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Annexing Texas

AP.USH:
KC‑5.1.I.C (KC)
,
Unit 5: Learning Objective C
,
WOR (Theme)
Quickly following Texan independence, the United States admitted Texas into the republic as a slave state.

Overview

  • Texas was annexed by the United States in 1845 and became the 28th state.
  • Until 1836, Texas had been part of Mexico, but in that year a group of settlers from the United States who lived in Mexican Texas declared independence. They called their new country the Republic of Texas, which was an independent country for nine years.
  • Politics in the United States fractured over the issue of whether Texas should be admitted as a slave or free state. In the end, Texas was admitted to the United States a slave state.
  • The annexation of Texas contributed to the coming of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). The conflict started, in part, over a disagreement about which river was Mexico’s true northern border: the Nueces or the Rio Grande.

The Republic of Texas

Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821. At that time, Mexico’s northern provinces included California, New Mexico, and Texas.
When Mexico founded the province of Texas in 1821, the land was very sparsely populated, so Texans actively recruited settlers from the United States to help grow the region’s population. Soon, Stephen Austin—after whom Austin, Texas is named—was selling plots of land to American settlers from a large land grant his father had received from the Mexican government; meanwhile, other settlers from the United States—especially from the American South—were moving to Mexican Texas.
By 1830, there were 7,000 settlers from the United States living in Mexican Texas. But tensions between the Mexican government and settlers from the United States grew as Mexico unsuccessfully attempted to halt further immigration and settlers pushed back against Mexican legal codes. These regulatory laws required those living in Mexico—including those living in Texas—to become Mexican, convert to Roman Catholicism, file legal documents in Spanish, and (after Mexico abolished slavery in 1829) end the practice of slavery. In reality, however, Mexico continued to allow settlers from the United States to bring slaves into the territory as “indentured servants.”
In 1835, settlers from the United States who lived in Texas formed a provisional government, and in 1836 called for independence. In turn, the Mexican government deployed the Mexican leader Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his troops into the region in an effort to regain political control.
The settlers in Texas from the United States, together with the active support of Tejanos (Texans of Spanish origin), sought to hold their ground against Santa Anna’s advancing troops.
In March of 1836, following a thirteen day siege, Santa Anna’s 5,000 troops attacked and killed 187 American and Tejano defenders at the battle of the Alamo--a mission-fortress outside San Antonio. Among the dead were Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and commander William Travis. “Remember the Alamo” became, thereafter, a battle cry.
battle of alamo
The Battle of the Alamo. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
However, the following month, Sam Houston led his forces to defeat Santa Anna’s army at the Battle of San Jacinto, and forced Santa Anna to recognize Texan independence. Sam Houston, a previous Tennessee senator during the Jacksonian Democracy and prominent military figure, became the first president of the Republic of Texas. Citizens of the new republic were overwhelming in favor of Texas becoming a state in the United States—many motivated in part by concern that Mexico might try to re-establish its oppressive rule over Texas.

Texas becomes the 28th state

During the years leading up to Texas’s becoming the 28th state, pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces battled over the issue of slavery’s expansion into Texas. Indeed, the inter-party and intra-party battles between and among Whigs and Democrats in Congress—and elsewhere across the nation—highlighted divisions between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces that would, in 1861, lead to the Civil War.
republic of texas
The Republic of Texas pre-annexation. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
President John Tyler made the annexation of Texas a priority, and in the closing days of his presidency, Congress voted to make Texas a state—though it was not until December 1845 that, under President James K. Polk, Texas formally achieved statehood.

The Mexican-American War

But the United States’ annexation of Texas was not the end of the story. In the spring of 1846, tensions mounted between the United States and Mexico, and the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) started, in part, over a border dispute between the two countries. Mexico claimed the Nueces River to be Texas’s southern border, but the United States insisted the border lay further south at the Rio Grande River.
The Mexican-American War confirmed Texas’s southern border at the Rio Grande, indicating the United States victory. The United States also acquired California, New Mexico, and Arizona, as well as parts of Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming.

What do you think?

How might American history have been different if Mexico had succeeded in keeping Texas as part of its country?
Why do you think settlers from the United States who had settled in Texas in the 1830s wanted to break free from Mexico and form their own country? Why did they want to become an official US state?

Want to join the conversation?

  • piceratops seed style avatar for user cornelius
    How might American history have been different if Mexico had succeeded in keeping Texas as part of its country?
    Why do you think settlers from the United States who had settled in Texas in the 1830s wanted to break free from Mexico and form their own country? Why did they want to become an official US state?
    (15 votes)
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  • aqualine seed style avatar for user shianne ruggiero
    Can you show me a map of the states and territories at the end of the American- Mexican war? i would love to see it
    (11 votes)
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  • primosaur ultimate style avatar for user marci10
    how did 187 americans hold out against 5000 Mexicans for so long?
    (6 votes)
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  • winston baby style avatar for user Stepheny Ek
    How did the U.S acquire California, New Mexico, and Arizona, as well as parts of Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming?
    (5 votes)
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  • aqualine tree style avatar for user Emily Richmond
    So who supported and opposed the annexation of Texas?
    (2 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      Slaveholders supported the annexation of Texas so as to expand enslavement into territory where, when Texas was part of Mexico, slavery was not permitted. By getting Texas into the USA, a new "slave state" would be added to that list in the congress, tilting the balance even MORE in favor of the oppression of Black people.
      (4 votes)
  • primosaur seed style avatar for user Nayeli Garza Ramos
    Why did some Democrats oppose the annexation of all of Mexico?
    (2 votes)
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  • aqualine seed style avatar for user jaylene espinal
    how did the annexation of texas impact the people?
    (3 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      I need a little help here.
      Do you mean:
      the Mexican people in Texas,
      the White people in Texas,
      the enslaved Black people in Texas,
      the Mexican people in the rest of Mexico,
      the White people in the rest of America,
      the enslaved Black people in the rest of America,
      or some other people?
      If you can identify WHICH people you're asking about, someone might be able to guide you to an answer.
      (2 votes)
  • leaf green style avatar for user HenryL
    How cheap was the land in Texas before it was independent?
    (2 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      That depended on from whom you were buying or getting it. After 1824 The General Colonization Law enabled all heads of household who were citizens of or immigrants to Mexico to be eligible to claim land. The law did not differentiate among races or social stature, and people who had been granted occupancy rights would be able to claim the land patent for the dwellings.The Mexican law required immigrants to practice Catholicism and stressed that foreigners needed to learn Spanish. Settlers were supposed to own property or have a craft or useful profession, and all people wishing to live in Texas were expected to report to the nearest Mexican authority for permission to settle. The rules were widely disregarded and many families became squatters.

      As soon as the national colonization law was passed, approval for settlement contracts for Texas was the responsibility of the state government in Saltillo. They were soon besieged by foreign speculators wanting to bring colonists into the state. Coahuila y Tejas implemented the federal law in 1825. At this time, about 3500 people lived in Texas, mostly congregated at San Antonio and La Bahia. Under the new law, people who did not already possess property in Texas could claim one square league (4438 acres) of irrigable land, with an additional league available to those who owned cattle. Soldiers were given first choice of land, followed by citizens and immigrants. Empresarios and individuals with large families were exempt from the limit. Those who had owned land under Spanish control were allowed to retain their property as long as they had not fought on the side of the Spanish during the Mexican War of Independence. Immigrants were subject to the same policies as Mexican citizens, and Native Americans who migrated to Texas after Mexican independence and were not indigenous to the area would be treated as immigrants.

      So, land was free if you got it from the State government, but if you got it from someone who already had it, you needed to pay.
      (3 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Chris31804
    If whigs were for the ending of slavery, why would they vote in favor for the Wilmot Priviso?
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user oshio_ahme017
    how did the annexation of texas contribute to the tensions that led to the civil war?
    (2 votes)
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