; the United States claimed it was the Rio Grande, citing the 1836 Treaties of Velasco. Mexico, however, had never ratified these treaties, which were signed by Santa Anna while he was a prisoner in Texas. Taylor ignored Mexican demands to withdraw to the Nueces. He constructed a makeshift fort later named Fort Brown on the banks of the Rio Grande opposite the city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas. On April 25, 1846, a 2,000-strong Mexican cavalry detachment attacked a 63-man U.S. patrol that had been sent into the contested territory north of the Rio Grande and south of the Nueces River. The Mexican cavalry routed the patrol, killing 11 U.S. soldiers in what later became known as the Thornton Affair.

By then, Polk had received word of the Thornton Affair. This, added to the Mexican government’s rejection of Slidell, Polk believed, constituted a casus belli. His message to Congress on May 11, 1846 stated that “Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon American soil.”

The siege began on May 3. Mexican artillery at Matamoros opened fire on the fort, which replied with its own guns. The bombardment continued for 160 hours and expanded as Mexican forces gradually surrounded the fort. On May 8, Zachary Taylor arrived with 2,400 troops to relieve the fort. However, Arista rushed north and intercepted him with a force of 3,400. The battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma followed as decisive American victories. No more battles of the Mexican-American War were fought on Texas soil, as United States forces moved into Mexican territory.

The United States decisively defeated Mexico on several fronts. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on February 2, 1848, ended the war and gave the U.S. undisputed control of Texas, established the border of Texas at the Rio Grande, and ceded to the United States what is known as the Mexican Cession, the present-day states of California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming. In return, Mexico received US $18,250,000 and the U.S. agreed to assume $3.25 million in debts that the Mexican government owed to U.S. citizens.


1848 – Civil War

One of the primary motivations for annexation was the Texas government’s huge debts. The United States agreed to assume many of these upon annexation. However, the former Republic never fully paid off its debt until the Compromise of 1850. In return for $10 million, a large portion of Texas-claimed territory, now parts of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Wyoming, was ceded to the Federal government.

Post-war Texas grew rapidly as migrants poured into the cotton lands of the state. German immigrants started to arrive in the early 1840s because of economic, social and political conditions in their states. In 1842, German nobles organized the Adelsverein, banding together to buy land in central Texas to enable German settlement. The Revolutions of 1848 acted as another catalyst for so many immigrants that they became known as the “Forty-Eighters.” Many were educated artisans and businessmen. Germans continued to arrive in considerable numbers until 1890.

The first Czech immigrants started their journey to Texas on August 19, 1851 headed by Jozef Šilar. The rich farmland of Central Texas attracted the Czech immigrants. The counties of Austin, Fayette, Lavaca, and Washington had early Czech settlements. The Czech-American communities are characterized by a strong sense of community and social clubs were a dominant theme of Czech-American life in Texas. By 1865, the Czech population numbered 700 and climbed to over 60,000 Czech-Americans by 1940.

With their investments in cotton cultivation, Texas planters imported enslaved blacks from the earliest years of settlement. They established cotton plantations mostly in the eastern part of the state, where labor was done by enslaved African Americans. The central area of the state had more subsistence farmers.


Civil War and Reconstruction: 1860–1876

As part of the Cotton Kingdom, planters in parts of Texas depended on slave labor. In 1860 30% of the population of state total of 604,215 were enslaved. In the statewide election on the secession ordinance, Texans voted to secede from the Union by a vote of 46,129 to 14,697 (a 76% majority). The Secession Convention immediately organized a government, replacing Sam Houston when he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy.

Texas declared its secession from the United States on February 1, 1861, and joined the Confederate States of America on March 2, 1861. Texas was mainly a “supply state” for the Confederate forces until mid 1863, when the Union capture of the Mississippi River made large movements of men, horses or cattle impossible. Texas regiments fought in every major battle throughout the war.

On August 1, 1862 Confederate troops killed 34 pro-Union German Texans in the “Nueces Massacre” of civilians. The last battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Palmito Ranch, was fought in Texas on May 12, 1865.


Reconstruction, Democratic control and disfranchisement

When the news arrived in Galveston, on June 19, 1865, of the Confederate collapse, the freed slaves rejoiced, creating the celebration of Juneteenth. The State had suffered little during the War but trade and finance was disrupted. Angry returning veterans seized state property and Texas went through a period of extensive violence and disorder. Most outrages took place in northern Texas and were committed by outlaws who had their headquarters in the Indian Territory and plundered and murdered without distinction of party. President Andrew Johnson appointed Union General A. J. Hamilton as provisional governor on June 17, 1865. Hamilton had been a prominent politician before the war. He granted amnesty to ex-Confederates if they promised to support the Union in the future, appointing some to office. On March 30, 1870, although Texas did not meet all the requirements, the United States Congress restored Texas to the Union.

Like other Southern states, by the late 1870s white Democrats regained control, often with a mix of intimidation and terrorism by paramilitary groups operating for the Democratic Party. They passed a new constitution in 1876 that segregated schools and established a poll tax to support them, but it was not originally required for voting. In 1901 the legislature passed a poll tax as a prerequisite for voter registration. Given the economic difficulties of the times, the poll tax caused participation by poor whites, African Americans and Mexican Americans to drop sharply. By the early 20th century, the Democratic Party in Texas started using a “white primary,” which the state legislature authorized in 1923. Since the Democratic Party dominated the state after 1900 for decades, the “white primary” provision reduced what little minority participation there was as the primaries were the true competitive contest. These provisions extended deep into the 20th century.


Texas in prosperity, depression, and war

Galveston, the fourth-largest city in Texas and then the major port, was destroyed by a hurricane with 100 mph (160 km/h) winds on September 8, 1900. The storm created a 20 ft (6.1 m) storm surge when it hit the island, 6–9 ft (1.8–2.7 m) higher than any previously recorded flood. Water covered the entire island, killing between 6,000 and 8,000 people, destroying 3,500 homes as well as the railroad causeway and wagon bridge that connected the island to the mainland. To help rebuild their city, citizens implemented a reformed government featuring a five-man city commission. Galveston was the first city to implement a city commission government, and its plan was adopted by 500 other small cities across the United States.

In the aftermath of the Galveston disaster, action proceeded on building the Houston Ship Channel to create a more protected inland port. Houston quickly grew once the Channel was completed, and rapidly became the primary port in Texas. Railroads were constructed in a radial pattern to link Houston with other major cities such as Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin.

Anthony F. Lucas, an experienced mining engineer drilled the first major oil well at Spindletop, on the morning of January 10, 1901 the little hill south of Beaumont, Texas. The East Texas Oil Field, discovered on October 5, 1930 is located in east central part of the state, and is the largest and most prolific oil reservoir in the contiguous United States. Other oil fields were later discovered in West Texas and under the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting “Oil Boom” permanently transformed the economy of Texas, and led to the first significant economic expansion after the Civil War.

The creation of the New Mexico Territory in 1850 fixed the boundary with the state of Texas at the Rio Grande. Between then and 1912, when New Mexico became a state, the course of the river shifted. In what became known as the Country Club Dispute, a boundary dispute case was filed with the Supreme Court of the United States in 1913. The court settled the matter in 1927 by determining where the river had flowed in 1850, largely in agreement with the claims of Texas.

The economy, which had experienced significant recovery since the Civil War, was dealt a double blow by the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the economy suffered significant reversals and thousands of city workers became unemployed, many of whom depended on federal relief programs such as FERA, WPA and CCC. Farmers and ranchers were especially hard hit, as prices for cotton and livestock fell sharply. Beginning in 1934 and lasting until 1939, an ecological disaster of severe wind and drought caused an exodus from Texas and Arkansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle region and the surrounding plains, in which over 500,000 Americans were homeless, hungry and jobless. Thousands left the region forever to seek economic opportunities along the West Coast. Immediately preceding and during World War II, existing military bases in Texas were expanded and numerous new training bases were built: Texas World War II Army Airfields, Brooke Army Medical Center, Camp Mabry, Corpus Christi Army Depot, Fort Bliss, Fort Hood, Fort Sam Houston, Ingleside Army Depot, Red River Army Depot, especially for aviation training. The Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant was built as part of the WWII buildup. Hundreds of thousands of American (and some allied) soldiers, sailors and airmen trained in the state. All sectors of the economy boomed as the homefront prospered.

During WWII, Texas became home to as many as 78,982 enemy prisoners, mainly Germans. There were fourteen prisoner of war camps in the state. The men in the camps were used to supplement the local farm labor lost to the war.


Texas modernizes: 1945–present

On Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time (18:30 UTC) Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States. Three shots were fired at the president’s car from the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository. The Texas Governor, John B. Connally, was also critically injured but survived. The vice president, the Texan Lyndon Baines Johnson, sworn in as President on Air Force One in Dallas at Love Field Airport.

Despite the tragedy, from 1950 through the 1960s, Texas modernized and dramatically expanded its system of higher education. Under the leadership of Governor Connally, the state produced a long-range plan for higher education, a more rational distribution of resources, and a central state apparatus that managed state institutions with greater efficiency. Because of these changes, Texas universities received federal funds for research and development during the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson administrations.