History of Texas (1845–1860)

Last updated

In 1845, the Republic of Texas was annexed to the United States of America, becoming the 28th U.S. state. Border disputes between the new state and Mexico, which had never recognized Texas independence and still considered the area a renegade Mexican state, led to the Mexican–American War (1846–1848). When the war concluded, Mexico relinquished its claim on Texas, as well as other regions in what is now the southwestern United States. Texas' annexation as a state that tolerated slavery had caused tension in the United States among slave states and those that did not allow slavery. The tension was partially defused with the Compromise of 1850, in which Texas ceded some of its territory to the federal government to become non-slave-owning areas but gained El Paso

Republic of Texas independent sovereign nation in North America that existed from March 2, 1836, to February 19, 1846

The Republic of Texas was a sovereign state in North America that existed from March 2, 1836, to February 19, 1846. It was bordered by Mexico to the west and southwest, the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast, the two U.S. states of Louisiana and Arkansas to the east and northeast, and United States territories encompassing parts of the current U.S. states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico to the north and west. The citizens of the republic were known as Texians.



The Republic of Texas had formed in 1836, after breaking away from Mexico in the Texas Revolution. The following year, an ambassador from Texas approached the United States about the possibility of becoming an American state. Fearing a war with Mexico, which did not recognize Texas independence, the United States declined the offer. [1] In 1844, James K. Polk was elected the United States president after promising to annex Texas. Before he assumed office, the outgoing president, John Tyler, entered negotiations with Texas. On February 26, 1845, six days before Polk took office, the U.S. Congress approved the annexation. The Texas legislature approved annexation in July 1845 and constructed a state constitution. In October, Texas residents approved the annexation and the new constitution, and Texas was officially inducted into the United States on December 29, 1845. [2]

Texas Revolution military conflict

The Texas Revolution was a rebellion of colonists from the United States and Tejanos in putting up armed resistance to the centralist government of Mexico. While the uprising was part of a larger one that included other provinces opposed to the regime of President Antonio López de Santa Anna, the Mexican government believed the United States had instigated the Texas insurrection with the goal of annexation. The Mexican Congress passed the Tornel Decree, declaring that any foreigners fighting against Mexican troops "will be deemed pirates and dealt with as such, being citizens of no nation presently at war with the Republic and fighting under no recognized flag." Only the province of Texas succeeded in breaking with Mexico, establishing the Republic of Texas, and eventually being annexed by the United States.

James K. Polk 11th president of the United States

James Knox Polk was the 11th president of the United States from 1845 to 1849. He previously was speaker of the House of Representatives (1835–1839) and governor of Tennessee (1839–1841). A protégé of Andrew Jackson, he was a member of the Democratic Party and an advocate of Jacksonian democracy. Polk is chiefly known for extending the territory of the United States during the Mexican–American War; during his presidency, the United States expanded significantly with the annexation of the Republic of Texas, the Oregon Territory, and the Mexican Cession following the American victory in the Mexican–American War.

John Tyler 10th president of the United States

John Tyler was the tenth president of the United States from 1841 to 1845 after briefly serving as the tenth vice president (1841); he was elected to the latter office on the 1840 Whig ticket with President William Henry Harrison. Tyler ascended to the presidency after Harrison's death in April 1841, only a month after the start of the new administration. He was a stalwart supporter of states' rights, and as president he adopted nationalist policies only when they did not infringe on the powers of the states. His unexpected rise to the presidency, with the resulting threat to the presidential ambitions of Henry Clay and other politicians, left him estranged from both major political parties.

Mexican–American War

When Texas was annexed, Mexico broke diplomatic relations with the United States. The annexation bill did not specifically define the boundaries of Texas. The former republic claimed the Rio Grande as its southern border, while Mexican authorities had always considered the Nueces River, situated further north, to be the boundary of Mexican Texas. The United States sent John Slidell to negotiate with the Mexican government, offering $25 million ($723,942,308 today) to set the Texas border at the Rio Grande and to purchase Mexico's provinces of Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo México. Popular sentiment in Mexico was against any sale, and the army deposed President José Joaquín de Herrera when he appeared inclined to negotiate with Slidell.

Rio Grande river forming part of the US-Mexico border

The Rio Grande is one of the principal rivers in the southwest United States and northern Mexico. The Rio Grande begins in south-central Colorado in the United States and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, it forms part of the Mexico–United States border. According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, its total length was 1,896 miles (3,051 km) in the late 1980s, though course shifts occasionally result in length changes. Depending on how it is measured, the Rio Grande is either the fourth- or fifth-longest river system in North America.

Nueces River river in the United States of America

The Nueces River is a river in the U.S. state of Texas, about 315 miles (507 km) long. It drains a region in central and southern Texas southeastward into the Gulf of Mexico. It is the southernmost major river in Texas northeast of the Rio Grande. Nueces is Spanish for nuts; early settlers named the river after the numerous pecan trees along its banks.

Mexican Texas

Mexican Texas is the historiographical name used to refer to the era of Texan history between 1821 and 1836, when it was part of Mexico. Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821 after winning its war. Initially, Mexican Texas operated similarly to Spanish Texas. Ratification of the 1824 Constitution of Mexico created a federal structure, and the province of Tejas was joined with the province of Coahuila to form the state of Coahuila y Tejas.

The United States positioned troops along the Rio Grande. On April 25, 1846, in an event known as the Thornton Affair, a large contingent of Mexican cavalry attacked an American patrol in the area between the Rio Grande and the Nueces, killing 16 Americans. On May 3, Mexican troops initiated the siege of Fort Texas, bombarding a makeshift American fort along the Rio Grande. On May 8, Zachary Taylor led 2,500 U.S. troops to relieve the fort. He was intercepted by Mexican troops, leading to the Battle of Palo Alto. Mexican troops retreated a short distance to regroup, and the following day the two sides fought fiercely in the Battle of Resaca de la Palma. The U.S. cavalry captured the Mexican artillery, and the Mexican soldiers retreated.

Thornton Affair

The Thornton Affair, also known as the Thornton Skirmish, Thornton's Defeat, or Rancho Carricitos was a battle in 1846 between the military forces of the United States and Mexico twenty miles west upriver from Zachary Taylor's camp along the Rio Grande. The much larger Mexican force defeated the Americans in the opening of hostilities, and was the primary justification for U.S. President James K. Polk's call to Congress to declare war.

Siege of Fort Texas

The Siege of Fort Texas marked the beginning of active campaigning by the armies of the United States and Mexico during the Mexican–American War. The battle is sometimes called The Siege of Fort Brown, but this is not entirely accurate—the name Fort Brown was taken from Major Jacob Brown, who was one of the two Americans killed during the engagement. Major Jacob Brown should not to be confused with the War of 1812 General Jacob Brown.

Zachary Taylor 12th president of the United States

Zachary Taylor was the 12th president of the United States, serving from March 1849 until his death in July 1850. Taylor previously was a career officer in the United States Army, rose to the rank of major general and became a national hero as a result of his victories in the Mexican–American War. As a result, he won election to the White House despite his vague political beliefs. His top priority as president was preserving the Union, but he died sixteen months into his term, before making any progress on the status of slavery, which had been inflaming tensions in Congress.

The United States officially declared war against Mexico on May 13. Mexico declared war against the U.S. on July 7. Throughout the official hostilities, the United States maintained two fronts—one in the Mexican interior south of the Rio Grande, and one in California. There was no further fighting in Texas.

The war ended on February 2, 1848, with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Mexico ceded claims to Texas, and the border was set at the Rio Grande.

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo peace treaty that concludes Mexican-American War of 1846-1848

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, officially titled the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Limits and Settlement between the United States of America and the Mexican Republic, is the peace treaty signed on February 2, 1848, in the Villa de Guadalupe Hidalgo between the United States and Mexico that ended the Mexican–American War (1846–1848). The treaty came into force on July 4, 1848.

Compromise of 1850

The expansion of the United States after the Mexican–American War led to tensions between the slave and free states as to how to maintain the balance between the opposing viewpoints. Texas had been admitted to the United States as a slave state, yet Texas claimed territory north of the 36°30' demarcation line for slavery set by the 1820 Missouri Compromise. According to the annexation agreement, if Texas were to be subdivided into multiple states, those north of the compromise line would become free states. Following the conclusion of the Mexican–American War, Texas also tried to exert control over much of New Mexico.

Missouri Compromise legislative compromise between pro- and anti-slavery parties in the run-up to the American Civil War

The Missouri Compromise was the legislation that provided for the admission of Maine to the United States as a free state along with Missouri as a slave state, thus maintaining the balance of power between North and South in the United States Senate. As part of the compromise, slavery was prohibited north of the 36°30′ parallel, excluding Missouri. The 16th United States Congress passed the pp on March 3, 1820, and President James Monroe signed it on March 6, 1820.

In an effort to avoid some states seceding from the United States, Congress passed the Compromise of 1850. Texas gave up much of the western territories it had claimed in exchange for $10 million to pay off previous debts.


Post-war Texas grew rapidly as migrants poured into the cotton lands of the state. [3] 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. [4]

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. [5]

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.

Indian wars

In the late 1850s, settlers continued to push west and north, and by 1856 had begun settling, parts of the Comancheria in large numbers. Angry at the loss of their traditional hunting grounds, several bands of Comanche conducted raids on Texas settlers. In an effort to stop the violence and subdue the Comanche, in 1858 the Texas Rangers paired with members of the Tonkawa tribe—traditionally, enemies of the Comanche—for the Antelope Hills Expedition. Federal law promised Indian tribes safety in Indian Territory, located just north of Texas. Nevertheless, the Rangers crossed into Indian Territory and attacked a Comanche village at the Battle of Little Robe Creek. This was the first time any American forces had penetrated to the heart of the Comancheria, attacked Comanche villages with impunity, and successfully made it home. The expedition exhausted the annual Texas defense budget, and the governor disbanded the Rangers.

Related Research Articles

Compromise of 1850 Compromise on slavery in U.S. territories annexed from Mexico in the Mexican-American war

The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five separate bills passed by the United States Congress in September 1850, which defused a four-year political confrontation between slave and free states on the status of territories acquired during the Mexican–American War (1846–1848). The compromise, drafted by Whig Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky and brokered by Clay and Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, reduced sectional conflict, although controversy eventually arose over the Fugitive Slave provision. Although the compromise was greeted with relief, each side disapproved of some of its specific provisions:

Santa Fe de Nuevo México province of New Spain (1598-1821), territory of Mexico (1821-1846), provisional government of the USA (1846-1850)

Santa Fe de Nuevo México was a province of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and later a territory of independent Mexico. The first capital was San Juan de los Caballeros from 1598 until 1610, and from 1610 onward the capital was La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís. The naming, capital, the Palace of the Governors, and rule of law were retained as the New Mexico Territory, and the subsequent U.S. State of New Mexico, became a part of the United States. The New Mexican citizenry, primarily consisting of Hispano, Pueblo, Navajo, Apache, and Comanche peoples, became citizens of the United States as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Texas annexation annexation

The Texas annexation was the 1845 annexation of the Republic of Texas into the United States of America, which was admitted to the Union as the 28th state on December 29, 1845.

John Slidell United States lawyer, politician and businessman

John Slidell was an American politician, lawyer, and businessman. A native of New York, Slidell moved to Louisiana as a young man and became a staunch defender of slavery as a Representative and Senator. He was the older brother of Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, a US naval officer.

Lipan Apache are Southern Athabaskan (Apachean) Native Americans whose traditional territory included present-day Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas prior to the 17th century.

New Mexico Territory territory of the United States of America, 1850-1912

The Territory of New Mexico was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 6, 1912, when the remaining extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of New Mexico, making it the longest-lived organized incorporated territory of the United States, lasting approximately 62 years.

Mexican Cession Southwestern United States that Mexico ceded to the U.S. in Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo after the Mexican–American War.

The Mexican Cession is the region in the modern-day southwestern United States that Mexico ceded to the U.S. in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 after the Mexican–American War. This region had not been part of the areas east of the Rio Grande which had been claimed by the Republic of Texas, though the Texas annexation resolution two years earlier had not specified the southern and western boundary of the new State of Texas. The Mexican Cession was the third largest acquisition of territory in US history. The largest was the Louisiana Purchase, with some 827,000 sq. miles, followed by the acquisition of Alaska.

Slave states and free states division of U.S. states in which slavery was either legal or illegal

In the history of the United States, a slave state was a U.S. state in which the practice of slavery was legal, and a free state was one in which slavery was prohibited or being legally phased out. Historically, in the 17th century, slavery was established in a number of English overseas possessions. In the 18th century, it existed in all the British colonies of North America. In the Thirteen Colonies, the distinction between slave and free states began during the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). Slavery became a divisive issue and was the primary cause of the American Civil War. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865, abolished slavery throughout the United States, and the distinction between free and slave states ended.

Antelope Hills expedition

The Antelope Hills expedition was a campaign from January–May 1858 by the Texas Rangers and members of other allied Native American tribes against Comanche and Kiowa villages in the Comancheria. It began in western Texas and ended in a series of fights with the Comanche tribe on May 12, 1858, at a place called Antelope Hills by Little Robe Creek, a tributary of the Canadian River in what is now Oklahoma. The hills are also called the "South Canadians," as they surround the Canadian River. The fighting on May 12, 1858, is often called the Battle of Little Robe Creek.

The history of slavery in Texas, as a colonial territory, later Republic in 1836, and U.S. state in 1845, had begun slowly, as the Spanish did not rely on it for labor during their years in Spanish Texas. The use of slavery expanded in the mid-nineteenth century as British-American settlers primarily from the Southeastern United States crossed the Mississippi River and brought slaves with them. Slavery was present in Spanish America and Mexico prior to the arrival of American settlers, but it was not highly developed.

Battle of Little Robe Creek

The Battle of Little Robe Creek, also called the Battle of Antelope Hills, took place on May 12, 1858. It actually was a series of three distinct encounters that took place on a single day, between the Comanches on the one side, and Texas Rangers, militia, and allied Tonkawas attacking them. It was undertaken against the laws of the United States at the time, which strictly forbade such an incursion into the Indian Territories of Oklahoma, and marked a significant escalation of the Indian Wars. It also marked the first time American or Texas Ranger forces had penetrated the Comancheria as far as the Wichita Mountains, and Canadian River, and it marked a decisive defeat for the Comanches.

Presidency of James K. Polk

The presidency of James K. Polk began on March 4, 1845, when James K. Polk was inaugurated as President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1849. He was a Democrat, and assumed office after defeating Whig Henry Clay in the 1844 presidential election. Polk left office after one term, fulfilling a campaign pledge he made in 1844, and he was succeeded by Whig Zachary Taylor. A close ally of Andrew Jackson, Polk's presidency reflected his adherence to the ideals of Jacksonian democracy and manifest destiny.

Mexican–American War armed conflict between the United States of America and Mexico from 1846 to 1848

The Mexican–American War, also known in the United States as the Mexican War and in Mexico as the Intervención estadounidense en México, was an armed conflict between the United States of America and the Second Federal Republic of Mexico from 1846 to 1848. It followed in the wake of the 1845 American annexation of the Republic of Texas, not formally recognized by the Mexican government, disputing the Treaties of Velasco signed by the unstable Mexican caudillo President/General Antonio López de Santa Anna after the Texas Revolution a decade earlier. In 1845, newly elected U.S. President James K. Polk, who saw the annexation of Texas as the first step towards a further expansion of the United States, sent troops to the disputed area and a diplomatic mission to Mexico. After Mexican forces attacked American forces, Polk cited this in his request that Congress declare war.

Comanche–Mexico Wars armed conflicts between indigenous peoples and white people in Mexico between 1821 and circa 1870

The Comanche–Mexico Wars was the Mexican theater of the Comanche Wars, a series of conflicts from 1821 until 1870 which consisted of large-scale raids into northern Mexico by Comanches and their Kiowa and Kiowa Apache allies which left thousands of people dead. The Comanche raids were sparked by the declining military capability of Mexico in the turbulent years after it gained independence in 1821, plus a large and growing market in the United States for stolen Mexican horses and cattle.

Republic of Texas–United States relations Diplomatic relations between Republic of Texas and the United States of America

Republic of Texas–United States relations refers to the historical foreign relations between the now-defunct Republic of Texas and the United States of America. Relations started in 1836 after the Texas Revolution, and ended in 1845 upon the annexation of Texas by the United States.

Mexico–Republic of Texas relations Diplomatic relations between the United Mexican States and Republic of Texas

Republic of Texas–Mexico relations refers to the historical foreign relations between the Republic of Texas and Mexico. Relations were unofficially initiated in 1836 at the signing of the Treaties of Velasco, which de facto declared Texas independent from Mexico, though the Mexican Government never fully recognized Texas' Independence. The relations between the two countries, however hostile, continued until 1845 after the annexation of Texas by the United States, and the beginning of the Mexican–American War.

Foreign relations of the Republic of Texas

The Republic of Texas was a North American nation from 1836 to 1845; in its short time it established diplomatical relations worldwide, mainly through the cotton trade.


  1. Richard Bruce Winders, Crisis in the Southwest: The United States, Mexico, and the Struggle over Texas (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), p. 41.
  2. Fehrenbach, Lone Star, pp. 264267
  3. Cotton Culture from the Handbook of Texas Online
  4. "German Immigration in Texas" Archived 2010-04-30 at the Wayback Machine , accessed April 27, 2008
  5. Handbook of Texas Online Czechs accessed July 28, 2008