Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Republic of Texas
- Alternative use: Republic of Texas (group)
| National Motto|
|Official language|| |
English de facto nationwide
|Largest city|| San Antonio, Texas|
|Presidents||David G. Burnet, Sam Houston, Mirabeau B. Lamar, Anson Jones|
|Population||Approximately 70,000 (1840)|
|Independence||March 2, 1836|
|Annexation||December 29, 1845 by the United States of America|
|Currency||Republic of Texas Dollar ($)|
The Republic of Texas was a short-lived country in North America between the United States and Mexico that existed from 1836 to 1845. Formed as a break-away republic from Mexico as a result of the Texas Revolution, the nation claimed borders that encompassed an area that included all of the present U.S. state of Texas, as well as parts of present-day New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming. The northern boundaries with the United States were defined by the Adams-Onis treaty between the United States and Spain in 1819. Its southern and western-most boundary with Mexico was under dispute throughout the lifetime of the Republic, with Texas claiming that the boundary was the Rio Grande and Mexico claiming the Nueces River as the boundary. This dispute would later become a trigger for the Mexican War between Mexico and the United States after the annexation of Texas.
Birth of the Republic
Before the outbreak of the Mexican War of Independence in 1810, Texas was a part of the Spanish colony of New Spain. Texas was then controlled by Mexico (as a part of the state of Coahuila y Tejas). The Rio Grande and South Texas areas had a long and turbulent history of independence movements by the local Mexican population, on account of unitary and perceived dictatorial and unconstitutional practices by the central Mexican government. Northern and Eastern Texas, meanwhile, remained largely in the hands of Native American tribes, some of whom were hostile to Mexican rule. In the years following the Louisiana Purchase and the acquisition of New Orleans by the U.S., American settlers had begun to move westward into Mexican territory. Some of settlers were active filibusters, who sought the longterm annexation of the area to the U.S. The Mexican government had an uneasy relationship with these early settlers. In the 1830s, seeking additional white settlers as a means of stabilizing the area, Mexico reached an agreement with Stephen F. Austin that allowed several hundred American families to move into the region. This move would backfire, however, as word of mouth about rich lands in Texas would spread across the United States. Thousands of additional settlers flooded into Texas, many of whom were not interested in being ruled by Mexico City. Mexican efforts to tighten political and economic control over the territory would only rouse emotions in the settlers, leading to the Texas Revolution.
The first declaration of independence for modern Texas, by both Anglo-Texan settlers and local Tejanos, was signed in Goliad on December 20, 1835. The Texas Declaration of Independence was enacted at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 2, 1836, effectively creating the Republic of Texas.
Four days later, the two-week long Battle of the Alamo ended as Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna's forces defeated the nearly 200 Texans defending the small mission (which would eventually become the center of the city of San Antonio). Remember the Alamo! became the battle cry of the Texas Revolution. The Battle of San Jacinto was fought on April 21, 1836, near the present-day city of Houston. General Santa Anna's entire force of 1,600 men was killed or captured by Texas General Sam Houston's army of 800 Texans; only nine Texans died. This decisive battle resulted in Texas' independence from Mexico.
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 Sam Houston moved the capital to Houston in 1837. In 1839, the capital was moved to the new town of Austin.
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 coexistence with Native Americans.
The Republic of Texas and the United States
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 was later accepted by the US Congress, making Texas a U.S. state on the same day annexation took effect (therefore bypassing a territorial phase). One of the primary motivations for annexation was that the Texas government had incurred huge debts which the United States agreed to assume upon annexation. In 1850, in return for this assumption of debt, a large portion of Texas-claimed territory, now parts of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Wyoming, was ceded to the Federal government.
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. That having been said, the resolution did include two unique provisions: first, it gave the new state of Texas the right to divide itself into as many as five states with approval of its legislature. Texas retains this right today. Second, Texas did not have to surrender its public lands to the federal government. While Texas did cede all territory outside of its current area to the federal government in 1850, it did not cede any public lands within its current boundaries. This means that generally, the only lands owned by the federal government within Texas have actually been purchased by the government.
Presidents of the Republic
- David G. Burnet (interim, 1836)
- Sam Houston (1836–1838 and 1841–1844)
- Mirabeau B. Lamar (1838–1841)
- Anson Jones (1844–1845)
Notable Republic of Texas figures include
- Stephen F. Austin
- David G. Burnet
- Jim Bowie
- Edward Burleson
- Davy Crockett
- Lorenzo de Zavala
- Sam Houston
- Albert Sidney Johnson
- Mirabeau B. Lamar
- José Antonio Navarro
- William B. Travis
- Isaac Van Zandt
- Edwin Waller
- Joint Resolution for Annexing Texas to the United States, Approved March 1, 1845 Texas State Library & Archives Commission.
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